Archive for the ‘Yarn’ Category

Like a Deer in the Headlights

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I have been sort of stuck again the last few days. Too many things running around in my brain, as usual. So many exciting ideas to implement, so little time and energy. What else is new? So, as usual, I am going to dump a bunch of it out here, share it with all y’all, and perhaps free up a little room in the noggin for the gerbil to keep spinning in its little wheel. Just how many metaphors *can* I fit into one paragraph? Too many!

This morning I’m sitting at Panera, using their free wi-fi to get a few clear-headed morning moments away from the family. Everything seems so much easier at ten in the morning than it does at ten at night! I just spent the bulk of my time here working on the pants pattern. I’ve been crunching numbers and squeezing my brain for the right way to explain what I did. Translating knitting motions into words is an extreme challenge for me. I have to work really really hard to explain it concisely, but I think once I get it down on paper, my instructions are generally pretty good. I don’t get too many complaints, at least!

The good news is that I think the 2T version is pretty much done. The bad news is that I think the little-girls’ version is going to have to go in a separate pattern since the shaping at the top involves fewer short rows and more decreases when there is no diaper padding out the back side. I want to keep it all easy to understand and avoid running over to three pages, so they’re getting split. This means that the baby version will be out within a week, as planned (I still need to do some measurements and calculate the figures for the other baby sizes). I think I’m a good designer, just a slow one. The big girl pattern will be available in a couple-few more weeks, and if someone is just itching to start a pair sooner, I could get them started on the legs right away.

Which leads me into a shout-out to my dear readers – if anyone is interested in test-knitting this pattern, I’ll send you a draft for free. You have to promise to knit it up basically right away (and honestly – now is the time of year to knit this puppy up as you want to maximize the wear your kid will get out of all your hard work!). If you’re interested, e-mail me at shellyk at shellykang dot com and we’ll work out the details. I’m even going to offer a free skein of my hand-dye to anyone who finishes a pair and sends me feedback and pictures by the end of October!

So that’s one thing that’s been weighing heavily. Julie’s birthday is coming up on Wednesday, and her party is next Sunday. I’ll be shopping for party supplies on my way home from here, and we’ve been thinking lots about the associated details…balloons, baking and decorating the cake (I think I *may* have enough food coloring around the house!), invitations, and most importantly presents.

Joe and I had an hour long discussion and brainstorming session last night about whether she needed a present from us to open on her birthday despite all the ballet paraphernalia we’ve just bought her, and if so what to get. We agreed that yes, she should have something to open. We had a harder time deciding whether to get her an expensive toy – we were considering a kids’ digital camera or a play tent, both gifts I think she would love – or something less expensive and practical. We decided on the latter, and I’m also heading to Target to look for some new fall pajamas for her. She loves her jammies, and will need several pairs in the next size up, so it’s win-win. Maybe we’ll save the camera and tent for Christmas ideas. Making up your mind is much harder than actually doing, at least in our house it seems.

Here comes a bigger thing that’s been distracting me – taking up a lot of my emotional energy, actually. I joined Weight Watchers online last weekend. I finally reached my breaking point with the ignoring my extra weight thing. I’m just tired of carrying around a good 20 (and 30 if I’m really honest) extra pounds all the time. I’m tired of my engagement ring fitting too tightly, and some days my watch being uncomfortable. It had gotten to where I was going to have to get them resized or loose the weight. I just didn’t want to make another commitment to being fat, so I kept holding off. And those constant reminders made me think about being healthier, about having more energy to chase my kids, about sleeping better, about all the little things that are so great about life without all this extra padding.

So I signed up and I’ve been thinking a lot about “points” this week. I’ve been finding other coping mechanisms besides stuffing more dark chocolate in my mouth. I’ve been having my plain coffee with skim milk at home instead of expansive expensive lattes from Starbucks. It’s really not so bad, and if I’m careful to save my points during the day I still get a treat at night – those Weight Watchers frozen desserts are pretty tasty! And I’ve been saving the weekly flex points for the weekend indulgence, to be disclosed later in the post. This is a good thing, if difficult. Be happy for me, okay? And anyone who’s done WW before or still, let me know so we can cheer each other on!

I bet you thought there were no pictures coming in this post. Well, before you all get bored, I’ll show you what just came off the camera. We’ll get back to knitting for a minute at the end.

Joe’s been putting his computer together. I think it’s mostly up and running now, and he has gotten through the frustrated hair-pulling bit. He took a bunch of photos to put up on his blog, and here’s one I found amusing. Look at the pretty colors and the giant fan! I’m not sure which part exactly this is – maybe the video card – but there were lots of similar-looking pieces floating around the house the last few nights.

Yesterday Joe went golfing, so I took the girls to a book festival sponsored by Target at a big park in Bloomington. It was very commercialized, but it was free and it was something to do. They colored some tote bags…

They met some giant character-guys. The woman in the picture is one of the event staff, trying to help me get Sophie to turn around for the picture. Sophie was busy checking out the giant orange moose.

Um, see the fair-food cart in the background? Well, I had packed us a nice picnic lunch before we left, but accidentally left it on the counter at home. I ended up eating a milk shake and a corn dog for lunch – good thing I had those flex points to spare!

Julie got her face painted again.

And this time Sophie was awake, so she did too.

And we spotted Bob the Builder up on stage…

Right before Sophie conked out.

Julie got a milkshake of her own (I didn’t want to share mine, and she wanted raspberry while I wanted chocolate – she only drank about 1/4 of hers).

And we made it home unscathed.

Oh! Back to distractions! Joe’s parents dropped by the other day with a giant pile of Concord grapes from their garden. They’re not really table grapes, so I made some jelly. It was actually pretty easy, and it even jelled. I’m going to keep it all refrigerated and make sure it gets used quickly, so I didn’t have to bother with all the canning steps.

Back to the knitting – one more distraction that really has me stuck. On the right, the Falling Leaves socks I designed a few years ago. On the left, a new sample I’ve been secretly knitting up as I contemplate putting a kit together out of my hand dyed yarns to sell. I love those first socks so much, I’m finding it hard to love the new colorway. So I’ve been letting it sit for a few days, trying to decide whether these colors really do work or not. What do you think?

And that brings be back around to yarn dyeing. I have some bad news – there won’t be a shop update this month. And I’ve been holding off on mentioning this because I feel a little badly about it – I think there are some of you out there waiting to buy yarn. I’m sorry, but I have what I think is a pretty good reason. I was invited to set up a table and sell at a craft fair!

Joe’s alma mater, St. Olaf College, is in Northfield, Minnesota about an hour south of here. They are having a craft fair as part of their homecoming weekend on Saturday, September 29. Joe got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago asking alumni if they wanted to be part of it, and so Joe forwarded it to me. I filled out the application, and they accepted me! It’s a great, low-risk way for me to try the craft fair thing. Even better, we can take the girls with us, and Joe and the girls can go do the other family-friendly on campus while I work. I’ve never seen St. Olaf before, although he and his friends talk about it all the time – well, less and less as the years grow between their experience there and the present.

So, you’re welcome to come see me in Northfield and buy all the yarn you want, and otherwise I’ll be posting what’s left on etsy when I come home and hopefully dyeing more skeins in October. There are several of you who either commented or e-mailed the last time around about how disappointed you were not to get a skein of a certain colorway. If you’re one of those people and you still really want a skein of a certain colorway, e-mail me and I’ll sell you a skein right away. I saved those e-mails from before, so I know who’s been waiting and who hasn’t. Thanks for your patience!

With this craft fair coming up, I now have even more things to do – finish dyeing that giant box of yarn, make up some note cards to sell, make sure I have plenty of business cards and some signs and a table cloth to put up on my table…SO MUCH to get done in quite the short time. I guess it’s time, like the deer in the headlights, to wake up and realize that’s a big object headed my way. Time to run for the other side of the road.

Now I’ve got to go enter my weight watchers points for the skim-decaf mocha and the chocolate-chip muffie I just ate. Urp.

Yarn Update!

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Yes, the long awaited yarn update is coming your way. But first, let’s look at some cute kid pics. We went to a birthday party on Sunday night. Sophie wore a handknit hand-me-down. I love this little sweater.

Trying to line up a pack of kids for a group photo is like herding cats.

I have been working a lot on getting my giant pile of yarn colored up. Tonight I was dyeing yarn on one side of the kitchen…

And baking cookies on the other side of the kitchen.

This is why I choose to use food coloring instead of commercial dyes.

Before I really started doing this, I would read about people “reskeining” their yarn after dyeing it. Why? I wondered. So then I tried it. Before on top, after on bottom. It looks so much neater, and the colors all blend together and look happy.

And here is one of pretty much each colorway I’ve dyed so far this batch. Most of them have a lot more where that came from – or at least a few more. Colors are not entirely accurate here.

There is also that little pile of mostly-solid colors, which are also intended to be sold, but that story is for another night. I’ll leave you with one more tidbit. The plan is to put all this yarn up on etsy some time in mid-September. I want to get through the start of the school year and Julie’s birthday, plus give myself a little more time to dye up more yarn before I deal with the shipping portion of the business.