Monday, February 27, 2006

Midlo Weekend Update

CAVN made it back into the rotation Friday night when I cast on with new needles and Karabella's Aurora Bulky.

I finished the right side seam and arm and started on the left. It's moving quickly! My goal is to wear it when SD and I go to see Compromise at the Firehouse Theatre on March 11.

Our non-knitting activities included a visit to Lewis Ginter. We looked forward to the new train display, which was very, very low key. Ann -- I had visions of knit dates while the kids frolic in the play area. What do you think?

Oh, and here's a news flash: Bears bite! I guess the idiots visiting Maymont did not see Grizzly Man. Liz -- No more "bear hunts" for preschoolers at Bon View. Very said, as those were very fond memories.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Oh Say Can You See...

Jules, designed by Louisa Harding. Design available for download on Rowan website. Knitted in Elann Den-M-Knit, 16 balls, ecru color, using US 3, 4, & 5 needles.

Project Notes: This was my first adventure knitting with denim. My wondeful MIL picked out this sweater because she loved the heart cable blocks detail. This was definitely something I would never have knit on my own, but her reaction was great, and she does love the garment. Knitting with denim is a challenge since you have to knit all the pieces longer than necessary to account for the 15-20% shrinkage, but the knitting does look lovely once washed and shrunken. Any unevenness disappears, and it makes a soft, yet firm fabric. It also makes it difficult for a fitted or tailored look, hence the boxy shape of this drop-shoulder sweater -- again, something I never would have chosen for myself, but great for a sweatshirt-type sweater.

This shrinkage factor sort of stressed me out, but I just tried to use these tips, found on Polly's blog. So I knit the pieces and washed them prior to seaming, but wasn't sure what to do to add the neckline. I had to seam a shoulder before picking up the stitches for the neck. After contacting Polly and Kay, I got conflicting, but very helpful and kind advice. Kay said she thought I would be OK without pre-shrinking, Polly suggested I knit and prewash another swatch, and unravel that yarn to knit the collar. How nice that these complete strangers, fellow knitters and bloggers, chose to help me out and give me such thoughful feedback. So, of course, I took the path of less-work-and-finish-quicker and went ahead and added the neck in regular yarn, but I did unravel my swatch to do the final seaming.

UPDATE/EDIT: I realized, too late, that publishing someone's private e-mails verbatim without permission was a boneheaded, newbie blogger thing to do. I think I just got excited, corresponding with such wonderfully accomplished bloggers. I apologize in advance, and thanks again to Kay and Polly for their gracious advice.

From my last post, you know finishing this sweater was definitely touch and go for a while. But on Saturday, I sent MIL, FIL, Mr. Science and the kids out for a few hours in the morning so I could properly finish the garment uninterrupted. I was quite a pleasant experience, with coffee, my finishing bible by Nancie Wiseman, and the wonderful company of Brenda Dayne.

The side panels of this sweater are in moss, and I had never seamed moss stitch before. I found that if I did a normal ladder stitch, picking up the purl bumps on the edges, it created a nice clean looking seam. It did not, however, create an uninterrupted moss stitch panel. I think if faced with seaming moss again, I will make a stockinette selvedge, to create a neat, uninterrupted moss fabric.

So here is the wonderful MIL modeling her Jules, and I couldn't be happier with the way this project turned out. While I didn't particularly enjoy knitting it, I learned a lot, really successfully focused on the details, ended up with a very nice hand-knitted garment and a very appreciatative recipient. I think it shrunk down a little more than I had expected, and it would look better longer. I told MIL to wash it one more time and put it on a hanger to dry. We'll see how it survives. Now, I am happy to get back to those wool socks for Josh and put that Kimono Angora on my needles!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Coming off a binge ...

So I had to knit another child's King Harald St. Hat since the other child size turned out to be the large one on the left in this picture. I CO on Wednesday am and I'm blocking it today. Phew! How did this place get to be such a mess? My children were doing WHAT? Why do we have no food in the house? And now I understand even more the similarities between knitters and addicts ...

A happy neck

Here's a peek at the super-duper-colors-not-seen-in-nature scarf that she said she wanted to wear "cowboy style."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

What I Didn't Do Yesterday, Or, Feeling Like Sasha Cohen

1. Lanudry
2. Dishes
3. Cook
4. Be particularly attentive to the children
5. Clean bathrooms in anticipation of guests this weekend.
6. Finish Jules, my Olympic goal.

I know that the Olympics are not over until Sunday, and that I cast on Jules many, many weeks before the Olympics. My goal, if you recall, was to present Jules to its recipient, my fabulously fancypants MIL, in person this weekend during her visit.

But alas. I am faltering at the finish line.

See, there were some unfortunate, but unavoidable hurdles. Like that we went bowling on Monday, and after having not bowled for at least 15 years, my forearms were very very sore, making knitting two sleeves with cotton very heavy and unpleasant. (And I lost. Turns out they don't put up the bumpers for grown-ups.) And then there was all the birthday festivities, which included my going to preschool with Rosebud, thus eliminating one major block of knitting time so close to the deadline.

But, in my defense, the judges should reward points for my dogged efforts to finish. To compensate for my aching arms, I separated the sleeves, and knitted each individually. This resulted in more comfortable and more motivating knitting, as progress was quicker. I stayed up well past midnight to finish the first sleeve. I did my finishing out of order to be more efficient, darning ends in as I went. And this morning, I knit at breakfast. I knit throughout lunchtime, and even knit during "special time" with Rosebud, which was an exception she awarded me for today only.

And finally, do I need to remind you that this sweater is in DENIM, so I have to knit everything 20% longer!?!

In this mad burst of knitting during every waking moment, I did manage to finish the sleeves and add the neckband. This afternoon, the shoulders were seamed, beautifully, I might add, with Nancie Wiseman as my guide. This is when I was very, very hopeful, and the fantasies of the presentation began. Should I hang it up on the dresser, or fold it neatly on her bed, so as to surprise her when she puts her bags in the guest room? Or should I wrap it in tissue paper and ribbon and give it to her like a gift?

Then, tonight, I sewed on one sleeve, carefully, beautifully, completely, until I realized it was waaaaay off center, so I picked out the yarn, cursed for about 10 minutes, and set the thing aside for tomorrow, my fantasies of winning the goal crushed by one mistake in the finish.

MIL arrives tomorrow around lunchtime, and her sweater will not be finished.

I decided I would rather MIL have a beautifully finished sweater then just a finished sweater. I may have some time to finish over the weekend, but if it goes in the mail next week, so be it. Tomorrow, I really must focus my attention on creating a presentable home for the in-laws and then we'll focus on the sweater.

I will have a longer post soon with pictures about the magic of denim, as well as recapping my correspondence with Polly and Ann, the denim gurus of all knit bloggers.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A quick project

My sweet preschooler has been asking for new scarf, so what were my options? In between a visit to Ann at the cool new neighborhood coffee shop, a conference with a teacher and a Weight Watchers meeting, I snuck into Lettuce Knit and bought a ball of Berrocco Foliage. Everyone at the shop agreed that it was just perfect for Miss Priss.

(BTW, I can't believe I actually lost weight this week after so many splurges in Philly! Whoohoo!)

I also was determined to figure out the yarn I used for the pullover sweater in my previous post. It's Lana Grossa Tre Mouline. It's very splity, but it's a great sub for Rowan's Cotton Braid. I made the short sleeved button up top from the same book with the Cotton Braid. My only problem with the yarn (besides the price) is that I burn up every time it wear it. Even though it's really pretty and I get tons of compliments, I don't think I could ever make a more substantial piece with it.

Happy Birthday, Rosebud

It's great to be 5!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hot dog or hero?

Yes, I finished my Olympic challenge project waaay before the closing ceremonies, but I did start it about two years ago. So, don't judge me, I'm just trying to have fun.

I'll give this to my mom next month when I see her for her 60th birthday. This scarf will be a bonus. BTW, the Trendsetter Dune yarn looks fabulous next to the Provence. It really dresses it up.

Here are some other finishished projects I haven't shown you:

This sweater is from the Rowan Cotton Braid Book. It's a roomy comfortable sweater that I enjoy wearing. I didn't use the cotton braid for this one. Believe it or not, I can't track down the ball band, and I can't remember what I used. The bell shaped sleeves give a simple pullover a little interest. Yes, it's a wee bit big, but my first attempt was huge. I had to go down a needle size and a pattern size. Yikes!

And finally, my green ribby vest in Taki's Donegal Tweed from the Rowan Classic Woman Book Seven. Even though SD says it looks like a bullet proof vest, I like it. I love the green color with the flecks of purple and organge. I have a ton of this yarn left, so who knows where it will appear again.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Earning Your Knitting, Part 2, Or Knitting While Cleaning

In this week's Knitting Interruptions File, we find weekend visitors (wonderful interruption) and sheetrock work (yucky interruptions) converging, so that I was actually required to clean the house instead of work on Jules during every free moment (have I mentioned how knitting monogamously on a white -- OK, ecru -- knitting project is about to make me truly crazy?? T-minus four days until MIL's arrival. Must. Finish. Jules.). But I have discovered a way to knit while cleaning. Well, not actually knitting -- no enchanted needles here -- but listening to knitting through the magic of Podcasting! See, friends, we can earn our knitting by cleaning the house while listening to knitters talk knitting!

If you haven't begun listening to knitting podcasts, I highly recommend it. I now clean the house with my iPod on, listening to Cast-On and KnitCast, and have a sparkling house to boot! You don't need an iPod to listen, just stream it on your computer.

Knitting is worthy of your time, but spackle dust on your floor is just disgusting.

And as a special XRK Bonus, here is what I posted in response to Cast-On's Brenda's request about Stash.

Stash, to me, is like buying your school supplies in September. As a student, and then as a teacher, there was something so hopeful and full of potential in that trip to the stationery store. That new-folder smell, those pencils with complete erasers. That special excitement when a new school supply was requested by your teacher -- I remember my first jar or rubber cement, and felt an incredible thrill when I first acquired both a protractor and compass.

Those new school supplies, unwrinkled and intact, that held the potential of the best school year ever -- no more lost homework with this Trapper Keeper! And now I get to learn geometry like my older brothers -- I must really be growing up! Or as a teacher, you know that this is the year you will light the lamp of creativity in your students, since you have purchased wonderful bound journals for each and every one of them.

These unused school supplies precede all bad grades, lost assignments, and indifferent students. As does your stash. Stash is that potentially perfect project, lying in wait. Stash is what you have before you forget to account for selvedges or rip that same three inches out for the third time.

Stash is a knitters potential. It promises to erase all the past disasters or uninspired projects, the bad yarn choices, the gauge errors. In my stash, my Manos says this beautiful yarn will make a beautiful garment, and my Noro says this time, your sweater will fit you perfectly. My sock stash promises hand-knitted socks for every day of the week, my Blue Heron, the shawl of my dreams.

Stash Enhancement via Pa.

Straight back from our wonderful weekend at Chez K, I decided to celebrate President's Day by engaging in some commerce. I bought a digital camera, so I could show you my stash enhancement from Yarnings. What a great shop. Liz and I snuck out between big pretzels and double decker cupcake creations to get a fix.

I mostly took advantage of the sock yarn, since my LKS doesn't want to support the habit. I came home with: Fotissima Socka from Schoeller Stahl; two orange balls of Crazy; and two skeins of KPPPM in greens. Now this is my first Koigu purchase. Actually, it's the first time I've even seen the yarn in person. I really didn't have a choice -- I had to bring it home. While I was at it with the sock yarn, I threw in some 0s dpn just for fun.

I also bought some Dune by Trendsetter. I plan on wiping up a scarf to accompany my mom's shell that is so near completion I almost feel like putting it away to start something else. But wait ... I must finish by the closing cermonies!

Finally, thank you to Liz and family for a delightful time. This blog is great, but nothing replaces friends breaking Billy Bread.

XRK Philly PhieldTrip -- Yarnings

Mo and her fantastic family ventured up 95N up to the frigid climes of Philly this weekend to help us celebrate Rosebud's 5th birthday. We ate, had a birthday party, endured through kids' various sleeping dramatics, and of course, took a LYS Field Trip to Yarnings in Skippack, PA. A great yarn shop with a great selection, in a quaint little village that you could spend hours exploring. The shop is in an old house, so there is room after room crammed with beautiful yarn. I, if you can believe it, showing an incredible amount of restraint, bought:

one pattern book (Laines Du Nord Simple Knits 3) -- I am hoping that a shrug pattern in there will work with some Outback Mohair I have have languishing in my stash -- a sweater totally frogged, a terrible reminder of my biggest loser so far.

And only one lonely ball of yarn -- Lang Venezia -- intended for a ruffly edge on my pink Blue Heron wrap. Mo was more prolific, but I will let her post her latest acquisitions.

What a fantastic visit! We enjoyed every minute -- thanks for making the trek to see us.

I didn't mention that I did treat myself to some post-dentist-feeling-sorry-for-myself yarn additions -- some Encore Colorspun for another baby sweater and yarn for my Simply Lace Socks. As soon as we are all ready, we can begin our Simply Lace Socks KAL.

Jules Update: Finished the back and have knit almost 8 inches of both sleeves. MIL comes this week, so we'd better finish. I am planning a "Magic of Denim" report this week as I sprint towards the finish line!

XRK Charity Knitting Project: I would like to nominate the Dulaan Project for our first charity. The deadline is July 1st for the next shipment to Mongolia. Any other nominations?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sorry for more politics ...

I know I have to practice quality posts over quantity ... but this song comes via my sister-in-law and it is hysterical ...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Filling in the gaps ...

So here's the current WIP. Another dratted starfish tam. Although this one is not as funky for me since I worked the kinks out on the first. It's just sailing along.

And here is the class sock I finished the other day. I should have chosen another yarn since this kind is so nubby, but it's what was handy at the time. It fits R, so I'm going to knit her another one to go with it. And then I'll be up for a lace sock knit along ...

Although my friend Sue is coming to visit in about a month and I want to make a uterus rattle for her daughter ... she's a doctor who does a lot of reproductive health stuff ... thought it would be appropriate. I'm going to try to start this in the next week ...

Random thought: why did XM Radio get rid of the World Music station and the African Music station right before Xmas? And why won't they bring them back? They won't respond to my queries ...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney, how do you think our soldiers feel?

This from The Post article by Daniela Deane:

Cheney said that Whittington was laying on his back, bleeding on the ground. "You could see where the shot had struck him," Cheney said. "It was one of the worst days of my life."

The full Cheney interview -- his first public comments on the accident -- will be shown on Fox News Channel at 6 p.m. EST.

Does anyone see a terrifying disconnect here? What kind of game does he think war is? He is truly terrifying. So this interview is also discussed on The Daily Kos ... Dick, were you drinking or not?

Wednesday Knitting Group

I need to first say that yes, I know how lucky I am. I am aware of how special my Wednesday mornings are and I am sincerely thankful. Every Wednesday, parent knitters from the Richmond Waldorf School and friends gather at Good Stuff coffee shop to knit and chat. We have a blast -- what would I do without witty, compassionate, wild, and wise women in my life? Here is Waller explaining how her hat could be used (not really Waller!) for some kind of boobie cover -- and Michelle graciously demonstrating.

The music is always great, Tonia brews up the best beverages, and her son is fast becoming R's best friend. Here she is "learning" to crochet ...

Liz, your post about Earning Your Knitting was passed around the group as was this article in the Post about one's inner and outer life. Very compelling ...

IK: What caught my eye

The Spring IK mostly has "that's pretty, but ..." knits for me. Not many gotta do it now projects. Except for the sock!

Simply Lovely Lace Socks -- Already have the yarn in the stash. Maybe this can be our first XR Knit-Along. What do you think?
Waterlily Top -- This is all wrong -- expensive yarn and full backside coverage. But I kinda like it.
Caftan Pullover -- I just love Norah Gaughan's designs! I will probably never make this, but I think it's beautiful.
Prairie Tunic -- I'm not sure if I could get gauge, but this has me longing for some hot summer days. But not too hot. I wouldn't want to sweat in my hand knits.

IK: a first impression

Not that anyone cares what such a neophyte knitter thinks about these things ... I have no design experience, my style is "grubby mom," and I rarely am attracted to any color other than black, green, purple, or blue.

Breezy Cables -- yes. I will try to knit this. I'm crazy about Aran patterns. I always need pockets. And I think I can make sure the bobbles stay away from my nipples ...
Bobble Blue -- not my style, too many bobbles.
The Caftan -- love it. This is just beautiful. But am confused about what my breasts would do with this opening. After breastfeeding for 4+ years, they don't behave so well now. Maybe this is for more of a straight-lined type person ...
Saddle seam pullover -- ick. I am fascinated by glassblowing however ...
Sunrise circle jacket -- very, very nice. I wouldn't wear it, but I really like the design. And I think the color is gorgeous (am I stepping outside my comfort zone?)
On piece lace pullover and waterlily top -- wouldn't knit these either. The waterlily looks shapeless. The pullover looks grandmotherly.
Seeing Dots cardigan -- I WILL knit this. I love the cuffs, the polkas, the fun design. It looks fancy and playful -- my girls will love it.
Trellis scarf -- This is really elegant looking. I could see knitting this for someone who likes to dress up (meaning something other than my usual dress up playtime with the kids -- the bad pirate, the silly clown, the crying baby, the really sick patient ...).
Aran rose-- don't like this. Something about the ropes with all the angles of the diamonds. I don't have great style, and I do like reinterpretations of traditional patterns, but this was off the mark for me.
Simply lovely lace socks -- love them! Will knit them ...
Rib and cable mitts -- I might make these next week. We keep our heat low. It's often 61degrees when I'm knitting at night. I need these.

Got to head off to knitting group! I'll write more later ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So here I am ...

it's past 11pm, I haven't even started the newsletter I'm supposed to have formatted by now and I'm watching the Olympics, knitting, and sometimes surfing -- dreaming of learning how to drop spindle ...

This woman, Cherri Hankins, is teaching a class in May and I think I have to take it ...

And I finished my little sock -- I'm hooked! What fun ...

btw, Johnny Weir, American figure skater, cracked me up tonight during his profile piece ... and his routine was beautiful.

Big Moment for XRKnits

Hey Y'all, Go to the Big Adventures of Mama-E and check her blogroll. Wow!

My Olympics Challenge

Here's a shot of my mom's shell that I'm trying to finish before the closing ceremonies. Simple, right?

It's in Classic Elite Provence, a golden color cotten yarn that is just beautfiul. I made up the pattern when I couldn't figure out the "fir tree lace" pattern I purchased.

I need to lengthen the shoulder areas, seem and finish off the neck band and arms.

My Little Valentine

While some grumps like to complain about the Hallmark holiday, I celebrate from morning to night. My baby boy arrived on a plane from Korea three years ago today. My sweetie even has a heart shaped birth mark on his right arm!

So, Happy Valentine's Day! Kiss someone you love!

My Romantic Paradigm?

Okay, I'm 38. Born in 1967. Raised in the suburbs. Which puts me squarely in the demographic of women who may have had their romantic paradigm formed by Lloyd Dobler in "Say Anything." Check out the link to the Post article. I must say that, yes, when I think real romance, I do think John Cusack holding the boom box over his head playing "In Your Eyes." (Cameron Crowe did nail it.) Maybe that's why I have adored Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour ever since then. I certainly have adored John Cusack.

I am thrilled to say that I found my Lloyd Dobler. And he is better than I ever imagined from the movie ... ahh, ain't Valentine's Day grand?

Oh, and I did start a "class sock" from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. I think socks are going to be fantistic for "knitting in the gaps" -- between laundry loads, cooking, cleaning, shopping, pick-ups and drop-offs, etc...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Liz's Spring 2006 IK Review

And just so you know how much I miss Richmond, we got 16" of snow over the weekend, and Rosebud had school as usual. This is the view from my front door.

I am still totally breathless from your King Harald Hat. I am in awe. Fair Isle scared the bejeebus out of me, and you made a triumphant debut! How gorgeous. I would be so pissed to have to give it up for the auction. What can I say? I am a selfish knitter.

This was a good week for Knit Mail. I got the new Rowan, and still need to read it about 1000 more times before I can get past the weird headresses and styling of the photos. Some distinct possibilities for future projects in there, though, for sure.

The good news about this issue of IK is that instead of wanting to knit everything and actually knit nothing, there are some definite future projects in there:

Simply Lovely Lace Socks by Karen Baumer: Love them. Need More Sock Yarn. And where do I get those shoes??? I am, however, not planning on working the high-heels-with-socks look.

Pullover Flair by Ann Budd: This just may be the sweater for all that Noro I bought last weekend. Love it.

Breezy Cables Jacket by Kathy Zimmerman: I like the idea of this, because I have had in my mind that I need to do a traditional cream colored aran. So this is a candidate for that category, but not sure if I want a jacket or a traditional pullover.

Caftan Pullover by Norah Gaughan: I am so intrigued by this sweater. It is absolutely beautiful. So sophisticated. I guess the key is going to find a suitable substitute, as this sweater would be wicked expensive with the yarn called for in the pattern

Streakers Shrug by Pam Allen: Mostly because I think it would work with the turquoise Manos lurking in my stash -- was originally going to be a Hot Lava Cardigan.

PomPom Fingerless Mitts by Deborah Newton: But totally without the ridiculous pom pom!

Intriguing, but probably not:

Sunrise Circle Jacket by Kate Gilbert: looks ingenious, but I think it might not be flattering on me. I am thinking football player arms, but I could be wrong.

Drop Stitch Hoodie by Theresa Schabes is nice too, but all those zippers truly intimidate me.

For the Record: This Sweater is not in Spring 06 IK
One critique: There are too many bobbles out there lately, especially ones that are too close to the boobies. Like here for example. Not. Good. The cover sweater does not feature such naughtily placed bobbles, but in the hands of some amateur knitter, one or two sizing errors, and boobie bobbles galore.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Post Project Let Down

So I spent last night basking in the glow of my King Harald Street Hat triumph. The pictures don't do it justice b/c of the way the light reflects off the yarn. I just love this hat -- I loved the whole process of it. I am so glad that it looks good enough to auction -- I haven't done the washing and shaping as recommended, but here are some photos.

Check out the cool star pattern on the top -- I am stoked!

But now I have PPLD, Post-Project Let Down. This is why I must learn to knit socks. I must always have more than one thing going and right now I have nothing! Lots of great Sunday night TV and no knitting ... I may have to just grab some yarn from the stash and just start.

Liz, I loved your post on earning knitting time. You speak the truth. I realize more and more that I really love the process of the knitting more than the product -- I mean I care deeply about the product (I am the Queen of tearing out mistakes), but it's the creation of it that is the buzz for me. That's why when I'm done, I just want to move on to the next thing ...

So I need an easy beginner sock pattern -- Mo, let me know if you have a good one ...

Until then, I'm going to study the new Interweave Knits -- let me know what you guys think of this issue. I see some good stuff in there ...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Real Reason I Didn't Join the Knitting Olympics

One pro of moving back to Philly for us has been the giant step up in cuisine. Not only do we have regular trips to Trader Joes, we buy fresh Amish produce and Italian products from real Italians! So, last night Mr. Science and I hosted my mom and my lovely sister last night for a little Italian feast in honor of the Opening Ceremonies. We had pasta with shrimp and peas, garlicky escarole, long breadsticks and Italian bread spread with Nutella, which, according to our research, are both products of Torino. Sister brought three flavors Capogiro Gelato and we had excellent canolli, too. Mom brought more Piedmont favorites: Barbera, Barolo, and Barbaresco. The following occured:

That's me working on Jules. And joining this new Knitting Olympics Team:

I just knew I wasn't cut out for competitive knitting. The goal, though, is to finish Jules before MIL comes to visit in two weeks.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Earning Your Knitting

Ann, Mo and I were talking about this same thing. Like the incredible vortex of time-suckage that blogland has become. And all the things we should be doing instead of blogging, or instead of knitting. We even tried to come up with a rule or a limit to how long we should blog daily, or set a time of day aside...

We all have things we should be doing instead of knitting. For example, instead of knitting, or in this moment, blogging, I should be cleaning the guest room in anticipation of my sister spending the night here tonight. Never mind interacting with the kids, cleaning the kitchen , organizing the office, etc...

When I first stayed home with Rosebud, I felt like I needed to be productive, like I had to "earn" the right to be home, especially after having been an extraordinarily busy working person. I was a type-A teacher, always wanting the awards, the committee chairmanship, writing the most creative lessons, and working overtime to save every kid. I was working lawyer-like 80 hour weeks and I earned a teacher-like paycheck and a penchant for panic attacks in faculty meetings.

So as I stayed at home for the first months with the world's hungriest daughter, I remember it was you, Ann, my motherhood guru and sanity restorer, who convinced me that sitting on the couch, nursing Rosebud and reading long John Irving books was in fact, doing something, and that I needed to simply submit to it. While it looked like nothing, feeding and reading was, actually, something. Something valuable to do with my time.

Thus began my process of redefining "productivity." And it changed my whole perspective on life as a stay-at-home Mother. I gave up on this Perfect Mother syndrome that so many of our generation seem to be caught up in. No more "motherhood is my job," so I must do a great job. Instead of rushing around with the kids to enriching activities or playgroups, I remember submitting to "Toddler Time," realizing that whether we got to the story time 10 minutes late (or if we made it at all) would not really matter. The Almighty Tenet of Motherhood #1 of "the Child Must Be on a Schedule" turned more into, "we have a routine, a mostly predictable flow with room for spontaneity and special times." I decided to (ready for another bit of Ann's wisdom) do less, and just be more. No more "chores first, then knitting." Dinner was a goal for every day, laundry for most, and knitting a must.

Motherhood is not my job. I don't have a job, and I don't need to conduct my day like a regular working person. Motherhood is the central role of my life, along with wife-dom and friend-hood and daughtering and sistering. And knitting too. But none of this is my job. This is my life, and how very very fortunate am I to have a day-to-day existence that is about my life and not about a job.

I no longer need to rationalize how I spend my time. Reading is worthy of my time, even when laundry needs to be done. Knitting is too. So off I go to work on Jules.

Happy Opening Ceremonies, y'all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No Knitting Olympics Here ...

I am definately enjoying the process! Martha Knitting Queen says that I am a "hurts so good" knitter -- I love a challenge (every project challenges me since I've only been knitting 2 years!). I would say that you, Liz, are as well! There is also a "get your freak on" knitter who sees a project, falls in love with it, and attacks it (Mo?). There's another type I forgot ... Martha, post the other type and any corrections!

OK Christina, this is for you: Do I need to earn my knitting time? For example, this afternoon -- kids fighting, dishes piled up in the sink, a bed full of clean, unfolded laundry, and a laundry room filled with dirty laundry -- and I'm blissfully knitting ... is this wrong? or is this just enjoying the finer things in life? Okay, I tend to stop when the kids are fighting ... at the end of a row, anyway ....

Let me update you on the starfish (former jellyfish).

Here is the jellyfish -- before I knew the correct placement of the decrease.

Here is the starfish -- after Martha Knitting Queen set me straight.

So the Waldorf knitting group is knitting four (2 for adults, 2 for children) of the King Harald Street Hat from The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. 2 sets of colors, 4 colorways. I have a child's hat to knit, but the pattern was not sized for a child, so this is my first real tinkering with pattern in a significant way.

Here is my pattern -- I was frustrated with figuring out the math of it, but I think it will be alright in the end.

Here is the hat so far. It is hard to get a good picture of it. It's knit with Jamieson Spindrift on 2s and 3s and is just delicious to work with. The colors are the most fabulously shaded heathers. The wonderful people at LK were great with helping us pick out replacement colors. I'll post again when the family of hats is done!

I want to design a sweater for myself next ... although I should be knitting from the stash ... anyway, back to earning my knitting ...

Knitting Olympics -- My Thoughts

Obviously, those of us in blogland know about Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics. I don't know about you, but I am not participating. I have too many WIPs and things in the queue, and am feeling a bit like a scattered knitter lately. So when I came across this button on this blog, I finally found the team for me. I am going to work on Jules, work on Josh's wool socks, and maybe do some swatching. I'm going to release the frustration of G is G and knit for the pleasure. No deadlines, no stress.

This button is what finally gave me the motivation to start figuring out this blog thing a little bit more than knit, write, and post. My HTML skills are rusty to say the least, but I have made some minimal improvements. Whaddya think?

And When She Was Good...

...she was very very good...

A Finished Object!

Green is for G, design based on Child's Placket Neck Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Halvorsen
Booties are from 50 Baby Booties to Knit by Zoe Mellor
Yarn Used: Schachenmayr Catania and Crazy Cotton

Project Notes: This was an ill-conceived project from the start. Here's what I should know by now: when you need to finish a project quick, please please please just pick a pattern, then pick an equivalent yarn, and just knit the damn pattern. When you want to get from string to FO in about a week, why why why was I going to design my own? Was I nuts? This was a case of falling in love with yarn. Remember what my original plan was for my gift to G? Booties. With stash. For a California Baby who doesn't need a sweater, right? OK, so what happened, you ask? Well, yarn love happened. I went to the LYS, went to the Baby Yarn room, and had every intention of walking out with nothing, or maybe a ball or two of Baby Cashmerino, and walked out in love with this Crazy Cotton yarn. I decided I could knit Devan, a baby sweater with sock yarn. Of course, since I am currently obsessed with sock yarn. But then I panicked about that pattern. Matching up stripes? On a cardigan? Never gonna work. So then I was going to just use the shape of a Rowan baby sweater from Pipsqueaks. Started that. Panicked again about matching stripes from front to back. So then I went with an EZ yoked sweater. So I hunkered down with the calculator and a great desire to do mathematics based on what was now my swatch (which the day before was actually the back of the Rowan copy sweater) and with that urge to design my first sweater (see lengthy post).

Are you following me? Well, when I got to the yoke shaping based on the EZ percentage system, I chickened out. Math scared me. I ran screaming and spent a day working on Jules.

Another trip to the LYS for another ball of the Catania Green (bought 2, just in case!), and stumbled on this pattern, that is essentially the idea that I had. I thought the raglan shaping would look good with the striped yoke, which was my idea for the EZ sweater anyway. So with a crazy ratio of minimal ripping to maximum stitch dropping and cursing, I pressed on with my pattern, and finished the damn thing yesterday.

I know this is a long story (as usual), and I even left out the other trip to the other LYS to purchase additional needles, and the ugly armpits that I am just living with (note the placement of the booties). Just happy to have the thing done.

Of course, a California Baby doesn't need a sweater, so why did I even make this? Ill-conceived from the start...

And when she was bad, she was horrid...

See the big shopping bag? It was FULL of yarn. LYS. Super bowl mystery sale. Pick out yarn, get secret discount at register. I got 15% off and and a big ole bag of yarn.

See all that yarn? That's a sweater's worth of Silk Garden, three balls of Kimono Angora, three balls of Katia Jamaica, and two more skeins of Koigu to add to the sock stash. And remember the dress I got on discount? That's how I rationalized buying a big ole hank of Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic to make a wrap to go with the dress.

And this came in the mail. Two skeins of Socks that Rock. More for the sock stash. It's getting scary around here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Rat Spa is Closed

I'm finally ready to tell the whole story. And I promise to take a photo of the awesome fair isle hat that I'm working on ... as well as the starfish hat which I finally finished (thank you Martha!). But first you must hear my long, disgusting tale of the rats ...

For years now, we have had "squirrel" problems ... we started noticing the scratching sounds in the wall and ceiling of the kitchen about 4 years ago. Then we trapped some squirrels in the attic which seemed to confirm our theory that the squirrels were entering our attic through a hole and then nesting in our upstairs wall and kitchen ceiling.

But for the past year, we've had Critter Control out with no luck finding where the critters were getting in -- all the holes seemed to be closed, but we still heard the sounds -- and they were getting worse. Finally, we found some droppings before the holidays in our workroom in the basement that had fallen through a hole in the base of the upstairs wall (or the ceiling of the workroom).

We looked on the web to figure out whose scat it was -- I was determined that it be squirrel and would always find sites that made it look like it was. But a week and a half ago, Keith from Critter Control came out and immediately said, "rats!" Augh!

He hypothosized after checking the house for entry points that they were coming up through the sewer line and emerging from some broken or uncapped pipe somewhere. Well, after a very uneasy night, I had some plumbers come out to look at the pipes. They didn't want anything to do with the problem: "You have a pest problem not a plumbing problem, that will be $90." errrr.

So the next day, after another uneasy night, I found some plumbers (Stemmle Plumbing) who would put a camera through the pipes (a "see snake") to see if there was a breach in the plumbing (Peter said he thought they were like vascular surgeons, they liked that). They found a hole in the base of the sewer pipe under our slab in the workroom and thought that maybe the rats had a cavern underneath this that somehow led them up into our walls. It seemed like a possible scenario, but we'd have to jack hammer up the foundation to find out for sure.

So after a weekend of uneasy nights, they came and spent from 8:30 to 6:30 working on the plumbing. These guys were awesome -- very funny, very nice, and very capable ... Unfortunately, there was no cavern. And the repairs totalled $1400. At this point, we'd spent $1900 total on the rats, but no solution had been found.

So the next day, we called Keith again. He came out immediately and I told him to just start taking down the ceiling. I figured once we tore it down, we could see exactly what was going on. The first hole that he popped out let loose a rain of rat droppings all over the kitchen (luckily we did have a drop cloth over most of it). Then came the smell. It was just awful. I realized that we might find some yucky dead rats up there, or live ones, so I scrambled to find someone to watch the kids (who were hypnotized by the whole thing).

Peter came home from work and he and Keith worked taking down the ceiling and part of the wall in the girls' room for over four hours before finally, they found the answer. We had been looking at the underneath of the pipes for a hole (the typical spot), and the breach was actually in the top of the pipe that leads directly from the upstairs toilet. It was a 10in by 2in hole in the top of the pipe probably from a small crack that the rats had then clawed through over time. Why hadn't we smelled raw sewage? Remember the earlier plumbing problem? The hole in the pipe at the base of the foundation allowed ground water to seep in that acted as a water trap for the odors. We only smelled something "off" when the ground water dried up (usually in the summer when it was over 90 degrees). We now remember saying things like: "we shouldn't have left that diaper in the trash" or "have you done the litter lately?" or "wow, that cat food stinks!" or "did someone forget to flush?"

When Peter and Keith told me they had found it, I was so incredibly thrilled -- you would have thought I'd won the lottery! The rats had been coming up from the sewer, nesting in the ceiling and then dipping back into the pipe when they needed a bite to eat. (that would be our waste ....) But the Reavey-Gilbert Rat Spa is now officially closed!

We put temporary patches on the holes and Willie the plumber was out the next morning to fix the pipe. The best part was that Willie cut us a huge break (probably charged us only 20%) on the plumbing bill and, this is just amazing, Keith from Critter Control didn't charge us at all. He said that he learned so much working on our job and that he was just happy to have figured it out. So he asked us to not pay him but to cut a check for what we thought it was worth and donate it to the local foodbank which we have done. It's nice to know that my awful rat problem has helped families in need. These were some fantastic people who helped us out ...

So now, after seeing my kitchen covered with rat feces and sewage (replacing the pipes was pretty messy), I want a new kitchen. As does Peter. As does my mother who is lending us the money. We're not doing anthing really fancy, but it needs to be done!

In the meantime, after bleaching the entire area 3 times, we're back using the space again until we get the cabinets, etc. in and all the contractors lined up. Hopefully, in a few months, we'll have a sparkling new kitchen. Rat free for good.

Still no knitting

Isn't it strange? I start a knitting blog with my friends, and then I stop knitting. What's up with that?

Girl's night out was a hoot. Some interesting info was disclosed, much of it not suitable for print in a family-friendly blog like this. But here's some info I can reveal:
* Cindy knows the sex of the baby, but isn't telling anyone. Not even Ryan. She did cry when she found out, so is that a clue?
* Mary gets so tired during the day that sometimes she pulls the van over on the side of the road and goes to sleep in the back with the kids. Sometimes they are less than a mile away from home!
* Jen still gets up a 5 a.m. to exercise. She looks awesome and is tearing up the financial planning world. She's passing all her exams and is licensed to make some money!
* Amy is working on finding out if Evan has a milk allergy. The poor guy has had a rough time, so we're hoping they get a resolution.

In other news, we had our Lunar New Year Party last night. Miss Priss helped me make dumplings and rice crispy treat sushi with gummies on top and fruit roll up for the seaweed. It was very authentic. This year we had my "old" friends from college and pre-kids days over for the event. In my mind, I was hoping to create a "do over" for the new year. I wanted to erase the past month and start over. While that's silly and just impossible, it was incredible to be with so many people I really love and have known for some many years ... some close to 20 years!

I had a awesome first week with Weight Watchers. I'm done being grouchy about it (most days) and starting to kind of enjoy it. It still occupies most of my mental energy. I need to get to the point that I can share some space with my knitting 'cause I'm not started a weight loss blog.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Having a Drink with the Girls

In honor of Monday's Mom's Night Out, I had a drink in your honor at the Villanova v. Louisville game. Miss you all, Cindy, Mary, Amy, Jen & Mo.