Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Moments

I have a moment to share again - I was at a party over the holidays, and wearing a white sweater, dressy pants - just the right look for a casual party, you know? And I'm chatting away with a woman, and go to refill my glass of wine. The wine comes in a box, which I don't mind, and I'm not too proud to type that I drink boxed wine if that's what's tapped. I am, however, too stupid to figure out how to work one of these things. I twisted the tap part a bit, but that didn't work. Then I pressed on this little button on it, and red wine shot out of the spout, straight up into the sleeve of my sweater. My first thought - check to see if it got on the white carpeting. No? Excellent. Next check - did the lady I was talking to notice? No. How could she? It was only a glob of red wine up my white sweater, which I had to swab with a napkin up my sleeve. Very weird. She didn't say a thing, and in fact, we kept talking about our educational system here in Michigan. When I was young and figuring the world out, this was one of those things I decided showed a lot of class. If no one drew attention to the fact that I just dropped a crab claw, shot a cherry tomato off my plate while trying to cut it (to look classy, you know), or sprayed wine up my sleeve, those people are pretty cool. I am always glad to find myself at that kind of party.

Here's my second happy moment - I took that sweater out of the washer this morning, days after the event, and the wine came out! Huzzah! I have no idea why that even happened, but it made me smile.

Since the big holiday, and the pressure of the holiday knitting, is past, I've been spinning. I took a couple of ounces of Corriedale wool with sparkle, from Black Cat Handspun, to the in-laws and spun on the spindle. They love to watch this, and never fail to tell me how clever I am. That came out to 46 yards of two-ply, heavy worsted weight. I also washed up the Llama Llama Duck 4 oz. batt from Black Cat, as well. Remember how stressed I was, and I kept smelling this wool, trying to get relaxed with sheep smell? Well, I wanted it in a scarf, so I could bury my face in it in future stressful moments. I've washed the yarn, of course, but I now have the memory of it making me feel better, so it's special. It came out to 144 yards of thick and thin single-ply. Chunks of locks are in the yarn, and I love that. I washed both skeins in the tub, then snapped them sharply to get the extra water out, and laid them flat. I didn't weight them to dry this time, so I'm curious as to the difference that will make when I knit them. I'm trying to think of how I'll wash my handknits, and if the yarn that is weighted to dry will draw up when it is washed. I'll let you know.

For Christmas, I gave my mom a pair of thrummed mittens, which I somehow can't find the picture of. But it was a close thing that she even got them, because I loved these. I'll definitely be making myself a pair, but my daughters are claiming their pairs first. Never an end to the knitting list! In return, she gave me a lovely pair of handknit socks. Ah, gifts amongst knitters. It's a wonderful thing.

She also knit my daughters, nieces and nephew all sweaters. November and December had her very, very busy! I wish I had pictures of those, but I don't. I'll try to get them. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Soon-to-be Merry Christmas to you!

It's 10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and this is where I am at on my daughter's socks:

Am I stressed? No, and that's for several reasons. The first is that, when you live in a state of high stress, eventually its effect wears off. My body no longer wants to be stressed, so I seem to have become immune. Yay! I am also not stressed because the daughter that is to receive these socks loves handmade things in the disproportionate way that we wish every recipient loved our stuff. I will tell her that I was unable to finish the socks because I have to measure to her foot, and all will be good. I'm also going to knit a bit more, but not much.

Otherwise, the stockings are hung by the quilt rack with care, and I'll be heading to bed soon so I don't hold St. Nick up. From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

If you're a country bumpkin, sorry.

Yay, we're getting close to deadline! I've got some great pics of the Xmas presents, but of course it's all stealth knitting, as I'm sure many people's are. We'll all be posting a lot after the 25th, won't we? But I'm doing well, only one gift to finish, and if I put a movie in tonight, it will all be good, babee. I'll be sure to get it done.

I have to share this story. I was at a Christmas party, sitting across from a very nice gentleman and his wife. We were discussing where they were from, making nice chitchat. And I said, "Oh, I believe there was a sheep and fiber festival this summer in your town. I missed it, though, and I was really sad." The wife sat up straight and said, "Oh, no, we didn't. There are way too many rich people from that area. There is no way there was a sheep and fiber festival." Heavy pause. I was trying to think of some way to nicely contradict her, in that there certainly was a festival, and people with lots of money were helpful at these things. That's when she waived her hand in front of her face and said, "If you're a country bumpkin, sorry."


Well, while I may indeed be a country bumpkin, I have in the past been a court reporter, legal assistant, manager at a document and film storage facility, et cetera, et cetera. I am now a country mother of three, grooving on getting back to nature and being kind to the planet. Every one of these things are important in their way, but I believe I am doing my most important work so far right now. And she waved me away. Well, what would you have done? I admit, my first instinct was to straighten her out. (At least her husband looked embarrassed, having cottoned on to the fact that I wouldn't have brought up a sheep and fiber festival if it wasn't something that interested me.) My second instinct, close behind the first, was to just freeze her out, making pointed conversation with everyone around her, as I'm not naturally a confrontational person. But really, it was the office Christmas party, so I smiled and asked about her children. Now, I'm not one to point out when karma owes me one, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to win on a lottery ticket or something for looking the other way on that one. Plus also, she hasn't felt my thrummed mittens. I should carry a set to pull out and show people who think knitting is for rubes. I am completely hooked on making these, and every single person who has tried one on sighs. Oh, yeah. They are so soft and squishy, they should have the power to enlighten the high-minded but socially challenged.

A picture for the knitting minded: I knit garland a few years ago from silver eyelash yarn, while watching The Wizard of Oz. Well, it took more than a couple of nights, but that's what I remember most, knitting cording while watching Dorothy. Pretty, no?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One more holiday event, down.

It is an unfortunate truth that events that take weeks and months to prepare for can be over in a couple of hours. It happens to parties, birthing babies and, sadly, drama club productions. We had our Christmas program yesterday, and the kids got to perform three times, which was a happy thing. At least it wasn't just once, with all that preparation! The last few weeks before a performance, things aren't very joyful at drama club. I mean, we try to make it fun, but we really have to crack down on kids learning their lines. And it always happens that they do learn their lines in time, and it all works out great. And they are so excited and pleased to have been on stage, and performing with the lights and attention on them, and they are excited to do the next production. I swear, the week before, they would pass by me with nary a glance, they're so disgruntled with the hard work or the guilt, but after a production, I get the hugs! =) Very fun stuff. But it is over, and after Christmas break, we need to think about a spring production. But first a pizza party, and a chance to pat each other on the back. Whew! It's over.

I am WAY behind on my knitting. I've slashed my list of projects, so that many people are getting jam baskets or coffee baskets, instead, and I still have a scarf to finish, a pair of mittens and a pair of socks. However, here are a couple of dishcloths that I've knitted for my gram, who wants to gift them to her friend back home. It was such a compliment that she asked me to knit them, that I had to do it, even if it means giving a gift on the needles in two weeks. But I can finish, right? Sure, sure. I can still do it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ode to the Webkinz

o, little Webkinz,
so sweet and squeezably soft,
When I found you in a Unicorn,
I didn't hold you aloft,
but tucked you surreptitiously
between my coat and purse,
Happily, gratifyingly
grateful I found you first.

Because I just passed by a lady,
walking really fast,
Hoping to find a Uni,
with a GPS and a map.

I won't tell anyone
about the score that I just found.
Someone might grab you from me
and trample me to the ground.

So I'll pay and take you home with me,
my sweet little pink amore,
I'll say I got you on the Internet,
not the last one in the store.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Busy, busy!

It has been a very, very frustrating couple of weeks. I feel like I've done nothing to refresh my soul, and it's all work, work, work around here. I try to remind myself of all the times I'm very happy, and that all things pass. There are happy times, there are frustrating times. But I don't think any of us refresh our souls like we ought to, or our parents wish we would. Don't you think that's true? I hope my children grow up, do their jobs, then come home and paint, or laugh at sitcoms, or go out and dance until they're sweaty. There should be some roundness with our days. Instead, when my 3-year-old wakes me up at 4:00 a.m., all I think is, "Oh, good. There's an extra hour and a half that I can get things done this morning." Bah, humbug. lol - I think that just put me in a better mood. hehe. I'm not really a "Bah, humbug" kind of girl, and now I'm smiling that I even typed it.

I've been working on a scarf with yarn my daughter picked out at our LYS. The last three days, all I'm thinking is, "Man, this is NOT pretty. I don't like this weird beige they threw in here." So I pulled it out to show at my knitting group this morning, and in the bright sun of the room, looking at it with my friends, I realize it's doing this:

Do you see? Yes, it's blurry, but see the argyle effect going on? What a happy discovery! It's criss-crossing with the beige and the blue and all. I like it! I can't even tell you what the name of this yarn is, since I didn't bother to keep the ball band. And I think I must be feeling especially curmudgeonish to knit for three days and not step back and look at what I'm knitting. However, I shall be going back and getting another skein for a scarf for myself. (This one's a gift) Isn't it neat how this argyle pattern works without my knowing anything about it, doing anything special, casting on anyone's suggested amount of stitches? I think that's pretty cool. And my, that beige shows up nicely.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sock Reality

I suppose it had to happen. It's happened to knitters all the world over. They've even talked about it, in front of me, but I've managed to block the reality of what they were saying. Until Wednesday, when I was sitting with my family, watching The Sopranos. (The kids were in bed, of course) I looked down, and - wah! A sock had actually gotten worn through! I'm so sad. And yet, it speaks a lot to the way blogland has changed me that I grabbed my camera and took a picture.

I've been knitting and wearing my own socks for a bit of time now, certainly over a year since I started seriously wearing only handknitted socks, and this is the first pair I've worn through. When I went to get dressed this morning, I looked at my socks very carefully, trying to decide which pair I could next spare to lose. Rats. Well, at least I have a reason to cast on again! Haha on me, when I wrote that I had enough socks.

And I've also decided that I don't like being caught up on my Bloglines. Now I'm reading your blogrolls, finding new bloggers through your comments. But that's okay, because I'm sitting at the computer knitting, anyway, and it IS fun to check out new blogs. I'm working on the felted mittens next, and hopefully buying more yarn later today. I love Christmas knitting, where I don't have to feel guilty about buying yarn! WoooT!

And because sometimes you're just too tired to take your coat off...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Stress Management

When I retire, my day will go thusly: Get up at 9:00 a.m., make coffee. Mill around and listen to coffee perk, grab a cup and sit down to read email. First, delete all spam, then read six relevant emails I've received since yesterday. Laugh at jokes, move on to Bloglines, laugh some more, commiserate a little, and think how I should be knitting more. Then get up and make brunch, think about shopping or calling a friend, then sit and read for a bit. Mmmmm. By evening, be ready for witty conversation and a glass of wine, and some knitting. On Saturdays, I'll go for a walk in the morning, just as a nod at healthy living. Until then, I have to keep plugging along at my life, which is pretty much exactly opposite from my retirement scenario. I did, however, get some knitting done last night.

And here I will say that everyone has their own method for dealing with stress. I bet, if I sat and thought about how I dealt with the prospect of running out of yarn mid-project, I'd get a pretty good insight into my own stress management. I'm not doing that, though. I might not like it. But with the boot socks for the father-in-law, I had to worry about running out of the cream color, and when I was last at the yarn store, there was only one skein left. I ordered blue yarn there weeks ago, and it's still not in, so I didn't want to have to wait for more yarn. This, by the way, is Lamb's Pride wool, superwash, one grey and one cream. So about a third of the way through the second sock, I couldn't take it anymore, and I put the cream skein in a bag. Then I knitted and knitted and didn't let myself look into the bag to see what I had left. This way, if I ran out, at least I didn't have to experience the stress of watching myself run out. It could be a surprise, and whoops! I'm out. Rats. But no advance stress, see?

But actually, instead of killing stress, I was just living with the hum of nervousness that I'm going to run out, so I knit faster and faster. I didn't put that sock down until - voila! A second sock! And a bit of yarn to spare, thanks very much to the knitting gods. I believe I may even get a small hat out of the leftovers, if I combine the two. Huzzah!

I've also finished a bit of stealth knitting, which took all morning, but - nyah nyah - I'm caught up on my blog reading! Again Huzzah! I know it won't last, but I'm dancing in the kitchen. I finished reading my bloglines list! Yes!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's all about the simple

I dislike a lot of things, more as I get older. I am more tolerant of people and mistakes. That's not what I'm talking about. One of the things I really hate is the cost of cloth napkins. And if you know anything about me, you should know that I like things simpler. I like things old fashioned. Before I bought a shower curtain or a pillow case, I'd think whether or not I could make one first. And darn it, for six bucks I can make a dozen cloth napkins, which is sometimes less than you will pay for one napkin in the store. Homespun, my friends, is the answer. It's a woven cotton cloth, which you can find at JoAnn's, usually at a reasonable price. Two yards later, and I'm cutting squares, then pulling out the outer threads. It just doesn't get any easier, and the napkins look really good when you're done. I think they'd make swell gifts, with a jar of jam or something, and who doesn't like cloth napkins? They're kinder to the environment, and I think they look better on the table, whether it's your dining room or a picnic. There. That's my quick-gift-tip for the day. (It originally came from my mom, from whom many good things come...)

I love this time of year... Even though yesterday I didn't sit down except when I was in the car, I am still managing to keep up with the blog reading. It's a great thing to do, since I can knit while pages are loading. I can read what you all are doing, and be encouraged to raise the bar in my own work. Go, crafters! I've been inspired by embroidery, sewing, quilting, and knitting. The more I learn, the more I want to make gifts for everybody. So far, there isn't anyone I love that isn't getting something handmade this year. Cool, ay?

The Biggest Loser show had a factoid that most people gain seven pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since I've gained five of those pounds already, I thought maybe a short diet might be in order. Here's how it's gone so far today... half a creme-filled Long John for breakfast, three cups of black coffee. Note: Not a whole Long John, and I'm burning calories as I sit here vibrating from caffeine. Then later I took the kids to the dentist, and we hit Taco Bell on the way home. I don't really think the Supreme Burrito should have been part of the diet, but it did have lettuce...

So perhaps I'll do better tomorrow =)

Monday, November 26, 2007

What's on the needles?

Here's a pic of the little brown socks I'm working on for my husband. I used the Yarn Harlot's most recent posted pattern, which fits exactly with what I wanted for a sock pattern. It's easy to remember, with a little visual interest that looks fancy. You just use a k2 p2 rib, then after six rows of that, jog over one stitch and do it for another six rows. I like how it looks.

I'm working on this sock because I left the boot sock at church yesterday, which was really too bad. I was on the toe and looking forward to starting the second one. At a rate of three days per pair (size 4 needles and worsted weight yarn helps) lots of people might get boot socks for the holidays =)

I Googled felted mittens for a friend of mine, which will be made with this Noro Kureyon yarn. These aren't a Christmas gift, as she bought the yarn and asked me to knit them, but I'm hoping to get a free haircut out of it =) If you have a friend who's a good hairdresser, make them mittens. That kind of karma can never go wrong.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Trials and Tribulations

Okay, so far, just trials. Here's a picture of some Christmas knitting, waiting to be transformed into the tribulations part!

Pretty, ay? Boot socks, mittens, perhaps a scarf – my list is overconfident, so I'm trying to knit fast. See that beautiful Noro? Mittens, mittens. Mmmmm. But first, the boot socks. I'm afraid that I don't have enough yarn, and it's pretty pricey, so I don't want to buy more. So my plan is to knit as quickly as possible so I'll know if I need to buy that last skein of cream, before someone else does. Because I didn't want to waste time, I was a good girl, and made a gauge! I even washed it! I've only done this once before, but now that I know a bit more about knitting, it seems like a really good idea. My gauge swatch shrunk just a wee bit (half a stitch per inch and half a row per inch), but I made my sock with this shrinkage in mind. I'm racing along in my knitting, and about 11:30 at night, my husband looked over and said, “That looks a bit big.”

Yeah, it did. Having someone else say it really pointed it out. So I frogged it, quickly, while he watched and said, “Is that really necessary?” Well, it was only a couple of hours of knitting. Best to do it quickly. I went down a few stitches and began again. Then, after I finished the ribbing, the wee bit of alcohol had worn off enough for me to remember the stitch shrinkage. Dangit. It might have turned out okay when I washed it. But I kept knitting, because it really had looked big, and wool stretches after you wear it for awhile, I think.

I knitted like crazy yesterday, trying to get a sock done in a day, but I didn't get to the toe until this morning. I think when you're knitting like that, trying to get a whole lot done, you don't maybe try things on along the way, like you normally would. But I tried it on this morning to see if I should decrease for the toe, and the sock is really loose along my foot. REALLY loose. So loose that I'm thinking I might have fat calves, since it's fitting along my leg. I've never heard of anyone having to decrease for their foot, after the ribbing, so I stop and look at it, really hard. Yup, pretty loose along the foot. It might shrink in the wash, though, like the swatch. Then my subconscious stepped up and whispered I might want to count the stitches. So I did, and I found that after the heel gusset, I had decreased only to my original number of stitches, which was too loose, remember? I should have decreased more to get my second time around number of cast-on stitches. Grr. I quickly frogged again, then thought, “Oh, rats, I should have taken a picture.” Sorry, but you can imagine.

So I'm reknitting again today, and telling myself I am now a process knitter, since I enjoy knitting so dang much. But really, coming up on December, I turn into a product knitter, and I need stuff done. I need mittens done, and socks, and maybe a scarf. Yikes!

And by the way, it's really no good being a good girl and knitting your swatch, washing your swatch, measuring your swatch, if you are going to thereafter ignore your swatch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Got socks?

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I was actually not feeling well, so I sat in front of the computer and read blogs. It was nice to give myself permission to do that, even if it did take a headache and a bit of nausea to make it happen. (Plus, it was a fun party) So I'm feeling pretty caught up on the blogs, and just for fun (??) I counted how many sites on my blog roll I would need to read to be completely caught up - 51!!!!! Yikes! Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I love me a sense of completion.

Speaking of a sense of completion, I really have to share this photo. It's from at least a month ago, and I should have posted it before now, but here 'tis. I walked into my mom's house, and apparently it was sock washing day. She washes her socks when she's worn every single handknit pair but one, and so has to wash for more. Look at all these socks!!!! And that's not even all of them. We had to take three pictures to capture all of the socks hung around her house. Too cool.

They look even better when they're strung all over her balcony drying in the air, like a more recent incident, but the batteries were dead in the camera, darn it. But how cool is this? I have six pair of handknit socks, and really felt my feet were well covered. Knitting isn't a competition, but I do feel free now to knit extra socks and just enjoy having them. It would definitely make for less sock washing days, too. Go, Mom!

And a bunny update: Mr. Testosterone came out for a bit yesterday morning. I gave him toys to play with, and brushed him verrrry little.

He liked the toys, but got pissed off when I brushed him. *sigh* Like I needed another kid...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesdays are for Drama

As in, I can't find anything, because I've been cleaning my house so people can come over. Why doesn't it look like other people's pretty houses yet?

Oh, and some drama because one of my bunnies thinks he's tougher than me.... right now he's right. Poor little furry thing gets right under my guard, and you can't force him to submit to the brush, cuz that would be wrong, wrong, wrong. But it's all very frustrating. I do believe he's grown up and gotten his own personality, darn it.

And what in the world do you feed the kids when you don't want to fill the fridge up with leftovers before Thanksgiving???

And why can't I have the yarn I ordered from the store?!? I refuse to cast anything on, because I know I'm about to dive into a big project, so I just keep walking around working on the husband's socks. He'll be happy soon, though, cuz with nothing else on the needles, these babies should fly. The yarn I ordered is for a sweater for my second child, and she wants to design it. Now that I think of it, second grade was when my first daughter wanted to design her own sweater. Perhaps I should be discussing this with their teacher....

Oh, and of course Tuesday is for drama club, where 21 kids and *ahem* me, try to sort out what we're doing in two weeks for the Christmas program. Actually, my husband is there, too, but I'm meaner and yellier - is that a word? - so I feel like it's me and 21 kids debating for who gets to talk. He stays out of the way and calmly watches until I turn on him like a cat and hiss, "Do something!" Then he calmly gets their attention. *sigh* I had to have missed a class on communication somewhere along the way.

No knitting to show but a sad little brown sock... and this blue hat, which is too big. But I have accepted the challenge, thrown down the gauntlet, become a more determined individual. I will make this hat submit, since it isn't little and furry and doesn't have feelings. I will win. (It fits me great, but it's not meant for me, is it?)

That's enough drama for now =)

Monday, November 19, 2007

My new yarn security system

Last minute, my daughters had a friend over today. They had some kind of fun, acting like I always did with my friends when I was little. It was fun just watching them sing and dance to our High School Musical cd, which is THE thing for preteens right now. Then they decided to install "lasers" all around the living room, to trip people up. I had to get out to take the girl home, and I can testify that it was no easy feat. Cool. Another use for yarn.

The birthday party was swell the other day. Here's the youngest, who gets more joy out of a birthday party than I've ever seen anyone get. Just standing next to the cake sends her into throes of euphoria. See how she smiles, and one eye shuts tighter than the other? All of my kids' eyes do that. I think it must be a sign of genius. Makes for interesting school pictures, though...

And here's a picture of the birthday lady, 84 and in better shape than I am, I suspect. She can pop up off the floor from doing puzzles with a grandkid, and I'd be heaving up onto one leg, trying to get good leverage. *sigh* But Happy Birthday to her, and I'm really happy, because she likes handmade things just as much as I do =)

And yes, I have been knittin'! I think I figured out the hat pattern, and so have been forging on. Let's hope when I get done it isn't a smidge too tight or vastly too big. If it's too big, I can fix it with elastic. If it's too small, it's back to frogville. And here's a pic of a pair of mittens I spit out this weekend, watching silly sitcom t.v., because I just couldn't stomach the Bionic Woman. I've never seen straight lines delivered so poorly. Couldn't watch it. I tried, though, so I can honestly say that I can't overcome the memory of Lindsay Wagner, and the way the bionic woman used to be....

Friday, November 16, 2007

A few things off the list...

The thrummed mittens are done! And they were nicely well received, which even from a three-year-old was very gratifying. Here's a pic of them with the sun shining, which was a nice surprise today, and another picture from yesterday showing the inside, but no sunshine.

The wool came from a tan bunny and a blue-ish bunny, so the roving is two different colors. I decided not to care for my first pair, but it does look a little odd when you turn them inside out. Anyway, I don't have to worry about her little fingers being cold this winter!

I've also been working on a hat for my nine-year-old, to match her blue mittens. I started in the center top and kept increasing, thinking it was too small, and increasing some more. Finally, I strung it on some dental floss and placed it on her head. I'm glad I didn't just continue on knitting, because clearly this is too much. Why is it that I can't gauge my kids' sizes??? I kiss these little heads and hold these little hands every day, and still I'm constantly frogging. Very weird.

And finally here's Grandma's gift. I made a soap sock, several times, but the one in this picture was the keeper. Apparently, if you make your soap sock with too small of needles, it's hard to get the soap out. Goes quicker with the bigger needles, too, which was a nice side benefit at the eleventh hour. I also made three dishcloths, and included a bookmark my mom made. She gifted me with many, many, to give as I saw fit or keep 'em all, I suppose. Anyway, Gram will love it, as she does all handmade things, but also because it is really really pretty. Thanks, mom! I made two hand towels from some pretty Mary Engelbreit material, and threw in some soap gel from Bath and Body Works, and I call it done.

Now on to Thanksgiving! I'm having the family here, and feel a strong need to wash walls and stuff, which is a good idea at any time in this house. I know I don't see what goes on in anyone else's home, but does anyone else have the need to wash their walls every other week like I do? Seriously, you'd think the kids knew how to walk on the walls in their bare feet. Anyhoo, on to the holidays! Anyone else feeling any pressure?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Adventures with the Learning Curve

Nice title, eh? Well, let me tell ya: I have decided to make some thrummed mittens. I want to make them for Christmas. I have access to roving (Angora, no less), and yarn, of course, and I've never made this gift before, so people will be excited (in my happy world) to receive them. So I decided to make a pair for the three year old, just as a tester, to see if I was doing it right. Now, I was going to write a blog entry about how spoiled my three-year-old was, getting thrummed mittens. That would have been cute. Instead, I'm going to write about jumping into a project without doing proper research. (Darn it.)

I looked up the Yarn Harlot's thrummed mittens, just to get a feel for what they looked like. I remembered enough of what she said to do back when I read the entry, enough to get started anyway. I did look up the thrummed mitten pattern, which suggested I could thrum anything, if I figured out a way to make space for the roving. So I went up a needle size and started knitting. Mmmm, Angora is soft.... This is a neat technique, where you take a bit of roving/wool, twist it in the middle and knit it along with your stitch. The inside of this mitten was so soft I wanted one for myself. Then, about halfway up the mitten, I ran out of roving, and had to get another baggie of it. I started to get a bit concerned. I have four sandwich baggies of wool from the bunnies, and I thought that would be enough for this project and at least one other. Plus, since the bunnies kindly keep making wool, I wasn't concerned. But this was a mitten project for a three-year-old, I hadn't even finished one mitten, and I was moving fast through the fluffy stuff.

I went back and peeked at the thrummed mitten pattern to see how much wool/roving they suggested for the child's size mitten, but to be honest, I never got that far. Instead I saw, and I quote, “Read This BEFORE Beginning the Thumb Gusset.” Rats. That had to be at least six rows ago. Apparently, they had a technique that was going to work easier than knitting the mitten, then the thumb. Oh, well. That's adventurous knitting for you, right? I went back to my mitten and knit on.

The little darling had gone to bed, but she has little bitty hands, so I started the decreases. Really, thrumming takes some time. It isn't smooth knitting. But it is fun, and very satisfying to stop and keep feeling the inside of your mitten. I must say though, this morning, when she tried it on and smiled at the softness of it, her fingers were sticking up through the top. Rats. I have to tink back and add some more rows for her freakishly long fingers. Now, I'm not losing my happy thoughts or anything, but tinking back thrummed mittens ain't all the fun you'd imagine it is. I can't stop now, though, because she really would hate normal mittens now that she's felt the inside of these. So I'm adding enough rows so she can wear them next year, too.

Here's a pic before anything bad happened, when I was considering the smug little blog entry I would write.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A little moment of peace

I was having a bad morning this a.m., what with a creditor implying I hadn't paid my bill (yeah, I did), and time pressures and a to do list and a three-year-old in the testing phase (No! No! No! - that's her, not me). So I did what any sane person would do. I went and stuck my face in a handful of roving. I breathed very deeply, and did not think about going to the bank or washing my walls or anything necessary. I thought about the alpaca, and how sweet that animal is, and how this roving came from a very living, breathing, running around animal. It calmed me down quite a bit. Then I thought about how I would spin it, probably a single ply, as it's got lumps of pretty colors in it, and I want to keep those with the yarn. Probably relative chunky, just for something new, but maybe not so chunky that it couldn't go into a hat. I could wear this animal around on my head, and have this good earthy smell pretty close to my nostrils, for breathing in calm farm moments. And I actually felt better. I should write a magazine article, since there are so many about how to manage stress. Then I sent up a quick prayer, but I didn't feel like it was being received, since I only expect help from a higher source when it's something really serious. Anything else I'm probably expected to handle. Still, for good luck, I sent up a prayer and went and played Pirate Map with my daughter. This game involves whapping my leg with the “map” she's drawn, and saying, “Arrrr! Let's go, matey!” Good stuff. But I'm keeping my roving by me for occasional breathing, because it really has helped.

Speaking of good stuff, here's a pic of my kids throwing pizza pies last night. We had an unexpected night home, due to the sitter getting sick, and I didn't have a dinner plan. (Sitter was grandma, who was in charge of dinner, which is a good deal, if you can work it out) So with no real plan, we pulled out some sauce, pepperoni and a little flour and yeast, and I taught the kids how to make pizza. It was so fun, and I feel like I rarely get fun mommy moments now that they're in school. There aren't whole days to work around what needs to be done, so you can do crafts or go to the library. It was a very good time.

Why, yes, I have been knitting! I'll take pictures if we ever see the sun again, which won't be today, sadly. But I've been working on the gift basket for my grandma, and her party has been rescheduled to Monday (poor ill woman), so I have a few more days. So really, now that I've blogged all this down, things aren't so bad. They're pretty good, actually. Roving - I knew there was something magic about it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Y'all are so nice!

I have been getting more and more frustrated these last couple of weeks, as I type in search phrase after search phrase, trying to figure out how to wash the bunny wool after I've gathered it off the bunnies. Finally, I decided to bug someone who had no reason to help me. Every time I'm driven to this point, I cringe because I'm worried I'm about to annoy someone, but I don't know what else to do. I found the site of a lady who has many German Angora bunnies, and she seems to really know her stuff. (Hi, Leslie!) She lets them play outside and breeds them and shears them, even. So I emailed her and prayed she didn't mind giving me a little information, even though I am nowhere near Virginia, where she lives, and I can't possibly frequent her store for wool. And she emailed me back within hours, and was very encouraging! Every time (so far) I've had to rely on the kindness of strangers, I haven't been disappointed. It gives you a warm glow to think people will just help people, and there are so many more nice people out there than rotten ones. I gotta get out more, because the news has warped my sense of my fellow man. This woman also sent me a link to a very helpful English Angora site that had come up on none of my search phrases. Very weird. When in desperation you ask Google, “What do I do with my English Angora roving?”, you ought to get a couple of sites about English Angoras and their roving. Come to find out, it's actually called wool, when it's right off the rabbits, and guess what else? There's no washing involved! Heehee. You can spin it right away, or dye it, or whatever, because it's very clean when it comes off the bunnies. And there's different grades of wool, depending on which part of the rabbit it came from. The finest is from the back and sides, where the hair is the longest. The second best is from the bib and belly, as it's a bit shorter. (My, but it's soft, though) And the worst, and most unclean, comes from the back of the bunny, and is good for bird nest liners, not for spinning at all. Yay! So I promised myself I would blog about this, and put in my Google search phrase, in case someone else is desperate enough to type in “What do I do” in regards to Angora bunnies.

I guess it's going to snow here this week, and it's late enough in the year that it's probably going to be serious about it. So I need to make my oldest a hat to go with her mittens, and quit fooling around with trying to knit a pattern into the hat. It needs to get done! And I need to come up with some kind of gift for my grandmother, since we're celebrating her birthday this Friday, a week early! I never know what to get her, so I'm thinking a gift basket with dishcloths, soaps, something, something. I would welcome any thoughts anyone has on good gift ideas to make when you're down to the last few days.

One of the final participants in the shawl KAL has finished! Liz has made a beautiful shawl called Cozy, and it looks just so great. If you get a chance, pop over to her blog and tell her. I'm going to call the Summer Knitalong officially done, and I'm very sorry if you didn't finish yours and you were playing. It's just time to admit summer is over. I am so glad that everyone wanted to play, and we got such beautiful shawls out of this fun event! This definitely won't be my last blog contest or game or fiber drawing, or however you want to categorize it that gets you excited. With my busy schedule as a stay-at-home mom, even though I'm always running, this blog gives me a connection with other people that I'm usually too busy to make with the folks I see every day. Here I can sit and concentrate on what you all say, what your thoughts are, how you like something. I think about blogs I've read while I do the dishes or read Pooh one more time. I have a lot of fun with this on-line talking and reading.

Now that we're getting only a month or so from the big holiday, Christmas, I'm wishing I had taken more time over the summer to keep up with the Christmas knitting. I got two hats completed. There's so much that I want to make, and there's no way I can do it by the holidays. Maybe I'll hit the candle store and make it easy on myself =)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

All right, all you witches and goblins, have a great holiday evening! Say thank you when you get candy, and check it over before you eat it, just like mom used to do. Put on your makeup and fake moles, draw some runes on your forehead, and party it up. This is the only year I can wear my cloak into the grocery store and have people think I'm cool =) May you have many treats, and not so many tricks!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wherein I deliver...

Here you go, folks! Costume pics, bunny pics, birthday party pics, and an alpaca! The last was an unexpected bonus, obviously karma at work for me, for once. =) I took brownies into the school for my daughter's birthday, and look who got to come into the school! It was another little girl's birthday, and her mom scored an alpaca to come for show and tell. I told them, they win. Is there a cooler class treat than that? This little alpaca was very sweet, and patient with all of the kids running up from behind to pat her, even though they didn't have to sneak a pat. That's what she was there for! Very, very soft roving on her, just waiting for a brush. But maybe that's just me...

And some costumes! I was going to do this big blog entry, showing the step-by-step creation, but instead, here's some finished products. The 60's poodle skirt girl and the mermaid were the ones that I made. The other costumes were purchased in previous years, and worn because the mermaid costume wasn't quite done when the first Halloween party happened. The littlest child kept changing her mind, and therefore is a princess, because I couldn't make a MagentaThePuppy/Pumpkin/SuperHero costume on such short notice.

And bunny pictures! We finally brought the fellows up into the living room, and it wasn't as catastrophic as I imagined it would be. They didn't go racing around or freak out. In fact, they acted quite a bit more loving than when I reach into their cage, invading their space. The girls were glad for a chance to really get to handle them, and for a good long time, too. I see many bunny outings in the future.

Aren't they beautiful?

And pictures of a little girl sleepover. My goodness, a sleepover has never gone so well. Everyone had a great time, and what with the pumpkin carving, leaf raking, movie watching and Barbie playing, not a child asked for their momma before dropping off to sleep. Excellent!

Scary pumpkins!

Friday, October 26, 2007

An Eighth Birthday! (Murphy's Law included)

My second daughter is eight years old today, and I don't even know how that could be possible. She sure is excited, though!

It's been an exciting day already. After her dad left for work, but before school, she started crying that it hurt when she went to the bathroom, and she had stomach-flu-like symptoms. (That's all the further I'll go into that!) So we had to go to the doctor. I'm crossing my fingers the whole way in, because she wanted a sleepover for her birthday, and I've got four little kids coming over after school. It took a LOT of coordinating with all of the parents, so I could pick their kids up, and I do NOT want to have to do it all again in reverse. I get the birthday girl to town, and realize I don't have my wallet. No money for the co-pay. Could the doctor's office give a girl a break? Well, no, sorry. Can't get any help there. So I swung by the bank, where they actually know and trust me, and grab 20 bucks outta my kids' savings. Nice, eh? =/

Then to the doctor's, where there really wasn't anything wrong with her, other than a bit of stomach-flu-like symptoms. No UTI or anything, so a little Tylenol in her, and back to school. I'm crossing my fingers here that she raises her hand in time to make it to the bathroom. Something's gotta look up, right? And back home, to a house that needs vacuuming and a cake that needs decorating. In a rare moment of empathy, my three-year-old took an early two-hour-nap. In fact, she's still sleeping, and if she wakes up sick, I won't be surprised. Still, I know how to make an opportunity stick, and I swung around the house with the vacuum like I was selling Hoovers. Then I attacked the cake and half an hour later had this:

Not too shabby, eh? It was indeed fast and furious piping around that Barbie insert. Then I cut up some brownies to pass out at class later, and sat down to blog. lol! Sometimes you just gotta do something for yourself. I have 45 minutes before I have to swing into a gift store and try to find appropriate give-out gifts for 18 seven-year-olds. And all morning this rhyme has been in my head:

A dillar, a dollar,
a six-o'clock scholar,
why did you come so soon?

You used to come at ten o'clock,
and now you come at noon.

I heard this rhyme probably six years ago, when my oldest was watching Sesame Street, and I've puzzled on it off and on ever since. I know it was politically a slam at someone at the time it was created. I'll research it a bit when I get a chance. But as to how it applies to today, I keep coming back to it, and I think I understand now. It runs along the lines of my personal credo, "Fake it 'til you make it." A perpetually late person sails in even later with a, "Whew, I'm here early!" kind of attitude. I feel like I've been living this I've-got-it-together lie since the three-year-old was born. I run around and try to pull together parties and sleepovers and dishes and bill paying, and whenever I'm around anyone, I slow down, smile, and act like it's a breeze. I'm just faking it, people. I'm going to slow things down soon, honest. I really have to. This is crazy.

In the meantime, though, this was the fastest blog entry in history, and tomorrow I'll have pictures of seven-year-olds carving pumpkins and decorating cookies. Rock on, you moms! What would happen without us?

Monday, October 22, 2007

A whole lotta pumpkins, and a FO

My husband and I organized a Pumpkin Carving Extravaganza this weekend. We announced it for weeks at church and with our friends, and I was still afraid no one would show up! But it ended up going great, with 31 people attending, which ain't bad for our first year. We're already looking forward to next year! We have a local master of pumpkin carving, who came and helped with technique. He tried really hard to get us all past the "triangle eyes" point, but mostly, that's what everyone did. We do love the classics here at the Cobbler household!

Some happy kid pics with pumpkins:

And, hey, I haven't shown any FO's in awhile. Remember that sweater that I didn't want to finish, because I was scared to block it? Well, finally, I put it together and decided to brave it. Before I could throw it in the tub, the husband tried the sweater on, and it looked great! No blocking required. I'll undergo another anxiety attack when it needs its first wash, so stay tuned! hehe

It's made of Fisherman's Wool, by Lion Brand, and it is so warm! Really, it's meant to be worn outside, when working or fishing on the lake. But to show his love for handmade sweaters, my husband is wearing and sweating in it at the office. Whatta guy. The sweater for this winter is going to be a Kauni-like design, but I'm doing a top down, pullover, no steeking kind of method. But he loved the colors and pattern, so I've got to get to yarn ordering. This looks like fun, doesn't it? Yeah, perhaps in different colors...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bunny Love

Poor little Angoras, whenever I bring them near their cage after petting them, they scrabble to get back inside. Their little claws are sharp.

At what point do you think I'll get clever enough to put on long sleeves when I handle the bunnies? Yeah, I'm not sure, either. Ouch. Actually, it only hurts for a second, but people look at you funny, like I'm a self-cutter or something, when I am wearing short sleeves in public. So it's long sleeves in public or at home, whichever I remember. =)

On the other hand, the bunny love also shows itself as this:

It's so soft, it's satisfying all by itself. But I really don't know what to do with it.

I was brainstorming earlier, and don't you wish that, when you got stressed, you didn't want to eat? I do. But when I get stressed out, I can't sleep, which leaves me awake and hungry. I got two hours' last night, then I woke up - wide awake - thinking of everything there was to do. Silly home business/church council/drama club/soccer mom life. Anyway, the point is, insomnia strikes me in such a way that I can't actually get up and do anything. I'm too tired. I can sit there on the couch, reading Patricia Cornwell and listening to every noise in the house. But I can't balance the checkbook or work on a shawl - see? Very frustrating. So it's daytime now, and my body says, "Sure! Go work!" Alas, with no sleep, everything's a bit harder. However, in exciting news, the Halloween costumes are ready to be sewn! This will be fun. We've got some good ideas this year. I thought the youngest would be easy - super hero. Cool, ay? Well, apparently the super hero is Super Why, and he's brand new from pbs. I'm thinking of taking last year's Superman costume, or Wonder Woman, whichever fit, and putting a felt decal over the chest. Will it work? It depends on how I sell it to her. =)

Fabrics awaiting transformation: