Lots Of Updates

I am a person who likes loose ends tied up, the kind of person who wants closure, someone who needs to know how the story ends. As I was looking back over some previous posts, I realized that I don't always tie up the loose ends. So, for those one of you readers who might also be this kind of person, I am going to use this post for a few updates.

First on the agenda: Greensburg squares:

59 squares from my wonderful knitting group friends

This weekend, I am going to go through my comments and compile a list of who has entered the contest, along with the numbers that have been reported to me so far. If you haven't posted pictures of the squares yet, you still have time!

Update 2: The puppies:

They are now 6 months old, and have they gotten big!

Annie (L) and Bonnie (R)

Annie and Bonnie have come a long way from the flea-bitten, terrified little ragamuffins we took in a couple of months ago. They are incredibly gentle and sweet as well as rowdy and mischievous. Last Sunday, Annie was adopted by a fantastic family who fell totally in love with her. They had to euthanize their elderly dog recently and were ready for a new princess to spoil rotten. Annie will be a full-fledged member of the family, will attend all extended family gatherings and holidays, go on vacations with her family, and will sleep in her new mom and dad's bed. Good thing her teenaged siblings love her too! They have sent us thank-you emails every day so far, and would love to have us visit. Annie is definitely a Lucky Dog.

Before rescue

After becoming spoiled house pups

And now it's Bonnie's turn. We are taking her to a home visit this weekend, to meet a potential family who is interested in adopting her. Based on their application, it's not likely , but we figure it's good to get her out and meeting new people. She figured out Annie was gone very quickly and far from being distressed, has become much calmer and people-focused. She is either in her crate in Mr C's office, in her playroom, or in her crate with our regular posse up in our bedroom.

Update 3: New LYS
The Needle Nest

I found out about this combination quilt/yarn shop recently and couldn't wait to visit. So last weekend, I had a free afternoon and decided to take a little roadtrip since it's only about 30 minutes away. It's all packed inside this cute little old house. And I do mean packed in. If I was a quilter, I think I would have liked the store more, since the main rooms are crammed full of bolts of fabric, while knitting is clearly an afterthought. The yarns are crammed into 1 teeny little room and one teeny little nook. There is no rhyme or reason to the organization and even the same yarns are not all together in one place. There is very little variety in terms of colors - they overwhelmingly favor dark, muddy colors. I was very disappointed in the lack of variety, too, lots of duplicate yarn types and colors. They did have a small selection of locally grown and spun alpaca wool, but again, the choices were severely limited to light brown and darkish brown. *yawn* About 1/4 of the space alotted to yarn was taken up by what seemed to be hundreds of balls of Lopi worsted and bulky. They may very well have every color offered. I thought it was very coarse and rough - the only thing I can think it would be good for is felting. Anyway, bottom line: unless you are a Lopi-lover, you may as well drive an extra 20-30 minutes into Olathe or Overland Park and visit the KnitWit or Yarn Store and More for a more satisfying stash-fattening experience.

Here is a belated thanks to Faren, for nominating me as a:

Faren is a sister prairie girl and has an adorable babykins (check out his picture on the July 7 post). I am looking forward to meeting her at the Greensburg seaming party! I don't know what I did to deserve this but I'm very flattered! I am supposed to nominate 5 more rockin' girl bloggers, but I have made so many many new blogpals that I don't want to leave anyone out! So here's the deal: If you are reading this and you have a blog, please consider yourself chosen! You may put the official button on your blog and tell everyone Criquette said so!

Some more quick updates:
The spider bite finally healed so I am back in thongs again. Yay! And guess what I found making it's nasty, evil little way over to my bed the other night? And guess what happened to it and where it ended up? Ahhh, revenge is so sweet.

I took a bit of a break from the closet (alright, maybe I took a month or 3 off) and the office is still a horrible mess, but the stash looks great and is so easy to get into.

I am actually making progress on the Baby Albert jacket and have now learned how to pick up stitches to knit in a different direction. I'm also making progress on the blue-green cotton kimono, but I don't care for the feel of the fabric - it feels rough and it doesn't have much body. I'm going to finish it, but I don't think it will be given as a baby gift. I've made a couple of mistakes with the row counts but I think it may work out. I guess I won't know for sure until I get ready to seam it.

And I finally have an FO, after what seems like forever! One of the souvenirs I am sending to my Virtual Vacation Swap pal is a bar of delicious soap that is made here in the KC area. To dress it up, I thought a cute little soap scrubber bag would be fun. So I found a pretty little pattern online which I knitted up this afternoon using some cream-colored Sugar & Cream cotton. I've made my first ever i-cord for the drawstring. I'll post the picture soon.

Okay, so that's it for the updates. I'll close for now and get busy so I have something worth posting.

The Art Of The Reframe

In my work as a child psychologist, I often turn to the skill of "cognitive reframing" to teach kids and their parents a more positive way of thinking about situations, relationships and even their own characteristics as a way to cope with their feelings. Reframing can be a catalyst for change in that when people think about something from a more positive angle, that thinking produces a sense of hope and empowerment.

For example, many of my new clients have "meltdowns", rages that take over the family on a regular basis, often seeming to come out of nowhere. This in turn causes them to develop a view of themselves as "bad" kids, even though they hate having the meltdowns. The parents, tired of walking on eggshells all of the time, are usually frustrated and angry at the child, and see the child as manipulative, unappreciative and "always ruining everything". I give these parents a simple homework assignment, the book that changed the way I do therapy with these kids:
The Explosive Child. It is the only approach I have found that really and truly works to eliminate meltdowns.

What Dr. Greene has done is to reframe meltdowns and help parents and kids see that the meltdowns are not merely tantrums (which are a different kind of behavior), but that meltdowns are the result of stress that the child doesn't have the skills to recognize or manage. Once the parents understand that the child isn't doing this deliberately, lightbulbs go off, the parents can reframe the situation and are mentally and emotionally prepared to attack the problem in a more effective way. The child is motivated because they too reframe the situation and see themselves differently so are usually willing to try more appropriate behaviors to solve problems.

It's a brilliant approach that produces meaningful changes in a somewhat short period of time. It is some of the most satisfying therapy that I do, and it all starts with reframing the situation. (Now if anyone reading this has a meltdown child, please do not ask me to answer specific questions because, by law, I can't give direct advice to non-clients. But I would strongly encourage you to get this book and find a therapist who is familiar with it to help you put the plan into action.)

This is just one small example of the power of reframing. Over the years, I have learned to reframe many challenging situations and how I was responding to others, but still don't always do this when it comes to myself. Instead, I get stuck on something I am doing (or not doing) and then beat myself up mentally. I have been doing this lately when it comes to my knitting, because, as indicated in my last post, there has been waaaaay too much frogging going on and when actual knitting proceeds, it is often full of mistakes.

Since the last post, I cast on for the Baby Surprise jacket twice, frogged both attempts and then gave up (and yes, a little meltdown may have occured). With apologies to those EZ fans who may be reading this, if Ms. Zimmerman wasn't dead, the feds should have sent her to Guantanamo to torture the suspected terrorists - make them try to knit this devil of a tiny sweater and they would all have been spilling their secrets and crying for their mamas. The only "surprise" is that people can actually translate her "instructions" and finish the little evil piece of fluff. (I actually admire EZ - she knits the way I cook). Although the instructions for the Baby Albert and the Mason-Dixon baby kimono are more clear and straightforward, anything that requires me to keep track of left/right/back/front and do something different from straight garter stitch gets my brain as tangled as the yarn gets when I am ripping out vast rows of the stuff and not winding as I go! It took me four additional tries to get something as simple as a K2tog, yo buttonhole to turn out on the right side, right edge (technically the left edge of the right side of the coat). And lets just pretend the 7 (!!!*$%^@%!&^) episodes of ripping back the sleeves/left (or is it the right?) neckline of the kimono never really happened.

So as I sat down night after night this week to try and find even a small success with my attempts to branch out beyond simpleton scarves, I got deeper and deeper into the belief that I am too addled/distractible/stupid/incompetent/etc.etc.etc. to be a knitter. I was ready to quit. But then I found RandomRanter's blog and read about her recent misadventures with the Mystery Stole 3. What??? I'm not the only knitter who has to frog something a kazillion times? As reassuring as that felt, even better was the way she very cleverly reframed the problem for me. And a lightbulb went off. And once I changed my thinking from Frequent-Frogger-Slow-Bee to "One Who Decides To Put An Original Flair In The Design", I picked up the needles and lookee here:

Baby Albert's bottom

That's not a wonky row on the right side, it's my original flair

The M-D kimono - I think the uneven stitches create a nice texture

No surprises here - I decided to go with another interestingly textured kimono

Do not underestimate the power of the reframe.


Baby Frogs

So when you frog almost all of the baby knitting you've done over the past week, is it called tadpoling?


I had so much knitted this week on the baby knits, I was sure I would have some photos to show of my progress by tonight. The kimono was almost 2/3's finished. Baby Albert had it's lower portion finished and I had picked up the stitches to start on the right front. I cast on and was a few rows into the EZ baby surprise jacket. And now, all of them, almost all gone. Tadpoled, frogged, whatever. I had neglected to do something as simple as mark the right side on both the kimono and the Baby Albert and found out the hard way that little details like that really do matter.

The kimono is all gone (although I did cast back on, taking care to mark the correct side this time). Fortunately, Baby Albert is a modular jacket, so I only had to rip out the little I started on the front and a few rows into the lower half, because the buttonholes were going to be backwards and they looked all wonky besides. Finally, I ripped the Baby Surprise because I was *surprised* to find that I had neglected to follow the pattern - the only thing I had close was the correct number of stitches on the needles. (sigh) The problem with knitting is that I have to PAY ATTENTION and FOLLOW DIRECTIONS, not exactly qualities I am famous for.

Not to worry - I wasn't in a funk for long. I resorted to the time-honored mood-enhancing properties of stash enhancement for new projects to distract me from my ADDled knitting woes. My favorite LYS had a great sale and wouldn't they have been disappointed if nobody went? It was a moral obligation to attend this sale. It was a secret sale where you gather enormous quantities of wool and needles and such, then when you check out, you put a penny in a gum machine on the counter and the color of the gum determines how much of a discount you get. Well, today was a lucky day, as I got a very substantial discount - why oh why didn't I gather more??? But here's what I did get - lovely stuff, no?

From left to right, I have 2 skeins of JKnits Felter's Dream in the New Mexico colorway and 1 skein of Cascade Pastaza (a llama/wool blend) in a rich espresso color. These are earmarked for either a table runner or some felted pumpkins; 2 balls of Elsebeth Lavold Hempathy in a sand color that will become a table runner - I am thinking about modifying the Montego Bay scarf pattern from the summer Interweave for this; 3 skeins of Provence Egyptian cotton in a cobalt blue, white and Mediterranean blue that may become another table runner; a ball of Rowan Denim in a medium blue to make a couple of water bottle cozies; and finally, 2 skeins of violet Four Seasons cotton/wool blend and 3 balls of Nashua April cotton yarn in variegated greens and blues which will make an adorable baby sweater (because I haven't frogged enough baby sweaters lately). They're not pictured, but I also added to my Addi collection because I love the Addi's!

I also paid a visit to another favorite LYS because I felt sorry for them since so many knitters were swarming the sale and I wanted to be sure they didn't get lonely this weekend as well (I know, such an unselfish act on my part). To my happy surprise, she also had a mini-sale in progress, so my good deed was reinforced. I picked up 2 skeins of ArtYarns Ultramerino that I had been squeezing and coveting a couple of weeks ago, but, not (yet) being a sock knitter, didn't feel like I could justify the expense. Well, when it's on sale, it's hard to justify not buying it.

Now for all of you wonderful knitters who are sending the love to Greensburg, I picked up a couple of skeins of FABULOUS Alchemy handpainted merino/mohair blend. One of these will become the third prize for the contest (winner chooses the color). I will try to have some pictures in my next post - this stuff is luminous, just gorgeous!

Finally, if you've been knitting for Greensburg, but are getting burned out on squares, don't forget that Laura is also collecting any other knitted or crocheted items you may want to send, such as washcloths, hats, scarves, baby blankets, etc. And these items will count in the contest's final tally!

I also hope to talk with a friend of mine in the next couple of days. She grew up in Greensburg, and last weekend led a group from our church down there to help with the cleanup. She's going to give me an update, and hopefully have pictures. Thanks again to all of you who are helping this incredible cause!


The Secret Is Out!

I am embarassed that it has taken me so long to publicly thank my incredible SP10 spoiler, Donna. Truly, it is not from lack of satisfaction and gratitude. How lucky did I get or what? You may not recall, but she sent me 2 great packages full of these goodies:

Oops! Sorry, wrong package.

Okay, these are the reasons I was already thinking maybe I had the best SP10 pal:

She also kept in touch with sweet emails and postcards and some tantalizing hints as to who she might be.

And then I received the reveal package and I finally got to discover who has been spoiling me so wonderfully. My new friend is DonnaC at Something to Laugh About. And look at this great package:

Two balls of decadent alpaca/merino (my 2 favorite yarns in one! Oh I can't wait!!!) by Elsebeth Lavold in one of my favorite winter colors. There was (emphasis on WAS) a container of to-die-for dark chocolate covered espresso beans (and I was buzzing every day until they were gone!). She also included another indulgence - aloe/rosemary/ mint invigorating leg lotion. Mmmmm, smells divine and feels even better. And finally, perhaps the best touch of all was a postcard of the beautiful Long Island beach by her home and 2 shells from that beach! How did she know that each summer I take out all of my seashells to decorate my house and pretend that it's a beach house instead of a prairie house?

DonnaC, I couldn't have had a better spoiler than you have been! You really got to know me and now I hope to get to know you. You made SP10 so much fun that I have signed up for SP11!

PS, you have good taste in music!


Hot Weather + Sunday = Closet Cleaning

Finally! After 2 1/2 years in the new house, I am unpacking the closet in my junk room - oops, I mean office - and all I can say is WHAT A MESS!!! See for yourself:

This is only a small portion of what was in there. I had so much crammed in to this closet, I could no longer walk into it by more than a few inches. And my office is so crammed with stuff I need to get into that closet, so there's really no place to put the junk from the closet, except all over the rest of the house. So one little project now has my entire house looking like the proverbial tornado whipped through. It's discouraging because I spent all of last weekend cleaning the rest of the house.

Criquette likes to supervise

Do you ever feel like you've caught a tiger by the tail when it comes to getting your home organized? Us folks with ADD are already challenged in the areas of organization and space management. We frequently employ a system of "horizontal organization" as a coping technique. Let me explain. When you have ADD (or ADHD), you are probably a visual processor, you have a better memory for things you've seen. When things are put away out of sight, they are promplt forgotten. ADDers tend to collect things in piles, and then lay those piles all over every available horizontal surface. It looks very chaotic to the non-ADDer, but to us, it is the only way we can remember things we need to be able to get to. They're out in the open where we can see them, so we won't forget. And most horizontal organizers will be able to tell you exactly what pile an item is in, and even approximately where in the pile the item is lurking.

My office is usually a model of "HO", with piles all over the furniture and floor. But I'm so disorganized that I now have vertical piles on top of the horizontal piles. This is like disorganization taken to an exponential level and even I, an ADD poster child, have forgotten where things are. Usually I get to a certain point of sorting the piles into piles, then get distracted by something else, such as life, job, spouse, critters, and knitting. Then I get sick of looking at the mess (or company is coming over), so I shove it all into boxes or bags and stuff it back into the closet. At some point, I need something that I know is in the black hole, so I drag it all out, and the fun starts again. And I wonder why I don't get more knitting done.

This time, however, I am mad. Mad about how all of this "stuff" runs my life, wastes so much of my time and my physical environment. Mad enough to try something different. It's called "Throw the crap away." It's amazing how well it's working. After 4 huge trashbags full of crap, I have approximately 3 square feet of clear floor space in the closet - progress! Ummm, that is, if you don't look at the floor of my office or the dining room table.

But this weekend, instead of getting overwhelmed and quitting, I persevered, because I have a higher purpose motivating me and leading me on. I have to find a permanent home for my stash. The growing stash needs a place to call its own, a place that's convenient, easy to access and with plenty of room to unpack the bins and see what I will use next. And now that I have cleaned it all out, the stash is happily living in the new and improved closet.

As a reward, I did some knitting for Greensburg. I used soy wool for the first time and even though it was very splitty, I still enjoyed knitting with it - it really flew off of my bamboo needles! I love the colors because they remind me of sunflowers on the prairie. A happy sign of hope for those who are rebuilding.


In Which I Comment On Some Comments

I have received some really nice comments and I thank all of you. I could never figure out why I couldn't email back to the people who leave comments. So earlier this evening I fiddled around with the mysterious blogging settings and sort of randomly hit some switches and now we'll see if I can respond back directly. Until then, I have a couple that I'd like to respond to.

First of all, to Lia. Thanks! It was fun to make the crocheted Group Hug square and I think it turned out cute. I got the pattern from Laura's blog. Let us know if you make any and show us what they look like! And if you have any leftover blueberry desserts, send them here!

I also heard from a very generous and busy knitter who has already made 24 squares for Greensburg. Thank you and you are definitely a better (and certainly faster) knitter than I am. 24!! Yay! This knitter (who is blogless) also asked about my contest and the condition that the squares have to be posted on the person's blog.
So I thought I'd clarify why I have this condition, and why I have decided to keep it in the rules.

Back when I first cooked up this little contest, I debated about including this condition and I decided to open the contest only to bloggers for a reason. It is because I wanted to do a little something to thank the bloggers who brighten my life everyday.

To me, blogging is more than an activity where I write about my knitting and my life. Blogging is about being part of a world-wide community, a way to meet other people that I would never otherwise get to know in my little corner of the world. I like reading about their knitting (mis)adventures. I like to look at their amazing stashes. I vicariously enjoy seeing the beautiful knitting that is produced. I use and appreciate the free patterns that are so generously shared. And I rely on the advice freely given by more experienced knitters. Without blogging, I think I may have given up on knitting after my first 4 scarves (acrylic, of course) because I didn't yet know about the magic of luscious natural fibers or the wonder of well-stocked yarn shops.

"Thank Blog she discovered merino!"

I wouldn't have known about knitting groups, or KAL's or swaps. And I wouldn't have gotten to know so many fun and creative people.

As much as I have had fun writing my own blog, I especially love being able to visit with my cyber friends. I love the way bloggers open their lives and their homes and their hearts. I love learning that I have so many kindred spirits out there, and that I'm not weird or crazy (or else there are lots of us weird and crazy kindred spirits out there knitting!) I have cried when they have shared their losses and disappointments, cheered over their triumphs and laughed at the funny little stories they tell.

I love the feeling of being part of a community. A big part of what defines a community is the sense of common ground in shared interests. And that is probably the most important part of blogging to me. Sharing who I am with people who are sharing who they are.

So when I made up my little contest, I thought of it as just that. A little contest for friends and friends-to-be who have visited my world and let me come visit theirs. So it's not about proving to me that you've knit all these squares, it's about sharing it with me, and sharing some of who you are. And hopefully, if you are one of the lucky people who are knitting something wonderful with the pretty little green yarn prizes, you will write about it and post pictures and share with me what you've made. Maybe we can knit a pair of socks together, through the magic of blogging.

If you don't have a blog, why not take this opportunity to create one? It's really easier than you might think. You might think you can't write, or that you have nothing to say that would be of interest to others. Well, you might just surprise yourself! It's amazing how much blogging has opened my eyes to the things going on around me. It's made me more observant, exercises my brain and gotten me to think about many things I would likely take for granted. It provides a great scrapbook/journal of where my life has been and where it's going. It lets my faraway family and friends stay in touch with my life.

So if you are currently blogless, make a blog tonight! Or tomorrow. Or before August 1, when my contest closes. And not only will you get to participate in the contest, you'll be participating in the most phenomenal community! Happy Blogging!