Saturday, June 30, 2007


I'm not sure why, but the knitting has slowed to a crawl. I've kind of hit a wall with the projects I've got going, and I'm reluctant to cast on anything new, because I'll get antsy if I've got too much stuff on the needles.

The first monkey sock is finished, has been for a little over a week, and the second . . . well, I've finished the ribbing plus one pattern repeat.
The glee is still on the raglan increases (it's knit from the top down) and as there are more and more stitches on the needle, each row takes longer and longer, and it's just stockinette stitch . . . well, it's a really cute sweater but not super-entertaining to knit.
As for the montego bay scarf, I've been keeping that in Baby Sister's room, because sometimes she needs to have somebody in the room with her as she's falling asleep. You don't need to hold her or rock her, just be there, so I figured having a knitting project in there would be a good idea. I hope I'm not ruining my eyes knitting by her little lamp.

Since I haven't been very motivated to knit, I've turned my craftiness to other pursuits. There are the stitch markers, and I've also been trying to forge a relationship with my sewing machine. It's kind of bitter because it lived in its box for a while after I got it. Okay, for four years after I got it. Ahem. This week, though, it's been put to use doing a bit of recycling.

The top picture is a knitting bag made from a sweater that had a washing-machine accident. Those pins on it are from Jane Jenni, and they are totally cute. The bottom picture is a pair of pillows for my couch, made from a skirt that no longer fits. They look better in the picture; the one in the back, especially, is a bit lumpy. I love that print, though. My big sewing project, which I will start soon, I swear, will be a quilt made from all sorts of scraps of tee-shirts, clothes that the kids have outgrown, anything that has a memory attached. I'm looking forward to working up the courage to start on it. :)

Friday, June 29, 2007

summer storms

Well, the couple of days we had of 90-something degree, steamy-humid weather went out with a bang yesterday. We got a great show of wind and hail in the afternoon, and there are tree limbs and other debris all over my neighborhood today. I like watching the summer storms, and thankfully none of my kids hide under the bed from the noisy thunder. Of course, if I lived in an area where a summer thunderstorm often means the risk of a life-threatening tornado, I'm sure my opinion would be different. As it is, whenever there is a heat wave, I watch the weather reports to see when the storms will come, and I spend lots of time the predicted day looking up at the sky.

After the storm, because it didn't last all that long, we went to a presentation at the local library by Mad Science. I had never seen it before, and it was great. It was a guy in a lab coat, doing mostly low-tech but really exciting demonstrations. The best part: he explained the science behind everything he was doing, why it worked, etc. He even had the kids go through the scientific method (not that he called it that) by starting off each demo with a problem, and having the kids brainstorm ideas. So cool. The boys and their friend sat in the front row and raised their hands to answer every question, which they never do when we go to these types of things. Little Brother was so excited he kept bouncing in his seat, slowly moving it backward until it was practically in the lap of the lady behind him, and I would have to go apologize and pull him forward. He was laughing so hard he didn't even notice. My strongest endorsement: I brought knitting with me, and I never pulled it out.

eye candy Friday: avocado baby

Monday, June 25, 2007

bad news and good news

I've got a few things to complain about this evening. Sorry in advance.

  • My tooth still hurts. It will be pulled on July 17th, which is a long time from now, if you hadn't noticed. In the meantime they've given me some extra-strong ibuprofen and some antibiotics. All my qualms about the overprescribing of antibiotics and the end of the world occurring in an epidemic of resistant bacteria have flown out the window because my tooth hurts.
  • We've got flying ants (again) in the basement. This first happened a couple of years ago - we noticed all these little winged things in the laundry room. J, being the scientific mind that he is, looked up "termites" and kept coming up to me with these little things caught in a pair of tweezers saying things like, "Does this look like it has two body segments or three?" And I, being the wimpy girly girl that I am, kept saying "Ew! Get that thing away from me!" We called the exterminator and told him we didn't think it was termites. He told us, in the spirit of not getting our hopes up, I guess, that everybody always said they didn't think it was termites and it was usually termites. He came and took a look and he actually whistled - not a sound you want to hear from the exterminator. But it turned out that it wasn't termites (ha!), it was flying ants, and they had come in where the water pipe from the street comes into the basement. This is apparently an awesome location because they've come back every year, albeit significantly less.
  • It's going to be ninety degrees the next couple of days. I try not to complain too much, but I just can't stand the summer heat. Everybody always thinks a teacher's favorite season must be summer, but not me. I'm trying to plan as many air-conditioned activities as I can: story hour at the library, getting their pictures taken at the mall. I'm open to any suggestions. :)

But there's good stuff too!

  • Baby Sister is really starting to walk! She has been standing for a while now, and would take a couple of teetering steps before launching herself, giggling, into the arms of the nearest person, but she was perfectly content to keep crawling. She was a pretty fast crawler, too. But lately she has been getting braver and braver, covering greater distances. I just love how proud of themselves babies look when they begin to walk.
  • I finished the first monkey sock, and dutifully cast on for the second, although I really need to learn that two socks at once thing. The monkey is such a cute sock - I'm really loving it. Cookie is a genius.
  • I made some stitch markers, using this tutorial. Because I needed an addictive new hobby! Seriously, though, these are really fun. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them yet, but I'm having a good time trying things out. I've had those silverware beads since high school!

Glad I could end on a good note. I hope to take some WIP pictures soon - as soon as my projects look significantly different from the last time I posted pictures about them. :)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

this morning

4AM cuddle
Baby Sister, warm and soft
I don't mind the hour

every breath I take
filtered through her baby hair
smells like her shampoo

in the nighttime dark
latched on to my face to nurse
laughed at her mistake

Friday, June 22, 2007

this is why they are the professionals

For several years, my dentist has been telling me that my wisdom teeth should probably come out. My response has generally been Yeah, sure, as soon as I have an extra thousand dollars, I'll get right on that. I have also made much use of the I'm pregnant or I'm nursing excuses. To be honest, I kind of thought it was a scam - every person about my age that I know has been told that their wisdom teeth need to come out. Isn't there anybody whose wisdom teeth come in just fine, have plenty of room, and do not cause any trouble? I thought I was that person. They certainly seemed to have room, everything seemed to be doing okay. I reminded myself that as an adolescent, I was told I would probably need braces and should go see an orthodontist. I didn't, and my teeth are just fine. They are not perfect Hollywood teeth, but small children do not generally run away from me, even ones that are not mine. I figured the whole wisdom teeth thing was kind of like that, and I was shrewdly seeing through their evil corporate plot to yank money out of me, not to mention teeth. Plus, the dentist is scary.

Well, I am now preparing to hear a great big I-told-you-so, because the right half of my head feels like a size-9 foot squeezing into a size-6 shoe. I am mentally steeling myself for bruised, swollen cheeks, salt-water swishing, the possibility of saying something very rude while under the influence of nitrous oxide. The only thing I am kind of looking forward to is sending J to a restaurant to get two orders of mashed potatoes to go, like he did to me when he got his done. I was big and pregnant at the time, and not a few jokes were made that it's supposed to be the husband going out to get odd foods for the pregnant wife, not the other way around. People are comedians, I tell you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

quite contrary

Being the youngest by six years, as well as the only girl, Baby Sister has been gifted with a father and two brothers intent on spoiling her. Fine, a father, a mother, and two brothers intent on spoiling her. It really can't be helped; she's so darn cute. But lately the situation has maybe started to get a little out of hand.

I think the Terrible Twos are beginning about ten months early. Actually, I say that because it's kind of what one is expected to say about a 14-month-old asserting her personality, but I'm not entirely crazy about the term "Terrible Twos" to begin with. For one thing, she really is just asserting her personality, and isn't that what we want our kids to be able to do (kindly, of course)? The Yarn Harlot had a terrific post about this not too long ago, a birthday message for her daughter, in which she said (I'm paraphrasing here) that it is kind of contradictory for us to want our kids to listen to what we say unquestioningly when they are children but be able to think for themselves when they are adults. I couldn't agree more, so when Baby Sister makes it known that she would really like a string cheese right now, or she has absolutely no interest in being hugged by her brothers, I try to keep it in perspective. Plus, why on earth do we insist on calling our kids terrible? Still, sometimes she can be a tad exasperating.

The scene: Baby Sister is in her highchair, having finished all of her lunch but half a graham cracker, and is starting to whine a little bit. "Baby Sister, do you want to come out?" I ask, and she replies with some more of the "enh, enh, enh" sound she was making. (She's not all that vocal yet.) "Out?" I ask again, this time signing "out" to her. Side note: We started signing to her when she was about 7-8 months old, in addition to talking to her, showing her things, etc., and it worked out really well. She picked up on it fairly quickly, and could sign things like "eat," "more," and "bed" well before she would have been able to say them. It has made her more able to tell us what she wants, and she certainly does. I do sometimes wonder if that has anything to do with her not being all that vocal yet, though. But anyway. So she signs "out" back to me, and I clean her up and start to reach for the strap of the highchair to unbuckle her. She begins shaking her head vehemently, whining and pushing my hands away. I stop and ask her again if she wants to come out, she signs "out" so I go to unbuckle her again. She does the same thing but this time I unbuckle her anyway and when I get the buckle undone she puts her hands up in the air and exclaims, "Ta da!" Then she notices the half a graham cracker and decides lunch is maybe not over after all. Sigh.

I guess in a big-ish family (it seems that three kids is considered a big family these days) one has to stand up for oneself. Even if we weren't all intent on spoiling her, I don't think I'd be worried about Baby Sister.

Another side note: I realized that on Father's Day I posted about my dad but I didn't really say much about my husband. This was not intentional and in no way meant to imply anything about his fathering skills. I feel kind of bad about it; J is a great dad. He plays with the kids, teaches them things like how to change a tire, shares their fanatical interest in cars, builds them things like sandboxes and toy trucks and a playroom. He is our designated and fabulous weekend cook, introducing them to things they would never have eaten for me, like salmon, Brussels sprouts, garlic bread. Happy Father's Day to you too, hon. I love you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

father's day

Reasons I love my dad:

  • He is fiercely loyal and protective.
  • His fab wardrobe - he has innumerable Boston Red Sox attire, a shirt and socks with flames on them (for backyard grilling, of course), and a pair of snakeskin boots for which he has been endlessly ridiculed by his loved ones.
  • He sings along with 50's doo-wop songs whenever he hears them.
  • He is sentimental. He cried when he met each of my kids for the first time; he even cried when I told him what Little Brother's middle name was going to be. The pictures of him walking me down the aisle on my wedding day are a sight to behold.
  • He got into all sorts of trouble when he was a kid and he doesn't mind telling us his stories.
  • He is really talented with tools and woodworking. He has transformed several houses from places that you wanted to take a shower after being in to light, airy, incredibly well-organized places.
  • His friends call him Happy, to the point where some of them don't actually know his real name.
  • He is always there for my sister and me.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I promise I'll come visit when you retire to Florida.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

saturday sky


Here is my lovely soft Inca alpaca yarn transitioning from the turtleneck shrug to a glee pullover. I was just never happy with the way the stitches looked in the ribbing, specifically the first stitch in every rib. It looked all wonky, I think you can even see it in the picture. I'd like to blame the yarn but it was probably just me. I would definitely like to try this pattern again someday, though.

Also in transition: some felted bowls. J seriously needs some organization to the top of his dresser, and I'm hoping these will help. Here are some before & after felting shots. I was happy with the results, especially considering that I was just kind of making it up as I went along and I hadn't really done much felting before. :)

The last thing on my needles (besides the montego bay scarf that I mentioned previously) is a pair of monkey socks. All the cool kids are doing it! Funny how as soon as you start knitting socks, you must always have a pair of socks in progress, no matter what else you are doing. Is that just me? They're not really in "transition," so there goes my theme, but I have just turned the heel, so maybe that counts. These are made from some Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, the colorway is I think called forest, and the picture is not even close to the color they actually are. Oh well, you can still see the fabulous stitch pattern.

My boys are in transition, though, as Friday was their last day of school. Forgive me for using this space to shamelessly brag about my kids, but they really had a great year. Little Brother's teacher praised his "extraordinary capability" and "wonderful sense of humor," (is that code for "makes smart remarks all day"?) and Big Brother wrote a really touching essay on "the person I admire most." He chose his baby sister, how sweet is that? An excerpt:

"She is cute because she has a pink face when she first wakes up. It reminds me of her pink binky. She has a small nose. It is small like a marble. She has blue eyes that remind me of the ocean with dark hair that reminds me of the night sky. She is so cute I wouldn't trade her for $1,000,000,000."

I wouldn't trade any of them.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"knitting group"

summer project

Old Friend called me the other day to say, "I have some really big news and no, I'm not pregnant." Which would have actually been my first guess. The big news, however, was that she had just become the proud owner of an entire fleece. An entire fleece. Holy crap.

Let me clarify, neither of us spin and both of us are relatively new knitters. But we went to the wool festival a few weeks ago and saw all the spinning and sheep shearing and dyeing and it all looked pretty cool. So she happened to mention this to her grandmother, who is also a knitter and crocheter, and her grandmother said, "You know, your uncle just throws out the fleece when he shears his sheep. I can see if he'll give it to you if you want."

This all sounded pretty casual and hypothetical to me, happening sometime in an undetermined future, but suddenly there's a ginormous bag of wool sitting in Old Friend's driveway. I feel kind of bad posting about this now because although we have started the washing process (we have no idea what we are doing, we're working off an internet tutorial that I'll link to when I do a more detailed post, but we have at least managed to keep it from felting so far) and taken some pictures, I don't actually have said pictures to show right now. But it had been a few days since I last posted and frankly, my life's been pretty boring. The one interesting thing from the weekend was my cousin's very atypical bridal shower, where a.) Indian food was served - yum! - b.)the bride dropped the f-bomb twice and c.)she opened an oil-and-vinegar bottle? cruet? dispenser of some kind and exclaimed "It's a bong!" Plus I have not gotten to do a lot of knitting, so there's not much to show there either.

I will keep updating the state of the fleece as it progresses. And if anybody has any advice, please share!

Friday, June 8, 2007

eye candy Friday: morning walk

What, you thought I could resist putting in a cute picture of Baby Sister? Come on.

*edited to add: I just found another post from today entitled "morning walk" that totally shames mine. Check it out! Gorgeous, right?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

close enough

We went out to dinner last night, at Typical Family-Oriented Chain Restaurant, because we are nothing if not original, and during dinner Little Brother leaned over to me and said conversationally, "Mom, when a man is close enough to kiss you, he's close enough to kill you." Whaat???
Turned out he was reading it off of one of the movie posters hung on the wall. I guess he thought they were pointers for the improvement of one's restaurant conversation.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

what my needles have been up to

It's been forever since I have written anything about what I've been knitting, and I have been knitting. In fact, lately a bunch of the projects that are always bouncing around in my head have been making their way to my needles. I wanted to make a cable-y hat using this Jo Sharp cashmere/merino/silk yarn I had:

Yes, it is as soft as it sounds like it would be. And yes, I ran out of yarn at the top. And speaking of running out of yarn, I started a pair of pedicure socks for my sister, using this angora/wool yarn that I got at a knitting group yarn swap back in February. I didn't really use the knitty pattern, just the idea of making toeless socks for wearing after a pedicure (she, unlike me, actually does get them). I only had the one skein, but I figured that they wouldn't have the toes, and I would make them ankle socks, and I would have enough.

Nope. I got a little farther than this, but not much. I never had the ball band, so although I know the brand, I don't know the colorway. Plus I was kind of trying to use it up, not buy more. So I don't know what will happen with these. Sorry Sis.

I also had wanted to make a lacy baby tank top out of the leftovers from my lacy top, the tea rose halter.

Of course it looks better on a "proper model," as Grumperina would say.

And lastly (see what happens when you wait so long to post about your knitting??), there are a couple of the montego bay scarves from the current issue of IK. The first was out of Patons SWS on size 10.5 needles, and it went superfast. The second is out of Koigu on size 7 needles, and it is going considerably slower.

Whew! I think that's everything. My head's a little lighter now, but I'm sure it will fill up again soon.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

relay again

It's quiet around here today, with the menfolk gone. Right now I'm sure they are eating bacon cooked on the little camp stove and donning their NASCAR gear. I'd love to think that it includes some sort of earplugs, but I'm a realist.
So Baby Sister and I have the house to ourselves, an all-weekend slumber party. Last night we painted each other's toenails, talked about boys, and watched The Breakfast Club. I awoke this morning to find she had frozen my bra. Little hooligan.

But she certainly wasn't a hooligan at the Relay for Life on Friday. She, in fact, won the Good Baby award, falling asleep at a somewhat reasonable time and staying asleep until the sun came up. She was surprisingly un-crabby and loving the endless laps in the stroller the whole time.

It was a great event. Early in the evening, there was a lot of chatter as people set up their tents, put out their decorations (there was a beach/luau theme this year):

We all walked the initial team lap to start off, then took shifts as the night wore on. I really like this first picture, Old Friend's mom, in her Cancer Survivor shirt and sash, flanked by her kids.

As night fell, they lit the luminarias, paper bags with names of people who have fought this disease. Most were friends or family of the people who had decorated and dedicated them, although I did see one for Frank Zappa. They looked beautiful, a line of soft light stretching around the track.

There were some in the bleachers too.

I walked a total of 8.5 miles, about average for the group. This makes it sound like the event was a health-and-exercise-fest, but really people were plying you with pizza and doughnuts every time you turned around. The champeen walker (and maybe eater) for our group was my brother Rock Fan. He walked 20 miles and literally did not sleep the whole time. As he finished his 20th mile, we made a finish line for him out of a couple of jump ropes and gave him a standing ovation. He was thoroughly embarrassed.

Here he is about two seconds later.

So now everybody is catching up their sleep, recovering from the junk food and the walking and the 2am Trivial Pursuit. I think I'll go do that now.