The Perfect Hobby

I’m knitting again.

It’s a little out of control, actually. I can’t concentrate at work because all I want to do is knit. I’ve already spent too much money on yarn and new needles. I keep drooling over new patterns on Ravelry. I’ve been losing sleep.

This little hobby actually began in 2003, when I was fresh out of school working as an AmeriCorps member at the Literacy Council. My busy schedule didn’t stop me from seeking out new and exciting hobbies, activities I could freely pursue since I was officially an Adult. Taking classes at the gym. Drawing. Baking. Photography. Scrapbooking. And, yes. Knitting. Only a few of those interests have stuck with me (can you guess which ones?). Let’s face it – I am the queen of becoming obsessed with things only to forget about them a few months later. I still do that.

Sadly, knitting was one of the hobbies that fell by the wayside. I always told myself that I would go back to it – I’d pick up the needles every once in a while, especially in the wintertime (when knitting indoors under blankets just sounds heavenly, doesn’t it?). But it never stuck. A trunk full of colorful acrylic yarn continued to taunt me in my living room, begging to see sunlight.

Seven years later, I’ve fallen in love again. But this time it feels different. I think knitting and I are reunited for good. The relationship feels so much more solid now. Here’s why:

  • I’ve upgraded to gorgeous, natural yarns, carefully selected from my local shop. I will never underestimate the value of good yarn ever again.
  • I’m finally knitting things that are not scarves. There is nothing wrong with scarves, mind you. But they can be so boring! Right now I’m working on three projects – two (secret) gifts and a shawl for myself. They’re all basic patterns, but I don’t mind because I’m a still a novice. And they are NOT SCARVES!
  • Lace. Lace! I’m diving headfirst into that scary, scary universe. I even took a class last weekend, which taught me that lace charts are not as frightening as they seem. Two of my current projects involve lace. I may not be able to knit these in front of So You Think You Can Dance, but I love the challenge when I’m working in less distraction-filled environments.
  • Knitting as a social activity? Yes, please! I have a couple of smart friends who are long-time expert knitters – who better to consult when I have questions, or, more realistically, make mistakes that I just cannot figure out how to fix? A group of us knitted for a few hours at Teaism the other night, and having friendly troubleshooters on hand was super invaluable. (Thanks, Amanda and Jen!)
  • The most important reason of all? Knitting is the perfect leisure activity for me. I have only just come to terms with the fact that I am an introverted homebody who is happiest and most comfortable at home. Yeah, I like teaching group exercise classes, and spending time outside, and going to new restaurants with friends. But I really, really enjoy being home – especially knitting at home. I can’t think of anything else that allows me to get as comfortable as possible, work with my hands, listen to music or podcasts at the same time, and use my brain. See? Perfect. For me, anyway.

Thomas already begged me not to make him anything (“I don’t like knitted things.” Okay, weirdo. Not even hats? Or gloves? Scarves?), but I probably won’t listen to him, as usual. And the rest of you aren’t off the hook, either.

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She’s Crafty

When you’re planning a mostly DIY wedding, it helps that your future mother-in-law is one of the craftiest people you know.

This is Susie, Thomas’ mom. She is amazingly creative and crazy talented at all things arts and crafts. Show her a beautiful yet overpriced wedding-related item (ahem, I am talking to you, BHLDN) – she’ll just take one glance at it, then say without hesitation, “Oh yeah, I can totally do that.”

She is awesome.

Thomas’ parents invited us over to their lovely home in Toms Brook for an afternoon of wedding craft making. This was just the first of what I’m sure will be several this summer, and it was quite productive – we designed and made a rubber stamp, sewed fabric pennants, dyed tablecloths, folded origami, and cut out a sample book vase (for the centerpieces).

Susie brought up something in one of our conversations today, that I had not yet thought about. She told me that she loves the emphasis on DIY for the wedding – and not just because it will save us money, or even that it will allow us to be really creative. But that it’s an excuse for our family and friends to gather well before the wedding and bond by rolling up our sleeves a bit and getting to work. Sure, it’s not the easiest and fastest way to do things. But it’s fun! And I imagine how great it must feel to see the fruits of our labor on our actual wedding day.

Using a sewing machine for the first time since seventh grade home ec = the bomb diggity.

This is Lucy, Susie and Herb’s geriatric lab mix. She’s deaf, loud, slow moving, and hates to go outside. She’s a sweet little thing.

Surprise! A neighbor caught one of the groundhogs that have been terrorizing their gardens, right before we went into the yard for a bit to dye the tablecloths. Groundhogs are a little bit creepy, but kind of cute, yes?

We’ll be back in Toms Brook soon for another day of crafts. I hear there’s going to be a band saw involved.

What I’ll Miss About VA: Our Apartment

Some of you know that I worked as a part-time dog walker several years ago. Pam was one of my regular clients. Every Tuesday and Thursday, at lunch time, I would head over to her place and walk her ridiculously energetic German shorthaired pointer, Hanna Bean. Man, what a handful she was. Anyway, I always admired Pam’s apartment. Located in a garden-style complex, old, super charming, and tastefully decorated. She lived there by herself and it was the kind of place where I always imagined myself living.

Pam and I eventually struck up a casual friendship, and I would sometimes meet her at the dog park with Hannah after work. One day, we were talking about my living situation, which was a bit up in the air. I had been living with Kim, my long-time college roommate, at the time, but she was getting ready to move out with her boyfriend, a guy named Matt she was really into. (They’re married now. Hi, Kim and Matt!) That was when Pam told me that her company was actually going to transfer her to South Carolina within the next few months, and oh, would I like her apartment? Um, YES PLZ. All I needed to do was convince Thomas to move in with me.

Obviously, that worked out, and we moved in to our place on June 2006. It’s amazing how quickly the last five years have flown by.

Our living room in 2006 - before it became dusty and cluttered. Oh well.

The apartment isn’t perfect. It’s on the first floor, so I don’t feel safe opening our bedroom window – sucks on cool, breezy nights. The kitchen is TINY with no dishwasher or garbage disposal. Our walls are super thin, and I’ve spent many an hour cursing our upstairs neighbors (the first was an old, large man with insomniac and polka playing tendencies; the second, young ass teenybopper types who also never sleep, stomp around in platform heels, and leave cigarette butts all over our stoop). There is no central AC – our only source of cold air in the unbearably humid DC summers are two loud, clunky units that never seem to work that well.

Wallace's first night home! Notice Neko's wary expression. We'd only had her for a week at that point.

But, the good far outweighs the bad. It is a really beautiful building, from the ’30s or ’40s – I’d take it over a generic highrise any day. Our landlord is the nicest, most accommodating person we’ve ever dealt with – he has never raised our rent in the five years we’ve lived here, and he has not charged us an extra cent for owning a dog and cat (the dog is a pitbull, mind you). It is a great location, in a family-friendly neighborhood that’s not too far from 2 Metro stations and just a short walk away from Lost Dog Cafe. Ballston, Clarendon, and the city are quick car trips away. Parking has always been free and ample. We are just a stone’s throw away from the divine Custis and W&OD trails. And finally, have I told you yet what we pay in rent? The amount that has never gone up since we moved in? $825. Total. We pay $412.50 each. Paying that little in rent should be illegal in this area.

No matter where we end up, I think that we will always remember this apartment. It’s where we first established our life together. We adopted our first dog and cat here. Thomas proposed in our dining room. Even though I look forward to upgrading a bit (hopefully!)  in Seattle, nothing will ever compare to this old place. I’ll really miss it!

Click. Clack.

I played with one of these last night:

Granted, this is not the best photo, but you can tell how beautiful she is, right? Or am I just that dorky? I derived so much pleasure from tap-tap-tapping away on those keys last night – before I knew it, it was 11 pm and I had not showered from my step class 6 hours earlier. Oops.

The typewriter is a Smith-Corona Skyriter from the 1950s. It’s portable and lightweight – in fact, it was designed to be taken on the road. It still has its original case – a brown, classic, and musty old thing.

Now, while I am generally a fan of the idea and aesthetic of vintage, I am actually quite boring when it comes to what I buy and own. I like things that are new and modern. Yawn, right? For instance, I badly desired a “vintage bike” for the longest time. When I finally took the plunge to purchase this long-awaited wish list item, in May – I discovered that I didn’t actually want something old and potentially falling apart. Bleh, old things. Bleh, repairs. Bleh, things with personality and history. So I ended up with a brand new, totally modern bicycle that just LOOKS old-timey and vintage. I know. Cheater! That’s how I roll, though, and I’m okay with that.

That was a totally roundabout way of saying that I don’t usually bring old things into the house and toy with them for hours at a time. Typing on the Skyriter is a totally foreign experience for me. It freaks me out that the thing is twice my age. It makes me want to imagine all of the different people who have typed on it. A young writer working on his first novel? An elegantly dressed secretary typing up letters? It’s sort of funny that old typewriters immediately make me think of Mad Men.

So, I never explained why I’m tinkering with the Skyriter to begin with, eh? Well, I don’t want to reveal too much here, but let’s just say that it will be cranking out some wedding invitations in the near future. Wh-wh-what? Yes, indeed. That is the sound of me doing all of our wedding invitations by hand (or technically, by key). It’s a good GREAT thing this is going to be such a small wedding, and the guest list is totally manageable. Even then, I love doing this kind of stuff. You may know that I am obsessed with anything paper. I never considered for a second that anyone other than me would be creating our wedding invitations. Well, except maybe for that day or two that I was lured into the world of pretty, pretty pre-made wedding invitations. I managed to pry myself away, thank goodness.

I will most likely post a little sneak preview of the finished invites before they go out in the mail, but again, I don’t want to spoil too much before August 21st!

Well, hello!

Sadly, I am too afraid of heights to make it up the Space Needle.

Thank you for visiting my new blog. What’s this about, you ask?Aside from providing another outlet to talk excessively about myself on the internets? Well, as you may know, Thomas and I are planning a big move later this year. So big that you have to pass through two other time zones to get there. So big that we’re getting rid of 2/3 of our stuff to make the move manageable. So big that people go, “WHOAH!” when we tell them where we’re going. Yup, we’re moving to Seattle, at the end of November. Black Friday, to be exact. We hope to arrive in Seattle and move into our new place (yet to be determined) by December 1st.

(I’ll talk about why we chose Seattle in a later post, I promise.)

But, for now, this blog will be a way for me to keep my family and friends updated on the exciting events leading up to the move. There also happens to be another huge event taking place in October – you may have heard that we’re going to be getting married and throwing a little party to celebrate. Eh? Eh? So, I’d like to write a little bit about the fun and games that is wedding planning, too. I know, I know. It’s everyone’s favorite topic!

Lastly, I want to write about YOU. I am making it my goal to spend as much quality time with family and friends as possible before the move. Sadly, we can’t pack all of you up in our suitcases in November, so we’re going to make a concerted effort to take advantage of our remaining months in Virginia and see everyone at least a few times. Don’t be surprised if you make it onto the blog!