Archive for February, 2007

Almost Embarrassing…

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

That’s right, the girl who has no problem discussing almost any bodily function with the entire world is going to share with you something she finds almost embarrassing. If you’re a knitter, you’ll understand. The rest of you can just prepare to be bored.

Remember that sweater I started on the machine and set aside because the back came out gigantic? That was back in the middle of January, and I finally forgave the project enough to dig it out and have a second go at it last night. On refreshing my memory, and reviewing the gauges on the swatch and the sweater back itself, I discovered that yes, it was still totally wrong. I was really hoping that letting it sit and relax for a while would somehow magically fix the gauge. No luck.

Instead, I realized that I was not at all happy with the drape of the fabric. It was too loose and stretchy, and I tend to like my sweaters a little closer to the bulletproof end of the spectrum. The strange thing was that the gauge on the swatch was different – a bit tighter – than the gauge on the sweater back. Even though I used the same yarn, same machine, same settings, and as far as I can remember same techniques. Was it a change in the weather? The fact that the back is a much bigger, wider piece than the swatch (this matters with machines as the farther you get away from the tension mast the more the thing has to stretch)? I couldn’t say. I was too busy making new swatches and calculating gauge and multiplying out all the numbers for my new sweater back.

Now, knitting math isn’t all that hard. You multiply the gauge (stitches per inch) by the number of inches wide you want the garment to determine the number of stitches to cast on. Similarly, you multiply the row gauge by the intended length to determine the number of rows to knit. When you’re hand knitting, you can often get away with the row gauge bit and just measure as you go along, but with machine knitting there is a handy little counter on the machine that tells you the rows, and the gauge changes so significantly with blocking that calculating it out is a must. So basically, I had to figure out numbers relating to the width of the waist, the height to the armholes, the depth of the armholes, and some other things involving how the arms and neck are shaped. Not that big of a deal, especially if you have a giant collection of knitting reference books laying around.

Or so one would think. I spent most of last evening cranking away at the machine, reforming the stitches to make ribbing, cranking away some more until I had a sweater back completed. By that time it was very late and Joe had already gone to bed, so I set it aside and hit the hay.

This morning, I came into the office room to admire my work from last night. Damned thing is way too small! The fabric is beautiful – exactly the firm-handed drape I was looking for. But it’s not nearly wide enough. Maybe it would fit my pre-mommy body, but that’s not around right now for me to check. I need something to stick my current self into. ARGH! I did a little more measuring. I did a lot more measuring. Then I did some more math, and I still have a bit more math to do. I’m going to give it one more try.

In the mean time, one thing was clear. I’m going to have to re-use some of this unsuccessfully knit yarn if I’m going to have enough left to knit the sweater. Anyone remember the old Weezer song called, appropriately enough “The Sweater Song?” It’s about ripping out a sweater and leaving a guy cold and naked on the floor. That’s my new cell phone ring tone as of today.

Here’s the first back after I ripped it out onto the swift. See how crinkly the yarn is? That’s from being knit up and shaped as stitches, blocked, and left for a couple months.

Here it is getting a little bath in the sink to relax.

A little happier, hanging to try in the bathroom.

I just hope that treating the yarn this way isn’t going to overly affect the way it appears in the end project, or (horrors!) how it knits up gauge-wise in the final piece.

I should have stuck to the blankie. Off I go.

As Promised

Monday, February 26th, 2007

We did, in fact, make it outside to play in the snow this afternoon, and everyone had a good time. The snow was not sticky enough for snowmen, but there was still plenty to do out there. As promised, here are the pictures.

Sophie went for a ride in Julie’s old sled

Julie got in on the sledding action for a bit.

Julie made some snow angels. It looks like she’s in pain here, but she’s having fun – her face is all scrunched up because she doesn’t want to get snow in her eyes as she flails her arms around. I took a video of this, and it is mildly hilarious, but features my nasal voice directing her so we’ll pass on the YouTube this time around.

Julie with a big chunk of snow. We couldn’t really form snow balls, but there were chunks laying around where the snow plows had thrown slushy snow off the road. Notice Julie is not wearing her handknit hat. She’s fickle about which hat she wants to wear which day. This one was a gift from Uncle Dave last year.

What do we do with those chunks of snow? We throw them into the street and watch them smash. We call this a snowball fight. Our lawn is pretty much flush with the road, but Julie is about two or three feet up from the road on the piles left by the plows as they went through. St. Louis Park has some of the most efficient plowing routines I have ever seen – they had already been through once when we woke up this morning and came through at least once more before noon.

Me and Sophie. I can’t seem to find the hat that goes with my glittens, so I had to dig out this floppy old model that is huge on my head. I think this was my first attempt at hat design from maybe four years ago.

Sophie was getting cold, so we headed inside. I took this picture a while later from the back door. Joe and Julie were digging forts in the three-foot pile of snow by the driveway.

I finally had to insist that Julie come in after she’d been out there for an hour and a half – she was still having fun, but I didn’t want her to get too cold. I even got to serve her a cup of hot chocolate, and we all got to experience the torment of waiting for it to cool enough to drink – a fact of three-year-old life that I had long forgotten.

In knitting news, I have pulled out the blue and white Wooly Stripes yarn and the knitting machine and am going to have a second attempt at that sweater. I did a bunch of re-measuring and some more swatching and blocking then more re-measuring and some calculations, so I think I may have it figured out this time. It is worrisome that the gauge changed so significantly the first time between swatch and garment. I wonder if it could be that the weather changed in the intervening month or so, and maybe that affected the springs in the machine or something? The only other thing I can consider is maybe I was handling the yarn differently – maybe I was more careful to pull the yarn free from the skein before knitting it in the actual garment than I had been in the swatch. Wish me luck as I have my second go!

Snowy Saturday

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

As expected, we’re right in the middle of a nice, big winter storm. When I was a kid growing up in Missouri, it was rare that we’d get a really big snow storm, and when we did it always felt like a party to me. Sledding, snowmen, snow angels, running around till your cheeks turned pink and your nose started to run, and your mittens soaked through with the snow and your fingers turned into icicles. Then, if we were lucky, going inside and drinking hot chocolate. A rare pleasant memory from my childhood, and one that makes me feel excited when I know that snow is coming even now.

The snow is supposed to end by tomorrow, so I’m sure we’ll have Julie outside. The thing is, I know Julie will want Joe to take her out, and I know I will want to be out there with them at least for a while, so it may turn out that I take both girls outside. I think Sophie would enjoy it, too. I’m glad it’s happening on the weekend so Joe is here to help play with the girls. I’ll take the camera!

In the mean time, I taught another class at the store today – this time beginning knitting. I swear this was the best group of students I’ve ever had. They were all really nice and picked it up super fast. Getting over to St. Paul and back was a bit of a chore. On the way home, the roads had gotten a couple inches deep in snow, and I had to use my hard-earned snow driving skillz to keep from skidding around. People were only going about 30 mph on the highway, so it took me a good hour to get home. Even that bit of hassle didn’t deter me from my snow love. I think the only thing I really worry about is if it somehow caused the power to go out – that would bring down our server and generally be a pain in the butt.

Joe spent the day with the girls, and when I got home he showed me this picture on the camera:

I guess Sophie didn’t nap all day today except when she fell asleep in the high chair during lunch. She took a little nap after I got home and fed her. At least I’m not the only one who sometimes struggles to get them to nap! Otherwise, it sounded like they had a good day.

Gotta go do some chores!

Blankie Friday and Random Catchup

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

I’m not sure where I’ve been this week. I mean, I know exactly where I’ve been this week, but it’s been a while since I’ve gone so long without a post. I was out two nights in a row, and that counts for something.

Wednesday I was out with some girlfriends – the girlfriends who get together for what we call Knitting Night but is really a gabfest with a little knitting thrown in. Usually, we meet at each others’ houses, but this time we decided to go to a coffee shop in order to stay out of the way of our husbands putting little ones to bed. There was another group of knitters there, and I was tempted to go over and say hi to them, ask to see their projects and stuff. I didn’t, though, because I was there to see my friends and time was short. The blankie came along for the ride because I wanted to knit some squares and show it off to my friends, and I realized as I was holding it up for them to admire that I was making a bit of a scene in front of the other group of knitters, and then I realized that I looked like a total ass and it was completely too late to say hello to them without being an even bigger ass. I still managed to have a great time that night, and I was sorry when it was time to go home.

Thursday I taught a new class at the yarn store called Damage Control, and it was all about how to fix mistakes and problems in knitting, plus a bunch more assvice and blather on my part. Really, it went pretty well, but talking for two and a half hours straight takes a little out of a girl. Look what followed me home from the store:

That’s Mountain Colors Bearfoot. I know, I know I already have way too much sock yarn, but I had that 50% off coupon from the Knit-Out, and because traffic was awful, I didn’t get there in time to think about what I really wanted to get, and this just jumped into my hands. Not that I regret it or anything. Someday, when it has ripened long enough in the stash, I know I am going to thoroughly enjoy knitting this right up!

Alright, let’s get to the goods. This week’s progress is sixteen squares. As with last week, I took tons of pics, and you can click through to the bigger pictures if you feel the burning need.

There’s not a whole lot more to say about the blankie this week.

Hey, before I forget! I keep meaning to mention this, but I’m pretty excited about it. I got invited to teach for a week this summer at Camp Unistar, which is this awesome camp up in northern Minnesota on an island in the middle of a lake. It’s run by the Unitarian church and is, from everything I’ve heard, a great family vacation spot. I’ve been wanting to go to this camp since I first heard about it about eight years ago, and now I get to go with my entire family, spend a couple hours each day evangelizing knitting, and my work will pay for most of our trip. It is a win-win-win situation, and I’m thrilled!

Julie and I did a little craft project the other day. Really, we were rejuvenating a toy I made for her a few years ago that I discovered while we were reorganizing and putting away toys the other day. It’s so simple, it’s crazy, but she loved it when she was six months old, and she and Sophie spent the whole afternoon playing with it again that day, and all week since. It’s a bunch of lids from juice concentrate cans, to which we added some stickers; and a cornmeal cannister with a hole cut in the lid and wrapped with a bit of colorful paper.

Sophie loves to put the “coins” in the slot one at a time. Julie loves to hoard the coins and pretend that they are cookies and various other things.

This is just a random cute Sophie picture. She’s eating breakfast this morning, including rice puffs, kiwi fruit, pear, and oatmeal. Her little constipation problem has pretty much cleared up, but in the mean time she developed an ear infection. She’s feeling much better now that she’s on antibiotics, but I spent a few days there trying to figure out what was going on before I dragged her back in to the doctor’s office. Still not walking yet, but she is doing a new trick – she’s pointing at everything. When she sees something that she finds interesting or neat, she points at it and makes this little growly grunting noise that makes me call her “gila monster” and smiles a huge smile when I tell her what it is. She also points at my plate no matter what meal we are eating and says “ah! ah! ah!” like a little baby bird, making it painfully clear that she wants what I’m having, thankyouverymuch.

Okay, that’s it! That’s all I have to say tonight. We’re in for up to 15 inches of snow this weekend. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty excited about it. I hope it’s a big, wet snow so that we can go out and make a giant snowman family.

Clarifications and Calendars

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

This is just a quickie because I still have to go clean up the kitchen, then work on preparing some things for the new class I’m teaching starting this week. I just wanted to clarify that I didn’t *hate* the Knit-Out yesterday, and on some levels I did enjoy it. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the kind of knitters the event was aiming for – they’re just not me.

There were several comments lamenting the non-presence of smaller yarn companies. There was one booth at the Knit-Out staffed by eight of the local yarn shops who are members of the TNNA. They were handing out coupons good for 50% off any one item at any of the stores for this week only. I took one, and will be buying something at the Yarnery when I’m there for my class on Thursday – maybe a book, maybe one of the pretty bags I’m always eyeing and never ponying up the cash for. Probably not more yarn right now, as I’m feeling a bit flush at the moment.

Also, we have a couple of awesome events to look forward to this spring which will more than satisfy those local-vendor cravings. April 21 is the MN Knitters’ Guild Yarnover event at Arlington High School in St. Paul, and even if you’re not signed up for a class, I highly recommend that you go for the marketplace. As far as I know, it’s free to go in just to see the market. There are tons of regional vendors – local yarn shops as well as yarn suppliers and designers. It’s like our own miniature Stitches (although I’ve never been to Stitches, so I could be confused.) The best part is looking around at all the capital-K Knitters who will be wearing their beautiful garments and are happy to talk to you about them. This event is all about “my” kind of knitter. The classes are awesome, too, and it’s not too late to sign up if you haven’t already.

Don’t forget Shepherd’s Harvest, up at the Lake Elmo fairgrounds in May. There are lots of vendors there for knitting and spinning and all things fiber-y, plus you get to see the animals and eat kettle corn and sheep cheese. It’s kind of like our much smaller version of Rhinebeck, at least as I imagine Rhinebeck. And it’s a great place to run into awesome knitters. I’m really quite disappointed that I won’t be making it to Shepherd’s Harvest this year.

We’ve been invited to a wedding, and Julie is going to be a flower girl. Actually, if I have any readers in the L.A. area who would like to get together around Mother’s Day weekend, it might be possible for me to get away for a couple of hours and do a little yarn crawling. I would love to have a shopping partner with whom to check out a store or two while I’m there.

Finally, this is going back a few days, but someone commented about how we took away Julie’s toys admonishing me not to tell her she is a horrible kid. If you read my blog and pay attention to how I talk about my kids, I hope it should be clear by now that I would never say such a thing to one of my girls. That’s just not how we operate around here. Also, I want to make it clear that she still has more toys available than she knows what to do with, and she still seems quite happy playing with what’s out. I only cleared out the toys in the main floor living space – the upstairs is still full of toys, and the basement looks like a toy store exploded. When I’m down there, I look around and wonder how the hell we managed to acquire so much stuff for them. Julie really is all about imaginative play, and I think she could find a way to be happy with almost no toys because she will just re-appropriate whatever objects are around and pretend that they are whatever props she needs for the story she is telling that day.

Yes, I realize that she is still very small and that even teenagers don’t always pick up after themselves. I remember what it was like myself. I’m just trying to set up some positive patterns now, break the cycle of frustration that I kept finding myself in, and make it easier to enforce the rules about picking up after ourselves until it becomes more of a habit.

Okay, it’s getting late. Must go get to work!

Knit-Out!?!

Monday, February 19th, 2007

The girls (Julie and Sophie) and I made it to the Knit-Out this afternoon. This is an event that I really would have preferred to attend on my own, but Joe had some work to do in our upstairs bathroom that had already been put off too long.

Both of our bathrooms are ugly, ugly rooms that deserve to be gutted and completely renovated, but since we don’t have the extra 10 grand apiece and since they are mostly functional, we are waiting for a day when there is more disposable income to fix them. In the mean time, some of the tiles around the outside of the shower had come loose, and Sophie had developed an alarming habit of sitting outside the shower while I was in it, picking first at the loose grouting and then at the tiles themselves till they came off, exposing disgusting rotten adhesive material behind it and leaving little bits of debris falling on the floor. Alarming, indeed. I had been doing my best to keep her out of there altogether, but once one tile came off, several more were quick to follow and nothing happened last weekend because of the birthday party and my working. Oh, and the bathroom is sandwiched between the nursery and the room where Julie sleeps, so it’s not like he could do this work on a week night.

In any case, a trip to the mall with the girls to check out the Knit-Out was more appealing to me than a day at home with the girls missing the Knit-Out and keeping them out of Joe’s way. I don’t like to be around when Joe is doing this kind of work anyway, because there is usually some cursing and angry stomping around involved. It took some coercing to get Julie out the door, and we finally arrived at the mall a little after noon.

I am of a couple of minds about this Knit-Out business. I am excited that there is a big knitting event in such a public venue – it was highly entertaining to eavesdrop on the muggles (as Stephanie calls them) trying to figure out what the hell was going on, pondering in amazement that there could be so many kinds of yarn and people crowding in line to look at and touch it. It was fun to glimpse and even briefly chat with a few knitting celebrities – I spoke with Annie Modesitt for a few minutes, welcoming her to town; and I saw Vickie Howell and Lily Chin hanging around, and could have approached them if I could have thought of anything particularly interesting to say to them. Both of them are interesting and admirable in their success – they are obviously both creative and energetic. From what I’ve seen, though, I don’t think I would want to make any of their designs. They’re just not, as far as I can tell, *my* kind of knitters.

On the positive side, I did run into a couple of local knitting friends that I admire greatly and had nice little chats with them, and I got to meet a couple of my lovely readers who said nice things to me that made me laugh – things about how well I seem to handle life and the girls and stuff. Oh, and it was all the more entertaining after the morning I had just had convincing Julie that we *were* going to the mall even though she desperately wanted to stay home with Daddy. Even more so because I was standing there alternately ignoring Sophie’s whiny squirming and handing her crackers to appease her. I also got to show off the blankie a few times, both to people who knew me and to random strangers who caught glimpses of it and asked. There were a few knitters to seemed a bit blown away by it – I think the combination of size, tiny stitches, variety of yarns, and technique which they’d never seen before.

On the not-so-positive side, the whole thing had an overly commercial feeling to it. It was all booths from the giant yarn and publishing companies, with no involvement whatsoever from the local knitting community. The whole thing seemed to be about standing in long lines waiting to be handed free, and I hate to say this, but mostly junk. I did not stand in the lines because I didn’t want the skein of acrylic yarn or the pattern leaflets or even the giant Lion Brand tote bag. I did pick up a few freebies – a couple copies of magazines that I don’t subscribe to. But even those, on closer inspection, simply confirmed that I wouldn’t want to subscribe. Most of the things I saw at the event seemed to be watered down for the masses. It sounds so harsh as I type it, but that was my experience.

I feel so elitist talking about this, but one example is the Kool-Aid dyeing demo I had been looking forward to. I was expecting to see a rainbow of colors and multiple projects knit up with the yarn. I was hoping to see something done in self-striping or perhaps even something I just hadn’t thought of yet. What I saw instead were a few skeins in a couple of colors, and one very small project – a simple clutch bag. The presentation certainly covered the basics, and I’m sure introduced the concept to plenty of people who had never heard of it. There just wasn’t anything present that I hadn’t seen done many times around the blogosphere already.

In any case, we had a decent time. Julie likes eating in the food court, even if she gets mostly food packed from home. She also got to play at Legoland for a bit, even though it was weekend-crowded. The girls were tired when we made it back to the car, and both fell asleep on the way home. I pulled into the garage, and perhaps the nicest part of my day was sitting in the car with them as they slept, knitting on the lace scarf for a while before Julie woke up and we came inside. To my great pleasure, Joe had finished his patch-up job in the bathroom and it looked far better than it ever had since we’ve owned the place.

Blankie Friday

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

By popular demand (okay, three people asked for it) I’m posting a ton of pictures tonight. All of the following pictures can be clicked on to see the full-resolution version. If this doesn’t satisfy your blankie craving, I don’t know what will, short of me packing it up and mailing it on a world tour. That ain’t gonna happen! I will try to get a picture of the blankie with one or both of the girls in/on/around it for next week. Hopefully I’ll have more squares to show off by then.

It’s been two weeks since I posted an updated square count, and it’s very sad. Only 16 new squares. I’ve been busy with other small projects. And stuff. Lots of stuff.

Scattered

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Scattered is how I feel today. A combination of factors has led me to this recurrence of a not-unfamiliar state of being.

I’m feeling physically much better after last week’s mastitis, although I’m still taking the antibiotics and will be for a while more. I hate taking antibiotics if I can help it, but if you’re going to start a regimen of ‘em, you damned sure better finish ‘em, I say! I do need to remember to pick up some kefir the next time I go to the grocery store, though. Must replenish the gut flora (or is it fauna?). Anyway, the actual being sick part feels like ancient history, although I am still a little angry at someone who let me down last week in an incident related to my being sick. I’m not going to say more – this person doesn’t read the blog as far as I know, but I also don’t want to stir it up.

At some point during the day today, our web server crashed or something, and Joe couldn’t fix it till he got home from work. So, if you were looking for me earlier and couldn’t get through, that’s why. I felt especially bad when I realized this was going on because I hadn’t blogged the last couple of nights. It was just that by the time I finished the bare minimum chores and landed on the couch, I was too exhausted to string a coherent thought together and I really wanted to do some knitting. But I’m here now!

Speaking of knitting, I’m going to do a separate blankie update post in a minute, but I will show you the FO I’ve been working on this week.

This is not the best picture in the world, and I actually took it a couple nights ago when the third clog was still not quite right. I had to knit three because somehow I managed to knit the second one in the wrong size – but at least realized that before I knit up the second sole for it. Then, I knit the third one and knit the outer sole on wrong so had to rip and redo that part. This would have been a super-quick project if I hadn’t been so….scattered. As I was ripping and re-knitting, I sat there feeling grateful that it was me doing the extra knitting and spending one extra evening at it instead of my friend, the mom of the child who’s getting them. It would have taken her at least an extra… week? month? Anyway, they’re done, and I am going to gift them unfelted so that the mom and child can have the fun of shrinking them as a little project. I just need to run by the craft store and get some paint for the bottoms and then they will be all set to go to their new home. Hopefully, I’ll get permission to show you a picture of the truly finished project when it’s completed. Little M was here the other day and ran around wearing one of Julie’s clogs, so I know she is excited to get her own. That’s a happy thought.

So anyway, a couple of other things that had me all wound up today. Really, it’s been building. Julie has been refusing to pick up her toys. I’ve tried all kinds of tactics to get her involved in picking up from singing songs, physically directing her to the problem areas, instructing her piece by piece, and finally threatening that either she start picking them up or I will pick them up and put them away where she can’t have them for a while. Different tactics have worked with varying success over the last couple of years, as age and mood have dictated. But it’s come to a head. The kid is three and a half years old and this is something we’ve been working on since she was under one. I’m tired of having a toy explosion throughout my entire house, and I’m tired of coming down the stairs after bed time every night and spending half an hour putting toys away, struggling to find all the pieces and keep them sorted out so that they’re playable.

Julie has a habit of re-purposing toys and using them for very creative imaginative play that is really cool, but creates a huge mess. Anything with a collection of small parts (like a puzzle or a set of alphabet magnets) becomes some kind of food or just fodder for stuffing into a container and carrying around or sprinkling across the floor in some game she’s invented. On the one hand, it’s fun to watch and listen to. On the other hand, it’s extremely frustrating when she moves on to the next game and doesn’t want to pick up the mess. I’m sick of it! We have WAY too many toys anyway. I finally had enough today after I asked her to help me pick up and she flat-out refused, even when I said “Come pick up now or I will pick up for you and take the toys away for a week.” ARGH!

After bed time tonight, Joe and I – mostly Joe because I was busy doing another chore – gathered up all the toys, organized them so the pieces of each were as together as possible (where does she hide the missing pieces?) and packed about 90% of them away. There are only a few toys left out in our living room – enough that the girls both have something to do, but few enough that keeping things neat will be more enforceable. I’m still thinking about how Julie is going to earn some of the other ones back. We may have to set up some kind of rotation where we put one away for everyone we bring back out. There are also still buttloads of additional toys upstairs and in the basement, so don’t think the kids are in any way deprived. We talked about this with Julie before bedtime as well, so it’s not going to be a total shock when she comes down in the morning.

All this week has been kind of a rough one for me and the girls. Sophie has been quite clingy and doesn’t want me to put her down. I know she’s working on teeth, and the constipation problem is still ongoing. It’s hard to get her to eat the stool softener when she isn’t consistently interested in drinking juice or eating pureed solids. When she takes it, life is better. When she doesn’t, it is very sad. Carrying around a 20-pound baby non-stop is draining, and makes it all the harder to go around picking up toys strewn around by her sister.

Julie has also been a bit off – she didn’t eat her dinner one night, so the next morning she melting down almost from the moment she woke up until I managed to get her dressed and down stairs to eat breakfast. That morning she sat and ate for 45 minutes straight: half a pear, an apple, sausage, corn flakes, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a couple of clementines, milk and a vitamin and she was still asking for more. I had to cut her off because we were already half an hour late for school. Jebus!

I think that’s all my whining done with. Now, here’s a cut picture of the girls on Valentine’s day:

It only took about 20 shots to get the one decent image. I loves my digital camera.

Speaking of Valentines’ day, I really wanted to do an anti-Valentine’s Day-hate post. I mean, I pretty much agree with Stephanie’s take on V-Day, but I couldn’t believe all the I-hate-Valentine’s-Day posts out there in the blogosphere. Valentine’s Day to me means cheap little cards that come in packets of 30 that you pass around to your friends at school. It means the chocolate covered strawberries my father used to buy us when we were kids (heaven!) It means cutting out heart shapes and maybe using a bit of glitter or string to put up decorations. Yes, there are plenty of bad things about the day, but what’s wrong with spreading a little cheer with a frou-frou holiday in the middle of the coldest month of the year?

Of course, I have a nice, dependable Valentine who left me a nice prezzie on the counter before he left for work.

That’s a bottle of Sweet Toofs from FlapFlapFly, and they’re very cute. Joe loves buying little artsy collectibles, and I make a great excuse for it. That’s one of the things I happen to love about him.

Anyway, tomorrow is the last class in my current Fair Isle series, so I baked up a pile of chocolate chip cookies for my students and self-medicated by eating several hot out of the oven with a nice cold glass of milk. Now if I can just get the blankie post written, I may even have a few minutes for knitting before bed.

Oh, and yes, the Harlot is coming to the Yarnery on April 4. She’s going to speak at the William Mitchell College of Law auditorium at 7, then sign books at the store afterwards. There should be plenty of room for everyone – the managers at the store are planning how to manage the crowds and are even considering handing out tickets for timeslots at the signing so you won’t have to stand in line for too long. Say, come back between 8 and 8:15 and then people who are in the next time slot can go have a treat at Cafe Latte or something while they wait. Squee!

In the mean time, I think the girls, the blankie and I will be at the Knit-Out at the Mall of America at some point in the afternoon on Sunday. I want to check out the presentation on dyeing with Kool-Aid, among other things. If you’re going to be there and you want to meet up, or if you just happen to spot us, don’t be shy! Say hello and I’ll be happy to introduce you to both the girls and the blankie.

Belated Thanks and Birthday Pics

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Mega thanks have been in order for several days now, and I’ve been remiss in ponying up. The whole mastitis-trying-to-plan-and-execute-birthday-party business has kept me from having the time and energy to do it properly. But now I have a night off, the girls are in bed, I am on the couch with my laptop. I have the box full of goodies at my feet and have been fondling them for the last ten minutes.

Here are the contents of my final gift package from my SP9 pal:

Most exciting for me was the card. I couldn’t wait to find out who has been sending me awesome stuff for the last few months. The gifts I’ve received have so incredibly exceeded my expectations, even before I found out this final package was on its way. Now she’s just gone too far. The lovely person responsible for all this is Kelle of KP Knits. Kelle, it’s great to finally “meet” you. It sounds like you had a very busy fall with the moving and all the house-related stuff. I am indeed going to be knitting lace for the foreseeable future!

In this final gift package, Kelle included some awesome skin care products from Heal My Hands. How did you know that my hands have been cracked to the point of bleeding for the last month? I didn’t think I whined about that particular affliction on the blog, but maybe you saw my ragged hands in one of the pictures. In any case, I’m wearing the hand cream now and it’s lovely. I like the light, earthy scent with a touch of clove and cinnamon spice.

There is a kit from Artisan in New Zealand for a lace weight scarf in beautiful blue, green and purple merino – and three patterns from which to choose. With it is a pair of Bryspun needles in the right size. Oh, I love Bryspun needles with their funky concave curved points and their squishy texture! Damn you, Kelle! I so want to start this kit right now, but I’ve already started the scarf from the luscious yarn you sent me a couple months ago. But, um, I’ll manage somehow. Thanks for the kit. Did you pick this up at Rhinebeck too?

Finally, there is an amazing skein of Cherry Tree Hill merino lace weight in the most gorgeous colorway. It’s freakin’ huge – eight ounces and 2400 yards! As I was standing there gobsmacked, staring at this giant skein of beautiful yarn, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I could make a sweater out of it. Yes, I think I may be a bit crazy. But wouldn’t it be fun to come up with some beautiful lace pattern for a sweater that could be classic and dressy and elegant? Hm. I’ve plenty of time to think about it since with all the other lace I’ve got in my cue now (thanks, Kelle!). So I’ll be dreaming for a while before I can implement.

Kelle, thanks so much for the fun. My great experience with gifts from you and buying for Rosie has convinced me to go ahead and sign up for Secret Pal 10. I’ll have to do the questionnaire soon, and in the mean time, if you want in on the fun, it’s open for sign-ups till the end of the month.

Now, here are the pictures from last night.

Before the party started, here’s the “birthday cake”. Cupcakes make for easy serving. My decorating skills leave a little something to be desired, but they were fun.

It’s a korean tradition to dress babies up in han-boks on their first birthday with these things that are decorated to look like piles of candy. There’s a ceremony of some sort that’s supposed to go along with it, one that involves predicting the child’s future depending on which of a set of objects they reach for. In our case, since the in-laws have been responsible for organizing this part of the fun, we’ve always ended up with just the photo op. Still, it’s pretty cute. Joe’s parents came up with a beautiful dress for Julie in her size, and Sophie is wearing the one that Julie wore on her first birthday.

Here’s the little cake-eater. The one she had on Thursday didn’t have any frosting on it, so I think she was a little confused at first with this one.

But she figured it out pretty quickly. God, it was cute. Thanks to Jen for taking a bazillion pictures.

Finally, here we are opening gifts. All the little girls were very excited and crowded around to “help.”

I’m off to knit on the blankie for an hour before bed.

Marking My Calendar

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Tonight we celebrated Sophie’s birthday with our extended family and a family of friends that may as well be extended family they’re so nice and enjoyed by all of us. It was a good time, but a lot of work all day to prepare and Joe is still just finishing up in the kitchen as I type. Sophie decimated another cupcake – the girl loves her chocolate! I’ll post pictures when I get around to getting them off the camera. This post isn’t really about the party. I wanted to post last night, because there is something I am *very* excited about, but was too busy and tired after doing all my busy.

So I was teaching my class yesterday at the store where I teach, and I am so loving this particular class because all my students are so nice and I had been away from teaching for more than a month, and it is very good to be out and with knitters and not responsible for my children for just a few hours. But I was at the store, and I heard some news about an upcoming event that made me jump up and down squealing with delight and excitement. This is very reliable news – it came directly from one of the people planning the event. She said that it should be really public news within the next few days, and I have been clicking refresh over and over on a certain website to see if the knitting celebrity involved has made her announcement. I just checked again – she still hasn’t. I’m not going to say who it is because I promised I wouldn’t. But if you know me very well, I’ll give you one guess!

So mark your calendars. April 4 in St. Paul. It’s very exciting.

And all this excitement got me thinking about the other fibery events coming up in my relatively near future.

First, next weekend is the Knit-Out at the Mall of America. Both Saturday and Sunday pretty much all day. There will be all kinds of knitting celebrities there (although not the one that I was just talking about above.) and it sounds like they’ll have plenty of fun things to do and see. I don’t think I’m going to make it over there on Saturday since my knitting class is smack in the middle of the afternoon, but maybe I can go on Sunday for a bit, even if it means dragging some or all of the family with me.

The Minnesota Knitters’ Guild has an appealing topic for next month’s meeting. It’s on March 20, and the topic is how to dye your own self-striping sock yarn. Now, I’ve already figured out how to do this in my own rudimentary way, but I would love to hear someone else’s take on it and see their results. I may have to find a way to make it to that one.

On April 21, it’s Yarnover, which is another guild event. It’s all-day lessons and marketplace at a local high school. The guild has been doing this event forever, and we attract some pretty awesome, nationally known teachers. Meg Swansen will be there, and Annie Modesitt is giving the keynote speech as well as teaching this year. I got my first choice in classes when I signed up – it’s an all day class on hand painting yarn. I’m looking forward to the class, but also to just hanging out with guild people that I don’t see very often any more since I rarely make it to a meeting these days, and of course shopping the market place.

Ah, shit! I literally just said that out loud. I was just looking at the web site for the Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival, which I go to every year and love. I was checking the dates (May 12 and 13) and realized that I have an event scheduled that weekend that so profoundly conflicts I won’t be able to go this year. Bummer. But if you like knitting or spinning or other fibery goodness, you should totally go.

Anyway, lots of fun events to look forward to that don’t involve me cooking and cleaning for large groups of people. I hope to see some of you there!