And I’ve got … cozy toes

February 26, 2008 at 5:58 pm | Posted in blogging, country life, country living, dogs, family, free knitting patterns, gifts, knitting, love, marriage, pets, photography, relationships, romance, snow, socks, yarn | 30 Comments

Fireflys hand knit Cozy Toes sock patternMy daughter gave me two skeins of incredibly soft chunky baby alpaca yarn at Christmas so I could make myself some warm, cozy house socks. I designed a simple pattern for the socks, and just finished the second one this morning. Now, I’ve got Cozy Toes!

The leg of the socks is 11″ long, and yet I still had a small handful of yarn left over from each skein. These socks are easy to knit up very quickly, even for a beginning sock knitter. I believe if you had a weekend to yourself (starting when you get home Friday after work) you could have your own Cozy Toes before going to bed on Sunday evening. Of course, if you knit a little slower or can’t set aside an entire lazy weekend to just sit around sipping coffee and cocoa while watching old movies and knitting in your pj’s, you might have to spend a bit more time at it. Either way, I think you will enjoy knitting and wearing them.

I like the way the squeezy spring of the yarn hugs my ankles and arches. The only real problem I have is that I don’t want them to get messed up, so I am likely to wear them with slippers when I’m walking around and then slip off the slippers (I mean, really … that is why they are called “slippers” after all) once I’m settled in somewhere to read or cuddle with one of my sweeties (my husband or our Blu).

Fireflys hand knit Cozy Toes socks are eleven inches tallSpeaking of dear Blu, most of the time I was working on my Cozy Toes, Blu was in my lap. He has grown to be quite a good sized dog, and yet he insists on a certain amount of cuddle time with as much of his body on my lap as he can possibly make stay on top of me. He doesn’t want to sit beside of me with just his head in my lap, or even just the front part of him drapped over me. No, he studiously works and works at fitting himself somehow, some way, on top of me. Inevitably something hangs over … two or three paws, his chin, sometimes half of his rear end. He simple does not fit on top of my lap any longer and yet, he does not know that or perhaps he refuses to accept that reality.

It is a considerably awkward to knit with him up there. Where do I put my elbows? When he readjusts himself–which happens often–where shall I put my yarn? How do I prevent myself, him, or both of us from becoming impaled on a double pointed needle from one of his sudden movements?

Periodically he pushes himself upward all of a sudden, pressing one entire side of his body, neck,and head against me very hard with his front legs straight as a board, his paws pressing down hard into my leg. I hardly have time to hastily turn my head to the side and stick my arms out on either side with knitting needles and knitted item in one hand and a ball of yarn in the other. I wonder what that looks like from the other side of the room.

When he sees me sit down and pick up my knitting, he gets a very concerned look on his face as if to say, “Hey wait a second there, this isn’t going to work for me. I need all that room up there. You really ought to put that stuff away. Here, let me show you…” and then he proceeds to pace back and forth eyeing my lap and the knitting. Finally makes one of several approaches to the lap. If I try deflecting his positioning to make room for my needles, yarn and elbows he gives out a loud disapproving sigh and has another go at it.

Firefly had this much yarn left from each skein of yarnFor a while I tried keeping him beside me rather than on top of me but somehow he changed my mind, and I don’t even remember when or how. Oh well, we are still working it out and providing a certain amount of amusement and entertainment to my husband while we’re at it.

Neither of us have ever known a dog with so much of a need to give and receive love while applying full body contact. Every time I wear my Cozy Toes socks, I am bound to think of Blu’s warm and cuddly lap of love and how he was right there for the knitting, every stitch of the way.

I am seriously considering writing up a little instruction manual with helpful hints for pet owners who are learning to knit, but that will be another day and another time.

Meanwhile, back to Cozy Toes. Enjoy the photographs today and check back within the next few days for the pattern. I will be sharing this one for free, although I might ask people to join my mailing list to get the pattern for free. Come on, please? I promise I won’t spam you. I would just like to be able to send an email once a month or so when I have new patterns for sale or new paintings to show. Plus, I hope to self publish a cookbook and pattern book by September of this year and would love to be able to send out emails to promote them.

At any rate, the Cozy Toes sock pattern will be free, one way or the other, and I will be happy to share it with you, my dear reader.

Fireflys river on a snow day this winterI will leave you with a photograph I shot recently, across the road looking out over our river. Every day the river has a different look as ice forms and melts, snow builds up and disappears, and comes back a day or two later. This is one of my favorite shots I have taken of it so far.

Today we have snow falling all day long. I prayed for one more deep snow this year because I want to be able to go out by the willow with my husband and Blu and have a good long romp in a couple of feet of snow. Blu and I did that one day back in December and I have wanted ever since then to repeat the play date with my husband included in the mix. Maybe today or tomorrow we will be able to do just that. Wish me luck!

Hope your day is cozy and beautiful, as our is here.

Chow mein, noodle.


Something to talk about

February 21, 2008 at 6:54 pm | Posted in art, blogging, country living, dating, faith, family, flowers, food, free knitting patterns, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, socks, Valentine's Day, yarn | 17 Comments

Flowers from fireflys husbandAt times I have wondered what (if anything) I may share with my readers about what happened last year on Valentine’s Day.

For those of you who have followed my blog, you would know last Valentine’s Day was the first for my husband and I. We weren’t even “dating” the Valentine’s Day before that, and yet found ourselves married by the first time we had a Valentine’s Day to share. We first met online at the end of January in 2006; we were just getting to know each other other via emails and had shared one phone call by February 14th that year. At that time, we both agreed that Valentine’s Day was the “being alone suckiest” day of all, a time when it is most rubbed in your face that you are alone, if indeed you are.

I remember when I was a child in grade school some very distinct big, pleasant feelings about Valentine’s Day. I loved making the little doily Valentines in class and turning heart festooned paper plates into little “mail boxes”. The day before Valentine’s Day we would all line up our handmade mail boxes along the chalk holder up at the blackboard so that we could bestow upon another sweet little “Be Mine” cards bought at the local five and dime.

I loved the anticipation of how many little cards I would get, who they would be from, what cute little characters would illustrate them, what would the various sentiments be … how many friends would I have? How would my friends feel about the Valentine’s I gave them?

Flowers from fireflys husbandThere is one memory of childhood Valentine’s that isn’t quite so fun to recall. By about third or fourth grade I noticed that some little girls actually got a box of candy placed on their desks by unknown person. I had no idea what made those little treasures arrive at first, but then I starting noticing it was only the very pretty, sort of “perfect”, little girls who seemed to receive them. In fifth and sixth grade, when Valentine’s Day came, I walked into class hoping against hope that maybe I would get a special treat on my desk. I would walk slowly, not looking at my desk at first because once I looked I would know and if there was nothing there, it would be over. As long as I didn’t look I could keep feeling that maybe, just maybe …

No. Didn’t happen. It didn’t take away from any of the feeling of joy about the tokens of friendship waiting in my little make-shift mailbox, but it did leave an impression on my mind–right or wrong.

I don’t know what I expected, exactly, our first Valentine’s Day. I had a general feeling of expectation without any clear concept of what I wanted or what he might do. For many years I had shared Valentine’s Day only with my children, my parents, my nieces and nephews, my brothers, sister, their spouses, and my friends. I knew how to do family Valentine’s Day, and I knew how to friendship Valentine’s Day but honestly, I had no clue how to do couple, married, actually having my own true sweetheart Valentine’s Day. I had pretty much no experience with that. Nor did he.

With my vague feeling of anticipation of I knew not what, I made some mention of some surprises I was cooking up for him a day or so before the big “V” day. He made some casual remark about his not doing anything other than a card. Ha ha ha … I chuckled, for surely he must be kidding. I mean, this was US, the big US … he is, after all, the “I Live on a Farm” husband, certainly he must have something really, really big and romantic planned … certainly.

I saw from the look on his face that he wasn’t kidding, and he saw from the look on my face that I was something that didn’t look quite right. At first I couldn’t say anything to him. I felt as if I had been hit by a big vase full of cold water. We were on our way to the church to meet up with a friend and get some things ready for a chicken and biscuit dinner that would take place the following Saturday, so I couldn’t really speak with him about how I was feeling because I knew I would start crying and I didn’t want to show up at the church with tears all over my face.

When we got back home, I went upstairs to have a good cry alone, in our room, in the dark. It was very sad. Very, very sad.

He came up shortly to try to comfort me. And we sat there, me crying, him with his arm around me wishing he knew what he had done wrong. Very sad, the whole picture.

Fortunately for us both, we excel at communicating with each other–the kind of communication that involves wanting to truly understand the other person and their viewpoint, and placing more value on your regard for that person than on your own viewpoint or “rightness”. This was our first emotional crisis: so, we talked.

Flowers from fireflys husbandWhat I realized, and shared with him, was that we are both pretty much inexperienced dorks when it comes to this kind of thing. He agreed. I didn’t feel it was just him or just me, I came to see it was both of us and that we lacked experience, not love. Our love is great, but our experience in being one of two in a couple was itty-bitty at that time. Neither of us had a clue what we needed and wanted from one another on the big famous “love” holiday and we had neglected to talk about it in advance. Big mistake.

I actually believe that is the state of mankind about love in many cases, even when we think we are so cool or so fine or so whatever … we are, many of us, inexperienced dorks. We are marketed to by Hallmark and FTD and jewelers and chocolate makers with great big giant canons aimed right at our hearts and souls. Much of what we have come to expect or think we expect on Valentine’s Day has a lot more to do with those images and feelings conjured by people who want to sell us something rather than anything we have actually figured out on our own.

There I was sitting in the dark crying feeling awkward and bad about love, when what I had right next to me was the dearest man I have ever known with his arm around me anguishing over the pain he seemed to have caused me. And I wasn’t alone … together we would embrace our inner dorks and figure it out.

As it turned out, I did too much for him last year (two batches of cookies, shortbread, candy, a pirate rubber duckie, and a bunch of little dime store Valentines) and he did too little (although, to his credit, the card he gave me was so perfect I ending up not caring so much that he had no flowers or chocolates for me).

Flowers from fireflys husbandMy suggestion to the two of us for future reference was that we should openly communicate about our expectations and not take things for granted. I shouldn’t expect him to magically “know” what I wanted on Valentine’s Day and let him get himself in trouble if he didn’t get it right (especially considering my own admission that I didn’t really know what I wanted).

Realizing that Valentine’s Day is more of a “chick” holiday than something for dudes, I suggested we create a special holiday for him where he could decide what was special and we would keep that holiday each year. As for Valentine’s Day, realistically he should always get me flowers and my favorite chocolate candy, but no other gifts are required. For my part, I will only make him one batch of cookies and give him one card.

As for his special “dude” holiday … he chose Ground Hog day. We created our first Ground Hog Day celebration on February 2 and made a big deal of it. It consisted of a summer barbeque with hamburgers, potato salad, baked beans and lemonade with peach cobbler for dessert (he said nothing is more opposite of winter than peaches). I decided the official Ground Hog’s Day wife-to-husband gift should be a flashlight and so he got the latest cool new shine. The day was perfection.

On Valentine’s Day he gave me two bags of my favorite chocolates and a large vase with a perfect mixture of flowers of every kind I love.

For the I Live on a Farm husband and wife, the most important aspect of Valentine’s Day was center stage each of the Valentine’s Days we have shared so far … communication. Let none of us think you can truly share love with another human being without being able and willing to communicate with one another and figure things out, together as a team.

Pears for MichaelAnd what else have I been up to? I have been working very hard to complete paintings for the restaurant in the village and to get all of my patterns ready for print and download. I am happy to report that two days before Valentine’s Day we hung two more paintings at Zambistro Restaurant, and then we had a scrumptious dinner there on V-day.

Also to report: I have successfully gotten most of my patterns ready for print and have started selling them wholesale to independent yarn stores as well as selling them directly to readers on my website. There is still quite a bit of work to do, but the process is off to a great start and I am most happy and grateful to have the opportunity. If you think your LYS would be interested in carrying my patterns, please let me know or give them my website address so they can contact me if interested.

Binder of Fireflys knitting patterns for retail shopsOh, and one more thing. I completed the first sock of a pair of my own design. Nothing fancy, but oh, so warm and cozy. They are made from chunky baby alpaca yarn … well, so far it is made of that yarn, since I have only finished one sock so far. I will share photos and the pattern after I get the pair completed.

That should keep you busy reading for a few days, so I will end off now. Have a beautiful weekend, and don’t forget to accept and love your own inner dork. If you don’t, who will?

Eat a chocolate

February 14, 2008 at 7:41 pm | Posted in art, country life, country living, dating, family, flowers, food, Holidays, knitting, love, marriage, photography, relationships, romance, Valentine's Day | 17 Comments

Happy Valentines Day from firefly

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