Crafty weekend.

This past weekend was excellent. Much like last Saturday, I spent this Saturday in New Hampshire with some of my knitting friends. I hadn't seen a couple of them since 2014! We ate delicious food, caught up on our lives, and crafted all the things. I got home just after 9pm and I spent the rest of my evening knitting some more. A crafty weekend is the best kind of weekend.

The foot of my Christmas stocking.
I love colorwork.

 I've spent most of my weekend knitting this project, the Falling Snow Stocking by Jennifer Hoel. I had initially started a different stocking, but the pattern called for sport weight yarn and I bought worsted, so the stocking was way too big. Nope. This one's a much better size so far. I don't have anything going tonight, and since we received a few inches of snow today, I'm hoping to finish this bad boy!

. . . . .

I'm not really feeling Reverb this year. A lot of the questions are similar to ones I answered last year, and I really don't want to repeat myself. Maybe I'll try writing about what I craft each day, because yeah, I do craft all the time. I make more things at this point in my life than I've ever made before, and that makes me so happy. Here's a sneak peek at the other thing I worked on this past weekend:

Quilled snowflakes.
Guess what these will be!

This is a craft I haven't done in a long, long time, and I'm so excited I pulled out my tools this weekend! These will be for my NH knitting group's swap in a couple weeks and I'm looking forward to seeing my friends again. I have been to NH so many times this month, but since I'm seeing friends, I don't mind!

Sunday was filled with some of my favorite things -- tea, knitting, podcasts/vlogs, and Christmas music. I felt so productive and creating makes me so happy. There's not enough hours in the day for all the things I want to do, I swear! Hopefully tonight I create even more. I also need to wrap presents and I hope to make that creative, too. I love living a creative life.

Nanowrimo 2016

Nanowrimo 2016

 Every year at around this time, I start thinking about Nanowrimo. I've been attempting to write 50,000 words in a month every year since 2002, and though I've finished only 5 times ('only'), I've still enjoyed it each year. I've written my novels in many different regions of the country -- I wrote my first novel in Bloomington, the next two in South Bend, one in New Hampshire, and my most recent in Oregon. And no, my novels are not for public consumption.

I'm hoping to join a writing group here in western MA. I've been more likely to finish my novel when writing with others and I love the camaraderie. I've poked around the Nanowrimo forums and found a couple western MA regions, so hopefully I'll meet people there.

In true Aubrey fashion, I don't know what I'll be writing about yet. I've written most of my novels based off actual events in my life, and I can see doing that again this year. I can also go off the deep end and write something completely random! I titled my 2006 novel 'The Anti-Pastel Club" mainly because it's about nothing. Either way, I'm looking forward to Nanowrimo 2016!

Also, this year's logo is pretty badass. I might just need to buy a T-shirt this year...

Are any of you doing Nanowrimo this year?

Adventures in sweater knitting.

One of the items on my 35 in 35 list? Knit my first real sweater! I've tried sweater knitting for years but they've never turned out quite right. I attempted my first sweater way back in 2003, using a few balls of dark green Lion Brand Thick and Quick (that's what she said). It looked terrible and I never wore it. I don't even know what I did with it, honestly. I tried knitting another sweater at some point, maybe in 2008 or 2009, but that one didn't fit well either. Frustrated, I gave up trying to knit a sweater that'd actually fit me... until this year.

Mama Vertebrae sweater - back
Look, it's the back of a sweater!

I cast on Mama Vertebrae back in March. I'd been talking about knitting a sweater for the past couple years, and I finally swallowed my fears and cast on this year. I'm using [yarn] that I bought at Webs back in 2009 or so - yeah, that's how long I've wanted to knit a real sweater! Sadly, I have two other sweater quantities of yarn I bought around that time frame, hoping that that would motivate me to knit a sweater. Nope.

Mama Vertebrae - Bind off
I love this bind off.

It took me forever to finish the back of the sweater. It's knit from the top down, casting on a certain amount of stitches and increasing until separating the sleeves by putting the stitches on two holders, continuing to knit the back. I finished most of the back in about a week, but it took me a month to work up the nerve to try the tubular bind off, a new to me bind off. I finally bit the bullet and bound it off the other night, and while it doesn't look perfect, I still like it. I like the rounded edge it gives the piece!

Mama Vertebrae - sleeve
Look, a sleeve!

After finishing the back, I picked up the stitches for one of the sleeves! I picked up some stitches around the underarm and after a few rounds, I started cruising along. I'm decreasing two stitches every 8 rounds  or so, adding some semblance of shaping to the arms. I'm planning on knitting this as a full length sweater, because I prefer long sleeved sweaters over 3/4 or short sleeved ones.

I'm pretty happy with my progress so far. I'm hoping to get this done before it gets any hotter here - it's supposed to be in the 80s and 90s here the next week or so, and I don't have AC, so I'd rather not be slogging away on a sweater in this weather! We'll see how I do.

Let's go on a cross-stitch adventure!

Right around the holidays, a few people I know started talking about the 2016 year-long mystery cross-stitch sampler from The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery. They've done a few mystery samplers in the past, but I've never really been interested in the theme until this year, with a theme of "Let's go on an adventure". Each month I'll receive a new clue featuring a destination from somewhere around the world, and I'm excited to see what places are highlighted!

Let's go on an adventure progress
I really need to iron my fabric.

I received the first clue on January 15th, and I'll receive the remaining 11 clues on the first of each month. January's clue is a bit more substantial, as it includes the lettering and the borders as well as the first destination.

Letter details
Lettering is fun!

As you can see, I'm still on the lettering and borders in the center of the sampler. I'm hoping to finish them up soon so I can start on the first destination! I definitely won't finish the first clue before the second clue comes out on Monday, but I'll have plenty of time on the train next week to work on my cross-stitch. I'm looking forward to it.

More lettering progress
I love the slight color variation in the floss I'm using for the lettering.

I'm so happy to be cross-stitching again! And don't worry, Harry Potter cross-stitch, I haven't forgotten about you...

First finished spin of 2016!

Hooray, I've completed my first spin of 2016, and I am in love with it!

Finished yarn - January 2016

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started spinning the September 2015 club colorway from Hedgehog Fibres. I loved all the colors - the bright shots of magenta, splashes of navy, vivid hints of chartreuse - but I wasn't sure how those colors would look spun up, especially after I plied it on itself.

I'm pleasantly surprised.

Finished yarn - January 2016

The fiber, a merino-silk blend, wasn't the easiest to spin. I dislike spinning silk because I find it too slippery, but I do like the sheen it adds to the finished product.  I have about 342 yards of a fingering weight yarn, so I'll probably make a shawl out of it at some point. I'll have to think about what this will become.

I'm so happy to be spinning more again. I've missed spinning so much.

35 in 35

Happy New Year, everybody! I'm excited that it's 2016. I'm looking forward to making 2016 my year, and of course, I have a few things I'd like to achieve. Since my birthday falls so close to the end of the year, I figured I'd list 35 things I want to do while I'm 35 instead of making a list of resolutions. I've been working on this list for weeks and I'm excited to finally post it.

Personal

  • Move back to New England. This is the big one. I've been in Portland now for a year and a half, and while I love a lot of things about it, I don't love living so far from my family. Sometime in 2016 I will be packing up my things and moving 2500 miles back to the land of Dunkin Donuts, Celeste Pizza, and, of course, Friendly's ice cream.
  • Take a trip to the Cape. Cape Cod is my favorite place in the world, so I want to take a trip there. Just a weekend would do. I want to smell the salt air and walk on the flats and pick up pretty shells. I love the Cape.
  • Grow out my hair. I like having short hair, but I also like changing it. A lot. I've never kept it long for decent periods of time, so this year, I want to grow it. Maybe I'll even document the hair growth process here!
  • Cook at least one new recipe a month.
  • Cook more at home. I go out to eat so much these days, and while I still want to enjoy delicious restaurants, I want to cook more, too.
  • Host a holiday or event. I've never really hosted many parties and I've never hosted a holiday, so I'd like to do one of the two. It will more than likely be some sort of party, but it's better than nothing!
  • Listen to more music. Music is such a big part of my life, but I've slacked off for years on finding new music to listen to. I don't even know how to do it anymore! I'm hoping to figure this out in 2016 and I'll utilize my Spotify account a lot.
  • Learn tarot. I've been talking about learning tarot since my friend Josh gave me a couple readings back when I lived in Indiana. I finally bought a deck right before the holidays, so I want to spend some time learning how to do my own spreads.
  • Meditate. I always feel weird talking about meditation and I feel weird wanting to do it, but I think it will help with the big changes happening in my life right now. I want to start with 5 minutes in the morning before I start my day.

Reading/writing

  • Read 25 books. I wish I could make this 35, just because, but 25 is a much more realistic goal. I read 22 books last year, so hopefully I can jump it up to 25 this year!
  • Participate and finish Nanowrimo 2016! I'm so happy I finished Nanowrimo last year, so I'm hoping I can finish this year too. Whether I write by myself or write with a group, I'll make it happen again!
  • Write in the blog at least 8 times a month. This averages out to 2 posts a week, which I think I can do. I love writing and would love to continue writing more often in here.
  • Fill up my current paper journal. I started my current journal at the end of November, and I'd like to fill it up before the end of 2016. I can do it!
  • Write in my paper journal at least 3 times a week. Ideally I'd like to write in it daily, but I know that's not realistic for me. 3 times a week is a good starting point.

Craftiness

  • Knit my first sweater. I've tried knitting sweaters in the past, but not since maybe 2008, but none of them ever looked right. This year, I want to make one. I'm thinking of knitting a Mama Vertebrae as my first, as I've heard it's pretty straightforward.
  • Spin all the fiber in my stash. I only have 11 bumps of fiber in my stash currently, so it's feasible I can get through them all. I'm still sitting on a couple from 2006, which I so need to spin!
  • Finish 3 cross-stitch projects. I'm not even halfway done with the Harry Potter cross-stitch I'm working on right now, so this might be a little too ambitious. We shall see.
  • Find a local knitting group. I haven't belonged to one in such a long time, and I miss it so much. 2016 will be the year I get back to it.
  • Knit a pair of socks for Christmas 2016. I love the tradition of knitting socks for Christmas, so I want to continue it in 2016.
  • Buy no new yarn besides at fiber events. I have enough yarn as it is, so I only want to buy yarn at fiber events. Speaking of which...
  • Attend at least 3 fiber events. Rhinebeck, I'm looking at you! I'm hoping for a few other events, because I've missed attending them.

Tech/Career

  • Attend at least 3 conferences. I'm hoping to attend Design 4 Drupal, Nerd Summit, New England Drupal Camp, and hopefully Wordcamp US and Wordcamp Boston!
  • Learn how actions and filters really work in Wordpress.
  • Learn a new CSS technique. I'm looking at you, Flexbox.
  • Put up a portfolio site, finally! I've been wanting to do this for years, and 2016 will be my year for this!
  • Re-categorize and organize the posts here. I have so much content here, from 2000 onward, and I want to make more of my archives public. I also want to move back to using categories instead of tags, but I don't know how long that will take. I have over 1000 posts here, which is unbelievable!

Fitness

  • Start running more consistently again. I've only run a handful of times in the past year and a half, so I've lost most of my endurance. I want to run at least 3 times a week to start. I just need to get better at doing it regularly so I don't lose it again!
  • Run another 5k. I'd preferably like to run a 5k in under a half hour again, but I'm not sure I can do that with my first race back to it.
  • Run another 10k. My last 10k was terrible, so I want to redeem myself. I won't get under an hour with the first one I run again, but that will be a longer term goal.
  • Run another half marathon. I have such fond memories of running my first half marathon that I want to run another. Seriously, I count that as one of the best days of my life.
  • Run a Turkey Trot. I miss having this as a Thanksgiving tradition!
  • Run the Hot Chocolate Run! This is my most favorite race ever, so of course I want to run it again. And again. And again.
  • Join a running group. I love running with other people, so I'd love to do this again!
  • Join a gym. I'm thinking I'll want to run indoors when it's cold outside this time around, as navigating streets covered with ice and snow isn't something I want to do any longer! I also would like to do some strength training.
  • Find a method of cross-training that sticks. I'm thinking either yoga or strength training. I might start with yoga and once I'm feeling not so intimidated, I'll try lifting weights. I'd love to have muscles.

Nanowrimo 2015 winner!

I've been all about writing my December prompts that I never wrote about the conclusion of Nanowrimo!

Long story short...

Nanowrimo 2015 winner!

I finished!!!

I finished my novel on November 28th with a little over 50,000 words. This is the first year I've finished without a writing group, and while I'm happy I completed it, I'm not happy I didn't have company while writing! Next year, I hope to remedy this.

I'm so proud of myself for finishing! I'm glad to be back in the Nanowrimo game, and I'm already excited for next year!

Nanowrimo 2015!

I can't believe I haven't written in my blog now for over a month. I was on such a roll, too! I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I want to write about in this space, and I need to do a better job taking the time to write posts. I'll get back into the swing of things sometime!

Nanowrimo 2015 participant!

November's one of my favorite months of the year, mainly due to Nanowrimo! I've attempted to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days for the past 13 (what?) years now, and while I've only succeeded four times, I've still enjoyed the process.

So, here I go again! I'm hoping I finish this year!

A tiny cross stitch update.

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I kind of dropped off the face of the earth last week. I blame it on the holiday and on things going on in my personal life that I don't really want to get into here. I haven't been doing much crafting, so I haven't been writing or taking pictures of what I've been working on.

That changes right now.

Harry Potter cross-stitch progress
Look, it's my man Neville, and a little bit of Moaning Myrtle!

I started the cross-stitch I received in my swap package a few weeks ago and it is so much FUN. I've been on a huge Harry Potter kick recently, so this sampler's been super up my alley. However, I forgot how slow going working on a cross stitch project can be, especially a cross-stitch project with a ton of colors. I also haven't worked on a cross-stitch project for about 8-9 years, so I'm needing to get back into the groove. I'm working on it.

I am hoping to get more of this done now that the weather's getting cooler. It's been rainy and in the 60s the past couple days too, so I've wanted to craft all the things. The apartment is comfortable enough to knit and spin again, so I'm very happy.

Finished project - Aila Grace shawl

Hey look, I finished a shawl! Well, I finished knitting it last year, but I finally got around to blocking it last week, so technically I just finished it.

Aila Grace shawl

Pattern: Aila Grace shawl by Jennifer Lassonde
Yarn: Araucania Huasco in the '3' colorway (such an original colorway name)
Needle: US 5 - 3.75mm

Aila Grace shawl

This shawl was so much fun to knit. I love all the different textures - garter ridges, eyelets, slipped stitch patterning - it kept me excited to move to the next section.

Close up of Aila Grace shawl

The yarn was perfect for the pattern, too! I got it from a dear friend of mine at our knit night's Christmas party a few years ago. She knows me and my color palette well. I love all these colors together and since I wear a lot of pink and blue, this goes with a lot of my clothes. It also goes well with my hair!

Modeling the Aila Grace shawl

I'm also happy it's getting cool enough here to wear shawls again! I have a couple more shawls I knit earlier in the year that I still need to block, so hopefully I'll be posting about those here soon too. I love shawls.