Knitting, New Year's Eve, & Doctor Who

I've been relaxing over our holiday break by knitting.  I can't really be still for very long unless I have something to do. The maroon hat at the top of the photo is from a pattern on Lion Brand Yarns site.  It's called Herdwick Dell.  It has a matching scarf pattern that I will make later.

The dark charcoal gray cowl is an Irish Fisherman pattern, also from Lion Brand.  I love cowls.  They don't slip off like a scarf can and they are really gaining popularity again.  I started this one for one of my sons.  He knits too, but does not (yet) attempt cables or intricate stitches. I will  take more photos to show the lovely stitches in this pattern when it's completed.  After about the 30th row you start to really get the rhythm of a pattern.  I'm obsessive once I get going on a pattern like this.  If not, I'll totally forget where I left off - even if I mark the pattern.  It takes me some time to get back into it once I've let it lay too long.

The light gray piece is a hat for Hubby.  I just did a K2P2 ribbing for about 4 inches, increased a couple of st on each end and began working a moss stitch for the crown.  I'll use one of the other hat patterns for the shaping - keeping in my pattern.  I hope to finish it and the cowl before we return to school next week.

As I knit I like to watch (actually listen is more accurate) movies or favorite TV shows.  For these projects I've been watching Doctor WhoNew ones and old ones.  Love me some Netflix!  Since watching so much of the Doctor whilst knitting maybe I should be knitting a fez!

Usually drawing and illustrating are my favorite downtime pleasures.  Just doodling around in my sketchbooks - creating wild creatures and people is great to keep me fresh and to relax. But after teaching illustration and design every day, I need a break now and then.  However,  Hubby bought me two new books to feed my painting/illustration needs:  James Gurney's "Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter" and "Imaginative Realism".  Both of these books are great resources for any artist.  I highly recommend them for artists of all media.  Follow James' blog for daily inspiration.

Have a great New Year!  Be Safe.  Be Happy.  Be Creative!


Jamie Oliver's Wish

I adore Jamie Oliver.  Whenever I get the opportunity I watch Jamie Oliver At Home.  I love his approach to cooking and food. You can feel his passion as you watch him prepare deliciously fresh dishes.

In this TEDtalk he discusses his wish for arming families with the tools they need to fight obesity.  I teach high school and I'm appalled by the lack of quality, freshness, and diversity in our school lunches.  I applaud Jamie's mission and hope that America (and the rest of the world) wakes up and starts cooking at home again.  What's most frightening is the youngster's lack of real food knowledge.

I grew up with grandparents (and parents) who farmed.  We kids would help grow and harvest what we ate.  We helped with the livestock.  When we had chicken for dinner one Sunday a month, we were the ones who killed and prepped the chicken(s) for the table. We knew where our food came from.  We knew a beet from a turnip. We knew the difference between butternut squash and crookneck squash. We planted popcorn and Silver Queen corn.  We knew that we would itch "somethin' fierce" if we didn't wear gloves to harvest the okra.  We ate beans of all kinds, cabbages, turnip greens/collards/kale, and all other manner of vegetables grown by our grandparents or us.  Nothing is more satisfying than picking really ripe tomatoes and eating them right there in the garden.

I am now determined to garden more this next summer. I've let it slip into a few potted plants like tomatoes, bell peppers, and my sad herb garden.   I want to grow as much as possible.  I have let teaching take over my life the last three years; giving up a lot of the things I used to do as I develop lesson plans and take graduate classes so I can be a better teacher.  But I miss gardening and canning.  I really love to cook from fresh ingredients and I too have fallen into the quick meal, fast food trap way too many times this past couple of years.  I'm hoping that I can separate my work life and home life more this year.  Teachers are never really "clocked-out".  But maybe I can work out a healthier schedule.  One that includes more freshness and a lot more Jamie Oliver!  Thanks Jamie - keep up the fight!  We're here helping where we can.

Merry, Merry!

May all your Celebrations be Jubilant!
Your New Year filled with Health & Peace!
And may you always be Loved.

Holiday card created in Adobe Illustrator CS5-Sandi VanWinkle 2010



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I was sworn to secrecy for a bit, but now I must let you know I will be a Gran-Mumsy this summer. Yes. My oldest son and lovely wife; my sweet daughter-in-law will be welcoming what I'm calling the WeeGran. They are ecstatic and hubby teases me about my moments of maniacal grinning and baby clothes ooo-ing and aahhh-ing.

I took a trip to the attic to dig out the toys and other artifacts from my son's early life. I sat among the little stuffed animals, which I had lovingly packed away for just this event, and thought of all the beautiful moments I had enjoyed with my sons. I'm such a sentimental romantic. I envision lots of fun playing in this attic with WeeGran. We'll build puppet theatres and play dress-up. We'll invent impossible machines just like his/her Daddy did when he was just a wee-lad. Oh the places we'll go and the things we will conjure. It will be magical.

Everything I see I want to buy or make for Wee-gran. I have begun to collect knitting patterns for unisex items. I've also started to think of really cool toys to make so WeeGran can have their own unique playthings. And I really want to help decorate the nursery. I used to paint murals for others children. I would create magical spaces for those little ones to live in. I used to paint my sons rooms too. But they got tired and...well...somewhat embarrassed by rooms filled with characters. But now I have another opportunity to create a fantasy space just for WeeGran.

Oh, and the penguin daddy-to-be I created for my son. He once painted a penguin that was so beautiful and won an award. Over the years whenever I see penguins I think of that painting. He also happens to like penguins, which is lucky for me, since I can't pass one by without "collecting" it for him. I know he will most likely grow tired of them long before I do. I just thought it would be a wonderful image to announce WeeGran. All we can say!