Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year (almost!)

I am still "on vacation" with my in-laws. As most parents of young children know, going away with your small kids isn't actually a vacation really, it's more just a change of location. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it's not sitting on a beach with a margarita either. :)

I've been doing a ton of knitting! I finished BIL's hat and it fit him, and as far as I can tell, he likes it! SIL seems pleased that he has a hat that actually fits him (he does have a fairly large noggin). I then knit a Stella's Hat for myself in some gorgeous Malabrigo, emerald. It's lovely, but then of course, I promptly went out and bought a new coat (yay for sales!) in an entirely different green. It doesn't match AT ALL. So today I also bought some Malabrigo chunky in an olive green that does coordinate with the new coat very nicely. I'm thinking of a really simple winter hat.

I also got some Noro Silk Garden for the ubiquitous 1x1 rib striped scarf that everyone's going. I've been dying to make this, and I got enough for two scarves. The first is for a friend who's fiance just passed away. It's so sad, and she's such an amazing person, and I just want to wrap her up in warmth, you know? So I'm working on that, and really enjoying it.

I did about 3 rows on my second sock-in-progress, before I got distracted. I've totally got my knitter ADD going on right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I haven't disappeared. We've been utterly swamped, what with the ice storm and no power for 4 days, and then we got dumped on with about 2 feet of snow, and there was this small holiday we had some work to do for as well. Life, it sure does get in the way of knitting and blogging. :)

You know, I never appreciated how much work went into Christmas until the last couple of years, when my kids have gotten old enough to get it. I think it was really last year (when my oldest was 4), that I really understood that if we want to have family traditions like a Christmas feast, and presents, and a lovely brunch, and stockings and all that stuff, someone has to DO it. So, we did. I often feel like I'm pretending to be a grown up, and this was one of those occasions. It was all lovely, and the kids had a really great time, but dude, I am tired.

Anyway, I'm off to my in-laws for a week tomorrow, hoping to get some fun knitting in. I've got my BIL's hat to finish (I'm scared it's going to be too small AGAIN), and then some fun things for me to knit for ME. I'll get pictures of all the gift hats up when I return. And maybe some WIP pictures too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Back in Business

Thursday afternoon of last week, it was pouring rain. This turned to a bit of snow, then to ice. We were awakened by a sound at around 2:30 am or so Friday morning. "Was that lightening?" I asked my husband, very confused. No, no, it was the transformer exploding. The power went out. We spent the rest of the night listening to the sound of trees and branches falling (did I mention that we now live right next to conservation woods?), as the house got colder and colder. In the morning, the trees were still coated with ice, and every few seconds another branch would go. I went out on the front porch and witnessed a large branch come down in our driveway, which thankfully missed the car. We ended up spending the next 3 nights a wonderful friend's house in a suburb that wasn't hammered by the ice storm, and just got power back last night. I'm feeling very discombobulated and off my schedule.

When we figured out we were getting power back on Friday, it was late enough that the sun was going down and my husband was encouraging me to leave before the wet roads turned to black ice. I threw some things together and headed off. Thankfully, I already had a knitting bag packed, so I tossed some more projects in (because, you know, when you're hanging out with five kids under the age 5.5, including two infants, you have SO much time for knitting). I did end up getting my dad's hat finished.

I pulled out my sister's cable hat, it just wasn't doing it for me and it was too small. I'm now planning on Stella's Hat. I started it once but didn't trust the pattern, so I cast on 88 stitches, which turned out to be HUGE. So I restated with 80 stitches. I started Magic Loop, but even though I didn't twist my stitches in the join, I somehow kerfuffled my cable so the thing got twisted, so I pulled it out. I did two rows on straight needles then switched to round. It's funny, in doing these hats, I've rediscovered my love of my Denise kit. It had fallen into disfavor when my sexy KnitPick Options set showed up, but I've found the love, since KP doesn't have a 16" cable for the Options set. (At least they didn't the last time I looked.) So, I'm working on this hat too, hoping to get it done soon so I can send these off to Vermont.

I'm planning a couple of felted hats for myself, but have no idea how one would block them. Any suggestions?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

So, what does this say about me?

Yesterday was my birthday, and it was a lovely day. Filled with both my ADLs ("activities of daily living", in group home speak), and with what felt like an outpouring of happy energy to me, and some wonderful gifts. I am amused that my parents gave me money specifically to spend on yarn. Yes, they know me well...I am also amused that I am thinking about blowing the whole thing at The Loopy Ewe, in sock yarn. Because, you know, I don't have enough??? I just love sock yarn. Especially hand dyed sock yarn. I don't knit enough socks...but they have some brands I want to try!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Gift of Time and other Thoughts

My darling husband gave me an hour and a half to myself this morning. :) And told me I was absolutely NOT to clean the house (which needs it, especially because we're having 3 families over for dinner tomorrow night!!). I headed off to Starbucks and knit for a while. I did another 2 pattern repeats for Branching Out, and I'm just really liking how it looks. I then did some more work on my sister's cabled hat. I went down a size for needles because she (and I) have small yet long heads. Unfortunately, no gauge was provided with the pattern, so I'm not sure how big it was supposed to be. I'm concerned that it's going to be too small. I'd like to think I should trust my intuition, but honestly, it's not all that good. I almost always have some sort of nagging concerns about my projects, and sometimes they're utterly justified and sometimes they're just completely baseless. I guess it shows me how much I have still to learn about this craft. I'd love to get this thing done soon, but I am not sure how much time I'll have tomorrow to work on it. The color is so pretty and the yarn is SO lovely and soft!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Fickle, Fickle Heart

So, the problem with the way my life works is that I have all these children, and, well, they take up a lot of my time. So I both don't get to knit as much as I'd like, and I only get to really do my blogging in the evening, at which point I'm dead tired. I'd love to post more pictures, I think knitting blogs without pictures aren't actually all that interesting, but to get the energy to take the pictures (at which I sort of suck, anyway), get them from the camera, cropped and scaled down, and up into a blog post is often beyond me these days. And to get them loaded onto Flickr so I can rav them? Apparently that's just not happening.

But, all that aside. I have a new love, and that love is...Malabrigo. My sister requested a hat, so I thought I'd find something soft. I found a cool pattern that I think will look really pretty. I can't find the ball band, but I think it's closest to the Indigo color, it's a lovely rich blue that will look really nice on her. This yarn is so deliciously soft, I'd love to just roll around in it half-clothed. Of course, I'm so tired that I'd probably end up going to sleep pretty quickly, but I'd enjoy it for about 30 to 47 seconds, I'm sure! SHOCKINGLY, some in the Emerald colorway LEPT into my basket to come home with me (I'll be making this scarf and this hat for myself in it). What can I say? I had a giftcard. It is odd, isn't it, how often I get bombarded with yarn and knitting needles and whatnot when I go into a yarn store. Things just throw themselves at me and insist I bring them home! Strange. Anyway, I've started my sister's hat and it's so soft. I have been doing so much work with cotton, I'd sort of gotten used to how hard cotton is on the hands! This is just lovely.

I also got a random skein of light green yarn with which to make my son's stuffed tiger, named Cracker, a hat, mittens, and a scarf. My son has also requested that I make Cracker a sweater, a snow suit and some snow boots, but I think I've convinced him that tigers have fur and the boots, at least, are overkill. I may do the sweater, just because I think it would be really cute! I suggested putting slits for Cracker's ears in the hat, and my son just gave me a look as if I were insane, and said "No, his EAR will get cold! NO SLITS!" *sigh* Okay. So now I have to design the perfect tiger sweater. DS insisted that he wanted the LIGHT green. The woman at the store thought this was hysterical and said "You can tell he's the child of a fiber enthusiast!"

I have major startitis right now...all I want to do is start new projects, but I know that leads to not finishing them. I also owe my BIL a hat from last Christmas (the one I made was too small for his enormous head), so I need to find some yarn for that. Maybe more Malabrigo?!? I should definitely get the Christmas knitting done before anything else.

I'm really liking the Branching Out in the STR Lightweight. I think the colors work, I don't think it obscures the lace pattern too badly. I don't know how warm it'll be but it sure is pretty!

So, that's about it! Oh, one small frustration...I've attempted several times now to post comments of the Yarn Harlot's blog, and for some reason her blog doesn't like me. My comments get "held for the moderator" and never show up. It doesn't seem like others have that problem, so I should probably take it personally, right? Ah well, I guess I won't be able to tell her how much her work inspires me!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Surfacing


It doesn't *feel* like it's been almost a week since posting. The long weekend has thrown me off, I think. Not to mention that my daughter is sleeping like C.R.A.P. and I am exhausted. She's got a terrible cold, and she's teething and having all these developmental leaps (sitting, crawling, waving). Hopefully she'll settle down soon. It's a good thing she's cute.

I've been working away on a few different projects. I just picked up the baby blanket for a friend, I really do want to get this done and sent off. I love the fleece, it's really cute! I hope the edging works. I'm working my way through Riverbend sock #2. (Hah, I just typed sock #3 by accident, my god, imagine if you had three feet, I would *never* get socks done...though if I had three feet, I'd wear different socks on each of them and only ever have to knit one sock of any pattern...) Anyway. Yes, Riverbend 2 is chugging along. I've got the plain part of the foot done, and I'm almost to the point of starting the increases. I would love to get this done this week, so I could have a new pair of socks to wear. Then, I SWEAR, I am starting Falling Leaves #2. Promise. I'm also working on Branching Out. I'm doing it in this, and the colors are quite different than they appear on my monitor, they're much darker (and the green is muddier). All of my yarn, in fact, is much darker than on my monitor. It's all good, just different than what I thought I was getting. Anyway, the Grandma's Flower Garden doesn't look at all spring-like to me, in fact, it seems much more like Autumn colors. I think it works in the lace. I'll post some pictures one of these days. I'm hoping I have enough leftover to do a hat. I'll use much smaller needles to get a denser fabric, but I think a simple cap would be really pretty too. I think that's about it for the moment.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Knitter, Know Thyself

[Okay, I was just totally distracted by the sight of my older son running by in an orange pajama shirt and pants with fire trucks on them. Daddy dressed him for bed tonight.]

Anyway. What was I saying? Oh yes. So, I've heard it said that there are two kinds of knitters: those who stash, and those who plan projects. I am totally in the latter camp. Not to say I don't have a stash, I certainly do. It's not really huge, but I wouldn't call it, you know, tiny.

But, I buy yarn for specific projects, and because I am compulsively rigid consistent, I don't usually deviate from my plan. Yeah, I do love me a good plan. So, anyway, I bought this STR and had the bright idea to take a skein and knit something other than socks. I tried that drop stitch pattern, didn't work. I got about 40 rows into the Alix shawl and thought "You know, this pattern just isn't doing it for me." Nothing against the pattern, at all, it's just not my style! So I frogged it.

I am now doing Branching Out. I am not convinced the yarn is right for this pattern either, but I want to do a bit more and see. I'm doing it on fairly big needles, 8s, to get a more lacy effect. The yarn is so gorgeous and smooshy and sproingy, maybe I should just do socks with it. I've done 1.5 pattern repeats, but because it's going to need blocking, it's hard to tell if it really works. This is where I just don't have the confidence as a knitter, that I can make a good call for swapping a very different yarn into a pattern. And because the yarn is so pricey, I really would hate to make something that I won't enjoy and wear, you know?

I know, fascinating, isn't it? ;)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One down...

One to go. I finished the first of the Riverbend socks today. It fits very well in the foot, it's a tad baggy around the ankle, but all in all, I'm quite pleased with it. Not pleased enough to start the next one, I think I need a small break. If I were a good and diligent knitter, I would also start my 2nd Falling Leaves sock. These are so pretty, and they've been languishing! No, I didn't do that either. I did start an enormously hard complicated project that scares the hell out of me, more on that when I get enough done to think that I'll be able to actually complete it (it's probably not really all that hard, but it's complex).

So, now my thoughts are turning to....SOCKS THAT ROCK! I actually want to turn one of the skeins into a scarf, because I need a scarf and it's getting damn chilly around these parts. Especially inside my house because heating is expensive. I was thinking about doing a small Alix's Prayer Shawl, but I'm not sure I *love* the pattern, and I'm not sure how a small one would look, or how one might wear it. Maybe this pattern (ravelry link)?

Okay, since writing that, I tried the drop stitch pattern and I'm not sure if the yarn was not right or the needles were too small but I didn't love it (I wonder if that would work for that Berroco BoHo that's been nagging me for a long time now?). So I started the Alix Prayer shawl, and it'll be a small shoulder shawl. I'll do something else for a scarf...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

And this is why I love Magic Loop for socks.




















Because you can try on your socks as you make them!!

Yarn: Regia Cotton Color
Needles: KP Fixed Circs, 32" length, 2.5 mm
Pattern: Riverbend Master pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways...

It fits very well - very fitted. So far, I'm diggin' it! I had some confusion at the heel, but it turns out I was just misreading her diagrams, not that I'd made a mistake. I did what I thought was right, even though it didn't fit with what I *thought* the pattern was saying, but it turns out it *was* what the pattern was saying so I was right even thought I thought I was wrong. Or something.

I am desparate need of socks, and one pair of handmades is wearing out! The Yarn Harlot has the perspective that sock knitters are the ultimate optimists because you make something you pretty much guarantee is going to wear out, if you use it as intended. So, basically it means I can knit as many pairs of socks as I can stand (and dude, I can stand A LOT OF SOCK KNITTING), and they'll all be used!

In other knitting news, I got the preschool basket off today, hooray! When this sock is done, I've got a couple more crochet projects to finish and then I think I'm going to do a sock blitz.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

That Past and The Future

aka FOs plus pictures and stash acquisition!

So, I finished the things I'm making for the auction for the boys' preschool. Which is good, because the auction is SATURDAY NIGHT! I just have to make the basket all pretty now and we'll see what it goes for!

Item #1 is another Starghan. :) You make recognize the color scheme. I had lots of the yarn (Bernat Cottontots) left over, so it went to this! I did 20 rounds of light pink, 1 round of the variegated, 10 rounds of purple, 1 round of variegated, and then 5 rounds of pink. It's all double crochet, and then I finsihed it with 1 more round of pink, single crochet. It's not huge, but I'm envisioning it as a "tuck around the newborn in her baby bucket carseat" kind of blanket, so I really didn't want it to be huge. I used a large hook, H maybe? It went quite quickly. I think it's pretty cute! It does buckle a bit. I did a sort-of steam blocking, which helped somewhat. I figure it's going to be getting tossed into the wash, so I'm not too worried about it. I used Beth's pattern, and she was gracious enough to give me permission to donate it for the auction.

The second item for the auction is this hat. This is another item which did, I believe, make me squeal like a bit of a girly girl. It's delicious, it looks like a cupcake and as soon as I get more yarn, I'm making one for my girl (in the bigger size as this is too small for her). This is a Debby Ware pattern, and she also very graciously gave me permission to donate it to be auctioned off. This was made in my perennial favorite, Takhi Cotton Classic, using my KnitPicks Options set, size 4 needle.

These will be packeged in a basket together with a bunch of Burt's Bees baby products.

In other exciting news, my STR arrived!!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Huh.

I appear to have gotten right on the first try.
This doesn't usually happen to me.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Procrastinating...

I need to go cast on 321 stitches for the Gumdrop Hat and I'm not looking forward to it. Casting on isn't my favorite thing to do, and dude? That's a lot of stitches. AND, it's being knit in the round, of course, so there is (especially with that many stitches) a very real likelihood that I'll twist the join, necessitating ripping out and starting over. Not excited about that.

I did finish the Starghan, and many thanks to Beth for giving me permission to make this for my kids' preschool fund raiser. (To anyone in the area, the auction is going to have good stuff...Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics tix, among other things, and for $10, lots of snacks and drinks.) It turned out quite cute (cutely? Is that even a word?), it's very cute, but a bit bumpy. I'm pondering the whole blocking process. It's made from cotton, so I'll probably try to steam block it later. We'll see how that works out for me. I'll take pictures soon.

I am obsessed with all things sock right now, but not actually doing any sock knitting, due to the fact that my fundraiser knitting/crocheting was due, like a week ago.

OH. I also finally called a different Project Linus contact who actually answered her phone (what is the world coming to?!?), and she's sending me info and we had a nice chat and there's a real need for what I want to do, which is edge fleece baby blankets and make little hats. So yay! I can reconnect to the service part of my life.

That's about it. Life is very busy, which seems odd to me. Oh, and it looks like there's a chance I may become a SOCCER MOM this spring. Who woulda thunk it. ME. I really do need to dye my hair green or purple. Purple's in this season, right?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gotta make this quick...

Because baby girl is waking up from her (far, far too short) morning nap.

My lovely sister has given me a gift certificate to Blue Moon Fiber Arts. !!!!! I have always wanted to try the STR (well, always for as long as I've known about them) because I hear the colors are amazing. I love me some colorful variegated yarn! But, I cannot decided between lightweight and medium weight! Maybe I'll get one of each? I'm also drooling over the Laci yarn, but since I *actually* knit socks and I only dream of knitting lace at the moment (and I have yarn and a lace project all set to go), I think the sock yarn is the way to go. Of course, picking a color or two is going to be challenging too!!

In other news...I'm crocheting up a storm for this auction thing, and need to cast on the baby hat today as well. We've got a lot planned so I'm not sure if it it's all going to get done. Well, actually, I am sure that it's NOT all going to get done by tonight, but it will be done for the auction.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I love tools.

I really do. I'm a gear-head and tool-head, I always have been.

So, I was getting some yarn to make a hat for this gift basket I'm putting together, (this pattern but I don't have the little flowers or buttons for it at the moment), and SOMEHOW a couple of Addi Lace needles just LEAPED into my bag and came home with me. What's that you say? They're inanimate objects and don't leap on their own? Well, you obviously don't know Addi Lace needles, my friend, that's all I can say.

The lace needles are for a lace shawl. I'm hoping there are many lace shawls that call for a size 5 needle. I got the 24" and the 40" - it's a circular shawl, so I'll start with Magic Loop, then move to knitting in the round, and then back onto the 40". If I need it, I can get the 60" later.

I haven't made as much progress on my blankie for the basket as I'd like. I'm pondering turning it into a towel instead, and making some washcloths. I dunno. That would go with the rest of the stuff I'm putting in (Burt's Bees products).

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'll make this quick...

...because I should have been in the shower 10 minutes ago to get out the door on time. Oh well.

I am exhausted today because I stayed up for the election results. It's probably no surprise, but I am *thrilled* with the results. I am hopeful and inspired to do my part for our country, and I haven't felt that way in a long time. We're got a lot of work ahead of us.

Also, I'm a tad...panicked is not quite the right word, but slightly worried because I agreed to donate a baby shower basket (with handmade stuff) for our preschool's auction and it turns out it was due, well, a while ago, and it's not, you know, done. Or started, really.

I am hoping to whip out (HA HA!) a star afghan and this adorable baby hat that I got the pattern for, by Monday. So picture me frantically DC-ing my way through the weekend, huh? Send some completion mojo my way, if you got it.

Pictures to follow.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Brrr!

The weather is moving from those glorious early fall days - the days where you're comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, maybe with a fleece vest for outside, where the leaves are on fire and the sky is that deep deep blue, the days that make me so thrilled to live in NE (and make me wonder when I turned into a person who gets breathless from the beauty around me) - to the days where it's really COLD. I don't love the cold, I'm not really a winter person, and I can't deny now that winter's coming. *sigh* It also makes me want to cover everyone I love (and perhaps total strangers) in hand knits - hats, mittens, socks, scarves, blankets (well, just the babies, I'm not crazy enough to knit a grown-up size blanket). I wish I had the time.

It's been a crazy busy week. We've been doing some extra free "skills clinics" at the Little Gym in town (which is *awesome*), and with Halloween this week, we've got some extra things as well. DS2 wears his costume to school today, DS1 does tomorrow. We have a Halloween party tomorrow afternoon, and then TRICK OR TREATING, of course. The kids are so excited, it's helping me to enjoy it.

AND I've been able to get some knitting and crocheting in. I started the border for a friend's baby blanket. I also emailed the Project Linus people, but haven't heard back from them. I started a Riverbend sock, from Cat Bordhi's book (hence the swatching, which I totally did in a lame fashion but appears to be on target for spi). I did her standard toe which is different from my version (which, when I come to think of it, I think I made up somewhat), and is a bit pointier, but I think I might like it. We'll see!

I also *tried* to start a very ambitious project but I don't have the right needles for it, and the right needles will cost me about $45 so I'm a bit hesitant to get them. I so wish KP made lace tips for their options set (pointier and a bit grabbier) because I would *totally* get them. Hmm, maybe I'll email them!

So, that's it on the knitting front. All is good. (Could I possibly use more parentheses in this post?)

(I don't think so.)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I can't believe it either!

Guess what I started today. No, go on, guess!!

A gauge swatch.

I *know*, it's so...out of character for me. But remember how I needed to finish all my socks on needles, and then I was going to do socks from the New Pathways book? Okay, so I didn't precisely finish *all* the socks I need to do...in fact, I need to start the second lace sock (it's been so long, I can't even remember which pattern it is...Falling Leaves, maybe?), but I need a vanilla project too, so I'm going to do the Riverbend sockitecture. I have some cute sock yarn (I know, what a surprise) and I'm going to try it. But, you need to know your gauge. So, swatching I am!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Holy Cow, another FO!! AND PICTURES!!

What is the world coming to?
Anyway, hard to believe, but I finished ANOTHER thing!! This is Knitty's BYOB, and I found it a fun knit. I seem to have themes in my knitting sometimes, and lately it's been seed stitch.

I knit this using the recommended needles sizes (of course I didn't swatch, what are you thinking??) with the recommended yarn, which is Lion Pride Cotton-Ease. This yarn is not bad, actually. I'll have to see how it washes and dries, but it's a nice soft yarn and makes a pretty fabric, I think. I used about a quarter of the skein of the rose, about a third of the skein of the blue, and cut it down to the wire with the green - I had 4 grams left at the end. I was a bit nervous I was going to run out and trying think how it would look if I did the bind-off row in blue or pink. Interesting, I am sure. I wasn't about to go out and buy another skein of the green for one row, you know?

I notice that when I am feeling low on yarn, I change how I knit with it. Usually I pull out a good long lead so I am not constantly unwinding from the skein, but when I feel low, I stop that, as if somehow that will mean I use less yarn. The mind, it's powerful. Don't go in it alone.

I didn't make any intentional pattern modifications (that's right! They're not errors, they're modifications!), and I thought the pattern was well-written and easy to follow. I was a bit confused as to how the handles were going to be attach but it was easy to do, and quite clever, I think!

This sucker is BIG. In the loaded up shots below, I've got *four* cereal boxes in there, and there's plenty of room for more stuff. It does stretch a bunch. I'm a bit wary about really loading it up as I'm not sure how much weight the handles can realistically bear - a lot? Not much? Not an experiment I'll run at the grocery store, that's for sure. But I think it's really pretty, and I'm really working on using reusable bags, so this goes in my stash!

And the crazy thing is, now I've actually got NOTHING on needles! I have one more lace sock to do, so I'll probably get that cast on, and some more plain vanilla socks, and some other things. I've got a pineapple doily on the hook, which desperately needs the miracle of blocking. Which I don't know how to do. Yay, a new skill to learn!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Moment To Breathe

(This is a very different post from the kind I usually put here, and it feels a bit scary to make myself this vulnerable, both about loss and about how important knitting really is to me. But you know what? I'm going to see how it goes.)

My wonderful husband is home from his trip. My daughter is sleeping, DH is doing stories with the boys, so I've got a moment here. I've got BYOB sitting here next to me, but I'm in a pondering mode right now. I'll knit in a moment.

I've been reading a bunch of the Yarn Harlot's books. As I wrote, I went to hear her speak. Because I wanted to support the bookstore that brought her to the area, I bought her latest book. Because I have a problem with self-control when it comes to books, I bought a few other books as well, all of which she graciously signed for me (poor thing, she's pretty fried).

I really have enjoyed them - both for the humor and for the philosophy. I was a philosophy major in college, I have a masters in counseling and ph.d. in counseling psychology, and I'm a licensed psychologist, so I think you could say that I appreciate the power of the examined life, eh? Yes. I've been thinking about how much I *love* the craft work that I do, and she helped me articulate part of it.

I've never really considered myself creative, which is sort of funny because I'm one of those singing, acting, violin-playing, photo-taking geeks. I always felt that I was an interpretor, not a creator, because most of what I do is interpretation of someone else's creativity - someone else's words, or music, or pattern. But SPM makes a distinction between creativity and creation, and that just jumped off the page for me. I *love* the act of creation. When I did theater, I loved building sets and costumes, hanging lights, creating a show. I *love* that when I'm doing my knitting or crocheting (or, in the past, counted cross stitch and other needlework which I don't do right now because tiny stabby needles and little kids don't mix all that well), I'm *making* something that wasn't there. I suppose that's true of kids as well. :) I've made three of 'em, so I must enjoy something more than the process of creating them.

This realization moved me, and felt...healing, really. I'm one of those women who's suffered from what I call "fraud symdrome." I'm pretty comfortable with who I am these days, thanks to some really good therapy, but I was someone who really believed that there was this huge discrepency between the person the world saw (and seemed to approve of), and who I really was inside, and that the insides weren't acceptable, on a basic level. I don't feel that way anymore (most of the time), but something about claiming the label of being "creative" jarred some of those old feelings. "You're not really creative" my (not so nice) inner-self would say when someone would compliment me on the thing I'd made, "any trained monkey could do the same." Well, perhaps that's true, though I don't think monkeys generally have access to nice yarn, but it's not really relevant.

What's relevant to me is that the act of creating is CREATIVE. I know, it seems sort of self-evident, but it feels huge to me. The act of doing something, and getting better and better at it, while understanding how much there is to learn is powerful. When I'm wearing socks that I made for myself, I feel not just a sense of competency, but I feel taken care of. When I give someone something I've made, I'm not just giving them the thing, I'm giving my time and my love. The fact that non-crafters don't always really understand that doesn't make it any less true.

My knitting is tied to the friendships I lost some time ago. We knit together. One friend gave me a knitting kit that I still use pretty much every time I knit. I'm often reminded of these women, though now it's more with a sense of wishing them well (because spiritually, it's better for me) than the ache I felt for a long time. I'm glad that I didn't let the pain of thse losses (and the pain those losses caused my son, which was huge, and in some ways more painful to me than my own loss) sour me on the knitting just because it was something that had bound us together. I think losing my love of knitting would cost me more than losing those friendships did. Since then, I've made new friends through knitting (and in other ways too), I've connected strongly with other friends I already had around crafting and the act of creating, and perhaps most importantly, I've committed more strongly to my own identity and self through knitting. I was too dependent on those friends, and I feel like from that loss, I've gained a much stronger core. It's not that I don't have wonderful friends now that I love and care for, and depend on, but I now know I can lose friends and be okay. It wasn't something that had really happened to me before, and it really left me reeling for a while.

Knitting has helped me become stronger, more independent, less perfectionistic, more courageous. I'm learning to be nicer to myself, and more generous and giving to others. It's given me some gorgeous socks, hats, blankets, gifts for others, and perhaps someday, a sweater, if I get that brave. That's a lot to get from some sticks and string.

Monday, October 20, 2008

FO (with pictures) and some musings about Knitting and Life.

  • A couple of random thoughts - I usually title my blog post before I write it, because I'm pretty concrete on this blog (and in life), so I know pretty much what I want to write. I'm wondering if I'll have time to get to the musings, as I have preschool pickup pretty soon.
  • I am very envious of people's wonderful photography of their FOs. I have taken classes and stuff, but when I'm doing pictures of my things, I just tend to snap and go. Maybe someday I'll work on that.
Okay, and on to the FO, which really counts as TWO because it's a finished sock. Apparently I finished this sock about...14 months ago, though I can't find anything on the blog about it. These are the green stripy sock I have been muttering about for MONTHS!! Done! Details:

Yarn: KnitPicks Felici in Argula (no longer being made)
Needles: KP 32" 2.5 mm (Magic Loop)
Pattern: None. I know! Me! And it actually worked out fairly well. Socks really aren't hard once you've done a pair or two and have a sense of the typical construction. (I know, such an expert, right? I've done...7 or 8 pairs, that's all!) Anyway, I cast on using Judy's Magic Cast-On. I cast on 32 stitches, and then did an increase every other row for 9 knit/increase row pairs. I did the increases at the sides, so knit 1, increase, knit to next to last stitch and increase in that, knit 1, switch to second half and to the same. I did that so I had 68 stitches. I knit for a while and thend decided that this might be too loose, so I decrease down to 64 stitches. I did a double-wrapped short-row heel, which I do like though I think, for self-se triping yarn, I prefer an afterthought heel so you don't mess up the stripe pattern. I knit around for a while and then did 1 inch of 1x1 ribbing and used EZ's sewn bind-off. I wish I had made the whole foot at 64 stitches but it's fine. I wish I'd made the leg longer but I was so bored and sick of it that I didn't. Lesson learned.

I'm still not great at the transition back to the leg or foot once you've done the short-row heel. I didn't pick up any extra stitches this time, but I will next time, as there are small holes. Not a big deal, not even enough to stitch (more of a gap, really) but I think it would look better without it. Also, on this second one, I actually dropped a stitch, not once, but TWICE. Rather than rip back to fix it, I just used a crochet hook. On one of them, I caught it right away so it was super-easy to fix, the other I had missed it for a round or two, so it looks a bit muddled but it's on the back so it's not really visible. I am so over these socks, I wanted them done. I really don't drop stitches regularly at all, so I have no idea what was happening. I think I was going too fast. I am so happy they're done and I'm having a joyful day wearing them!

Okay, no time for musings because my DD is awake and wicked cranky. Poor boo. I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I love knitting/crafting so much, and what role it plays in my life, that I'd like to try and get out, but now is not the moment. This moment is for keeping my beautiful little girl from eating the camera cord.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

On My Own

My wonderful husband, who is a true partner in all ways, is off to visit his bestest friend, who lives on the other side of the country. This is wonderful for him, but a bit less wonderful for me. I am on my own with the three kids. Now, I'm with them all day, that's not the issue, it's just that I'd sort of gotten used to having a break in the evening, and well, that's not going to happen. We are going to my ILs for the weekend, which will be awesome, but I'd somehow thought DH was getting back on Monday evening, and he's not, it's Tuesday evening, and his plane doesn't even land until 9:45 pm. In Boston. We live in the Metro West area, so who knows how the hell he's actually going to *get* home. It's an adventure! I know, I know, I'm a total wuss. Single parents do this *all the time*.

So, in anticipation of 6 days by myself, last night I went out on my own because the beloved Yarn Harlot was speaking in Porter Square. I got the kids and minivan handed off to the husband and headed off. First stop, a bagel from Dunkin' (well, really my first stop was peeing at the grocery store but I thought maybe the internet didn't need to know that, except, of course, now you do). I then walked over to St. James Church. Porter Square Books and The Common Cod Fiber Guild put on the reading. I got there just past 5:30 and there were maybe 20 people waiting. I got in line. They ended up opening the doors early, and I went in and thought, what the hell, and sat in the front row. :) I immediately started chatting with the woman next to me and the woman sitting behind me, and before you know it, we were showing baby pictures, admiring each other's knitting, and dishing on LYSs. It was excellent! Now, those who know me "in real life" know that I'm...how shall we say...friendly. I love to meet people and chat, but often I find that folks aren't always interested in chatting back. Which is cool, of course. But it was so nice to find lots of common ground.

I *loved* hearing SPM speak. She's so funny and wise at the same time, and said much more eloquently and coherently some things I've tried to articulate here. She's so honest and just herself. She had me laughing out loud and also moved me. She gave a long intro and then read an essay from her book that I just may have to make part of my therapy practice, once I have one.

Afterwards, I exchanged Ravelry names with the women I'd been chatting with, and got in line to have my book(s) signed. I ended up talking to the two women behind me. One owns Sit'n'Stitch in Melrose (Janet) and was so nice! Her friend was also with her, who works for the store and when I told them that I had seen a *gorgeous* crocheted blanket displayed there that was the inspiration for my learning to crochet, we figured out that the friend had made it, which made her very happy. It's true though, it totally inspired me.

It didn't take too long to get through the line (of course, I was chatting away) and when I got up, I managed to say something to SPM about how inspiring I find her, her writing and her work. Then we bonded over the world's inexplicable lack of interest in discussing breastfeeding with nursing mothers.

I then headed home. I love that I *know* that area so well and feel so comfortable around there, but I also love that I live out here in the sticks now. I am feeling re-energized about my knitting. I revisited the green stripey sock (remember that poor thing? How long has it been since I worked on it? A year??) and am close to turning the heel. Another pair of socks to knit would be nice. I think once I get all my stuff off needles, I'm going to start a big project. More on that to come!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So, as I was saying...

The purple sweater is done! I am so happy, mainly because I had just hit the wall with it, but also because I actually think it's cute and she'll wear it. Well, of course she'll wear it because I'm going to put her in it as much as possible until she grows out of it! Which will be soon. So, details.

I used Carole Baeryns' Seamless Yoked Sweater Pattern.

Modifications:
  • I used a heavier yarn (Bernat Cottontots as opposed to Bernat Softee) and larger needles (I *think* they were 6s).
  • I did a seed stitch coller/button band/hem/sleeve hem instead of garter stitch, because I like it better.
  • I did a slip stitch edge (slip the first stitch of every row) because I think it makes a neater looking edge.
  • I didn't do the slip stitch decorative rows...I'm now sort of wishing I had, because it's awfully plain, but whatever.
  • I did three button holes at the top, but not all the way down. I did do the YO buttonholes called for, though I really dislike them. The buttonhole isn't...stable, I guess would be a good word, they don't actually hold the button. There might be a way to stabilize it, I suppose. I also hate sewing on buttons. Next sweater is a pull-over. Also, these are really small buttons, and they may just not hold. I might swap them out, or I might just not care, we'll see. So, I did my buttonholes in Rows 3, 15 and 27.
  • I also did a bunch of futzing with the increases because of using a different weight yarn (I know, that whole swatching thing, what a great idea! Maybe next time...) I won't bore anyone with the details of what I did differently, since I really did sort of wing it. I think it came out okay. DD is sleeping so I can't put her in it to take pictures, that'll happen tomorrow (when this post actually goes up, of course).
Okay, this has been sitting up for a couple of days, so I'll just get it posted. I had DD in the sweater yesterday and while it's very cute, I'm not thrilled with how it fits her...it's bigger in the body and the arms are barely long enough. Perhaps my gorgeous girl has very long arms? Perhaps I knit an oddly shaped sweater? All things are possible when I pick up the yarn and needles. :) It is cute, she already urped all over it, so it's going through the wash which will be the true test. Oh, and the super cute little heart buttons are useless so I need to swap them out for something that works. Maybe a larger heart? I don't know. I have to look and see what I have, and figure out if I have the energy to take all three kids to the yarn store to find cute buttons or not. I also wish I had only done two buttons.

Pictures when the thing is out of the wash and DD isn't napping. Poor thing has a cold and thrush, so she's not all that happy. DH is out of town until next week, so I'm on my own. People do this and survive, right? RIGHT?

DONE!!!!!!!

Details to follow because my internet cuts out at 9:30 pm...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

FO with PICTURES!!

God, I feel so *together* right now. Kids are all sleeping, dishes are done (note to self, run the dishwasher or there won't be bowls for breakfast tomorrow) and I FINISHED SOMETHING!!! I'm going to go ahead and blog about it as the person it's for just had a baby (I hope! I haven't heard any details yet...) and I sort of doubt she'll be checking in. If she does, well, surprise, honey! :)

This actually was a fairly quick project, as I obviously didn't make the whole thing. This is a fleece baby blanket with a crocheted edging. The blanket is approximately 30" x 36". I then used my slip stitch blade for my rotary cutter and perforated the edges. The edging is done using a C/2 size Boye Aluminum crochet hook, and Coats and Coats crochet thread (100% mrotary cutterercerized cotton) in size 3, probably about 1.3 balls. I used Pattern #3 from Baby's Choice Crochet Edgings for Fleece. It's sort of hard to see the detail of the edging in the black thread, but here's a picture:
I thought the angles of the edging would look sort of funky with the circles of the pattern. It's not your traditional baby blanket, I suppose, but this friend is not your traditional sort of mom. :) I hope she likes it. And if you're wondering why I'm sending a fleece blanket to a baby in Los Angeles, well, I don't want to hear it. I fell in love with the fleece and immediately thought of this friend and wanted to do something for her! My plan is to make a second blanket for Project Linus.

This was definitely an easier project. The one new skill I learned was crocheting through the back loop. I'm not sure of the point of it, but that's what the pattern called for, so that, gosh darn it, is what I did. The whole edging is only 4 rows (including the foundation row), and I'd say the whole thing took....10 hours maybe? Maybe not even that. The two middle rows took the longest, because I did somewhere on the order of 125 single crochets, and about 1000 double crochets.

I think the heavier crochet thread works really well for this edging. I might try a light yarn for the next one (that baby's not born yet, but coming SOON, I hope!), but I do like the thread. And I very much like that too,it's cotton, so no acrylic frying. I won't, however, use an aluminum hook for the next one. They're fine at a heavier weight, but this is a smaller size and I don't think the aluminum could withstand the vigor with which I wielded it, because the thing actually BENT. It's totally still usable but I don't think it's supposed to do that, you know?

I'm excited about this also as a possibility for service work. I love the idea of making one blanket for a friend (there are a gazillion babies being born among my circle of friends this year) and making the other half as a donation. I do think I like the 30x30 blanket size a bit better than this one, but I'm not sure what to do with the extra fleece I cut off. Sew it together into random scarves? Must ponder. I need to send an email to the local Project Linus coordinator and see if they need donations.

Nemesis Thy Name is PURPLE RUFFLY SWEATER

It really is.

So, I finished sleeve #1 last night. I was panicking that I didn't have enough yarn (I've already divided the yarn into balls, one per sleeve), as it looked like it was going to be close. I did that thing where I don't unwind as much yarn as I usually do when knitting, as if that somehow will make the yarn go further or something! It doesn't. Anyway, I did have enough, I managed to make the sleeve the full 5" that I had measured, which was supposed to give me a sleeve long enough for her to have some room to grow. Well, I put the sweater on her today and the sleeve is BARELY long enough. ARRRGH!!!!! I have enough left that I can rip out the bind-off and the seed stitch cuff and add some, but DUDE, come ON. I am so over this sweater, I just want to have it done so she can WEAR it. I have no idea what to do.

Damnit, I'm going to pull it out and make it longer. She keeps growing on me, the minx, so she does need more room, I think. This sweater really isn't going to fit her for very long, is it? If I don't add a few more rows on this sleeve, it'll just annoy me when she's out of it that much more quickly. I have the yarn, I have the time, I'll just do it. *grump*

I'm chugging away on another project, details which must be kept secret for now.

The green stripey socks are calling my name, too. It's serious Autumn here now and my fun socks are making me happy.

The debate is tonight so I should be able to finish SOMETHING today. I can channel my anxiety about this election through crafting.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A moment to breathe.

DH is home from work and is entertaining the boys and holding DD, dinner is simmering (paneer and peas in TJ's Masala sauce over rice), and I've got one little moment to update.

We went to Northampton to hang out with some wonderful friends who moved out there this summer, and I was all psyched to go to Webs, but we went Sunday so it was CLOSED. Ah!!!

(Whoops, dinner got ready, now it's done, dishes are washed, DD is asleep, boys are about to go off for bath.)

So yeah, no Webs trip for me. So sad. Since I'm sure we'll back in NoHo to see these friends, I'll just plan to go on a Saturday.

In other news...what other news? DD's purple sweater is moving along - the body is done!!! I ripped back, added about 8 rows and then the ruffle and it should be long enough for her very long body. It's weird, she was pretty small for the first 3 months (was actually in 0-3s until past the 3 month mark), but has grown a ton and is almost out of her 3-6 stuff. Hence the need to finish this thing so I can move on to something else. I think part of my done-ness with this is that I don't love purling, and I extra don't love purling on circs. Because the body of the sweater is knit flat (it's a cardi), and is stockinette, well, you have purling. Now, it's not like I'm never going to knit stuff that has purling because how foolish would that be? :) But I do like to avoid it when I can. Now I'm onto the sleeves which are knit in the round, and they should go more quickly because her little arms aren't that long.

I'm obsessed with the lace and crocheting at the moment. I'm doing a crochet edging for a baby blanket for a friend of mine which is turning out pretty nicely, but I'm about to run out of thread. I got more, but I'm sure the dye lot isn't the same, so I hope it'll match closely enough. I was doing quite well on a doily until my teeny tiny hook disappeared. I made the mistake of leaving it on the coffee table in the living area which has turned into a play area because DD is so often sleeping up in the kids' room so they need to play *somewhere*. So, I have the little bit I've done, and the book but no hook.

So, plans for tonight include some knitting, some crocheting and perhaps a warm bath since we're deep into Fall now and it's chilly! Since I'll be up a lot in the night, I want to relax now. If I were smart, I'd just go to bed, but really, when am I ever that smart.

Someday, I promise, there will be pictures again.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Insert clever and witty title here.

I'll just mention that I'm tired. We're working on getting DD to sleep (a) in her own bed and (b) a bit longer than 2-hour stretches. Last night I went up at about 10:45 and nursed her (she didn't even wake up!), and then she was up from 1:30 to 2:30 yowling, but went back to sleep without nursing and then slept until 6, which was very amazing. I'm hoping she'll catch on soon that she doesn't need to eat (or scream) in the middle of the night and then we'll all be happier.

Wednesday was knitting night at the library. I took many projects with me but managed to re-energize on DD's sweater. I added about 6 or 8 rows and I'm doing the increases for the ruffle. I decided to slip the first stitch and not increase on it, to preserve the line of edge there, and I haven't decided what I'll do on the last stitch (increase it or just knit it). I'll have to think it through when I get there. I'm glad it got me reconnected, as all I'm wanting to do right now is crochet, and I really do need to get this sweater done as she actually needs it, it's cooling off here! (Who knows what I'll get done tonight, as I just painted my nails navy blue, so I've got to wait a bit for them to dry...though I used quick-dry stuff.)

One of the creative blogs I read is Enchanting Juno, and she has a recent entry that just really moved me, where she says:
But the thing I LOVE about knitting - back to my original point - is that it is infinite. Never done if you don't want it to be. It is as infinite as self knowledge, as infinite as learning itself. And it waits for you until you are ready to move again.
I keep trying to figure out what I want to say about WHY this moved me, and it keeps drifting into what feels like self-indulgent maudlin-ness (is that a word?). So I'll just say that something about this notion, that knitting (and any craft really) can come and go in your life is really powerful for me. I clearly have more to figure out why this is. :)

Okay, my nails are dry, I'm off to increases!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Random Thoughts In No Particular Order

I am recovering from a weekend spent at my parents' house, with my kids and without my husband. Now, it was a lovely weekend, don't get me wrong. I'm lucky enough to have pretty fab parents who are hands on and involved, but also respectful of my parenting. My sister was sick so I didn't get to see her at all. It was a nice weekend (well, part of why we go every year is that my uncle passed away suddenly 4 years ago right after my mom's birthday, so I try and go and be with her), but I'm just burnt out. It's hard to be the primary parent 24-7. I have long been in *awe* of single parents, and weekends like this just highlight it for me.

I'm also fighting some sort of ick, with runny nose and sore throat, so I'm tired from that.

Tonight is the first night having DD sleep in her own crib (in the boys' room, now the kids' room, I guess) and I have very very mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, perhaps she'll start sleeping better, and in turn, I'll get more than 2-3 consecutive hours of sleep and oh man, wouldn't that be nice. But, she's my last baby, she's so sweet and snuggly and wonderful, I absolutely love having her in my bed with me. So I'll miss her. It's such a cliche, but damn, they grow so fast.

I'm in blah-land, knitting-wise. I'm crocheting a bit, having fun with that, and I started a new project today. :) I can't say too much about it, but when it's done and the pieces fall into place, I'll post pictures. Hopefully it'll be cool and not stupid.

Someone posted a vest that they had made on LJ, and I fell in love with it, and thought "hey, wouldn't it be great to knit a sweater vest?" Somehow that seemed like THE article of clothing I needed. I still remember the baby blue argyle sweater vest I had in 7th grade that I wore with a white turtleneck and pink pants. I felt so put together in that outfit! Let's see...7th grade would have been....1982.

I so need to work on DD's sweater. I'm not in the mood. I actually did no crafting at all this weekend, even though there was time and space to do it. I just felt more like reading.

It's somehow completely turned into Fall. Which, as I mentioned, is a mixed time for me. I did buy pumpkins for carving today...I'd like to carve them early enough to enjoy for a while but not so early that they rot. I'm not sure when that would be. I'm thinking of getting some little lights from Michael's instead of candles.

I really don't have anything interesting to say, and even less knitting/fiber content than usual. Yarn Mojo, where are you when I need you?!?!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pink Doily Frogged

Yeah. Turns out I made a MAJOR FUCKING ERROR on one of the corners, like, three times, so I frogged it. All that stuff about how I've defeated my perfectionism, outcome doesn't matter so long as I enjoy the process, blah blah blah? Not entirely true, apparently. I've noted this with my knitting too, actually, it's like there's an error threshold, and once I hit it, I have to undo.

I figure I learned what I needed to learn from this, and I'm going to try a different doily. I think these lace things are so beautiful, and I'm just drawn to creating them (well, I am not sure how creative it is since I'm not doing the PATTERN, just the execution).

The other thing I need to do is go to bed early and get more sleep. My darling, wonderful, alert daughter is sleeping like crap. Well, she's up 3-4 times between 10 and 6, which I think is pretty crappy, but doesn't seem to bother her at all. She does wake up cheerful, that one.

So, I'm going to do a little more interneting then go sit on the couch and start a new doily.

You know, that doesn't sound as exciting as it feels.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Frenetic Energy and the Blahs

I seem to have both right now.

Remember how I said I love Fall? Well, I'd forgotten that Fall also brings things like shorter days, colder weather and some bad memories. I'm fine, but have spent some time today feeling sad. Luckily my daughter had a massive pooplosion all over me today, which rescued me from brooding. Feeling is good, wallowing is not so good. It's a fine line, friends.

But yeah, I'm not feeling inspired to get things done. I want to get all my currently-on-needles projects done before starting anything new. I seem to do this every once and a while, don't I? I'm having fun with the doily, even though I really am not a good crocheter. I'm so over DD's sweater. I have so little left - the sleeves will fly (her arms aren't that long) and I really don't have much to do on the body but I'm so burnt on it. I don't mind purling, really, but it's harder on my hands.

I'm spending lots of time cruising around ravelry, looking at groups and patterns and stuff, and I got sucked into Facebook a few months ago, so the internet is definitely sucking my time these days. We're still in transition, it's still hard, and while I don't want to wish the time away, I'm also looking forward to having more of a community here. I've got some people I'm connecting with, which is nice. It'll come, it'll come.

One great piece of news is that a little cafe opened up in town, right near the boys' preschool! Good coffee for cheap!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

*sigh*

Ruffle is ripped out, which does allow me to correct a smaller error I had made and just planned to live with. Just getting it back on the needles and one row knit was all I could face tonight. Now I'm working my way through a crochet round of a pineapple doily. Yeah, you read that right. And it's pink. Wanna make something of it?

I know I've written about this before but I'm too tired to go looking for the link, and I'm sure I'm not saying anything new anyway, so whatever. One of the great gifts that knitting (and now crocheting) has given me is the gift of learning to let go of my perfectionism. I'm in recovery from a variety of...how shall we put it, non-life-enhancing behaviors, and perfectionism was part of my core dysfunction. Now, I'm all for working hard, doing the best I can most of the time (and I still get "wow, you're really hard on yourself" more times than I can count), and all that good stuff, but that's very different from perfectionism, for me. Perfectionism renders me paralyzed, because if it has to be perfect, one can't make mistakes (or be human), and therefore, it's terrifying to start. I'm not sure when all that therapy started to sink in and allow me to think things like "this is hard, and I might not do a great job, but I'm still going to do it" or, as I've been thinking lately, "wow, I really suck at crocheting, but I'd like to get better, and the way to get better is to just do it." I am a kinesthetic learner in many ways, it's right behind audio learning for me, so the way to learn is to do. And, I'm learning that I can do things simply because I enjoy the process of doing them, and worry less about the results. In part, because I'm learning to recognize when the results matter, and when they don't. I mean, really, if I have an imperfect pink doily? Who the hell really cares, if I had fun making it, and maybe increased my skills a little.

A small, yet genuinely sad decision.

DD's sweater is just too damn short. I'm going to rip out the ruffle back to where I did the increases, add AT LEAST an inch, and then ruffle it. *sigh* What a pain in the ass. She's over the 97th percentile for length though, so if I actually want her to wear this, it needs to be done. I was worried it would be too short but talked myself out of it. Silly me, I should listen to my gut more often (except when it says things like "yes please, more chocolate peanut caramel brownie"). I'm not sure when I'm going to have time to do this, we've got a *lot* of life planned this weekend. I went out with some new friends from DS1's preschool, today we've got CLEANING and ORGANIZING and then a birthday party, and a birthday party tomorrow as well. It's all good, but busy!

In part, I'm thinking a lot about how o0.0ne deliberately builds a life. I'm pondering my own character flaws traits (that sounds a bit kinder, and being kinder to myself is one of the things I'm pondering), my tendency to leap into relationships quickly and beyond wholeheartedly, as opposed to be a bit more cautious. Coming into an established group, like these moms, is hard. They're very welcoming, but the reality is that we aren't good friends (yet) and that just takes time and investment. And the fact that they *are* all good friends with each other is nothing against me, it's just the way it is. But, it's hard at times. We left behind wonderful friends and real social network when we moved. We moved just far enough that it's not feasible to maintain those connections in the same. The friends will OF COURSE still be our wonderful friends, but it is different, and we all know much I love things to change and be different, right? Yeah.

So anyway, that's the long version of my short version which is trying to stay open and say YES to opportunities that come my way to connect and join in. But when am I going to rip out that damn ruffle? The one good thing is that it will fix a small error that has been nagging at me, so I'm happy about that. :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Directions?

I love Fall. From all my years of academia, it always, always feels like the start of a new year for me. The excitement, the possibilities. There's a bite in the air in the morning and evening, I'm breaking out the jeans and long sleeve t-shirts (my mommy uniform). Both boys started at a new preschool (DS1 goes M/W/F and DS2 goes T/Th, and this is his first school experience!). DD has woken up and is just *so* fun and lovely. It's not to say everything is perfect - we've all got the first cold of the season (which will last until next May), DD was on a sleep path to hell (waking every hour), and I've been feeling overwhelmed. But, I managed to get some things done today that have been nagging at me, so I'm feeling a bit more in control. Tomorrow is Friday, a day I like. I get my trashy mags on Fridays. I've got a weekend to look forward too, I can relax a bit. We've not got much planned for tomorrow, so maybe I'll even get some cleaning done, or catch up on laundry. MAYBE.

My knitting is in a bit of a slump. I feel the siren call of startitis, and I'm trying not to succumb. I don't have a ton on needles right now - I've got about 20 more rows of BYOB plus attaching the handles and finishing it. I'm half-way through the ruffle hem of DD's sweater (with a small error that's ANNOYING me but I'm just going to learn to live with it). I've got a sock to finish, and another sock to do. I bought some very cute shoes today, which are just *calling out* for handmade socks, don't you think? My poor Monkeys are carrying most of the burden themselves right now, and I've so much sock yarn to knit. So, why is it that I've turned my strong obsessional powers to other things?

I've been thinking a lot about the "purpose" part of Knitting with a Purpose. At first, the purpose meant service, specifically the NICU donation hats. But, that's dropped by the wayside for now. Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am loyal. Intensely loyal. This is both one of my character strengths and flaws. I've been known to give my loyalty too quickly and hold on far, far long to things and relationships. Far longer than any healthy person should. I do believe that it's important to be loyal, not to give up when the going gets rough, but loyalty should also be measured and evaluated, not just given blindly. When I started the NICU hats, I felt that this was something I "should" be able to commit to for, oh, the rest of my life. But, things change. It's actually okay that things change. I still want to be doing some sort of crafting for service, but I think I've found something else. Once I have the supplies in hand, I'll contact the local representatives, and talk more here, but it's something that's very doable, and should be fun for me. And, I'm telling myself, it's not a lifetime commitment, it's simply something I want to explore for now. And, it's not knitting. I'm also rethinking the whole idea that "purpose" must equal service to others. My family needs and deserves my focus too. And, it's actually okay to admit that my crafting thrills and sustains *me*, outside of any other use or purpose for it. I love creating, I love the feel of the yarns, the colors and combinations, I love wearing socks I made, or wrappy my daughter in a blanket I knit. I don't think of myself as particularly creative in some ways, and it's fun to have something that is generative.

The other thing I'm trying out is more crochet-ing. Now, to be honest, most crochet stuff really doesn't do it for me. But, for some reason, I'm feeling very drawn to crocheting (and knitting, but I don't have the brain power for it right now) lace. LACE. I do believe it was in this very blog that I declared I had zero interest in doing lace. Looks like that's not true. But, the fact that I'm obsessing over crocheting (and knitting, don't forget the knitting) lace DOILIES is just plain weird. Doilies! What the hell does one DO with such a thing? I have no idea! Hasn't stopped me from starting one though.

I'm doing a Pineapple Doily that's marketed as "quick" and "easy". Yeah, if you actually know how to do this, I'm sure it is. :) The thread is size 10, the hook is weensy. It's fun! What I'm going to do with it, who knows.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I'm seeing stars.

I don't think I actually posted about this project, that I had finished it. This is the replacement for DS2's other blankie, the one I fried in the washer and dryer after the unfortunate stomach flu incident.

This is a crocheted star blanket, made from Lily's Sugar'n'Cream, color chosen by DS2. I can't remember what hook size I used. It crocheted up fairly quickly, and it's not that big. Big enough that he can snuggle, but not big enough to use as an actual blanket. They don't do nap at school and he doesn't nap here anymore (hah! he hasn't napped in at least a year), so it's more of snuggly lovey for him. I haven't washed it yet, but I know the cotton can go through the washer and dryer just fine (and hopefully I won't need to sanitize it any time soon).

I'm not sure how people avoid this issue, but I don't like in crochet in the round how the very first thing you're doing is a chain of 2 or 3 (or whatever you need), rather than an actual sc or dc or what-have-you. As you can see in the valley on the left side, it looks a little different. DS2 doesn't care, so no worries, but it would annoy me if I'd worked hard to make a full-size blanket for something and had that happen. How to avoid? I don't know.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deep Thoughts by KWAP

Am I betraying my age by referencing Deep Thoughts? I haven't even watched SNL in *years*, do they still do them? Ah, the past.

It's the end of summer. School starts up for us this week (two kids in preschool! Sadly, they never overlap.). We just had DS1's birthday party yesterday, he turned FIVE. DS2 is 3 and 1/3. DD is almost 4 months. Where is the time going? How did it come to be that I have three kids? And a minivan.

I feel like there's a way in which I've lost track of some things...some parts of myself. That's not surprising, considering that I've not gotten more than 4 consecutive hours of sleep in a few months (and considered it amazing to get more than an hour and half). I've got three kids, two cats, one husband, a life that's very focused on the home and hearth right now.

When I started this blog, almost two years ago, I was in the midst of a huge transition. The two women that had been my closest friends through the first part of learning to be a mother (particularly, learning to be a stay-at-home-mom) had dumped me. I still don't understand why. Was it something I did? Something I should have done? I loved those women and relied on them, too much probably, but they were almost like family to me. In most ways, the pain has ebbed, but it was a *huge* loss. Not just for me, but for DS1 too - these kids were almost like siblings to him. When DS2 came along, it apparently threw the whole system into disarray, and since I was the one who disrupted it, I was the one who was ousted (I guess, neither one ever said anything clear to me, one just got really mean, and the other just faded, and didn't choose me).

I was looking for things to fill me up, and one of the things I found was knitting, particularly the knitting for donation. I made baby hats for the NICU at Children's Hospital in Boston. This was the NICU where we spent a terrifying 24 hours thinking DS2 had liver damage, and then another 5 days just waiting for his bilirubin levels to drop. The nurses were amazing, and I wanted to give back something to them, and give something those little bubs I saw who were so small, so sick. I wanted those moms and dads to know that someone out there was celebrating their baby, even though the circumstances might be terrifying, scary, or tragic. Someone was saying "Hooray, your beautiful baby is here!"

I've somehow let go the knitting for donation, and I'm feeling guilty about it. I am so lucky, so completely *blessed* by the amazing family I have, my wonderful husband and children, my parents and sister, my in-laws. Family of origin, family of marriage, and family of creation. I am, however, also pretty consumed by them at this point as well. My knitting is very family-focused right now too. I'm struggling with feeling like I should be giving more out to the world than I am, but I also feel like I'm sort of maxed out on the giving right now.

I'm not sure where the "should" comes from. I don't think it's from the world around me. To be honest, it seems to me the main message of modern US culture is about CONSUME BUY ME ME ME. I've never wanted to be that person, I've always wanted to be someone who gives, who lives some, if not all, of her life in service to others. This matters to me.

So, how do I get back to this, what is the best focus for my time and energy? We moved much further away from Boston (though technically still in the 'burbs). The hospital where I delivered DD (and who cared for us when she was jaundiced too) apparently has a corps of women who crochet hats for them, so they don't need something from me. Although I certainly didn't do the NICU hats for thanks, never getting *any* acknowledgment that they were even received, let alone feedback as to whether they were helpful or not was...discouraging. I'd really like my efforts to go to my own community, but I'm not sure how.

One thing I'm feeling really drawn to doing right now is crocheting small blankets. I'm wondering if that is something that would be a useful donation for the hospital, particularly for the Level II nursery where DD was delivered and spent time (both as a "preemie" ha ha, she was born at 36 weeks 6 days, and when she was jaundiced). Perhaps I'll call them and ask. Again, it's not really about being appreciated for the effort, but rather that the effort go where it's needed.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Gotta make this quick...

...because my internet cuts out in about 8 minutes! (DH set up my computer so the internet shuts off at 9:30 which forces me to do things like, oh, go to bed).

This will be a non-knitting post because I haven't been doing much knitting. It's been a hectic week, culminating in DS1's birthday party today! The actual day is tomorrow. How did he go from this...to this?
















He had a blast at his party, and was just a total delight today. He was gracious, happy, appreciative, calm, and just wonderful! He's my spirited one, so that' s not always the case, but it was so, so nice today.

Happy birthday, baby. Mama loves you!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Running to Stand Still

I cannot believe we're almost done with summer. I remember when school ended for DS1, that sort of sinking feeling of "oh man, how are we going to get through!" And we did. I think overall, it was a good summer (and we have one more week). We didn't make as many friends as I had hoped, but we're starting to settle in, and I think starting school is going to be awesome. Both boys are anxious about it, but I think it'll be really good to get going. I've always been this way when anticipating something, the last week or so I just want it OVER with, to move on.

I'm chugging away on DS2's lime green star blankie. I have no idea how big he wants it. He also changed his mind about adding the funky variegated yarn, so it's just...lime green. VERY green.

With cooler weather coming, I want to be reignited on sock making. Since, you know, I'm really low on socks! DD is now doing some napping in the morning, though that may change with school. I guess mainly I'm just waiting to see what sort of routine we enter into!

In the meantime, we've got DS1's 5th birthday to plan!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back from vaction.

It was not the best vacation we've ever had. We got the call on the Friday before we left that DH's grandmother was failing (this has been expected for some time, so it was not a shock). We were supposed to be going on vacation with my MIL and FIL, my folks, DH's older sister and her husband and three kids, and DH's younger sister (who lives in London). MIL, FIL and younger SIL instead went straight to MN where they were with his Grandmother (MIL's mom) when she died. The rest of us went to the vacation house, but SIL and DH left midweek to go out for the funeral (she passed away on Tuesday). So yeah.

In a way, the timing was actually as good as it could have been. DH and older SIL both were already off from work. Younger SIL was in the country and available (she lives in London and travels a lot). BIL and I both weren't stuck at home alone with 3 kids each.

In non-family loss news, I was in the Walmart in Riverhead NY (on Long Island), and found Peaches and Cream yarn, which I had never seen. I feel so disloyal, but I think I actually prefer it to Sugar'n'Cream!! It feels softer. I did a star washcloth for my SIL in one of the really bright variegated colors (maybe Fiesta?), and it pooled in such a way that it looked tie dyed! It was really cool (and I did the pattern from memory, go me!). I did almost no knitting. I started a hat for DD, but I brought smaller needles than I should have so I'm going to pull the bit I did and start over.

I'm determed to go get some more pink Cottontots to do a plain cardigan for DD because she needs one. Needs as in doesn't NEED exactly because she has far more clothes than she'll ever wear but I want to make her one. Now I'm pondering...pink or lilac?

Friday, August 15, 2008

AGAIN with the Startitis

We're going on vacation on Sunday for a week. I have my folks here tomorrow night before we go. We have no food, the house is a mess, and I've got Mount Laundry to scale before we can leave. So what do I do?

YES! I started a new project! Go me!

My fantasy was actually to get this knit before we go. It turns out I am obsessed with knitting for my daughter. (My daughter! How odd that sounds, after almost five years of sons.) The sweater I knit for her is almost too small. And, although it's very pretty, I don't actually put her in it that much because it's variegated and clashes with most of her clothes. What she needs is a simple little pink or purple cardigan. So, I started one.

It's a variation of this pattern. In my usual way, I decided simply to wing it. The pattern doesn't actually tell you what the gauge is, so I picked the needles that my yarn called for. I did the collar in the leftover lilac from the pinwheel blanket, and started the body in the pale pink (so the yarn is Bernat Cottontots). As I did the increases, it seemed to me that if I kept going the way the pattern was written, the sweater would be more of a 2T or 3T size than what I need now. So I went off-pattern.

This does not always bode well for the utility of my projects, but we'll see. After being concerned that the thing would be huge, now I'm worried it's going to be too small. I also decided to do three buttonholes close together at the top, and do a slip-stitch edging, though I clearly have messed that up a couple of times. I also forgot to do the garter stitch button band edge for one row. I am too tired to care, honestly. I need her to have a little sweater that I can just toss on over lighter outfits.

I've just put the sleeves onto scrap yarn, so I figure I've got about 20 rows to do or so. Hopefully it'll fit her!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I wish I lived in Canada.

Specifically, Toronto. The Yarn Harlot is starting a Yoga for Knitters class (I almost just wrote "a knitting for yoga-ers class" which could also be fun), and I wanna go!!!! I used to do yoga every day, for a good long time, and I *loved* it. I miss it. Trying to find a time to do even my 25 minute Ashtanga Yoga DVD is challenging. Anything that helps me to slow down, be present, and breathe a little more is something I need.

Two nights ago, DS2 and I took a walk in the rain afternoon, just around the block. The sun was coming out as we walked down by the lake, and I thought "huh, this is rainbow weather." We went a little further, and saw the most amazing, full-arc rainbow, with a double shimmering next to it. I wished I had my camera. Then I thought that maybe I could just try to be present in the moment, to just enjoy the amazing sight with my son.

Knitting away on BYOB, almost done with the openwork section. Feeling a tad bored with it, honestly. I had such momentum but the crochet stars derailed me. DS1 now wants a Crescent Moon blankie. How the heck does one do that??

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I have conquered the STARS!


So after much gnashing of teeth and a couple of choice swear words, I have figure out BOTH the little star patterns! I didn't knit either one to blanket size. I made a washcloth out of some cotton (leftover from the pinwheel blanket) and then a lovie for one of my kids with some (ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE) Red Heart acrylic crap I had in my stash. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm really not a yarn snob, but this stuff just feels cheap and rough and plasticky (that's plastic and icky all at once!). If I'm going to put effort into making a blankie, it's going to be with something nicer than that. Pity, because I do love the colors (but not how they pooled).

The reason I need to make another blankie is because DS's green blankie had a tragedy. I knit it from Lion Brand Thick and Quick Chenille, which is mostly acrylic. We had an unfortunate stomach flu incident, and the blankie got nailed. Not thinking (it WAS 1:00 am), I tossed it in with all his sheets on the Sanitize selection, which is HOT HOT water. Yeah, I fried it. It came out all nasty and crunchy with the loops all pulling out (I did a simple diagonal garter stitch blanket). It's not salvageable, as far as I can tell. So, I'm going to do him a new one, out of natural fibers that can stand being washed and dried. You know, it's not the machine washable I really need (though I prefer that for this sort of thing), it's the DRYABLE. I just don't want to have to think when tossing laundry into the dryer, you know? ANYWAY. I digress.

The first star I did was from Beth's Little Star Afghan. The beginning is sort of tricky, but there's a great tutorial here. I did this in some leftover Bernat Cottontots. The pattern is not too difficult, once you get passed the opening rounds. I'm not sure why, but where my rounds join, I have two holes instead of one (from the stretchiness of the cotton? because I suck at crocheting? Who knows.). I think I did 5 rounds or so on this, and then decided to turn it into a face cloth for me. It's pretty, but I'm not loving the 5 holes in the center. So, I just knotted it off. Since it's just a washcloth for me, I didn't really bother to weave in the ends (yes, I am so lazy about that, I know).

The second one I did was from the Dive Crochet's pattern. Wow, did I have a hard time with this pattern! I'm not sure if it's that I'm so novice, or if there are actually issues with the pattern. For example, once the pattern is established, a typical row reads like this: Round 4: Ch 3, dc each over next 3 dc’s, {shell in ch 2 sp, dc in next 4 dc’s, sk 2 dc's (this is the valley), dc in next 4 dc’s}. Repeat { } around. Repeat * of Round 3. The last series of DCs (underlined) are actually the beginning of the next peak, so after I had done all 5 peaks, I didn't do these, even though they are within the brackets to be repeated. I'm not sure if that' sk next dc, sc, dcs correct or not, but it didn't make sense to me.

I also had THE hardest time with Row 3, which reads: Round 3: Sl st in sc, sl st in first 2 dc’s of first shell, ch 3, dc in 3rd dc of first shell, {shell in ch 2 sp, 2 dc over next 2 dc, sk next dc, sc, dc, 2 dc over next 2 dc’s}. Repeat { } all around. * Sl st in 3rd ch of ch 3, sl st in dc after ch 3 of R 3. She even has her "user friendly" version of it. I had gotten this far about 5 times before I finally understood that sk next dc, sc, dc does NOT mean: skip next double crochet, then do a single crochet, then a double crochet. It means skip all three. AH HAH! The lightbulb went off and that made the whole thing work. While it's not entirely clear in the pattern, she does state it clearing in the user friendly version, so I'm blaming my non-comprehension on my own exhaustion. I'm not sure if the joins are better in this because the yarn is much less elastic, but they do look better. I also think I like the look of the single center hole a bit better. Not sure.

This yarn is Red Heart Super Saver, and while the colors are pretty, the feel is awful. So scratchy and rough. The fabric it makes is actually unpleasant to hold. It feels like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard sound, you know? I've heard that if you wash it, it does soften up, but I just couldn't picture finishing a blankie out of yarn that was so unpleasant to hold. So once I knew I had the pattern down, I did a row of sc to finish it off, and called it a night.

Now that I know the pattern, I can see that this would be a really fun baby blankie to make, and super-easy, once you're in the groove. I was watching the Olympics (I had to see Michael Phelps get his medals!), and didn't need the pattern at all to chug along on this. And I think it's faster than knitting. So now I need to find a good, sturdy, machine washable and dryable yarn for DS2 (in green, natch), to do a big star blanket. I'll see if DS1 wants one too.

ETA: I'm getting a lot of hits from the Yarn Diva's link, so if you're coming here from there, well, HEY! Nice to see you! Feel free to stay a while! :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

There's a reason why this blog isn't called Crocheting with a Purpose.

Because apparently I *suck* at crocheting.

Back story - I saw a woman crocheting a star shaped baby blanket at the beach, and immediately became obsessed with making it. As I am wont to do.

I got onto Ravelry and Google and found two different free patterns: The Diva Crochets Starghan and Beth's Little Star Afghan. I cannot do either of them. I have started this thing a good 15 times (did I mention the obsession thing?) and I just can't do it. I think I'm doing it right through round 3, and then round 4 (doesn't matter which pattern), it turns out that I have done SOMETHING wrong and it's not coming together.

I just cast on for Beth's Little Star Afghan AGAIN, and I'm going to give it another try. *sigh* My poor BYOB is languishing, calling to me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

FO: Pinwheel Blanket

It's DONE! It took me a good 2+ hours just to bind off this bad boy, but it's done! Okay, I admit it, I was lazy and didn't do a great job of weaving in ends. When I say "didn't do a good job", what I really mean is "I didn't do it, I just tied knots and snipped them close." Don't tell, okay? I love this blanket! As you can see from the pictures, I haven't blocked it (yet), and I'm not decided if I'm going to, as I think it's going into rotation immediately. I realized that I can't find the other blanket I knit for DD (which is going to make me crazy until I do find it), and we're having weird, cool rainy weather. Besides, when I was taking pictures of her on it, she urped a bit on it, so I *think* that means she wants it. :)

Details

Pattern: Genia Plank's Pinwheel or Round Blanket (ravelry link here, you should check out some of the projects people have done, they're GORGEOUS!).
Needles: KnitPicks Options, size 8 for the blanket. size 10.5 for the bind-off. Various cord lengths.
Yarn: Bernat CottonTots. I really liked this yarn, actually. It wasn't too rough on the hands, and makes a nice, drapey fabric. I'll have to see how it washes and dries before I commit fully to it. I used .7 skein of the light pink, 1.6 skein of the lilac, 1.04 skein of the variegated, and .95 skein of the dark pink.

The pattern is either confusing or has a typo at the very beginning, where it jumps from Round 2 to Round 5. I chose to interpret that as you knit around for Rows 3 & 4, but I don't think it matters *all* that much. For the edging, I switched and did one round of knit with the dark pink. The next round I kfb every stitch to double my number of stitches, then did seed stitch, which makes a non-curling ruffle. I definitely made some mistakes, mainly I have a few spots where I forgot my YOs and then didn't notice on the knit round, but that's okay. I'm not thrilled with how the variegated pooled overall, but that's the fun of working with variegated yarns, right? And now some pictures!!