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courtney spainhower

I have a lot of knitting needles.

Like, 3 sets of interchangeable points, sort of 2 sets of double points in a mismatched way, a set of mini double points, and just about any size circular and straight needle you could imagine.  And so, today when I broke my size US4 wooden interchangeable points while working on a new design, I figured I could just grab a set of my metal points and go about my day.  I grabbed the last thing I was certain I had used my US4 needles to fiddle with and ... those are US5.  What about this one?  US6.  And the great needle search commenced.

I would like to say that at no point during this search did I have any sort of melt down.  I would like to say that I didn't cry because that would be ridiculous.  I would like to say I didn't get pissed at my husband, pissed at my laundry, pissed at my *always* dirty floors... but I did.  I did all of those things.  I also cleaned, organized, sorted, wound, stacked, stashed, and cleared out every box, bag, basket, and bin I have any knitting related items in.  I found every single missing set of interchangeable points except my US4.

On Spring

courtney spainhower

The thing is, as far as seasons go, spring is the sweet and sour season.  I do a bit of "spring cleaning" but really, autumn seems like a more appropriate time for those sorts of things - the great purging before holidays and searing cold set in, making it emotionally impossible to do things like carry boxes to the car for donation or clear out cobwebs and dust because, for heaven's sake, they might be providing insulation at that point!  And I do like a tidy house.  Which, I would like to add, is damn near impossible around here.  Which again, brings me to spring and the fact that it's been raining daily for what seems like a month (though it's probably more like a week? Two?  Has it been a month!?  Good lord!).  Which means every living creature that can, will track in as much dirt, mud, and rainwater as physically possible.  Fortunately, we have tile and wood throughout the house save the lowest level which currently houses glorified spill collection material (also known as carpet).

However, the cloudy skies seems less oppressive in spring than they do in Autumn - a real benefit to the psyche.  Clouds above but dandelions and lilacs and tulips and daffodils below nestled in clumps against nearly neon green grass, freshly revived and fully alive.  And a stray turkey.  

(Wait, what?)

After I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I came into the neighborhood through the small back street that probably has a name, but isn't the main entrance so I couldn't tell you much more about it......... but I saw this giant bird standing in a yard and I stopped because we like to look out for giant birds that might slaughter our chickens, right?  And then I realized it was a turkey.  A lady turkey and she was all by herself just sort of standing there, blinking.  She took a few steps toward the van and stopped, then slowly rounded the front to the driver's side and just stood there.  Blink.  Looking right at me.  I rolled down the window and was like, "Hey turkey, what-cha doin' out here all by yourself?"  She made a bubbly little lady turkey sound and took a few more steps - now planted squarely in the middle of the road and ... blink...  I shooed her off the road and called my mom because her nearby friend raises turkey folk and maybe she just, you know, escaped.

Later, on my way to get spring things like mulch and tree stakes, I saw the lady turkey just standing in someone's yard like a lawn ornament... but then, on my way home, there she was in someone's driveway, perched on top of their pickup truck.  Weird ass lady turkey.  

> As I was typing this, I got a text.  A video from the husband?  What could it be?  Him in his truck dropping off a load and... what's that?  A turkey!  Ha! <

Speaking of poultry, Blind Melon is probably my favorite girl right now.  She started laying at about 7 months old and gifts us perfectly peach little pee-wee sized eggs nearly 5 days a week.  And she's the lady Johnny Cash of chickens.  Ruby (our Welsummer) is Mae's favorite by a mile.  She came into my bedroom yesterday with Ruby under one arm and Blind Melon under the other declaring, "I have chickens!"  Yup, I see that.  Sigh.  But normally, it's just Ruby that she totes around the house.  We integrated our 2 month old babes to the flock a few weeks ago and all is harmonious in the hen house even though we were off to a rough start with the orpingtons who weren't keen on new house mates.... and we have two little week-olds to cuddle.  We source our chicks locally and different breeds are only available at certain times so we've been forced into staggering out the flock quite a bit.  May is our last round of chicks and we're done!  At that point we'll have Welsummer, Silkie, Orpington, EE, OE, Wyandotte, Black Copper Marans, Rhode Island Red, and Ameraucana hens.  The steady flow of fluffin-butted chicken nuggets is totally worth it.

We're also rounding out our trees and other various fruit-bearing plants, adding grapes, elderberry, blueberry, and apricot to the apple, raspberry, and plum we already had started in the fall.  I would still like to get some pear mixed in there though... ya? And I bought rose bushes.  White roses for my papa who I lost too many years ago to even think about.  I'm really gonna try to keep them alive and well.  I feel like I'm off to a good start though since they already have a lot of new growth (high five, me!)... oh, and it's been so great planting all this stuff in the rain.  But, it's raining all - the - freaking - time - so, those daily waterings have been a breeze! (she said sarcastically).

But in all honesty, I love that I don't have to keep watering all these things, that we have the sweetest little Silkie eggs to dye for easter, and that this year, our little chunk of earth will be another step closer to what we used to sit around and sort of try not to dream about too hard because it seems borderline impossible at the time.  I used to think I wanted it all - the sheep and the horses and the chickens and the trees and the gardens - but as my health continues on in the steady progression of Lupus, I'm really settling into what is really manageable.  Asking myself, what is my truth?  Truth. About as woven into the inner workings of my life right now as that lady turkey.  It just keeps rising up and saying, "Isn't it nice here?  Settle in and have a cup of tea."  Hubs is taking me in for another biopsy tomorrow and I am pretty much just over the whole thing.  Let it be Stage 1 and let it be a hysterectomy so that I can check it off my list of concerns.  We have uterine and cervical cancer in the blood line and I'd just as well say goodbye to it.

And believe it or not, I am actually working - the knitting flow has been steady enough and I'm in that between projects place with edits on one side and proposals on the other.  It's my least favorite place in the cycle.  And you know, being a designer isn't like being a knitter.  I can't just post knitting pics every day because the things I'm knitting?  They're secret and bound by contracts.  That's probably the only real crapy thing about what I do.  My editor is asking about a second book, too.  The kids screamed NO and my husband just sort of blinked at me like the lady turkey.  The first book was stressful, and a ton of work, and I was pretty much the worst version of myself afterward.  Have I learned enough and grown enough to jump back into those dark waters?  Maybe.  Not now but keep churning?  I have sketches and swatches and concepts galore.  I'll let them marinate a while longer.  I told her I needed to have a very crisp and tidy direction for not just the book but for each piece and that's the truth.  Until every single design has been fully visualized, I will wait.  There's no race.  There's no one running up at my heels. 

On 2016

courtney spainhower

My final pattern released in 2016 was the Arrowhead Stole (a contribution and cover girl for Interweave Press, F+W Media collection, Garter Stitch Revival).

It's a nice pattern to close the year with... simple and lovely... a piece that reminds me of summer's eventual return... a true warm weather stole knit in a crunchy, cool yarn.  In fact, it's a taste of my recent transformation as a designer.  I'm getting down to the bare bones of where I want to go with knitwear, how I want to approach design, and what feels appropriate for seasonal pieces.  Things I once would have thought nothing of years past (like Icelandic wool sweaters for spring) utterly repel me.  However, like any other period of growth/change, I become rigid in a new way of thinking and then soften again with newfound knowledge. But this is all looking ahead rather than back - back into 2016 - *the year of "persevere" when in reality, it ended up being the year of "hold-on-for-dear-life" 

Looking back, 3 things stand out - first, the year went by so quickly, too quickly, months and seasons tumbled over each other at such a rapid pace I could hardly keep up.  Second, from start to finish, people were divided.  Race issues, gender issues, political issues... every time I turned around.  It forced me off social media for the most part and aided in my already steady retreat inward.  Lastly, 2016 was a big year of change for our family.  Mae's Trichotillomania spiked, causing strife and periods of melancholy.  Alizah chipped away at her chrysalis to expose a glimpse at the gorgeous creature forming within (that girl is a force).  And we made huge strides toward our goals on the homefront, adding ducks, chickens, and fruit trees to our little plot of earth, along with the start of our gardens. 

In the end though, I knew '16 would be a tough one for this monkey girl (navigating a monkey year) and so I avoided conflict, stayed steady, and wore a lucky amulet every day.  Hubs, on the other hand, was destined for good fortune.  We couldn't see the path, but as always, time cleared the way for us and the path was revealed.  I was grateful for his promotions and ability to leap over adversity like a gazelle... it gave our family stability and balance.

There seems to be a general "good riddance" attitude toward 2016.  Even though I felt mostly under water for the past 365 days, I don't feel that beaming optimism for the new year.  I feel older.  I feel rooted.  I feel rushed.  I am, however, looking forward to breaking the spell of introversion that I sank deeply into.  I also look forward to getting my feet out of the mud and getting back into design with a new, fresh perspective.  Mostly, I look forward to making it to the other side with my family intact and my little homestead growing.  **At this point, I feel like anyone who really knows me, knows about my New Year's Mantras... this post still resonates with me as I was saying farewell to 2014 - here is a small excerpt:  

 I don't make resolutions, as some of you already know, but I do set a mantra for myself.  2014 was simply "stay steady" and 2013's "be brave". I haven't quite settled on one for 2015 yet, but the past two years have served me well and have been years of personal and professional growth, and unexpected adventures.  Truly, I want to continue on in this way - staying steady, being brave, and pushing those two tasks further than I ever thought possible... and I wish that for all of you, too.  #pushitfurther

But, I was on a high when 2014 closed.  2016 hardened me.  And since I've been setting a word, phrase, or general idea to lean on for years, out of necessity and creation, I notice that this year, the not-even-day-old-year of 2017, social media is all a buzz with everyone's "word for the year" and I'm realizing quickly that the mantra I set for myself weeks ago is going to be far more difficult for me to lean into than I could have imagined.

2017.  Open, Flex.

And yet, I'm leaning back into the feeling I felt most of 2016 (hide and lock doors!).  I wish I could talk to 2014/2015 Courtney.  I bet she would have excellent advice for me right now.