A New Journey

I recently started something I have wanted to do for many years – I enrolled in an MBA program. Way back after working a few years out of college, I wanted to be a lawyer. I was accepted into law school and was even awarded a small scholarship – but that was around the time my dad died, and as the oldest in my family, I felt I needed to stay employed in case Mom needed anything. A couple of years later, after entering the private sector, I figured an MBA was the logical next step. Since I was a Literature major, I started taking college math courses to prepare. Around that time, I got married, got pregnant, miscarried, got pregnant again, almost miscarried again – and then stopped all extra activities to focus on my pregnancy. A few months later, my beautiful son was born. Unfortunately, the marriage didn’t last and I became a single parent for the next 8 or so years. Fast forward to 2016: I am married to an amazing man and we have two boys in college. Now it is my turn.

Campus Collage

The next 18 months will be challenging – the first two weeks of my residency made that clear – but I am so excited about this journey. It is never too late.

Residency Week 1 – Ithaca, New York

Hoffman Challenge Course
Residency Week 2 – Kingston, Ontario

Knitting EDC Kit

Admittedly, I’ve been caught up in the urban survivalist subculture. Maybe it was one episode too many of The Walking Dead. I’ve been looking at lists of Bug Out Bag essential gear and hoping I can remember everything my son learned in Cub Scouts. I think I can start a fire in a pinch but not too confident in my orienteering skills.

One item that keeps popping up are EDC kits (that’s Everyday Carry in survival lingo). There are many organizational pouches and molle back packs (pronounced like Molly, stands for Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) in which to store survival tools just in case the world gets overrun by zombies. As someone who is a bit OCD about organization, I keep thinking of ways I can use all those velcro and elastic bands to carry my things around neatly.

The EDC kits that have really captured my attention are the small pocket-sized ones. You have to be very selective and a bit clever to carry everything you need in a discreet package. This one is one of my favorites.



I love how they reused an empty Altoids tin to house basic survival supplies including a compass, whistle, fire starters, duct tape, flashlight, water purification tablets, fishing gear, and more! At one point, I had been looking to minimize the number of knitting tools that I carried around with me, particularly for traveling. I filled an Altoids tin with some of my notions and have been using it since. This wasn’t an original idea as I’m sure I saw it somewhere online. Here are my everyday carry knitting essentials:

EDC Knitting Tools

  • Scissors – These were the hardest to find. Most foldable scissors have pointy blades which are a problem at airport security. I found these with the bright yellow handles in the baby section. They’re for cutting tiny little baby fingernails.
  • Tape measure – My solution came about serendipitously. I was at IKEA and needed to measure a piece of furniture. The paper tape measure made its way home with me. I was going to throw it out when I realized it would fit perfectly in my tin! The coiled tape measure wasn’t there originally until I dropped it and the outer plastic casing shattered. After winding it tightly, it fit quite nicely.
  • 2 stitch holders – medium and small.
  • 1 cable needle in pink.
  • 7 stitch markers in aqua and orange.
  • 1 stitch counter.
  • 2 felted point protectors in blue and tan.
  • 1 tapestry needle.
  • 2 magnets – to attach the tapestry needle to the lid.
  • 1 pen.
  • Hand cream – a knitter has to have hand cream.

You will be amazed at how much fits inside this tin! I have all the tools I need except a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches. I couldn’t find one small enough but the cable needle and stitch holders do the trick. Here’s the tin with my notions packed inside.

Knitting EDC Kit

This little tin has replaced my previous notions travel bag. Do you have a compact way of carrying your knitting essentials?

Post-Apocalyptic Skill


Letting Go

The moment I had been dreading came and went. My son left for university.

The summer seemed to fly by. It’s not as if I spent every waking hour with him. There was work for him and for me. And time with the girlfriend. He took turns hanging out with his friends, figuring they would see each other again on breaks and holidays, knowing full well things would never be the same. We managed to find a few hours here and there for Mother-Son time. It gets hard to do so when they’re 18.

I’ve mostly been in denial. Even as we unloaded his things from the car and helped him set up his room, it seemed like just another summer camp, only this one would last much longer. I could see momentary fear in his eyes when we first arrived. Everything was so new, uncharted. As the day progressed and he was settled with familiar things around him, he seemed to relax.

On day three, it was time to let go. I gave his room one more motherly pass, wiping countertops and putting things away, and then there wasn’t anything left to do, except say goodbye. As if on cue, my husband went to get the car. I knelt beside my boy and said a prayer. I looked into his eyes and I saw that he was ready. The tears flowed momentarily but I reigned them in and put a smile on it. I kissed him and said goodbye.

As we drove away from campus onto the interstate, the tears escaped. So many memories came to mind. The day of his birth. The moment the doctor placed him on my stomach, still connected to me by the umbilical cord. The times he cried when someone he didn’t know well picked him up – those great big crocodile tears flowing like a waterfall and the cutest pout ever. Images of him grabbing his toes the way babies do. Watching him pour a bowl of scrambled eggs on his head and cracking up. The time he had pneumonia and lost all that weight. Multiple emergency room visits and IVs to calm his asthma, followed by endless popsicles. Him getting sick every time I had to go out-of-town on business. Him sitting and sulking in time out. Picking him up from school and knowing he was in trouble just from looking at his face. So many memories.

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

A week has gone by. I keep myself busy. I’ve started Chinese language classes again and I have two knitting projects on the needles. And for the first time since we were married, my husband and I have had some one-on-one adult time (we both had kids when we met). I try not to think about him being away. There is a certain peace in knowing he is where he needs to be and I have to trust that I’ve prepared him as best as I could. It’s up to him to do the rest.

A Made in China Giveaway

One of my favorite pastimes in China was shopping in local markets. The chaotic aisles and aggressive salespeople in the touristy markets got old after a while. The local markets were much calmer. They were still busy but mostly filled with locals who needed basic household items. While haggling was still expected, the starting prices were usually much more reasonable.

As I wandered the aisles, I found these bags that I thought would be perfect for knitting projects. There were all sorts of patterns and color schemes. The size is just right for 4-5 balls of yarn and a small project, like a hat or scarf.

China Knitting Bag

I love the drawstring top and inside zippered catchall pocket.

China Knitting Bag Drawstring
China Knitting Bag Interior

It’s easy to clean – just wipe with a damp cloth. It has this nifty side pocket for needles or a pattern.

China Knitting Bag Outside Pocket

Then I came across these tin pencil boxes. Some had hinged lids and others like this one a zippered closure. I thought they were perfect for crochet hooks and other notions.

China Notions Box Zippered

China Notions Box Zippered Samples

My next finds were these pill boxes. Some were clearly for medicines with their standard labels for each day of the week. But others were just for small stuff.

China Pill/Notions Boxes

For a knitter, crocheter or seamstress, they’re the right size for stitch markers, safety pins, buttons, sequins and whatnot.

China Pill/Notions Boxes Yellow

China Pill/Notions Boxes Compartments

Lastly, I was in need of stitch markers and had not seen any in the yarn stores I located, so I had to improvise. Every market had bins full of these little charms. There were lucky cats, teapots, and colorful beads. They were very light and made the cutest stitch markers.

China RePurposed Stitch Markers

China Charms/Stitch Markers

To celebrate the end of an amazing overseas experience, I am having a “Made in China” giveaway. I will send a care package of various items like the ones above (plus some yarn and a few surprises) to one winner selected at random.

Any of the following actions will enter you into the drawing:

  • Follow Agujas blog (if you are already a follower, you are already entered!)
  • Reblog this post or blog about this giveaway with a link back to Agujas
  • Follow Agujas on Twitter
  • Like Agujas on Facebook
  • Follow Agujas on Tumblr
  • Like this post
  • Comment on this post

Multiple entries are okay! I will ship the package to you anywhere in the world. Thank you for reading and good luck!

A Totally Frivolous Post

It was time for a manicure so I walked into a nail salon near the apartment. The place was tiny. It only had room for 5 seats and they were always occupied.

What drew me in was the clientele – all young ladies mostly in their twenties. The manicurists were laughing and talking as they bent over their intricate work. Every now and then they argued. Their voices grew louder and more demanding. Scowls were all too common. One of the younger girls was a bit clumsy, always managing to trip over someone’s foot or bumping someone’s arm just as they were about to paint a nail. She got the brunt of it.

At first, all I wanted was a new color. Then I started paying attention to the other customers. The colors went far beyond those of the rainbow. One lady was carefully applying bright purple sequins on someone’s nail with a toothpick. Another sprinkled glitter from a brush. Yet another painted tiny designs on each nail guided by a picture in a book. They were like artists mixing nail colors together, consulting with each other, choosing just the right sequin or ornament from trays and trays of shiny baubles. I was hooked.

I had fun trying new designs. Like putting on a new persona in a faraway land. Besides, I like the look of pretty nails while hands are clicking away on knitting needles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.