Jayne – the man they call Jayne…

And the winner is… Chris, who didn’t get one for Christmas, but will for Valentine’s Day. I recommend he sticks his children’s names on it, and gifts it to him from them. ;-) Just use the contact form to send me your address, Chris, and I’ll mail that tomorrow.
Thanks for entering, everyone!

How can you not love a man (in a cunning hat, of course) who robs from the rich and gives to the poor – even if it was accidental?!

As some of you may know, I’m a huge fan of Firefly. In the spirit of Browncoats everywhere, I like to give back when and how I can. A semi-local university does a fundraiser for cancer research annually, in which people shave their heads to raise money.

Our knitting group volunteered to make hats for those brave people – and what better than a cunning hat? Since I was making a couple for that, I decided to knock out one more for a lucky blog reader.

Things you should know:

  • This is as authentic as I could make it, which means I did my best to preserve Ma Cobb’s …ummm…interesting knitting techniques. I used the wonderful pattern here.
  • This is not luxurious yarn. It’s Red Heart and Bernat acrylic, which means it is to luxury yarn as molded protein cake is to something from Cake Boss.
  • The lack of luxury yarn means that it is virtually indestructible, and you can wash and dry it without fear (essential for long space travel and cramped quarters.)

Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment
  • Share elsewhere on the web and leave a comment to tell me you’ve done so (Since you may be sharing on private networks, I’ll take your word for it if it’s in a place I can’t access. However, be aware that the ‘verse is *nasty* to those who are less than honest, unless you’re the crew of Firefly.)

If you want to leave a link to where you commented, I’d love to see it. Also, please note that every comment will have a chance to win…so if you want 4 entries for sharing on pinterest, Facebook, twitter, and G+ – leave 4 separate comments!

I’ll be drawing for the hat February 6th, so you’ll have time to get it for Valentine’s Day. After all, there’s no better gift to yourself! (and if you can bear to give it to your significant other…well, that IS love!)

How to make a felted laptop sleeve

At least, this is how *I* do it.

  • Decide that since I’m going to SXSW in March, I should have new luggage.
  • Realize that since I’m going to SXSW in March and I have new luggage, I really should have something to protect my laptop.
  • Look around and realize that I have WAY too many bags and sleeves and carriers for various electronic devices, but nothing that will fit my Macbook Air *and* fit into my new luggage.
  • Dig through the yarn stash for yarn that a) sort of kind of goes with the luggage color and b) will felt.
  • Sigh as I realize the Plymouth Boku has black and gray in it, and I really don’t like black and gray, but darnit that stuff has been in my stash for over 3 years and it was too pricey to throw away and the purple matches ok so I decide to use it (doublestranded) in conjunction with a single strand of Galway.
  • Grab my favorite size 11 ChiaoGoo needles, and use Judy’s Magic Caston to caston 100 stitches.
  • Using the magic loop method, randomly stripe the two yarns until the bag is 12×19.
  • Cast off 50 stitches, and knit flat for about 10 rows.
  • Start decreasing on every knit row – Slip 1, k2tog, k1, k2tog, knit until 6 stitches before end, ssk, k1, ssk, k1.
  • When almost to the end, realize that oh crud I need a buttonhole, so cast off 4 stitches in the middle of the row.
  • Cast them on again as I purl back.
  • Weave in all the stupid ends that I have because I striped it and what was I thinking anyway?!
  • Throw in the washing machine on hot/hot with soap and two towels.
  • Toss in the dryer for 10 minutes on the hottest setting.
  • Take out and shape (and by shape, I mean tuck in the little flared corners at the top, reinforce the folded edge with some stitches, and close the buttonholes a little because I really should have only cast off/on TWO stitches, not 4.)
  • Dig through the stash to find two buttons that are probably coconut shell meaning that I’m probably allergic to them but they match so really, what does it matter, it’s not like I’m eating them – and sew them on.
  • Slide the computer in and realize that it really does fit, exactly.

And that, dear readers, is how to make a felted laptop sleeve.

Working for the weekend!

Or at least, for the Sabbath ;-) Back when I wrote this post, we had just begun incorporating some of the Sabbath traditions into our home.

Over the last year, we’ve gotten even more deliberate about it – bringing in rituals such as lighting candles on the eve of Sabbath, saying prayers, and having an evening meal together where we don’t rush from the table, where no phones or iPad or computers are present, where no text messages are read. Email goes unchecked. Skype is off. Everything is set aside, and we relax.

I’ve been reading the book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, by Wayne Muller, and this passage spoke to me.

“We meet dozens of people, have so many conversations. We do not feel how much energy we spend on each activity, because we imagine we will always have more energy at our disposal. This one little conversation, this one extra phone call, this one quick meeting, what can it cost? But it does cost, it drains yet another drop of life. Then, at the end of days, weeks, months, years, we collapse, we burn out, and cannot see where it happened. It happened in a thousand unconscious events, tasks, and responsibilities that seemed easy and harmless on the surface but that each, one after the other, used a small portion of our precious life.

And so we are given a commandment: Remember the Sabbath. Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril – and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.”

I’m fortunate to work for people who honor my insistence on observing Sabbath. However, this practice is relatively new for me, and I still struggle with the best way to implement it. I’ve no desire to increase burdens for us, to create traditions that weigh my little family down with the observation of them.

But rest, stillness – being together, enjoying each others company, creating and eating yummy meals,  doing things we all enjoy – that is what I’m seeking to cultivate each week.

The Boy looks forward to Friday evenings, lighting the candles, saying the prayers. He reminds us on Saturday, “This is Sabbath! We’re not supposed to work, we’re supposed to relax! Come on, let’s talk about something fun!”

Given my past, the years where I drowned in legalism, the years where I trudged through life looking for a list of thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots, it would be very easy to slide into a list of rigid rules for observing Sabbath. It’s tempting to find a list of guidelines, and worry about not sticking to them.

Finding the rhythm of rest, though – that’s what I’m after. Sabbath is a gift, a sacred gift, and I don’t think the Creator intended it to stress us out!

This coming Saturday? We plan to sleep in, cook pancakes, play a few games together as a family. There will be knitting, and Minecraft, and maybe even a blanket fort constructed for a Nerf war. I’ll get online, and turn on Skype in time to join Shema Congregation.

While pretty much all of those things violate what a more Orthodox Sabbath would require, they are all things that bring us peace, and rest, and closer together as a family. To me, that’s what honoring Sabbath is about.

And so, while I adore my job…I’m finding I enjoy my life even more when I work for the weekend. Mondays aren’t a chore when my brain has had time to reboot and relax. Starting my week as rested as possible makes me a better employee, a better mom, a better wife.

The times in my life I spent struggling under man-made rules, trying to live up to an impossible (and ever-changing!) standard of “holiness”? I never felt rested, or at peace.
In letting go of that, in embracing ancient rituals, in listening to old commands -
I’m finding that my Father, He really does know best…