Archive for July, 2007

Check check one two one two

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Hi again. Just testing to see if I can post from the Sidekick…if this
works, and if there is coverage way the heck in the middle of a lake in
rural northern Minnesota, we may just have a post or two next week.

Just for fun, I’m attaching the one photo I currently have stored on the
phone. If you can see it, that’s Joe’s dad holding Sophie when she was
much smaller.

Craaankay.

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Yeah. Cranky. As in a giant, cranky ball winder that showed up in the mail today.

My good old basic Royal is stripped (you know, how they start making that clicking, slipping noise – it drives me crazy.) So I decided to step up a notch and this was it. Freakin’ thing is huge, but it’s nice because it has much better tension control, and hopefully it will hold out for a few more years.

But that’s nowhere near the end of crankay around here. Sophie’s teething something awful. I made the mistake of drinking two beers instead of just one last night at a barbecue, and woke up with a hangover this morning. argh. I had my share of cranky all morning, too.

But it’s all good. I had a pleasant surprise this evening…I got an e-mail from my cousin Joe who I haven’t seen or heard from in forever. He is the youngest of three boys, all about 10 years older than me and my sister. He used to give us piggy back rides, and we worshipped them. If you’re reading, Joe, thanks for checking in. It was good to hear from you.

It’s past my bedtime, and I’ve got about a million more things to do getting ready for our trip.

Pictures Again.

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

I have a nice mix of cute kid pictures (so many cute things happening this week!) and knitting and dyeing update pics as well – something for everyone likely to hang out around here!

We went to the fancy grocery store the other day – the one with the carpeted aisles where there is always a truck cart waiting for the girls to ride in. Actually, this was Sophie’s first time riding in the truck part of the cart, and they had a blast! All through the store, other shoppers saw them and their faces just lit up.

Later that day, Sophie went down for a nap and Julie busied herself with the fish game – I think she was actually pretending to feed the fish.

I took the opportunity to graft the crotch of Sophie’s leggings. They’re still nowhere near done (actually, I’ve had to rip out the same five rows twice now), but I wanted to go ahead and get rid of the dangling scrap yarn holding the live stitches.

Before:

On the needles ready to graft:

After:

You can see in this picture what the gusset looks like. I closed up the holes as I wove in the ends later, and I think they’re pretty tight. I hope.

This is what Sophie looks like at the end of many meals. She seems to love rubbing food in her hair. She’s also been chewing on her fingers like crazy – those canine teeth are coming in again.

Because I firmly believe in setting a good example for my girls early on…

Um, at least she’s reading? We were shopping at the much-less-posh grocery store later in the week, and I caved in and bought a trashy magazine. I think there was a picture of a puppy in one of the advertisements, and that’s what she was looking at.

Even though I really need to be preparing and organizing for that trip next week, I’ve been playing with my giant box of yarn instead. These skeins were an attempt to satisfy a certain Packers fan in our midst. They are all the same except for the second blob from the left, which is a bit brighter. What do you think, Jaci? Which colorway is closer?

A closeup of the two colorways.

This picture is exactly what it looks like “I have goggles, Mama!”

Um, yeah, so there’s some more yarn in the dye pot. Have I mentioned that this many-colored self-striping is a major pain in the ass? Well, it is.

I reskeined that cheesehead yarn this afternoon. It sure looks pretty all mixed up like that. Again, which version to you want, Jaci?

Here’s my finished pile so far…the brown is coffee-dyed yarn, and it smells SO good.

This morning I took my Canadian friend out for a surprise. She’s really into stationary, so we went to Uptown and checked out a couple of paper stores. I took this picture in Papergami (with permission). Their selection of washi paper was so beautiful all lined up along the wall. They had lots of other fun trinkets, including a red heart-shaped tape measure that I bought but did not take a picture of.

We also visited Paper Source, which was also fun, but a bit more of the chain-store experience. And Starbucks. Because it was right there across the street and we needed a good sit-down kid-free chat.

There is so much to do this week – cooking, packing, last minute shopping…

The girls

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

A few random observations on life with my girls right now.

Everyone in our family likes to give and receive raspberries. Not the fruit kind – the kind where you buzz your lips against a jiggly tummy or a juicy thigh. I have been razzing my girls since they were born, and it’s always good for a laugh and a smile all around. I can’t get enough of it, to be honest. One day a couple of weeks ago, Sophie lifted up my shirt as I was sitting on the couch, and I thought she was angling for a nursing session. Nope. She leaned down and gave me a raspberry. It was so incredibly cute. Julie has gotten in on the action now too, and it seems like we end up having raspberry time most nights before bed these days. I especially love it when the girls do it to each other. It’s hilarious.

A conversation between me and Julie this afternoon as I was starting dinner:

J: I don’t like cabbage.
Me: Why not?
J: Because if I liked cabbage then I would be a grownup.

So typical of Julie. So funny in the moment.

Sophie snorts when she laughs really hard. Sometimes, I do too.

Chaos Supreme

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I’m trying to dig through my office room tonight. It’s gotten to be utterly unbearable. I mean, it’s gotten to the point where there is hardly an available surface for stashing one more thing that needs to be stashed, including the floor and the guest bed. It is so bad in here that I can barely think once I’ve entered the room. I come in here to retrieve one quick item, and some other important but forgotten thing catches my eye, distracting me long enough to forget what I came here fore, but not long enough to actually do anything about the thing that distracted me.

And then the girls come in. I can’t be in my office for more than 15 seconds during the day without someone coming in and disturbing my mess. They bring in their toys and their sippy cups, they attempt to grab and play with all the treasures I’ve stashed in here. We all know what happens when the under-four set gets ahold of a ball of yarn, and it’s not pretty. Sophie loves to turn the crank on my ball winder. Julie loves to climb up on the bed. I struggle to herd them out, and the cycle starts all over again twenty minutes later.

Cleaning up the mess is no small feat. Most of the things left out in my office are left out because they are somehow “pending.” Mail that needs sorting and bills that need paid, letters that need responses, receipts to be entered into Money. There is an innocent-looking button sitting on my desk that a casual observer might believe could just be put in the sewing box, but no, it is waiting to be sewn back on one of my favorite pairs of pants.*

The floor is covered with a giant box of yarn, a few things that I still need to list on e-Bay, but won’t till after the camp trip, a giant pile of stuff that I’ve bought to take to camp, and some other mystery debris along with the usual dust bunnies hiding under the desk. The table is covered with dye-related debris, bits and pieces of current knitting-related projects, and a bunch of stuff that is waiting for me to make a trip to the post office.

You know how they say “cluttered desk, cluttered mind”? Well, that is all about me right now. I really must get back to work tyeing up some of these loose ends so I can forget about them and put their paraphernalia away.

*By the way, I have two pairs of pants from Eddie Bauer that keep popping their buttons. I e-mailed their customer support asking if I could purchase some replacement buttons because I’ve now lost the ones that hold down the flaps on the back pockets. They won’t give me replacement buttons, but they’ve offered to replace the pants themselves! I am sorely tempted to take them up on this offer, and a shipping label is on its way to me now. There are two problems with the plan. One, I would have to mail back two of my favorite pairs of pants and await the new ones by mail. Since I don’t have very many pairs of pants, this would severely cramp my style. Two, they don’t have the exact same pants any more, even though I bought them this spring. I really like these pants. They fit well, and the style suits me. Plus, They roll up and pretend to be capris for summer-wear right now, but they are heavy enough to wear through fall and into winter. None of the current styles seem as perfect. So what I think I really need to do is find time to hit the fabric store, but replacement buttons and sew them on. It seems shameful, the thought of getting rid of perfectly good pants just because of poorly-sewn buttons.

Oh, and I did promise some answers to questions, didn’t I?

Here we go, and this is totally random, so if you asked a question lately, you’ll have to skim through and see if I got to yours:

I was cold-pressing the coffee because I had read a NYT article about it (I linked to it a while back, but don’t have time right now to look it up again) that said it was by far the superior way to make cold coffee. Maybe my palette’s not that refined, but I can’t tell all that much difference.

The Waving Lace socks I knit for Sockapalooza were indeed pretty stretchy as far as I could tell. I couldn’t try them on myself because my feet are much much longer than my pal’s.

There are about a million different ways to do a provisional cast-on. The one I used for the leggings recently was a crochet-chain version using a contrasting color scrap yarn. I like that one for things knit in the round because it stays secure till you want it out, and then rips out like the stitching on the top of a charcoal bag when you decide to pick up the stitches. My other favorite is the eensy-weensy spider version, but I usually use that one for things knit flat (like my blankie squares) and mid-stream cast-ons (like the underarms of a sweater). There are videos and tutorials for both of these all over the Internet. Try You-Tube or just Google it. Sometimes provisional cast-ons are also called temporary cast-ons.

I still need to explain a bit better about the crotch on those leggings, but I need pictures and I don’t have time for pictures. The mess is calling me!

Harry Potter Hangover

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

I feel like I have a hangover today. I haven’t been drinking, I just stayed up till ^ahem^ a.m. reading the new book.

There have been times in the past when I’ve read a new Potter book cover to cover in no time flat because I was compelled by the story and *needed* to know what happened next. That was true for me this time to some extent, but I have to say I was driven by another factor this time.

I had just dug in to the first hundred or so pages by mid-day Saturday, and I stopped to take care of real life for a while. I made the giant mistake of checking blogs Saturday afternoon, assuming that most people would avoid talking plot for a while, and that those who did would post spoiler warnings. But I was wrong. Oh, how I was wrong.

A certain blogger, who shall remain nameless because I’m about to disparage her wholeheartedly, wrote a post in which she swore there would be no spoilers. She promised! Then, in the next line, she gave away one of the major plot points. I’m not going to even allude to the details because I have no desire to do to you what she did to me. But she gave away the answer to the question that everyone was asking at the end of book six.

And guess what? It did spoil things a bit for me. Because the anticipation is a huge part of the enjoyment. Plus, I now had the fear of another spoiler sneaking up on me before I could finish reading the book for myself. Which, along with the whole needing to know what happened next, is what kept me up till almost three this morning and left me dragging all day today.

But it was a good book, and I did really enjoy it.

On to a few other things….

Stitch N Pitch was a lot of fun. I went with my friends Melissa and Kari. The Twins lost, but we were busy chatting, knitting and snacking. The best part of a baseball game, as far as I’m concerned, is being part of the crowd. Singing the national anthem and Take Me Out to the Ballgame. Eating crappy food and watching the crowd all around in the seats and on the big screen. I forgot to bring my camera, but I did have my Sidekick and its crappy camera with me.

With all the time I had sitting at the ball game and reading Harry Potter, I got quite a bit of knitting done on those pants. Here’s Sophie trying them on this morning.

She wasn’t pleased with the situation, but I was able to see that the legs are plenty long (as planned) and that I need more short rows in the back. Which means that I had to rip out a couple inches of knitting from yesterday to squeeze them in. Sophie wears cloth diapers, and when she’s wearing them – baby got back.

Whew! I was going to answer some questions tonight, but I’m beat. Maybe tomorrow.

And the winner is…

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Well, it’s 9:36. I just came down from getting Sophie to sleep for the second time tonight. I’m not sure what her problem was, I’m just hoping she stays asleep for awhile.

I really want to thank everyone again who left such nice comments and who posted about the contest to their blogs. It was so much fun having e-mails flood in all week, and I only wish I had about two hundred books and skeins of yarn to give away.

Right now there are 212 comments on the Contest! entry. I am not doing this selection in any super-scientific fashion, but I am going to use the random number generator – hang on I’m opening up another tab – alright, I used this page and got the number 42. Okay, wait a minute while I go count from the top of the comments down…

Whew! I’m so glad the winner is someone who actually followed the rule of put your damn e-mail address in the damn comment – there were only a few who didn’t, but it kind of annoyed me. I was very frustrated the last time I ran a contest and I had to go try to track people down through their blogger accounts and even then still couldn’t find e-mail addresses for them. Sorry for the bitter showing through. We’re celebrating, because….

Kala at Vegan Craftastic is the winner! Hey, Kala! We’re practically neighbors! Maybe I can even drop the book and yarn off for you somewhere – or I’d be happy to mail it too. I really hope you enjoy them. I’m off to e-mail Kala and make sure she knows she’s won.

Thanks again to everyone who played along, and I hope some of you stick around. I’ll be busy dyeing sock yarn, knitting leggings (no, not leg warmers – PANTS!) for my girls, trying to stay sane while running around after my little ones, and about a million other things in the coming months.

Now I have to decide – am I going to buy Harry Potter at midnight, or wait till tomorrow morning? decisions decisions…

Better than Harry Potter…

Friday, July 20th, 2007

What’s even more exciting than the impending Harry Potter release?

A peek out the front door….

A giant box in the living room – yarn can actually be pretty heavy given enough volume!

A peek inside the box….

I’ll still be spending my free time this weekend reading Harry Potter, but next week I’ll probably be dyeing some yarn. There’s no going back now!

By the way – I can’t believe the contest is almost over, and I really can’t believe how many comments we’re up to – over 200!

Cold Coffee, Hot Legs, Faded Yarn

Friday, July 20th, 2007

This week has been flying by, I think because I have had so many fun things to do so far – the Harry Potter movie Monday and teaching my class last night; and because I have fun things to look forward to this weekend between the last HP book coming out and the Stitch N Pitch Twins game on Sunday. Tonight I have updates on a few things I’ve mentioned lately, luckily all pretty positive.

First, I think I’ve come to satisfying terms with the iced coffee trials. I’ve given up trying to make a blended drink because all the ones I’ve made so far seem to separate with the ice on top and the liquid at the bottom, plus it’s kind of a pain to drag the blender out and clean up the mess when I’m done. I think if I want a really decent blended drink, I’d have to go with a fattier milk or cream, which I’m thinking might cling to the ice better.

I am happy with the one I made today, though, and I’ll give you the step-by-step process.

I have a four-cup french press from Ikea. I loaded it up with 1/2 cup of coffee grounds – yes, that is a ton of coffee grounds for the amount of water, but I wasn’t getting strong enough coffee before I upped it to that amount. I use decaf Archer Farms French Roast from Target, and I usually buy the whole beans and grind it coarsely for the french press, but the last time I was buying coffee the girls were at the end of their ropes so I just grabbed a bag of pre-ground. I filled the beaker with water, mixed it up till the grounds were all soaked. I wrapped the plunger in plastic wrap because I wasn’t sure if the metal would affect the coffee taste if they were exposed to each other for a whole day, and then I stuck the plunger in just touching the top of the water.

This whole thing sat on my kitchen counter for 24 hours, then I removed the plastic wrap, plunged the plunger and poured the coffee into a plastic bottle and chilled it in the fridge for a while. When I was ready to drink my coffee, I filled a glass half-full of crushed ice from my freezer door, poured coffee to cover the ice and then 1% milk to fill the glass not-quite full. I dumped in a generous squeeze of dark-chocolate Hershey’s syrup (I’m not telling you what a generous squeeze is – start small and add more to your taste). That wasn’t sweet enough for me, and so I added a heaping teaspoon of granulated sugar and stirred the whole thing up.

This was the first time I’ve made a coffee drink that I finally felt it satisfied my *bucks craving. I’m going to choose to believe that this was less expensive and fewer calories than the drink I’d get going through their drive-through, and I don’t really want to hear otherwise. The good news/bad news is that it’s a lot less convenient – good because I have to really want one to make it, bad because you have to plan to want one a whole day in advance.

On to the hot legs. I had to shoot this picture fast because although it’s cooled off nicely and was a perfect day weather-wise here today, Sophie didn’t really want even the softest fuzziest wool on her legs today. Leg one of the pants is done, and leg two is not far behind. It is a little big both in length and width, and that is intentional. We still have probably two more months before she can really wear them, and babies this age grow fast! She could wear them at this length without any problem at her current size, and I’d like to start her out in them a little big and let her wear them longer. Julie’s will be the same way, although I’ll feel less bad when she outgrows them because I’ll be able to save them for Sophie. The joy of having two girls!

I’m thinking ahead to the joining of the legs together, and the one thing that bothered me about the pair I made for Julie last year was the small hole that developed on the back side of the join with wear. I’ve never been especially lucky with tension at joins on any garment – think between the thumb and hand of a mitten (argh!). Anyone out there have a super-duper tip? I’ll try to post a picture of the problem area on the old pair tomorrow if anyone thinks that would help them help me.

Moving on to the faded yarn business. It’s really not as bad as I expected after all the food-dye poo-pooing I read out there on the internet. I knit up a flat swatch with the Rainbow Barf I had left after making my socks. I sewed down the middle to secure it and cut a steek. The half on the left stayed in my office, out of direct sunlight. The half on the right I hung out on the clothes line in direct sunlight and all the weather that we’ve gotten for the last month – mostly sun, one or two small rains, and apparently a little tree sap or something that stained the pink and brown at the top (yuck!)

As you can see, almost all the colors held more or less acceptably. The two pinks near the top faded drastically, and all of the colors faded or changed in color at least a little bit. I think it could be a lot worse, and I have to wonder how many of the people out there dyeing with their “professional” dyes have left a colorcard swatch out in direct sunlight for a month or more. Everything I’ve heard tells me that there isn’t usually a problem with the washing and air drying of these colors – it’s the sunlight that kills them.

I think I’ll avoid the worst-offending pinks, but I’m still left with a couple that did fine. When I next update my etsy shop, I may say something about this yarn is best used for socks and not heirloom projects, but I may not. I’m satisfied with the quality of yarns I’m producing, and I know I’m doing everything in my power to make them acceptable to my customers too.

I’m halfway through re-reading HP and the Half-Blood Prince, so I think I’ll go hang out with that and Sophie’s pants for a while. Magically, it’s only 9:30 so I have a couple-few good solid hours before bed time!

Sockapalooza Socks Done

Friday, July 20th, 2007

My Sockapalooza socks have been done for I think almost a week now, but I finally got around to blocking them today, so I took some pictures, and will post this blog entry to the pligg before I pack them up and get them ready to go out August 2. I’ll have to mail them out before the revised mailing week because we’re going to be out of town then.

These are knit with Schaefer Yarns Anne, and there was no colorway name listed on the label. The sock pattern is Waving Lace Socks from Interweave’s Favorite Socks book.

I think they’re pretty enough, and I really hope my pal likes them. In retrospect, I wish I had picked either a different yarn (something more solid and a lighter color) to show off the lace pattern better or a different pattern – maybe simple Jaywalkers – to show off the yarn better.

One last thing to note about this yarn – when I washed it, the colors ran and ran. This is what the sink looked like when they were on their fourth soak. I’ll have to include a note to my pal to beware!

Thanks for looking!