Wednesday, September 26, 2007

post #100

For the record, I have never in my whole life kept a diary that had 100 entries in it. Not even close. I guess there is something about blogging, and knitting, too - it's all about the feedback and the community.

And I suppose it is fitting that my 100th post should find me taking another leap. Not a big one - more a chasse than a grand jete, for any ballet types. Old Friend and I have signed up to do a craft fair in November and have set up an etsy shop. Right now there are only stitch markers, but we'd like to work on adding some patterns and doing some dyeing, too. If you click, pardon the quickly cobbled-together banner. If all goes well, our yarn-dyeing, pattern-writing, and photo-manipulating skills will improve soon. Maybe I'll even get around to putting pictures in the header of this blog, since Amy sent me very clear directions, oh, about a month ago.

With kids at home, of course, all this goes at its own (slow) pace. Especially when one encounters bumps in the road, such as, say, the fifth grade. Big Brother is a very bright kid, but as the years go by, he gets increasingly mired in seas of homework. Because they don't give less of it every year. If I don't stay within, say, fifteen feet of him and intermittently ask him how it's going, he's apt to start staring into space, making lovely elaborate margin-drawings, or simply daydreaming. This may present a problem when he's in college, is all I'm saying.
It also does not help that second-grader Little Brother gets so little homework he can sometimes finish it, literally, in less than a minute. Part of Big Brother's problem, I think, is that he skipped a grade when he was younger. I still believe that was the right choice for him - he really was bored working on the alphabet when he could read Harry freaking Potter, and he ended up with the nicest group of kids you can imagine - but it means he's got just that one year less maturity needed to sit down and get stuff done. (Not that I, the alleged adult, have mastered sitting down and getting stuff done, but that's for another day.) I certainly hope he catches up in that regard soon. I worry about it; I remember from teaching what huge difference there is between a 9th-grader and an 11th-grader. But anyway.

I appreciate anybody who has read any number of these 100 posts. I just added the most addicting little counter near the bottom of the sidebar there, so I now I know there there are more than I thought! (Yay!) I'm so glad I decided to jump into the knitting and blogging communities, both on and off the computer. It's inspiration, support, and a chance for adult comversation for a homebody mom like me. What a gift!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

freakin' muggles

Um, that is so not a Fair Isle sweater.

Friday, September 21, 2007

baby surprise jacket

This is the second one of these that I have made, and between Ravelry and the Zimmermaniacs blog (both linked to in the sidebar) I must have seen a jillion of them, but this?

It never gets old.
Add some cuffs and buttons, and voila!
The specifics:

yarn: Baruffa Maratona - I loved it. A very smooth and springy merino, yum. Unfortunately, it seems to be pretty impossible to get any more, ever. The store closed and apparently it was the only store outside Italy to carry it, or to have even heard of it. Old Friend had bought not-quite-enough for a baby sweater - let's just say that sweater will have striped sleeves.
needles: size 8 Addis
pattern: EZ's Baby Surprise Jacket. Mine is in the Knitting Workshop.
mods: the ribbed cuffs, and I omitted one buttonhole.
buttons: made out of the kids Shrinky Dinks! I kind of had to guess just how much they'd shrink, and I thought it would be a little weird to make a "gauge shrinky dink." Not that I didn't consider it.

And a garter-stitch project that didn't work out so well . . .

Eh, they can't all be winners.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Avast! I be postin' on National Talk Like a Pirate Day!

The seas around here have been calm lately. I've been mostly stayin' close to my home port, catchin' up with the deck-swabbin' I skipped last week. Aargh, ye can't be travelin' around and ignorin' the way the dishes be pilin' up for long.

There be some knittin', though, finishin' up Wee Lass's BSJ. The magical castin'-off-and-foldin'-up part's been done, and I be now addin' some length to the sleeves. Without it, once the winter wind starts a-blowin', her little arms would be colder than a witch's teat!

I'd like to say I've been talkin' like this all day, but I'd be pullin' yer leg. Really, ye can only keep it up for so long. Aargh!

Monday, September 17, 2007

I get around.

I've been all over the place the past week or so, and for once I am not talking about my mental state. Happily, all of it was fun and sometimes fiber-y stuff, no boring bits like dentist visits, etc. So, to round it all up:

Last weekend we went to the Family Fun Fest at Slater Mill. There wasn't as much there as last year, but we did get to hear storytelling by Mark Binder. He did a nice job; the boys thought he was really funny. I must admit I was a tad distracted because it was held on the second floor of the old mill and there was all this equipment for spinning? weaving? in the back of the room. I pulled out my camera to get a picture of it only to find the memory card was in the computer at home. Booger.

Thursday while the boys were at school Old Friend and I drove out to a yarn shop in Middleboro, MA that her grandmother had recommended. It's called the Wool Patch and the owner, Miriam Hobart, officially has the sweetest deal ever. Her yarn store is cute and cozy and separated from her house by a little gravel parking lot. There's also a shed and a paddock with a llama named Omi. Hi, Omi!

Omi was not particularly interested in us.

The yarn in the store was lovely; she had a very good selection for a small shop. I really liked the sock display:

I was pretty well behaved - I bought a couple of skeins of Cascade 220 for Christmas gift-knitting, and a, um, cough skein of kettle-dyed sock yarn cough cough.

We also got to go to knitting group the same night, which is always a good time.

And on to this past weekend, which was just ridiculously packed. First there was the Arts Festival at Slater Park, with all sorts of local artists displaying and selling their wares. Much of it was really beautiful - photography, jewelry, woodworking. Unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of this event either. This time I forgot not the memory card but the entire camera. Yeah, I rock.

One of the vendors at the park was Jonne of Manmade by Jonne, who was totally not helping my growing desire to take up spinning by sitting there with his spinning wheel and drop spindle kits and colorful roving. My inner voice is telling me I don't really have time for another hobby, but it's a bit rusty, perhaps from lack of use. Don't worry - I didn't buy a spinning wheel. Yet.

On Sunday, J ran in the CVS Downtown 5K in Providence. He came in #1107 - sounds kind of pathetic, but there were over 7000 runners. Way to go, babe! I foolishly took the advice of the race's website instead of my own common sense and found the highway exit I took completely blocked off. So the kids and I watched mainly from the car. Still, the sheer volume of people running through the streets of downtown Providence was pretty impressive. And I didn't mind sitting in the car; I had my knitting.

Not surprisingly, J was a bit tired for accompanying the kids and I to our last outing of the past week: back to Slater Park to see a performance of the RI Philharmonic. I go to this park at least a couple of times a week and I have never seen so many people there:

Oh, did you notice the sweater on the lady sitting in front of me? Yeah, me too.

Pretty. The orchestra was pretty good, too. :)

I thought it was thrilling to hear such full and lovely music in an outdoor familiar setting. The kids thought it was thrilling that they performed the theme from Star Wars. Something for everybody.
The next few weeks don't really show any signs of slowing down. I've got a family birthday, a baby shower, and another event coming up. The event, for anybody local and interested, is a celebration of National Spinning and Weaving week at Slater Mill on October 7. There will be a lot of people (duh) spinning and weaving, but also activities for kids such as felting and using a drop spindle. Although I have tried a drop spindle myself and I think that may result in some pissed-off kids and broken drop spindles. Maybe that's just me. Anyway, it should be fun. Maybe I should rest up first!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

monkey bread

There was a distinct chill in the air when we woke up this morning. I'd left the windows open most of the night so the house had gotten down into the mid-60's, and it smelled like fall. Definitely time to make monkey bread.

The kids and I love making monkey bread on weekend mornings. Especially when it's chilly, a warm breakfast is great. Plus it makes the house smell like cinnamon. I also like it because I'm not much for baking and the recipe, such as it is, is very loose and unscientific. And easy.

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of a pie pan (lined with foil if you are lazy like me). Mix some sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Maybe about a half cup of sugar and a teaspoon or two of cinnamon. I don't know, I never really measure it. You can always put in a little more if you run out.

2. Take a pound of bread dough (made yourself if you are ambitious like that; at least I buy mine from a local bakery). Tear off small pieces and roll them around in the sugar and cinnamon, then drop them in the pie pan. The kids usually do this part. Add some chopped apple or raisins if you feel like it. Here's this morning's:

3. Put it in the oven. Today, instead of my usual keep-checking-it-until-it-looks-done method, I timed it. It took about 25 minutes. When it comes out it looks like this:


Saturday, September 15, 2007

book quiz

You're To Kill a Mockingbird!

by Harper Lee

Perceived as a revolutionary and groundbreaking person, you have
changed the minds of many people. While questioning the authority around you, you've
also taken a significant amount of flack. But you've had the admirable guts to
persevere. There's a weird guy in the neighborhood using dubious means to protect you,
but you're pretty sure it's worth it in the end. In the end, it remains unclear to you
whether finches and mockingbirds get along in real life.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

*ETA: Big Brother was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Little Brother was Juarssic Park. Damn, this thing's insightful. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

hemlock ring blanket

Lace + big yarn + big needles = fast and fun knitting!

pattern: hemlock ring blanket, the giant-doily-turned-lap-blanket brilliantly interpreted by brooklyn tweed
yarn: Reynolds Blizzard, a super-bulky alpaca/acrylic blend
needles: size 15 circulars
mods: Well, technically the whole thing is brooklyn tweed's mod of the original doily pattern. I did use different yarn and needles than he did, though.
This thing is so soft, if a bit sheddy. Oddly, the white sheds but the tan does not. I actually finished the knitting over the weekend but it took forever to block - it just did not want to dry. Baby Sister helped me block it. :)

Mine is a bit different from the original. Since the yarn and needles I used were even bigger, the blanket grew really quickly. It's supposed to have the flower section surrounded by a lot more feather and fan, but I had to stop early because I was running out of yarn. Still, it ended up about the right size.

My favorite thing? It's a gift that looks way harder to make than it actually was. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

close call

Alternate title: Why I Ought Not Do Anything Before I Have Had Coffee

Hmm, that's a little wordy.

Anyway, this morning I was making lunch for the kids to bring to school, functioning in a sort of half-asleep pre-coffee state. (I know, I should get up earlier. But then how could I stay up late to knit?) Little Brother requested his sandwich be cut up into "four zig-zags." No problem. I cut away, turning the knife this way and that, and at the last minute noticed I had nearly cut a swastika into my child's sandwich. Yikes. That might not have gone over well.

Friday, September 7, 2007

posting patterns

I, like I think many knitters, have often thought about making knitting more than a hobby. Selling knitted goods at craft fairs or on etsy, maybe dyeing yarns, writing and selling/submitting patterns, etc. I haven't done any of it, but I have lately found things like this and this to be inspirational in a kick-in-the-pants kind of way. I've made a few things out of my own head, I think some of them (not all, but we won't go there) are pretty cute, and maybe I should do something about that.

The thing is that I have never actually written down in great detail what I've done, so I have no idea if I can write something coherent. To determine that, I have posted a hat pattern just below this one (Look down! There it is!) to try and get some feedback. I also have it available as a pdf (I tried to just put a link to that instead of having the pattern be a separate post, but I couldn't figure out how to host it unless I was planning on charging for it. Honestly, I shudder to think of the time I have spent on this.) I implore anybody to read it and let me know if it makes sense. What I will do next with that information I am not sure, but it would be much appreciated! Thanks!!

snowflake hat pattern

Size: 19" circumference - to fit an average woman's head, although the original has been claimed by a seven-year-old boy
Yarn: any three worsted weight yarns – I used Lion Brand Solid in Rose (MC1), Lemongrass (MC2) and Pearl Gray (CC).
Needles: US size 7 circular/double-pointed needles (or size needed to get gauge)
Notions: 4 stitch markers, tapestry needle
Gauge: 19 st/24 rows = 4" in st st

With MC1, CO 96 st. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist sts.
Work 10 rounds of k2, p1 ribbing.
Work 6 rounds of st st.
Work color chart over next 15 rounds (6 pattern repeats fit around hat).
Using MC2, work 2 rounds of st st.
On the next round, (pm, k24) 4 times.
Begin shaping:
Round 1: (slm, ssk, k to 2 st before marker, k2tog) 4 times.
Round 2: Knit.
Repeat these two rounds until 20 st remain.
Repeat Round 1 every round until 8 st remain.
Break yarn. Thread yarn through remaining st and pull tight.
Weave in ends. Block gently.

Color chart:

Thursday, September 6, 2007


Did I say that it's quiet around here now that the boys are back in school? Yeah, that didn't last long. Baby Sister is celebrating her newfound words, um, enthusiastiacally.

"Duck!" she says, holding out her rubber ducky. "Duck! Duck! Duck! DUUUCK!!!"
"Yes, Baby Sister, that's a duck."
She spots a stuffed animal (any stuffed animal). "Baby! Baby baby BAAAY-BEEEE!!"

Some words invariably come out as questions.
"Ma-ma? Ma-ma?"
"What is it, Baby Sister?"

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining; kids at her age are hilarious. We have a lot of fun all day, and I don't even think she notices the earplugs. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

mrs darcy cardigan

It fits! And it's really warm! I almost melted while J was taking the pictures, and it wasn't really that hot out.
pattern: Mrs Darcy Cardigan by Mary Weaver
yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, a little less than three skeins
needles: size 9 Addis
mods: I knit the sleeves in the round instead of flat, but that's about it.
I'm quite happy with the project and looking forward to wearing it this winter. I'm especially fond of the pretty blue buttons that the guy at EJ Yarns let me have free on their next-to-last day (so nice - I feel kinda bad I don't know his name . . .). I was originally going to use wooden buttons, but I like the little bit of color. I've been told I wear too much brown (and of course, three little blue buttons completely balance an entirely brown sweater).

So now the Christmas projects have started in earnest. To be truthful, they had started already, because it really bothered me to have only one project on my needles. Here's the current lineup:

Another Baby Surprise Jacket, this one for Baby Sister. What else is there to say about this project? It's entertaining, and the yarn (Baruffa Maratona merino) is extra springy. I keep feeling compelled to squeeze the thing. I can't see this compulsion going away once there is a cute baby in the sweater.

Next, Roza's socks. These will be the ones for my mom. I've gotten next to nothing done on them, pretty much just cast on the first sock. I think I just felt a deep need to have a sock project going - addiction isn't pretty, kids.

And lastly (yes, there's more), the hemlock ring blanket. I wasn't intending to make my stepmother a blanket, but I wanted to work on this as soon as I saw it. Let us just say I am now quite enamored of knitting lace with big yarn and needles. And when I say big, I mean big. I'm using Blizzard, which is a super bulky alpaca blend, and size 15 needles. This yarn is so big and so loosely spun it's like knitting with roving. Hurts my hands after a little while, but I think the end result will be pretty and soft - just what you'd want in a blanket.

It looks like a lot of knitting when I put it all together like that, and I'm wondering when exactly I sat down and did all this knitting. I think at this point I just kind of pick up the needles on autopilot when the kids are all in bed and the house is something approximating clean. Hey - maybe that means I won't be frantically finishing things the last week of December! Yay!

Monday, September 3, 2007

I really ought to post more often.

It's been a busy week, with all sorts of stuff going on, making me periodically think to myself, "Gee, I should post about this today." Mmmm. So until I get better at posting when things actually happen, here is another clown-car post, with a bunch of different things in it.

First, the boys are back at school! They've had two days so far, both of which were described by Little Brother as "fantastic." That's what we like to hear. Both boys tell me they like their teachers. Big Brother's got his first male teacher, which should be interesting. He's shy and quiet in school, like I was, and I wonder if having a young guy as his teacher will be different.
It's been very quiet at home with just me and Baby Sister, especially when she's napping. In a week or so I'll probably be putting on the npr to fill the silence, but for now it's kind of nice.

I haven't taken much of this "extra time" (yeah, right) for knitting. I did get to go to a meeting of the RI In Stitches group on Thursday (fun!), and between that and staying up maybe a bit too late, I finished Mrs. Darcy. She's still blocking, so I'll have to wait for some modeled shots, but here she is:

She actually fits! This, as I have said before, was my third attempt at a first sweater. The first I finished, actually wore once or twice, before finally admitting to myself that substituting yarns - and not even remotely the same gauge, either - without swatching was a bad idea. I looked like a gorilla. So I frogged it with the help of the boys (did you know unraveling things is hugely entertaining?) and repurposed the yarn for various smaller things. The second time, I still didn't swatch, and I was about a third of the way through before I realized it was coming out way too big and I was not going to have nearly enough yarn. That yarn is still in the stash, awaiting its destiny. Which is not glee. But now I feel the curse lifting, and can perhaps see more sweaters in my future. After Christmas, of course.

And lastly, Saturday night was my ten-year high school reunion! It was a lot of fun, even if the turnout was not as big as I would have hoped. A lot of the people I was friends with weren't there, although for the most part they had excuses - one is living in Germany, one had just had a baby that morning, etc. For the most part, everybody looked just the same, and everybody seems to be doing well. There were doctors, entrepreneurs, a lot of teachers. (I've noticed that Pawtucket really seems to churn out the teachers, for whatever reason.) A few pairs of high school sweethearts, including J and I, were still together. Many people had children, and I got to see (and show) some seriously cute pictures. Of course, it couldn't all be reminiscing and oohing and aahing over snapshots. There was a bar, after all, and I suppose something like this was inevitable.

Yep, some people never change.