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Where have I been?

Life happens sometimes.

The second half of February was not the best couple weeks of my life, and I had a lot of things requiring my full attention.  Crafting slipped by the wayside in a big way, and I must admit I have lost some of my passion for what I used to do.  I firmly believe it will come back soon, but for the time being, I still have some other things on which to focus for a while.

The biggest of these things is my new career: I have finally had the opportunity to get into the personal fitness business!

Becoming a personal trainer is something I have wanted to do for many years.  Coming from the sports background I have, and considering my desire to stay as active as possible, it seemed the natural choice for a career path.  Unfortunately, it wasn't something I had previously studied in any formal setting, and it seemed almost impossible to break into the field without resources like time and money (neither of which I have had a surplus of in ages).  As luck would have it, I apparently needed neither - just the positive attitude and strong personal drive to succeed that has made me successful in many pursuits throughout my life.

I applied to an opening for a rehabilitation technician at a private physical therapy practice, and within the hour, I was on-site interviewing with the owner/practitioner.  A few hours later he offered me the job, and I started the next day.  It's been two full weeks now, and I absolutely LOVE EVERY BIT OF IT!

From day one, I started working directly with patients.  Dr Brian's office offers a "one stop health shop" that does more than put a band-aid on pain.  Through a mix of physical therapy, chiropractic therapy, nutrition, and general awareness, Dr Brian assists patients with issues from all across the board: from surgery recovery, to athletic injury, to "wear and tear" issues, and even to general fitness and nutrition questions.  The amount of variety in my day is incredible, and I am learning sooooooo much.  I've been soaking it up like a sponge - and using it all as motivation to do better about my own personal health.  I practice many of our exercises at home every night and on the weekends.  I've also begun a more rigorous fitness calendar, which now includes running, jumping rope, Zumba, yoga, weight training, resistance training, and flexibility/mobility exercise.

Dr Brian is also looking to eventually grow the therapy practice into an even more all-inclusive center, and is very vocal about he and I "growing together."  He is willing and eager to help train me for personal training certification, and has even hinted at providing opportunities for me to lead group fitness and possibly individual fitness programs when we move to a larger facility.  Our patients are incredibly supportive of the practice and of my addition to the team, which has given me extra confidence and added drive to do right by our patrons.  All in all, I think the room for me to grow and develop an actual career is vast.

I have rapidly been "getting back to myself" through fitness and education.  The past few years have pulled me out of touch with the athlete I used to be, and the lack of physical challenge has sent ripples through the rest of my life.  I am confident that I am finally back on track to reach a better self, which has been much needed of late.

I would like to try to keep posting to this blog, though it will have a much more fitness-focus for a while.  Crafting is still a love, but it needs a break while I establish myself in this new field.  Posts may be sparse for a bit, but I truly hope to stay in touch and get back to my creation hobby as soon as possible.

Thanks for reading, as always, and let me know if you'd like to see any specific types of posts in the coming weeks/months.

Namaste!

A Medieval Birthday/Valentines!

Pardon the sparse posting this weekend, today is my birthday and it's been a busy weekend!  Thank you to all my friends who joined us last night for games and treats, and thank you for the thoughtful gifts!

Today my husband and I celebrated with a trip to Medieval Times!  We both love the tournament venue, but hadn't yet attended together.  They offer a Valentine's package, compete with champagne and lots of take-homes, so we figured we'd do birthday and Valentine's together and have a blast!  Sadly, our knight lost, but at least he died with honor - unlike that awful blue knight who gave a coward's challenge to our valiant yellow knight just moments after he defeated his first opponent.  It would be easier to hate the blue knight for not giving yellow a bit of a rest, if he hadn't gone on to not only win the tournament, but also to defeat the evil barbarians who threatened to steal away with the fair princess!

As always, it was fun, exciting, and delicious!  But I think I shall leave off here, and go back to the rest of the evening with my hubbsy!

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Snow Architecture 101

I built a snow fort last night, I just HAD to share!  Is it crafting?  Not really sure, but it was definitely FUN!

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Finally, another crack at spinning!

Last week, an amazingly generous woman sent me a box full of spinning fibers, so I could practice and continue learning how to spin my own yarn while I'm on a tight budget.  I finally sat down to play with my gift, and I think I'm already doing better than before with my little spindle!

The first time or two, I was simply spinning to get the motions down and see the mechanics in action.  This time, I was a little more confident and actually tried for some consistency.  I also tried to make the yarn as thin as I could (with all the fine thread crochet I've been doing, I'm hoping to use my own home spun yarn for a small crochet project) instead of having a bulky, I-don't-know-what-I'm-doing yarn like the first one.

I chose to use the bright pink fibers, and quickly realized my kindly donor had dyed the fibers just for me when my fingers started to glow bright pink themselves!  I also started to notice the slight variations in the color, which will make for a beautiful and unique yarn.  With some careful separating and stretching, I managed to complete quite a bit of relatively thin yarn!

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And it's somewhat consistent.  There aren't huge lumps anywhere, though there are places when the yarn ended up pencil-thin instead of just kinda-thin.  I'm also realizing that the bottoms of my cop yarns (the stuff I wind around the shaft) are getting fluffed and pulled out, most likely due to using my leg as a base for starting the spin.  This could probably be solved by a longer shaft or by using a different flicking method.

I've got TONS more of this fiber, so I'll definitely be keeping at it!  I'm proud of my smoother joins and better consistency, but there's SO MUCH MORE to learn!  I can't wait!  Stay tuned for progress!

Basketweave Bracelet: Round 2

Ah as promised, I whipped up another of the basketweave bracelets for Erin, my new friend, which I gifted her today.  She loved it!

I did remember to make the changes in the starting rows, and it worked nicely: instead of having the underside of the clasp area wider than the rest of the bracelet, now it is ever so slightly narrower, and stays tucked away much more neatly.  I also opted to go with one button, slightly larger than the previous ones, since it is a little difficult to actually get the buttons through the treble crochet row.  It's so tough with two buttons that I ended up stretching my own bracelet enough so I can slide it on and off instead of doing the buttons!

For this one, I used a variegated crochet thread, and I'm not sure that was the best choice for bringing out the pattern.  It still came out very pretty, and the purple button was almost as great a find as the seafoam green buttons for the pink bracelet, but in the future I will probably stick to single color thread, or maybe something self-striping so I could have fading blocks of color.  Whatcha think?

Best

Basketweave Crochet Bracelet

Now that I've crocheted up a storm with fancy motifs, I thought it would be best to try something a little different.  I happened to stumble across a great basketweave pattern, and made a little bracelet!  I particularly love the seafoam green buttons on the pink crochet thread - didn't plan it, just got lucky to find the exact right color in my old button collection!

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Though you can't see in the photos, the underside of the clasp section is a little wider than the topside, so next time I make one of these (probably soon, as a gift for my new bestie) I will likely modify the number of starting chains slightly, then increase in the row that sets up the pattern, to get the proper number of basketweave stitches.  But really, that's a minor issue, so if it doesn't work, or - more likely - I forget to make the changes, the bracelet still works nicely!

More painting practice

With the reasonable success I've had with the couple of paintings I've done lately, I've started pushing myself a little more.  I'll never be "a great painter" but I'm slowly producing more complex images.  Rather than post them individually here, I've been uploading them to an Imgur album as I complete new ones. You can see my work so far by clicking here! You'll see a couple old ones that have been previously posted to this blog, but I'll be adding any new pieces to the album upon their completion, so if you like what you see now, feel free to bounce back to it in a week or so, to see what else I've done!

A better dice bag, and more new friends!

I took the opportunity today to check out a much more local knitting group, which meets at my local library.  Though the members of this group were distinctly older than the previous couple of groups I'd attended, they were no less exciting and full of energy!  I'm hoping to be able to attend this one more often, though it is earlier in the day, and my upcoming new job may not be so flexible with hours.

My project today was the aforementioned modified dragon scale dice bag I've been planning to try.  I used a smaller hook, cut down on my base rounds, and added some extra shaping to the "scales" to make the bag a little more to my liking.  What I ended up with is MUCH more like a little dice-sized pouch, and the scales are a lot more convincing!  I'm incredibly pleased with my results, especially considering this was the first time I've ever modified an existing pattern to create my own vision.  Yay!

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SO ESSITED to learn more spinning!

Wow!

There are some amazing people out there, let me tell you.  I shared my first attempt at spinning with the Reddit yarn arts community, and asked for some guidance for purchasing spinning supplies on a tight budget - and ended up with an incredible gift!  A fellow Redditor sent me a box of fibers to practice my spinning!  I hit up the library to grab some literature on the subject, and can't wait to dive into it all this week!

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Thank you thank you THANK YOU!  I'm already halfway through Abby Franquemont's Respect the Spindle, and I think I might make myself a second spindle to have some variety in my tools, which ought to help me get a better feel for the art and find my comfort zone.  Wish me luck!

How is this a dice bag?

Most of my crochet has been granny squares and motifs so far, so last night at Mia Bella I decided to try something a little different, and potentially more challenging.  I found a pattern for a "dragon scale" dice bag, and went at it with gusto.

About a third of the way through the pattern, I realized this bag was going to be WAY too big for a dice bag.  I have a pretty sizable collection of dice, though in the photo I only grabbed less than half, and the partially-finished bag was already huge compared to the amount of space I'd need for a reasonable dice bag:

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I decided to cut the pattern off three ruffle rows early, to prevent it from being too long and narrow.  I don't think the pattern really looks like dragon scales, so I wanted this project off my hook so I could try a new version with some modifications.  My finished project is still really cool, just not quite what I had been hoping for when I started:

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Next week I'll try a smaller version, and toy with some ideas I have to make the scales more pointy and scaly.  Check back to see if it works!

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