Archive for November, 2006

Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

I am so tired tonight, I can not even talk about it. Instead, I am going to show you what’s been going on in my knitting life because for the most of last week or so, Sophie’s been sleeping during the evenings again – Yay! – and I have had some time to get a few things done. We will not talk about Sophie’s sleep habits during the late night and early morning hours.

First, a little finished project. I took these pictures a few days ago, right after these pants had been washed. I was going to put the pants on Julie the next morning and get another picture of her wearing them, but somehow they have disappeared. I wonder if they somehow got stuck back in the dirty laundry, but I’ve searched and can’t find them. You’ll get a picture on the model when they turn back up.

These pants are part of one of Julie’s favorite outfits, an outfit that I bought for all of about five dollars at a garage sale last spring. That’s the way it always works. The cheap stuff she wants to wear every day, the outfit from Gymboree that matches her sister’s she avoids like the plague. In this case, someone else had already loved the heck out of these pants, so much so that after a few months of heavy wearing Julie wore the knees right through. I either needed to find some new pants to go with the matching tunic, or somehow patch the old ones up. These pants are so perfectly cute with their little flowered fabric, I knew I wouldn’t be able to find a good substitute. Plus, the dress just barely fits her now – it would be silly to go and buy new pants to match a dress she won’t be wearing much longer, and which would cost more than the initial investment. Kelle from my Wednesday morning knitting group suggested knitting some patches, and I just about died with the perfection of the idea.

They turned out alright – luckily, I had plenty of sock yarn scraps on hand from which to choose. Of course, a little mitered square:

And, just for the fun of it, a log cabin square. I really should have done another layer of stripes on this one, but I was getting bored. Now if only I could figure out where the heck those pants went…

Next, a partially finished project. I am disappointed that nobody at all tried to guess what the mess hanging from my knitting machine was going to be. Well, I’m doing my best to duplicate Julie’s Christmas stocking. I made hers a couple of years ago in a different sleep-deprived fog, so it took a little knitting forensics to figure out the pattern, but I think they will eventually come close to matching. We can’t have to different-sized Christmas stockings around here with two little girls, or we will inevitably have arguments about who got more stocking stuffers. Here is the original on the left, and the one I just knit up on the right. Same yarn, same number of rows and stitches, same gauge settings on the machine (I hope).

Pretty freaky, huh? Of course, my laundry-timing is all off again. I had just finished something like my sixth load of wash right before I finished seaming it up. I had to scrounge around a bit today for a load of towels, and here is how it looks after a run through the washer on hot-cold and then the dryer till the towels were half-done. I have a very limited supply of this irreplaceable yarn (20-year-old Pomfret), and the last thing I want to do is singe it in the dryer!

There has been quite a bit of shrinkage, but there is lots of stitch definition left to shrink up yet. I’ll give you more updates as the dirty laundry piles up once more, and then we can have some fun needle-felting on Sophie’s name.

While I had the machine out, I whipped up this swatch:

It’s Woolly Stripes yarn by Nashua, and has been in my stash for over a year. I love this yarn – it is incredibly soft and beautiful. It would be lovely to knit by hand, but it would be even more lovely to actually wear. Self-striping yarn like this really does look best in simple stockinette garments, perfect for machine knitting. I’m in love with this swatch, and I have a picture in my head of how the sweater is going to look. I forced myself to put the machine away and wait a while, though. There are too many other Christmas related projects on the burners at the moment, unfortunately mostly non-knitting ones. I need the space to set up my [gack!] sewing machine. But I promised myself that as soon as the Christmas chores are out of the way (probably some time in January) I get to knit up this sweater.

A couple of people asked questions about my machine, and I want to answer them, but it’s a whole other post. I started writing about it and it’s too long and rambly. I will write about it, but I’m too tired tonight. Machines are cool, but an entirely different beast in many ways from hand knitting.

Holidazzle

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

For my readers who are not local and in the know, Minneapolis has a longstanding tradition called the Holidazzle parade. Throughout the month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we have a parade every Wednesday through Sunday night down a street called Nicollette Mall in the center of downtown. This is not just any parade. It is a parade of people and floats covered in lights, and it’s pretty cool to watch even if you’re an adult. It would have to be pretty cool in order to attract people to line the curbside in the middle of Minnesota winters. Of course, this being the opening weekend and exceptionally warm weather, it was packed with all the yahoos who couldn’t wait for a calmer weekend to go. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Joe is not generally a fan of crowds, which tends to rule out a lot of happy-family activities. I wanted to go to this one, and I hatched a plan to lure him into complacence. We started out with dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Cap’s Barbecue, which just happens to be right in front of a light rail transit stop headed into the city. Joe will agree to almost anything if it involves good barbecue. One of the few drawbacks to this place is that they do not offer high chairs for the little ones. Here, I am balancing Sophie on my lap and keeping her from screeching by letting her gnaw on her very own rib bone. I had already eaten most of the meat off of it when I gave it to her, and the thing kept her busy for a good ten minutes, long enough for me to bolt my food down. Awww….baby’s first barbecue.

We headed on over to the train station and bought our tickets. Most of the people on the train tonight were parade-goers, so some nice guy saw me taking a picture of Joe and Julie and offered to take a picture of all of us. One thing you gotta love about crowds like this is the generally festive mood.

A really bad picture of the crowd before the parade started. Between poor lighting and the fact that I just installed a newer version of Photoshop than I was previously using, all of tonight’s pictures are pretty bad. Sorry. You’ll have to take my word for it – people were at least three or four deep on both sides of the street for five or six blocks or more.

The parade started, and Joe hefted Julie to his shoulders. Our kid is not so tiny for a three-year-old, and by the end of the parade I felt very sorry for Joe and his sore shoulders. It didn’t help that she kept wiggling around and strangling him with her thighs.

Julie was pretty excited. She kept saying “What’s coming next?” Sophie, on the other hand, was pretty fussy. She wanted to go to sleep, but it was a bit cold, and I think maybe she was tired of being in the sling. I took her inside the IDS Building lobby and nursed her for a few minutes, missing most of the parade and Julie’s reactions to it. Later, Joe told me that at one point she was so excited she was singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” at the top of her lungs. Just imagining it it priceless.

We made our way home through the heavy crowds – luckily, a short walk up an extra block to the next train station kept us from having to wait in the huge line at the Nicollette Mall station, so it didn’t take as long as we expected. Down went the kids, and now I have time to finish this little project:

Any guesses? That’s my Singer LK 150 knitting machine spitting out a new felting project. I’m on a bit of a deadline with this one, and probably should have taken care of it weeks ago but the knitting part is almost done after one evening’s work and the sewing-up and felting shouldn’t take too long. I don’t use my machines very often, but it never fails to amaze me how quickly one can knit a row or twenty on the thing once you get everything set up. Makes me want to knit up a sweater for myself quick-like so I could enjoy it rather than letting the yarn fester in my stash. Maybe after Christmas. I have too many other projects on the timeline till then.

Speaking of which, I am more than halfway through my semi-secret gift project now, and am really happy with how it’s coming along. I can’t wait to show the world, but will have to wait till they’ve been given. The blankie is pouting in the corner because it hasn’t been getting as much attention as it deserves this week. I’ve been pouring all my knitting time into the gift project, and blankie is jealously waiting its turn.

Oh, there is so much more I could share tonight – no complaints, just thoughts and plans. Instead I will go and finish the current project so I can start on the next one tomorrow.

Giving Thanks

Friday, November 24th, 2006

First off, let me say thanks to all my readers who bore with me through my little pity party yesterday. It was nice to get your comments today commiserating and wishing us well. We did have a fine Thanksgiving after all, and now I would like to share a little list of the simple things for which I am giving thanks tonight…

(right after I go comfort Sophie, who has just coughed herself awake for the third time since I put her to bed an hour ago)

I am thankful for my darling husband, Joe. Joe is always there for me, even when he is just as tired and grumpy as I am. Joe wrangled the girls all day today so that I could happily get my work done in the kitchen. Joe came thisclose to putting on a pink sparkly tutu today because Julie asked him to, but luckily for him she forgot about it before he managed to get the ribbons tied in back. Joe delivered my contribution to the family Thanksgiving dinner at his cousin’s house, and brought home our meal in return. Joe is down in the basement right now cleaning out the litter box while I sip a hot drink and type this. Joe loves me, and that is huge.

I am thankful for my two darling daughters, who are overall very healthy, and who both had a decent day today even though Mama was busy in the kitchen and they were not feeling perfectly well. Sophie hid under the table and tried to destroy a coloring book. Julie “helped” me in the kitchen some more today, and did a really good job of it. Her picture is coming up in a minute.

I’m thankful for our extended family who love us whether we saw them today or not. I’m thankful for all my real-life friends who are my family – one in particular who took the time to e-mail me from California this morning to tell me she was thinking of me today.

I am thankful that my casserole turned out well. The green beans were a little on the over-crisp side because I was leery of over-cooking them, and probably should have blanched them longer. It takes a loooong time to french-cut four pounds of fresh green beans. This is the portion we kept at home – I sent a pan twice this size to the in-laws. I’m thankful that I don’t have to know whether or how much of it they ate.

I’m thankful that the pumpkin pie could not have turned out better. I’m thankful that we all enjoyed it, especially Julie (the crust is wheat-free). Julie talked about pumpkin pie all week, and although she couldn’t finish the tiny piece we gave her, she was very happy as she ate it. Also not pictured is the bowl of real whipped cream I served on it. This was Julie’s first time eating whipped cream, and I am thankful for getting to participate in that. I let her lick the beaters.

I am thankful for my friend Jen, who aside from being an awesome friend in general, surprised me tonight. I was laying on the floor upstairs, waiting for Joe to bring the food back, letting Sophie crawl all over me and taking a moment to recover from standing in the kitchen all day when the doorbell rang. I was a little confused, partly because I wasn’t expecting anybody and partly because I never know which door to check first when the bell rings – many people confuse our back door for a front door, so it’s a toss-up which one to check first. I flip on the light in the front, and there was Jen with a gift bag in hand.

Jen: “Happy Thanksgiving!”
Me: “This is not a gift-giving holiday!” (she’s Canadian, so you never know…)
Jen: “I know. This is a consolation prize for your bad day and the kids being sick.”
Me: “Aw, thank you.” blabber blabber…

Here’s Julie, “not touching” while I grabbed the camera and took a picture.

Jen is a super-thoughtful gift-giver. A bag of chips, doughnut holes, a magazine, stickers and barrettes for the kids, and wrist-rattles for Sophie.

I’m thankful for Joe’s cousin and her mother-in-law, who prepared this awesome meal for us tonight and generously shared it with us even though we couldn’t be with them.

I’m thankful to live in one of the richest countries on the planet, to sit in a warm house with a computer and an internet connection. I’m thankful for everything we take for granted every day.

I’m thankful that there is a Netflix movie and a cushy couch with a knitting basket waiting for me now. See ya!

Craptastic

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

I’m not sure where or when I first heard someone use the word craptastic, probably on the Simpsons, but I love that word. I love the way it sounds. I love the way it feels as it rolls off my tongue when I’m pissed off.

There were many crappy aspects of my day, I would say that despite a few good moments here and there, it was a pretty craptastic day overall. Both girls are sick. Julie is coming down with the cold Sophie and I had last week, so she has a froggy little voice and a runny little nose. Sophie still has her little fever, and now -of all things – an infected belly button. I just brought her home after a trip to urgent care and then to Walgreens for some very expensive prescription ointment. She’ll be fine, although the doctor wanted to put her on oral antibiotics right away till I pushed for trying ointment tonight and going with oral only if it doesn’t look better by morning.

My sweet little Sophie – she just wants to be held, but will still smile at you and raise her hands high when you ask her “How big is Sophie?” (so big!) even though she is hot and uncomfortable and tired.

Joe had my car today, as his was in the shop, so we were stuck at home – probably for the best what with two sick kids and all. Except that there’s a mondo yarn sale at a local store. Three Kittens just switched ownership recently, and I hear tell that they have a mountain of decent yarn 75% off at the moment. It would have been nice to go check that out. Plus, being in the car gives me a chance to sit still without anyone touching me for a few minutes. I got in the car with Joe and the girls this evening to go pick up his heap, and realized that it was the first time I had sat down all day without someone *on* me. I was a frazzled mess by that time this evening anyway. Still am.

The good news…Julie helped me chop up the mountain of mushrooms I bought last night for the soup to go in the green bean casserole. Sophie finally went down for a nap after lunch, and I really wanted to get some of the prep work done for the Thanksgiving cooking. I figured, mushrooms are soft enough, Julie could cut them up safely with a plastic knife. Lo and behold, a stroke of genius on my part for once. She had a great time on her end of the counter with her very own cutting board, and she even managed to help. It can be so hard for me to find ways to let her participate in the kitchen, I was really proud of myself for this one.

Of course, Sophie woke up after 20 minutes, and we still had a giant mountain of mushrooms and other vegetables to clean and cut. She wasn’t very happy for very long sitting in her high chair, although I took this picture in an attempt to capture her smiling at herself in the mirror on the back of the toy she’s holding.

I ended up putting her in the sling on my back again, and she did what she usually does when I stick her there – she leaned as far as she possibly could to see what was going on in front. So then she ended up sideways and uncomfortable. And since she’s on my back, it’s very difficult to tell how secure she is back there. See?

Now all you ladies who were clamoring for a back-slinging tutorial can take a breath and realize that it’s nice but not as great as we’d all hope. The trick is – put the kid on in a sitting position in front of you as you normally would. Keeping the kid to your front, slide the shoulder-pillow toward your back a bit. Tighten the strap as tight as you comfortably can, then shift the sling back so the pillow is in the proper place on your shoulder and the babe is just behind your arm. Oh, and try to make sure their arms are tucked in the sling as best you can. I’m sure there is a better tutorial with pictures out there if you do a google search, but I’m too tired.

The other good news is that we did finally finish making the soup – it’s excellent. I used some of it in a tuna-noodle casserole tonight, and that was pretty good too.

The bad news – I called and talked to Joe’s cousin this evening. It is clear that both girls are very likely going to still be contagious tomorrow evening. They have two little kids at their house, plus all the other guests, and it just isn’t fair to anybody if we bring our sick kids over there. I am so sad about missing the family party. Thanksgiving is an important holiday for me, and I really look forward to the meal and the fixings. Julie is pretty upset about it too, but we are going to stay home. The good news is that Joe will take some green bean casserole over there tomorrow evening and bring back our share of the dinner they’re planning. Whew! For a few moments, I was planning another trip to the grocery and a frenzied attempt to cook our very own Thanksgiving by myself. I’m so glad that’s not in the cards.

Now excuse me while I go sulk in front of the TV for a few minutes before I drag my sorry self to bed.

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Poor little Sophie is not feeling all that well today. She woke up in the middle of the night last night with a fever, and has been hot and sluggish all day. This is not the kind of fever worth worrying too much about. I took her temperature pre-Tylenol this morning and it was 101.6 – just barely qualifying as a “real” fever, certainly not high enough to call the doctor absent other scary symptoms, just high enough to make her feel off and sad and in especial need of my arms around her all day long. And that’s okay. I have to consider it a privilege that on days like today I can make her feel somewhat better just by holding her.

I only gave her one dose of Tylenol this morning, and I let her burn the bug off for most of the rest of the day since she didn’t seem too terribly uncomfortable. Of course, this evening I noticed that her top front teeth are almost through the skin, and if I didn’t know better I would blame that for the fever. In reality, I know that her little friend H was feverish last week when we scheduled a play date anyway. I figure, it’s good for her to get exposed to a bug or two now while she’s nursing so she can build her immune system. Tonight Julie had a bit of a cough, and I wonder if she’s next. I’m just hoping whatever this is clears by tomorrow night so we can go eat Thanksgiving dinner in good conscience.

We’re going to Joe’s cousin’s house for Thanksgiving, as per tradition, and she has a bitty baby to whom we probably would not like to spread this bug. I’m still working on the assumption that we will attend the party, however, and tonight I did my grocery shopping for my part of the meal. I was assigned to prepare the green bean dish, and was told that it didn’t have to be the traditional casserole (thank the powers of the universe!) I loathe the traditional canned green bean and mushroom soup casserole. It is vile and disgusting. I have tried to appreciate it on many occasion. I have taken my obligatory one bite of it at holiday meals for the last thirty years and I can say honestly and for certain that it is a true abomination.

Which brought up the question, what to do? Should I do an Asian-type green bean stir fry? Should I do a green bean almond dish even though Joe can’t eat most nuts? no….I wanted something that would seem like familiar Thanksgiving food to most of the people there, yet have a fresh, palatable presence. I did a little search on the Food Network’s site and came up with this. It’s the traditional green bean casserole Emeril-style. Homemade mushroom soup made with three different kinds of fancy mushrooms, real cream, and brandy. Fresh green beans. Fontina cheese. That sounds like something I could find room on my plate for.

I headed to the store. Not the normal big-box store, but the fancy store with the carpeted aisles where I had more confidence in finding my fancy ingredients. I talked to the friendly young man at the cheese counter and picked out my ten dollar wedge of cheese. I strolled over to the produce section and stared at the very large section devoted to mushrooms for a good ten minutes, trying not to think too hard about how much I was preparing to pay for shiitakes, oysters and creminis. I did a few loops around the canned goods section looking for those fried onions just in case my hand-made ones don’t turn out or I run out of time. I never found the display, but I did find and bring home a random can that someone had left on the shelf next to the chicken broth.

The adjacent liquor store was closed by the time I got there, so I had Joe rummage around in the basement for the bottle of brandy I thought we still had in a box never unpacked after our move last year. Eureka! Just enough left for my recipe.

These better be some decent green beans.

Grumpies and Goodies

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Today was another movin’ and shakin’ day, good in the sense that we were out of the house and busy with minimal whining and boredom, less good in the sense that I am now exhausted. Not too exhausted to go do a little knitting when this is done, I’m sure.

We started at my Monday-morning knitting group, and this time Julie came along since she doesn’t have school during this holiday week. I got absolutely no knitting done, but did get to see some nice knitters I hadn’t seen in a long time. I took some photos for my friend Jean, who just wrote up a pattern for some fingerless gloves and is getting ready to sell it at the Yarnery, where we both teach. Here’s the picture we agreed on:

This type of gauntlet thingie is oh-so-popular right now, and my first impression of the form is “cute, but not for me”. I mean, I think Jean’s pattern is a fine example of this trend – simple, but elegant, and has a nice pattern to it. Her timing is impeccable. This just isn’t a project that I normally would choose to knit. Then, something happened today. I was handling them – she had four pairs total, but we decided to use only one in the picture so that the stitch pattern would show up better – and I sort of fell in love with them. The idea crept into my mind that maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to knit a pair. Hm.

Well, knitting time ended a little early since Sophie was crabby. She is still working hard on teeth, and I think that was the problem this morning. We headed over to the mall to meet up with some friends for a play date in the climbing area and lunch. Sophie was much happier after a dose of Tylenol.

She’s trying to stand up on her own, unsupported. Hasn’t happened yet.

Julie and Maymuna had fun dancing and jumping around on this interactive light show thing that is set up near the play area. The kids love it, and I find it mesmerizing, even if it is full of advertisements.

After lunch, Julie started to melt down a bit, and we ended up leaving the mall as quickly as possible through her veil of tears. Oh, the walk of shame for a Mommy – pushing your howling child in her stroller through the stores as her voice echoes over the muzac. Strangers stare, some giving you sympathetic looks, others obviously curious what is going on. I can’t help imagining their internal voices “What is that white woman doing with those two Asian babies, and the big one is screaming that she doesn’t want to go home. Should I call security?” Okay, I know that’s not what they’re really thinking – at least I hope not – but in a situation like that one starts to worry. At least I do.

We came home and I got everyone in from the car, still somewhat grumpy and/or clingy. I stuck my head out to check the mail, and found this box sitting on the doorstep. It’s from my SP9 Pal! A fun package from me! The clever girl used the UPS store in Howell, Michigan so I didn’t get a name of any kind yet, but maybe that clue will lead me closer to finding her. I haven’t really dug much around the participant blogs yet – for one thing there are so many – and really I’m pretty occupied as it is. Let’s open the package, shall we?

First, a super-cute card with a sheep going off to take a bath, with a very nice note.

Buried in all those peanuts were four separate prezzies for me to open, all the more fun!

Opened up, in all their glory – a page-a-day Stitch ‘N Bitch calendar; a kit for some wrist warmers from Morehouse Merinos that she bought at Rhinebeck (can you feel my jealousy emanating off the screen? oh, it’s there!); an amazingly soft and cuddly skein of baby alpaca/silk called Fino from Alpaca with a Twist with a Fiber Trends moebius scarf pattern; some “delicious chocolate to hide” as my SP put it so aptly; and finally a skein of Regia Jubilee Color that I’ve had my eye on more than once in the past. It feels like Christmas came early this year!

Thanks for making my day, Secret Pal!

A Fine Fall Day

Monday, November 20th, 2006

The weather was relatively warm and clear today, as far as late Fall days in Minnesota go. We took the opportunity to get out and rake up (hopefully) the last of our leaves. I am not by nature an outdoorsy kind of girl, and I am always hesitant to get on out there and DO stuff with both girls in tow. Julie *really* wanted to go out and help Daddy rake some leaves, so when Sophie went down for a nap I got Julie all bundled up and took her and the baby monitor outside for a little fun. Of course, Sophie woke up 15 minutes later and I went back in to retrieve her. The thing is, once I got outside and got moving a bit, it felt kind of good to be breathing the cool air and moving my creaky body a bit. We ended up staying outside for quite a while.

Here I am raking some leaves with Sophie on my back.

Julie kept herself busy moving leaves from one pile to another, driving us a bit batty – I had to keep reminding myself that she was just having fun and that it wouldn’t do much harm if I had to rake a few leaves a second time. Here she is burying her bike in the pile.

After a while, Julie wanted to draw with her sidewalk chalk, so I stuck Sophie in the stroller to watch while I drew a hopscotch grid. Julie decided to take Sophie for a little spin around the yard, and Sophie didn’t mind one bit.

We all had fun, and what could have been another boring day indoors turned into a bonus pre-winter day. We’re expecting fine weather all week here, so I’m planning to take advantage of it as much as possible. Sophie had so much fun, she fell asleep before dinner. Julie had so much fun, she is a bit overtired and is laying in bed singing songs to herself right now.

The Fun, It Never Ends

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Really, I had a pretty darn good week this week. I don’t think I have any complaints. Sophie has decided that nights are mostly for sleeping again, and although she still wakes up and needs some soothing now and then, the new rule of twenty-minute shifts is really saving my sanity. Life has been pretty good.

If nothing else, the last couple of days have been busy, but busy in a good way. We’ve been moving non-stop all day, but doing mostly fun or at least bearable things and avoiding the whiny doldrums that seem to go hand in hand with too many hours hanging around the house. Last night I even got to go out for the evening – Beth from my Wednesday morning knitting group hosted a little get-together at her house.

There was knitting, there was ball-winding, there was eating of cake and drinking of wine. There was more than one girls-only TMI conversation that made everyone laugh and blame the wine. I got to decompress, show off some of my stuff, and get some good advice on things I’m working on now.

This morning, we had a little visitor to our house. My friend Jen and I decided to trade babysitting once a week for a couple of hours so we can spend some one-on-one time with our older girls. I know I’ve been really worried lately about not getting enough bonding in with Julie since Sophie’s gotten more alert, and Jen feels the same way. I took the first turn watching her lovely baby Hafsa, and it was actually fun. Hafsa is a month younger than Sophie, but does everything Sophie does and even a few more little tricks.

Here they are hanging out by the stairs. Hafsa crawled over there and started climbing them. CLIMBING! She didn’t get very far, and I spotted her the whole time, but Sophie came over and watched for a few minutes and then decided to try it herself once Hafsa gave up and moved on to chewing a rattle.

Here, Sophie is rattling the cage baby gate. I just love the cuteness that is a little baby standing there thinking she is so grown up with her little diaper bubble butt.

Julie did her part in the babysitting just by being her cute little self. The babies were amused by her continual antics. Here she is doing her version of a plie. The girl needs some dance lessons – I’m looking into finding some for her right now, as a matter of fact.

In other happy news, good things in small packages keep showing up on my doorstep. Yesterday, the mailman dropped off a box of sock yarn scraps from Jen in Omaha. Just when I think the flood of incoming yarn is over, I’m surprised by another lovely package. Thanks, Jen! Today, the mailman dropped off a shiny little box of very yummy chocolates from one of my former knitting students. I’m not sure what I did to deserve it, but I’m not going to complain!

Also pictured here is the bottle of fabric paint I used on Julie’s clogs. Jools wanted to know what kind of paints are best. I can’t claim to know what is best, but so far what I used seems to bet working just fine. It’s 3-D fabric paint that you squeeze straight out of the bottle onto your project. The brand name of this one is Scribbles, which I think is a fairly common one. I haven’t used this stuff since I made a few t-shirt projects in high school, but it is available at most hobby craft shops like Michaels and Jo-Ann’s for a dollar or two a bottle. One bottle was plenty for the footprints I made on Julie’s clogs.

Finally, a new project trying to hide in the background there but not. It’s sort of an open-secret gift I’m working up for a friend. I’m awful about keeping secrets when it comes to gift-giving, especially when I’m giving my own hand knits. I just get too excited about it and have to share.

Clog Clarifications

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

So, on reading some of the comments from yesterday and then re-reading my post from the other night, I realized that some clarification is in order. I am, in fact, quite pleased with how this little project turned out. It really didn’t take that long to knit these little guys up – in fact when I said that I was getting about an hour of free time a night, I was being quite literal. I bet I only worked on these clogs a total of maybe eight hours, and that includes the felting business.

While they weren’t the mindless blankie-knitting that I seem to crave so much lately, these clogs certainly weren’t difficult. I just had to pay attention a wee bit. I find it embarrassing to admit this, but by the time I get to my one hour of free time at night, my mind is so fried from answering a million and one Julie questions all day, along with the details of multi-child household life management and meal planning – well, it doesn’t take much to irritate me. Which also explains to some extent why my posts sound so much more irritable than I usually mean for them to.

What else? Oh – I used Cascade 220 yarn. Cascade does felt pretty well, but there are other choices out there that do better. Joe’s clogs were knit in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride, and they felted really nicely (albiet, also with a little stitch definition left in the end). As for the extra laundry that got done, it all needed to be done anyway, so it’s not like it was more trouble. In fact, most of the washes were in the cold-cold or warm-cold ranges, so I probably could have gotten them felted in fewer washes if I had been willing to run cycles just for the sake of the clogs – say hot-cold ones with a couple of old towels thrown in for friction. And Lisa had a fine suggestion in the comments – felting in the dryer works wonders. I didn’t do it in this case because dryer-felting can happen awfully fast and I didn’t want these slippers to get *too* small.

What I’m trying to say is – if this is a project that you had previously considered, please don’t be dissuaded from it on my account! They are incredibly cute and fun.

Wanna see a few more pictures? Too bad. Here they are.

Julie is very pleased with her clogs. They fit her little feet perfectly, and I think she considers them in the same category of play clothes as her shiny satin ballet slippers. Maybe, just maybe, she will wear them after the new wears off.

We made a little trip to the fabric/craft store today and found some sparkley glitter paint to put on the bottoms. I wanted puff paint, but they only had that in multi-color packages that were much more expensive, and this will do nicely. This picture was taken while it was still wet – it’s drying to a more transparent background and looks like it will be ready to wear in the morning. I chose not to go the way of leather soles with these as I did with Joe’s for a couple of reasons. Those leather soles are expensive! For a child’s item that will last only a season, and may or may not actually get worn, $15 worth of yarn and paint plus whatever the pattern cost me last year is already plenty. The other thing is that those soles are a pain in the ass to sew on. I hated every minute of it when I was doing Joe’s, and I do not at all look forward to sewing on the leather bottoms when I make him another pair one of these days. Bleh.

By the way, I have another finished object to report. It seems that finished object come in streaks around here, and there may in fact be yet another very small finished object to report later this week. Are you ready? The Jaywalkers are done.

I’m too lazy to dig back and recall when exactly I started these, but it was some time at the end of the summer – a couple of months ago. I haven’t blocked them yet, so they still have the weird bumps at the tops of the toes. I’m wearing them now, and after a day in my shoes the bumps have subsided somewhat. These are comfortable socks – nice and scratchy-warm the way I like winter socks, at least. I have a feeling this yarn is going to wear okay, and I’m already feeling an empty space in my stash after having used up this one skein I bought at Shepherd’s Harvest. I think I’m going to have to go over to her site and poke around a bit. I’ve mentioned it before, but they are Sandy’s Palette Pair of Socks yarn. I suppose I should go share the photo with Grumperina too.

Laters!

Be Careful What You Wish For

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I’m not sure why I’ve been so quiet about the little project I started for Julie last week, but for some reason I wanted to keep it to myself until it was done, and now it is, so here we go. Julie hates wearing socks, and although she never complains about it, her feet are always little icicles in the winter. She noticed that Joe always wears his felted clogs at home when the weather’s cold, and that I wear my Haflinger felt clogs because I need the arch support, and she asked me a couple of times where her slippers were. That jump-started the urge I had last year to knit up a pair of toddler-sized clogs for her, one that was strong enough at the time for me to buy the pattern and nothing else.

So I dug out the pattern, and a week ago last Friday, we were having the kind of afternoon where someone was going to die if we didn’t get the heck out of the house, so I took her to the shop and let her pick out some yarn. With naked and cold little feet as my motivation, I worked diligently on the project for the past week, and seeing as how it’s a pretty small project and the new Sophie bedtime regime is allowing me at least an hour to myself most evenings, I managed to finish the knitting on Friday night. I must say, I don’t particularly enjoy knitting felted clogs. There is a bit too much counting and fiddly stuff for my taste, with too little rhythm. I don’t mind a challenging knit, just as long as there is enough repetition of something for me to get into a groove. This wasn’t it, but it was worth the small effort to go ahead and get it done.

Of course I took some before-felting pictures. First, on my own very large foot (Size 11 women’s). It’s a little stretched, but not all that much.

Second, the pair with a ruler. They were about ten inches long. The one on the right had a bit of a wonky shape to the toe for some reason, and I was really hoping it would disappear in the felting process. I SO know better than that, but these are just for at-home wear anyway, so I wasn’t worried.

I looked around and found four or five loads of laundry waiting to go through the wash, so I started the felting process. We have a front-loader, and I’ve felted in it before, but it does take longer to work than our old top-loader did, and there is less control over the process since the door locks once the cycle starts and you can’t mess with it midstream the way you can the top-loaders. There was no reason to worry, because it took a good two cycles just to see the process start to work. After four trips through the wash, they started to look like they might eventually fit Julie’s feet, but there were spots that had felted unevenly. I went ahead and threw them in for a fifth round, and the less-felted spots were more pronounced.

I was out of dirty laundry by this point anyway, so I tried a little hand-felting. Twenty minutes is a long time when you’re standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing the dickens out of a pair of wool slippers. Joe came through the room at one point and complained of the wet-wool stench. After a while, and some improvement, I gave up and went in search of another load of dirty laundry. The bathroom rugs weren’t all that clean, and they could go in a hot-cold cycle. Who ever thought that knitting would actually motivate me to get my chores done? Wonders never cease.

I pulled the clogs out after this sixth cycle, and decided that they needed at least once more through. There was absolutely no more laundry to be found. Okay, I could have stripped the sheets off a bed, but it was getting late on Sunday night, and I didn’t want to risk having the guest bed naked if Sophie and I needed to use it for a 3 a.m. scream fest. I resigned myself to waiting for some actual necessary washing.

Lo and behold, Julie woke up this morning and gave me what I was wishing for – three more loads of laundry. She had an “accident” while sitting not only in her bed, but on her pillow in her bed. I’m so used to this toilet-training business that I didn’t even blink. We got her cleaned up and redressed for school in a heart beat, and I had my clogs and the dirty laundry in the washer before we were out the door. Three more trips through the washer today, and I am done with them. They are not perfectly felted, as there is still quite a bit of stitch definition:

But they are about the right size and felted well enough that they will keep her little feet a bit warmer. Here they are, obviously too small for my feet now, and measuring in at just what the pattern said they would, 7″. Julie has big feet for a three-year-old ’cause she takes after her mama.

I still need to do something for the bottoms to make them non-skid. I think I’m just going to get some puff paint and draw some footprints on the soles.

I can’t close without a cute-kid picture…Here’s Julie and her grandmother at the Mall of America riding the rides. Joe’s parents took her there to play all day Saturday, and they seem to have had a very nice time.