A Good Year

Now at the cusp of a new year, I started reflecting on this past one and am glad to say that it was a good one. Our family is healthy and happy, a little older, maybe a little worse for wear, but still going strong. My husband realized a personal goal of making a pilgrimage walked by thousands before him. Our sons started their senior years in high school and are anxiously awaiting to hear from their chosen colleges. I received a surprise promotion earlier this year. My mom, who is usually full of vigor at 72, is starting to feel her age a bit and is fighting it the whole way. One of my brothers was elected to the school board of my hometown. We had our share of troubles, some minor, others not, but found our way through them and learned in the process. There are still some scars but they are healing. There are so many other reasons, large and small, for which to be thankful – hot summer days, shared meals with friends, a good book, down time, birthday celebrations, a rewarding job, a good hair day, and soft yarn.

Speaking of yarn, 2014 was also a good knitting year. My goal was to create from my stash, which has continued to grow. I accomplished this with one exception, the hat for my niece because she was very specific about wanting a neutral color. In total, I knit 10 items in 2014. They were all small projects for a couple of reasons: (1) I was trying to use up my stash especially where I had only one or two skeins of the same yarn/dye lot; and (2) With my work schedule, it takes me too long to complete larger projects and I wanted to show progress every month. So here are my 2014 FOs.

Another highlight in 2014 was discovering new yarn stores. One was discovered during a trip to Colombia – and what a glorious find that was! We came across two other shops during a trip to the Texas hill country. Click on any image to view on a larger screen.

(Stay tuned for another recent discovery in an upcoming post.)

In 2014, I also enjoyed the fabulous Kid ‘N Ewe Fiber Festival, had a fabulous Girl’s Weekend in the Texas hill country with my mom and aunt, and experienced Yarn Terrors when I found moths in my stash! And lastly, I enjoyed having my niece become a part of our family while attending college. All in all, 2014 was a great year.

Wishing everyone an amazing new year in 2015.

A Sweet Surprise

an unexpected package arrived in the mail
from across the ocean

Jaffa Cakes 1

it contained all sorts of sweet surprises
light little cookies with a coating of chocolate on one side
and a burst of orange inside
called jaffa cakes

Jaffa Cakes 2

and chocolate bars
lots of them

Chocolate Bars

then the best surprise of all
a hand made knitted book marker
that also has a pocket for a pen
(i happen to be one of those people that reads books
with a pen in hand)

Knit Pen Holder / Book Marker
the gift was from idiosyncratic eye
who received one of the “made in China” care packages
she had already written a wonderful thank you post
so the last thing I expected was a care package in return
it certainly is nice to give and receive

Zàijiàn Beijing

The cacophony of car horns

Curled tongues at the end of every word

Clearing the throat of phlegm … followed by the inevitable sound of spitting … on the street … next to your foot

Where an AQI over 200 means take shallow breaths

The inviting sound of rain signaling a clear tomorrow

Toddlers peeing by the sidewalk

Grown men peeing by the sidewalk

Men baring their bellies to cool off

Old men walking their birds in the park

Animated card games

Grandmothers dancing in the park

Graceful tai chi movements

Inventing your very own form of sign language with exaggerated gestures

The joy of being understood

The frustration at understanding only every five words spoken

The din of motor bikes

Dui, dui, dui, dui, dui, dui

Sidewalk barber shops, a pile of hair neatly swept to the side

Music blaring from the mobile boot-legged CD vendor

Selling anything from the trunk of a car

Where a cloth on the floor and a few knick-knacks means you’re an entrepreneur

Avoiding going blind from looking into the green laser lights for sale at busy intersections

Fearing for your life from pedi-cabs passing by

The constant ringing of bike bells

Coming home with bruised arms from everyone who bumped into you

Carrying a small towel everywhere you go to wipe the grime from your face

Forcing your way onto the subway train

Forcing your way out of the subway train

The rancid smell of bodies huddled together on the train

Blaring unending car horns … that everyone ignores

Being accosted at the market … Lady, lady, you want a bag?

Bargaining as if your life depended on it

Wondering if it’s silk or polyester

Never feeling you got the better part of the bargain

Long distance phone calls that never connect

Carrying tissue with you at all times

Squatting and praying you don’t slip

Avoiding looking at the trash can in the ladies’ room

The joy of ice cubes

Ten dollar foot massages

Sweating in the back seat of un-air conditioned taxis

Not knowing whether its best to open the window to let air in or close the window to keep pollution out

Undistinguishable odors emanating from food vendor stalls

Contemplating ordering the jelly-like mass on the menu but deciding against it

The best soup dumplings ever

Craving sautéed bitter greens and bamboo shoots

Funky nail art

A mountain of shaved ice under condensed milk and slices of mango

~~ * ~~

Zàijiàn doesn’t mean goodbye … it means see you again

在见 北京

I love giving out blog awards!

Sally at SoKnitSome and Louisa at Knitting Revolution have given me the opportunity to highlight blogs I enjoy with two awards. Thank you to So Knit Some for the WordPress Family Blog Award and to Knitting Revolution for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. I have long read their posts and enjoyed perusing their photos. It does feel like a wonderful extended family!

Agujas is pleased to nominate the following blogs for the WordPress Family Blog Award.

image

    1. LittleBlackDogSA
    2. Rogue Crafter’s Studio
    3. Gluis Yarn
    4. That Hooking Blog
    5. Hooky Queen
    6. Wayward Pioneer
    7. Danni and Charlie Do Craft
    8. Diary of a Mad Mama
    9. Girl Meets Yarn
    10. It’s Knot You

Agujas is also pleased to nominate these blogs for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award
Wonderful Team Member Readership Award
  1. Stitches ‘n’ Scraps
  2. HX Green Soul
  3. Tinkerbell Knits
  4. UK Crochet Patterns
  5. That Girl Nathalie Apple
  6. Cindy Hancock
  7. My Other Loves
  8. Batu Surya
  9. Shetland Hand Knitter
  10. Upon the Waves
  11. Weaving Southwest
  12. White Sheep
  13. Quiet Wander
  14. Colour Cottage

For each award, the recipients should (1) Display the award logo on their blogs, (2) Link back to the person who nominated them, (3a) For the WordPress Family Blog Award, nominate 10 blogs that have impacted your WordPress experience and family, (3b) For the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, nominate 14 blogs that exemplify the qualities of a wonderful team member, and (4) Tell your nominees you have awarded them.

Enjoy!

Blogs That Make Me Smile or Laugh So Hard That I Double Over In Pain

Hannah at Not Your Average Crochet gave Agujas the Sunshine Award! I love the blooming flower cushions that she made – they’re so playful and make me smile. Thank you Hannah!

Sunshine Award

Now I get to nominate five blogs that brighten up my day:

Drawn2Knit & Crochet2 – Not only is Jennifer a knitter and crocheter, she’s a fabulous artist. I love her watercolors – so soft and whimsical. This is one of my favorite drawings by Jennifer. The character is named Genevieve and you can even purchase a print of it in her Etsy shop. (Image used with permission of the artist).

Genevieve, Drawn2Crochet

Angry Pear – I think you know that I love Angry Pear. Drew has me crying with laughter with Pear’s antics. Here, poor Pear finds that moths have made holes in her forgotten knitting. (Source: angriestpear.com).

moths-full - Angry Pear

Peas and Cougars – I recently discovered Rae’s alter ego. I thought I was going to pass out from laughing so hard. Have you noticed that I seem to be drawn to angry cartoon characters? (Source: peasandcougars.com).

waiting-2 from Peas and Cougars

The Knit Princess – Created by Allison (writer) and Melody (artist), this cartoon features a princess obsessed with all things knit. You can even purchase Knit Princess comic strip collections or t-shirts such as the one that reads “There’s no such thing as too much Stash.” Amen to that! (Source: knitprincess.com).

The Knit Princess 2009-03-07

Mister G Kids – Matt is a substitute teacher who happens to also draw. His depictions of the things kids say are funny, touching, heartwarming and just plain honest. (Image used with permission of the artist).

whats-wrong-honey-part-2

Thanks to these blogs for bringing a little bit of sunshine to my day!

Blogging – Plan or Serendipity?

Back when I decided to start a blog, I thought of all the knitting things I wanted to learn about and share. I came up with a list of topics and drafted several posts before Agujas went live.

The first few months, I planned my posts using an editorial calendar of sorts. I researched, visited, knitted and wrote. I also became an avid photo-taker. I love the process of discovery, both about my subject matter and my writing. I found that the creative processes of knitting and then of writing rejuvenated me. Even after a long day at the office, I still had surplus energy for these creative pursuits. Now the process has become rather organic. Almost as if the blog has taken on a life of its own.

Just when I fear I’ve run out of things to say, some interesting exhibit or artist comes along and incites my curiosity and a story takes shape. So with a little bit of planning, and a good dose of serendipity, I keep blogging.

2012 Blog Planner

What is your process for blogging? Do you set goals to post once a day, once a week? Do you post around certain themes? Or does it just come to you?

Illuminating Blogger Award

What a great way to start off a new year. Dre at Grackle & Sun shared the Illuminating Blogger Award with Agujas. Dre illuminates me with her step-by-step yarn dyeing experiments. She uses only natural plant dyes and is even growing her own dye garden! She and her husband recently celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary. Thank you Dre and wishing you many more years full of joy!

Illuminating Blogger Award

In return for the award, I must share one random thing about myself: I am trying to learn Mandarin Chinese. I’ve been taking classes at the Chinese Community Center and hope to travel to China so that I can practice.

I also get to pass on the award to five other blogs. So, without further ado, here they are:

    1. Travel Photography by Dmitrii Lezine – Fantastic photography and time-lapse videos of interesting places around the world
    2. Bottleneck Consensus – Textile design and other artistic endeavors
    3. Itchier Feet – Journey through Ethiopia through amazing photos
    4. Alicja Kolakowska – Designs beautiful and interesting jewelry, and also crochets
    5. First Bar – Graphic designs inspired by nature

giving thanks

ever since my first tentative taps on the keyboard to create this blog, i was never sure where it would take me. i’m not trying to sell anything, i just enjoy knitting and writing and thought it might be fun to share with others. i’ve “met” knitters, crocheters, weavers and other artists from all over the world. i derive pleasure from seeing the wonderful items made by so many hands. i have much for which to give thanks.

it was therefore a treat to learn that agujas was nominated for a couple of awards. so, first of all, muchas gracias to sue at fibercrush and to hannah at not your average crochet for the reader appreciation award.

here are the award questions and answers:

  1. your favourite colour? purple!
  2. your favourite animal? scottish terrier
  3. your favourite non-alcoholic drink? orange juice – so refreshing
  4. facebook or twitter? both but leaning toward twitter
  5. your favourite pattern? chunky cables
  6. getting or giving presents? giving, definitely giving
  7. your favourite number? 2, something about the symmetry
  8. your favourite day of the week? friday, nice to wrap up the week
  9. your favourite flower? burning heart tulips
  10. what is your passion? travel

now the best part, nominating blogs i appreciate:

  1. yalotar – an actively engaged citizen of finland, and a crocheter
  2. grim dreaming – musings from the night shift (now day shift) in dublin
  3. the solipsist – steve will probably not give a hoot about blog awards, but i’m nominating his blog anyway. witty viewpoints and great pics from an expat in san miguel de allende
  4. coco j. ginger says – clever prose with a dash of poetry
  5. while out riding – a photo-story from the back of a bike
  6. doodlemum – a drawing is worth a thousand words
  7. victor melendez – a graphic artist
  8. view from casita colibrí – another expat, this time in oaxaca

p.s. double thanks to hannah at not your average crochet for the dual nomination for the beautiful blogger award.

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Such sweetness! Agujas was nominated for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. My teeth hurt just from looking at all that sugar! A HUGE thanks goes to Knitting Revolution for sharing this award with Agujas.

In accordance with the rules, I will answer these five questions:

  1. Cookies or cake? Cake, definitely cake. I love German Chocolate cake, Coconut cake, Italian Creme cake. Cake, cake, cake!
  2. Chocolate or vanilla? It has to be smooth, creamy vanilla. Did you know vanilla comes from an orchid?
  3. Favourite sweet treat? Easy. Cold, sweet ice cream.
  4. When do you crave sweet things the most? Late at night.
  5. If you had a sweet nickname what would it be? Caramelo (in Spanish).

{Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5}

I am also delighted to nominate twelve sweet blogs for this award:

  1. Modflowers
  2. G-Ma Ellen’s Crochet Corner
  3. warmhotchocolate
  4. Serena Olivieri
  5. Roootreee Blog
  6. gone-rustic
  7. Now I’m Home
  8. belle cherie handmade
  9. Georgina Giles
  10. The {Tiny} Times
  11. The Middlest Sister
  12. Sugar and Cloth

Now all I need is a glass of milk!