Wednesday, July 30, 2008


In keeping with my reputation as a joiner, I've decided to do the Ravelympics - similar to but not to be confused with the Knitting Olympics. (The latter is an every-four-year (quadrennial?) event held during the Winter Olympics and organized by the Yarn Harlot, and the former is being run through Ravelry. As if you didn't already know that.) I've signed up for two events - how fun is it that they have events? - the Cowl Jump and the Mitten Medley. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Here's the thing though: I might be cheating. You're supposed to cast on during the Opening Ceremonies and knit the item(s) while watching the Games, finishing up at the Closing Ceremonies two weeks later. I, however, will be camping during that first week (yay!) and will miss both the Opening Ceremonies and all the events that week (boo - the Olympics are the only sports I like!). I plan to find out when the Opening Ceremonies are happening and cast on then, and work on the project that week. I will at least be wanting to watch the Olympics, and when I get back I will definitely be watching them. I hope that still counts - not that there are any Ravelympics Police or anything. What do you think?

Anyway - the projects. My goal is to knit two cowls and as many mittens as I can. Scratch that - a goal should be a number. Two cowls and three pairs of mittens. It might not be much for some people, but I think it's pretty ambitious for me and my f%$*ing schedule. Now, which cowls and mittens, you ask?

The mittens might just all be the same - evangelines, but adapted to make them full mittens. These are for gifts, and I think all the people I have in mind will like the pattern. They might even all be the same yarn, this Baruffa Maratona left over from Baby Sister's BSJ.

I overdyed it to a pretty teal color because I don't think most people like chartreuse the way I do. Go figure.

Speaking of which, the first cowl I plan to make is the Philly cowl, using some chartreuse yarn. I actually have chartreuse choices: either more of that Maratona that I didn't overdye, or some Inca Alpaca that's been marinating in the stash for a while.

The second cowl is the crofter's cowl, and I'm excited about it because I get to use that yummy malabrigo I picked up at Webs in April. Both the cowls are for me - did I mention that? I'm terribly evil for being so much more psyched about them than about the mittens, but there it is.

In the meantime, I've been working on stuff I've already got on the needles, or if I haven't felt like doing that, starting really small stuff I know I can finish in a night or two. As a result, I've got:

chevron socks. I really liked the Wool in the Woods yarn, but I'm not all that thrilled with the socks. I did a crappy job dividing up the yarn between the socks - had to do it twice - so they don't quite match and they have unnaturally long ribbing at the top. Not that I'm bothered enough to, you know, actually fix them. I'm not a big fan of ripping and reknitting and they're not for anybody but me.

I've also got more Christmas mittens, these made from some handspun. I love the color on these, and how the garter stitch looks.

Big Brother was enlisted as my hand model, but Baby Sister wanted a turn too. :)

Last but not least, I used up some leftovers to cushion my bff ipod and this year's cell phone. I don't usually have a cell phone, but I like to get a pay-as-you-go deal for our camping trip. Goodness knows how the pay phone at the campground will be, if it's even still there.

So who else is doing the Ravelympics?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

to the ballgame

*Disclaimer: This post is a bit out-of-date. We went to the ball game not this past weekend, but the weekend before. I considered not bothering, seeing as it had been a while, but frankly, I don’t get out that much.

You may have heard that David Ortiz was in the area recently. It even made the front page of the New York Times’ sports section!

The article was about how the presence of Big Papi made the people in my hometown a little bit crazy. The games for the weekend were standing room only when usually the stadium’s about half full, traffic was just nuts, and everywhere you looked you saw #34 tee shirts. By chance we had tickets to Sunday’s game, purchased a month ago as a Father’s Day present for my dad. So that morning we headed off to McCoy under the blazing sun.

We made sure to get there early, as we had general admission tickets and needed nine seats together. We managed to get them, but sadly, not in the shade. No matter – we were excited. My dad was easily the most excited; here he is racing Little Brother up the stairs to our seats:

We had some time to kill, but it was too hot to knit (I did have socks with me, though, and my sister was sorely disappointed they didn’t get confiscated. She said that would have been hilarious; I disagreed.) We just hung out, and after a while the players came out and started to stretch.
And sadly, Big Papi never did show up. Apparently he was healed, and headed home early. Jim Rice was there, though:

I don’t really know who is he is, but judging by the way people yelled, "Cooperstown!" when he went up to speak, I gather he is someone important. Even he complained about the heat.

Although we had a good time, and all the kids were relatively well-behaved, we ended up leaving after the 6th inning. The weather just got the best of us, especially Baby Sister. Next time: night game.

One last thing – I promised pictures of Little Brother’s tumbled rocks when they were done. Whaddya think?

We all agreed this one came out especially cool.

The plan is to get some more rocks on next week’s camping trip (!!!), order more of the polishing grit stuff, and start all over again when we get home. Hmmm – maybe it’s teaching him some patience. Imagine that!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

in bloom

We're not much for gardening around here, really. We have a few bushes in the front, some lilies and hibiscus here and there, and a row of morning glories J planted to climb the chain-link fence along the driveway. But some of what we do have is blooming right now, and it's pretty.

Sage - the sole survivor from The Year We Planted Herbs.

The rose bush started as a potted plant, given to me by my father-in-law when I was in the hospital after Baby Sister was born. It looked pretty sad when we put it in the ground, but it made it. I'm glad; it makes me think of that happy time whenever I see it.
As for those morning glories, they will be blooming soon, too. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

fiber-y update

I realize I never really put up a good picture of the skeins of contest yarn - an egregious oversight indeed! Just to remind you, this is 8oz (more or less) of shetland wool that Jess and I dyed with Koolaid and spun up for her contest benefitting the Relay for Life. I really enjoyed working with it; it had a great crimpy texture and it was very soft and sheepy-smelling. I ended up with two skeins, one of which made a lap at the Relay. They're a chunky weight, a little bit thick-and-thin, and still soft and sheepy.

The color is a little off in both pictures - the actual yarn is not so pink as the first one, and not so washed-out as the second one. You can picture it, right?
While I'm on the topic of handspun . . .
Here are those mitered mittens I've been working on. They took three tries to finally be something I was happy with. Well, mostly happy with, but I'll get there in a minute.

The first time I showed you these mittens was Take 1, the pair that were too tight. I went up a couple needle sizes (size 6 to size 8) and knit Take 2. This time, I was unhappy with the way the colors looked. This particular skein of handspun had been navajo-plied, to keep the colors together. The result was long repeats of color; the mitten had a purple cuff, a while hand, and a bit of yellow right at the fingertip. It looked like the Easter Bunny's version of candy corn, and who knows what the second mitten might have looked like. It's too bad - those long repeats would have been great in a Baby Surprise Jacket, but I didn't have enough yarn for that. Anyway, I solved the problem by winding the yarn into two balls and doing narrow stripes.
So what was I unhappy with? Well, I chose to do afterthought thumbs (which I liked a lot, being someone who chronically does not leave enough space between the thumb and the base of the fingers), but this is how much yarn I had left after both mittens:
Enough for two thumbs? I crossed my fingers and snipped.
And no. It was enough for about 1 1/3 thumbs. The second one was finished off with some undyed worsted weight. They look okay, but their gift potential has been seriously impaired. They certainly can't go to a nonknitter now.
The last project I want to show you is a quick baby hat I made with some of the yarn I've spun recently. I say baby hat, but it ended up as a doll hat. I am just continually afflicted with Yarn Shortage.

Ah well. The solution must be to spin more, right?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

8 years old

Well, the kids’ birthdays are finished for the year – thank goodness. I hope it doesn’t make me too evil to say that, but planning and hosting parties are really not my favorite thing to do. Not that I don’t like seeing family, and we always have a good time, but I’m, you know, tired. And apparently not organized enough to get these things ready in a timely manner; all three kids this year have had their parties the week after their actual birthdays.

Anyway, this time around was Little Brother, who turned 8 on the 3rd. The crappy thing about summer birthdays for kids is that it’s hard to get friends from school to come to a party. Little Brother hasn’t had much luck with it in years past, so this year he decided to just invite family. The good thing, however, about summer birthdays is cookouts. And ice-cream cake.

This one was made from ice-cream sandwiches layered with Cool Whip (thank you, Real Simple). And yes, I did leave his name off partly because it wouldn’t fit, but also so I could put a picture on the blog. More evil Mommy!

Little Brother warmed his mother’s geeky heart by asking for awesome gifts like an ant farm, a rock polisher, and Legos. FYI – polishing rocks is a process that takes weeks, which makes sense when you think about it but was a great big surprise when we first looked at the directions (“Check your rocks in – 14 days!! What??”). Luckily, Little Brother’s favorite thing is numbers, and figuring out the date we need to check on each step (oh yes – there are several steps) then keeping track of how many days are left is right up his alley. Actually, I think his very favorite gift was a pedometer from my sister-in-law. He had long admired her “step-counter,” and was very excited to have one of his own. Though he didn’t put it on until late afternoon, he immediately set about getting in his 10,000 steps for the day. By running around the house, with Big Brother close behind to provide, um, motivation. No, really, I mean around the house:

Speaking of my sister-in-law, she brought along Brand-new Niece. And here’s a gratuitous cute baby picture!

Oooh, those chubby legs! The birthday boy, on the other hand, refused to let me get a good picture.

Little punk. He did have a good time though; there were plenty of smiles when the camera wasn't pointed his way. Overall, I think everybody had a good time. And no more kid birthdays until March, hallelujah.

And I'll be sure to show you how the rocks turn out. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Pretend for a minute that I am not a fairly boring mother of three and fiber addict. Pretend, if you will, that I am cool.

Imagine that this is one of those webpages that teenagers might have, where they get eleventy-million comments from the same group of friends, 90% of which are inside jokes, and they write things that would likely make their parents cringe.

Are you there? Are you channeling Myspace/Facebook/LiveJournal/What-have-you?


Dude! Check out my rad new haircut!

I am making a weird face and I have no idea why.

That's what these whippersnappers are writing about, right?
Ah, forget it. Though I am still clinging to my 20's, I'm far more AARP than MTV.
Don't let the haircut fool you.

Friday, July 11, 2008


...of what I've doing in the past month (!!) that I have been neglecting the blog.
  • Work work work work. Sadly, that nearly sums it up. The end of the school year/beginning of summer apparently comes in two waves: first the ohmygodI'mgoingtofailifIdon'tgetagoodgradeonmyexam!!! wave, largely high-schoolers. One day in the last week of school I did the same chemistry review sheet for four straight hours, with one kid after another. I thought my brain was going to leak out my ears. The second wave is the kids who want to catch up over the summer, or at least not forget everything they learned. Well, that's what their parents want, anyway. Not that they give us a hard time or anything, though - seriously, kids in a classroom and kids one-on-one are completely different creatures. It's amazing. Things seem to have settled a bit for now, though, thankfully.

  • We played in the sprinkler.

  • We had a summer storm.

  • We went camping!

We went up to New Hampshire and camped in the Bear Brook State Park for a long weekend, so J and the boys, plus J's sister and her husband, could go to the NASCAR race in Loudon. It was a good trip - a bit rainy at first, but nice anyway. We got to try out the new pop-up trailer we got in the spring after finally admitting we had outgrown the 29-year-old one we inherited from J's parents. It was a little sad to see it go, but the new(er) one is so much bigger - it was awesome. I'm looking forward to going again in a few weeks. Our camping trips are full of traditions, both universal and more unique to our family. There are, of course, campfires, s'mores, and just enjoying the outdoors (Burma Shave!). And there's also cribbage,

catching bugs,

and a day spent being all touristy. This time it was a trip to Weir's Beach, outside Laconia, where we took a train ride and dipped our toes in Lake Winnipesaukee.

  • What would a vacation be without a trip to a local yarn store? The day everybody was at the race Baby Sister and I, Google directions in hand, attempted to scope out a few places. Unfortunately, my Google directions mostly took me to yarn stores that did not actually exist, and the one I did find was closed (Sunday, duh). My last-minute crappy research performs fabulously again! But we did get some great pizza and a little one-on-one time, and when we headed out on Tuesday we stopped at the yarn store on the way out. It was the Elegant Ewe in Concord, and I wish I could have spent more time there. I didn't actually buy any yarn, but I did pick up some nice fiber: blue/brown/yellow/green merino pencil roving, which I had never tried before, and some nice gray alpaca from a local farm. Both of which have been spun up already:

Lately I've been gravitating more to the spinning wheel than the knitting needles. I also spun this, from some batts I purchased on etsy:

Plans for all this yarn? I don't have any yet, really. Probably mittens, except for the super-chunky yarn from the pencil roving. I think there's only enough of that for a baby hat or something. Good thing I know of some impending babies. :)

Well, I think that's about all I've got for now. I wish I hadn't been so busy, because I know there are things I meant to write and didn't, and certainly things I meant to comment on elsewhere. How do some people balance this family/work/hobbies thing so elegantly and efficiently? Mind-boggling, I tell you.