Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Feelin' Green

Here are some recent acquisitions from the maiden voyage to another LYS, Yarnings, in Skippack, PA. Mo, this shop is definitely on our itinerary for your upcoming visit. Most of it is for my semi-almost original pattern for Baby G (note: I abandoned the baby booties after not being able to resist the "Crazy Cotton" in this great green colorway), and the two skeins in the front are beautiful Koigu, which I have wanted to try and never come across in real life. These will be added to the sock stash, which is growing in leaps and bounds lately.

The apples, by the way, are left over from this weekend's Apple Crumb Pie, made from a recipe in the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. As I usually suck at pies (as pastry is something made with the hands, read last post...) I was pleased at how well said pie was. If you want to recipe, it's like: make pie crust (or in my case, defrost pie crust and unroll), peel and slice three cups of Granny Smith Apples, coat with sugar, flour, and cinnamon, put in shell, then top with brown sugar-flour-butter crumble topping. Bake. Eat. Yum!

I am trying to figure out how to get a picture off my camera phone and onto my computer. It was in honor of last night's girl's night out, as Mr. Science and I had a night out in Philly: a bar and basketball game. Still being totally technically inept, I think I tried to e-mail it to myself with no success whatsoever. If I ever get it off the phone, you'll see it.

Also, I think we should open up a discussion for making some small improvements to our blog, such as improving our banner up top, and maybe adding links to our favorite blogs, etc. And the big question, what is our agreement on sharing the blog with others? We should discuss this too. What do y'all think? This discussion can go on private e-mail if you'd prefer. Smooches from me.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Why I Knit - Part I

It might not surprise you to know that when I was in school, I was considerably smaller than the other kids in my class. And with a December birthday, I was very very young, too. Littlest, youngest. They did not make uniforms for my school small enough for me; I had to wear a similar uniform from another school that had a nursery school. Luckily, that school was called Episcopal Academy, and their "EA" monogram was mine too. Never mind the humiliation I felt when I went through first grade thinking that my mom was so dumb to have my uniform monogrammed, while no other mom did. I totally bought that story, as well as the one that the school had "run out of penmanship books," but had ordered an extra one, and that we had to wait months and months for one to come in for me. Now, as an educator, I understand that, even in the 70s, penmanship books were not delivered by mule; they didn't issue me a handwriting book because I couldn't write. I was just too damn small and way to young to have the fine motor skills you need for Catholic penmanship. As an aside, this is just one of the many reasons why I think nuns have a bad name, and I am happy to put out a "good teacher" story about a wonderful nun who knew better than to give me a handwriting book until I was ready, rather than rap my developmentally unprepared knuckles with a ruler.

But, art class was another story. I hated art class. I loved gluing and cutting, coloring, and imagining, and believe me, it was better than religion class. I was a kid, after all. Art class for me, though, was an exercise in total frustration because the picture I had in my head, never, ever ended up being on the paper. I could never make my projects look like the art teacher's examples. And while my first grade teacher knew better than to expect anything other than fat-pencil writing from me, the art teacher was a product-over-process teacher, and my products were always terrible. My gluing was messy and gray smears marred every project. My erasures ripped the paper and my papers were always cut with that tell-tale zig-zag edge of someone who cannot cut in a straight line. My brown bag puppets and my construction paper jack-o'lanterns always looked sloppy, especially compared to the ones I imagined they would be, never mind my more developed classmates.

I guess I continued to develop, and maybe I grew a little, because eventually I did get a handwriting book, and often got the comment of, "Good work, Lizzie, but can it be a little neater?" across the top of my paper. I began to simply accept that I was sort of sloppy, and had to work harder to have the neatest paper in the class.

And one day in May, I made the most beautiful art project ever. We were making Mother's Day gifts. May Pole centerpieces, made on paper plates, with a pencil in a styrofoam block for the pole, and curling gift-wrap ribbon draped down around the plate. And mine was beautiful. No glue glops or cock-eyed pencil poles, just billowing pink and purple ribbons, neatly tacked down around the edges of the ruffled paper plate with dainty drops of glue. My art teacher praised my work, and I knew it was my best creation by far.

I had even considered making a second one for my grandmother, and was wondering if we had these kind of paper plates as I sat in the back of the station wagon that Friday as my mom drove us home from school. I had carefully perched the maypole on my lap for the long ride home, and while I had shown it to mom briefly on my way to the car, I couldn't wait for the oohs and ahhs that would come when she could really sit down and admire it when we got home. I pictured it sitting at the center of the dining room table, looking so festive and happy.

And then I vomited all over it. I wasn't often car sick, but on that warmish day in May in the backseat, I puked in my lap and totally destroyed my Maypole. And with it, all aspirations for art. In my disgusted, disappointed, nauseated state, I decided that I was no good in art. That was that. I still liked kid stuff like spin art and spirograph, and loved those complex coloring books of the 70s with geometric shapes and prisms and things. But I gave up on art that day. My projects were finished with no flair or excitement, just a slap-dash-get-it-done attitude. I never tried learning to draw or paint, never experimented with pastels or charcoal. No apple prints or even the occasional craft. Because I knew that I was no good at art, I never enjoyed the messy, energizing process of making something, and slowing down long enough, to just keep trying until it is the way you want it to look.

I instead gravitated towards writing, singing, and performing throughout my life. I once took a pottery class in college and seriously almost failed. I could not do the wheel. I didn't have that gentle fingertip touch on the clay, and I went full blast on the pedal, going 60 miles an hour making lopsided, thick pots whose handles wouldn't stay on. Never mind that I was easily and always the filthiest potter in the class, and in a class full of cute boys, this was not Demi-Moore-in-Ghost-sexy. More like Demi Moore slogging through the mud in G.I. Jane.

My most creative period was when I was teaching English. I was immersed in writing and literature, teaching writing, and developing unique lessons for every day of the school year. I was encouraging creativity in my students and was constantly stretching myself to come up with new way to get the most out of my students, or to help them connect with their creative selves.

I quit teaching and became a Mom, and while we all know that motherhood is the ultimate creative experience, it left me wanting another outlet, and so, with Mo, my inspiration, I picked up the needles again after many years away. And I could do it. And suddenly a new way to create was open to me, to create with my hands. And if I am precise enough, and careful enough, I can make my sweater look like the picture in the magazine, or I can, with the right yarn and right stitches, make a garment that matches the one I imagine. I fantasize about the next project, and the project after next, and don't hesitate to rip something out or try something new to make the garment right. Knitting is the first time that I have ever used my hands to create something I can feel proud of.

And today I can say that I am actually making a sweater that will be my first semi-original pattern. And unfortunately, since it is a baby sweater, this, too, is likely to be barfed on too.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

More knitting interference

SD turned 38 on Friday, so we've been celebrating all weekend. We had a family dinner with his mom, Mr. Mike, plus brother and family at Crab Louie's. It was a lot of fun. I think the kids sat through their longest meal yet at a non-kid friendly restaurant. Then last night he and his brother went to DC to see Bob Pollard of Guided by Voices do a solo show at the 9:30 Club. I guess when you are 38 it feels good to see an old geezer rocking out. Now he is back, and we are planning an Indian food take out feast for this evening if he can stay awake.

I've been too grouchy to knit due to the fact that all I can do is think about food. I'm hungry, darn it. I started Weight Watchers (again) this past week, but I haven't gotten into my groove yet. Fifteen extra pounds have crept up on my this year, and I'm ready to fight back. Knitting should be a good distraction, right?

Liz -- Tomorrow, we're doing our old Girl's Night Out at the Commerical Tap House. We haven't been out since September. It's not the same without you! I'll have a beer for you.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Ugly Knitting Interference

So, no knitting at all yesterday and here's why. Caution, this is disgusting. I mean really bad. Have we ever told you about our "squirrels" in the attic that are living in our walls? (notice the use of quotation marks) They have now been identified at RATS. Coming up through the sewage line. Living in our walls. We are now officially at war. I spent all yesterday with Peter and the kids and the plumbers. Still no final resolution, but soon ...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's like felting a sweater...

So here is the back of Jules, as well as a detail from the hem. This is some tedious knitting, my friends. It's like making a felted item, only with finer yarn and it's as big as a sweater. Annoying, folks, you hear me? It took me two weeks to get through the knitting on this, and I am just not up for casting on for the front. Doing the heart cable blocks aren't so bad; it's the two feet of mostly stockinette above it that is making me crazy. I think I might just take a break and work on instant gratification projects for the next few days...I actually have some tiny knitting to get on the sticks -- my new nephew, G, was born on Sunday in San Diego, and I think that, while California babies do not need sweaters, they do need....
...stash busting, leftover-using baby booties! Note recent addition to knitting library acquired during ongoing book-buying binge. More new books to appear in future posts.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

FO Alert

Daddy, sister and brother hats ... all done for Christmas presents using a pattern from knitty. Miss Priss' was done with half stash, half special purchase, Baby Leo's was done with Lamb's Pride Nature Spun from the stash, SDs was in Rowan Cashsoft. Unfortunatly, his needs to be ripped and redone because it is way too big.

One super big sock for me made using Ann Budd's sock formulas and some nice Opal yarn purchased at the Knitting Basket. Actually, it feels great when it's on, but gets slouchy and slips off too easily. I'll get it right some day.

I have several other items finished, so there's more to come!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Peter's Aran Sweater

Here it is!

The Jellyfish

So the starfish tam turned out to be quite like a jellyfish instead. I brought it to my knitting guru (and guru of all else as well!), Martha. She has set me on the path of rightous knitting and after quite a bit of frogging, I'm back at it.

Thanks Martha! And thank you for being such a special school friend for Nora -- she is so pleased that she has a grown-up friend at school!

I'm posting a photo of the aran sweater I made for Peter -- with the yarn from Ireland -- I don't think Mo has seen it. Or I'll try to. I'm having a time uploading for some reason ...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Spring is trying to come early ...

Here are those great winter blooms in the garden. And that dratted sudoku ... which I did eventually master ...

Knitting Olympics

You guys need to check this out ... I don't know if I can do it with all the auction stuff ... but I love the idea of the knitting olympics. I always wanted to be an Olympian ... maybe if I trained really hard, I could be in the 2010 Olympics ...

The star fish hat is coming along, but looking not much like a starfish, I should finish it during the football games today and then send you a picture of the sorry thing ...

Things interfering with my knitting today: children (usual), sudoku (why am I having such a hard time with the puzzle today? I actually contemplated not finishing it -- yikes!), gardening (cleaning up the beds and gazing at my beautiful camelia and snowdrops, I'll post pix), and of course ... children and laundry, children and laundry, children and laundry ...

Luckily, there are the playoff games which means lots and lots of knitting ...

Signs of Life in the 'Burbs

Yesterday, Mr. Science and I had an afternoon without the kids. We went to the little town next to ours called Phoenixville, and we were delighted to see a proto-almost-soon-t-be-Carytown-ish place in the works. There was a cute clothing boutique, some nice restaurants, (we had lunch with wine!) and much Mr S's delight, and excellent cheese shop! There's also an independent book store owned by a woman who is friends of my one almost-friend here. I even bought a dress - a cute hot pink strapless number that was on sale marked down from $124 to --are you ready ---$30!!!!

So then we went to an art talk on Rodin. Josh's distant cousin is the director of a foundation that has a huge traveling Rodin collection, and she was in town to do a gallery talk at the opening. So interesting! An actual cultural event. Total parents incognito. Loved it.

Then dinner at a chicken take-out place, that, while it is no Ukrops, its Broasted Chicken (whatever that was) was excellent, and it's orange and gold, totally-without-irony decor was totally craptastic!

And I turned the heel on Josh's sock, and make quite a lovely short-row heel, if I do say so myself!

So all in all, I'd say a totally successful day!

Ann, to answer your question about a starting pattern for a sock, I'd say that any simple ribbed sock will do you just fine. I've lately been doing my socks from the toe-up, but did my first few pairs from the cuff-down pattern. Since you know how to knit, purl and do short rows, making socks should be no trouble at all. I love them, and have resolved to always have a sock project on the needles in 2006. Sock yarn totally feeds my yarn-purchasing urge, whenever I feel the need to enhance the stash but don't want to buy a sweater's-worth of yarn. One simple skein or two, so much potential!

I thought I'd also upload a picture of the progress on Jules, the never-ending sweater, and of course, a great pic of Ann and Me on the Mall on Monday. What a fantastic day.

Friday, January 20, 2006

R's Vest

Okay, first things first. Josh has got huge honkin feet! Size 13. Wow. I think the stuff in the Loop book is pretty cool -- although they certainly have some funky looking models, no? I'm going to try to post a photo of the vest that I knit up for R. Liz saw it this past weekend. It's knit in this cool cotton (Araucania Nature Cotton) that I got on sale at Lettuce Knit. It was supposed to be a sweater, but alas ... not enough yarn ... and I did not do my figuring well enough!

I just started the starfish tam from America Knits. I'm having quite a time with the increases. Reminding me what a beginner I truly am. But after tearing it out a few times, I think I'm getting the hang of it. This one is practice for one to be auctioned as part of an ensemble at the Waldorf auction at the end of February. Do you guys ever search the web for corrections for patterns? There were a few posted for this one, interesting.

I hope to be done in a few days. I'll post a picture.

Retro Ribs

Here are my Retro Rib socks from IK Winter '04. These are in Cherry Tree Hill Supersolids in purple, knit on US2s. There are so many mistakes in these socks, it is scary. If I ever knit these again, I would use size 1 needles, as they feel a little loose. Super comfy, though. I'm curious to see how they hold up.

Corrugated Asymmetical V-Neck is now CAVN

Yes! I have the Teva book. It was a Christmas present from my Uncle Bob. Good work Uncle B! That workshop must have been a blast. Her mind seems to work a little differently than the rest of us.

Look here to see a sample of the CAVN sweater. I can't believe they knit a sample is such a dark color. It's really hard to see. Essentially, you knit two parts (sleeves included) and have only one seem to join. They have a sample knitted up at Lettuce Knit, so that's what really sold me. Oh, and the best part of all is that they have a child size version, so Miss Priss and I can match. hehe

I'm on my way out of town this evening for a weekend ski trip with 16 women from the neighborhood. I'm kind of anxious about the whole affair, but I know I'll have a great time. I hope I don't come back with a tatoo or a broken bone. I think I'll take some socks to finish up while en route.

For blog tech stuff -- I'm not sure if I did the link correctly, leave me a comment and tell me if it works. As for pics, I'm working on it ... Steve says I can use our digital video camera to take stills. I need to buy a card and figure out the instructions. One last thing, can we change the colors of the blog. It must be my advanced age, but I have trouble reading white type on a dark background.

I'm trying to figure this out...

Is the corrugated rib sweater you're doing the same one that Ann from Mason Dixonis making?  Do you have the book?  I have lusted for it since I went to that Teva Durham workshop at Rosie's Yarn Cellar -- click to see pictures of me there on Rosie's blog -- you'll have to scroll waaaaay down.  I have wanted to try any of the Aurora yarns;  give me an update on how it holds up.

My current works in progress:Jules sweater for Mom-in-law.  Many things to complain about on this project, mostly that knitting in denim requires you knit 20% longer than you would ordinarily do.  And it's white -- no, ecru.  And finally, I am convinced that it is going to be way too bit, even though for the first time in my life, my gauge appears to be right on.  The sweater is super boxy, and I keep telling Marlene, but she is pressing on with this one.  

Socks for Josh -- picked up some hand-spun, hand-dyed over the Christmas holidays when took the kids to the Brandywine River Museum.  Knitting these on size 3s, which is good because Josh wears a size 13.  Will take a post progress pics later.  Using sock recipes from Sensational Knitted Socks -- love this book!

I am trying desperately to make these links work. The browser I use (Safari -- did I mention I got a new Mac?) isn't fully supported, so I think I may need to download a new web browser to make this work easier. Thank God I have the teeniest experience with HTML coding so I could get the links to work, but there has got to be a better way!

Didn't mention what a great time Ann and I had in Washington DC this weekend. Will also try to get some pics up and running. We went to the Natural History Museum and had lunch at the American Indian Museum. The kids did great and the grownups had a ball.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Getting Started -- Again

Today, for the second time, I'm starting the Corrugated Asymetrical V-Neck Sweater from Teva Durham's Loop-D-Loop book. That darn gauge got me. Luckily, before I got too far, I faced the truth and ripppppped it.

I'm using the Karabella Aurora Bulky. The yarn is sensational. I mean it!

I also have finished projects to tell you about, but not now! Off to carpool line with my Opal socks on the sticks.

Welcome to Our Blog

Well, here we are, hopefully at our own online Crossroads.