Friday, May 30, 2008

Memorial Day weekend, in pictures

Now that it's practically next weekend, for Pete's sake.

Friday night we got to babysit Brand-new Niece. She is such a sweetheart.

The kids helped. I'm sure you realize anything vaguely person-shaped and lying on the floor must be covered by a blanket, warm weather or not.

Saturday we hung out in the backyard enjoying the gorgeous weather. The boys played bocce, which is apparently the big trend at their school right now. No, really. Big Brother even told me of a time at a friend's house when he played "extreme bocce." I'm still trying to picture that one.

And this picture, well, it's just cute.

Sunday we took the boys to a skate park. Baby Sister and J were perfectly coordinated.

The boys did more scootering than skating, but they had a good time.

I got on the skateboard just once. Nancy showed me how to align my feet over the wheels, where to put the foot that would be on the ground, and I pushed off. The skateboard took off, all right, but it did not so much take me with it. I landed flat on my back and promptly set a bad example for my kids by deciding not to go on the skateboard again. At least we all got a good laugh.
Today, this weekend, is the Relay for Life. The weather promises to be mostly good, and a ton of people are going to be there, walking and showing support for family and friends. I can't wait to be a part of it again. The contest yarn is spun, plied, and pretty, and I'll add some pictures of it to this post once it's washed. I can't wait to show you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

This is just to say

I'm a big fan of podcasts. I like listening to them while I knit, while I go for a walk, sometimes while I fall asleep - you know, those nights when your brain won't shut off? Podcasts where it won't bother you if you don't hear the end are great for that.
The podcasts I listen to fall into two categories: knitting and npr. My current knitting favorites are Stash & Burn, Y Knit, and the Knitpicks podcast. For npr, I am a huge fan of Radiolab, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and This American Life. I have quite a few that I subscribe to, so (as with everything else, it seems) I fall behind and often listen to them a couple of weeks late.
Such was the case with the episode of This American Life entitled "Mistakes Were Made." This show has a theme each week, and this particular episode was about apologies that aren't really apologies, like the carefully worded ones made by politicians (hence the title).

I'm going somewhere with all this, really I am.

Okay, so much of this episode was devoted to a story about cryonics that was actually pretty creepy, but at the end they talked about this poem by William Carlos Williams, This is just to say. The poem, if you're not familiar with it, is a non-apology apology, and it is also a much-spoofed piece of poetry. The original and some really good spoofs are here. (You have to click a link for the original poem but the spoofs there are good ones - scroll down for some done by 6th graders.)
If you poke around the blogosphere it seems a lot of people were inspired by this episode of TAL. I'm a little late to this party (again, like everything else!), and it's not even National Poetry Month anymore, but it seems like fun. So here are some of my original versions:

This is just to say

I have washed
the wool sweater
that was in
the laundry basket

and which
you were probably
to soak in
some Eucalan.

Forgive me
I tried to help
and now it is
so stiff
and so small.

To MadMad, this is just to say

I have hijacked
the post
that you wrote
this week

and which
you were probably
for your readers
or the folks
over at humor-blogs.

Forgive me
it was a gem
so witty
and so true.

I even saw someone use this poem as a Mad Lib, though I can't seem to find it now.

So, care to make up your own? It's fun!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

wip lineup

Home sick again today. Poor Baby Sister is boogery and warm and sleepy, and she's passed it on to me, too. I could not believe it at 10:00 this morning when she handed me a pile of blankets and said, "Baby Sister crib." I thought she'd just go in there and play around a little, but here it is 11:30 (ETA: 12:15!) and she's still out cold. It's heartbreaking. Quiet, but heartbreaking.

So I'll take the unexpected opportunity, not to nap off my own cold, but to show what I've been knitting and spinning. First, Juliet! Sort of!

pattern: Juliet by zephyr style. Sort of!
yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, just a tiny bit over two skeins
needles: size 8 Addis
mods: Yeah, pretty much the whole thing. I looked at the pattern, saw it called for chunky yarn and I think size 10 or so needles, and realized I'd have to change it a whole bunch to match my gauge. So I decided to figure it out from the pictures on Ravelry. It's a pretty simple top-down raglan in garter stitch at the top, then I chose the beech leaf lace pattern from a stitch dictionary for the bottom. I used EZ's percentage system to figure out how many stitches to cast on at the top, and from there it kind of figured itself out, if that makes sense. The only other thing I did was put in a few short rows in the back.

Dude, I finished this in two weeks. Two weeks, that's unbelievable for me. And when I wore it to see the Yarn Harlot, I got so many comments on it! That's never happened to me before, and it felt really great. Here I will resist the urge to insert something snarky about my burgeoning narcissism, because, dammit, getting compliments on your knitting should feel great. So there.

I immediately cast on another sweater, for myself. I thought about starting some for the kids, but you know, it's May. They won't wear them before the fall, by which time they probably won't fit. So I'll knit those starting in maybe July, and in the meantime I can be selfish selfish selfish. This will be the Bubble Pullover.

I really like knitting this sweater. It's reminding me of the Baby Surprise Jacket in that the construction is all origami crazy, and I have no idea how it will come together in the end; I just have to trust the pattern. Plus it won't ever get boring.

What was that you said? Something about a seamless hybrid? I'm sorry, I can't really hear you.

I've also got some socks on the needles, also all for me (goodness, maybe there really is some burgeoning narcissism going on. Yikes!). First I figured out what I wanted to do with that toe. I decided on a simple lacy chevron pattern - not too busy for the variegated yarn. I like it a lot.

I also cast on some new socks in the darkened auditorium while listening to the Yarn Harlot. Eastern cast-on, two-at-a-time, magic loop in the semi-dark; I don't know what I was thinking. The toes are a little on the sloppy side, but I'm over it. These have become my keep-in-my-purse knitting, so they're quite simple: mostly stockinette with a few columns of slipped stitches to break up the colors. I have to mention the yarn, though: it's Shibui sock. I didn't mean to buy this; I went to the yarn store for something else and felt guilty leaving empty-handed after getting great service. But holy crap - this is the softest sock yarn I've ever met! It's just lovely to work with and wearing them should be amazing.

Lastly, I've been doing some spinning after a little bit of a hiatus. I finally got to start the yarn for Jess' contest. It's 8 oz of shetland wool - soft and springy - and I think it will come out pretty nice. First we split it in half and dyed it with Kool-aid, half a semi-solid purple and half a purply-pink. The Relay for Life's color is a darker purple, but I think we've got the spirit of the thing. So far I've spun the first half, the more purple one:

and pre-drafted the second half.

I tried hard to get a picture of the pre-drafted fiber that shows it's crimpy, springy texture, and I think this one comes close.

The halves will be plied together to get what I think will be a chunky-weight yarn. I don't know yet whether it will be two skeins or one giant skein, but either way, it should be enough for a yummy scarf. Or maybe a baby blanket or sweater, if you don't mind hand-washing those sorts of things. What am I saying? You're knitters; of course you don't!

Anyway, if you have no idea what contest I'm talking about, go here. It's a great cause.

Monday, May 5, 2008

last Sunday

Wow - I can't believe it's taken me a week to write about the fantastic experience that was seeing the Yarn Harlot, at Webs, surrounded by hundreds of knitters. There's a variety of reasons for this, and I'll get there, but first!

Man, it was so fun. Crazy, and more people than I would be comfortable with on a regular basis (you will never see me in Times Square on New Year's Eve), but really fun. I know there's no way I can write anything cohesive and linear about the day, even if I had gotten around to doing it right away. So - bullets it is!
  • Stephanie started her speech talking about knitter stereotypes. You know, all knitters are old or all knitters are female or all knitters have twenty cats. Obviously, not the case. But there was one stereotype she mentioned I haven't seen disproved yet: all knitters are nice. Seriously, I can't imagine a thousand of any other group of people in a relatively small space (Webs is big, but not a-thousand-people big) all being so nice to each other. Case in point: we got there early enough to have our books signed and go get lunch before the speech (an excellent decision, btw). We're standing in line and I take out my camera only to see that the little door is hanging open and there are no batteries and no memory card inside (so much for my preparation). The batteries turned out to be in my bag, and the memory card turned out to be . . . in my computer. At home, two hours away. I just had to download that picture of the lace and Camaro, didn't I?? Well, the lovely Noella (she's one of the first-sock people in that post) goes into her camera bag and just gives me a memory card. Just, "hi, I've just met you, here, take this piece of electronic equipment." The niceness of knitters is unbelievable! (PS - Noella (noallatin on Ravelry), it was so nice to meet you! I'm sorry we ended up getting separated after the talk - and thanks again!!) Honestly, I'm not as "out there" as some knitters (Kimberly comes to mind - she's everywhere!), but I think I've met a fair few of the knitting species, and I haven't encountered one that wasn't very very nice.

  • I'm a complete starstruck geek-type person. And I apparently listen to too many podcasts. I was all, "Ooh, Kathy and Steve!" (like I didn't expect them to be there) "Ooh, Guido!" "Ooh, a model from the catalogue!" I was mostly elbowing my mom to tell her these things, and she has no idea who these people are. Pathetic, I tell you.

  • Meeting other bloggers was fantastic. Jess, Amy, MadMad, Suburban Correspondent, the aforementioned Noella - you guys were so much fun! And sporting wonderful knitwear!

  • The Yarn Harlot herself, was, of course, hilarious. And so generous with her time. Jess, Amy, and I brought her a little gift bag of RI goodies and she took the time to open it and ooh and aah over all the stuff inside. Or puzzle over it, in the case of the coffee syrup. One thing totally worth oohing and aahing was the book Amy had made for her. It was this gorgeous glowing yellow color, bound with a dpn - fantastic. Take a look.

Here's another, gratuitous shot, with Stephanie, Kathy, and Steve all in the same picture. Ooh, geekiness!

  • I made a list this time, which was so helpful. I ended up buying just what I had intended to buy, sticking to the amount I had allotted, and avoiding brown yarn. Really, I had written NO BROWN YARN across the bottom of my list, just to keep me in line. It worked. I still spent more than I have ever spent on yarn at once in my whole life - and it did sort of take my breath away a little when Kathy told me my total - but I didn't spend more than I planned to spend. Want to check out the stash enhancement??

Some Valley Yarns Stockbridge, in denim blue, for the Bubble Pullover from Knitting Nature (which I also bought that day). I've cast it on already. This yarn is soft and squishy and the price was really great. Also, one of Baby Sister's favorite songs has line in it about the "Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston" so it's sentimental too. Perfect.

Jo Sharp Silk Road tweed for Imogen. I really wanted to make this sweater in something tweedy, and I think this will be nice. It's awfully soft.

The classic Cascade 220 for a sweater for Baby Sister. I plan on designing this one myself, and maybe writing it up as I do so. I've got some ideas . . :) I deliberately did not get pink - she's got plenty of that as it is!

A skein of Malabrigo, bought simply because I've always wanted to try it. I love the color. I think it will be a neckwarmer, which, apparently, I've developed a little bit of a thing for.

A shawl pin for Juliet-esque, who will be getting her own post in the near future. It is modeled here by a swatch I found while engaged in the wonderful task of reorganizing the stash after a big purchase.

Maybe it's all the new yarn lying around, or being in the presence of so many knitters, but I've been really inspired lately! I just want to knit and spin all the time. I mean, more so than I already did. I will show all the stuff I've been working on, but I think there's only so much that can fit into one post, so not yet. This is one reason why it's taken me so long to post about last weekend.

Another reason is simple busy-ness. Work has been busy, I got behind on the laundry what with being away for one whole day (scary how fast that happens), and J has been out of commission this weekend. See, he had a vasectomy on Friday. I'm feeling surprisingly little angst about this, as it was a much-discussed and planned-out decision, even though - wow, it is really really final. I am, however, pretty much all done with hearing the phrase, "My balls hurt." Followed, inevitably, by, "Daddy's balls hurt." This is charming coming from a two-year-old girl, let me tell you. Not that I don't feel bad about him being in pain and all, but if he is looking for a lot of sympathy for the toll our reproductive decisions have taken on his body, he might want to look elsewhere, is all I am saying.

Today I am home with a sniffly little girl, taking the time to catch up on blogging, email, housework, and of course, knitting. I'm taking pictures and I'll post a bunch of stuff soon.

Happy Monday!