Friday, April 24, 2009

Why, Yes...

Why, yes, yes it has been more than two months since my last blog post. I never get very personal on this blog, but let's just say outside professional forces have not been cooperating and WOW, have the children been sick. I have a sneaking suspicion that it might be because they weren't subjected to all manner of germs in daycare, and now that the boy is in his first year of school we are paying doubly in illness. As a matter of fact, his report card says he was absent 7 days last grading period. He has missed another two this week with a stomach flu. Which wouldn't be at all remarkable except that it's his third stomach flu in two months, this week the girl had scarlet fever, and last week the husband was in bed, sick, almost the whole week.

People, we have had enough.

It turns out that family illness is not so bad for knitting, though.

Twirly Skirt
Twirly Skirt by Christine Schwender, Paula Heist

This (free) pattern was lovely and I made only a few modifications, including knitting it in the round, casting on provisionally and then knitting the waist closed as I went, and a picot hem at the bottom. Oh, and the various yarn is a substitute for stash yarn--all different brands of denim. I'm sorry I don't have a modeled shot yet. It's still fairly cool here (I ordered some navy blue leggings for underneath) and the aforementioned girl is still under the weather.

I also started a scarf for Mother's Day. I was smitten with this pattern as soon as I discovered it, only a few weeks ago. Apparently I didn't see it when it was first published on Knitty, for some reason or another.

Lace Ribbon Scarf
Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery
I'm using Yarn Chef Minestrone in the "Frosty Window Pane" colorway. I just love the name of it and the color. I hope my mom does, too. I have a feeling she won't get a ton of use out of a lace scarf, but I know she'll appreciate it and I am really having a fun time knitting it. I can't recommend the pattern highly's very easy to memorize. I see quite a few more of these in my future, actually. A great use for semi-solid sock yarn!

And last, but certainly not least. Our son. During the NCAA March Madness tournament, he became completely obsessed and engrossed with basketball. He wanted to watch every game that he could. That's when we noticed that he couldn't see the score of the game from our couch...which is not really so very far from the TV. An appointment was made with the optometrist (even though he went before the school year started) and voila:

First Glasses
First glasses

Now he can see. And he looks even more like his mom now, too.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

For Future Reference

Thorpe hat
It's that time of year again. The time of year when the kids start outgrowing their winter clothing, that is. I swear, I buy/make it big in the fall but by February we always need something new. No matter, I had been wanting to try Thorpe for quite awhile. This one turned out just as I had planned, although I haven't gotten to the crocheted bits yet.

As per my usual M.O., I didn't swatch for this but just grabbed some Cascade 220 Paints, doubled it and knit the medium on size 9 needles. Smaller needle, larger pattern, eh, it worked out. I didn't knit as many garter-stitch rows on the front because I was worried it was getting too long for her almost-four-year-old head.

One way to get a preschooler to laugh is to have her look outside at feet of crusty snow on the ground and ask if she sees the Easter Bunny. Just for future reference.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Speedy Recovery Blanket

About a week ago we got some not-great news that a favorite cousin who underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor will also have to undergo further treatment for cancer. She is 42.

Not yet willing to pump out a few hats for her, I decided to cook up a blanket. I looked around Ravelry for awhile for something I wanted to knit. I really did. I wanted something easy for TV knitting, something chunky but a little interesting.

So I ended up doing it myself.

Hip To Be Square BlanketLink
Hip To Be Square Blanket
Yarn: Four skeins of Wool Pak 10ply (aka 1600 yards of any worsted, held double)

I hope it finds my cousin safely and helps to keep her warm. It's certainly not a ground-breaking pattern, but it was quick and easy. If you're not interested in applied i-cord for the edging, you can choose your own.

Hip To Be Square Blanket
She's not sick in this photo (this morning), but last week she came down with a doozy of a virus with a fever and a sore throat. Just in time for -20 degree weather, too. So she was out of school Wednesday (sick), and then school was cancelled Thursday and Friday. That makes four school cancellations so far this winter season.

Deep Freeze Jan 16 2009
Friday I put them in handknits and let them make Playdoh ice cream. It seemed to occupy them, at least. But it was odd, I must say. It contributed to the alternate-reality feeling I had all day. It's strange to be afraid of the out-of-doors.

In other news, I have actually become a working mommy again. Well, for the time-being anyway. I picked up some freelance work with my old employer. They've been very good about tossing me work now and then since I quit there 6.5 years ago before our son was born.

And so far, we are still in limbo regarding our long-term residence! Fairly soon we should know if we need to put the house up for sale (again) and actually sell it this time, or if we can make plans to stay. (Stay---what a delicious word.) I'm voting for the latter, but I've never been Ms. Moneybags, so we'll see how it all shakes out.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Moving On...

I can't stop thinking about last year, in total. Not about knitting, but about our experiences as a family. Both of my kids had their adenoids and tonsils out after some serious sleep apnea issues. We took our first family vacation to another country. We had our house on the market for much of the year. We took it off the market. Ups and downs, my friends. Ups and downs.

The very last day of the year could have been worse, but it wasn't that great. I had bought some ice-melt/rock-salt (whatever-you-call-it) and had somehow made the ridiculous decision to open the bag with a garden weeder. One that looks like this. And anyway, let's just say I really did almost prove Ralphie's mom right. Thankfully I had my glasses on.
My scratched glasses
It's a little difficult to see the scratch in this photo because of the focus, but it's there.
And it's deep.

So I found myself at one of the local eyeglass chain stores with the rest of the people who waited until the very end of the year to spend the money they've put away in their Flexible Healthcare Accounts (aka, everyone in the city). But after three hours, I ended up with these:

New glasses

And so far, so good. I can't say how happy I am that January seems to be moving along at a nice clip. Our reward for having such stunning summers here is that basically January and February get to the brink of unbearably cold. Next week? Temps of -15, without windchill.

I'm trying to focus on the right things, like how much progress our son has made in the short time he has been in elementary school. Here is a poem he wrote on Friday:

And no, his name isn't "Mike".

This year I want to get back something I seem to have lost. I have lost my go-with-the-flow, happy-go-lucky qualities. I used to have that, I really did. Ask my friend Trista. I want to get that back. Desperately. Anyone know where that went?

New glasses

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

I'm not nearly as organized as some. I can reflect, abstractly, on what I knit in 2008, and it included two adult sweaters, one of which I eventually ripped out over the summer. The other I just finished last week, and it, too, will eventually be ripped out, probably over the summer. It doesn't fit well and I am going to blame it on the design and my lustful need to knit without seams.
Imogen Finished
Imogen (Ravelry link) with Araucania Nature Wool Chunky
If you can imagine, for a minute, how this sweater is put on the body, and think about what happens to the rolled edges when one is crossed in front of the other and held together with a shawl pin? The edge bunches up under the other one and adds some lumps around the wearer's waist. Yes, I probably made this too big, but it also bags in the back a lot right underneath the arms, as it does in quite a few on Ravelry. Lesson learned. This year I would, however, like to complete at least one or two adult sweaters that I wear. For now, this one is still my favorite, imminently wearable (even while not pregnant), washable, dryable.

For now, though, I caught the crochet bug. Actually, I've been meaning to try this for quite awhile. It's a revisit of sorts as my introduction to fiber arts was at a very young age - my mom's mother taught me how to crochet. I think I only learned how to chain and do a single crochet stitch, though. This project got me excited to try again, however.


This particular grandmother died when I was in middle school. There was a time in my life when people just kept dying all over the place. First my paternal grandfather, when I was in the fourth grade, and then it just went downhill from there. His widow, my last living grandparent, died when I was in college.

Crochet hooks
What I have left of Grandma: Her crochet hooks

I have a bunch of loose Rowan Handknit Cotton that I plan to turn into a Ripple Blanket for our daughter. I knit her a blanket when I was pregnant with her, before I knew if she was a boy or a girl. And that blanket, a neutral tan, has never appealed to her. She carries around a yellow polyester fleece blanket. I'd like to bump it out of its prime spot - we'll see. That's a large spot to fill.
M's blanket
Rowan Handknit DK and Denim for M's ripple blanket

Friday, December 19, 2008

And again, with feeling...

Here we are again; another foot of snow fell overnight and into this morning. Snow day. I wonder how many snow days we'll get this season. It sure it shaping up to be another snowy winter. Last season we surpassed the city's previous snowfall record by about 30 inches, and that was just ridiculous. I'm not sure how anyone deals with more than 100 inches of snow in a season on a routine basis. Our city certainly isn't equipped to handle this much snow in a timely manner. I expect they won't even plow our cul-de-sac until late into tonight. This morning already, I have seen three of my neighbors get stuck. Hey neighbors, stay home. The snow is too deep for your average fuel-efficient tiny car (this is Madison, after all.) It gets stuck under the body of your car.

Meanwhile, I have been working on some knitting. This is another Christmas present, and it's almost finished. I didn't quite follow the recommended color pattern, but I love denim yarn so much, and this seemed like a perfect application.
Snake In Progress
Slithery Snake by Zoe Mellor
with Rowan Handknit Dk Cotton, Tahki Cotton Classic and Rowan Denim

The meteorologists say that we're to get another 4-6 inches over the weekend. At some point I've got to stop being frustrated and just let it happen. I'm sure that'll happen any day now...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Anatomy of a Snow Day

In my opinion, it's a little early in the season for the weather to be this nasty. But what do I know? I've only lived in this state for 17 years (non-consecutive, but still). Maybe I'm just getting less tolerant as I age.

Thankfully, I bought decorations for gingerbread (graham cracker) houses yesterday, so that's what we did this morning.
Snow Day
I have directions from our preschool about how to make gingerbread houses with graham crackers and Royal icing. Each year parents make some basic houses and bring them in for the kids to decorate. We used a tub of regular vanilla icing to attach the candy.
Snow Day
Generally, it's one of those activities that is fun, but takes a lot of preparation and a lot of clean-up for about 20 minutes of activity. Rather a negative cost-benefit ratio, but you know. One of those things you have to try once, at least.
Gingerbread cookies
The other day we made gingerbread cookies and that was considerably more fun and productive, if you ask me, because I gave some of the extras to the neighbors. Our recipe is from our preschool:

Gingerbread Cookies

2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening (or butter)
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon

Cream together sugar and shortening. Then add eggs and molasses, beating well. In a separate bowl, sift the remaining ingredients together. Then add to the mixture, mixing well. Cover tightly and chill for about three hours or until the dough is stiff enough to handle.

On a floured surface, roll the dough to 1/4" thickness. Using your gingerbread man cookie cutter, cut dough into shapes. Place 1 inch apart on cookie sheets.

Bake in a 350 oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets for two minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks. (I use simple powdered-sugar frosting for them.)

Let's hope I can find something a little less time-intensive and less messy to fill the afternoon!