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On the hook: A sweater, a vest, and lots of ornaments

August 21, 2011

It was the hottest day of the summer: one-hundred four degrees, heat index at one-fifteen. We were in the car. I can’t remember where we were heading to or from, and it doesn’t really matter. An impulse struck me. “Can we stop at the yarn store?” I asked Keith.

No sooner had we entered the shop than my eyes — and arms — were full of yarn: five hanks of Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Ultramarine and two hanks of angora wool spun by a local artist (pictured below, top left). Add three hanks of Manos del Uruguay Maxima in Prairie that caught Keith’s attention, and despite — or perhaps in spite of — the indomitable summer, an autumn crochet frenzy had been ignited.

New yarn by Sarah EhmanAfter purchasing some additional yarn online, I’ve started on a vest for Keith to wear when we visit Vermont in October, plus a sweater or two (or three) for myself. There’s still plenty of yarn that hasn’t been designated yet, but I’ve got a few ideas. And, using the momentum all these other projects have given me, I started crocheting Christmas ornaments with a view to finally entering a local ornament show and sale this year.

Yet, with all of these cool-season projects going on, it seems that I’m now succumbing to some sort of seasonal dissociative disorder. I want to put on jeans and a sweater, but it’s still over eighty degrees outside every day. The greenness of the trees outside is sometimes startling. Forget grilled hamburgers and fruit salads and cold soups; all I can think about is roast turkey and squash and potatoes. And hot chocolate. And pie. At this rate, I’ll be ready to put up the Christmas tree by Halloween.

Crochet works in progress by Sarah Ehman

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Make your own happiness

August 13, 2011

Dahlias in Chiaroscuro by Sarah Ehman (c) 2011

If you’re a perfectionist, like me, or just someone who likes the sensation of crossing things off lists — like me — you probably put a lot of value on quantifying your accomplishments. For people like us, there’s a positive correlation between accomplishments and self-worth: the more you get done, the more valuable you feel.

I woke up this morning feeling weighed down — physically and emotionally — feeling almost sad, lethargic, apathetic. I was hungry, but didn’t feel like eating; tired, but didn’t feel like sleeping. The house was dirty, but I didn’t feel like cleaning. I was bored, but didn’t feel like doing.

It’s tough, on a day like this, to get anything done. (Well, anything other than eating Ritz crackers and ice cream and watching season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Netflix. …What?!) Whether it’s motivation or inspiration you lack, the longer you sit around doing nothing, the worse you feel; and the worse you feel, the less motivated you are to get up and do something useful.

Infographic: Self-Worth vs. Accomplishments vs. Motivation by Sarah EhmanIt finally occurred to me that there are two ways to approach this kind of situation, to deal with the ever-deepening hole. The first way is to sink in and let it take over. For an hour or two, I mindlessly sat in the living room, staring at Facebook, staring at the floor, thinking about how long my to-do list was, dreading it all. Cleaning. Crocheting. Designing. And at the same time, I was dreading reaching the end of the weekend and finding it wasted, feeling ill-equipped to tackle the week ahead.

The second way is to look toward the light at the other end. Instead of thinking about how much cleaning there is to do, I think about how good I feel when the house is clean and I work toward that. Instead of focusing on how much work is involved in cooking breakfast, I choose a dish that reminds me of fall and winter — my favorite time of year — and I make it. Now, I feel my spirits begin to lift, motivation to get moving, to feel productive — and happy.

I think of this as making your own happiness, and it’s largely about perspective. It applies to a single crummy day, or a crummy month, or a crummy year. You aren’t changing your circumstances, which often are (or seem to be) beyond your control; instead, you’re changing the way you view your circumstances. You can dwell on the negative aspects of the present situation, or you can focus on the positive aspects: what opportunities does this situation offer? Realizing that you have a choice is a tremendously powerful moment. A simple shift in perspective is often all it takes to start getting things accomplished and feeling more like a worthwhile, happy human being. No — a human doing.

Yours touchy-feelily,

Sarah

On bravery

August 4, 2011

If you're not scared, you can't be brave - Jo Nesbo - photo by Sarah Ehman

Without Words: Summer of Babies

July 23, 2011

Crocheted baby loafer by Sarah Ehman - A Fine Line
Baby shower gift by Sarah Ehman - A Fine Line
Sarah with crocheted newborn hat by Keith Ehman - A Fine Line
Baby shower decorations by Sarah Ehman - A Fine Line
Crocheted baby blanket by Sarah Ehman - A Fine Line
Keith holding nephew Jordan by Sarah Ehman - A Fine Line

Alleviation

July 14, 2011

Softly tapping against the glass; tinny percussion on the car’s roof. Thunder rolls and vibrations in the air make my fingers tingle. The sharp scent of wet soil and bark tickles my nose. I close my eyes and drink in the sensations, feeling lighter with every lightning flash, feeling quieter with every easy, wet breeze.

The swelling heat and humidity has been weighing on me like a moon-sized water balloon pressing me down into a frying pan. I hate the summer, I grumble silently over and over again: my spiteful mantra. The air is laden with moisture; even the nearest treeline is hazy. My skin feels sticky and dirty whenever I step outside and I’m sweating before I’ve even walked fifty yards. My stride becomes lazy and slow, and I’m nearly dragging my heels along the ground trying to wade through the thickened atmosphere. I hate the summer.

As I go about my day, suddenly, the skies grow dark with steely gray clouds. The tension builds between the ground and the sky like static electricity until POW! a flash of lightning and CRACK! a wave of thunder and PAT! PAT! PATPATPATPAT! the rain begins to drop. Resentment-tensed muscles begin to loosen and I breathe deeply. Relief. My spirits soar, feeling lighter, cooler, cleaner, freer. I love the rain, I whisper silently over and over again, as if it will continue for as long as I think it. I love the rain.

On the road

July 7, 2011

Quote: On the Road - A Fine Line

Ah, summer. Seems like we’ve been going from here to there and back again almost every weekend for the last few months — and will be for a few months more. It’s as exhausting as it is exciting. A new weekend approaches: what new adventures await?

On the hook: Granny Circle Placemats

June 28, 2011

The last few months have been crazy full of events and activities, many of which I hope to actually write about someday soon. Now that I’ve finished or am finishing several major projects, I’ve realized that it’s time to unwind with some simplicity; suddenly, I feel like getting back to basics. Keith has been asking me for a long time to teach him some drawing skills. But when was the last time I practiced — I mean really practiced — drawing? Too long. Years and years. And cooking?! Some good, simple, basic cooking? I don’t even want to think about it.

Lately, I’ve been noticing lots of crochet projects based on the simple granny square. I think, for most crocheters, the granny square holds a special place in the heart. It was one of the first patterns I learned when my mom taught me to crochet. When I picked the craft back up several years ago, I ignored the granny in favor of cleaner, more delicate and modern patterns. But with the right yarn and color palette, the classic crochet motif  can be elevated from crafty kitsch to an artful juxtaposition of sweet nostalgia and modern aesthetics. And that suits me just fine.

So when I saw the tutorial for Granny Circle Placemats on The Purl Bee blog last week, I knew that the timing was right. Simple. Useful. And I was just thinking about buying circle placemats the other day! Now I’ll just make them.

I’ve been keeping Project Spectrum in the back of my mind as I plan personal projects, so I decided to accent my placemats with green. Even though I won’t finish a full set before the end of June (I’ll be lucky to finish one placemat!), it’s a fun, easy project to use up some green and white stash yarn and help me get back to basics.

Granny Circle Placemats