Archive for October, 2006

Reality Knitblogging

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

I was thinking about writing up a post tonight on the local grocery stores I visit. I’m a regular customer at no less than three different stores, and there are five that I visit probably at least once a month. It’s a little crazy. I visited two in the last two days, and the difference between them is stark. So I was going to describe it all, and then I realized that the point isn’t to put my readers to sleep, let alone drive them away. I’ll leave to your imagination the details of SuperTarget (SuperCommercial, Super Self-Centered Shoppers, SuperPre-Packaged) versus the amazing local co-op The Wedge (a wedge of organic everything, a wedge of great advice from the resident chef who is very nice to my kids, a few wedges of lunch and treats from the awesome deli counter, and a giant wedge of friendly, crunchy shoppers who smile at my girls and treat each other nicely).

Bored yet? Me too. Let’s look at some knitting pictures. Most knitbloggers do their best to show their knit pieces in beautiful settings, neatly – even artfully – displayed. I do it myself to the best of my ability most days. Not tonight. Tonight we are having reality knitblogging because I need to go tackle the stack of bills and crappe building up on my desk, as well as this:

No, not the cats – they manage themselves quite well, although they could really use a bit more attention than they’re used to lately. I’m talking about the four baskets of clean laundry in my living room waiting to be folded, plus the two more in the washer and dryer downstairs. OY!

So let’s have a look at the knitting progress. We haven’t looked at Blankie since the 19th, and she continues to inch along. I didn’t bother tucking in the ends tonight, so you can see what the normal mess of strings looks like.

And here’s a close-up of one new section:

We’re approaching the end of Socktoberfest, so I ran around the house and even out to the garage to gather up all the socks in progress for a little snapshot. First, let’s take a look at where we were on October 7:

And now, artistically displayed on the high chair which has at least been wiped clean of tonight’s pureed peas and oatmeal…from left to right – the Jaywalker that has been in the bag I take to the yarn store while teaching classes, the one that has been in the diaper bag (this one has seen the most knitting time this month); the plain-jane stockinette sock that’s been living by the computer but also making trips up to the baby room while I get Sophie back to sleep; and finally the one that’s been serving as emergency knitting in the car, which has been sorely neglected in favor of the diaper-bag Jaywalker. I’d really like to finish the Jaywalkers soon, as they are nice wool that will keep my toes warmer than the cotton-wool blend of the other socks. Too bad I can’t work on them in the dark.

No kid pictures today, although Sophie got her first shiner this afternoon – nothing serious – just bopped her face on the side of the dollhouse while trying to stand at it on her own. Tomorrow I hope to get some better pictures of them in their Halloween costumes.

Now it’s time for some chores!

Pre-Halloween Fun

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Today ended up being all-Halloween family-fun day in the Kang household. It’s kind of weird when we actually manage to spend a day as a family doing fun things together, because unfortunately, that’s not the kind of thing our family is always best at. It seems like we do better one-on-one – Joe taking Julie somewhere, or me doing something with one or both of the girls, allowing the other one to either get something done at home, or just take a break. But today we stuck together, and I think most of us managed to enjoy ourselves at some point during the day.

We started off at our local library, where they were having a special Halloween-themed story time, including a little costume-parade around the main area to the tune of Monster Mash.

There’s my little monkey.

All the kids were dressed up in their costumes, and the room was decorated nicely.

Even Sophie got in on the fun. I’m not sure whether this costume is supposed to be a dinosaur or a dragon, but she’s awfully cuddly-cute in it. It has a little hood that is even cuter, but she doesn’t like it up. Look – even Joe is actually smiling!

After the stories, Julie got her face painted. She was very excited about it, and I was proud of her for overcoming her sometimes extreme shyness to let a stranger touch her face.

Julie talked us into going out to lunch at Chipotle (it didn’t take much), and then we came home and carved pumpkins. Julie tried scraping out the inside of hers for about ten seconds before deciding she didn’t like the goopy stuff and handing the job off to me.

Instead, she went back out to the living room and got Joe to help her put her costume back on. Although Joe did carve pumpkins a couple times growing up, it wasn’t a yearly tradition for him, and he tends to shake his head in amusement in my obsession with little holiday-related things like pumpkin-carving, egg dyeing, christmas-tree decorating, etc. Especially considering that we’re, well, heathens.

Anyway, I persevered and finished carving a couple jack-o-lanterns with occasional participation and observation from the rest of the family. Here’s what we ended up with.

At least Joe gets a little more excited about the roasted pumpkin seeds. I also managed to mix up a batch of sugar cookie dough, and tomorrow Julie and I will make some Halloween cookies.

Resolve

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Let’s talk a bit more about that Bavarian Twist sweater. I really must thank everyone who commented about it – reading all of your words really helped me pull my own feelings about it into focus. The number one point that hit home was that if I’m in the mood for some mindless knitting, then goshdarnit I deserve some mindless knitting. I work hard all day and night, and if in the end I want to spend my precious few minutes of free time working on the blankie, then why should I feel guilty? I shouldn’t. I resolve that from now on, I won’t.

That said, I’m not going to put the sweater away or rip it out or anything, either. I’m going to keep working on it as I have the time and energy, and give myself permission to finish it when ever it happens to get finished. There are several reasons why.

First, a big portion of the joy I get out of knitting is the having done it part. The finishing, the looking at it and thinking “Wow. I made this.” I’m already halfway to that point on this project, and it’s only going to get easier once the sleeves are done and joined into the body.

Second, adding more projects to the UFO list isn’t going to help any either. Yes, it is fun to dream about starting a sweater for myself, but the reality of swatching and thinking it through and doing the relatively complicated colorwork at the top is going to put me right back in the same place as I’m at with the current sweater pretty darn fast. When I’m honest with myself, the problem isn’t the project – it’s all the other pressures in my life that I’m really whining about. Mostly.

Third, and this is a big thing that I didn’t mention in my previous post. Something I didn’t really think about much till I really contemplated the idea of putting the thing away and getting it back out later. Here’s what the “pattern” for this sweater looks like:

It is a couple of sheets of scrawled schematics and cryptic notes on graph paper, plus a sheet of literally cut-and-pasted copies of graphs from Bäuerliches Stricken by Lisl Fanderl – graphs that are also covered with scrawled notes, and which I am only following in the way that makes sense to my current thinking. Graphs that do not resemble any other knitting graphs we’ve ever seen outside of Bavaria. Graphs that I had to call Schoolhouse Press and talk to Meg herself in order to figure out how to read, even with the key. But it’s always pleasant having an excuse to call and speak with Meg. If I put this project away, I will forget all the little nuances that my brain is holding onto. I will loose all the little details that I don’t even know are important, and I will have to eventually pick it all back up, pore over my insane notes, and hope that I can make some kind of sense out of it later. yeah. good luck with that.

I mean, I do write knitting patterns sometimes. I know that with the right effort, I could come up with a well-written pattern that would hold the hand of a novice working this sweater without ever having knit a cable in his or her life. I’m not going to do that or anything close to it, though, because these sweaters are meant to be one-of-a-kind pieces for only my girls. That, and the yarn I’m using has been discontinued for 20 years and I’m certainly not going to knit a THIRD copy of this sweater just so I can have a sample in a currently-available yarn.

So there we go. I’m going to keep knitting on it at least enough so that I can remember what the heck I’m doing, but I am going to try to not stress out about it. I really think things will get better once the sleeves are done – I don’t like working these dinky little rounds where I have to figure out the next round every few minutes.

Switching gears, Joan asked for some help with her EZ Gull Stitch sweater, and I aim to please. Here is a picture of Julie wearing the one I knit her a few years ago out of Koigu. It really is a charming little sweater, although I think a solid color would have shown off the stitch pattern much better.

Elizabeth’s directions are, as she puts it, pithy. Joan is at the point in the pattern (page 29 in my copy of Knitter’s Almanac) where it says “Place remaining 92 sts on needle, knitting up 4X7 sts at the cast-on sleeve sts, and continue with pattern….” What she’s asking you to do is knit across the front of the sweater, pick up seven stitches in the cast-on edge from each side of the sleeve you just knit, knit across the back of the sweater, do the same with the second sleeve, then knit across the other front. This joins it all together, avoiding underarm seams and leaving you with only two sleeve seams to sew at the very end. If you realize you’re going to be doing this before you start the sleeves, you can use a provisional cast-on for those 7 stitches on each side and then you can simply pick up the live stitches when you get to this part. That’s what I did, and it worked marvelously. I hope this clarifies things a bit. Or really, I hope that Joan got tired of waiting for my answer and went and figured it out on her own.

Are you ready for some baby pictures? Sophie does this all the time now – pulls up on something and just stands around. In this picture, she is staring at the television out of frame. I think it was late afternoon and we were watching Bob the Builder or something. And that pink sippy cup rolling around on the floor behind her? That was Julie’s, only Sophie found it and had just been chewing on it a few moments earlier. I’m such a great mom. (yes, that was some irony right there.) But in the foreground? At the bottom left? Those are my feet in the handknit socks. yep.

Sophie at dinner, entertaining herself with a giant chunk of cucumber. Too big for her to choke on, but a great size for grabbing with little fists and slobbering all over.

Blogger Ate My Post

Friday, October 27th, 2006

Last night I had a very decent post all written up, and I clicked publish right as Sophie started to fuss and I ran on up to deal with her and go to bed. But then something happened and it didn’t actually publish and the post is gone. Bleh. The post was all about the warm fuzzies of all the nice comments I got about the sweater and what I’m planning to do. I still plan to tell y’all about that, probably tomorrow, but I’m really tired. Sophie was up and screaming at 4 this morning and it would be generous to say that I got another half hour sleep after that. Sorry. Tomorrow – same time and same place – I’ll try to give you something juicy, or at least unburnt.

Tduck Gook Revisited and a Bavarian Twist Reckoning

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

We ate the Tduck Gook leftovers tonight, and I managed to snap a few pictures just after I assembled everything and before I rushed it to the table. First, a note on pronunciation. To an untrained american ear, Tduck Gook sounds like “duck gook”. I got the particular spelling I’m using from a korean cookbook that I have, although I’m sure that it’s spelled other ways by other english-speaking sources. Just as asian people sometimes have a hard time differentiating some sounds that we westerners make (think Ls and Rs, for instance), we westerners can’t even fully comprehend the subtleties of some of their sounds. The T is in the beginning of Tduck in an attempt to show one of these subtle sounds. Instead of the D at the beginning of the word, it’s really a sound that’s sort of a cross between the TH in the and D. Sort of reminds me of the way certain east coasters say “da” when they mean “the”. As a compound word, Tduck means the dumpling/noodle things I’m about to show you and Gook is the generic word for soup.

Here’s a picture of the tduck thawing in a bowl of water before I boiled them. As I said before, they are eighth-inch thick slices of a sort of dough-type substance made out of pounded rice. Sort of like mochi, if you’ve ever had it. They are very pleasantly chewy when cooked.

Here are the bowls I used to serve our soup in tonight. The ones on the left are part of a set of mixing bowls, and are not at all the traditional serving vessels for this soup. The one on the right is about what I was looking for at the store the other day. I don’t remember why I bought only one of these bowls when I bought it several several years ago. I have a vague feeling that I may have bought it before I knew Joe, and at one point I used it to store fruit in. So now I want more, and I am in no hurry, and I will eventually find something like them around town somewhere. In the mean time, the mixing bowls work just fine.

Here’s the soup itself fully assembled. My presentation is neither as artistic nor as beautiful as my MIL’s usually seems to me. But she’s been serving it for a lot longer than I have, and I was in a hurry to get some hungry, tired kids fed.

Here’s Sophie’s dinner – pureed sweet potatoes and rice cereal. She ended up being too tired to eat and instead had a melt down while I tried to eat my soup as quickly as possible and get her to bed. On the bright side of that, she did have a nice, long nap this morning and a shorter one this afternoon, and last night she slept, well, like a baby.

Okay, it’s time for a reckoning with the Bavarian Twist sweater. The last time I showed it to you was on September 17, and it looked like this:

Now, a month and change later, it looks like this:

The body has not grown at all, and I think I’ve actually decided that it needs another inch or so before the underarms. All I have accomplished in just over a month is that teeny tiny portion of a sleeve! Yes, it is true that this has been a month of slowly going insane with sleep deprivation and lack of any time to myself to speak of, let alone quality knitting time. Still, this is a sweater meant for my three-year-old who grows like a weed to be wearing now! This is a sweater that coordinates with the one my 8-month-old who grows like a weed IS wearing now. Yikes! Last night I knit for over an hour on that darn sleeve and only made it through a little over one repeat.

I feel that I am at a crossroads. Either I have to decide that it is really really important for me to finish this thing as soon as humanly possible, which might mean temporarily banishing the blankie from my sight (it is very hard to sit and work diligently on Bavarian Twist when the blankie is calling to me from across the room, begging for just one more square before bed time). Or – and it hurts to even admit this out loud. Maybe the Bavarian Twist needs to take a time out in the stash closet. Maybe I need to hide it away and think about it oh, say, in six months when the pressure is off to make it in time for Julie to wear it and I can focus on getting it done in time for Sophie to wear when she is three. Here are some of the pros and cons that have been circulating through my brain for the last week or so:

Reasons to get it done now:
-I would love to have an adorable picture of my girls wearing intricately carved coordinating sweaters that I knit for them with love. If I can get them to sit still together. Wouldn’t it make a nice holiday card?
-I’ve put so much effort into it already, shouldn’t I make sure to finish it in time so that both of my girls can get some wear out of it?
-I really hate to admit defeat on any project, and am not in the habit of hiding projects in the stash closet (except, maybe that one intarsia sweater for me that is constantly peeking out giving me dirty looks and reminding me how great it would look on me now if only I had kept up the good work)

Reasons to shove it in the closet:
-I’m tiiiired of this thing already!
-There are projects for me waiting in the wings – the Blue Shimmer cardigan is calling most loudly. Maybe if I started that one now I could wear it by, say, next winter!
-Julie did get a pair of knit pants for this winter already, and is very happy with them, I must say.
-Julie does not even enjoy wearing sweaters. Even on days when I can convince her to put one on, she wants it off almost immediately.
-I’m a little nervous about how it’s going to fit her even now. I know that she will squeeze into it, at a minimum, but I am going to be really unhappy if there are gaps between the buttons when I button it up. You know what I’m talking about. I do think it looks narrower than it should at the moment because it’s not blocked yet and it will spread horizontally when I wet it.

Okay, there were other arguments going round and round up there, but now that I’m trying to write them down, of course they have quieted down. I think most of them involved whiney please to “just let me work mindlessly on the blankie, please!” I swear, I have done much more intricate things than this stupid sweater. But that was when I had more of my brain cells before my girls fried them all. I hope they will one day regenerate and allow me to resume the full enjoyment of complicated knitting.

In the mean time, any thoughts? Care to cheer me on? Help me set a deadline? Figure out some reward system for completing parts of the sweater? Anyone got a really good hiding place for a half-finished project? I’m going to go plug in a DVD and toil on the damned thing some more for now, I guess.

Nothing to Complain About

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

Oddly enough, I have nothing to complain about this evening. Sophie pretty much slept through the night last night – I did take her into bed with me a little after midnight, but we didn’t wake up till Joe got up around 7. Yippee! To top that off, she took a short nap in the morning and a nice hour and a half or so nap this afternoon. To top that off, she got nice and sleepy as on cue at the end of dinner, had her bath and went to bed by 8 this evening. Knock on wood. I can hardly believe it, and it amazes me how much my mood improves with a little bit of free time, sleep and a little bit of hope that there will be more of both.

I have to admit that no knitting at all happened on the Bavarian Twist sweater last night. I was all set to start on it when I realized that the movie I was going to watch was subtitled. If you haven’t yet seen A Very Long Engagement, you really must. I love the actress who plays the main character, Audrey Tautou, and it is a lovely, sad, funny, romantic story put together nicely despite the violence of a war film. Even though I don’t speak french, I love hearing the language spoken, too. Just make sure you have a no-look knitting project handy first – unless you speak french! I got a few squares done on the blankie instead, and I’m going to go work on the Bavarian Twist as soon as I finish this. I’m pretty sure tonight’s video doesn’t have subtitles.

Speaking of videos, I happened to find this one and another from my Netflix queue at the library last week just sitting there. It always seems that I run dry on Netflix DVDs on Sunday and/or Monday, so I grabbed them up and brought them home. I really need to find the time to look up more of the movies on my Netflix list and see if I can order them from the library for free. I heart my library!

Okay, first some family pictures and then the mailbag…

Sophie on the scooter thing that plays “Old McDonald” incessantly. She discovered the pushing of buttons a week or two ago, and is constantly crawling over to either the Sit-’N-Spin or this tractor thing to push the buttons and make some noise. When she’s not checking for the toilet bolt caps in the bathrooms, that is. I finally took them off and put them away for the time being.

Joe and Julie got the fingerpaints out for a while on Saturday. Julie loves the fingerpaints. “I’m painting with my hands!”

Here’s Julie riiilly enjoying some watermelon Sunday. We ate watermelon like crazy all summer when it was cheap, and Julie wanted me to buy more this week, so I got a tiny package of pre-cut for her as a treat. It only took about ten pictures to get one of her not making a weird face. Crazy kid.

This morning on the way out the door to pre-school…Julie says, “I have meatballs on my hat!”

And Sophie says, “honk-shoo” Ain’t nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby.

This afternoon on the couch. Julie wanted to cuddle. With me – not Sophie. So we all sat on the couch reading books together for a while. Julie loves her mauve baby blanket that I knit for her when she was born…it’s getting a little fuzzy.

Okay, and about the mail…there was one comment a day or two ago that asked a question that I’m not comfortable answering. It was a perfectly nice comment with a perfectly normal question, and I don’t want anybody to feel sad or sorry or worried that they said anything wrong… just – please don’t feel ignored or hurt that I’m not going to answer your question. I’m pretty darn open here, but there are a few places I’m not going to go on the internet and that’s one of them. Thanks for understanding.

Tduck Gook

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

I know I’ve mentioned korean New Year’s Day soup here before, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never gone into the details of what it is and how it’s made. This morning, it struck me as the perfect thing for a cold October evening, especially as I woke up feeling a bit off after only a combined total of maybe three hours’ sleep, and it is the perfect kind of soup to eat when you’re feeling a bit off. The first time I had it, it was on New Year’s Day about six years ago at the in-law’s house accompanied by a very bad hangover from the previous night’s party which we had hosted at our apartment. But that’s another story.

I had an oxtail in the basement deep freeze, ordered from the local farmers during their last delivery, and that was enough to get the ball rolling on a delicious dinner for tonight. Around 10 this morning, I ran down and got the package out of the freezer and emptied it directly into the pot, completely frozen. I ran enough cold water over the funky looking bones to cover them plus a bit more. Oxtail really is just that – it’s the tail of a cow, skinned and cut into chunks. I only had a few pounds worth, not a whole tail. I added some salt and a couple quartered onions and set it on the stove to boil. Once it was boiling hard, I turned the heat way down to a simmer and left it there while I went and showered, napped a bit (not enough) and played with my family for a couple of hours.

The fog cleared from my sleep-addled head a bit and I thought about what ingredients I would need to pick up from the asian grocery store. Joe and I had about three conversations over which store would be best to go to – Kim’s over on Snelling in St. Paul, Seoul Foods up on 65 sort of in the direction of the in-laws’ place, or another one the name and exact location of which we don’t know, but it has a deli in it that would have been a lot of fun to visit, especially since it was lunch time. I decided on Seoul Foods, and headed out with Sophie since Julie made it painfully clear that she wanted us to leave so she could stay home with Daddy. Ooookay.

It took me a long time to feel even somewhat confident walking into an asian grocery store on my own, even though I enjoy the experience overall. There are so many cool packages and interesting food products to look at – I remember when they *all* looked unfamiliar, and it was funny today exploring all the aisles of the store, still looking for new and interesting things but also coming across many ingredients that I know and love whether I keep them in my own kitchen on a regular basis or not. I still worry a bit as I’m picking things out whether I’m buying the right version of something to come closest to reproducing Joe’s mom’s cooking, but I’m getting better even on that front, especially after having lived with them for a few months last year.

The other part of the experience that I find intensely interesting is being the only white person present. It’s an enlightening experience for most of us white Americans, and I’ve been lucky enough to have in many places and times over the last ten years. It’s good to know how it feels to be the “other” in a place, sometimes welcome and sometimes not. I’m a little less self-conscious now than I used to be, but in a different, more respectful way that is hard for me to explain and really is a topic for another post. Back to the grocery shopping…

I picked up some frozen dumplings filled with cabbage and pork – like the pot stickers you get at a Chinese restaurant. I bought a package of Tduck, thick oval korean rice noodles that are chewy in a wonderful way when you cook them up. Some kimchee (spicy pickled cabbage), some roasted seaweed (like the stuff around the outside of sushi rolls), and a box of Pocky candy for Joe, who loves it. I looked for some bowls like the ones Joe’s parents serve their soup in – the kind of bowls that they use at Pho 79 for the noodle soup there – but they didn’t have them, so I resigned myself to making do with the ones we have yet again. Note to self: Need to look for a restaurant supply store in town that might have them.

As I was doing my shopping with Sophie in the sling, I wondered whether I would run into any of the in-law’s friends shopping on their way home from church, but instead only ended up speaking to a nice older lady who asked me if Sophie was mine (oddly enough, even though she asked me pretty much the exact same question that pisses me off so much when random white strangers at the mall ask it, I felt okay with it from her – probably because she asked it with the assumption that yes, Sophie was mine) and I told her yes, my husband is Korean-american. This opened up the opportunity for me to ask her if the dumplings I had in my basket were the right ones for Tduck Gook and she reassured me that they were, and we had a pleasant but brief conversation about her daughter, who is married to a white man and comparing notes on who the mixed children look more like. She seemed curious as to whether all halfie kids look more like the white parents, and I said no, Sophie looks like my husband although our older one looks just like me. I think she was pleasantly surprised. Oh, this blog entry is going everywhere but the short story about food I meant for it to!

So anyway, I get home and take the soup off the stove. I fished out all the floaty stuff and stuck the covered pot on the back stoop (in just-above-freezing weather) to cool as quickly as possible. This part wouldn’t have been necessary if I’d planned ahead and made the broth a day before. I ignored it all till about an hour before we wanted to eat, when I picked what meat I could off the bones, added in some shredded beef from a roast I made last week and had left in the freezer for just this purpose. I made a little pancake out of scrambled egg and chopped it into strips, chopped up some green onion and some seaweed. I put some rice on in the cooker – even though it’s not part of the soup, Joe seems to feel that a side of rice is just as necessary to this meal as the kimchee, and I’m happy to accomodate him – the excess will go into fried rice later this week. I grabbed the broth from outside, craped off and discarded the congealed fat from the top, then put it back on the stove to reheat. Two more pots went on the stove to boil water – one for the tduck and one for the dumplings. You could use just one pot for both, I suppose, but Julie can’t eat the dumplings because they are made of wheat, and I didn’t want to contaminate the tduck, which is made of rice and safe for her.

It all comes together at the last minute as you ladle hot broth into the bowls, then add what I like to call the “floaty stuff” – all the other bits I mentioned before – and it looks like a work of art before you start eating it. I’m sorry, I forgot to take a picture in the rush to get it all to the table while it was hot. Maybe later in the week if we eat the leftovers as planned. Joe tasted it and said it was good. Julie ate it up happily to the last drop. It was not quite my mother-in-law’s soup, but it was good.

Still with me? I’ll give you a little update on the Sophie sleeping situation. The last two nights have been very good and very bad. She is finally going to bed around 8 and staying put all evening, although she does wake up every couple hours and need quite a bit of soothing. Usually one shift from each of us before she resettles, but we haven’t been practicing this that long, and I still prefer this over wide-awake baby all evening. That’s the good part. The bad part is that once it’s bedtime for us, I’ve been bringing her into bed, and she’s been waking up screaming at me for a good fifteen minutes every hour or so. Totally unlike Sophie, and I think it might be related to new teeth and the little bit of a cold she seems to have. She even had a very low-grade fever this morning. I’m not worried about it other than because I want some freakin’ sleep. I’ve been bringing her downstairs to the guest bedroom so that Julie and Joe aren’t disturbed as well, and I’m hoping for better tonight. The worst part is that my standby for late-night soothing is to just stick a breast in her mouth, and that has always worked, but this week she’s been biting me with those sharp little teeth to let me know that it’s NOT working now. Oy! Thanks for the support and well-wishes for everyone following this ride with me. It really helps.

Okay…now for the rest of the mail bag. Jennifer in Oak Park, thanks for putting me straight about Franklin. Somehow my sleep-deprived brain had missed the part about him not getting to go to Rhinebeck. If you haven’t read Franklin yet, you really should go check him out. He is the funniest zen-buddist knitter-guy ever, and his roomate Delores the wayward sheep is pretty cool too.

Katy wrote me a very nice, Pollyanna-esque comment about how lucky I am to be in Minnesota, obviously homesick and forgetting the realities of winter that starts in October and ends in May, during which we get about five hours of sunlight per day for several months and yes, sometimes really really glaringly bright ones too which means there is no cloud cover to keep any heat in and therefore it’s even colder. And Katy? The lack of humidity? Yeah, it’s really nice. So nice that my skin turns to sand paper and my nasal passages – well, let’s not even go there. Still, it was a nice thought, and I do like the Pollyanna attitude when I can summon it myself. So thanks.

Hey, Celeste – sorry to hear you’re still having trouble getting y0ur three-year-old to sleep. You know what? I bet you could still do something very similar with her. We did it for Julie when she turned two, and I didn’t think it was going to work, but after ten minutes of crying the first night, she’s gone to bed pretty darn easy ever since. Just a thought. I know every situation is different, and I’m sending positive sleep vibes your way. I totally feel your pain!

Annie expressed interest in learning to knit in the round, but is still intimidated. Annie, I can only offer you this – just stay calm, find a quiet time and sit yourself down with the directions and materials and just try it. Worst thing that’s going to happen is that you waste a few minutes trying. If you’re still struggling, so see someone at your LYS for some help. Most stores have either clinic hours (the Yarnery in St. Paul does on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and on Thursday afternoons) or you could take a class where you could learn that and so much more. I’m afraid that me explaining it here isn’t going to help you, other than to say that the biggest thing you need is confidence in your own ability to figure it out, and only you can supply that. I hope you try!

I’m off to watch a movie and toil away at the Bavarian Twist sweater for at least a repeat (barring baby wakefullness) and then hopefully some snuggling with the blankie. I can’t believe it’s only 9:24 and I’m finishing a blog entry.

Rhinebeck

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

Hi, all you fabulous, lucky knitbloggers out there tripping off to Rhinebeck for the weekend? I hate you. I am so jealous. Bring me back something nice? Not that you’re reading in my little cul-de-sac of the knitblogging internet highway. I’ll be home with my fabulous family, thinking of you.

I meant to have more of a post tonight – to answer a few questions that have been piling up. We’ll have to wait for tomorrow ’cause it’s past my bedtime.

A Little Better

Friday, October 20th, 2006

For those of you who hadn’t noticed, I’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch the last few weeks, especially this week, but today was a little better. Joe and I had a really good talk about the whole Sophie sleeping thing last night, and agreed on a plan of action that we actually tried out tonight. I have to say, whenever I’m a little down or even verging on depressed about something, coming up with a plan of action – just admitting that there is a problem and starting to work towards a solution – makes me feel a lot better fast.

Anyway, we’re following some advice from Dr. Greene, and while it’s not Ferberizing, it definitely would fall under the umbrella of cry-it-out according to the die-hard AP parents (one of which I have considered myself since Julie was born – maybe they’ll have to take away my membership card now :-) ). We’ve committed to give this a go for at least a couple of weeks and see what happens. The best part of this plan, as far as I’m concerned, is that neither one of us is stuck with an awake baby all evening long. We’re going to take 20 or 30 minute turns. The worst part about sitting in a darkened room trying to get a baby to sleep is not knowing how long you might have to be in there, and it helps me to have a countdown till Joe will show up and relieve me. And the worst part of being in another room while Joe is trying to get a crying baby to sleep is not knowing how much longer it’s going to go on, or whether or not I should go try to help. Now we have some rules. Ask me how I feel about our new arrangement in a couple of weeks and I may feel differently, but at least for the moment it is offering me some hope. Really, the end goal is to get the baby to get the sleep that she desperately needs and is not getting now.

In the mean time, yesterday I was still having a pretty bad day, and what does a knitter do who is depressed about not having any free time to herself for knitting all the beautiful yarn she already owns? She goes out and buys more yarn. In this case, I went and checked out a LYS that is just down the road from my house, but which I had not visited for several years. I dragged both girls with me in their double stroller – Julie slept through it and Sophie played with the toys dangling from her car seat while I poked around for a good fifteen minutes. I ended up buying more sock yarn (what else?). This is a skein of Schaeffer Anne, and of course the picture does not do the colours justice.

Now let’s look at some cute kid pictures!

I call this one Soylent Green. Yesterday I caught Julie assembling a people sandwich out of her wooden play bread and a whole pile of old-school Fisher Price Little People. She even looks a bit like a savage cannibal in this picture. I think what was really going on was that she was pretending to be either a cat or a dog and that the little people were kibble. The kid has the capacity to totally crack me up, even when I’m having a really crappy day.

Here’s Sophie during lunch time today. I gave her a little bowl with some puffed rice cereal – the unsweetened kind. It kept her busy for a good twenty minutes. She’s still trying to refine her pincer-grasp technique, but she did manage to get some cereal in her mouth on her own.

Then Julie got involved. I didn’t manage to capture the full depth of the cuteness, I’m sorry to say. But Julie was feeding cereal bits to Sophie one at a time and Sophie was really enjoying it, opening her little mouth for the next bite and even grabbing Julie’s hand to suck it in even faster. They were making each other laugh, and it was very sweet. This also did nothing to hurt my mood.

Finally, I was working on the blankie a bit this morning after breakfast while the girls played. I finished a square and spread it out on the floor for a second to get a good look at it. I wasn’t planning on taking any pictures, but then this happened and I had no choice. If nothing else, Julie makes a good marker for scale. But it was fun watching her roll around on it, and we played a little game of color-matching with it for a few minutes. I love her smile in this picture. She’s being totally naughty because I was asking her to hold still for a second, and instead she kept wiggling and flipping her skirt up with her legs, so I had to just snap the shot during a brief pause. Still, it’s the best one of the batch.

More SP9 and Socktoberfest Questions Answered

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Shelby, my hostess for the Secret Pal 9 swap, put up a couple different lists of questions on her blog a few days ago, so I’m going to do my best to answer them.

List your favorite:

Actor – Hm. So many out there…I think Chow Yun Fat is pretty hot. I also like Matthew Fox as Jack on Lost, and Patrick Dempsey in Grey’s Anatomy is nice to look at as well. Tom Hanks is funny, and oh I just can’t decide.
Actress – Probably Jody Foster.
Animal - Anything on Cute Overload, or maybe my two cats Daisy and Harry. I do miss having a dog, though.
Band - I don’t really have a favorite band. A long, long time ago I would have said U2 or REM, I listened to Bob Marley and the Wailers while I was in labor with Sophie, Beatles is easy to go to. These days, for better or for worse, I listen to a lot of children’s music. With my kids, of course.
Book - This is impossible. East of Eden, maybe? Villette? Jane Eyre? I really enjoy the Harry Potter books, too, and always run right out to buy a copy when they come out. Too bad the series is almost over.
Bubble Bath – Ha! As if I get to take bubble baths. I don’t really like froufie stuff in my bath even if I do get one – too likely to cause problems, and scents don’t tend to agree with me.
Candy – Chocolate. My very very favorite is one particular piece that Godiva makes – it’s shaped like a starfish, and is filled with lovely raspberry flavored goo. They make a candy bar with that flavor, too. Too bad I have to stay somewhat away from chocolate for Sophie’s sake, although I have been sneaking the Junior Mints out of what is supposed to be our Halloween hand-out candy. I think I’m going to have to buy more for the trick-or-treaters.
Color - Hm. I think I look best in pink, but I’ve been wearing more green lately – the non-Kelly types – because I think maybe it brings out the green in my eyes.
Drink – Joe made a really good home-brew beer a while back. A nice, lighter ale.
Flower – Daisies.
Food – Chocolate cake, if I have to pick just one. But I love anything my MIL cooks (korean food), hamburgers and fries, sushi, pho, pizza (veggie deluxe), and about a bazillion other things.
Lip Balm – I have an Aveda one that I like now. There used to be a Body Shop one with honey it it, but they don’t make it any more. I like the stick kind rather than the goopy kind.
Lotion – Aveda Hand Relief. It actually does have a bit of a scent to it, but it is a very light scent, sort of citrusy/herbal, and although it is a very rich cream, it isn’t greasy at all and doesn’t leave a filmy feeling on your hands. I have really dry, chapped hands starting about now through spring, especially since I’m constantly washing them after changing diapers/toileting Julie and while cooking.
Movie - That is so hard. I’m not really a watch-a-movie over and over kind of person. I do love the way I cry at the end of Steel Magnolias every time.
Place- Home
Song - Keep on the Sunny Side
TV Show – I’ve been catching up with Grey’s Anatomy on DVD lately, and really like it. I’ve also been watching Smallville, 24, Monk, and Lost; all of which I like. My favorite show used to be ER, but I’ve lost track of it. Maybe I should add the latest seasons to my Netflix queue.
Yarn- Pomfret by Brunswick
Vacation Spot - Anywhere tropical with a nice beach…we really enjoyed Hawaii a couple years ago, and I would love to go back there some time. There are so many places we’d love to visit when we eventually have the time and money. I’m a little sad that we never made it to Korea before we had kids, and now it’s looking like Joe’s brother may move home soon, so it’ll be even less likely for us to go in the near future.

Okay, that’s the first set of questions. Shelby also posted the following list last week, and I’m finally going to answer it now:

1. Where is your favorite knitting spot?
On the couch in front of the TV. But I also love it when both of the girls fall asleep in the car and I can pull into the garage or a parking spot and knit till someone wakes up. Lovely!

2. If you suddenly could never knit again (shudder) – what would you do instead?
Please don’t make me consider that. Maybe I’d try weaving. Maybe I’d try to develop a new relationship with my sewing machine. Maybe I’d catch up with the girls’ scrapbooks. Probably I would just melt into a puddle on the floor.

3. If you could travel anywhere in the world – where would you go and why?
Probably Korea – I’d love to know more about my family’s heritage, and I think it would just be interesting and fun.

4. When you were little – What did you want to do “when you grew up?” Are you doing it?
I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. I came close to following that path, even went to college for it till I realized that the hours and lifestyle associated with it were not for me. Before I was a Mommy, I worked as a computer programmer, and mostly liked it when it wasn’t too stressful.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
There’s a local ice cream parlor called Sebastian Joe’s that has a flavor called Chocolate Coyote (I think) that is chocolate with cayenne pepper mixed in. They also sometimes have a chocolate one with raspberry mixed in that I love.

Okay, and finally, Lolly asked some Socktoberfest sock questions way back on October 3. I suppose I could at least answer these since I’m not getting much sock knitting done (I did get the second heel turned on my Jaywalkers, though).

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I started making socks right after I finished my first knitting project, a sweater, back in 2001. I pretty much taught myself using a pattern.

What was your first pair? How have they “held up” over time?
My first pair was Regia Cotton Colori – here they were new:

From the beginning, they were a bit loose and floppy, but I have worn them almost weekly from October to April each year and they are still wearable, albiet with a bit of darning here and there. I don’t wear them so much any more just because I don’t want them to die entirely just yet.

What would you have done differently?
I knit that first pair on size 1 or 2 needles, and now all fingering weight socks are done on zeros with a conscious attempt to knit more tightly. Also, the pattern had me use stockinette for the heel flap and I now know that one *must* use a heel stitch if doing a flap-type sock.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Knitting with Mountain Colors Bearfoot is a dream, as is anything Lorna’s Laces or Koigu. It is unfortunate that these yarns don’t hold up better on wear. In the end, I think I am usually happiest with a Regia or Opal or Trekking of the self-striping variety.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I don’t crochet if I can help it. I always knit my socks on 5 Pony Pearl DPNs, although I have tried the 2 circular and Magic Loop methods.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Short-row, 90% of the time.

How many pairs have you made?
I lost track quite a ways back. I think I have at least 20 pairs in my personal collection, and have probably given away not quite that many.