Blog Break

Well, I sure did not mean to take a week long break from GFK. However, I was incredibly busy and distracted. First, my mom came into town over the weekend and we had a blast! Walking, hanging, watching Roku, crafting, shopping, and of course eating. Second, work has been kicking my butt. I start a new assignment and to say that I’m taking to it like a fish to water would be a lie. I’m struggling. I know things get better with practice and time, but it’s difficult at the moment. I’m mentally really tired. I haven’t been able to craft as much lately simply because my brain is overloaded. Third, GMAT prep is just crap. Wow the positive vibes are radiating out of me here – but – spending 15+ hours a week on something and seeing no improvement is just shitty. There I said it. I stand by my claim that I’ll pray to God I’ll pull a great score out of my ass on test day, but realistically it looks like I’ll need a formal ($$$$) class this fall. Le sigh.

Things getting me through the weather, life, work, and stress of May 2014: Long walks during lunch, epic BBQ sessions at my house at night, Yoga – handstands, Runs/Gym time, Candy/Sweets/Chocolate, T-we Tea, Roku 3, and the ugly tribe.

me and katy puggy

5-2013 vs 5-2014

Onward. zzzzz.
GFK

Centered Self May 2014

Happy Monday. I hope everyone had a great weekend. Mine was very nice aside from my normal GMAT angst. I’m sadly just not doing well in the practice exams anymore. I excel and make huge progress in the practice questions every night when I study for 2-3 hours, but not on the exams I take Saturday. I think, and I know it may sound like I’m ‘opting-out’, but that I may just stop taking the full length practice exams now that there is 1 month till my test. They do not help me confidence wise nor do they help me focus on my ‘weaknesses’ I seem to do poorly/strongly in a new subject each week – making it so nothing is consistent. I’m gonna try for this approach since my 8 weeks of weekly CAT exams have not seemed to help me. I realize that I am rushing, because once I ‘get it over with’ I can actually enjoy my weekend. Honestly, it’s going to come down to that day of the test. All I can do is keep practicing out of my OG book 2-3 hours a day and pray to God and to all the underdog stories of all time that I will pull a decent score out of my ass on May 31. But, worst case scenario I take a formal course with Manhattan in the late summer.

le sigh. Aside from that I had a really nice reflective weekend. I have to marvel at how much I have grown in the past 9+ months mentally and physically. I am able to do things and experience emotions I would have never thought I would work through and make work for me. Mentally, I concurred my anxiety and overcame the insecurities that plagued me for most of my adult life. I am able to accept my faults and to gain strength from my successes. I’ve kicked the negativity to the curb along with all the people that facilitate negative thoughts and actions for me. Living a life without being brought down by others is marvelous. I have never been so free in losing myself in what I love. I finally have found what true security and self-love means.

Plus, I am so lucky to have a strong support group, that only wants to support me and see me succeed. Likewise, I have found immense happiness in inspiring others and trying to infuse a positive support system from myself to anyone I talk to. That doesn’t mean I still don’t have emo or bad days, but I sure as hell snap out of them more quickly and find myself engaging in more meaningful ways of coping with ‘the blues.’ I do have a hard time with expectations, but honestly my core group of friends and family always exceed any expectations that I would have. I’m truly blessed to have people that genuinely care for me and want to see me succeed and be happy. On the physical side of things, I have never been more strong and motivated. I can run like the wind! Well an 8-10 mile an hour breeze, but still that’s GREAT! I also have achieved my handstand goals and now can do unassisted handstands for 30seconds – 1 minute. I’m working on movement poses, but with a curious unnamed kitten – being upside down and trying to switch pose positions is quite difficult. I have to say I really enjoy knowing that I am strong from the inside – humble confidence radiates out of me these days.

I also made this ADORABLE geisha girl from Benartex Panel Prints. I got mine here and it actually took about 2-3 days to receive her! I had a blast putting her together at my friend’s house (duel sewing machines!) and then hand stitching at home (which I still need A LOT of work on).

Last weekend I decided to plant some kitchen herbs and I was so excited to see that 3/4 have already germinated! I’ll have Basil (pictured), Oregano (still waiting on it to germinate), Cilantro, and Rosemary in a few weeks! I also bought an organic Mint plant from Wal-Mart on Saturday and made virgin-zero calorie-full fun juleps/mockjitos with some lemon-lime soda water and stevia. 🙂

I also will admit my favorite treat are those super cheap ice cream cups from Wal-Mart. They have a birthday cake one that is so so tasty. I have friends that help me eat it. *note I was done eating it – I am not that gross to share food with the cats.

I attempted to ‘sun-proof’ and thus heat-proof my living room this weekend also. I used some of those emergency thermal blankets, as I read a HOW TO HERE. Boris was the foreman for this job and inspected my work. I don’t know if this is gonna last/work. The crinkly noise is kind of annoying. TBD. If this <$5 experiment does not work I may splurge and get these real thermal black out drapes. Or I’ll buy those car window black-out foam things and suspend them… God things are getting weird at my house.

This might explain what’s up.

xxx
GFK

M.I.A. – What do little girls dream about?

I often think about what little girls are influenced by. I ponder this, because I remark on how my upbringing and my experiences as a small child helped to form and establish how I feel, react, and process all the things that happen to me as an adult lady. Is it because I spent the majority of my childhood with senior citizens playing cards, doing crafts, and ‘gossiping’ that has shaped me into someone who can shoot the breeze with just about anyone, adapt to most craft styles, and facilitate a desire to have a social life and relationships that go beyond taking shots and fighting over boys? What kind of influence was it on my personality because I was overweight for most of my childhood? I know, as people often remark, that I’m overly kind, pretty attune to my sensitivity, and a fierce observer. Not fitting in (literally) as a child has made me more interesting as an adult, because the status-quo never suited me. In my opinion, I always had to think outside the box and dream up my spin on things, because simply most things didn’t agree with my height/bodyshape/personality etc. I don’t wait for something to become trendy to fall head first into it (come on crochet tissue box covers!), I don’t care if something is ‘cool’ (see any post on this blog haha 😉 ), and most of all I seek out and spend time with the things that bring me joy. Especially in my journey as a sober woman, I have never been more confident and in love with the identity I have.

do you think this young women knew she was going to inspire the person behind this blog?
the young GFK.
‘adult’ GFK.

Now, that seems like a statement of I’M THE BEST ADULT EVER, which is most certainly is not. Depending on who you ask my status an ‘adult’ is still pending most days. However, I had to reflect upon the morals, integrity, and respect that I posses and credit my own personal code after attending the M.I.A. concert last night at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.

M.I.A.

Now, do not get me wrong, when I looked around the venue there was a vast breadth of individuals – many with unique/interesting styles, all races, sexual orientations, and shapes/sizes. But, there was something wrong. As I looked at the younger women of the audience (~18-30), I saw nothing impressive. I saw giggly girls following each other around, dressed in ways that made me sad and embarrassed for them. They were mere clones of each other, wandering clones. I overheard empty conversations about Vine videos, if a boy was sexting another girl, gendered/physical name calling for concert maladies like bumping into each other, and worst – apathetic nothings. I’m not meaning this as a judgement, but more rather, as a concern. What is going on with these young women? What are their aspirations? Is it to be a size 0 and have boys sext them whilst they stand in a lycra leotard waiting for a political fugazi to perform at the same time having no individual opinion about the world? I surely hope not.

Is it purely a ‘growing up’ thing? A slow-to-mature issue? I’m hoping, because I am concerned. Where are the young girls who are fighting to be heard and pissed as hell they aren’t being heard properly? I didn’t see any young women like this last night, I only saw giggly girls. The more I am exposed to ‘youth culture’ and to what young women respond to and are expected to live up to the more I am sickened. Role models or not, the objectives of most young women these days revolve around gross self-confidence issues, in my opinion. When I see most young women, especially at bars/clubs, I can only feel disturbed. Where has the self-respect and confidence gone? Will it ever even form? Who will these giggly girls grow up to be? How will they benefit not only the female gender collectively, but the world?

I work with BRILLIANT women in my job – we joke about silly things and I teach them to knit and crochet on lunch breaks – but they are never missing that look of confidence. I know they have desires and dreams that inspire and make me want to be a better woman for this world too. What is missing outside academics? Why are little girls not dreaming up their educations or executive positions at fortune 500 companies? Why are little girls growing up to be giggly girls that hurl vicious words at each other over such shallow and vapid concerns?

Has it always been this way? I can’t say it enough. I’m worried about our world. Our social structures and compassion seem to be breaking down with each new app that is launched. I want women to be inspired to live to their potential. I want to see that brilliant confidence shine in every single little girl’s eyes.

Things need to change – they must. Where can we go and what can we do to begin?

INSPIRE2C

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

Feminist.com

Big Sisters

But the basic starting point is to tell any little girls in your life that they matter. That they are brilliant. That they are worthy of everything.

Redefine the meaning of the traditional princess dreams for little girls. Make their dreams inspired by inspiring them to do great and awesome things.

XXX
GFK

Craft Attack MuthaF*****

Happy Wednesday! I’m quite excited today, because later tonight is my monthly craft night with my favorite ladies in StitchCraft! I found these lovely ladies on MeetUp.com which is a great social planner for people new to a city or just looking for new social events to attend. For a solo-crafter like myself I have so enjoyed meeting so many crafters, whether they are knitters, crocheters, wool spinners/dyers, seamstresses, quilters, paper artisans… the list literally could go on, because there are so many wonderful people doing AMAZING things out there now. I wanted to share briefly the things I have come across lately/am in LOVE with in the world of crafting.

1. American-Made / Organic Fabrics

Let me just go ahead and inform you that cotton is one of the most heavily pesticide filled crops that we come into contact with on a daily basis. Seriously, now think about your sheets, your clothes, your lady products, your toilet paper, paper towels….. AHHHHH. I am SO ELATED to see Joann’s jump on board with an Organic Fabric line and boy is it pretty. The patterns are just so unique and visually marvelous. They are $10.99-14.99/yard though, so definitely wait for a 50% off coupon to purchase. I have only seen these in a few Joann’s stores though, I can’t seem to locate them on the website.




I’m seriously getting that panicky feeling only other crafters know right now looking at those bolts. The ‘oh man, maybe I need to leave work right now and go buy them all because what if it sells out and what if I can’t add it to the already ENORMOUS pile of WIP fabrics I have at home… ANGST.” Joann’s is also offering an “American-made” fabric line that is stunning as well. With 27 different designs and patterns it is great to see such a large chain offer something that is important to the spirit of ‘locally-made’ and responsible crafting.

Daisy On Vine Blue

I know not everyone supports shopping at a large chain like Joann’s so please check out your local fabric and sewing stores, often the smaller local shops have the best quality and respond to consumer desires faster than a giant store. My local sewing spot is The Needle Shop on Addison and Lincoln in Chicago. They offer so many different styles of rotating apparel and upholstery fabrics. Every time I go in there I think I touch and look at each bolt for 5 minutes.

2. Yarn/Crochet/Fiber Arts

I mean, I can’t even begin to share all the wonders I see daily regarding fiber arts. I’m continually inspired and awed at how crafters are able to dye/spin/manipulate and then create a gorgeous fiber item. A few of my favorite people/shops/stuff/events are:

knitxmidwest 2 – they are having a second one this year! you betchyer ass i already reserved 5 spots!

heyjenrenee – equal parts rad mom and epical knitter (plus rowan ambassador, GAPTASTIC Cowl Designer, knitxmidwest founder, the list goes on)

YarnBox – a monthly yarn delivery service that lets you sample and knit with 1/2 skeins of indie and small batch yarn producers. I seriously have LOVED being a YarnBox member. There is a wait list now, but it is worth it. Last month I got gorgeous yarn from Switzerland for christ’s sake!

Susan Crawford – the retro knit goddess.

Plus, because fiber arts are booming – so many people are creating top-notch patterns and even giving them away. Check out Ravelry before you ever buy a pattern chances are it is on there. But, if you into supporting indie pattern designers, there is no bad karma in donating or purchasing patterns from their websites/etsy.com stores/ravelry. Pay it forward my crafters!

What kind of things are inspiring you with the season change? Do you find that you change your craft entirely or just augment what you work on? Further, if anyone would like to share their thoughts and opinion about organic fabrics and/or large chain consumption I would love to hear you thoughts.

xxx
GFK

Denver April 2014

Home Sweet Home. Well sweet old home. I flew into Denver for a quick visit Friday through Monday and boy was it fun! I got to see my family, go for a wonderful hike, eat some delicious food, finish my fantasy sleeve, hung with my badass super babe crew, visited Allegro Coffee headquarters, and attended a Game of Thrones premiere party! I will do a separate post on the Allegro visit and the Game of Thrones party in the next few days. Let’s roll the footage!

first stop!  The Curve for some effing good green chili.
first stop! The Curve for some effing good green chili.
Alisha Rice finished my sleeve! Guess it's time to work on something else!
Alisha Rice finished my sleeve! Guess it’s time to work on something else!
my homie TWINKIELOVE24/7 painted this super super adorable portrait of me and my ugly tribe. xoxoxo
my homie TWINKIELOVE 24/7 painted this super super adorable portrait of me and my ugly tribe. xoxoxo

CHECK OUT HER WORK HERE 🙂

the artist known at twinkielove24/7 and I hiked dinosaur ridge in morrison.
the artist known as twinkielove24/7 and I hiked dinosaur ridge in morrison.
it was pretty muddy on the downslope.
it was pretty muddy on the downslope.
but worth it. gorgeous view of red rocks/the hogback. le sigh i miss mountains.
but worth it. gorgeous view of red rocks/the hogback. le sigh i miss mountains.
i made this amigurume dragon for out GoT party hostess Alisha Rice.
i made this amigurume dragon for out GoT party hostess Alisha Rice.
the Allegro Cafe - super amazing there.
the Allegro Cafe – super amazing there.
BEST VISIT EVER.
BEST VISIT EVER.

Together

Well it’s Valentine’s Day. It’s always a day full of such great expectations. If you have a typical Valentine good for you. I’m flying solo, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have awesome family, friends, and the tribe to send me love all year long. Plus…. Motley Crue.

Happy V Day. Whatever it means to you.

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Love yourself the most.

xxxx
GFK

February Health Challenge

I’ve decided to do something a wee bit different in terms of challenges this month because obviously I NEED to get back into the flow with writing daily blogs – I was doing so so well before the holidays. Life just gets so busy! I’ve done several things this past month that I have been proud of. I started running again which I love. It’s nice to run for mental well-being and fitness/stamina than just ‘to lose weight.’ I’m making HUGE progress on my vintage patterned sweater. I taught myself how to fair isle. Also I learned to crochet and have been having a blast learning the ins-and-outs of that art.

crochet mummy
crochet mummy

Oh and Lois visited over the weekend and we had a blast!

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Anyways this challenge. It’s just a daily reminder about health. This picture I found on Google Images for “February Blog Challenge” is old and I’m not guessing the correct blog for this is even working, but I hyperlinked the photo to the address on there despite it seeming like that domain has changed owners. I thought it would be a great way to get back in touch with some mental/physical well being.

Old Feb Challenge I'm Hi-jacking.
Old Feb Challenge I’m Hi-jacking.

So I’ll just jump right in at #4: Relaxation. This one is always tough for me, because I operate at high energy and anxiety levels 24/7. However, I do relax by knitting and embroidering. Most projects I work on become pretty therapeutic. Especially embroidery, the ‘risk’ of messing up or ‘ruining’ the project with a simple mistake does not exist.

embroidered tea-towel for my Grandma's birthday.
embroidered tea-towel for my Grandma’s birthday.

I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed learning to crochet as well – the ‘ripping out’ is so simple and not as scary/severe as when a small mistake is made in knitting. Sometimes, like last night I just crocheted a little ‘doo-dad’ and watched TV all evening. It was so relaxing and just what I needed after a jam packed weekend with Lois.

just a shriner fez for the tribe.
just a shriner fez for the tribe.

I can’t believe it’s already February. Time flies!

xxx
GFK

Fair Isle Goat Pillow DONE

Well, it’s done. It only took total 10-11 hours which is not that bad considering it was my first real Fair Isle project. I’m really pleased that I did NOT try this as the glove. I think it would have turned into a AMF knitting project (angry mofo), if I had tried DPNs with my first time Fair Isle. Anyways, there’s a few mistakes – it happens. I really dig this as a pillow and will be doing more pillow/tapestry designs in the future. I will however go a step further and knit in the round next time. All my mistakes were on the purl side (WS) so being able to see the knit side the entire time would aid in banishing those little flubs.

Finished pillow front being 'blocked' it's acrylic so it's not like that did anything.
Finished pillow front being ‘blocked’ it’s acrylic so it’s not like that did anything.
added some 'french knots' to cover up a missed black perrie. oops.
added some ‘french knots’ to cover up a missed black perrie. oops.
i really like the split in the goat.
i really like the split in the goat.
finished pillow. pug mildly impressed.
finished pillow. pug mildly impressed.
shhh mom, just shut your mouth.
shhh mom, just shut your mouth.
new sweater blaster - embroidered 'B" for the baby boris.
new sweater blaster – embroidered ‘B” for the baby boris.
one half of hall and oates. this is what i do on saturday nights people.
one half of hall and oates. this is what i do on saturday nights people.

Adventures in Fair Isle

Before the holidays, we had a secret santa at my work. Well, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a Mastering Colored Knitting book for my gift. I still in fact have no idea who gave this book to me! They won’t fess up, but when I finish my more intricate pattern I’ll send an email thanking/inquiring again. Anyways, I’ve been just practicing a few little projects and I love it. Just like most knitting techniques, I’m mad I didn’t learn this sooner. SO FUN.

Just a simple one peeries for practice.
Just a simple one peeries for practice.
First heart project on modified sweater (no cable obviously) for Boris.
First heart project on modified sweater (no cable obviously) for Boris.
Baby B likes his sweater.
Baby B likes his sweater.
Gloves have inspired a pillow 'flat/larger' project.
Gloves have inspired a pillow ‘flat/larger’ project.
Slowed down by headache/cat kisses.
Slowed down by headache/cat kisses.
Almost done. Still have 15 rows to go - adding inverted cross to top right design panel. Red to left crisscross pattern as french knots too.
Almost done. Still have 15 rows to go – adding inverted cross to top right design panel. Red to left crisscross pattern as french knots too. I’m hoping some of the gathering goes away with blocking/pressing. Damn you tension.
Valentines Cards? Can I Fair Isle this?
Valentines Cards? Can I Fair Isle this?
This is for a child. I'm thinking it would look awesome as vest. (no one wants to knit sleeves - especially for my ape like arms)
This is for a child. I’m thinking it would look awesome as vest. (no one wants to knit sleeves – especially for my ape like arms)

Pet Projects: The Animal Knit Bible

After my ‘finishing faux paw’ (harhar) on Boris’s new sweater of sewing the arm holes closed I realized I’ve knitted too many pet sweaters to be making such a silly mistake! So I’ve been inspired to share a few of the patterns I’ve made here.

a cat straight-jacket is okay with me too.
a cat straight-jacket is okay with me too.

Obviously I knit a lot. I knit for people and of course animals. I have talked a little bit about the knitted items I’ve made for the animals before, but without a doubt all the patterns are from Pet Projects: The Animal Knit Bible. I can’t even tell you how many sweaters I’ve made for mine and others’ pets, but here are a few of the patterns and a lot of sweaters I have made from this book. (PS If you click the book link it takes you to the Ravelry page with other knitters’ works too!)

Despite his grumpy demeanor he's warm.
Despite his grumpy demeanor he’s warm.
This was for a furry friend. Too short for Vlad.
This was for a furry friend. Too short for Vlad.
All dressed up and no where to go - also ever since I took this photo I've wanted to make an all grey 'knight' suit for Lee.
All dressed up and no where to go – also ever since I took this photo I’ve wanted to make an all grey ‘knight’ suit for Lee.
My first sweater for Vladimir then it became Leopold's.
My first sweater for Vladimir then it became Leopold’s.
Although short, he prefers this sweater because he can run around.
Although short, he prefers this sweater because he can run around and you know grab a cup of coffee.
Pet bed, perfect for two.
Pet bed, perfect for two.
Vladimir's favorite summer spot.
Vladimir’s favorite summer spot.
"The Anti-Firework" Balaclava..... aka "The Laugh Hysterically at Your Animal Hat"
“The Anti-Firework” Balaclava….. aka “The Laugh Hysterically at Your Animal Hat”
Again "Laugh Hysterically"
Again “Laugh Hysterically”
I modified this hat to make Lee transform into RASTA PUG MAHN.
I modified this hat to make Lee transform into RASTA PUG MAHN.

They have a LOT of wonderful color pattern knits in this book too. I think I’m gonna turn the page from the sweater section and start making a few other fun animal items. Coveting it now? Buy it here.