Archive for September, 2006

Mailbag turned Small Soapbox

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Okay, I have two small comment questions to answer and then a bigger one.

Noricum (Andrea) asks whether I have a feed. Yes, yes I do. I just tried it, and if you type or paste http://www.shellykang.com/Blog/ into the form, you’ll get a choice between atom and rss. To be honest, even though I have a degree in Computer Science, I still don’t know which one of those is better to pick. To be even more honest, Bloglines baffles me. I keep thinking that it is something that would be handy, but instead I use the RSS function in Firefox and somehow understand that better.

Jan asked whether I’m working the blanket from side to side or bottom to top or what. I’m working from the bottom up, or I guess it could be considered top down. I do think you need to work this particular arrangement of miters vertically, so that the decrease lines will run vertically. Unless, of course, you want the decrease lines to run horizontally in which case you would work…are you ready for this…side to side. :-)

Moria asked why I was so hard on a present that someone gave my daughter. She didn’t like the tone of the “I guess” at the end of my paragraph about it in yesterday’s post. The short answer is that I was giving an honest review or assessment of my feelings about this product. The I guess part, at face value, is my normal attempt at semi-snarky humour, which anyone who’s read my blog very much has seen before.

The long answer is that as a parent, I’m always making decisions that I’m not fully comfortable with. Sometimes because I’m taking the easy path that I know is not perfectly right, but makes all of our days easier…like letting Julie watch some TV every afternoon while I start dinner – usually an hour or less, but studies have shown that ANY television is detrimental to small children. Most parents seem to think that certain shows are “educational” and therefore somehow not just an easy babysitter, but actually good for their kids. Sorry to break the news, but that’s what the marketers want you to think. TV is actually hampering their brain development. Still, I know of very few parents who never turn on the boob tube for their kids. And even knowing that it’s not good for my daughter, I let her watch Sesame Street or a Bob the Builder video pretty much every day. Because it’s there, she likes it, and it gives me a moment’s peace. Nope, I’m not fully comfortable with that, but I do it anyway. I can live with it, I guess. There are lots of other little things like that which bother me about the way most Americans raise our kids. I’m guilty of some of them, too.

Juice is another great example. It’s not good for you, me, or our kids. It’s empty calories, linked to obesity, and rots their little teeth. Yet most kids get it, undiluted, every day. Not my kid. I give it to her once a week, maybe twice, and then it’s diluted with water. I even had a chat with the preschool teacher when I saw juice as the beverage for snack time the first few days of school. Somehow, many parents seem to think that it’s good for their kids, even necessary. So even though I know she doesn’t need it, I do give it to her as a treat some times. And that’s okay, too…I guess. Don’t get me started on all the other really junky stuff like Kraft macaroni and cheese (Kraft Dinner for you Canucks – KD for short, so I hear through my Canadian insider friend) that I hear many kids are eating every day.

And about a million other little battles that we either choose to pick, or just fall in line with what it seems like everyone else is doing because that’s the easiest path to follow. Color Wonders products are another tiny little example of this kind of thing to me. They sound like a great idea, till you really think about them. I summarized my opinion about them pretty well yesterday. Yes, they are relatively harmless. I’ve bought the markers version of them before for the long plane trips when we went to Hawaii a couple years ago. Someone bought them for us this time, and we’re using them. But I’m always hearing about how in today’s world, creative thinking skills are important for success in our world. It is much better when I pull out the old-style finger paints and let Julie smear them around in the undefined patterns of her own choosing on blank paper. It’s maddening sometimes watching her play with them in the way that doesn’t seem “right” to me, but I bite my tongue and watch what she comes up with. She’s learning creativity, and they hold her interest a lot longer than any coloring book ever has.

And that’s the real reason for the I guess. Because even though it is easy, even though they are there, even though Julie seems to like them and asked to play with them, deep down I feel a bit like I’m doing less than I could be as a parent. The I guess says I’m not 100% sure I’m doing the best job I could be, but I’m plowing ahead anyway, and you know what, I am a darn good great parent even if I could do better.

And here’s the most important part – the part that I hope you read before you get angry at me and write up a comment. Just because I have these standards for myself and my kids, doesn’t mean that I’m judging you and your standards for your kids. Quite the contrary. I know how hard it is to even figure out what the right thing would be. I know that doing it 100% of the time is impossible. I know that we all do our best, and if you’re feeding your kids juice every day, you have your reasons and we’ll all survive.

Okay, and if you don’t think I’m the world’s biggest heel after reading this post so far, I’m going to give you a good reason to think I’m a jerk. Yesterday we had some friends over for lunch. Some friends who happen not to eat pork for religious reasons. I was halfway through heating up a pile of lasagna before I realized what I was doing and had to switch to turkey coldcut sandwiches. I feel awful for being so inconsiderate. I mean, I had offered the lasagna on the spur of the moment without thinking it through, and the turkey sandwiches had actually been plan A. But still. I’m a freakin’ idiot. Sorry, dear friends! I will try to be more considerate in the future!

I thought I had something

Friday, September 29th, 2006

I know that at some point earlier today I had a blog post all ready in my head, but it is after 11 and Sophie just went down, and my brain is fried. So I’m going to throw the blog a small bone and then I am going to go sit on the couch, watch Grey’s Anatomy on DVD from Netflix, and self-medicate with a bag of Tostitos and a fresh jar of Paul Newman’s peach salsa, which sounds disgusting, but as I discovered over the weekend at a 5-year-old’s birthday party, is actually somewhat addictive.

Here are my diaper-bag socks. Jaywalkers made out of Sandy’s Palette sock yarn. It’s a single-ply wool/nylon fingering weight. So far I kind of like knitting with it. I’m not all that thrilled with the weird little nipple things that poke out where the Jaywalker pattern merges into the toes, but at least they don’t show when they’re stretched out on the hoof.

Here’s Julie today, fingerpainting with the Color Wonder packet someone gave her for her birthday. The thing that makes me laugh about this product is that it’s still quite possible for kids to get the paints all over the place, only it’s invisible so you can’t see it to clean it up right away. But you notice it a week later when it’s all crusty and much harder to wipe off. Also, kids are limited to coloring in the pre-printed pictures provided – no creativity there! Still, she has fun playing with it and that’s what counts. I guess.

Here’s Sophie enjoying some rice cereal and pureed green beans. The last few times we’ve sat down for dinner, she’s actually been opening her mouth and eating the food versus gagging or spitting it out. I don’t know if she’s decided eating is fun or maybe she just likes green beans. Either way, it’s been a lot more fun.

Mailbag questions answered tomorrow, I hope. Good night!

Hello Blankie!

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

It’s been a bit since we got all face to face with the blankie. I don’t like to show it off too often, because it feels like the progress is awfully slow and I don’t want to bore the world with each and every new miter. Laying it out for pictures every couple of weeks makes me feel better because I can see actual change since the previous set of pictures and know that one day it will be big enough to call finished. So, here’s the area on which I’ve been working the last couple of days:

And here’s the whole thing spread out. It took a bit of effort to tuck all the loose ends to the back, which means it is way past time for an end-weaving session around here. If I work on it when Sophie is awake, she loves to grab at them.

Okay, I hope I have caught the attention of everyone who is even mildly interested in the blankie. Ready? If you want to knit it, scroll down on the right hand side and look for “Blankie Tutorial”. I get people asking for information about the pattern every day, and it cuts into my knitting time responding individually. This is my own version of the general mitered square idea floating around out there. Go read the tutorial entries and I explain all about it. No, there is no printed pattern and not likely going to be. You have my permission to print it out off the blog for your own personal use.

Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to brag on some of the other people knitting blankies of their own (and to nag on some of them – you know who you are – to share some more pictures on their blogs – all in a very friendly manner, mind you!)

I got an e-mail today from Meg, who is blogless, sharing this photo of her blankie. She says much of what’s in it is her own handspun. How cool is that? Very.

Andrea just posted an update on her blankie as well. I think it is so cute how she keeps adding on to it and making it into a triangle. You know, Andrea, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and work up those edge miters one of these days. They’re not that bad – really!

I’ve had what feels like a lot of other people tell me they are going to start blankies. I would love to see pictures, whether on a blog or via e-mail. If you want to be added to the knitalong list, let me know and I’ll put you up.

Changing subject, and interesting thing happened today. Both girls took naps, and were sleeping (albiet briefly) at the same time. I don’t think this has ever happened before. Julie doesn’t usually nap any more, but I forced her to today because she was super tired (she has a bit of a cold, and pre-school really wears her out). Then, I nursed Sophie down for a nap, and realized I had a photo op on my hands.

When I opened the bedroom door, I found Julie laying on the floor, snuggled under the duvet at the end of the bed. Not sure why she chose that spot, but it apparently worked for her.

The simu-napping lasted only about 20 minutes, but it was long enough for me to take a shower.

Okay, one last thing. Or, maybe two. First, thanks for the apology, Anonymous. I’m glad that you realized I’m not as horrible as you thought. Why don’t you stick around and think up some pseudonym to use if you’re not comfortable using your own name – just call yourself Betty or something so that if/as you make more comments we get used to your voice and know who you are a bit. Second, Allison left a comment on yesterday’s post that left me a little floored. I’m sorry, but I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say entirely. I totally want to avoid shutting of anonymous comments because I DO understand the many reasons why people don’t want to sign up for Blogger accounts. Not everybody should have a blog, and the reasons Allison listed are all valid ones. I have, in the past, made comments about being sad that certain people are blogless, only because I wish we could all share them online, not because I think it makes them any lesser. I believe Allison and I mostly share the same attitude, I’m afraid I must have said something misleading, and I apologize for any confusion.

I’m glad yesterday’s comfort food was – well – comforting. Now, off to bed for me – I’m exhausted!

Lasagna

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

First, I want to thank everyone for their supportive comments. Trolls suck a lot of positive energy out of a blog, and I appreciate you all helping to fill it back up. I’m hesitant to close of anonymous comments altogether because there are people out there not familiar with blogging enough to have an account set up yet, and because I’m willing to let people post anonymously as long as they play nice. If it were to become a regular problem, I would reconsider.

We had a much better day today overall, despite a couple of potty “accidents”. It’s not the accidents that bother me so much, it’s the attitude, and luckily all three of us girls had the right one today.

I made one of my favorite meals, lasagna. We ate it for dinner and it turned out marvelously, and life was good. Most people I know in real life make lasagna by going to the freezer case in their local supermarket and picking out something in a foil pan by Swanson’s or Marie Calendar. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone to other people’s houses for special occasions and eaten store-bought lasagna, and it makes me a little sad. Homemade is so much better, and my particular recipe simply rocks my world.

There are about a million different ways to make lasagna, just as there are a million different techniques in knitting, but tonight I am going to share with you my particular lasagna-making ritual, including a pan that is safe for my multiple-food-allergic Julie to eat with gleeful abandon, or at least the kind of acceptance that ends with a relatively clear plate and unprompted utterance of the sentance “Thanks for making this for dinner, Mama.”

My recipe is based on a combination of the ones that used to appear on the Creamette pasta boxes, but I was disappointed to find that they have changed the recipe since the last time I made it, probably about a year ago. I usually make multiple pans at one time, partly because I have to accomodate Julie’s allergies so she gets a pan of her own, and partly because it freezes so well and is a mess to assemble, so why not make enough to last a month or so? Let’s start off with the ingredients.

  • 1-lb box lasagna pasta – either regular wheat or rice-based. Tinkyada and EnerG both make acceptable rice versions, and you’ll use about 3/4 box per 9X13 pan.
  • 1 lb ground meat – you can use italian sausage, ground beef, or any other ground meat that you prefer. Tonight I used half ground beef and half really high-quality chorizo from the co-op.
  • A 25-26 oz. jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce – if you’re making more than one pan, go ahead and buy one extra jar so you can be generous. I like Muir Glen Spicy Tomato, but you can pick your own favorite or use homemade if you’ve got it.
  • Ricotta cheese 15 oz container – I buy the lower fat, but under no circumstances should you buy fat free (yuck!)
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • Various veggies, pick which ones you find acceptable – onion, red and green bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant

Let’s get cooking!

First, go ahead and brown your meat while you’re prepping the veggies. Get the meat nice and safely cooked all the way through, then drain off and discard all the grease. Chop up the onion, peppers and mushrooms, slice thinly the zucchini and eggplant. I usually buy the spinach prechopped in one of those frozen bricks, so thaw that out on the counter or in the microwave and squeeze every drop of water you can get out of it. Remember, you don’t have to include any veggies at all, but the more you can include the better it will be for you, and the more complex the flavor of your meal. Really, most of them will be disguised by the cheese and sauce. I did my chopping last night in anticipation of less available time today.

Set the meat aside and sautee the onion, peppers, mushrooms in the same skillet till the mushroom liquid has cooked off and everything is nice and soft. Set these aside for a few minutes, too.

In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and mix with the Ricotta, the Parmesan and half the Mozzarella. Pull out your 9X13 casserole pan(s) and line up all the ingredients on the counter for the assembly fun. One of the things about making lasagna is that you will use just about every inch of available counter space and get lots of pots, pans and bowls dirty, but somehow it is worth all the clean-up. Here’s what my kitchen looked like at about this point.

Take your pan and spread 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom. Make sure for this and all other layers that you spread the ingredient all the way out to the edges and corners. Put a layer of the uncooked noodles on top of it. Trust me, you don’t want to boil the noodles. You have enough pans dirty already, and pre-boiling them will just get them overcooked. I can usually fit three noodles across, then I break one just long enough so I can fit it on the end of the pan going the other direction. Spread 1 cup of the sauce on top of the noodles, then half of the cheese mixture on top of that. Spread out your meat as your next layer, then if you’re using sliced zucchini and/or eggplant, a layer of those. Add another layer of noodles. This time, put the sideways noodle on the other end of the pan for better stacking balance. Another layer of sauce, another layer of cheesy stuff, then spread out your sauteed veggies. If you have more zucchini or eggplant, add those now, or a layer of spinach would be fine too. Top with one more layer of noodles and another cup of sauce.

If you’re cooking for someone allergic to dairy, you will have skipped the cheese layers, or substituted some kind of soy product if you like (I’ve never tried the soy though, so I can’t guarantee how it will work). If you’re dealing with an egg allergy, you could still use the cheese layer, just leave out the eggs. It’s okay, really, I promise! Julie gets it without the cheese layers at all, and she snarfs it down like it’s the best thing ever.

This next step is important. Cover tightly with foil. You want to hold all the moisture in there so that the noodles get cooked. At this point, you can stick the whole thing in the fridge for up to 24 hours if you’re assembling ahead of time, or even stick it in the freezer if you’re making an extra pan for next month. I sometimes make an extra one in a disposeable pan and take it to someone with a new baby or an illness in the family. When you’re ready to eat, bake for one hour at 350, a little longer if it was frozen. You want it to be hot and bubbly and the noodles tender. Take it out and remove the foil. If you’re using cheese, sprinkle another cup or so of Mozzarella on top and stick it back in the oven till the cheese is melted. Bring it back out and let it sit for at least five minutes to sort of solidify before cutting into it.

Here’s what tonight’s cheesy version looked like:

Here’s what Julie’s version looked like:

And here’s some on the plate – YUM!

A couple of other tips – do as much cleanup of the prep dishes as you can while it’s in the oven, because you will still have a pan or two and the leftovers to deal with after dinner. This recipe makes about 12 servings per pan, a few less if you leave out the dairy layers or have gigantic appetites. I have a collection of the Ziploc storage containers, and I just go ahead and put individual servings in the freezer, labelled with post-it notes showing the date and either Lasagna or Lasagna-Julie so that it’s easily identified. When you want to reheat, it’s best to use 50% power for the first half of the cooking, maybe 5 minutes, so that it cooks through the middle without burning the edges. Also, put it on a plate and cover it with waxed paper first so that the plastic chemicals don’t seep into your food, and so that the cheap plastic container doesn’t melt.

Before and After

Sunday, September 24th, 2006

Before my class today, I had an appointment at the hair salon. Let’s see if you can tell any difference. You might have to look kind of hard because the pictures are a little fuzzy.

Before:

After:

It was nice being away from the family all day, and even nicer to come home and have them excited to see me again. Julie came running in the kitchen, stopped and took a look at me, and said “Mommy, did you get a haircut?” in the cutest little voice ever. Yes, sweetie, yes I did. Even Sophie gave me a good hard look.

Here’s Sophie in the tub tonight. Another great reason for them to hate me when they’re older.

It sure is fun to watch her playing in the tub. She loves to crawl around and try to catch the bath toys. I took a video of it tonight as well, but I’m not going to post it for the freaks to get to my site already searching for baby pr0n. yick.

Answering today’s mailbag…

About the beaded socks – I’m just using cotton crochet thread and a simple chain stitch. You can use a small crochet hook and poke it right through the sock fabric, chain around the edge, chain 4 more, chain around a bead, chain four more, and repeat around. Then I’m just weaving in the ends in my crochet work. My plan is to toss them in a delicates bag and into the washer and dryer with the other whites. So far that is working just fine for the socks Carolyn sent us, and they’re all staying on no problem. Hope that helps.

Our friend Anonymous came back today, and I guess she didn’t believe me when I said if you want to post mean-spirited comments on my blog you need to at least leave your name with them. So I deleted her hot, steaming pile of horse shit. See, Anonymous? I can be much cruder when I try. I’m not going to continue this conversation any further. You’re not worth it. Your comments are mean-spirited and ignorant.

Here’s the thing about anonymous comments. People say things in a much meaner way than they would if they considered their adversary might one day look them in the eye. It’s perfectly fine to give constructive advice around here. That’s actually preferable to just going with the flow to avoid disagreement. But if you’re doing that in the context of an ongoing conversation with even a pseudonym attached to your every post, a relationship develops – one where the other’s feelings are considered and words are chosen more carefully. I don’t like the feeling I get when I respond to these anonymous posts. It is too tempting to say very mean things – much meaner than anything I have yet posted. It leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. It’s poisonous. So no more. I don’t care how horrible your next allegations or suggestions might be, or how tempting they are. I’m deleting them. I want to get back to my stories and pictures about knitting and children and life.

One last thing – I’m pretty darn honest here. I sometimes share the nitty-gritty of my experience as a full-time mom. I do it after bedtime, when I am not taking time away from my kids. It’s theraputic for me, and I have gotten lots of other comments from other moms here and in real life to the effect of “I’m glad it wasn’t just me.” When my kids and their friend get old enough to be reading the internet, I can always go back and password protect the sensitive parts of this site. In the meantime, it is doing only good.

I don’t even like crochet!

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006

It’s been a hard week for me and the girls. Julie and I have been in a negative feedback loop where she starts the day off whiny and uncooperative and I struggle with trying to stay positive, sometimes failing into angry frustration. It’s not pretty. Sophie is teething and in the middle of a developmental burst where she’s working hard on crawling and pulling up, and is just a bit clingier than her normal self. This adds to the problem, since it’s that much harder for me to give either one of them the attention they deserve.

By the time Joe gets home in the evening, I just want to run away. But I don’t. I hand them off and cook dinner, and try to pull it together somewhat so we can have a positive bed time and hopefully start the day fresh tomorrow. I know it’s going to get better, but it’s hard to believe when Julie has just soiled her pants for the second time in the day even though she was just sitting on the potty saying she was all done. All I can say is I’m really glad that tomorrow I get to leave the girls with Joe and go be an adult for a few hours while I teach a class at the store.

In the mean time, Sophie did go to bed at a decent hour this evening, and I spent my precious decompression time not working on the blankie (although I did squeeze in a square earlier today during lunchtime); not working on the bavarian twist sweater (which I love, but am avoiding); but instead on this:

That’s a beaded-cuff sock for Julie. She loves the ones that Carolyn sent us, and I thought it would be fun to whip up some more for her- they are sort of an instant-gratification kind of project. Julie has been threading beads on and off all week, so she has even contributed to the project in her own maddening little way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to remind her one bead at a time, don’t throw the beads, pick the beads up off the floor so Sophie doesn’t get them, yadda yadda. But she enjoys playing with them. She kept saying she was making a bunny costume for Sophie out of the beads. How cute is that? Cute enough to keep me from running away with my yarn and becoming a knitting hermit in a cave. Or maybe on top of a cliff. Have y’all seen the video linked on Boogaj today – go watch it it’s hilarous.

So anyway, one sock down, one to go. I bought a six-pack of socks at Target and enough beads to decorate them all. I’m thinking they might make good gifts too. Even though I really don’t care for crochet.

Let’s address a few comments.

Lisa wants a pattern for the pants. Anyone else interested in a pattern for the pants? I’ll work one up – they’re super easy – but if you volunteer a little data on sizes, the size you want will be available a lot faster. You’d just have to supply me with a few measurements off an existing pair of leggings.

Carolyn, thanks for the great tip on advance preparation for dinner. This is something that I’ve done in the past, and sometimes just fall out of the habit on. I mean, if it’s a choice in solving tomorrow’s dinner emergency and getting a little knitting or blogging time in, it’s hard not to be selfish and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Still, I should get back in the habit and life would be better. So thanks for the reminder!

Oooh! This just in! I just got an extremely enlightened comment from an anonymous commenter on yesterday’s post. You ready? It so fits the mood I’m in I had to laugh for about five minutes and go share it with Joe before reacting. Here we go.

“Let us hope you get rid of your comments about daughter “crapping in her pants” before she learns to read. Crude. And she’ll hate you for it!”

Ooh. Yes. I am crude. I’m telling the truth about my three-year-old, who like every other three year old there has ever been or ever will be, is in the middle of potty training. You don’t want to hear about it? Don’t come back, because honey, I’ve got another one on the way up, and we’re going to vent about all her issues as they present themselves as well. That way, they can both hate me together. Never mind that while they’re reading about crapping their pants, they’ll also be reading about how much I love them and how hard I’m trying to be the best mom I can. You want to make a comment like that, put your name on it next time.

Quickie

Friday, September 22nd, 2006

I spent too much time tonight responding to e-mails and doing various other stuff, and I’m not staying up till 2 a.m. again tonight, so I’m just going to throw at you the pictures I took today before I run off to bed. Except, let me beg you please, pretty please, If you’re going to ask me a question on the blog – one that might in any way be one you’d like a response e-mail to – PLEASe! Put your e-mail address in the form, or in the text of your comment. Don’t make me come to your blog and find your e-mail address. I’m crabby enough already. Sorry.

Here’s Julie showing off the hat-type thing she made at pre-school today.

Julie had a big milestone last night. She finally made poopie in the potty for the first time. Of course, she still took a crap in her pants this afternoon, but I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.

Here’s Sophie parked in her high chair while I attempted to get dinner started. That lasted for all of about 15 minutes, most of which was taken up by helping Julie with the things she was doing on the other end of the counter. I read A Little Pregnant, and I remember her saying that her son Charlie loved to play with raw carrots around this age. So today I peeled one and handed it to Sophie to see what she’d do with it. Totally not interested. Maybe we’ll try again another day. How DO all the other stay-at-home moms manage to get dinner made without their kids screaming at them? ‘Cause it’s not happening here. Not today anyway.

We’ve seen these socks many times before. Now that they’re back from the Fair, I decided to go ahead and wear them today. Let’s take a moment to admire the ribbing that goes all the way to the tips of the toes. Why don’t we all do this? For as much as these socks cost to make, I’m not sure I love them all that much. The colors just aren’t quite right.

Really bad picture here, but I got a new pair of fall shoes today. They’re Birkenstock clogs, and they’re dark brown. I used a gift certificate Joe gave me for some holiday that came last spring. They are very comfortable, and not entirely ugly.

Finally, another lovely package came in the mail today from Debi in Florida. Debi sent me a really nice pile of all kinds of yummy sock yarn bits. I’m sorry, I want to tell you more about them, but I am exhausted. The thing I wonder is what does a lady from Florida do with all those wool socks? I’m not sure I care as long as I get her cast-off bits. Thanks, Debi!

After Midnight (again)

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Sheesh. It’s 12:09 and I just put Sophie in her crib. Poor kid – I do not know why she was so upset tonight, but she sure was, and Joe had to run back to work because the temperature in the computer lab was going up and somehow the system magically text messaged his phone. Thank goodness Julie stayed asleep. Anyway, I have a mishmash of responses to comments and odds and ends to share, so let’s get to it.

If you’re coming over here from Stephanie’s site and you want to read my take on the Eau Claire visit, go here. But feel free to stick around and see what else I’ve been up to if you like as well. Poor Stephanie – I’m sending her positive thoughts right now as she finishes up that book. Hurry up, woman! I want to read it!

Oh, and for those of you who didn’t follow along on the yarn-burial situation – I have a ton of yarn for my blankie. More than I can possibly use. I have already forwarded quite a bit on to others making blankies (see the knitalong list in the sidebar) as well as people making various things for charities. If you still have some sock yarn scraps that you are dying to get rid of, I will still take them and make sure they find a good home (possibly even in my blankie) – just send me an e-mail at shellyk at shellykang dot com, but don’t worry about me not having enough.

A couple of people have asked about my knitting patterns. They are sold at a couple of local yarn shops – the Yarnery in St. Paul is where I teach, and they carry almost all of them; All About Yarn in Coon Rapids sells some; and a new store, the Yarn Garden in Anoka, just ordered a small batch as well. I have a small portfolio of patterns written up, including Toe-Up Socks with short-row heels and toes; Two-Needle Mittens for Beginners; Slip-Stitch Baby Hat (scroll down on that page to see them); Fall Leaves Socks; Ivy Motif Socks; Sherbet Stripe Socks; Argyle Vest; Glittens and Holiday Minis. If you’re interested in getting a copy, or if you work for a store and are interested in carrying them, please e-mail me and I can either give you a price or send samples.

About the Fair Isle hats, I don’t have a pattern written up exactly – I have class notes from a class that I teach at the store where you design your own hat as you learn to knit stranded. It’s a popular class and I love teaching it. I might be persuaded to share those too if someone lives too far away to get to the class. I hope that answers the questions well enough.

I want to welcome Katy Kelsey to the blanket knitalong. She says she’s starting a blankie in all Koigu. Katy, I want to see some pictures! It sounds luxurious.

Okay, I know I promised a picture of the pants on Julie last week, but she didn’t end up wearing them till today. Let me just say it is very hard to get a good picture of pants on a three-year-old. Here’s the best I could do:

They fit her pretty well, and she likes them, although she wasn’t as over-the-top excited about wearing them as I had hoped. That’s life.

Sophie celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day one day late. Here she is in the little shirt Joe bought for Julie at this age.

And, for comparison, here’s Julie wearing the same outfit when she was about six months old.

I’m zonked. I’m going to bed.

Night Out for Blankie

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

Yesterday was the kind of day about which it is sometimes better not to speak. For fear of overwhelming all y’all with my whininess. We will talk about today instead, which was quite bearable. Almost anything could have happened today, and it would have been okay since I had a night out planned this evening. As it was, things were not perfect today, but they were definitely good enough. I said that already, didn’t I? Okay – let’s look at a cute baby picture right away.

That’s Sophie, wearing a hat that I knit for Julie, but that Julie wore only long enough for a picture because it was a bit too small for her. Here’s the Julie pic from the archives. Julie was about a year old in that picture, and she is also wearing a handknit sweater. Anyway, it’s a silly hat but I love it.

So we survived our day today. Somehow, both girls managed to take naps, which is extremely unlikely. They didn’t do it at the same time, but that’s okay because it gave me a little time alone with each of them. I also managed to cook dinner while Sophie was asleep, which worked out perfectly because we ate immediately when Joe got home, allowing me to get out the door in time to make it to the Knitter’s Guild meeting, after getting disoriented and driving around for an extra half hour trying to get back on course.

Arriving late was fine, as I missed the boring business part of the meeting and got there just in time to see all the knitters showing off their State Fair entries. I sat in the back row working on the blankie and catching up with a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time. I got the scoop on the Knit-Out plans, and know the whole story on the location issue, which has been a local hot button. I got up and showed off my fair stuff, and got some good feedback. It’s funny, I ran into a lot of people I haven’t seen in a long time, which was great, I ran into some people who had bought my patterns and introduced themselves, which made me a little self-conscious but felt great too…and several people mentioned reading this blog (hi!) which made me actually blush.

When I sit here writing all this stuff, I don’t usually think of people I don’t know but will actually meet some day reading this. I mean, I know you’re out there, and the same thing happened in Eau Claire. It’s great. It’s just kind of weird because there is a persona out there, an image of me that people create in their heads from my writing. I share all kinds off stuff with the world. I’ve shared very personal information like Sophie’s birth story, I’ve spouted off a lot of wild opinions and I’ve even done what could be considered more than my share of bragging. As much as I know that I’m making a permanent record of all this stuff by putting it out on the internet, it’s always surprising to me when someone mentions having read about something on my blog. Anyway, I’m glad you’re here.

The blanket liked the attention tonight too. Even though I was sitting in the back row, several people approached me and asked about it. I’m off to go visit the cabled sweater for a few rounds before bed.

Two Fine Days

Monday, September 18th, 2006

We’ve had an almost perfect weekend here, with the exception of a little excessive whining on Julie’s part. Not sure what’s going on there, but it comes and goes, and I’m sure if we trudge on through it will get better again. In the mean time, it didn’t stop us from having fun.

We started off Saturday morning with a trip to the Minneapolis Farmers Market – just me and the girls because Joe had to go get his hair cut. I’ve lived here for something like nine years, and this was my first trip. I don’t know why I never went down there before, but I’m glad we finally did. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, I spent more money than I expected to. But oh my goodness there were so many things to see, hear, taste and smell! Right off, I saw a kettle corn booth, and since Julie had been quite whiney about not wanting to go, not wanting to be there up until we got out of the car, I decided to buy a bag and hand it to her to make sure she’d be happy. It worked. The kid chowed on popcorn pretty much the entire time we were there, but I’m okay with that. I had the girls in the double stroller, and although it was a little hard to navigate through the crowds and along the aisles, it was great to know exactly where everyone was at all times, and it was great for carrying all the stuff I bought. Here they are sitting next to one of the many vegetable stands. So many local growers with fresh veg of all kinds!

This guy was cutting samples of his canteloupes, and they were amazing! Just looking at them, with their dark orange flesh dripping with juice had me ready to buy one, but then I caught the smell and tasted a ball and oh boy! I haven’t cut mine open yet, but it’s smelling up the kitchen and will make great breakfasts this week.

Here’s another vegetable stand. Just look at the colors! I felt a little weird about taking pictures of most of the stands, but there were so many beautiful flowers, too. There were several stands selling fresh herbs, and as the wind blew over them, the scent was unbelievable.

There were food stands, too. We bought some frozen tamales from one guy, then in the next aisle there was a lady selling single heated ones. It sounded good, so I bought one to share with Julie. She took a couple of bites and asked for more popcorn, but I thought it was pretty good. Sophie was happy chewing on her plastic rings. She still doesn’t have those bottom teeth out yet, but it’s got to happen one day soon.

There were street entertainers as well – some musicians, and this guy, a clown making balloon animals. What they say about clowns being scary is true. He knelt down next to her so I could take this picture, and she said “I want my mommy!” It was one of those moments where you feel sorry for your kid but at the same time warms your heart because you know you are their end-all be-all.

She was happy again once he handed her a bunny and backed the heck off. Until the bunny popped a few minutes later.

The morning overall was a complete success, and I came home with fresh corn, beets, apples, peppers, and some other stuff I’m sure I’m forgetting as well as the cone of cinnamon almonds that I treated myself to since nobody else in the family can eat them (Joe’s allergic and we’re holding off on nuts for Julie till she’s at least four.)

It really was a fine day out, and the morning had been really windy, so after lunch we all walked to the park and flew our kite. It’s a tiger, and we managed to get it up pretty high a couple of times, although the wind had died down somewhat and was coming only in gusts.

Julie had fun for about ten minutes, then wanted to go play on the playground, so Joe took her over there while I played with the kite for a few more minutes (I had Sophie in the sling) and then put it away and joined them.

Here we are sitting on the blanket, Julie having a little snack. It’s not so often these days that the circumstances of not having Sophie in my lap and Julie wanting to sit in my lap collide, but it happened and it is wonderful to know for a moment that she is still my cuddle-bunny too.

Today was a good day, too, although much more laid back. Just a quiet day at home, maybe to make up for the fun we had yesterday. We got to eat a nice dinner out for free because the Granite City restaurant that is getting ready to open nearby was having their run-through night tonight. A friend called me this afternoon and told me to call up and make a reservation. They had a limited menu, and we all had to choose different meals, but otherwise it was their practice night to train the wait staff. I’m kicking myself, though, because like a total ass, I didn’t think to call more friends till we were on our way home from dinner and then I was all “Why didn’t we call so-and-so?” Sorry, friends!

And now on to some knitting. The blanket… The blanket is starting to remind me of “Audrey Jr.” from the Little Shop of Horrors. She keeps asking to be fed more yarn, then she gets a little bigger and her voice gets a bit louder and she gets even hungrier. Now she’s big enough, even started wrapping herself around me as I knit. I don’t think she’s dangerous yet. Here’s the area I was working on tonight.

Now that the pants are done, there’s another project piping up for some action, and I think it makes a good case to hurry up and get it done. This is a dark picture because I captured a lot more of the texture without the flash than with it, but here is the little sweater I was working on for Julie to match Sophie’s prize-winning one.

This one is a pale cream color, and the cables are slightly different, but it is turning out just as lovely if not more so. The body is finished up to the underarms, so I need to get started on the sleeves. I’d say this project is at least halfway done. I think my mind just froze up when the time came to map out the sleeve stitches and numbers – and it didn’t help that it coincided with a particularly bad moment in Sophie’s sleep history. Sophie has been going to bed at a more acceptable time the last couple weeks (knock wood – we’re not going to discuss it any further for the moment) so it is time. Time for a finished sweater! I’m going to go figure out and hopefully cast on that first sleeve right now. Wish me luck.