Archive for May, 2007

Hat!

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

I finished the hat today, and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. It hasn’t been blocked yet, and I still need to type up the pattern changes, but both the sample and the patterns should be at the Yarnery by the middle of next week (it would be earlier, but I’m teaching on Tuesday night, and it seems silly to make an extra trip to St. Paul to get the stuff there four days sooner.)

Joe makes a much better model than I do – trust me, I started off wearing it and he took the pictures, they were hideous. I love the way Joe always looks like he’s in pain when I make him wear something handknit.

And from the back:

Joe has a relatively tiny head for an adult, and I have a good-sized noggin, so I’m pretty sure the one adult size will fit most.

In review, this hat is a shop model for the Yarnery, out of Claudia Handpaint sock yarn. It’s also a prototype for my new adult version of the baby hat pattern that has been so popular this spring. Both patterns will be available at the store, and if you are not local, but want the pattern, you can e-mail me and we can work out a deal – basically, $6.00 either by Paypal or personal check will get you a hard copy in the mail.

In response to a couple reader questions -

Why would I rewind yarn that is already in skeins before dyeing it? I’m doing self-striping sock yarn, and the way I do it is to wind it into very long skeins and dye stripe-length sections. There’s an entry or two about it somewhere in my archives in the last couple months.

There are no plans for a class for this hat at the store. We offered the baby hat as a class a year or two ago, and it didn’t get enough people signed up to fly. To be honest, I think my pattern is clear enough and the knit easy enough that most people can do it on their own.

Speaking of classes at the store, though, the Knitty Lace Socks class starts on Thursday June 21, and has enough students to go for sure, but there are still four places available. If you were thinking about signing up to do either Pomatomus or Baudelaire, now’s your chance! Also, some of the new Claudia solids at the store would be perfect for either of these patterns.

Connie mentioned the book “The Paper Bag Princess” by Robert Munsch. It’s funny you should ask about that book, because we happen to have it, and Julie happened to pull it out of the book shelf all by herself yesterday and has been reading it all day today. We like this princess book. She’s a tough chick, but Julie is still trying to understand why Prince Ronald is a jerk.

Now, it’s time to go make up with the blankie. I think I’ll start off weaving in some ends.

Long Weekend Ketchup

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Sorry for the disappearing act over the weekend. We were busy having fun, for the most part. Here’s what I just downloaded from the camera:

We finished the puzzle on Saturday night. That was fun, and now I feel like I’ve had enough of that for another year or two.

Sunday we loaded the girls up in the bike trailer and went for a ride. We live only a few blocks from a very nice trail that heads toward the city, and a chain of glacial lakes with nice trails, playgrounds, beaches and snack bars. We rode about four miles to Lake Calhoun, where we got off and ate a little picnic lunch.

We let the girls play on the playground for a while, and most of my time there was spent following Sophie around and watching her play with the sand. This was the view:

I’m afraid to describe it in specific words because I don’t want the pervs to find it, but it was so cute I couldn’t help snapping a picture.

That evening we headed over to Joe’s cousin’s house for a barbecue with their family. They have a very nice playset in their back yard, and the girls played well together while the grownups enjoyed a beer. That’s Katelyn on the tire swing with Julie.

For one reason or another, Sophie hasn’t been barefoot in the sandbox until yesterday, when I impulsively pulled off her Robeez and let her sink her bare toes in the sand. She loved it.

I’ve been plugging away at the hat and it looked like this yesterday afternoon. I was just starting the decreases at the top.

Sophie agreed to model it briefly.

Last night we hosted a little barbecue at our house. I made ribs and they were awesome, as usual. Julie loves ribs as much as Joe and I do, and we ate the leftovers for lunch today. The kid can clean a bone better than I can!

This afternoon we were hanging out across the street with our neighbors for a little while. Jason was playing with the girls and helping keep Sophie from running out into the street. She kept walking down their path and trying to cross the street back to our yard. So Jason picked her up and carried her back to the front steps. The little stinker loved it.

When we were getting ready to go, I told Sophie to wave bye-bye to Jason, and instead she did this:

She reached out to hug him, and wouldn’t let go. Jason is a sweet kid, and apparently Sophie is a good judge of character.

The hat is waiting for me in the kitchen. The decreases for the top-of-hat shaping are a little fiddly, and I’m taking my time to get it just the way I want it and write it up as I go along. The thing I struggle with most as a designer is getting what I did written down before I forget how I did it. I was hoping to finish the thing tonight, but Sophie had a hard time going to bed and time is short.

Also, look what came in the mail today! Fifteen more blank skeins of sock yarn. I couldn’t help winding one up right away for reskeining immediately.

Blankie, and Yummy Hat, Friday

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

It’s that time again – time to face the music on the blankie progress. I swear, I’m in the black hole for this project. It is obvious that new squares are being completed, but I’ve also been right around the 2/3 complete mark for what feels like forever. At least I can tell there is more than there was because there is a desperate need for the weaving in of ends. I’m sorry, but I refuse to count the squares this week. I don’t know exactly how it averaged out, and I don’t want to know. I know that I put all the time into it that I had.

I know that the thing is beautiful and that I can’t take my eyes off of it when it is in the room. I know that it is constantly tumbling out of its basket because it it too big, and I know that I am still in love with this project, as neverending as it seems. I know that it’s impossible to see all this from the simple picture of it laid flat on the floor. I also know that it makes me laugh when I go back and look at the pictures in the tutorial. They are like blankie baby pictures. Now it’s just an unruly teenager.

Okay, and now here is the source of my underlying guilty pleasure:

It’s the cuff for my new sample hat. The ribbing is simple enough, pretty much mindless knitting. There are some subtle bits of beauty here, above and beyond that of the gorgeous wool. I love tubular cast-ons, and every time I work one, especially over 2X2 ribbing, it feels like a bit of magic. Also, there is a round of plain knit halfway down the cuff meant to provide a clean line for turning it. I love inserting tiny details like this in my work, and I love including their explanations in my patterns for added value. It is nice to be doing something more than my zillionth mitered square.

I’ve moved on past the cuff and into the main body of the hat. It is gorgeous, the color combination. It looks almost edible, like spicy chocolate. You will have to wait at least till tomorrow to catch a glimpse.

I’ll leave you with two cute-kid pictures. Sophie fell asleep in the stroller on the way to the park. There really is nothing more beautiful than a resting baby.

Julie was wide awake, and walking balance beam on the railroad tie borders, among many other things.

Oops!

Friday, May 25th, 2007

I got a little e-mail today from my boss (also named Shelly – great name, great lady, slightly confusing when we’re both at the store.) It seems I’ve been spreading misinformation. I just can’t keep up with what’s going on at the store as well as I would like, especially when I’m in between classes. I’m sure she won’t mind my posting her words:

I just read your blog and wanted to give you our latest thoughts on Koigu.
We haven’t closed the door on them yet. We are giving them another chance to see if they improve on their shipping times. We currently have two orders in to them. One is supposed to ship this week and the other in July.

We brought Claudia in as a good alternative to fill in when Koigu is picked over. If Koigu’s shipping doesn’t improve we may switch totally to Claudia but the final decision hasn’t been made.

This makes me very happy. I love Koigu, and it made me very sad to think that the Yarnery wasn’t going to carry it any longer. Everyone there loves Koigu too, it’s just a tough situation when they have a whole wall devoted to it, and often can’t keep it stocked because it takes something like nine months for the Koigu people to fill an order – understandable when it’s only a few people dyeing the yarn and it’s so darn popular! I think it makes great sense to carry both the Koigu and the Claudia – they certainly do complement each other – and hopefully it will be a win-win situation all around. Thanks for the info, Shelly!

For Elizabeth who asked, the multi-orange/pink/brown colorway is John B. and in case anyone wonders about the other, solid color, it’s name is simply Chocolate. I’ve made a little progress on the hat, and I was planning on taking a picture for tonight’s post, but I can hardly keep my eyes open, so you’ll have to wait for tomorrow night.

Also, I sometimes hate posting things about the girls on the blog because I often get way too much advice, usually inappropriate for my family situation because although everyone’s trying to be helpful, they don’t know all of the details. I was actually pleased when I read Betsy’s comment about showing Julie the scary video again after we’d talked about it. I thought it was a great idea, and was all prepared to sit with her through it this afternoon. But when I broached the subject, Julie was adamant that she did NOT want to see that DVD again. She didn’t even want to see any of the Sesame Street ones today. I made sure to talk to her about it as it came up and reassure her that everything was okay. It’s a library loaner, and we’ll be returning it tomorrow, so she’s probably not going to see it again any time soon. I’m okay with that, but thanks for the perspective, Betsy!

Oh, and thanks to Bonnie for pointing out that the blankie tutorial links were broken. They’re fixed now!

I don’t know why I’m so tired tonight, but I’m going to bed!

Two Vignettes and a New Project

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Scene One

This morning, we were in a rush to get out the door, as is usual on mornings when we have anywhere to go. Of course, Sophie decided to fill her diaper with a big juicy load right before we had to leave, and I am so grateful that she’s finally pooping regularly and without major trauma again that I can’t complain. In the five minutes while we were upstairs changing both her diaper and her outfit, Julie managed to get herself in a little trouble.

Julie knows that she is not allowed to play with my shoes. She likes to walk around in them sometimes, and that scares the crap out of me because I’m afraid she’s going to trip and hurt herself. That wasn’t the problem this morning. She’s been tying knots in all kinds of string-type things lately – she figured out how to do it, and the new skill hasn’t gotten old yet. She’s constantly tying things to each other and to various objects. It’s frustrating because I either have to cut the string or spend a lot more time untying the knots than she spent tying them.

In this case, she came walking into the kitchen holding my tennis shoes, tied to each other with a wad of knots. Just as I was trying to get us out the door along with all the various crap we needed to take, only about 20 minutes later than we should have left in the first place. I’m not proud of it, but I started to blow up. I started to speak loudly at her “Julie, you know you’re not supposed to play with my shoes and I’m tired of you putting knots in every string you get your hands on. I’m really angry right now.” and then something clicked…”What you need is something that it’s okay for you to tie knots in.”

I spent another five minutes grabbing some card stock and punching holes in it, then digging some yarn out of the stash to go with it. Instant lacing cards, and they’re disposable, so unlike the very nice plastic ones that we bought her for Christmas, if she ties it up beyond repair I don’t have to care. It was a brief moment of parenting enlightenment. I try to be a good mom, but it doesn’t always come intuitively for me, so when a good idea strikes I have to celebrate it.

Scene Two

Here are the girls sitting down for their afternoon ration of TV exposure. Little Sophie gets very excited when she sees Big Bird and Elmo. Yes, it’s scary.

Sophie didn’t sit in front of the TV for long. She was tired and crabby after a day out with friends and then running errands. We came into the office so she could nurse while I caught up on blog reading, and then suddenly I heard Julie cry out and turn off the TV. She was obviously scared by something, and disturbed by it enough that she didn’t want to watch her Sesame Street Big Bird’s Story Time DVD any more. It took me a couple of minutes to get it out of her, but apparently Humpty Dumpty’s accident was a little too graphic for her sensibilities.

The DVD is a collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes acted out by the Sesame Street crew, and I wasn’t watching the section in question, but apparently it involved Kermit the Frog, and apparently Humpty was hurt pretty badly. We processed it over and over through dinner time and on into story time before bed. I won’t be surprised if we talk about it all day tomorrow as well, and I sure as hell won’t be showing her *that* DVD again any time soon.

New Project

The Yarnery just got a new shipment of Claudia Handpaint in this week, and it is beautiful stuff. Because they’re not going to carry the Koigu any more, I offered to knit a shop sample of my slip-stitch baby hat in the Claudia, and my boss took me up on the offer. Our errand this afternoon was over to the store where I oogled the new wall of yarn and eventually picked out these two lovelies:

This is gorgeous stuff. It’s very similar to the Koigu, with about the same yardage and a slightly lower price. I started the hat tonight, and this time I’m making one in an adult size. Several people have asked for a bigger size, and I’ve just been waiting for a little motivational push to get around to writing it up. I’m hoping to have the new sample hat and the adult sized pattern in the store by early next week. Poor blankie is getting pushed aside yet again – but just for a few days.

Stuff. And, uh, Stuff.

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

I sat down to read a few blogs and try to think up something to say in my own blog tonight. I still don’t have a whole lot, but I do have a few random thoughts.

A couple of you wanted to know what bike I bought. It’s a Specialized brand. It’s this one, in the navy colorway. I’ll let you know how I like it more after I’ve actually ridden it for more than ten minutes at a time. I think we’re going to try to go for a bike ride this weekend.

Tonight was the end-of-year picnic for Julie’s preschool. It was fun for the kids, and all, but my denial of the fact that this *is* the last week of school for her till September is now shattered. I mean, we love school. We need school. What are we going to do without school for three months? I don’t want to think about it.

I’ve been thinking about what socks to knit for my Sockapalooza pal. She hasn’t given me much guidance on what she wants – her only restriction was no pastels. She likes fingering weight wool/nylon, which makes me happy because that’s what I like to knit and I have a lot of it. The possibilities are endless! I think I have an idea, but I’m not 100% sure. The only thing I am sure of is that I’m not going to knit those ubiquitous monkey socks. Forgive me for what I’m about to say, but although the socks look great on the Knitty article pictures, all the others I’ve seen in blog-land look like ass. Maybe it’s because they’re not properly blocked or something, I don’t know. But I do know that I have no desire to knit them right now. Sorry for being so mean. I do love Cookie’s designs in general, and I’m even planning to teach that class on her lace socks this late summer. The monkeys just aren’t doing it for me.

Speaking of that class, someone posted a comment a while back saying they are signed up to take the class and asked a couple of questions about it. I can’t remember now whether I ever answered those questions, and I feel really badly for not having responded right away – sometimes e-mails get buried in the in-box and then I loose track of them. If I recall correctly, they were questions about sizing on the Baudelaire and whether the instep was too tight. To be honest, the pair that I knit up didn’t have a tight instep, but the ankle was a little problematic. I had to do some adjustments to the pattern, and they fit my foot fine now, but getting them on over the heel is still a bit of a struggle. I have fairly skinny feet and heels, so I think most people might have this problem. That said, it’s easily fixed by adjusting for it as you knit. As long as you have a good idea of the wearer’s build, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Also speaking of my classes at the Yarnery…it’s a little weird when I show up to teach a first class these days because I always wonder if any of my students have been reading here, but I don’t like to mention the blog in class because I don’t want to offend anyone. As in, I try to be fairly non-political and unopinionated as far as non-knitting topics go while I’m teaching a class, and if I go and tell everyone “Hey, go check out my blog!” on the first night of class then some devoutly religious person might show up here, see my blog title, and decide they don’t want to be in my class any more. Even though, if you’ve read here for a while, you know that the title is not meant to be offensive to religious people, it’s just owning what I am. But hopefully you get the idea.

The whole issue of blog persona meets real-life Shelly persona continues to boggle me. We’re the same person, but if you show up and meet me at an event or something, I may not be as witty and charming and generally focused as I appear in print. One reason for that is if my children are with me, I’m busy trying to keep them from putting stickers on everything they see and/or eating all the crackers and snacks we brought in the bag within the first five minutes of our outing.

What a ramble. I’m off to vegetate and commune with the blankie for a while.

Bike!

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

When I was maybe nine or ten years old, I had a horrible bike accident. We lived just outside of town on a gravel road, and attached to that gravel road there was a busy, narrow blacktop road with no shoulders. Instead of shoulders, this blacktop road had ditches on either side that were full of pointy pebbles and broken glass.

One evening, I begged my father to take me with him on his bike ride on this road, and he, annoyed at me wanting to tag along, agreed that I could come but only if I managed to keep up with his pace. I was wearing flip-flop sandals, but didn’t bother to change into sneakers because I didn’t want to be left behind. I hopped on my 10-speed that had been a Christmas gift a year or two earlier and off we rode.

The ride ended when we headed down a hill on this narrow, busy road and I panicked in the rush of the cars and trying to stay right at the edge of the shoulderless road. I hit the brake – the front brake – a little too hard, and went flying topsy-turvy over the handlebars and into the sharp pointy bits in the ditch. There followed a trip to the ER, only after my mother had forced me to take a bath and put on clean clothes because she didn’t want to drag her filthy daughter into the hospital where she worked. Once there, I spent a couple hours having grit picked out of my elbows and knees and later that week I ended up having surgery to fix a broken foot (nobody listened to me that night when I told them that what hurt worst was my foot when I had all that bloody shrapnel attracting their attention.)

So, for twenty-odd years, when I think of bicycles, I think of a fairly traumatic experience. I never did get truly comfortable with riding a bike on the street again, although the 10-speed was salvaged and I rode it as needed till it rusted out and literally fell apart early in my college years. Since then, I’ve been bike-less.

I’ve thought about getting a bike now and then over the years, but I was never sure that the expense was worth the risk that I might not actually use it – we are urban dwellers, after all, surrounded by busy streets. But then we bought a bike trailer and Joe started taking Julie for rides in it. It looked like such fun! There is a bike trail just a few blocks away from our house that surely would be less scary for someone like me than the open road. Sophie is just about old enough, and a family outing on the bikes seems like a great way to spend a little time together.

Mother’s Day came around, and I tried to convince Joe that I needed either a warping board or a niddy-noddy. He said “I already bought you wooden things for winding yarn.” (He has a point – I have a lovely hand-turned nostepinne as well as a hand-crafted swift, both gifts from my beloved.) I thought a little more and said “Maybe a bike – it could be for our anniversary too.” So, since we were traveling on the actual day, yesterday we went to the bike shop and I picked this out:

It’s a nice upright bike with a big fat-ass seat and a gear-shift system that seems pretty intuitive. Best of all, it’s got good shocks so that if I make that fatal front-brake error again, I probably won’t flip the bike. I’m a little wobbly after all this time off a bike, but riding it around the block a couple times tonight – Joe picked it up from the shop this evening after they did the initial tune-up – I felt like a 10-year-old kid again. Giddy. Silly. Happy.

While we were at the bike shop, we looked for a helmet small enough for Sophie. They didn’t have one there, but Joe found one at another store today.

I see some biking in our near future.

Oh, and the puzzle continues to take form…

Puzzled

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

Hi, everyone! I’m sorry to hear some of you are still having trouble accessing my blog. Let me just point out one more time (and don’t be surprised if I tell you again later – I want to keep this PSA at the top of the blog for people coming back to the party late). I moved my web site to a bigger, faster server over the weekend. This is good for everyone – faster load times Yay!

While I was moving my files, I decided to go ahead and clean up the file structure, so the location of the blog and the feed files has changed slightly. Now, to access my blog main page just go to www.shellykang.com. The feed has changed to http://www.shellykang.com/atom.xml – if it’s not coming up automatically for you in your feed reader, then just delete my feed from your reader, then add it back in the way you would normally add a new feed (this varies from reader to reader and browser to browser, so I’m not going to try to explain it in more detail.)

For those really interested in the technical details, I went with DreamHost as my service provider, and the reason for the file cleanup was to get rid of the old frames file structure that I used to use pre-blog to organize my picture-pages site. When I originally set up the blog, I didn’t realize that it was going to replace the picture pages so I kept the frames, but they make navigating and linking harder, so once we get past this hurdle, life will be much better!

Now for some real content for your Sunday morning enjoyment, two pictures from yesterday:

Joe working on the puzzle I bought at a garage sale last week for 50 cents. Julie has been into puzzles lately and is mostly working on 100-piece puzzles. This one is a 1,000 piece and too complicated for her right now, but Joe and I seem to have caught the puzzle bug. He seems happy putting together the detailed picture part where he can refer to the box and figure out where the piece belongs. I seem a little obsessed with getting the harder solid-blue sky part figured out before I can move on. Both of us have a hard time peeling ourselves away from the thing once it sucks us in.

We had a little backyard picnic lunch yesterday and it ended with Julie helping feed Sophie some of the last bits of her Chipotle burrito bowl. It was incredibly cute.



Please let me know if you have additional problems with the blog after trying what I explained above. I do want to make it work better so you will all keep coming back.

Blankie Friday

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Okay, before we get to Blankie Friday, I have to say I really hope you all are still out there. I think the blog is mostly back to normal now. I think the RSS feed should be working again – it’s at http://www.shellykang.com/atom.xml now, so yes you will have to change your bloglines or other reader subscription. The easiest way to do that is usually to just delete the old copy out of your reader, then add the subscription back on. I know, I’m testing your blog-love. It’s all for the sake of faster loads and fewer whiney husband moments (when the server got bogged down, it wasn’t pleasant.) Let me know if you continue to notice other problems. I know I need to fix my profile picture and there are probably some pictures in older posts that have gone missing.

Enough with that business, though! I know you want the low-down on the blankie. It’s a little pitiful, but remember I was away from home for a week and the luggage was huge enough as it was – there was no way I could take it with me. I have only one of the bigger squares to report:

Remember this sock yarn? I think every sock knitter in the universe has knit a sock with this yarn at some point in their career. It’s one of the early Regia self-striping colorways, and I think I received chunks of it from at least 10 different people. Some of the larger chunks went to my friend Connie, who knit them into socks for CIC. There have also been one or two smaller squares out of this yarn in the blankie already, but I couldn’t complete the thing without including a larger square out of this yarn. This coming week will be a Week of the Blankie. At least three squares per day. Really.

In the mean time, when I came home from vacation the Creative Activities Rules and Premiums booklet for the Minnesota State Fair was in my mailbox (well, actually in the giant pile in my foyer, where our house sitter had left it.) I love poring over the knitting categories and considering what I’ve knit so far in the year or may yet knit that will fit in the various sections. The blankie is my only big hope this year, although I may yet make a pair or two of leggings for the girls that might be fun to enter. Looking at the three afghan-type categories, it looks like mine will have to go into either “318 Afghan, made in strips or modules” or “319 Bedspread, min size 3801 sq. in.” The categories can be a bit confusing sometimes. My blankie can’t go in the other two categories because it is going to be around 4400 square inches blocked, and while it certainly is modular, I wonder whether lot 318 is meant for modules that are sewn together rather than knit one off the others. When I think of the bedspread category, I think of those giant lace things that win the Sweepstakes prizes, and I certainly don’t want to go up against those. Luckily, I have months and months to consider.

Let’s look at some cute kid pictures:

I took the girls to Eden Prairie Center to get their hair cut the other day, and for once we had a decent experience in the play area there. Sophie has really decided that she’s into this whole walking thing, and she toddled and climbed all over the place. Here she is looking down from the top of the play structure through one of the slides.

Today we took a trip to the Mall of America with Joe’s cousin and her kids. They all had fun playing in Legoland – that’s Julie and Katelyn in the foreground, and Sarah and Joe’s other cousin Natalie on the yellow bench in the background. Natalie just graduated from college and is a real-life ballerina, a fact that impresses Julie to no end as she claims she’s going to be a ballerina when she grows up.

Sophie got in on the Lego action a bit, and I was watching her like a hawk as she grabbed all those tiny pieces. Only a couple got slobbered on.

She was more interested in toddling off towards the amusement park. She kept walking over towards the ride with the swings hanging down from the tree, and pointing like crazing as she gasped with excitement. This is such a fun age. She is really exploring her personality, learning to communicate and express her own desires and interests. She is such a happy kid most of the time and is constantly making me smile and laugh.

Bad picture, but this is Julie holding hands with Auntie Natalie as we walked through the food court to get some lunch. I just loved the way Julie glommed right on to Natalie and grabbed her hand even though we haven’t gotten to see much of her while she was away at college.

And that’s the end! I still have a little knitting time left tonight, I think I have another square or two left in me before bed.

Pictures

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Okay, so maybe there are a few things that are still not quite right. I’ll fix that as I have time today. While I was porting over, I fussed around with the blog’s file structure – I got rid of some unnecessary stuff – but now I guess everyone may have to re-ad me to their bloglines or whatever blog reader you’re using. Sorry about that, and I hope people don’t give up on me! The blog should be right at the root of www.shellykang.com now instead of at www.shellykang.com/Blog if that makes any sense. Sorry for the confusion! I’m working on it!