Monday, January 31, 2011

Not a crafty post.

We've had to change our schedule because my younger son is now in full-day kindergarten on Fridays, so we switched to a Monday at 4pm gymnastics class. The class is going to be great, but figuring out how to manage my other two kids throughout it is going to be challenging. My oldest is a highly intense kid and it takes a lot of work to get through most things with him. And I'm just a bit tired, that's all.

I didn't get a chance to work on socks or hat today, nor did I make it to the post office. Tomorrow, I guess. In the morning, since Snowpocalypse, Feb 2011 is hitting tomorrow. You know, I get it, it's New England, it's winter, but this is feeling very unrelenting. I'm concerned about the ice much more than the snow. Snow we can shovel and snow-blow, but ice? We could be locked in here for a while! We have already purchased our Storm Milk, but I'm out of fresh parm, and no sane person could really expect me to get through another huge storm without parm, right??

Sunday, January 30, 2011

On the mend.

You know, being forced to sit a whole bunch and knit sounds like my ultimate fantasy and yet...well, I won't say it was miserable (though WOW does my back hurt now!) but it wasn't all glorious. Perhaps because (a) I'm used to being pretty active and (b) it's not like the rest of my life stopped! My house is a DISASTER area now. Oh well. What can you do? I did get the hat done!

From looking at the pattern and doing the math - she's expecting you to get 4 sts per inch, so her medium hat should get you a 20" hat. Even though it's a stretchy knit, that wasn't going to work for my friend's father. And, I was getting more like 5.5 sts/inch. So I ended up casting on 112. That's a lot of stitches so this hat went much more slowly than I anticipated. She also expects that you get 6 rows/inch and I was getting more like 4.5. So, for the 4" cuff, I did 22 rows. For the body of the hat, I did another 22 rows, and then, curiously enough, had 22 rows of decreases.

I love the top of this, it really has a neat swirl to it! The yarn for this is Malabrigo Worsted (ahhhhh) and I knit this on size 7s. It's a lovely squishy fabric, and should be very warm. Perhaps too warm for a chemo cap, which it is, but the gentleman does live in South Dakota, so I hope he gets some use out of it. Either way, it's being sent with lots of good will.

I have one more baby hat in mind for my photographer friend but it's not happening tonight. I'm very tired and achy. I'm also doing Sockopalooza 2001. I did this last year - ended up making and sending out a whole bunch of fleece socks for a group of on-line friends. It was sort of crazy but fun, and I'm back to drowning in fleece (damn Joann and its 50% off sales!), so I made the offer again! Now that I have the serger, I'm going to try some new stitches and see if I can eliminate the seams inside. I'm ridiculous excited to play with this.

I'd joke about what a geek I am, but we all know it's true. I just have to embrace it at this point. I'd also say I have to get out more, but I was actually out both Friday (PTA fundraiser at the school, which I worked, very fun) and Saturday night (surprise birthday party for a friend). So, basically, I am a big geek who loves gadgets, tools, and crafting.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Since my foot is not miraculously better....

...looks like I'm going to be sitting on the couch knitting for most of the day.

Silver lining, I suppose!

Friday, January 28, 2011


I managed to capture a great shot of my son last night, and as I was moving quickly into the kitchen to show it to my husband, my feet shot out from under me and my foot made a funny sound and I went down *hard*. It was still really painful today, so I had an xray - thankfully it's not broken, just sprained, and I can hobble around, but it's a bit annoying. Today is just one of those days - I had three kids with me this morning (my daughter and two friends), so I took all three with me to the doctor's office. Thankfully they do xrays on-site! Then I had"meet the bus, go to gymnastics, meet the bus, get oldest son to his piano lesson." Now I'm waiting for oldest to get home, and then we head to the elementary school for Winterfest! Which I have to work. With my three kids. And no co-parent. I am really, really looking forward to a hot bath and a glass of wine. So, needless to say, nothing on the creative front. I'm going to try and do a little knitting now, while I have a moment.

I do have to post a picture from my son's gymnastics show.

He takes gymnastics at The Little Gym which is all about teaching kids in a noncompetitive environment. The staff at our local one is great - so enthusiastic and engaged with the kids. My younger son is very coordinated and strong and I was *really* impressed with how far he's come this year! He has a great time and I think having something that he does, that he's good at, that his big brother doesn't do, is really great for him!

I will also just mention how much I love my camera. I love that it's fast enough to actually get these kinds of shots!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Moving towards compassion...and a bunch of other stuff.

So, first things - I finished another hat! This is knit from KP Chroma Worsted. I knit this on size 7s. It's 90 stitches cast-on, about an inch of twisted ribbing then just stockinette. I think I knit the body to about 6" then did decreases in sections of 10.

I love the yarn, I love the striping, I love the colors, I love the fabric. What I don't love is that it's just a wee bit too small. It's long enough, as I've learned that I like my hats to really cover my ears - this is New England, after all. It fits me, but it's fairly tight and I don't think I'm going to wear it. I think it looks adorable on my daughter, and either she can wear it, or all I find someone with an even small and pointier head than mine to give it to. I have more than 1/2 the skein left, so I could knit myself another one. I've got lots of other things to work on, so we'll see.

In other thoughts...I've been struggling to come to a place of compassion. Apparently our local commuter rail stations are targets for bike thieves, with the speculation that people are fencing the stolen bikes for drug money. I had that moment of realization that if you're stealing bikes for drug money, well, your life really, really sucks. My husband and I are so, so blessed. We have our marriage, our family, our home, our health...we have so much. So, bike thief, my guess is you're already living your punishment. And, we'll find the money for a new bike so my sweetie can keep doing the thing he loves to do.

I was incredibly lucky to be able to attend a conference that had the Dalai Lama as a main speaker the first day. They had a panel discussion, where many of the organizers and big names in psychotherapy were able to ask him questions. They all asked questions in a similar vein, along the lines of "So, you say you have to have compassion for everyone. But that's, like, totally impossible! I work with people who were TORTURED! I can't have compassion for those perpetrators. So, what do I do?" And with every question, the Dalai Lama said "No, really, compassion for everyone." (That's, of course, way paraphrased.) I am so far from being a good Buddhist, but it's a philosophy I've been drawn to for about 20 years. But compassion for everyone? Man, that's hard.

We got another foot or so of snow last night, so no school today. The kids have yet to have a complete week of school this calendar year! While we were spending the afternoon outside, I took a bunch of pictures. This isn't quite the picture I wanted to take, but I'm still learning the camera. My main problem was that I couldn't get the angle I wanted, I kept sinking into the snow. I also went wading into the woods in hip-deep snow to get some other shots. Again, they're not quite what I was envisioning. I've been working on using Ken Rockwell's FART technique (my inner 12-year-old boy just snickered) but I clearly need more training and practice.

I cast on the Marsan Watchcap for my friend's dad. I knit a few rows and looked at it. The gentlemen is apparently well-endowed in the cranial sense, if you will, and I just thought...this isn't going to be big enough. The pattern calls for 80 stitches, expecting you to be getting 4 sts to the inch. I was getting closer to 5, so the 96 I cast on was not going to be enough. I restarted it with 112, we'll see. In looking at my Ravelry notes on the one I did for my BIL, who also has a GINORMOUS head, I did 108 stitches, so this should be comparable. I'd like to get it finished this weekend, so I can send it out on Monday. If you're the praying or vibing sort, this gentleman could use some prayers, it's not a good situation.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some people just suck.

Especially people who steal people's bicycles from the commuter rail station. GRRR. I am beyond pissed. My dear sweet husband had a crappy day and even crappier commute home, and showed up at the train station to find his bicycle GONE. I had a more cheerful post in mind, but this is sort of taking my focus right now. I hate feeling helpless. I know, in the grand scheme of things, that it's just a THING, and it's just MONEY, but it's not like we have tons of money to replace it, and it's the primary thing that gets him to the train station and home each day. He's put a lot of effort and energy and money into that bike and it just SUCKS. I just have to keep reminding myself that many people are really good and decent, and not to lose faith because someone was a TOTAL ASSHOLE. *ahem* (Sorry for the swearing.)

Okay. Anyway.

I went by the yarn store today, and OH MY, look what happened! I've been wanting that Ann Norling pattern, the hats are just terribly cute. So, from the left, that's 3 skeins of Takhi Cotton Classic, a favorite of mine for baby hats. Someone needs to have a baby girl, that's all I'm saying. Then that's a skein on Malabrigo, for a friend's father, who is going through chemo. I want to get that done really soon and sent off. I'm planning the Marsan Watchcap for him. I don't know him at all, so I'm hoping the subdued manly colors will be okay. And who wouldn't love Malabrigo, right? I was going to start it tonight but I'm so bent out of shape, I don't think that's the vibe I want for a chemo cap. The next is some random yarn that just happens to pick up the VERY LIME GREEN of my daughter's new winter coat. It's self-patterning, which I know I swore I'd never knit again because it makes me crazy, but the color is really perfect. Hat, maybe mittens too? The last is some baby yarn for yet another hat for my photographer friend.

Anyway, sorry for the cranky and boring post. Here's a picture of my kitty. He makes me happy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

3rd? 4th? 5th? times the charm!

I'm not really sure which iteration this is! But I think this is it! Again with the creepy baby doll model. It's not that creepy in real life, honest.

I think this is it. I mean, obviously I no longer have a newborn and that's the final test, well, and I have to see if the photographer wants it! But I made it a bit deeper, did two row stripes, and did it all stockinette and finished it off with a crochet edging. I think it's really quite cute!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Not so much knitting tonight...

It's not that it hasn't been a knitting sort of day, it actually really has. A friend and kids came and hung out this afternoon, and she and I sat and knit, and then tonight I was just working on yet another baby hat (2 row stripes, and all stockinette, and I'm planning on a crochet edge). It's also been a photography sort of day.

I took this picture today - this is with some processing, not a ton (as I have neither the knowledge nor software for serious processing). I'm obviously still learning my new camera and lens, and having a blast. I also had printed some pictures of the kids I took, and framed them today, as well as some more of the professional pictures we'd had done. I tell you, the joy of seeing my own pictures framed and thinking "that's not a bad picture!" is just...profound. I'd forgotten how much I *love* this art form. When I was shooting a lot in my late teens and early 20s, I did no portraits, they didn't interest me. Now they really do. I have so much to learn, it's so exciting!

Also, have I mentioned how much I really love crystals? This crystal is hanging in my minivan, which is probably as a big a cliche as can be, but whatever. I am who I am - a soccer mom with a crystal hanging in my van.

I do want to get this baby hat done, but I also really just want to take an evening and do some more photography stuff (I took a bunch of pictures of my friend's adorable little girl and I want to see if any came out). And I want to read, another huge passion of mine. So I'll call the 10 rows I've done enough and finish it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back to the baby hats...

(Please ignore the creepy doll and focus on the knitting, thanks.)

So, another iteration of the baby helmet. This is getting closer, but it's not there yet. I think I got the size right for a newborn - it fits my daughter's doll, who was originally my oldest son's doll, named Baby James (we were listening to a lot of JT at the time, what can I say?), who has a head circumference of 13.5", so newborn size. I think it needs about 4 or 5 more rows of depth. I'm not sure about the pink and purple striping, I think they may be too close together. And, on the next iteration, I'm going to do the whole thing in stockinette and then do a crochet edging and see if that looks nice. I've got a pretty pale blue, and I think a white border would look nice on it.

This is knit on 7s, using Bernat Cottontots, which I really like. It's very soft, nice to knit with, and of course, machine washable and dryable. When it comes to baby stuff, even hats, I'm a true believer in the machine washable option. Babies spew amazing amounts of substances from a variety of orifices, and it's sort of stunning how much laundry you do. As a new mom, there's no way I could have had my wits about me enough to remember to hand wash anything.

Anyway, this is a CUTE little hat, and a super quick knit too! Once I have the pattern set, I think I'll contact the designer and see if she wants it.

Oh, on my last post, my friend the Toysmith (maker of that gorgeous pen) asked what color work was. Knitting is pretty basic in some ways, sticks and string. There's two stitches, knit and purl, and then variations on those. You get your designs either by stitch variations or colors. Something like an aran sweater, that texture is cabling (which I say gives you a lot of bang for the buck - it's easy but looks wicked complicated) and other stitches. Lace patterns derive from the creation of holes in the fabric. Colorwork is simply using different colors, so knitting with more than one yarn in a project, and there are different ways to do it. I've only done very simple color work, with just two colors, but there are really complex projects out there! I sort of doubt you'll see me doing that sort of project, mainly because I don't find the end result tremendously personally appealing. I can appreciate the craft and art of it, but I'm probably not going to wear it. I used to say I had no interest in lace knitting either, and then started with lace socks, and am now knitting shawls. So, I won't say NEVER. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'd eat my words...

...but I'm too busy eating leftover lemon tart from book club last night.

Yes, I am aware that this is color work. Yes, I am aware that I have publicly stated that I don't like color work.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Coming in under the wire here...

Another snow day today. We had a great day, actually - we did homeschooling in the morning, read a bunch of The Phantom Tollbooth, did a bunch of sledding and playing outside. I had my book club over tonight, which was just wonderful.

And, a Knit Picks order showed up!! I cannot wait to start my Swedish Fish mittens tomorrow!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

I have a lot of thoughts swirling about in my head right now, and I'm not sure how much I can, or want to, get them out on the page. I am being reminded that there are people who are not the right fit for me as friends, and that rather than hang on to someone who's just not a good fit, it's better to let go with love and move along. Over all in my life, I've been truly and profoundly blessed by my friends, and it's been rare that friendships have not worked out. Sure, time and distance have caused some to fade, but this is different. This is one of the rare times where I feel like I'm being called to actively let go of someone. It's actually really fine, but still hard, if that makes sense.

So, with that, I want to take a moment and focus on all the wonderful *good* things in my life right now. I just received the last of my Christmas/birthday present, which is a 50 mm f/1.4 lens for my new camera. To say I am excited is an understatement. I am pretty sure that there's at least one more lens I need for my stable (ha ha!) but I'm out of money at the moment. This is a great portrait lens, and I'm going to be practicing on friends and their kids, which will be very cool. I've got some really neat and fun things coming up. A friend invited me to see The Race to Nowhere tonight, so that should be cool, and then I'm hosting book club tomorrow, which should also be an excellent night. Another friend has invited my husband and me to a regency era dance, so if we can find child care, we're going to go to that! SO FUN!!

We're in the process of trying to figure out preschool options for my daughter for next year. I can't believe she's big enough to go to preschool! I remember applying for my oldest when he was this age, thinking he was so I understand a bit better how truly young he was. It's stunning how fast it goes.

I've not been doing great on the focusing on things that are GOOD for me (as opposed to things I enjoy) stuff. I'm going to try and do better... :) It's all a work in progress, right?

Oh, and I'm knitting a hat.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Quick Post

I've been doing so great at keeping up with this blog!

Today school was closed. We had a nice day - quiet morning, then kids outside for much of the afternoon, then I invited the neighbors over for dinner.

I got no knitting done, but my house is clean(er). I really hope we have school tomorrow but with all this ice, who knows?

In great and exciting news - my new camera lens should be here tomorrow, my KP order for mitten supplies should be here soon, and a Ritz order should be here soon. Oh, and speaking of KP, as usual, their customer service ROCKS. I was using a skein of Essential (now called Stroll) and early in the skein, the yarn looked chewed through, then about 8 feet later, it was just severed. I've never seen anything like it in a KP skein! I emailed just to let them, and they are replacing it. Unbelievable!

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Actual FO!!

Yes, another Noro scarf. This one's been on needles for a long time. So long, I really can't remember, but at least a year? Probably longer. This one was going to be for me. The first was for a friend, the second went to my mom, I do wear the other Noro scarf I knit (though I haven't yet this winter...I wonder where it is). This was knit in Noro Silk Garden, colorways 87 and 270, on size 8 needles. I really do love this scarf, but I've yet to create one that I love for me. I have a feeling this will become a gift for someone else...and I'm sure I'll keep knitting one for me. I started one in Chroma, in Roller Skate and Midwinter but the colors weren't entirely right together. So I'm turning the Midwinter into a simple hat. I really want the Chroma to work for this, so I'm going to keep thinking of how to make it work. I may just stripe a gradient with a solid. One person on Rav striped it with itself, which could also work. I don't know. Anyway, it was so exciting to cast off and finish something! It could probably use a good block, but I don't think I have the energy to do it.

In other news, my daughter's new coat arrived today. One of the hats I made (the owl hat) works well with it. Yay! The green of the blue flower hat is entirely wrong. The hat does work with a coat a friend loaned us, so maybe I'll just pass it along to her. It's not like DD doesn't have enough hats.

So, I spent a good portion of last night in my daughter's bed, which is a toddler bed and thus monumentally uncomfortable for me. I was totally kinked up but I did a new-to-me yoga DVD which really helped. I normally do power yoga, which moves faster, but this was amazing. There was no school today, and we had a good day. We spent the morning being lazy, and the afternoon sledding. We've built a good run in our yard! It's nice not to have to go anywhere to get some sledding in.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Knitting, and it's not working

That is to say, my vision of the finished product is not matching what's coming off my needles. A friend incredibly kindly gifted me with Spilly Jane's Swedish Fish pattern, and I decided to use one of Knit Pick's new Chroma yarns against a neutral background. I happened to have some KP Essential in Ash, and when I held the colors up next to one another, they worked (cool tones). I started knitting.

Now, yes, I am aware that I have stated that I am not interested in color work, but how cute are these mittens? I am actually enjoying the process of knitting them, a lot. What I'm less enthralled with, sadly, is what's coming off my needles. Technically it's okay - I mean, I haven't done a ton of color work so I know my technique isn't perfect, but that's okay. It's that the Ash is just too dark. I want the fish to POP more. So it's that dilemma. Do I keep knitting, to see if the purple and lime will pop out that way I want them to, or do I just accept that the Ash is too dark, and find something lighter. I can't do a white background, they'll just get gross. I live in MA, land of salt and slush. There is a lighter grey Stroll...but do I really want to pay the shipping?

And...having sat on this post, and the process of a couple of hours...yes, I'm going to order something different and do them in a lighter background. I ordered the Dove Grey, and a different colorway of Chroma to try. Actually, to be honest, it's not that I'm *going* to order more yarn. I already did. The S&H was only $4, so I don't feel too bad.

My goal for tonight is to finally finish yet another Noro Double Gradient scarf. I was really hoping this would be the one for me...but it's not. So, I don't know who it's for. I think I have to give up on Noro. I love the concept, I really do, but there is only one colorway that I adore (188), and I've already knit myself a bag and hat out of it. Though come to think of it, the hat just doesn't really work - it's a bit too long and too tight. But I want to get this scarf off needles so I can start, you know, another one, but this one in Chroma.

I seem to be a WEE bit obsessed with Chroma, huh.

Pictures later if I get this damn scarf done.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Holy productivity, batman!

So after my day yesterday of not doing anything, I went the opposite today, even though I was feeling fairly crappy myself. Colds with fevers tend to put me into a mild depression, so I really pushed myself to do things today. I knew that if I did nothing but sit aroundon my bum, I'd really feel bad. I did some errands, and discovered there's a new book in the Paksenarrion world! I *love* this author, and I love the Paksenarrion books - they changed my life. Yes, I'm a big geek, and a big reader. I am not ashamed to admit that I love (decently written) fantasy fiction, and I think Moon's stuff is wonderful. So that was a happy moment!

I got back, and decided to do some sewing...First up, new hats for my daughter. She doesn't need any more hats, far from it, but she's getting a new winter coat. A wiser woman might have waited until the coat actually arrived to purchase fabric, but that is not me.

I had originally planned that the whole hat would be in the owl fabric, but I actually really like the two-tone look. She seemed to love it, and I think it's just adorable. Then I put this together:

I love this fabric, and I'm hoping the green around the flowers will pick up the green from the coat. Which is really green. I had thought about doing a different design but she wanted the floomfy hat (as we call it).

A woman at church had admired my daughter's hat, so I decided to make her little girl one as well. Now, these aren't typical little girl colors, but I think it's really cute! So cute that I'm struggling with my generous impulse, as I want to keep it!

Then, because I love the fabrics so much...

This process also highlights for me my love of fraternal socks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Well, that explains it.

DD woke up in the middle of the night with a fever of 102 in the armpit.

It was funny, having an enforced day at home with no friends over somehow sparked my productivity. Actually, I want to do a puzzle but my puzzle table was covered with all sorts of crap, so I cleaned it off. Apparently I haven't filed in MONTHS. Turns out our Verizon contract expired and when I went to renew it, the nice lady said "Uh, we're going to have to up your internet speed...we don't even offer your package anymore." So our internet speed is going to increase by 150%. And not cost a lot more.

I got a ton done but nothing fun and creative and now I feel like I got hit by a truck so my rockin' Friday night is probably going to be over real soon now. I just looked at the clock and had that "How can it ONLY BE 6:37??" moment that sometimes characterizes my evenings. I was just talking with a friend recently about college - how parties didn't start until 11:30 pm. Of course, in those days I was capable of sleeping past 7 in the morning. And drinking a lot more beer. But we don't need to go into that.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll get DD's heart hat redone. I may have mentioned before that I'm...not cognitively flexible, shall we say. I get an idea and I get a skosh fixated. A wee bit obsessive, some might even say. I *really* want the hat to have a solid lining. So, yes, even though I'm surrounded by mountains of fleece, I bought more of the heart and the pink and I'm going to redo the hat so it's not quite so tight, and has a solid lining. Pictures to follow...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What goes up...

...must come down, right? I'm feeling very blah today. It was one of those days, nothing HUGE went wrong, but lots of niggling annoyances. Old Cat peed on my winter boots. *sigh* So we can't keep any shoes or boots on the floor of the mudroom anymore. Where are we going to put them? Who knows. I got my usual stuff done, but while I was getting the kids' clothes, I saw an ant scurry across my son's dresser. AN ANT. IN JANUARY. I was so taken aback I actually glanced out the window to see if I'd possibly slipped into a fugue state and it was really summer. I hadn't, there's still 2 feet of snow out there. My guess is there's a nest somewhere in the house which is so revolting to contemplate that I just can't. Then I got the boys off to school (I just realized that yet again I forgot to give DS1 milk money. I wonder how much I owe them at this point.)

DD and I got ready to go...and the van is dead. This happens sort of often, because somehow the lights get turned on and when you turn the car off, not all of them turn off (WHO THE HELL THOUGHT UP THAT DESIGN FEATURE, BY THE WAY?), and the back windows are tinted so you can't tell and it drains the battery, but that was not the case so...yeah, it's not going. I got us into the small car, which is fine, but it's just sort of a pain, mainly because when we bought it, we cheaped out and got the lowest possible model and it doesn't have power locks, so when you're unlocking it you have to use the key to open the door then reach inside to the rear door to unlock. Could I possibly write anymore run-on sentences in this post?

ANYWAY, so we went to Joann and then to music class which was fun, except for the fact that I had a total undergarment malfunction (thank goodness I was wearing pants or my drawers would have ended up around my ankles), then to Michael's for a basket for the basket raffle at the elementary school (which is stressing me out). DS2 has a half-day today, but he was going home to a friend's house (same bus route). I realized that I had to go see what stuff we have for the basket raffle, because I'm the room mom and am coordinating this thing. So I went and picked up DS2, swung by a friend's house who had offered to donate some pancake molds for the basket, then to the school. DS1 had gotten on the bus by mistake, so I got him off the bus, and checked the bin...where there's not a ton of stuff. So I got all three kids into the little car, which can't take two boosters and a car seat in the back seat but I somehow forced it to work. We went to see if we could find skates for me (where of course they didn't have what I wanted in my size), and then to Target. The kids were acting up so I had to follow up on my threat of "if you don't stop it, we're not going out to dinner".

DH was going to be late anyway, but missed the 5:30 train, so I have no idea when he's going to be home, so I fixed mac'n'cheese for the kids, but I was so not into that, so I fixed an entire separate meal for me. During this, I was a total crankosaurus to my kids and made them all cry at the same time, which is like the bad mommy hat trick.

This is a very long-winded and whiny way of saying, I didn't really get anything interesting done and I took no pictures today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The first step to recovery... admitting you have a problem, right?

My *big* Christmas gift was a serger - a very basic one (the low level Brother). I haven't done a ton with it yet, but so far I love it. Among other things, it's so much faster than a regular machine! Today, I was sorting through my fleece stash...which is really large, and thought, as one does, of course, "I should make some socks." Then I wondered if the heel/foot connection
would be easier to do on the serger, or if it would make an uncomfortable seam. There's a seam there anyway, but doing it on the regular machine is fiddly - you stitch it, then you have to sew the seam down. So I made one and it was SO RIDICULOUSLY EASY and tried it on and thought "Hmm, this seems fine." I don't have any particular sensory issues around seams in my socks. Then this happened...

And then this happened...

(and yes, those are donuts. DONUT SOCKS!)

And then I cut out a new hat for DD...and then THIS happened!!

A snow day...

So, you might have heard, New England got some snow. You know, it's so funny to me that every big storm becomes SNOWPOCALYPSE OF THE CENTURY!! Seriously, news guys, it's MASSACHUSETTS. In JANUARY. It snows. (This is not a true representation of how much we've already talking, and they're now talking about 30" total, I guess.)

I used, for the first time, our newest aquisition, a 24" Craftsman self-propelled snowblower. I will not shovel again. It was so easy! We have a very long and fairly steep driveway, and it seems like snowblowing it is actually easier than plowing it!

Anyway, no school today. We spent a bunch of time out in the yard this morning, sledding and playing. After lunch, DD (under total protest) took a nap. She's really giving them up, but she had a rough night. At about 1 am, she came roaring down the stairs, a small pink bundle of outrage - the sort of outrage that only a 2 year old can express. It's unclear what was wrong, she was thirsty, Daddy was not up there with her, she was coughing. Sadly, she ended up in my bed with me, meaning no one really slept well. So yes, she's napping.

Having older kids who can actually be, well, not unsupervised, but much less closely supervised means that when the baby girl is sleeping, I can do other stuff. After cleaning up from our perfect winter lunch of grilled cheese, tomato soup, apples (the last of the Honeycrisp, *sniff*) and hot chocolate, I pulled out the fabric.

I had an idea for a variation on the fleece envelope hats, one with fringe on top. For some reason, instead of doing them my usual way, I wanted a true double layer hat. I measured DD's head and started working. My first version, I forgot that I wanted to turn up the brim so it was too short. My second version, I ended up with a raw seam showing when you turned the brim up, D'OH. (There were many D'OH moments in this process, including things like oh yeah, gotta thread the sewing machine before I sew the seam.) Then I was out of the solid pink I was using as the inner layer, so I ended up with a double layer of the heart fabric. It'd be cuter with a solid brim, I think, but it's fine. Here it is!

Next time, I might actually top-stitch the bottom edge to hold it in place, but my top-stitching isn't great, so I didn't this time. Let's hope it fits her! She's still sleeping.

Edited to add: she woke up! So, even though I thought I was adding all sorts of ease and extra room, it fits her PRECISELY, which means it may not last long!

Yeah, I'm not thrilled with it. It needs a slightly larger circumference, it needs a bit more height, and I really want it to have the solid lining. So, I'll redo it. It's good that I sometimes learn from my mistakes, right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day!

Hey, did you hear? It might snow in Massachusetts.

We've already had school called for tomorrow, and honestly, I'm looking forward to it. I think we could use a morning of laying around in a our jammies eating crepes, followed by sledding and hot chocolate. Yes, that sounds good to me. It was a very good day in part because I didn't have to put my elderly and adored kitty to sleep. She's hanging in there!

I bought some yarn today. SHOCK. I know, can you believe it? But I did. And, so far, I hate it. It's Caron's Naturally Caron Spa. It's so splitty (hey! I didn't drop an F-bomb there!). I'm concerned because I also read a review that suggested that it pills really easily. I think I'm going to return the skein I haven't opened and switch to cotton...I know I have tons of cotton around somewhere in my closet. It does have a nice sheen, and supposedly the fabric drapes well as well, but I don't know.

I also (shh) bought some fabric. I had to get my DD a new coat (argh) and we ended up with this. In lime green. I think it's really cute, actually, and I hope the color works for her, but it's so not going to work with the hats I've already made. So, hey! I can make more! And, you know what they had at Joann? DONUT FLEECE. How completely awesome is that? What I'm going to do with it, I have no idea. Probably socks. Can you see me running around in a donut fleece hat?

Yeah, actually, I can too.

Monday, January 10, 2011

No photo today...

Mainly because I did take some, but they're just of my kids and a friend's kid, and I haven't quite figured out how I feel about posting pictures of my kids on the blog. Now, I am well aware that I have, in fact, posted a bunch of pictures of them, but it's usually related to them modeling something I've made for them, and I've forced them to pose for the picture. Just posting a portrait seems...I don't know. I feel funny.

Anyway, I got NO knitting, crafting, or anything else done today. I did drink a lot of tea, have great conversations with three separate friends, had lots of social time, a mid-afternoon playdate that turned into dinner. All wonderful things, but not conducive to being, you know, productive.

Since I love talking about my plans for things even more than almost as much as actually doing them, I'm going to ruminate on some things I'd like to get made...
  • I'd love to finish some handknit socks. I just found yet more lovely sock yarn in a bin, so it's not like I don't have the yarn.
  • I'm on a baby hat kick right now. Which is hysterical because I am having NO more babies! I do have at least one pregnant friend though.
  • I'm going to have to make DD a new hat. The zipper of her winter coat (her brother's totally cheapie thing from Target from last year) blew out and I've gotten her a new one (yay for Lands End clearance!!!). Her current hat won't match at all.
  • I have some flannel to make myself some jammies. Wow do I love comfy flannel jammies.
  • I had an idea for another cute kid's hat. At what point is a kid too old for a silly fleece hat?
  • I'd like to figure out a good pattern for double layer fleece mittens. Or maybe knit some and make fleece liners? Hmmm.
  • Not to mention all the stuff I have on needles already.

And, did I mention that I put in a KP order? Or that it might have some of this in it? I'll let you know how it is.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Teeny Tiny Baby Helmet

So, my friend the photographer, sent me a link to baby hat she liked. I found something similar (in looking again, I think it's the same pattern!) on Ravelry, and started it. Then I decided to get creative. I rewrote the pattern using Lion Brand Organic Cotton, which is decidedly not a fingering weight yarn. They call it worsted but I think it's heavier than that...anyway, after many, many false starts, including a couple of massive counting errors and one addition error that made me cry just a little bit, I ended up with...

It turned out very tiny - it fits perfectly on my grapefruit which measured at 12.5" circumference, which, per Bev's handy chart, would be similar to 5-5.5 lb baby. I've worked the numbers for larger sizes, though there's some tweaking needed for the actual knitting. I'm not sure if I think the yarn is too big for such a small hat? It was fun to reword the pattern, anyway, even if it turns out I need to redo 1st grade math.

In terms of the photo, the DOF is a bit shallower than it should be. I'd like to figure out how to get the whole item sharp, but maintain the blur of the background.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Heart Shaped Nose

This is my big boy, Pepper. He's a love.

I actually have knitting content to talk about (!!) but (1) it's really late and (2) I have to go to bed. My husband and I went out to dinner (babysitter and everything! All grownup! Wine!) with our supper club (4 other couples), and it was *so* fun. I love being a parent, I do, more than just about anything in my life, but WOW it's fun to get out and be grownups. We almost never do this, and we really almost never do this with other people. So it was fun.

(I just wanted to comment that I know I'm posting every day, and a photo every day, and I am putting...not zero pressure, but very little pressure on myself to do this every day, but I am in a groove and feeling like things are moving and whatnot so I wanted to keep doing it.)

I feel almost guilty for having had such a great evening in light of the horrific tragedy out of Arizona. But, the thing is, if anything can pull us out of this downward spiral, it's love, and the light, right? My heart and prayers go out to Gabrielle Giffords, the family of Judge Roll and all others who were wounded or murdered in this terrible attack. I am especially moved by the death of a child. I am praying for healing, and wondering how to help work for peace in our nation.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A return to my knitting roots...

In early Fall of 2004, my oldest son was just turning 1, and I found out I was pregnant with baby #2 on his first birthday. For some reason, I decided that I wanted to relearn to knit, and that I wanted to knit a pumpkin hat for my little boy so he could be a pumpkin for Halloween. I went to a yarn shop (sadly now defunct) and took a fruit hat class. I learned that I twisted my stitches (which I have since corrected), I learned to cast on, knit in the round, knit on DPKs, do basic color stranding, decreases....I learned a lot in those two classes, and I fell in love with knitting.

When my younger son was born, he was *really* jaundiced and ended up in the NICU at Children's in Boston for 6 days. It's devastating that Children's is needed, but I'm so glad it's there. When I started this blog, I was knitting baby hats for the NICU. That ended up being...not a fulfilling experience. It's not that I was looking for thanks or glory, but it felt like I was sending things off into a black hole, not knowing if they were being used or thrown away. I never received a single acknowledgement of any of the things I donated, so...I stopped.

Since then, I've struggled with feeling like it's okay to knit just for me, for those I love. I've knit a few hats for the homeless, here and there, but nothing on any sort of regular basis.

Anyway, to make a long and perhaps pointless story longer, recently a FB friend who is a photographer posted that she was looking for cute newborn hats, handknit, so I offered to make her a couple. It's purely selfish - I can start (and finish) a new project without guilt that I'm not working on all my other projects! And, I have a bit of yarn, you know. So I pulled out the Tahki cotton classic that I just *happened* to have lying around, wound it up and cast on. I can't actually lay hands on the hat pattern, so I just did it from memory. Size 6 needles (KP Options for Magic Loop, of course), c/o 64 stitches. Knit 5", started the top. I realized half-way through the decreases that Ann Norling doesn't decrease every other row, if I recall correctly, she decreases every row, so my green is a bit pointier than hers. No worries, I think it's cute.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

This isn't quite what I wanted the image to be, but I like the drops of water coming of the stream. I took this because I was thinking about how lucky I am to be able to turn on a faucet and get clean, drinkable water, any time I want it.

I've got a lot floating around in my head, thinking about the future, work, art, life, parenting...I don't want to put pressure on myself, to feel like I need to change myself entirely, but I am someone who does ponder life a lot (too much, maybe!), and the new year always triggers thoughts of self-improvement. It's funny, I don't think it's coincidence that I've stepped away from the FB games almost entirely and I've had a really good and productive week. And, even though this was reentry from vacation week, I've had a *great* week with the kids, some really good connections with my friends, and I've been feeling really energized creatively.

(It's funny, I really cringe when I try to apply the word creative to me. I don't really feel like I am. I'm not sure what I think a creative person would like, or how they would act, but I feel pretty mundane so it can't be me. It's funny, I think a creative person would have a really funky and interestingly decorated house, and that's so not my life. I need to remind myself that the act of creating is creative.)

Anyway, I'm feeling like I'm a big state of change, and terms of moving into a new stage of living.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011


Kindness is really important to me. I believe that generosity is not just innate, it can be learned. I want to be the kind of person who gives back to others, the kind of person who appreciates what's done for her, who sends thank you notes, makes dinner for friends having a hard time. I'm so far from perfect, of course, but I do try.

I have a friend from college, someone I not only really like but really respect. As often happens, we fell out of touch, and I was thrilled to reconnect on Facebook with him. He was always really smart but lives an academic life (unlike me), rides bikes and does amazing woodworking as an avocation. I've commented on his photos of how much I love his work, so imagine my delight when I opened up the mail and found this pen from him. It's so gorgeous. I just things made from wood, I love simply and plain objects that let the beauty of the materials shine through. Woodwork is one of the many, many activities that I don't see myself having the time/space/energy to pursue, but would love to.

I'm having fun playing with the camera. This isn't quite the picture I wanted to take. It's too warm, too yellow, something. I had a lot of fun playing with the aperture setting to get the DOF I wanted. It's funny, like with so many things, as I've gotten older, I've gotten much more accepting of my need to learn how to do things. That sounds so arrogant, doesn't it? I think I've been lucky in many ways in life - many things have come fairly easily to me, so I didn't really learn how to work. As I have finally given up most of my perfectionism, I've found I'm much more willing to accept all that I don't know, and I'm much more willing to stick it out to learn what I need. I've come to understand that I can really enjoy things I'm not all that good at. All that to say, I'm going to take some more pictures and see what I can do differently.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Today is one of those days where I just spend the day really appreciating how my family life is structured. I got up around 7, and was busy until I got the boys on the bus at 8:27. Then I had some time with DD just to putter. I put together the chicken I was marinating, did yoga, and then DD and I headed out. We dropped off DH's dry cleaning, ran by the grocery store, got gas, and headed up to the mall, where I was able to exchange DD's pants that had fallen apart after one wearing, recovered my Ritz information so I can order some things, had some lunch (crepes, mine wasn't so good but even a bad crepe is pretty tasty), and Costco.

In the interests of eating more healthily, I bought a bunch of pre-packeged snacks for the boys for lunches. I feel awful, in that it's environmentally crappy, but I need to jump start my eating to a more healthy way, and if it's a big bag of something, I munch, but the little single serving bags, I don't. It should be short term. It's also tricky because I don't feed my kids HFCS, artificial color or flavors, or partially hydrogenated yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, I'm one of those. It severely limits what you can buy at most mainstream stores.

Anyway, so we had a good and leisurely day - we got done what needed to get done, but also had some time just to play and be together. DD is in that horrible stage where one nap is too many and keeps her up until 9:30 but no naps means she's a hysterical mess by about 4:15, which makes for a loooooong afternoon.

The chicken was fantastic, I am feeling sort of like I almost have things under control...all in all, a good day. Most days are like this, so it seems good to mark it when it happens, and yes, I'm grateful for it. My goal for tomorrow is not only to do my yoga but to fit in a workout too! We'll see.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back to the routine!

We've taken down the tree and packed up all the Christmas decorations, but I can't quite bring myself to take down the outside lights yet. In part, because it's really cold right now and I don't want to spend that much time outside with no gloves on! This year I put lights on my back deck, because I love looking at them, and I don't get to see them. They made me really happy.

So, in the interests of 2011 being a year of focusing on meaning and joy, I spent time sewing yesterday. I have now made two pairs of PJs, one for each boy. Let's see...for DS2, I started with these, which were way, way too hard for a novice clothing sewer. Plackets? Flies on the pants?? WTH?! I totally punted on a bunch of stuff, and ended up doing velcro instead of buttonholes. They're HUGE, but luckily my son seems to love them. :) Then I made a pair of these for my older son. Plackets are still hard, but these were definitely easier. They're also HUGE on him, clearly I don't know about the sizing yet. But it was fun and they both wore them last night! I'm planning a pair of these for my daughter. I'm also planning a pair of these for me. I love $0.99 pattern sales! I just need a coupon for the fabric. I'd love to make these for my daughter as well, but trim scares me.

So far, I've disconnected from the FB games entirely and I'm feeling better. I had a nice morning, got things done, had some time with my husband, and took a bunch of pictures. I'm renting a 50mm 1.4 lens to see if I want to buy it, and I think I'm convinced. :) Today, I'm feeling generally optimistic and hopeful (which may last until the boys get off the bus, who knows). I had a great conversation with a friend, and I'm feeling generally grateful for the people in my life who *get it*.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Day 2

Today I'm grateful for a walk in the woods with my family and my amazing new camera that's (I hope) going to allow me to take more of the kinds of pictures I love to take.

When I was in high school, I got a camera and I shot with it extensively for the next 5 years or so. Then I graduated from college, lost access to a darkroom, got really poor and then immersed in other things (you know, getting a Ph.D., falling in love, having babies). I've been shooting digital P&Ss for about 12 years now, and while I love them, I have over the last few years gotten more and more frustrated with their limitations. I love taking pictures, not just for documenting my life and growing family (though that's hugely important to me), but also for trying to convey some of my wonder in the world around me. I'm a big picture (landscape) or micro-focus (macro) photographer and thinker.

So, this year, I put all of my Christmas and birthday gifts towards a new camera, and so far, I'm loving it. In the spirit of focusing on things that bring me joy and fulfillment, today we went out and I took lots of pictures. I already know I need different lenses, and I've got enough in my fund right now to fund another one. I think I'm going to get a lens for the sorts of portraits I want to take, and focus on that for now. Then, when I've saved up some more money, and things are growing outside, I'll get a lens geared for the nature stuff I like. Last will probably be a landscape lens as I just don't have a lot of opportunity to do that sort of picture taking right now.

I'm not foolish enough to think I could do a 365 photo blog, but I hope to be posting more photographs here of the various things around me...including, perhaps, my knitting!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Proof that I'm still a knitter!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Happy New Year!!

While I had a relatively good 2010, many, far too many of my good friends had a very hard year. More than one friend's marriage imploded, too many parents were lost, pregnancies lost, another friend's baby stillborn. I think many people are wishing a not-so-fond farewell to 2010. I like New Year's Day, because I like taking some time regularly to evaluate my life, think about where I've am, where I've been, and where I seem to be heading. I wouldn't say these are resolutions, I feel like those are typically doomed to failure, but rather changes I hope to be working on over the next few months.

1. Stop wasting time on Facebook games. :) It's a secret shame, but I feel like I spend far, far too much time playing silly games, to the point where it's not actually much fun, and feels more like an obligation. Which, when I think it about it, is pretty dumb! I could take the time I spend doing that, and put it back into doing things that I not only enjoy, but truly enhance my life...

2. Eating and exercise - I need and want to shift my eating a bit, especially after the last 5 or 6 weeks of parties, holidays, etc. Back to the simple food I usually eat, but I want to cut back on the meat/cheese portion of my diet. I just passed 41, and there's a *strong* history of heart disease in my family. I've also let my yoga practice slide in the last 6 weeks or so, and I've let my more serious exercise practice REALLY slide this fall, and I don't like how I feel. Exercise is so good for me, emotionally and physically, and I need to re-prioritize it. Sleep is the other big thing, and exercise really helps me sleep better. If I get to sleep by 10, getting up at 6 to do yoga is totally doable.

Part of this thought process has been spurred by the fact that while we were on vacation, I tried very hard to unplug myself from the electronics, and I actually did some knitting! I got the toe and half the foot done on a second sock, and man, it felt GOOD to get something done! I have lots of projects to be working on, and I'd like to have 2011 be the year of the FO! :) I've also got a couple of pairs of pajamas for the boys that I'm making, and I'd like to get them done before they outgrow them. Not to mention my shiny new serger that I want to play with! I've had it almost 2 weeks and I haven't even taken it out of the box!!

That's it really - I think it can be summed up in refocusing on the activities in my life that bring me joy, happiness and health, because that's never just handed to you. You have to actively choose it, work for it, and make it happen. I've been far too short-tempered and cranky as of late, and I don't like that. I don't like the me I've been over the last few months, and I need to reconnect to joy and health. Sure, there are some ongoing stressful situations in my life, but I've started accepting that they're not going to change, so I need to be in shape to manage it. And that means taking care of myself.