Thursday, October 30, 2008


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 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' 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.

  • 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'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?


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

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


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.


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!