Not Knitting

Distractions, or Why I Haven’t Been Knitting

I’m wearing a sweater! In April!

Hiking in Flagstaff.

Thrifting in Prescott. Oh, the jokes we made…

Tina was driving. I had no choice.

Snow! At the Snowbowl.

Hiking in Sedona.

To Ponder: If you have one true friend you have more than your share. |-Thomas Fuller-|



Counting My Blessings: March 2015

My car is running great, my yoga classes are filling with students, and the water continues to run in my little red cabin. This month, I’m specifically grateful for these things:

1. My sister had surgery to remove a tumor on the inside of her skull, and not only was the surgery a success and the doctors let her go home the next day, they didn’t shave her head. That’s a blessing for her, but I was blessed that we didn’t have to do as my brother suggested, which is shave our heads in solidarity.

2. I love being self-employed, and am always looking for new ways to earn money that will work with my yoga schedule and still allow me to design knitwear. It looks like house- and pet-sitting is going to be one of those ways. I pet-sat for my friend Kate in February, and casually mentioned it in another yoga class, and someone asked if I did that, and I thought, well, yes, I guess I do.

I had my second gig this month, sitting two sweet Schnauzers, living in a house with this view from the back porch:

Surrounded by beauty.

3. As mentioned in my last post, I took an intro to sailing class at the local yacht club. The cost was only $30 for two full weekends of classroom instruction and sailing.

Rigging the J-22.

Catching the wind.

I don’t really get sailing, and I certainly can’t afford it as a hobby, but I feel blessed to have the time and money to take the class and to spend a few days with people who know everything there is to know about sailing.

4. Mountain laurels are in bloom.

Making my world smell lovely.

What are you grateful for lately?

p.s. I’m wearing The Sweater in the sailing photos (taken by my friend Sylvie).

To Ponder: Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. |-Howard Thurman-|

Counting My Blessings: February 2015

I never forget that heat, running water, health, clothes, and yarn are daily blessings, but my life is blessed in so many specific ways.

1. A customer from the farmer’s market—a gal who has bought a few things from me to give as gifts and who bought my Voussoir hat for herself—came up to me saying that she had lost her hat. She hoped I had another one in the same color, but I didn’t. I had some of the same yarn, however, and told her I would knit another one for her. I don’t normally do custom work, but she told me, “I love that hat and wear it all the time.”

Aw. How could I refuse her after a sweet compliment like that?

2. I have friends, who, after six months of listening to me fret about my psychotic neighbor, will still listen to me.

Why do paranoid people think that foil helps?

Some friends—the ones with money who think I should have just moved already, as if it were that easy—make a flippant comment and change the subject, but some understand the daily torture I endure. They can’t do anything, but they listen, and that is a true blessing.

3. A couple of weeks ago, I got a lead on a house out here in a really nice neighborhood that I wouldn’t be able to afford except that the owner was asking half the tax value of the house. It’s about 1,400 square-feet with a 650-sf detached garage on .61 acres surrounded by an 8′ deer-proof chain link fence. It wasn’t listed with a realtor, but the owner is the cousin of a friend.

That upper deck used to have a view of a lake until the trees grew.

It needed work, but nothing insurmountable, and it was livable in the meantime, and I was blessed by so many friends offering help and advice:

  • Angie looked at the house with me and agreed that it was awesome, and said she would help me update the inside.
  • Letty, a friend I’ve known since fifth grade, who has a serious career and rather a lot of money, was willing to let me borrow some so I could buy and move into this house before I sold my current one.

Different high schools couldn’t break up these freshmen.

  • Tina said she would loan me the money if she had it.
  • My brother, a man of infinite knowledge and talent, sent dozens of emails helping me find a way to make this work, and even offered to fix the roof and electric issues.
  • Kate offered her husband Eric, a full-time home inspector, to look at the house with a professional eye. They both came out on Valentine’s Day and Eric spent two hours going over everything. And he didn’t charge me! He’s getting a handknit hat, though.

There were many reasons I decided not to get the house, but the main ones were that a) I’m supremely lazy and would drag my feet on the DIY projects, and b) I wasn’t keen on the long-term costs of owning a property that’s three times bigger than the one I have now.

I was blessed a second time by everyone understanding my decision.

4. Kale is cheap and healthy, and dehydrates into The Best kale chip snack.

5. My Kettenglied Fingerless Mitts pattern was published in Knit Picks 2015 Spring Accessories Collection.

6. When I emailed my friend Sarah asking if I could live with her for a couple or three months in Tacoma, she wrote back, “Well of course!!” Just like that.

7. I have enough money to pay my bills, and a little extra to save.

What are you grateful for these days?

To Ponder: There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle; the other as though everything is a miracle. |-Albert Einstein-|

Changing the Name of My Blog

I’m thinking about changing the name of my blog to A Texas Girl Sucks, and here’s why:

I made a ridiculous rookie mistake while knitting The Sweater.

Everything I’ve submitted lately has been rejected.

My truck stopped running for no reason at all.

Heck, I even ordered something from Amazon to be delivered 2nd day just so I could give my UPS guy the Christmas gift I bought for him weeks ago, and the package was delivered by FedEx.

Anyone else feel like it’s a good thing breathing is an automatic body process?

To Ponder: The real problem is most of us are idiots. We just like to think we’re not idiots because we use sh*t a bunch of smart people figured out. But how many of us understand that sh*t? If I left you in the woods with a hatchet, how long before you could send me an email? |-Joe Rogan-|



Counting My Blessings: January 2015

1. A couple of days after Christmas, I received a message from a fellow Raveller. She added me as a friend, then sent a note of introduction that read, in part, “Your blog is wonderful and I hope you keep designing and writing for a long, long time!” Really. She wrote that.

I’m so thankful that a) anyone at all reads my blog, and b) a girl who is half my age is inspired by it.

2. My yoga student Judy came to the first class of the new year with a cold bottle of beer—Dogfish Head Namaste. She saw it while shopping at Central Market in Austin and thought of me. Sweet, right?

Namaste is a Sanskrit word used by yogis everywhere.

I drink what I can afford, which is Lone Star Light in cans, so this was a nice upgrade.

It was unclear to both of us what the clapping skeleton had to do with its name, but we agreed that it was cool.

3. This exists:

A device that lets you sit and knit in warmth.

4.  A Mother Superior at a convent purchased my Ironheart Pullover pattern.

Ironheart Pullover by A Texas Girl Knits

What colors would a nun choose?

I hope she loves it enough to ask the Big PR Guy in the Sky to promote it.

5. The inside driver’s side door handle on my car has been broken for about two years, and I have to roll down my window to open the door from the outside. (I know…classy.) Then a couple of months ago, the outdoor handle snapped off when my door was frozen shut. I could still open the door, but I figured it was time to get both of them fixed. I ordered the parts on eBay and my sweet brother replaced both of them for the price of a Whataburger bacon cheeseburger. (And regardless of what he says, I DID help.)

6. Last week, I house- and dog-sat for my friend Kate. She and her husband live in a warm house full of floor-to-ceiling windows, a wrap-around deck, incredible paintings, a funky art collection, a hot tub, and home-brewed beer on tap.

The best part was seven days and six nights of absolute peace and quiet. No dogs barking in the middle of the night. No headlights shining into my bedroom window when Mr. Neighbor leaves for work at 0600. No redneck neighbors running power tools until midnight. No crazy neigbor and her foil-draped house. Just the sound of the creek running behind their house and the occasional Chewbaca noise when one of the dogs wanted his belly scratched.

(Well, okay, the best part was the beer on tap.)

7. New year’s resolutions=more yoga students=more sweet, interesting people coming into my life.

How have you been blessed this month?

To Ponder: Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about your joys. |-Rita Schiano-|

One Approach to the New Year

The past few Saturdays, during my volunteer shift at the library, one of the patrons has smelled like woodsmoke.

That’s a smell I can’t get enough of. So honest and comforting.

A couple of years ago, some new friends invited me to their New Year’s Day celebration where they had an outdoor fire going. I didn’t wash my hair for a couple of days because it smelled like smoke and I wanted it to linger.

After that, I ordered this cool incense sampler with seven natural wood fragrances.

Now I know what alder smells like.

I sometimes burn it in my office while I knit and watch TV shows on my computer.

And one of my favorite times of the year is when the county-wide burn ban is lifted and people set fire to their burn piles that they’ve been building up with felled or fallen trees and branches. It’s usually after a rain, so the fires are quite smokey, and when I’m driving along and sight one, I roll down my windows and start sniffing.

So this person who smells so heavily of woodsmoke at the library isn’t so unusual.

I smelled smoke every time I went to the information desk to chat with the librarian when I wasn’t checking out books and DVDs, so I knew it was a patron using a computer because the desk is right in front of the bank of them, and the computers see a lot of action on Saturdays.

Last week, I was at the circulation desk, annoyed that my black cashmere sweater was pilling so much, when one of the computer regulars, a woman whose face I know, but name I don’t, came up to me, smiling, and said she had gotten some great news. Her friend in Florida just paid her cell phone bill and she’s finally going to have phone service after being without it for a couple of months.

She likes to talk, and often starts conversations randomly. I had spoken with her a few times over the summer, mostly about how she had lost her employment due to a serious health problem and is having a hard time finding another job.

As she told me about an upcoming trip to see her teenage son who is living at a boy’s home in north Texas, I realized that she was the one who smelled like woodsmoke.

“Now I just have to go over to my neighbor’s house and charge my phone,” she said. “I don’t have electricity.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “Why is that?”

“I lost my job a while back and my husband is disabled and can’t work, and we couldn’t pay the bill, so they shut it off.”

And then it hit me: she smells like woodsmoke because she’s trying to stay warm.

If you’re reading this from your computer at home, your power is on. Your heat and air conditioning work, as does your refrigerator, stove, oven, microwave, blender, coffee maker, lights, washer, dryer, television, water heater, and phone charger. You have the money to pay the electric bill, so you’re healthy enough to work. You probably even have a car to drive to your job.

Isn’t that wonderful?

This year, what if we are grateful for what we have and don’t worry so much about what’s missing.

To Ponder: Trade your expectation for appreciation and the world changes instantly. |-Tony Robbins-|

Crochet Crush: Sophie Digard

First, let’s be clear that I am not a hooker. I am exclusively a knitter. I use two needles with points on the ends to knit and purl skeins of wool into something wearable. When I use more than one color, I don’t have a squillion ends to weave in, and nothing I make can be started at breakfast and worn at lunch.

It’s not that I don’t like to crochet, it’s that I don’t grok it. What do you do with your other hand? How can anything be made with only one loop in action? (If I’m down to one loop, I’m at the end of the bind-off row which means the thing is done.) And charts without gridlines? Sheesh.

Like Walter Sobchak dabbling in pacifism (not in ‘Nam, of course), I have dabbled in crochet. Knitting sometimes benefits from a crochet edge or reinforcement, so I’m not completely useless with a hook. I can make a chain, single crochet, double crochet, and even triple crochet, but I’ve never made anything wearable. Never really wanted to.

And then along came Sophie Digard.

A talent like hers makes you want to know everything about her so you can do what she does. Where was she born? Did she study poetry and architecture in school, because her scarves have elements of both. Was she an only child given every opportunity by indulgent parents, or did she wake up from a coma one day at the orphanage asking for a skein of yarn and a size G hook?

But she’s the J.D. Salinger of the fiber arts—a rather enigmatic French genius who doesn’t have a website or blog, or any online presence, really. I could find no interviews with her and very few details about her and her art—and this is art, not craft—except that she lives in Madagascar with her family and employs hundreds of local women to produce these masterpieces. Mostly accessories like scarves, necklaces, and purses.

A Sophie Digard scarf costs more than my monthly mortgage payment, so I figured I could learn how to crochet those little puffy flowers and make my own. (Yes, I know…but a master makes everything look easy. What writer doesn’t read The Catcher in the Rye and think they could write another one?)

My crochet vocabulary is limited, so that’s what I searched for—puffy crochet flowers. Naturally, it took forever to find instructions for them because they’re called Mollie flowers. And they’re not easy to make.

Plus, if you’re not Sophie Digard, they look like this:

I didn’t even try.

And even if I did carve out a month’s worth of time to figure them out, I couldn’t duplicate the colors. Sophie works with merino wool, linen, and velvet, using up to 60 hues in a single color palette that is hand-dyed to her specifications.

Her scarves are made from several strands of laceweight yarn held together, so creating just the right color and fiber combination is something only Sophie Digard can do. (Well, Sophie and a bunch of hookers living on an island off the coast of southeast Africa.)

Just so you’re clear about the majesty of her color sense, I believed myself to be a genius when I combined these two yarns together on a hat.

Ironheart Hat by Robin Allen - A Texas Girl Knits

“People always clap for the wrong things.”

In a future post, I’ll tell you how I came to own a Sophie Digard scarf.

To Ponder: We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. |-Lloyd Alexander-|

Pinterest Mashup: The Dude Abides

The Big Lebowski is my most favoritist movie of all time, and I follow a board or two on Pinterest dedicated to that theme.

Here are a couple of recent Pinterest mashups* that feature The Dude.

“Mr. Treehorn treats objects like women, man.”


“That rug really tied the room together.”

* I follow lots of different kinds of boards on Pinterest. Knitting boards, of course, but also boards for style, design, the comforting images of snow and rain, coffee/tea, modernist architecture, inspirational quotes, The Big Lebowski, and tiny houses. Every so often, a couple of pins sit close together and editorialize each other.

To Ponder: Sometimes you eat the bar and, sometimes the bar, well, he eats you. |-The Stranger-|

Counting My Blessings: December 2014

You know, when you start your day being grateful that you’re getting out of a warm bed after a full night’s sleep and that clean water comes out of the tap when you turn it on—not because you’ve had water problems lately, but because you live in a time and a place where it’s even possible—you can look at everything that happens to you the rest of the day as a blessing.

Here are some highlights from my month.

1. Last year, my friend and yoga student Jean and I were talking about keeping our drafty little houses warm without turning on the (expensive) central heat. I set my thermostat at 58 and use little electric space heaters in my bedroom and office. She uses a portable oil-filled space heater—one of those big ones that looks like a radiator that New Yorkers are always complaining about not working.

My bathroom is the warmest room in the house.

They aren’t too expensive, so I could have bought one, but I just don’t have room in my house to store it for the 10 months it’s not needed. Jean had an extra one that she let me borrow last year, and this year, when we had our early cold snap, she brought it to class for me to borrow again. Aw.

2. I always know when a package is coming in the mail because I’m the one who ordered it, but last week I opened my mailbox to a surprise Christmas gift from my BFF—three divinely fragrant handmade soaps from a company that her friend just started.

Thanks, Tina!

3. At the end of the farmer’s market on Saturdays, the food vendors trade their leftovers amongst themselves. I don’t participate because my knitting isn’t going into the compost bin if someone doesn’t buy it that day.

Last Saturday, one of the farmers came up to me as I was packing up and said I should come to his stand and pick out some vegetables. My friend Angie, who sells bread and pastries for the restaurant she works at, had given him two loaves of bread and let me have the vegetable trade. Aw. I got broccoli, garlic, and mixed greens.

4. My yoga students are always so sweet and generous, and especially so at Christmas. The students in my Tue/Thu morning class pooled their money and gave me an Amazon gift card. The students in my evening class gave me individual gifts: cash, wine, coffee beans, fruit, chard, raw cacao truffles, raw energy bars, raw honey from a sister’s bees, artisanal olive oil soap, Neutrogena sesame oil, a Specs gift card, yoga-themed notecards, handknit socks, a ceramic coffee go cup, copper earrings from Alaska, and a handmade copper-and-silver necklace.

Their friendship, kindness, and thoughtfulness are always a blessing.

Hannah always makes her Christmas cards; this year she tatted snowflakes.

Kate designed this necklace just for me. Wow, right?

Kate also decorated the gift bag.

5. The infirmed mother of my friend Chris came to live with her, and Chris had to get rid of the bed in her guest room to make room for her mother’s special bed, so she gave me the mattress—a queen-size Beautyrest that’s less than a year old.

She and her sister helped me get it into my house, which was a job, I tell you, because my property is on an incline and it’s stone steps all the way up. Chris also let me store my old mattress in her storage unit in case this one didn’t work out. (So far, my back likes it.)

6. My little red truck has been acting up the last couple of times I drove it, hesitating on acceleration. It felt like a fuel problem, so I put $20 of premium in the tank, hoping that would fix it. It didn’t. This is a second car (a blessing in itself), and I don’t drive it much, but when I need it, I need it. (Ref #5 above.)

Last week, I drove it here and there on some errands, hoping that I just needed to run more of the premium fuel through the engine, but that didn’t work either, and the problem seemed to be getting worse.

Before I took it to a mechanic, I tried one more thing: a fuel additive called BG44K.

Little can o’ magic.

I bought it at NAPA (from the same nice guy who had cleaned my corroded battery connections earlier in the month), drove to the Valero station, poured the stuff into the tank then filled up with regular gas. It worked immediately.

7. Jesus blessed us all with His birth.

Matthew 2:1-12

How have you been blessed this month?

To Ponder: The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. |-William Morris-|