Woman-At-Arms

Glock

I have begun a brand new chapter in my life…the chapter of gun ownership.  I am surprised to be writing this post as I never would have thought I would shoot a gun let alone own one.  Let me give you a little background.

I have never been a fan of guns in the house as I thought they posed a huge safety issue.  I don’t have little one’s living with me anymore, but do occasionally have my grandchildren here so I was even more protective.  A few months ago, I was home alone and someone came to the door I did not know.  We have had a rash of burglaries in our area and even a home invasion not too far from me.  I was terrified.  This is not like me and for all I now the person on the other side may have been harmless.  But what if he hadn’t been…what if he had tried to get in?  What would I have done?

I talked to my husband and we decided we both needed to know how to fire a gun safely and how to handle a situation like this in the future.  We jumped on Youtube and watched endless videos on different revolvers and then went to a local gun range where I tried several of them out.  I liked the idea of a revolver so I could see when it was loaded and how many shots I had, but none really seemed right to me.  My husband was set on a semi-automatic Glock 42 pistol and I finally relented and tried it out.  I was a little bit scared of having a semi-automatic pistol but I absolutely loved it!  Little kick and better control sold me.  We purchased two Glock 42 pistols the following week and became members at the range.  I also joined the National Rifle Association and downloaded all kinds of materials on gun safety and shooting competitions.  Who knew you could do so much to sharpen your skills and have fun too!  And there is a Farm Girl Sisterhood badge to earn!  Woo hoo!

NRA

The next time on the range I earned my first pistol qualification – Pro-Marksman!  To earn this I had to shoot 10 nine inch paper plates with 5 shots each all within a half inch from the edge.  I shot 10 on each plate with almost all of them 1 1/2″ from the edge.

This is turning into a fun hobby, but also equipping us with a new sense of protection.  When the weather gets a little better we will be taking our Conceal and Carry class so we can get our permits to carry our firearms.  I am not sure I will actually carry it, but you never know and it is good to have the option.  I am not a hunter and don’t feel the need to shoot an animal, but being able to shoot is a very good skill to have.

This is just another example of stepping out of your comfort zone and tackling your fears.  You can do it too!  Try something totally out of the box for yourself and let me know how it turns out!  Gotta go…the shooting range is calling my name!

target

One of my targets from the first time I shot my new Glock 42.

A Knitter Is Born

Scarf 3

I have never knitted in my life so I figured this badge was a great one to take me way out of my comfort zone and tackle something brand new!  I am a quilter by nature so I would say I am somewhat creative and crafty.  But I am allergic to wool.  Yes that’s right…allergic but willing to learn to knit with what…you guessed it…wool yarn!  I can do this!

First thing to do is buy yarn and some knitting needles.  No sweat!  I head over to Michaels and walk back to the yarn section.  Uh Oh!  There are a million different kinds of yarn.  I knew I wanted to start out making a fluffy scarf so I walked up and down feeling every skein as I went until I found one that was very soft and pretty bulky.  Yarn…check!  Now needles.  A friend told me to get Size 13 so I found a set of those and they were purple, my favorite color.  Double Check!

My first volunteer teacher went back to college before our first lesson and I was left with yarn and needles, but no teacher.  Luckily, my friend and co-worker knits and was willing to teach me.  My first lesson went pretty good.  She taught me how to cast on and how to knit stitch.  I found out the yarn I bought was probably going to be a difficult choice for a beginner, but I had confidence I could do it!!

I left her house with about three rows of knitting on my needle and had casted on 14 stitches.  This is important information.

I went home and knitted up a storm.  My scarf grew longer and longer…and wider and wider.  About half way through I counted my stitches and was up to 20.  How in the world does that happen?!  Apparently I was increasing (wrapping the yarn around the needle before knitting the stitch).  See how much I have learned already!  I know how to accidentally increase!  Well the remainder of the scarf stayed at 20…Whew!

I signed up for a Craftsy course on knitting so I could watch over and over how to cast on, knit stitch, bind off and weave my ends in.  The scarf took about a week.  Not half bad for a newbie knitter!

Scarf 1

The Craftsy class also had several more projects, with a project list so I ordered some new yarn and needles for these.  A skein of wursted merino wool and a skein of Cascade 220 plus Size 7 and Size 9 needles.  I also purchased a knitting gauge and some darning needles.  My knitting supplies are growing!

Now being a quilter I couldn’t leave it at that.  One of the recommend supplies was a knitting bag.  Well no self respecting quilter can “buy” a knitting bag can she?  I made this adorable charm tote bag to carry all my new yarn and knitting goodies in.  I had to choose some bright spring colors after this long hard winter we are having!

Knitting Tote

Another thing I saw on a lot of websites was a knitting needle carrying case.  So I found a great pattern for a needle case that had an embroidered flower on the cover.  Score!  Embroidery and quilting to carry knitting supplies in.  Ok I am in deep here!!  But I gathered some cute country fabrics from my stash and whipped this adorable case up in no time.  Some of my fabrics even had bees on them!  Bee Awareness is important according to Mary Jane and I have to do my part!!

Knitting Needle Case Outside

Knitting Needle Case Inside

So I am three weeks in and have completed two scarves, one with lace (Hello Intermediate Level Badge) and made a tote bag and knitting needle case and am working on scarf three!  The keyhole scarf below required knit, purl, increase, decrease, bind off in the middle to create a keyhole, seaming and blocking.  Wow!  Don’t I sound like a knitter?

Scarf 2

Scarf2a

Scarf three is a seed stitch…knit, purl, knit, purl…oh my!  I am pretty sure this may qualify for Advanced level.  Woo Hoo!!  This one is keeping me very focused, because I need to count how many knits and how many purls.  No Downton Abbey watching while knitting this bad boy!  Or girl..she is purple after all!

I have knitted with my friend for over five hours and found a group of knitters that gather every Monday evening at a yarn store to knit together.  I have been there once so far and the group was very friendly!

I think I may like this new hobby and FYI my wool allergy has not flared up so far when handling the wool.  I also learned that using Alpaca yarn may help if I am going to wear the project next to my skin.

Ta Ta For now… I’m off to knit…or was that purl…

~ Stay Blessed

Mary Jo

Farmgirl #5559

Badge Mania

Starlings 02-06-2014

This week I finally organized all the badges I have been working on and applied for 10 badges!  Some I started back before Christmas and they took a month to complete, like the Beginner Gratitude badge and the Bustin Out! badge (try one new organic food each week for one month).  Others like the Beginning Scrap Book badge, the Quilting badge, the Bird badge and the Blogging badge I had been working on and just hadn’t had a minute to fill out and submit the applications.

Well Thursday evening I got them submitted!  And I have so many more in the works.  I am really enjoying all the different areas I am learning about.

I applied for all three levels of the Blogging badge and if you are here reading this you are on my latest blog project.  I also have a quilting blog on my website The Quilt Bear that you can explore HERE.  I also had a blog I started several years ago called My Life as an Umpire’s Girl that followed my adventures watching my husband as he umpired girl’s fast pitch softball games and boy’s baseball games.  I got away from posting on that one, but hope to pick it up again soon.

One of my favorite badges has been the Birds Beginner and Intermediate badges.  I found a great website that listed all the birds I could find in Northwest Ohio and the season’s I could expect to see them.  This was so helpful.  I started taking some pictures of the birds that came to my feeder and even identified a bird I had been trying to figure out for months…a Northern Mocking Bird.

Starlings 02-06-2014

Starlings enjoying some homemade wheat bread.

Female Cardinal

A female cardinal who refused to turn her head my way!

Birdies in the Snow

Doves and a junco enjoying some grub in the snow.

I also finished some quilting projects and applied for the beginner badge, which is weird for me, because I have been a quilter for many years.  But to challenge myself I decided to try to learn some new techniques and focus on strengthening my weak areas.  For the beginner badge I decided to expand my machine quilting skills and made two projects I quilted myself.  I usually send out the larger projects to a long-armer and quilt the smaller ones in the ditch.  This time I drew some intricate geometric designs on my quilt top with a Frixion Heat Erase marking pen and then quilted on the lines.  I also used quilting pins instead of spray basting which was a new experience for me.  I loved how they turned out and am going to try free motion next.

Quilts - Beginner Level

This week I am going to learn how to knit.  I have a friend who is going to teach me some basics so I can make a scarf.  I need it in all this snow!  I am excited to try this since I have never knitted anything in my life.  I bought my yarn and knitting needles and can’t wait to see how it all works!

What are you working on?  I would love to hear your adventures!  Post a comment and let me know your favorite badge!

~Stay blessed,

Mary Jo  – Farmgirl #5559