Archive for March, 2007

Whirlwind Thursday

Friday, March 30th, 2007

Sorry there was no post last night. I was all ready to post, but the evening got away from me. First, I was on the phone with my brother-in-law Dave catching up on the family gossip and hearing all about his exciting life in New York City. We were also going through a wedding registry and picking out gifts to buy as a group for the cousin who is getting married in May. That took much longer than expected, but was worth it because he’s a fun guy and we had a nice chat.

Then, I spent an hour picking out and ordering a new camera. W0ot!!!!11!!!!!1one! We Joe did our taxes last week and found out that we’re getting a little money back, so I finally got the go-ahead to replace our perfectly serviceable Canon PowerShot S400 Elph (4 Megapixels). I love the Canon Elphs, but two things were bothering me about ours. First, it’s slow. From the time you push down the button to take the picture to the time when the picture actually clicks, it can be one to three seconds. That’s forever in wildly-moving preschooler time. Secondly, we’re using it to record the childhoods of our children, and technology is moving so quickly – I wanted more Megapixels and higher quality images. What we have is pretty darn good, but I think 7 will be awesome. I ordered the Canon SD-1000 from Best Buy (because their prices were good – don’t tell me if you know of a place that has it $50 cheaper right now, I don’t want to know.) UPS tracking says it should be here on Monday, plenty of time for me to figure out any changes between the models before the Yarn Harlot event. I’ve been wanting this camera for a while, so I’m excited to get it and play with it. This one has a setting where you can take bursts of shots, so maybe that will help my chances of getting a good one when they’re doing something cute.

Speaking of the Yarn Harlot event, I’d like to mention a few things that I am keenly aware of as I work at the Yarnery and hear all the planning, excitement, and honestly hard work that the managers are doing. First, PLEASE be nice to the poor staff at the Yarnery. They are working hard to make this an awesome time for everyone. It’s almost like planning a wedding, there are so many logistics to iron out. It sounds to me like they’re doing a great job, though. I think it would be really helpful if people can carpool, and if you did reserve a spot and now know that you can’t come, please send the store an e-mail and let them know so someone on the waiting list can have it. The store just sent out an e-mail to the TCKnit Yahoo group, so if you want more up-to-date information, it’s all there. One other thing – they’re not updating the website right now because the manager with the ability to do that is on a well-deserved vacation that was planned before we knew about the Harlot event. That’s life.

Let’s move on to the pictures!

Sophie really knows how to enjoy a bowl of applesauce. She was coated in it, and I ended up putting the girls in the tub for their bath in the afternoon instead of after dinner just to get her cleaned up more easily. She was going to need an outfit change either way.

Even after I took the tray away to clean it up, she was looking in the pocket of her bib for fallen blobs to snorf up.

Remember the orange marker stains I was so pissed off about a couple days ago? Well, this is actually the other thing I was doing last night. After all your suggestions and a conversation I had with my Wednesday-morning knitting group, I decided to try a little science experiment and see which stain-removal remedy worked best.

First up was cheap hairspray on the brand-new polo shirt. I saw only limited results with this, even after a good drenching and some fingernail-scrubbing action.

Tide To Go on my pale-pink Old Navy layering t[shirt. This was not a big loss, as it was two seasons old and cost less than $10 in the first place. Still, I wear it regularly. I wanted to keep it that way. This product didn’t put a dent in the stain, even after using the point at the end to scrub as described in the directions.

This is the same bottle of rubbing alcohol that I used to remove the Sharpie marker from the brand-new counters and cabinets a while back. I tried it on this shirt of Julie’s. The marks were on the back and relatively faint to begin with – just next to the bottom-right corner of the bottle. I was really sad about this shirt because it’s from Gymboree and has a super-cute fox on the front, and it goes with a matching skirt. I really want to pass this one on to Sophie.

After I applied the rubbing alcohol, the stain almost disappeared almost immediately. I ran it under super-hot water and scrubbed a little more, and it was gone entirely. The science experiment ended right then, I rinsed out everything else and used the rubbing alcohol on everything, then stuck the whole mess in a sink full of Clorox2 dissolved in hot water. After a soak in that and another run through the washer, everything came out stain-free! There are super-faint water marks on the new pink polo, but it is at least wearable. See?

Thanks for all the ideas and encouragement!

This morning, Sophie took a nap in the crib while Julie was at pre-school, so I got a rare (and brief) coffee break with my computer and the Pomatomus sock. It was nice while it lasted.

This afternoon we went dress shopping. Here’s Julie’s flower girl dress. I think maybe she liked it just a little.

Um. Look what followed me home from the store tonight.

That’s Fleece Artist merino sock yarn. We just got a new shipment in at the store. YUM! I only wish we had had this in when I started my sample socks. Le sigh.

One more thing before I go spend a little quality time on the couch with Pomatomus…I keep seeing this sweater in magazine ads and catalogs, and I want to knit something like it very badly. Except I hate knitting with cotton, and I have too many projects in the lineup already to even consider it. I don’t want to risk copyright infringement on the photo, so I’m just going to link to this catalog page, and you can see it halfway down on the left – the v-neck t-shirt with the lace. What I’d really like to do is design my own version of that but in a lightweight wool and long sleeves. It’d have to be more of a cool weather top, but I’d be okay with that. I’m cutting the picture out and pasting it in my ideas book!

Ta!

Still Blissed Out and now Pissed Off

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

Yesterday was a beautiful day in our neighborhood. Some people even claim that it got up to 80 degrees outside. It was definitely park weather.

As a reminder and in response to some questions from wonderful readers, those socks are from the Pomatomus pattern, free on Knitty.com. Emily asked if it is incredibly difficult to memorize. I have to admit that I’m not all that great at memorizing lace patterns. I have it printed out and use a sticky note just above the row I’m knitting to keep track of where I am. Even so, it’s easy to read the knitting on this one. I think if I were to knit both socks in a row (and I may actually do that, but I’m not sure yet) I would surely have the pattern in my head without even trying before I finished the second one.

Someone mentioned that socks don’t fit her very well because of fat ankles, so maybe it’s not worth knitting them for herself any more. Nonsense! Knitting your own socks can mean getting them to fit perfectly. If you’re knitting socks from the top down, you just need to cast on some extra stitches at the top, then decrease them as you head down to the ankle. Voila! Suddenly you have happy socks. Only, I don’t know how well that strategy would work with Pomatomus since the stitch pattern is continuous all the way around and it would be hard to sneak in the shaping without breaking it up.

Oh, and since that outing the sock has grown a bit. Will try to get a decent picture tomorrow!

Oops – almost forgot to add the pissed off part! I was working my way through the mountain of laundry once more, and pulled a big load out of the dryer to discover that there was an open marker in one of Julie’s pockets. Every single piece of clothing in that load had orange stains on it. ARGH! Including two brand-new polo shirts I was planning to wear all summer. And a bunch of other good clothes that we wear every day, many of which were Julie’s that I was counting on handing down to Sophie. Oh, I was angry! At myself and Joe for not checking her pockets, and at Julie for sticking the marker in there in the first place. But, what’s done is done. At least we’re at the end of the winter season and I won’t have to immediately replace the ruined winter clothes, or dress her in orange spots for months to come. Still.

Bliss

Sunday, March 25th, 2007

I think this sock may be just about the most beautiful thing I’ve ever knit. Even though it is only partially finished, the crisp stitch pattern and the almost-solid Koigu with its subtle depth of color just makes me want to cry when I look at it. Of course I failed to get naturally-lit pictures of it today, so you only get to see a crappy snapshot.

This image doesn’t come close to portraying the true color. It’s a darker, richer blue with subtle color variation. I’ve only completed to repeats of the pattern chart, and I think I will need to do two more in order to be satisfied with the cuff length. I’ve been knitting it on my faithful Pony Pearl dpns, but it’s on the Addi circular at the moment because I just tried it on to make sure it fit over my heel. It does – snugly – and you should all thank the powers of the universe that I have spared you the sight of it on my leg this time around. I’m still trying to blink it out of my eyes!

I had a really good day at the store today. It was my last session of a beginning knitting class, and I was sad to see this one end. Nice people all around, and everyone picked it up pretty well, even the one woman who kept psyching herself out! The staff is all a’buzz about the impending Harlot visit. We are expecting a huge crowd, and the reservations for the 400-person hall have filled up. They’re putting people on a waiting list now. I was talking to the manager about all of their plans for door prizes and keeping things organized and happy, and it sounds like the night is going to RAWK! Yes, even though it is a bunch of knitters gathering to listen to a woman tell jokes about knitting. It’s going to be crazy fun.

While I’m putting up pictures, here is one of the girls playing in the sand table yesterday. Sophie had that wide-mouth smile of amazement going for about half an hour as she discovered first tactile wonder of sand scrunching and sifting through her fat little hands, then the thrill of scattering handfuls of it in various ways and watching it fall.

Here’s another You-Tube video – Sophie honking with laughter as she plays peekaboo behind and through her clear plastic sippy cup during breakfast yesterday.

Friday Night Stream of Conscious

Saturday, March 24th, 2007

Baking cookies and digging into Pomotomos. This has a different feel by far from Baudelaire. I’m reserving judgement so far. Pictures tomorrow, maybe.

The girls and I spent the afternoon outside at our friends’ house. The friends who are the same ages as my girls and are the sweetest little peas that ever there were. Time flies so quickly when you are outside and in good company, especially when we have spent so many months mostly indoors. It was in the 60’s today, and there are only scattered hard icy spots of snow now where the piles were five feet tall a week ago. Balmy!

Poor Joe may be stuck indoors with the girls tomorrow, as it’s supposed to rain off and on, I’ve heard. I’ll be off teaching my class – the last Saturday one for the season.

FO Baudelaire!

Friday, March 23rd, 2007

I have several items of good news tonight, one of which is the completion of the Baudelaire sock. But let’s back up to yesterday afternoon. When we pulled in the garage from our afternoon outing, Sophie was sound asleep

and Julie was wide awake.

Yes, that’s a very blurry picture, but Julie just wasn’t standing still, so it’s an accurate representation. While Julie played, I made my best attempt at taking an artistic knitting-blog picture. See the tiny little buds sprouting out on the ugly bush in my yard?

I was so close to finished, and I fully intended to post about it last night, but I just got too caught up in the knitting and before I knew it, it was quarter after midnight and Sophie was crying, so I gave up on that idea and headed to bed.

I did manage to finish off the last bit during stolen moments today, and now we have this:

And here is is posing with tonight’s purchase while I was at the store teaching my class. It still needs blocking to tame the bind-off edge at the cuff, but I am very happy with the results.

In other good news, I got a package in the mail today from my reader-friend Cindy. I had mailed her the other two skeins of this yarn that I originally purchased a few years ago thinking of making a little sweater for Julie. That sweater never materialized, and I had given two of the skeins to Cindy to make socks for her daughter. Karly has tiny feet, so I knew she had quite a bit left over. It turned out that I needed a bit more than two skeins for this pair of socks, and Cindy was generous enough to send her leftovers back to me. It’s the yarn that keeps on giving! Thanks, Cindy!

In best of news, Sophie took her first independent steps last night. We all know she’s been cruising the furniture and walls for what seems like forever. Last night as we were getting the girls ready for bed, Joe was playing with the girls and he got Julie to stand a few feet away from him and Sophie. Sophie took her first steps towards Julie, and Joe and I both got to be there to see it. She took a few steps towards me a few minutes later, and none since. But we’re going to have another toddler any minute now.

Now, I’m off to start Pomotomus before bed.

Back to Process

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

So we all knew that the bragging about how this sock was such a quick knit and it was all about the product and la la la carefree knitting…was going to come back and bite me in the hiney. It’s not that bad, really. Just that I’m starting to wear out the yarn in this one spot.

Here’s what it looked like earlier today. I had four repeats done on the leg and I was cruising right along – I’ve got the pattern pretty much memorized and I had a few minutes this morning in the car while Julie was in pre-school and Sophie slept. Oh, see that white thing inside the sock? That’s not my leg – it’s a cheapskate sock-blocker that I made out of foam board for about two bucks. I wanted something to put it on when I display it at the store to help show off the lace a bit better. I may have to make another one a bit wider to stretch the sock out more and open it up.

Then, we came home, and after lunch I decided to try it on just to be sure. It looks nice, and feels nice once you get it on. The only trouble is that the just squeeks past my heel and I was afraid that over time I would end up ripping the things to shreds trying to get them on.

I thought hard for a little while. I took one more picture, this time showing Julie in her purple dress (of course!) in a state of mid-afternoon needing a nap but unwilling to take it.

Then, we all got in the car and I invented an errand for us to run so that both girls fell asleep and I had half an hour in peace to rip the damned thing back to the heel flap, fix the little problem with the cable increase that I mentioned yesterday, and start re-knitting the cuff on a size bigger needles. There was only a tiny bit of pain there as I ripped out this third attempt at the start of the cuff.

This better do the trick! I’m really surprised, on the one hand, that I’m having to take these measures, since I do not have the biggest instep on the planet. I normally knit straightforward short-row heels with no gusset and have no trouble getting them over my heels. On the other hand, I did have trouble getting the “skinny” version over my heels, and although the “fat” version has you add eight stitches, which should create an extra inch of fabric, it also includes a wider cable, which should suck that extra inch of fabric right back in. The bigger needles should make the fabric looser and solve the problem without affecting the wear of the sock. I’ll go back down a needle size when I get to the ribbing at the top. At least I’m learning some lessons that I can pass along to my students when I teach the class!

And finally, here’s Sophie standing around playing with the toy we call Piano-Dog while I sat around trying on the sock and banging my head against the proverbial wall. I’ll give you one guess what I’m going to go do right now!

Slowed Down

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Progress on the Baudelaire sock has slowed down a wee bit the last day or so, for several reasons, falling into two categories. Category one is Other Responsibilities – laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, general raising of children. Category tow is Technical Difficulties – the kind that involve knitting, ripping, knitting again, and yes, dear friends, ripping one more time. After turning the heel, the patterning changes to go all the way around the sock, incorporating a couple of cables at the sides. First there was a blunder of the “oops! I screwed up” variety. Then, I was doing fine till I tried the sock on again after a couple repeats and realized that I really should knit the directions for the “large instep” because I could barely squeeze it over my heel. So I ripped back to the top of the heel flap again and followed those directions, mostly with success.

Still, it is a whole new rhythm to learn, and with patterning all the way around the cuff, it made sense to switch from my beloved Pony Pearls to a long Addi Turbo and a Magic Loop type of technique. I’ve never read the actual Magic Loop directions, but my knitting looks something like this when I employ it.

Knitting the fat-anklelarge instep version of this pattern involves doing an interesting set of increases at the base of the cables, which is kind of cool looking, but somewhat challenging to execute. The one on the left side turned out great:

The one on the right side I am a little less confident of, but I have now ripped this section back three times, and I am not going to rip it back again, so help me. I will knit at least to this point on the second sock before the actual class starts in late summer so that I can teach it with confidence.

Now it’s time to knit this puppy straight to the top! I bought yarn for Pomotomus this weekend, and it’s beautiful stuff. You’ll have to wait at least another day or so to see it. Neener Neener!

Oh, and I got an e-mail from my SP10 hostess asking us to post about our favorite current project. Hi, Shelby! I hope this little update counts. Just to recap, Baudelaire socks from Knitty Summer ‘06. Koigu P621. This is going to be a shop sample for a class I’m planning for this summer, and when they are done at the shop they will be mine, mine, mine. This is like a perfect-storm project for me – I love socks, I’m on a lace kick, I love the beautiful sproing of Koigu and the pinks and browns of this colorway are not only popular right now, but a current favorite of mine. I’m feeling very happy about knitting right now. Oh, and the SP10 questionnaire is here.

I haven’t been posting nearly enough kid pictures lately, so here are a couple quick shots from dinnertime tonight:

Off to knit the socks!

Don’t Blink.

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Have I ever mentioned how I love small projects? I know I have. Especially when I get a bug up my butt and decide to work exclusively on the small project until it is done. Even better when it is a project that I’ve been wanting to start for a long time, but have forced myself to wait until fate brings me a legitimate reason to knit it right up. Because then – don’t blink, or you’ll miss the process and leap straight to product. And what a luscious, yummy yummy product we have climbing off the needles.

I mentioned that I need to knit up those sample socks for the lace sock class I’ll be teaching over the summer – mid to late summer, I believe, but the details aren’t out yet. Anyway, I cast on for the Baudelaire socks Wednesday night, and just now I finished turning the heel. I know that is not so fast as many people would whip out a sock, but for me it is quite quick, especially considering that there is a wee bit of lace involved. It does help that I’m knitting just the one at a time, instead of alternating between the pair as I usually am wont to do. I really want to have one each of the two patterns knit up and on display in the store before Stephanie’s visit. We will have a lot of visitors that night, and it would be good to generate some excitement for the class amongst the internet-savvy crowd who may recognize the patterns as ones that perhaps they’ve wanted to knit but were afraid to do on their own.

Here it is so far, modeled under the Ott lamp on my ghoulishly pale lily white foot. Under best of circumstances, it can be hard to see lace stitch patterns on handpainted yarn, but try to photograph it with artificial light and with camera skills like mine and this is what you end up wtih.

Oops! Don’t say I didn’t warn you about that blindingly white skin. I hope you’ll be able to see clearly once again in a few minutes.

While you’re still blinking, maybe I can quick run the sad little blankie picture by you without too much comment. Blankie is sulking in its basket, feeling quite unloved as I’ve gone off to work with the luxury sock yarn in full skeins for a bit. I promise, sweetheart, I’ll be back in a bit.

And since I know you’re going to ask, that’s a shadow box in the background, one that I’ve had since I was about six years old. In it are all kinds of trinkets and mementos from my childhood. I don’t have much left from my childhood, but most of what’s in there is associated with the rare happy memories – Easter baskets, Christmas stockings, visits from the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile… Underneath the basket is a picture frame I bought months ago and still haven’t gotten around to filling and putting up.

Anyway, dear readers, it is well past my bedtime yet again. I must get some sleep – these late nights combined with hours of baby screaming starting in the wee hours and the cold that never ends are wearing me down. I’m here for you, who run to the computer on Saturday mornings with bated breath waiting for a glimpse of the blankie. Mwa!

Damned Junkies! Exciting Socks!

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

I have had worse days than today. Yes, far, far worse. In fact, for the most part today wasn’t all that bad. The girls were good. Knitting group was fine. The time passed quickly. All except for the itchy, watery eyes, the runny nose, the sinus pressure so bad that my teeth hurt, and the froggy-croak voice.

I finally broke down after dinner and ran to Walgreen’s for some Sudafed. I’d rather not take any drugs while nursing if I can help it, but I figured enough is enough, and I’d like to try to clear my head out a bit and heal up my voice before I have to teach a knitting class tomorrow night.

So anyway, I walk into Walgreen’s and stand there staring at the cold medicine shelf for a good five minutes before I realize that I am looking not at boxes of medicine but at cards directing me to the pharmacy where the medicine is stored behind the counter. This was my first time purchasing any pseudoephedrine products since Minnesota enacted a law requiring that these drugs be kept in the pharmacy and that people have to hand over their drivers’ license to get at them. It’s so freakin’ Big Brother. On the one hand, I understand that it is important to at least try to cut off the supply to the jerks who cook it up into Meth. On the other hand, it pisses me off that I have to stand in line at the prescription counter and undergo scrutiny in order to get a bit of perfectly-legal relief. Damned Junkies!

No offense to any actual, real-life Junkies who may be reading this blog. I know that you’re real people with real problems and that maybe you’re trying to work yourself out of the hole. I don’t hate you on a personal level, just wish we could all make it better.

What a ranting ramble. Okay, back to knitting business. I finished the second sleeve last night. Yippee! I just need to block the sleeves now – probably not tonight as I want some couch time before bed – and then I can do the rest by hand. Except for the steek part, for which I will need to pull out the sewing machine. There is one more little experiment that I want to do on the knitting machine before I put it away, and then I can clean up the giant mess that is my office room.

Also, I’m very excited after talking with my manager at the yarn store this afternoon. One of the classes I will offer this summer is Lace Socks. Students can choose between two of Cookie’s free patterns from Knitty. The famous Pomatomus, and the also beautiful Baudelaire. This means that I need to quickly knit up samples of both – at least one sock of each pattern right away, and I can finish the mates a little later. Looking around my office room – and I know I’ve just been showing off all that sock yarn I own – I have only one yarn that will work for this purpose at the moment. I have two skeins of Koigu KPPM in a scarlet colorway that will do fine for either pattern. Every single other sock yarn that I own is either self-striping or one that we don’t carry at the store. If I’m knitting a sample for the store, the customers have to be able to buy the yarn at the store – that’s a no-brainer. So, poor me, I get to buy some more yarn! Whee! Don’t you feel sorry for me now? I’m really excited about this class and I hope enough people sign up for it to work out. I love lace, and I love socks, so it’s bound to be fun!

Oh, and secret confession time. I listened to a really crummy romance novel by the author with initials D.S. – I don’t really want people hitting here after googling for her. I also am listening to the last few books in the horror-genre author S.K.’s Drk Twr series. Hopefully that’s not too cryptic for you. I read the first few books in that series as they came out, and while they are certainly not intellectual or impressive, they make for good background noise while churning away at the knitting machine.

I think the cold medicine is kicking in. Must go knit and wind yarn!

Crotchety McCrankyPants Here

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

In answer to a question:

No, Dear Readers, I will not e-mail you personally with information about the blankie pattern. The reason why is that there are links over on the right if you scroll down to a TUTORIAL that I went to the trouble to make for you SIX MONTHS ago. Go read it. Argh.

Apologizing:

I’m sorry, I’ve had another less than stellar day. It started off with a decision not to send Julie to pre-school this morning because at 8:00 both girls were still sleeping, and I decided that we could all use as much rest as we could get given the fact that we are sick. Sophie’s fever has broken, but she is still snotty, raspy and crabby just like me. Julie seems to be a fair bit better, which gives me hope that one day Sophie and I will improve as well. Poor Sophie has been miserable all day long, and nothing I have tried has seemed to help. Little bugger is teething like all get-out too. Has anyone ever heard of a baby getting all four of their first molars *before* they’ve gotten their canines and even one of the second-front teeth? Bugger.

Knitting news:

I did manage to successfully knit a sleeve on the sweater last night. Even though the rows zoom away so quickly on the machine, it still took a couple hours. Pretty much the entire sleeve involves increases or decreases every few rows, which definitely slows things down. The good news is that I am climbing my way up the machine-knitting learning curve and made quite a few less mistakes last night than I did when knitting the back(s) and the front(s) last week. One more sleeve, hopefully tonight, and then it’s all about the couch and the Netflix movies that have been collecting dust. In the mean time, I’ve been listening to audio books, which definitely helps pass the time in front of the knitting machine. I’m almost embarrassed to admit what I’ve been listening to. I will just say that it’s brain candy – I can’t focus on anything in depth and do the machine at the same time.

Must go make dinner. I’m heating up some left over beef stroganoff that’s been in the freezer since Sophie’s birthday party, and we will all eat it and enjoy it, dammit!