Wednesday, August 29, 2007

last day

Yesterday was the boys' unofficial Last Day of Summer Vacation. Technically, they go back to school tomorrow, but today there were doctor's appointments (they're both healthy, thanks for asking) and other miscellaneous errands that needed to get done. So yesterday was the last opportunity to do something fun. To fulfill this requirement, Old Friend and I took our kids to the Ecotarium in Worcester, MA. I had never heard of this place, but it was really cool. It's kind of a science museum/zoo/playground and nature trails. The exhibits inside were similarly varied: there was one on circles,

one on insects,

and some birds of prey, among lots of other things.

The kids had a blast, especially at the circles exhibit. (Yep, I'm pretty sure I passed along that math nerd gene.) They also communed with a turtle.

Mesmerizing . . . as if they'd never seen a turtle before.

Plus, we saw this!

I don't know whether or not we ended our summer on a clam, but I think we ended it well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

beach, knitting

Alternate title: A Weekend in Two Parts

Part 1
After my mother-in-law passed away, my father-in-law spent a lot of time at the beach. Specifically, South Shore beach in Little Compton, RI. He would go often after dark, listen to the waves, smell the ocean. It eventually became a larger family tradition, and Saturday we all went to the beach in the evening to spend some time together. The nice thing about South Shore is that it is small, not really crowded, and you are allowed to light a fire and cook on the beach. It was about 90 degrees when we left, but at the shore it had to be 30 degrees cooler and very overcast. As we cooked and ate, and some of us went in the ocean, the fog steadily rolled in. Even those of us who hadn't gone near the water were soaked by the time we left. I had forgotten my camera, but it didn't really matter - all the pictures would have been gray and misty.

I was very thankful for J's sense of direction on the way home. This was brought home even more when, as we drove down a foggy street, the taillights of the car in front of us (and that's all you could see, taillights) moved strangely - kind of up and down. We pulled over and there was the car, half in somebody's driveway, half perched on a stone wall. Both airbags had deployed, but the teenage girl inside was primarily concerned about her mother's reaction. "My mom's gonna kill me," were, I believe, her exact words. We stayed until the police arrived, told them what we had seen (not a whole hell of a lot), and went on our way. I'd say we did so a bit more carefully, but J is a pretty careful driver anyway. The kids, especially Little Brother, were wide-eyed and silent as they waited in the car. They seemed to feel better when we assured them nobody got hurt, but it was the first car accident they'd seen and it was admittedly pretty freaky. The dark, the dense fog, the near complete silence that exists at night in a place like Little Compton . . . ooooohh. Like Halloween come early.

Part 2
Knitting content!

I finished the toe-up socks I'd been working on. I called them "alpaca footies" on the sidebar and on Ravelry because they are very short one-skein socks. I like short socks, though, and the color and softness are quite nice.

yarn: J. Knits Softee Alpaca needles: size 1 Addis pattern: just swatched, measured, and went

Do you believe that the things you knit hold of bit of your experiences while knitting them? If so, these are very happy socks: I worked on them primarily while listening to the Yarn Harlot's talk and while driving around upstate New York.

Speaking of happy things, I scored a great deal at EJ Yarn's last weekend before they close on the 31st. I have to say I wasn't that surprised that the store isn't staying open. It always seemed to be empty, and it hadn't really kept upwith knitting trends - lots of novelty yarn but next to no sock yarn, a lot more acrylic than wool, etc. Still, they did have some nice yarns and I was happy to scoop some up at 60% off. I got a bunch of Cotton Fleece,

some Blizzard,

and the last skein of purple Baruffa Maratona becasue I had one at home that might have been lonely. I used the purple right away to start Baby Sister's BSJ (sorry, no pictures yet) so I'd have something simple to work on at work. I've been teaching the Kaplan SAT test prep classes, as I mentioned before, and every few weeks they have a practice test for me to proctor. I figured this would be four hours of paid knitting time, (yay!) but I tell you, the total silence made me painfully aware of every tiny click my needles made and the fact that I make weird faces when I'm concentrating on knitting quietly. I gave up after about an hour and started writing that blogging rite of passage, a "100 Things About Me" post. I'm on #83 and wishing I was a bit more interesting.

Well, this post is pretty effing long, so I will quit now! Have a lovely day :) .

Thursday, August 23, 2007

how are you, mrs. darcy?

She's just fine, thanks. The back and front are done and seamed together (because I am impatient like that) and the first sleeve is about halfway done. And though I am crossing my fingers, knocking on wood, and throwing salt over my shoulder as I type this (I am coordinated, no?), I think she's going to look pretty good.

Third time's a charm.

And guess what else? My mail rocked today!

Socks that Rock! The top picture is the Blue Brick Wall colorway for my mom's socks, and the bottom one is the Oregon Red Clover Honey colorway for me. Bad, bad Christmas knitter, but it was so beautiful. The colors aren't right; I will try to get some natural-light pictures tomorrow. (ETA: I did. Much better.)

I am really looking forward to knitting with this!

the darndest things

Yes, this is a "cute kid" post. I try not to do this too often, but sometimes you've just got to get it out of your system, you know?

The thing is, Little Brother is just one of those kids with a huge personality. Honestly, if I wanted to, I could have an entire "What Little Brother Did Today" blog, which I'm sure he'd just love when he's a teenager.
Yesterday, he and Big Brother were bickering within minutes of Big Brother getting out of bed. Little Brother, who'd been up for about an hour, ran up to me and told me that his brother was being mean to him.
I said, "He just got up! What could have happened in the past two minutes?"
"He told me to get away from him!"
So I asked him what he had been doing, and he replied, "I sang Happy birthday to you! You live in a zoo! You look like a monkey, and you smell like one too! And then I burped!"
Hmmm . . . can't understand why Big Brother wouldn't like that first thing in the morning.

And then there was the time the other day when he was playing with his matchbox cars. The boys enjoy driving them really fast and smashing them into a wall to see what they'll do. If they do anything really cool, the boys will reenact it in a slow-motion "replay," complete with sound effects. Little Brother was showing me one of these replays when I noticed he had stuck a coin in the window of the car.
"Why is there a penny in the window?" I asked.
"That's the driver," he replied, "Abraham Lincoln."

Monday, August 20, 2007

it's that time of year

I am a creature of habit, and my husband is the same way. We follow our little routines most days and weeks, and larger cycles govern the course of a year. Certain times of the year signal certain things to me, and these few weeks in August after our NY vacation are officially the time for getting ready for school. Add in the past few days of lovely cooler weather we're having and it feels like fall is upon us.

I love love love the fall, I always have. Even before I was a knitter. The colors here in New England are a part of it, of course, but also the break from the summer heat which I can't stand, and a sense of anticipation. Once September hits, it feels like it's just nonstop activity until January: school starts, my city has an arts festival, then there's Halloween, and Thanksgiving, and a couple of birthdays, and Christmas, and more birthdays. We see family all the time and it's great. This year there will even be a new baby thrown into the mix some time in December. I'm so excited!

So this week we embarked on the ritual back-to-school shopping. The kids are going into second and fifth grades (!) this year so we don't have to go too crazy just yet - no umpteen very specific types of notebooks, no fancy binders and storage systems and graphing calculators and holy crap when they are in high school I am going to have a nervous breakdown. We just stock up on pencils and folders and jeans and tee shirts without stains. Also new shoes, with a strong admonition to always wear them with socks, lest their entire class asphyxiate. The old ones are sealed in plastic and set aside until we can call a hazmat team.

I've also sat down this week and made The List. You know what list I mean, the Christmas Knitting List. I am a fairly slow knitter with a large list, so I have given myself until the end of August to finish my selfish knitting. Then the holiday stuff begins. I am especially excited to make socks for my mom (don't worry, she doesn't have a computer). She has expressed a desire to make socks, bought sock yarn and appropriate needles, but her first sock has been about a third of the way done for a couple of months now. She is apparently also a creature of habit, not a big fan of circular and/or very small needles. But give her a pair of size 8 straight needles and some worsted weight and she can whip out a beautiful baby blanket in a couple of days! Anyway, what with new babies and weddings and new boyfriends, The List grows ever longer. But it's okay - I enjoy the whole process, from the planning to the knitting to especially the giving. It's worth a third of my knitting year!

By the end of this week the weather is supposed to be hot again. Maybe this will dampen my fall enthusiasm a bit, but I doubt it. What's begun is begun, and my calendar is itching to turn to September. I will welcome it in with a bang this year; my ten-year high school reunion is the first! More on that later, I'm sure, and on how Mrs. Darcy is faring. But for now I ought to go to bed. Maybe I'll dream of apple pie . . .

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

what I knit on my vacation

I brought two projects with me: a larger one for knitting at the campsite, and a small one for knitting in the car. That seemed to work out well.

My big project was the Mrs. Darcy cardigan, which I found through Ravelry. This pattern is so cute, and I have high hopes. Did I mention this is my third attempt at a first sweater? I did a gauge swatch this time, so apparently I can be taught. So far I have finished the back, and the size looks good when I eyeball it. Fingers crossed.

My small project, besides the cotton washcloths that I always keep in the car (heaven help me if I ever get pulled over; I'll open my glove compartment and out will fall skeins of Sugar 'n' Cream), was a pair of plain stockinette toe-up socks. I made them as plain as possible, and I'm not doing both at the same time, because I've always had a tendency to get carsick. J became the master of the quick pull-over when I was pregnant. I finished the first sock, but I will probably end up ripping out the last few rows. I did a picot edge and I think I screwed it up, plus I made the sock really short due to my pathological fear of running out of yarn. My plan is to rip back to before the edging, knit the second sock to the same point, then wind what's left into two balls and make them as long as I can.

I just realized both of these projects are using alpaca yarn. There's a fair bit of alpaca joining the stash too . . . perhaps I have a problem.

And, lastly, how I knit on my vacation. Daylight knitting time is at a premium when camping with children, and the campfire doesn't provide much light. (I haven't yet mastered the knitting-without-looking thing, even for stockinette.) What to do?

It worked rather well. Until the moths came out, anyway.

Monday, August 13, 2007

and we're back!

Back and still recovering. One thing about camping, although I enjoy it, is that there is a lot of work when you are getting ready and when you get back. And while you're there, come to think about it. Why do I like camping again?

Anyway, it didn't help matters that J and the kids got home a day before I did - they came straight home from New York and I went to my cousin's wedding in Vermont. I tried to leave the house in something resembling some kind of order (this is, of course, all relative with three kids) but in one day it looked like a stampeding herd of wildebeests had come through. How do they do that?

All right, enough whining - the vacation was wonderful. The weather, the kids, the sights, all of it. Here is our lovely little campsite, site number chosen by my thirteen-year-old husband:

For me, nothing highlights the passage of time like this annual trip. Seeing the kids against this familiar backdrop, with a whole year of time in between, you notice the things you miss at home. Big Brother really looks much older with his hair grown out like that, and he's got his headphones on at night like a teenager, alternating between rock music and Artemis Fowl. Little Brother's lost all his baby fat, and he draws racetracks everywhere in the dirt - watch your step! Both are old enough to learn to play cribbage, and to walk to the bathrooms or their grandfather's campsite by themselves. And Baby Sister! Last year she couldn't even sit up, she wasn't eating solid food yet, she was an infant. This year she's running after J when he walks over to the bathroom, calling "Addy! Addy!" She can (mostly) feed herself and she gives you a great big grin if you ask her to show you her teeth. Next year she'll really be talking, she'll be weaned, maybe even toilet trained (hey - stop laughing!). I know it's a cliche, but really - it's so fast.

We never do too much on our trips. We visit the main street in Lake George for pizza and people-watching, we go to the beach, and we usually do one bigger day trip. This year we let the boys pick, and we went to the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves. I wasn't surprised by the pick; both boys have a rock collection, and Big Brother spent over an hour at the beach playing "erosion." The place was beautiful:

I've taught earth science, and I still find the shapes carved by rivers and dripping water to be almost otherworldly.

For all that, I am glad to be back. One misses showering sans ginormous (a real word now!) mosquitos, and eventually one runs out of clean clothes. I suppose I should be getting back to that laundry . . .

See you next year, Eagle Point!

Saturday, August 4, 2007


I just read last night's post and I've got to apologize. It's pretty obvious it was written around midnight at the very end of a hot and busy day. Not that I normally fancy myself a fantastic writer, but jeez.

Okay, I'm really off to camp now. I leave you with some camp photos of years past.

Friday, August 3, 2007

this post is like a clown car

I've got so much stuff to cram into it!

First, some fo's. Here's the baby surprise jacket, which will be for the niece/nephew-to-be:

I used a couple of different yarns: Berroco Touche in yellow and green, and Lion Microspun in beige and greeen. Both are machine washable, and I had colors that were gender-neutral and looked good together, even if the two greens are not quite the same. I will definitely be making another one of these for Baby Sister.

This is a coffee mug jacket, the pattern for which I found through the "Caffeine Addicts" group on Ravelry.

I was originally going to make two and give them to my cousin and her husband as part of their wedding present, but after making the one, I really don't feel like making another. It's not the pattern's fault; I really like the pattern. Call it SMJS (Second Mug Jacket Syndrome), exacerbated by scratchy yarn. (It's hand-me-down wool from the 60's or 70's.) Oh well, I still got her a gift certificate.

Last night, my mom, Old Friend, and I went to see the Yarn Harlot at a Borders in Burlington, MA. It was awesome, we had such a good time.

We got there quite close to the start of her talk. We purchased our books and went downstairs to where the talk was, and there were so many knitters. More knitters than I could have imagined seeing all at once. Just look at them all.
Yeah, we ended up sitting pretty far back. We were also nearly last in line to get our books signed, but we didn't really care. Here's me with Stephanie and the traveling sock:

Holy shiny forehead, Batman, it was hot in there! Here's Old Friend with Stephanie and the traveling sock. Note how she is showing considerably more sock-fondling restraint than I am. What can I say, it was very soft.

I also met Jess and Casey, the geniuses behind Ravelry! I think my social awkwardness made me look kind of crazy-stalker to them. Sorry, Jess and Casey.

The talk itself was great, just hilarious. Panties were thrown, indispensable advice like, "You don't knit for crack ho's" was given, and a good time was had by all. As I mentioned, we were just about last in line to get our books signed, a good couple of hours after the talk ended, and Stephanie was nothing but kind and gracious.


Well, I really ought to be heading off to bed. We leave for camping in upstate NY in the morning, so I'll be away for the next week. I always look forward to this trip. J's family has been going to the same campground since the 1950's. It's quiet and relaxing, there's a lake, and uber-touristy Lake George is right nearby, which is always fun. The kids love it - you would think camping with little kids would be hard, but it's really not. They love being outside all the time, and they sleep really well! Little Brother holds the official family record of Youngest Camper, at one month old. So maybe we're crazy.

Anyway, see you next week!