Monday, September 29, 2008

family portrait

I wanted to get a new picture of the kids for the sidebar of the blog. They keep doing that growing and changing thing, so it's outdated, plus Big Brother looks sort of evil in that picture. And, mostly, he's not.

So, last time we were at the park, I tried getting a shot of them all together.

Take one:

Take two:

Take three:

Ah, forget it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

hugs and kisses legwarmers

As a knitter, when a friend or a relative is expecting, you knit something. It’s almost a reflex, I think. Baby = little knitted stuff. The pattern I’ve been following, now that I’m apparently at the age when 90% of my friends and relatives are expecting, is to knit something small as soon as I hear, then something bigger for the baby shower or just close to the arrival if there isn’t going to be a shower. It’s worked pretty well so far.

But what do you do when it’s a knitter’s baby? These wee little people only need so many sweaters and blankets, you know? All the obvious stuff is taken. So for Jess and Amy, both of whom are due soon, I came up with these little legwarmers. Pink for Amy, who’s having a little girl, and green for Jess, who’s having a little question mark. I don’t have any modeled pictures yet, as the buns are all still in the oven, so to speak. But I’ll add them as soon as I can.

Thanks for the photo, Amy!

I like the idea of legwarmers for babies. They are easier for diaper changes than pants, especially for these two cloth-diapering moms. Pants designed for regular diapers never fit over cloth ones, I can tell you. Baby Sister was wearing size 18-month pants when she was four months old. And legwarmers will fit for a long time – pulled up over the thighs when they are little, especially for crawling-padding, then more traditionally when they’re older. These looked like they would have fit Baby Sister (I didn’t try; I couldn’t be sure I’d get them back without some argument).

And yes, the name is quite cheesy, but the x’s and o’s pattern kind of demanded it. With babies, you just have to up the awww factor as much as possible, you know?

So, here’s the pattern. It’s very easy and very quick – I knit the second pair in two days, and I’m a slow knitter.

Yarn: any worsted weight. I used Knitpicks Bare Peruvian Wool, dyed with Koolaid for the pink ones and Jacquard dyes for the green ones.

Needles: US size 8 dpns or circulars

Notions: stitch marker, cable needle (although you can do it without!)

Cable round A: p4, work right-leaning cable, work left-leaning cable, p4, k to end.
Cable round B: p4, work left-leaning cable, work right-leaning cable, p4, k to end.
Right-leaning cable: slip 2 sts to cable needle and hang to back of work, k2, k2 from cable needle
Left-leaning cable: slip 2 sts to cable needle and hang to front of work, k2, k2 from cable needle

Cast on 40sts. Join for working in the round, being careful not to twist sts. Place marker for end of round if needed.
k2, p2 rib for 10 rounds.
Set-up: p4, k8, p4, k to end. (Those 8 stitches will be where the cable goes.)
Repeat this round once more.

Make an O:
Work Cable round A.
p4, k8, p4, k to end for three rounds.
Work Cable round B.
p4, k8, p4, k to end twice.

Make an X:
Work Cable round B.
p4, k8, p4, k to end for three rounds.
Work Cable round A.
p4, k8, p4, k to end twice.

Make another O.
Make another X.
Make another O.
k2, p2 rib for 10 rounds.
Bind off. I used this stretchy one I got from Knitting Daily: k2tog through the back loops, put the new stitch back on the left needle, and repeat all the way around.

The second legwarmer is just the same, except it goes X,O,X,O,X instead of O,X,O,X,O.

Enjoy! And feel free to comment or email me with questions if needed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

odds & ends

Man, do I love the inventor of bullets. Well, not, you know, bang-bang bullets; I'm referring to the pseudo-organizational tool I employ way more than I ought to. And here I go again!

  • Fall has arrived! Hurrah! This just makes me so happy. The cooler weather is mostly here, and the leaves are starting to turn. It's lovely. Expect to see leaf pictures around here soon; I know I will not be able to help myself.
  • The cooler weather has brought with it the return of my morning walk with Baby Sister. We frequent the local bike path, which this year has been christened "Treewater." I was reluctant to use the word bike with Baby Sister, as her biking skills are not really ready for anyplace but the driveway, so I described it to her as, "you know, the place with the trees, and the water," as enticingly as I could. Hence Treewater. I like it, I think I should mention it to whomever runs the park. It's much more poetic and succint than the "Ten Mile River Greenway." Don't you agree?
  • Said morning walk has been touch and go. Baby Sister is not always enthusiastic about riding in her stroller. If she would prefer to walk, I'd be pretty much okay with that, but she'd prefer to push the stroller. Or climb and stand in the stroller. These things tend to slow us down, and for a couple of weeks the morning walks were routinely ending in tears. (Hers, I swear.) It's been better for the past few days, and I hope that continues. I'm becoming increasingly aware that this hour of relative quiet and physical activity is a big contributor to my sanity.
  • This is largely because work has been pretty crazy. See, my boss and his wife own five Sylvan centers, and the director of one of those centers is no longer working for them. Which means that two or three days a week, my boss is working at the other center and I'm all by myself here for about half the workday, until students start coming in. Most of the time there's some work to be done, but I've got a lot of downtime. It's also just weird to be completely alone for such big chunks of time. Now if I were at home and completely alone for a big chunk of time, I would love it, but it's just not the same here. I've done a lot of blog reading, not so much posting (except for, you know, now), and very very little knitting. I'm paranoid that somebody will walk in looking for help for their child and I'll be sitting there with my sock yarn. I'm thinking that would be somewhat unprofessional. At least the computer makes it look like I'm doing something work-related.
  • I've also been doing some online GRE prep, and I'm thinking I'm going to register to take the test soon. What I will do after that is less certain. I like my job a lot, but I don't see my kids nearly enough. Also there are no benefits whatsoever. I don't need healthcare, J's job is actually really good for that, but some sort of retirement something would probably be good. I know very very little about this kind of thing, but the news lately has just freaked me right out. It's very frustrating to regularly hear and read about this stuff that I understand just enough to get that it is Very Bad. Add the lack of any retirement benefits in my job and it gets all the more anxiety-producing.
  • I have to add, I hate the fact that I'm considering a career change for monetary reasons. Everybody knows you don't go into teaching for the money; it was never supposed to be about money. I love teaching. I especially love the way I teach now - all sorts of subjects to all sorts of kids, one-on-one where you make such a great connection. It's so gratifying to hear from kids and parents how much we've helped them, and in this job I hear it all the time. It's awesome, with the one exception of that gnawing ache of missing my family. This reality-rearing-its-ugly-head thing sucks.
  • And because all that would be a crappy way to end, I'll talk about knitting! I've cranked out a couple of small projects in the past two weeks, but I plan to post the pattern for those, so they'll have to wait. They're cute, though. :) I also cast on a bigger project, a cobblestone for Big Brother. I've got this crazy idea that I'd like all the kids to get sweaters for Christmas. You can look forward to the slow but steady unraveling of that idea (no pun intended) over the next few months; it should be fun. I sized the pattern down to fit his measurements, which wasn't too tough, and I've got just a little of it done at this point. He also requested a "zip-up," which is a little scary, but I've got quite a while before I have to face the zipper part. Amy has steered me toward a tutorial, so hopefully it will all be okay. The other thing that might make this sweater tough is the color - Big Brother picked out solid black. So far it hasn't been as difficult to see as I thought it would, and the yarn - di.Ve Zenith, which is a wonderfully squishy superwash merino - is nice to work with. A bit splitty, but I'm using some very pointy Knitpicks circulars so I haven't had much trouble.

Well, I think that's about it for now. I plan on posting that pattern later this week. No, really. See you then.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

weekend's knits

We had a relaxing, pretty low-key weekend around here, which was just what I needed, I think. Saturday I had to work, but even that was pretty low-key: not a lot of students on a Saturday in September. Just as well I got to spend some time in air-conditioning, though, as Rhode Island seemed to decide it was a tropical rainforest that day. Heat and humidity like you wouldn't believe. It was a menace to the glasses-wearing population, I tell you.

Sunday, however, was breezy and cool in the morning, though it warmed up as the day progressed. In September we have the Pawtucket Arts Festival going on all month, and among Sunday's events were a car show and a Heritage Festival at Slater Mill. These were within walking distance of each other, not to mention the local farmer's market, so we spent a little time at both. J even got to bring his Camaro to display at the car show. With J, his dad, an old friend of his we ran into, and even my own boys, there was much flying terminology and scary encyclopedic car knowledge going on. A testosterone-laden good time was had by all. And did I mention, J's going to another NASCAR race next weekend? I wonder if the man ought to pace himself; he's going to get hurt.

So amid all this not-too-much-going-on, I got a couple projects finished. First, I got a bit of money recently, and while I dutifully put most of it away, I did have one little splurge. Not on anything fiber related, surprisingly, but on an ipod touch. It's pretty awesome, but it has that big glass screen. It was just crying out for a cozy, so I obliged with some handspun.

The subtle mottled effect of the colors in handspun never fails to make me very, very happy.

And that baby hat for my new niece-or-nephew-to-be got finished, too. I'm really pleased with the way it came out. I might actually write up the pattern for this one. Assuming, of course, that I get time for that while I still remember what I did.

I hope your weekend was relaxing, too. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

things the slip & slide taught me

  • Having a hill in your backyard is awesome.

  • Two-year-olds may need a little time to adjust to the slip & slide.

  • Eight-year-olds and ten-year-olds, not so much.

  • There are only so many times you can watch your kids go down the slip & slide before you want to try it yourself.

  • Kids can go down it on their knees; adults cannot.

  • If you are over, say, 60lbs, that little inflatable pool at the bottom is so not enough to stop you. You will continue to barrel-roll down the hill, becoming covered with grass and dirt.

  • Your neighbors will find this amusing.

Consider this a public service announcement, from me to you.

Friday, September 5, 2008

yarny stuff

Well, to the surprise of exactly no one, I did not make my Ravelympics goal. (And from what I've read around the blogs, I've got lots of company.) I had wanted to make two cowls and three pairs of mittens. I finished one cowl and almost a pair of mittens - not even close, really. I simply misjudged the time I'd have to do it while on vacation, and lord knows I don't get as much done at home. But the knits are nice . . .

This lovely is the crofter's cowl (Rav link). I discovered a couple of things while knitting it. One, I really like knitting with malabrigo (surprising, isn't it?). Two, grafting is much easier off the needles. See, this cowl was knit in two halves and grafted together around the middle. I started off poorly and ended up with the two halves not quite lining up. I can live with that.

My only mods were to add repeats, both a stitch repeat to each half when casting on, and a pattern repeat to each half. This was because I didn't have any suitable size 9 circulars and had to go down to 8's. In a cowl, I wasn't terribly worried about gauge.

The mittens, which are finished now, are evangelines (also Rav link). What a fun, pretty pattern! The cable was easy to memorize (especially once I charted it), and the mittens went very fast. I love the turquoise color and the semisolid, sort of tweedy effect of the overdying.

I changed the pattern to make them full mittens by doing seven repeats of the cable pattern and working the decreases into the eighth. I also did the thumbs by making essentially big buttonholes where I wanted them to be and picking up stitches around them later.

My only problem with these is that I didn't get gauge. (This became apparent after they were finished; I didn't actually bother to check gauge. For shame!) Look how skinny they are without a hand in them!

They look like maybe they're meant to warm, um, something else. A little ambitious in that area, to be sure, but still. Ahem.

Moving on. In other yarny news, my mom finally got the internet! (How much do I love this community where nobody is confused by me calling this "yarny news"?) As soon as I had her email address, I signed her up for the Ravelry waiting list. This, by the way, is now about three days, rather than the months I had to wait. She also picked up a digital camera and I had a great time going over there and showing her Ravelry, knitty, Knitting Daily, and a few favorite blogs. We also immediately set about taking stash pictures. And check this out:

My mom has a crazy organized stash. Christmas boxes! With the little ornament dividers! And each one is labeled with its contents. Dude. The only drawback to this system is it limits the ability to casually fondle one's yarn. And I am a big fan of the casual fondling. (My husband's eyes just bugged out of his head. Hi J!) Still, I am impressed with the structure and neatness.

As for current projects, I've picked up the bubble pullover (yes, another Rav link) again, as well as getting some work done on the Yarn Harlot socks. I had to take a break, though, for some baby knits! I'm going to be an aunt again, yay! This time it's J's other sister, and everybody is totally excited. I had to cast on a little baby hat, in a gender-neutral color, with some cute cables thrown in. With any luck it'll be done by the end of the weekend and I'll get some pictures of it.

See you then!