Wednesday, October 31, 2007


From the top: Big Brother's pumpkin, Little Brother's pumpkin, J's pumpkin, and the front and back of my pumpkin. (I carve both sides because I am cool like that.)
Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

a big girl

is what Baby Sister is becoming. She just doesn't look or act like a baby anymore. I don't think I'll be changing her blog name anytime soon, though, as there isn't likely to be any more babies around here. At this point she's at the age where people start to say, "time for another one!" (as if they hadn't noticed my eyes trying to look in three directions at once or my unwashed hair graying before their very eyes, but I digress). And indeed, with the boys, I was really thinking about "another one" when they were about this age. We originally intended for Little Brother to be the last baby; J actually wanted to get a vasectomy. I talked him out of it on the grounds that people do not do something irreversibe like that at the age of 24, for Pete's sake, but maybe there was more to it than that. I didn't feel like I was done.

Now, I'm done. I look at pictures of her as a tiny baby, or of the boys as tiny babies, and they're sweet pictures, but I feel no desire to do that again. Although weaning Baby Sister, which we did recently, was hard. Not for her - she was fine with it - but for me. As much as I don't want another one, it's still a little weird to think that I am done nursing my last baby. I guess I still really don't know how I feel about that.

Still, as a big girl, she's a delight. We went to a farm a couple of weeks ago, and she actually realized what she was looking at. She mooed at the cow, clucked at the chickens, laughed her ass off at the pig - not sure why. She's bright and affectionate and silly. But she definitely is not a baby.

Now that I know I'm not going to be having any more children, I have been working on something I have been thinking about for a long time: becoming an egg donor. I talked it over with my family and signed up here. Now I have been matched, and will be starting the whole process soon. I had wanted to do this because I had a small brush with infertility myself, and more through the experience of a family member. That's not really my story to tell, so I won't, save to say that it was at first heartbreaking and then thrilling when their happy ending finally came.

As for my own story, I had no trouble at all getting pregnant with either of the boys. We used to joke, in fact, that all J had to do was look at me the wrong way. When we started trying again, we got pregnant right away, but lost the baby after ten weeks. It completely blindsided me - I just never saw it coming. It took another nine months before we got pregnant again. That year or so is one I would not care to relive, to put it mildly. And I know my experience is nothing compared to what many people go through.
I'm really excited to be able to help a couple become a family. I'll keep you updated on the process as it unfolds.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

spin spin spin

I think I have made friends with my drop spindle. The learning curve for this has been pretty steep (hmmm - reminds me of when I started knitting!), but now that I've worked through the four ounces of roving I started with I feel like my hands are learning what to do. I got three small skeins of two-ply yarn out of it. This one, the last one, is my favorite:

It actually looks like yarn! The other two are a bit more, well, sucky, but I'm okay with that. My plan is to use this for Baby Sister's Christmas present, a stuffed cat. I had to find something to do with it that was as sentimental as possible, you know?

I actually have two drop spindles, one made from a cd that I got at a wool fair in the spring ($3, from the kids' tent), and a wooden one that I got about a month ago. After playing around with them I was surprised to find I prefer the cd one. It seems to spin more smoothly and for a longer time. It's pretty homely; I dropped it a bunch of times (insert requisite "they're not called drop spindles for nothing" joke here) and had to repair it with duct tape, but I love it anyway. It's got, um, character.

The spinning wheel is still not here yet. Any day now, I'm told. Oh, hang on, is that a UPS truck?? Nope, foiled again.

I have to say I'm really happy so far with the store I purchased the wheel from, considering I pretty much picked them at random. They had the wheel I wanted, they had free shipping, so that was that. They've been so communicative with emails letting me know when the wheel was being released (since it's a brand new model), when it's shipping, when it should arrive. Earlier this week they sent this:

Because it's a Ladybug, get it? Cute.

Well, back to staring out the window . . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

weekend getaway

J and I try to get away every year for our anniversary. In the past, we've done overnight trips, but Baby Sister's still a little young for that. Last year, we did the classic dinner-and-a-movie (even boring dates rock when you don't usually get to go on dates!) and this Saturday we went out for the afternoon.

We has a sort-of plan, but it didn't really get followed. First of all, we managed to take the wrong turn and found ourselves at the bridge into Newport. It offended my frugal New England nature (yeah, yeah - selectively frugal) to pay the toll to cross the bridge, turn around, and pay the toll again to go back. I know, it's $2, but it bugged me. So we walked around Newport a little while, people-watched, and eventually turned back. We stayed off the highway, figuring we'd stop whenever we saw something interesting.

Here's the Gilbert Stuart house, one thing we stopped at. We are total suckers for historical/geeky things. All our trips are like school field trips.

We arrived there just in time to miss their last tour of the day, so we just hung around and took some pictures.

Eventually we ended up in Wickford. As soon as we got there, J said it looked like a place that would have a yarn store, and sure enough, there it was. Not only that, but the first thing I saw when I walked in was a display of lovely J. Knits merino roving. Of course some had to follow me home. This is the Cincinnati colorway.

It's the beginning of a whole 'nother stash. Kind of scary.

And that was about it - we spent the day just walking around, going nowhere in particular. Reading it over, it kind of sounds like a disappointing day: getting lost, missing the tour, etc. It really wasn't, though. We just enjoyed the weather and each other's company.
I'd call it a success.

Monday, October 22, 2007

cabled neckwarmer

This originally started out as a hat. I had some pretty chunky yarn, I thought at the time I'd be making the turtleneck shrug from Scarf Style in a similar color, and I wanted to be all cute and matchy-matchy. You know, to fool people into thinking I've got it together.
Surprisingly, none of that actually happened; the shrug didn't look right and got frogged, and I ran out of yarn on the hat. I finished it with a different color, but I didn't really like that either, so in the end I ripped back to before I has started decreasing, bound off, and called it a neckwarmer.
I wore said neckwarmer a couple of weeks ago when I went on the Providence ghost tour (fun fun!) and was honestly surprised to get several compliments on it. My sister also told me I should make them for the craft fair, and one for her too. I will definitely be doing that, and I am also posting the (super simple) pattern here. Enjoy! Also enjoy the closeup of my nostrils!

yarn: any chunky-weight yarn, I used Jo Sharp Silk Road Ultra in cardomom
needles: US size 11 circular/ double-pointed needles
gauge: 14st/18 rows = 4" in st st
finished size: about 15" circumference unstretched, but it's really stretchy

CO 63 st. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist sts.
Rounds 1-4: work in k4, p3 ribbing.
Round 5: *sl 2 st to cable needle, allow to hang in front of your work, k2, k2 from cable needle (or try this!), p3, repeat from *.
Repeat rounds 1 - 5 three more times.
Work 3 rounds of k4, p3 ribbing.
BO in pattern. Weave in ends. Block gently.

Speaking of patterns, I have listed the pattern for the flame hat (Ravelry link) in my etsy store. Okay, shameless self-promotion over. Happy knitting!

Friday, October 19, 2007

eye candy Friday: falling again

You're going to have to bear with me on the leaf pictures on Fridays for a little while. I really really love fall.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

state of the knitting

But first - what's almost as fun as getting your Ravelry invite? Your best friend getting her Ravelry invite! And now I can officially tell you: her name's not really Old Friend, it's Jess. There - she's been outed. Go stalk her!
No, really, she has a new blog and her Ravelry name's lilypotter. Go say hi!

So, the knitting. It has not all been forsaken in favor of spinning (yet). (I did venture into the land of plying, though, and it was pretty awesome.) I finished up J's mittens in time for our anniversary. Here they are, modeled by Big Brother:

I've also worked a bit on the Roza's socks for my mom's birthday in November. I've finished the first sock, and I am currently doing battle with SSS. Because, at the time, I thought re-winding the yarn into two balls would be a bigger pain in the ass. Rethinking that now. I'm trying to focus just on these, which will hopefully ward off that sense of distraction. I think having so many things going at once may have been a contributing factor. It can be bloody boring, but I know myself well enough to know I better finish before the wheel arrives (release date: October 21 - squee!).
At this rate, that Christmas list isn't getting any shorter . . .

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

eight years

J and I were married on October 16, 1999.

It's funny how you plan and plan and plan for a wedding, then the day itself is such a blur. What I do remember:

  • The weather cooperating beautifully.
  • My sister painting her toenails while wearing both her bridesmaid dress and her shoes, and my mother looking horrified.
  • My brother, so excited to be wearing a tux. (He was 9 at the time.) He kept pretending he was James Bond.
  • The only person I saw getting misty-eyed: my dad.
  • Big Brother toddling into the reception with his grandparents, looking terrified of all the people.
  • How pretty I thought my flowers were.
  • J, being perfect.

Happy anniversary, hon.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

so, about that rabbit hole . . .

I have this evil little voice that lives in the back of my head. Do you have one of those? Mine is constantly devising ways to make me insane.

And I was being so good, too, you know? I planned most of Christmas knitting during the summer. I decided I was going to knit my last "selfish projects" in August and then the gift knitting would begin. And I actually did it. There was going to be no late-night knitting marathons in December for me, not this time. I was all set.

Then the little voice said, "Let's do a craft fair!" Okay, no big deal. I can knit a bunch of hats and headbands. The boredom might get to me a little bit, but if I'm creative, I can stave that off.

Then it got really devious. It began speaking through other people. First it was Kelly Petkun, through the Knit Picks podcast. It told me all about this fabulous book, Teach Yourself Visually: Handspinning, which was full of fibery goodness for the low low price of $14.50. Okay, maybe she didn't sound like a used car salesman, but still. I bought the book, and it is indeed full of fibery goodness. I started actually trying to spin with the drop spindle and roving I had bought earlier, instead of just dyeing the roving with Kool-aid and making felted beads out of it. Next the voice revealed the true depths of its evil and spoke through my husband. J said to me, "You know, if you really want one, I'll get you a spinning wheel as an anniversary/birthday/Christmas present." Um, if I really want one?

So at this point, I am deeply into the rabbit hole. I joined all the spinning groups on Ravelry (well, except the one called "Spin Tech," it sounds like that's for people who really know what they're talking about) and I've spun a couple mini-skeins of yarn. Using the word "yarn" loosely, of course. Want to see?

Here's my first handspun:

Shut up, everybody's first handspun looks like that. It got better:

The next leap will be plying, and of course ignoring friends, family, and housework when the spinning wheel gets here in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

misconceptions about high school

So did you think that the "cool kids" didn't take SAT prep classes? Wrong!

Did you also think that at the end of the day, high school students would generally want to go the hell home? Nope! Wrong again!

I'm teaching one of my classes at a local high school, and the room they put me in is proving to be not exactly ideal. See, it's the first room on a corridor off the main corridor, and the last room on the main corridor is the cafeteria. So, if you look out the windows of the room I'm in, you are looking into the windows of the cafeteria. Which is apparently often full of kids who like to make faces at the kids in my class. And what can I do? I don't actually work at the school, I have no authority. I can at least stop them sending text messages to kids in my class, or at least stop them from getting answered. Teenagers, I swear. My kids will never be teenagers - can I do that? Oh, and did I mention this class is from 6 - 8:30pm? Why on earth are these kids still at school?? WTF??

It is, to put it mildly, a distraction during class. Which is fitting, because "distracted" could sum up my current state of mind pretty well. I can't seem to focus on anything lately. I read a book or two to Baby Sister, then I fold half a load of laundry, then I remember an errand I needed to run, then I put her down for a nap, then I do some dishes, then somehow I'm online researching spinning wheels. (Yeah, I've been sucked down that rabbit hole, but more on that another day.) Maybe I need more sleep. Actually, I'm almost positive I don't get enough sleep, but I really hate to give up my after-everybody's-in-bed knitting time. It's a matter of which would make me more crazy - lack of sleep or lack of "me time"?

On Sunday I managed to put aside the scattered feeling for a little while and go to Slater Mill's celebration of National Spinning and Weaving week. Actually, there was spinning, weaving, knitting, quilting, crochet, dyeing, and felting, from what I saw. Fiber heaven!

The only kid that wanted to come with me was Big Brother. (Mom, there's a NASCAR race! It's Talladega!!) He had a lot of fun, though. He helped dye a ginormous roving with some Kool-aid,

he sewed a bean bag with a lovely blanket-stitched edge,

and he made a felted coaster (no pictures of that, for some reason). We also got to see a huge reproduction spinning wheel. This guy made it look easy, but I'm sure it's not.

They're trying to set up a real fiber community at Slater Mill, and I hope there's a lot of interest. It's a pretty place, and it's just such a cool idea to be able to, say, take a spinning class at the first textile mill in the country. A reverse Industrial Revolution, maybe?

By the way, I edited that last post, about the k'nex swift, to include directions, if anybody's interested. :)

Friday, October 5, 2007

yay k'nex swift!

Okay, I'm re-doing this post to include directions on building a k'nex swift. I've seen a couple of them on blogs and on craftster, but no instructions. So here's how I made mine.

First, here's the pieces of the base, partially assembled, so you can see which pieces I used:

They get put together like this: (Hi, Baby Sister!)
Here is the top swift part:
You take off the little tan piece at the top of the base, put the swift part on top of the gray post, and replace the tan piece. Give it a spin!

Next, you snap these red bars into the pieces on the ends of the swift:

Finally, you can put on your yarn and happily wind away.

Now I guess I need to make a ball winder. That seems a bit more complicated, though. :)

pajama day

Okay, I confess. My kids do not, for the most part, have cute matchy-matchy pajama sets. They sleep in sweatpants, hand-me-down tee shirts from my brother, cotton shorts that they've pretty much outgrown but are unwilling to part with. This is not normally a big deal, except for pajama day.

This week and next week grades 3-6 at their school are taking the NECAP test. No, I have no idea what NECAP stands for, and I'm too lazy to look it up. It's one of the standardized tests, and while Big Brother regards it as I always did - a bit of a break from the everyday - a lot of kids get pretty stressed about it. So the school has "spirit weeks," with a different theme for every day. So far they've had twin day, school colors day, Hawaiian day, and now pajama day.

So Little Brother comes downstairs this morning, has his breakfast, and starts heading for his playroom. I remind him that he needs to get dressed.
"It's pajama day," he tells me.
I explain that doesn't actually mean you can just wear whatever you wore to bed last night, and he goes upstairs to put on some clean pajamas.
He comes down a few minutes later wearing something of the outgrown-clothes-they-don't-want-to-get-rid-of variety. It's a tee shirt he painted with fabric paint and a pair of red shorts. The shirt shows about two inches of belly, and the shorts are essentially Daisy Dukes. He is flabbergasted that I won't let him wear this to school.
"But it's pajama day!"
I send him up to try again. This time he comes down in one of the few matchy-matchy sets he does have: a camouflage-patterned long-sleeve thermal shirt and pants. It's supposed to be 85 degrees today. Now he's really getting mad.

I have to say here I wasn't as patient as I ought to have been. My excuse is that I got about four hours of sleep last night, one in the chair in Baby Sister's room, the rest on the couch with her curled up on me. Fricking teething.

Anyway, he finally ended up in cut-off sweatpants (because he loves them very much and they cannot be thrown away when the knees go) and his tie-dyed tee shirt he got in Lake George. Big Brother, thankfully, found something acceptable without incident.

I am so looking forward to naptime today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I am so bad with secrets. I don't keep them very well, and I don't particularly enjoy having then kept from me. And I'm not talking here about bad secrets, mean secrets, I'm talking about nice things, like I-wonder-what's-in-that-big-wrapped-box-with-my-name-on-it kind of secrets. J totally exploits this, buying my Christmas/birthday present wicked early, wrapping it, and leaving it in a prominent place. Oh, how the ones we love know how to torture us.

The secrets thing really rears its ugly head at this time of year, because I'm working away at all these projects, and most of them are gifts for family, and I can't tell them what they are. Plus, now I actually have some people I know who will occasionally peruse this blog, so I can't write about them here either. And one of them especially is so sweet and I want very much to share!!

I can only hope that I won't crack before Christmas. Wish me luck.

Monday, October 1, 2007

fun with fiber

This weekend the boys and I made some felted beads. We used this tutorial from knitty, and it was really fun. Essentially you roll the roving loosely in your hands, then you can add more and more pressure as it starts to felt. Not all of them felted completely, but that's okay. Now I just need to get some more colors of roving to make some more. :)

And of course, with a title like "fun with fiber," this post ought to contain a roundup of what I'm knitting. I AM KNITTING WAY TOO MANY DIFFERENT PROJECTS. Apparently I get a little crazy when I only have little projects going, nothing big like Baby Sister's jacket or my sweater. So here is an abridged version of the current projects.
First, Roza's socks. I am loving the Socks that Rock yarn - the colors are gorgeous, and the sock is knitting up nice and tight. No way these will stretch out of shape, as my monkey socks are threatening to do. These are the gift socks, but the other skein of STR I bought was for me, so now I am extra excited to knit with it. In January, of course . . . sigh. I'm nearly done with the first sock:

Second are some plain stockinette mittens for J. I knit him mittens last winter, actually I believe they were the first project I blogged about, but it was when I was first learning Magic Loop and knitting on circulars with really crappy cables, and I put in some ill-advised colorwork, and well, they kind of sucked. These are much better. I'm using chunky wool/silk/cashmere yarn (sounds more expensive than it really was) and size 9 Addis so the fabric is very dense. No breezes getting through these on his morning run - which he does all year long. The man needs warm mittens. One down, one to go.

Next up is yet another Montego Bay scarf. What can I say, Christmas knitting is all about repetition. You find the simple project you like, and everybody gets one. This year it's scarves, although I probably won't do lace ones for the guys on my list. I did scarves a couple of years ago, the first year I learned to knit, and I really need to atone for those scarves. I knew nothing about gauge, and while I realized using bulky yarn would make the projects go faster, I did not realize I should use bigger needles to go with it. Bulky yarn, size 8 needles. Those are the scarves to be wearing if you are ever in a car accident - your neck will not move an inch. And then you can lend them to your friends who did get whiplash to use as neck braces.

And, lastly, I've been working on a bunch of hats for the craft fair. To avoid going insane with boredom, I've been experimenting a little with knitting them sideways. I think this hat is knit that way, although I didn't use a pattern. The first one, in garter stitch, came out, um, a little big, but I did a second in stockinette and I kind of like it. The second picture is blurry, but you can still see how the top looks. The next experiment will be to see if I can get rid of the seam by using a provisional cast-on and grafting it at the end. Hopefully that will work out.
By the way, are you getting sick of looking at the inside of my bathroom? I know I am.

And that's about it. Not entirely it; there are still some more boring craft-fair hats, but I'd hate for you to doze off at your computer. You'd end up with the keyboard imprint on your forehead - not attractive.