365 Days Handmade

Making life a better place, one day at a time

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Progress Report and Socks

Wow, my last post was in August of last year.  Re-reading that entry, I could see I was kind of depressed back then.  A lot has happened since I wrote that post.  In October we started a major remodel on our house, which included (among other things) knocking out an upstairs wall, updating the kitchen, converting our basement into a spare room/office, pulling up the old carpet, installing new floors, painting the interior, tearing down the backyard deck and stairs, and building a new one.  This remodel involved me having to pack up a bunch of stuff (like we were moving) and living in essentially a construction site.  We finally said goodbye to the crew in March and got settled in by mid-April.

I posted a lot of photos on Facebook and Instagram.  You can find me on Instagram under my blog name (365dayshandmade).  Add me and say hi!  (I should also mention that I block any follower who looks like a shop just trying to get my business, so please make sure to let me know it’s you.)

I started knitting socks again a couple weeks ago, and thought I’d share this story.  Friday night I pulled these old socks out of the washing machine and noticed one had a snag in the cuff and had started to unravel. I thought, NBD, I’ll just frog a couple rows and knit it back up. Turned out that I originally knit that sock from the cuff down, meaning I had to unravel the WHOLE sock and start over. I wasn’t going to throw it out. So I unraveled the entire sock and knit it into a new one, but from the toe up this time. I put in a short row heel (the fish lips kiss heel pattern). Sean asked me if I planned to re-do the other sock and I think probably not. It’s kind of neat to see the difference between my sock knitting in 2004 (cuff down, flap heel, using DPNs) vs. the present (toe up, short row heel, using one long needle with Magic Loop method).  The re-done sock (on the right) is looking a little crunchy because I didn’t bother to wash and straighten the frogged yarn before I started knitting.

Hope you’re enjoying a happy Sunday!



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No Knitting Allowed

This week at work I had to attend an in-service training that was interrupted by a possible gas leak. We had to vacate the building, a wooden 1950s structure that you can see there in my car’s rearview mirror. Our facility has its own fire truck and firefighters, so they came right away. We had to wait for about forty-five minutes in the parking lot (I sat in my car), hoping to be told that training was cancelled and to go home– but no such luck. We just had to relocate to another building.

In previous years, I didn’t mind attending these trainings because I could bring my knitting and finish a sock while the instructor talked about staff assaults and prison gangs and other really disturbing stuff that most people don’t deal with at work. This time, though, I had to leave my knitting at home. We’d been sent a memo reminding us that all cell phones, unauthorized reading material, and knitting items were not allowed in the classrooms.

I was really bummed out about this, particular since the training itself was so boring and the material could have been covered in less than two hours, not seven. I really had to practice my mindfulness skills to manage my restlessness.  I missed having the ability to do something creative with my hands– to knit or crochet, or even color in a coloring book. It pained me to have to sit there and look at a PowerPoint presentation about interdisciplinary treatment planning and case summaries, theoretical orientations and case formulations– stuff I already know and implement regularly.  It was a beautiful day outside and I wanted to be enjoying it, or at least be able to enjoy some knitting.

Which brings me to something that I have been struggling with, more and more each day that I go to work at the prison. On one hand, I know I do good work. I’m making a difference in people’s lives. I’m paid a hefty salary, I get holidays and vacation and sick leave, and I only go to work four days a week. On the other hand, my work environment is a prison.  I’m there for ten hours a day.  I interact with some decent people, but I also work with criminals. You know that toxic person who so clearly has problems and whom you’d much rather avoid? That’s my patient, and I have to sit in a room with him for an hour. There are others, with all kinds of baggage and issues and problems and complaints, and even though I’m (maybe) helping that person with my knowledge and experience and education and training, at the end of the day I’m wiped out.  Multiply this by however many times that I go in to work, and the end result is not good for my own mental health.

My father and my oldest brother both died at the end of 2013, within three weeks of each other.  My brother actually died on Christmas Eve.  That was a really bad year for me.  By the time the new year rolled around, I was ready to start over.  Truthfully, what I really wanted to do was stop going to work, stay home, and grieve.  But I had a mortgage and student loans, and I wasn’t in any kind of financial position to take a leave of absence.  So that’s when I started looking at my options, and that’s how I got to thinking about financial independence, early retirement, and me.

So lately I have been thinking more and more about leaving my job, quitting the prison, or at least getting to early retirement.  Really, I want time.  I want the freedom to enjoy that time.  I want to be able to wake up without an alarm clock and fill the day with exactly the things that I want to be doing.  I want the time to read and write, to knit and crochet, to sew, quilt, and cross-stitch.  I want the ability to go out and have experiences, or to stay home and do nothing but sit on my couch and read or even indulge in a Netflix streaming marathon.  I want to make things and be creative.  I want to hang out with my husband, my friends, my family.  I want to keep going out to really good restaurants and eating the best meals, and I also want to stay fit and healthy and complete a couple of half marathons a year.

Sitting at that training with no knitting allowed, I was reminding myself of my 5-figure monthly salary and how nicely I was being compensated just for showing up to work that morning.  Six more years to fifty, I thought, and then I can stop working altogether and collect a pension for the rest of my life.

The problem is that I don’t know if I’ll be able to wait that long.


4th Anniversary?!

According to WordPress, today is my 4th anniversary of having this account.  I realized some time ago that I hadn’t posted a single blog entry all year and I kept meaning to do something about that, so today seems a good day to start writing again.

I’ve been crocheting, cross-stitching, and making beaded jewelry over the last few months, but I’ve only taken photos of one completed project.  It’s the Cupcake Blanket designed by Lucy at Attic 24.  The colors are sweet and lovely and go well with my chair that Sean painted pink for me a couple months ago.  I also like the cute scalloped edging on the blanket.  I want to use the same edging for the next blanket I finish, but at the rate I’m going, it may not be for a few more months.



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Week 51/52: Christmas Eve Eve


I was on the fence about continuing this blog.  Then I got an email that WordPress automatically renewed my account for another year.  My credit card’s been charged and I’m paid up, so what the hell, I might as well keep going.

I’ve still been crocheting and knitting, and I recently picked up cross stitch again.  The pattern for the font and Christmas balls that you see above are from Julie Jackson’s newest Subversive Cross Stitch book.  I also made the ornament below.

I’ve got a list of profanity-laced expressions that I’m planning to cross stitch and frame in the near future.  I’ll share them with you if I get inspired to take photos and post again.  In the meantime, hope you all have lovely plans for the holidays!



A Lesson from the Spider


This evening when I arrived home from work, I pulled into the driveway, got out of the car, and headed for the mailbox past our front yard, as I normally do every day when I get home from work.  The first thing I noticed was the beginning of a spiderweb on my angel trumpet plant.  The amazing thing about it, though, was the fact that the web apparently originated in the grapefruit tree, which is well over six, maybe seven feet away from the angel trumpet plant.

If you look carefully at the photo, you can probably spot from left to right the horizontal line of web that is the spider’s launching point.  It’s a really impressive feat, when you think about what it took for that little spider to jump from point A to point B and just start spinning.  Life is like that sometimes.  You see what you want and you go for it, instinctively and with intent.

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June Recap: Hipster Cities and Donuts

June was a busy month for me and Sean.  I went to work for a total of 12 days, and in that time I crammed in the same amount of work that I would normally get done in 16 days.  I took the rest of the time off to travel with Sean to Minneapolis, Seattle, and Portland, three cool cities where he was scheduled to do readings for the release of his newest book, a collection of short stories about authors and their metaphysical ukuleles.

There are two things that I like to do when I travel:  shop and eat.  I also like taking photos of my snacks and meals so that I can continue to visually enjoy them long after they’ve disappeared into my belly.  So while most people might have vacation photos of the beach, the mountains, sunsets, sunrises, and tourist landmarks that they visited on their travels, I have photos of restaurant meals and donuts.  (Actually, I do have photos of some cool old landmarks, but I’ll try not to bore you too much by not including all of them.)

We spent the first weekend of June in Minneapolis.


We ate brunch twice at Hell’s Kitchen and enjoyed donuts from Angel Food Bakery.




So many choices, so little time!  You can see why I’m going back to Minneapolis the next time I have a chance.

While driving through downtown, I saw this historic building and had to snap a photo for my fellow knitters who would appreciate this.  Oh, to think of the days when knitwear was still made in factories in the USA…


Two weeks later, we flew out to Seattle.


We stayed at a hotel near the Space Needle, walked all around downtown, ate a bunch of yummy food, and checked out Pike Place Market.  Where we purchased and ate more food.  Sean did a reading at Third Place Books, a really cool bookstore and neat community space.  I could have browsed there for hours.

The next day, we drove down to Portland.  Naturally, we had to check out Voodoo Donuts.


There were so many good choices that Sean and I decided to each pick two donuts…


and split each one in half.  Then we had a little donut party.


Throughout all this traveling and eating and donut-merrymaking, I didn’t get a whole lot done on my crocheted afghans.  I brought along a sock to knit, but I might as well have left it home because I only managed to finish a few rows on it.

Now that we’re back home and settled in again, though, I’ve started a few new projects.  I really wanted to make malasadas, which is a Portuguese donut and my all-time favorite kind, but Sean wouldn’t let me.  He didn’t think it was a good idea to have three dozen fresh donuts sitting around when it’s just the two of us.

I guess he has a point.  But darn, I could go for a donut right now.


Week 20/52: Ripples and Granny Squares

So last week I had the misfortune of being without a laptop because my motherboard died, and I had to take my PC to the repair shop.  I could have posted the week’s entry through my smartphone, but I was feeling like I didn’t really have anything interesting or new to share.  I was still crocheting, still making the stripey blanket and the granny stripe afghan.  I also made more progress on the Attic 24 Cottage Blanket.


In the middle of all this afghan-crocheting, I’d been wanting to make one out of granny squares.  The last one I made was this one, and it took me forever to finally weave in all the loose ends.  Anyway, it had been on my mind to crochet an afghan inspired by Zeens and Roger’s Crochet Circles in a Square Blanket.  So last weekend I started this:


I imagine it will make a very pretty blanket when it’s all done– if I ever finish…


Week 17/52: A Couple of Knitted Things

Two weeks ago, I started knitting a scarf and then a hand towel and then another scarf.  Then I went back to crocheting my afghans, and the knitted stuff got set aside.  I made more progress on the As We Go stripey blanket this week, but I’m feeling like it would be too boring and redundant to share more photos of that today.  So here are a couple of knitted things from my pile of WIPs.

A yet-to-be-blocked lace scarf in Noro yarn:


Moss stitch grid pattern hand towel in cotton/linen/viscose yarn from the stash:



Week 16/52: Afghans in Progress

So I’m back to my obsession with crocheting afghans.  I’ve been alternating between these two.  And I still have two others on the back burner, waiting to be finished.  There’s a part of my brain that’s encouraging me to start some granny squares, and I’m trying really hard to resist.  Plus, I’ve already got like a million yarn tails to weave in…