Archive for June, 2007

Swim, Socky Socks, Beer!

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Today was Julie’s first swim lesson. It went well, and there were many more positives than negatives. To be honest, I was a little bit afraid that Julie would just balk and refuse to get in the water or something. But luckily that didn’t happen. Instead, she stripped off her cover-up dress and hopped into the water the moment she was allowed. It’s a small group – only three kids – and the teacher seems super nice and good with kids.

She was very patient – almost too patient as Julie was busy with her own agenda and testing the limits of how much she could get away with. Julie does have a tendency to ignore instructions and find her own imaginary things to do. Case in point – Julie was not supposed to be climbing up on the side of the pool at this point.

I was a little relieved when teacher Krista finally set a boundary and told Julie that if she didn’t listen she was going to get to sit on the side of the pool and watch while everyone else played in the water.

I had a few moments to work on Pomatomus today, as well as a few moments last night, and that means I’ve gotten far enough….

…that I can set it aside for a while – long enough for my students to catch up at least – and work on…

…Baudelaire. Isn’t it cute, all barely started?

Oh, and I was heading into the kitchen to take these pictures and I found this scene…

Joe was doing something to his beer mid-brew. I didn’t really ask exactly what was going on, but I’ll tell you this – that giant bottle on the stool? It had some really nasty looking brown foam in it. I find this amusing, though, because I know the end product is going to be yummy!

Oh, and hey Cece – TMI stands for Too Much Information.

Six Years (and counting)

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

Today was our sixth wedding anniversary. The traditional gift for year six is iron, and it was perfect since Joe had asked if he could buy himself a new set of golf clubs as a combination anniversary/Father’s Day gift. I’m counting my new bike as anniversary gift as well as Mother’s Day gift, and we were both very happy on that front.

Actually, we had a very nice day overall…St. Louis Park had its Parktacular Parade this afternoon, and our favorite librarian Joanie had asked me and the girls if we’d like to walk in their group in the parade. I thought “Why not?” and the three of us showed up with the stroller and a couple of signs that I’d quickly printed out saying “We Love our Library” and “Librarian Joanie Rocks!” (She really does rock. She is so nice to my kids, and all the other kids that come to the library. She learns all their names and gets down on their level and talks to them like real people and suggests good books and is generally just a nice person.) It was hot, but not as hot as yesterday, and we walked the route, then got to see much of the rest of the parade as we walked back to our car.

I was thrilled with the people from Trader Joe’s, who were handing out apples to people in the parade. I was not so thrilled with the lady from Cub Foods, who walked up to the stroller and tossed a couple of rolls of Smarties in at Julie. Julie still hasn’t tasted most kinds of candy, and she was happy eating her apple, thankyouverymuch. That’s right, people. I have an almost-four-year-old who has never had candy except for the odd chocolate chip when we’re making cookies. And she’s not in any way traumatized by it. She doesn’t ask for candy, doesn’t seem to miss it, and she is thrilled when she gets treats like breakfast bars and apple sauce. But there I go on a soapbox tirade.

So anyway, we came home and I cleaned house like it really needed it, because it really did need it and we were having a…..babysitter!!!! over this evening. Julie’s pre-school teacher (or really one of the four different teachers who helped out in her classroom) agreed to babysit for us again, and we were so happy because both Julie and Sophie love her and she has a good vibe and Joe and I trust her.

And I put on my sexy brown dress with the plunging neckline and we went out and ate a wildly extravagant meal and we had adult conversation and had chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream for dessert. We came home and both girls were asleep (thankfully!) so we paid the babysitter and we did all the adult things that we were not able to do in the hotel room after the last time I wore the sexy brown dress because we were sharing it with the girls….sorry about the TMI…and life is really really good.

Sorry for the train-of-thought entry tonight. I don’t even have any pictures for you. But I am going to run off and knit a little P. Fishy socky before bed.

Blankie Mojo Friday

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

It’s Blankie Friday again, and I’ve got an honest update for you tonight…but first I want to talk about mojo a little bit. I think I may be getting my blankie mojo back just a tiny bit. Granted, I am going to be a little distracted by the lace socks for the next week or so. But I’ve given myself permission – to work on the blankie when I can, to stop beating myself about whether I’m going to finish before August. I will finish, but better to get the thing done properly in its own time and without driving myself entirely insane. I’m going to choose to enjoy this last third of blankie knitting.

Which, in its own way, ties in to a different kind of empowerment that I’m feeling. I rode my bicycle four miles today – four miles with the kids in a trailer behind. To a park playgroup and back. It sounds like nothing to many of you, I’m sure. To me, it was an accomplishment. I overcame the inertia of the cool air conditioning, the easy pop-in-the-car habits, the fear of getting sweaty and purple faced and are the kids going to get restless in the trailer and what if there is a flat tire or maybe I just can’t do it. And I just did it. There’s a lot more to this – the wanting to be healthy but being pretty darn out of shape and it’s so hard to get started when there is no good time to exercise and it seems like such a chore…but the bike is pretty easy. It’s a small thing, I enjoy doing it, and it fits into our little daily routine.

Yeah, and how does that fit into blankie Friday? Well, maybe not all that well…but I had to share.

21 new squares since the last official report two weeks ago. It’s getting hard to get the whole thing into the frame even standing up on a chair as I normally do.

Oh, and to answer a couple of comments – yes, I think I did stick to the three needles on the Pomatomus all the way down the instep. I hate knitting a sock on three needles – four is oh-so-much better. But because of the way the lace pattern shifts around, it really does make sense to keep all the instep stitches together. Bleh.

And about that kiddie pool? I didn’t blow it up with my lungs. I used a pump. I’m not that crazy, but even with the pump it was still a pain in the ass.

State of the Socks

Friday, June 15th, 2007

So I’ve had a few more moments here and there to work on the Sockapalooza sock. When the girls are busy playing, I can sometimes sit back and knit a round before someone needs a nose wiped or something. Anyway, the sock looks alright, although the lace pattern is certainly hard to photograph effectively. I put it on my foot just before doing the toe decreases – my pal’s foot is much shorter than my own, so I can’t put it on once complete.

I finished that puppy up this evening, though. It’s a fun knit – the lace pattern is super easy to memorize, and it became almost mindless knitting.

It totally freaks me out to have one sock done and the other not even started. As I was finishing this up, I was itching to start the second sock, but I had some other factors to consider. I’ve got that lace sock class starting next week, and it’s been a few months since I knit up the two samples that are up in the store. Talk about two more socks without mates – totally out of character for me.

So I’m setting aside the Sockapaloozas. Just so I can work up the mates to the shop models along with my students. It’s time to pick up the luscious blue Koigu and cast on another Pomatomus.

Oh, and because there is no such thing as too many socks on the needles, let’s take a brief look at the bread-and-butter – the stockinette socks that I must always have available for totally, utterly autopilot knitting. Lately these have come in handy when I’ve been stuck in the nursery trying to get Sophie back to sleep. I can sit there and work them in the dark while Sophie fusses.

Okay, I’m off to start that fishy sock before bed.

Swimming

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

After the heat of the last few days, I assumed that today would be just as hot, so as planned I filled up the pool this morning. By early afternoon, it was barely in the 80s and the water in the pool was still pretty chilly. I had promised Julie she could play in the pool, though, so in they went.

For a good half hour they splashed around and giggled. I sat a few feet away knitting on my sock, but not the lace one because I wanted to keep an eagle eye on Sophie in case she slipped. Their little lips started to turn purple, and Sophie started trying to climb out. I asked her “are you all done?” She nodded her super-cute full-body nod. “Are you cold?” She nodded again. I helped her out and immediately she was shivering. I wrapped her in a big dry towel and dragged Julie out of the pool too.

Julie was less willing to come inside and warm up (to put it mildly), but I did get them both dressed and in the end they both went down for naps, leaving me to collect my thoughts for a few precious moments.

In house-keeping business, I’m still missing a bunch of readers from before the server switchover. I just tried hand-editing the old rss and atom files to see if I could point some of them to the right spot. If you’re reading this because you got the message on the old feed, please leave me a comment! I really miss some of the voices that used to populate the comments, and I am sad to see my stat numbers so much lower than they were before. I wish I had thought through the repercussions of my file rearranging a little more clearly before I went nuts with it.

Bogged

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

The weather here is hot and humid (as far as Minnesota June weather goes, anyway). The girls and I are still spending the bulk of our days outside, which is great as far as burning up the day quickly goes. Today, I spent an hour pumping air into our wading pool, and tomorrow morning I will fill it up so that the water can warm in the sun while we are at knitting and the girls can splash around, I expect, all afternoon. It is nice not to have to clean up a giant mess of toys in the living room at the end of the day, and it is nice to have kids that are happily tired each evening too.

On the other hand, just being out in the heat wears me out a bit. Yes, I chase them around some. Yesterday there was a long walk, today I wound off three skeins of yarn for dyeing while they played with Playdough at the picnic table. Then I noticed Sophie sitting *on* the picnic table and panicked a bit. Bad mommy. No harm done in the end, though.

This evening was the annual open house at our local fire station. The fire station is just a few blocks away from our house, so I fed the kids dinner a little early and we walked over there to see the sights. It really is quite an event – they have rides in the fire engines, sirens blaring; the kids get a chance to spray a fire hose at a pretend-burning building, there are all kinds of demonstrations and things to do and explore. Sophie loved looking at the giant bulldozers the city had on display in the back yard. Julie, on the other hand, did the same as last year. She wanted nothing to do with the actual firehouse-related activities. She wanted one of the free popsicles, a balloon, and a plastic firefighter hat, and then she wanted to bounce around in the inflatable bouncy thingy, and then she wanted to play at the adjacent park. So that’s what we let her do.

I ended up schlepping the baby and all the junk.

So anyway – why the title? Well, I’m feeling a bit bogged down. I feel like I’m not getting much done in the evenings, like there is a list of things I should be doing and that they’ve been sitting there for ever looking at me. There is a pile of things in my office that’s been waiting to go up on ebay for months. There is a pile of reading material that needs going through. I need to sign Julie up for some summer activities before it is too late. Blah Blah blah. Oh, and I signed up for Ravelry, but who has time to actually fill all that stuff in? Last night I decided to hide from the computer entirely, and instead knit a bunch of squares on the blankie. Even after doing my best on that, it still felt like not enough.

So tonight I decided to start chipping away at the e-bay listings. I had wanted to get them all listed at the same time so that I could to one giant post-office run when they all sell. But I realized I was never going to get motivated that way. One thing at a time will eventually get them all sold, and right now I’m selling my first knitting machine. It is the most basic of knitting machines, perfect for a beginner, and I’m starting it off at a ridiculously dirt-cheap price. Hopefully someone will buy it, hopefully more than one person will bid on it and I will end up with more than $10 for the thing! I haven’t used it in a couple of years now, and I have another machine that will do pretty much all the same things. Time to get rid of the clutter.

Okay, and we’re all still winding up the cold that we had over the weekend. Sophie’s upstairs coughing on phlem and I may have to go on up to bed. I’ll try to have something more exciting tomorrow!

Sensory Overload Sunday

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Sorry there was no blankie Friday this week. I’m going to come clean here – the girls and I have been on our own since Thursday night – Joe took a little trip up north with his college buddies, and as usual I don’t like to talk about vacations till after they’ve happened for security reasons. He came home this afternoon and we were all very happy to see him.

I promptly went upstairs and took an hour long nap, which I desperately needed. Then Joe took Julie to pick up our dinner at Chipotle. Yay!

Although I am feeling a bit of sensory overload at the moment, it has not at all been a *bad* weekend with just me and the girls. We kept ourselves busy playing outside mostly, and I took them out to dinner the last two nights to avoid having to cook and clean. Still, by the time I got them down to bed and did the minor chores that must be done each evening, I simply did not have it in me to generate coherent thoughts.

I’m still not sure my thoughts are all that coherent, but I’ll share a few with you anyway.

Yarn!

My first yarn shipment is all ready to go out in the mail tomorrow morning! One of my loyal readers has purchased two of the self-striping skeins, and I can’t wait for her to start knitting them up! Or just get her hands on them and add them to her stash. Jaci, do you have a blog?

One service that I’m offering anyone who buys yarn from me is to wind it into center-pull cakes. I’ll either wind it into a single cake, or as I did for Jaci, two center-pull cakes that start at about the same point in the color repeat and weigh about equal amounts. Perfect for a pair of matching socks! This is how I use my sock yarn, and it’s really not much trouble to do before I send it out. Of course, if a buyer wants me to leave it in the twist-skein I’m happy to do that too. The yarn itself is a little more fun to look at that way, and if you’re not planning to knit it right away that might make sense.

In any case, thanks, Jaci, for being my first cyber-customer!

Blankie!

I am still fighting to get back my blankie mojo. After all your input last week, I gave it some more thought and I realize that I really do want the blankie to end up in the bigger size I originally planned. I will enjoy it more in that size, and maybe I even owe it to all the people who sent me yarn to carry through on the original plan. I did get a lot of input, and I really appreciate it. I think I may have even gotten a comment from that Kay, the queen of all miters and one of my main sources of inspiration for the blankie. Thanks everyone!

Oh, and the idea of going ahead with the I-cord now and submitting the blankie to the fair in the square shape is somewhat tempting, but I know myself well enough to know that it would be very hard to go back and finish once I’d done the edging once. For now, I think I will just keep knitting away as many squares as I can motivate myself to do. We will see where we are when the fair approaches, but I am prepared to hold the blankie out till next year if she is not truly ready.

About the Blankie Knit-Along. Really, it’s a bit of a lame knit-along. All I’m doing is putting links in the sidebar to the people who have said that they’re making the blankie and want to be linked. If you want to join, just send me a comment or e-mail, make sure I have your URL (or I can’t add you). There are a couple of people – especially Brit Knitter Dianne – who have been updating their blogs with their blankie progress regularly. If you don’t have a blog and want to knit along, I’m happy to post photos here. Just e-mail me your updates. Those of you who have e-mailed or commented recently, either I have been too disorganized to get you added and/or I didn’t have your URL. E-mail or comment again, please! Oh, and feel free to save a copy of the Knit-along button to your web space and put it up on your blog – maybe just link it back to me or something Idon’tknow.

Yarn Shops

Becky asked for some recommendations on local yarn stores in the comments. I wrote up a big long e-mail giving her the dish on my innermost thoughts about a bunch of different stores in town. Most of my thoughts were positive and excited, a few somewhat snotty and/or critical. Things that I wouldn’t want to say in public. Of course, my top recommendation is the Yarnery in St. Paul – it’s at Victoria and Grand. Lovely store, lovely neighborhood. I’m only slightly biased, but they certainly don’t pay me for advertisement. If you want the rest of the dish, you’ll have to send me your e-mail address Becky. I realized only after I typed up my thoughts that you didn’t give it to me.

Socks!

I’m to the heel of the first Sockapalooza sock – the girls let me do a little knitting while they played in the yard the last couple of days. It’s turning out well, and I’ll give you more details on that later in the week.

In the mean time, Cece asked me to pretend that I’d never knit a sock before and tell her where to start. Well, just don’t get carried away. I think the basic sock pattern in the book Folk Socks by Nancy Bush is a great place to start. It has very clear directions, and gives you the basic recipe for the classic handknit sock from the top down. Every knitter should know how to make the classic sock. From there, I would move on to socks from the toe-up using short rows. They are my favorite for various reasons, and I even sell a pattern for them. (By the way, Jaci, look for a little surprise bonus in your package!) For beginners, stick with simple stockinette and/or ribbing. I like double-pointed needles, and I think socks should be knit at a very tight gauge for longevity – at least the foot part of the sock. If you want to knit the cuffs a little looser, fine. I could talk about socks for hours, and I have taught sock classes at the store several times. If you’re really nervous about knitting socks, by all means get yourself to a LYS and take a class.

Here’s where we were this afternoon -

A Good Day

Friday, June 8th, 2007

Today was a pretty good day, mostly. There was a very nice, long bike ride with the girls, there was some time out in the back yard involving the garden hose and a three-year-old pretending to be a firefighter. I had one of those epiphany moments and drew a bunch of flames on the sidewalk in chalk for her to “put out”. She loved it.

Later this afternoon we picked up our first installment of CSA veggies. We’re sharing a “share” with two other families, and I’m worried that it will still be more than we can handle each week. Today we got a giant pile of kale, spinach and lettuce. I really want to believe that we can keep up with it, but I’m a little worried that I may be the only person in our family who will eat many of the varieties willingly.

I don’t have much to say about knitting tonight – except that there are a couple of projects on the blogosphere that are begging me to do them, and I am firmly stopping my ears and singing “Lalala I’m not listening.” One is Nona’s Sidewinders. The other is that Kauni Cardigan that Susan and her posse are getting started with. “Lalala I have too many projects in the lineup already”

So while we wait for Blankie Friday, here is a sweet little video of Sophie from dinner the other night.

Sockapalooza!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

So I figure it’s time to finally do a quick post on my Sockapalooza plans, now that I’ve actually started my socks and feel pretty confident that I’m going to stick with the current plan.

A week or two ago, I started thinking seriously about what to knit for my pal. The problem was that she’s extremely un-picky. The only limitation that she gave me was that she doesn’t usually go for pastels. Other than that, plain, fancy any fiber, you name it. And she doesn’t have a blog, so it’s not like I can go snooping around to get a feel for her. I’m not complaining – it’s just that I’m all on my own here.

I picked out a hank of Anne by Schaeffer. It’s red and black, with a bit of deep deep purple in between. The colors reminded me of smoldering flames almost. So, as I was flipping through the Favorite Socks book that my SP10 pal sent me, I thought “Perfect! I’ll knit the Flame Wave socks by Ann Budd.” I had to do a little fiddling with the numbers because the pattern is written for thicker yarn, but it was no big deal. I cast on and knit a couple repeats of the pattern. See?

Only with the yarn’s swirly stripes, you could hardly see the stitch pattern. Why bother doing the extra work if it’s not going to show up? I went back to the drawing board and flipped through my book again.

And in the mean time, I took a gratuitous kid picture – they both fell asleep on the way home from our park play date the other day. It gave me an opportunity to sit with them in the car for a good half hour and enjoy the silence while I started the sock again.

Notice the matching dresses? I love the matching dresses.

A little further back in the book, I encountered Evelyn Clark’s Waving Lace Socks. They are just like the Flame Wave socks almost, except the increases are yarnovers instead of make ones. A little less subtle, and just what I needed.

I’ve knit a couple repeats, and although it looks better stretched out, you can tell that there is an actual pattern going on here. I’m keeping it. I’ve even done another inch or so since the picture was taken. I am wondering, though, when do I stop?

My pal says she likes crew-length socks. What the heck does that mean? Normally, when I knit socks for myself, I knit the cuff about the same length as the foot. It feels right to me and seems proportionate. I’m all about the proportions. Would that be considered “crew” length? Longer? Shorter? Oh, the indecision. Any advice would be welcome here. I really would like to make a pair of socks that my pal finds realistically wearable.

Okay, it’s past my bed time again, I have to get up early in the morning, and I’d really like to figure out how to post this to the pligg or plog or whatever that thing is that we’re using to share our socky goodness. Tomorrow night – more yarn, and probably a funny little video of Sophie.

Yarn!

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

So I know y’all want to see what I was up to with the yarn this weekend. The thing is, I’m going to show you a picture (of course I’m going to show you a picture – this whole blog is pictures!). The picture is going to be some beautiful yarn, if I do say so myself. But the most important part is that I had a LOT of fun dyeing it. At one point, Joe came through the kitchen and I just gushed “I’m so happy! Look at this yarn!” He, of course, gave me the look.

But let’s look at some gratuitously cute kids first:

Jack is about six months older than Julie. Yesterday we took a walk to the park with Jack, his mom, and his little brother for a playdate. On the way back, Jack and Julie decided to hold hands. Awww.

So, uh, ya still want to see the yarn? Okay.

I made it through nine of the fifteen skeins I received in the mail last week. The ones at the top are my favorite. I love them because the color is a brown that fades into pale mauve, which is pretty, but also because the color was not what it said on the bottle of food color, and I was pleasantly surprised. These should make stripes in a sort of spiral swirl if I’ve figured it out right. The ones on the right are random orange-on-yellow splotchy. I made some like this a few weeks ago and two of my knitting friends both wanted to buy it. I sold that skein to one of them, and am going to give the other a choice of these two tomorrow. (Hi, Beth!) The three at the bottom are all the same colors – two striping and one random blobs. They are very electric/neon colors. Finally, the two on the left – just pretty pinks and greens, they are different shades from each other, and should also make swirly stripes.

These skeins are all destined for sale, and I can make more of any of them if the first ones sell. I think I’m going to open an Etsy site once I get the other six blank skeins I have dyed up, but in the mean time if someone is really hot to buy one send me an e-mail at shellyk at shellykang dot com and I could maybe work out a deal via Paypal – I’m thinking $18 apiece for all but the self-striping ones at the bottom, which would be $22 apiece, plus shipping. The self-striping ones take a LOT longer to make than the others, since I have to do a lot of winding and re-winding.

Everywhere I read about dyeing yarn, I see things that say “professional” dyes are more colorfast than food dyes, especially the Kool-Aid. I have my doubts about how true this is. I dyed and knit yarn into glittens for me and mittens for Julie last fall and we wore them all winter, and they’re still pretty vibrant. Plus, I figure, this is sock yarn – they’ll probably wear out and get thrown away long before the color will fade out. Still, I had some Rainbow Barf left over, and I whipped up a swatch on the knitting machine the other night. I think I’m going to throw that sucker in with the dirty diapers and wash and dry the hell out of it for the rest of the summer, then compare the swatch to the unwashed socks before I start wearing them in the fall. A knitting-related science experiment, if you will.

Oh, and here’s a little yarn that is mine only because I bought it. I taught at the Yarnery tonight, and a few skeins followed me home.

That’s the new Malabrigo lace weight. I have no plans for it yet – I just saw it on the Yarnery’s blog a few days ago and knew that I had to have some in the stash. It is like two little kittens, it is so soft and cute.

That’s the Fleece Artist Sea Wool. Because I don’t have enough sock yarn, you know.

And that’s it for tonight! Sophie’s upstairs semi-awake, so I think it’s going to be time for bed in a minute.