Sunday, May 28, 2006

WIP report

We love cotton! Here's Tiny Dancer, giving the Cotton Tots some love.

So far, Baby J's layette is halfway done. There's the sweet little cotton hat (cream with baby blue i-cord). Then a few days ago I finished the baby blue Placket-neck sweater from LMKG. Okay, I didn't really finish it. I still have to add the buttons (yet to be purchased). And there's this little problem I have with my kitchener stitch - a hole at each end of each underarm seam. So far this has happened with every kitchener I've done (except for the toes of socks). I don't know what I'm doing wrong. But I've got to figure out a way to darn the darn things.

This morning I cast on for the Picky Pants (cream with blue i-cord). I think they will go fairly quickly. Then there will be a pair of blue booties and then finishing up the diagonal garter stitch blanket (I'm about halfway done with it). It's so fun to do things that are so small. And I just love working with cotton. Not as much as wool, but I still like it. It reminds me of all the white cotton fields when I lived in south Georgia.

I'm behind on pics of FOs and WIPs. So I had to include yet another picture of the offspring. And yes, that is the Patternworks catalog he's holding. Again. Mama's little yarn freak.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday's Feast

My first meme. Friday's Feast.


How old were you when you got your first credit card?
18. Somehow I managed to make it through college without ever racking up debt, though. Things changed quickly after I graduated and was out on my own....

When was the last time you felt out of place?
This morning, at Walmart. I hate that store. I haven't been there in ages but I wanted some film developed and they're the only place I know that does matte finish with one-hour processing (only their printer was down so I was out-of-luck). I felt out of place in a snobby way.

Did you have a curfew when you were a teenager? If so, what time did you have to be home?
I think my curfew was usually 11:30, sometimes midnight. I did get an exception for prom.

Main Course
Name a person from history with whom you feel you have something in common.
Teresa of Avila (though I'm no saint). She was a woman of faith who also happened to be fiery, earthy, and passionate. I resonate with the fact that she did not seem to perceive a split between the spiritual and the corporeal. Once, when she was criticized for eating her dinner too lustily as she bit into her partridge, she commented, "When I pray, I pray. When I partridge, I partridge!"

When you read a newspaper, which section do you go for first?
Front page. Except on Wednesdays, when I go straight for the cooking section, and Sundays when I head for real estate.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bloggers Fuel: java review #2

Bloggers Fuel Boot up Blend bills itself as "an amazing medium blend of African, Central and South American Coffees. Rich taste and smooth finish for the perfect breakfast blend." I'm a sucker for anything labeled "breakfast blend" (yes, I am a marketer's dream), so I eagerly tore into the bag one morning last week. The beans had that nice matte finish and were a nice medium brown.

beans: roasted May 2, ground May 18, right before brewing
brew method: regular drip coffeemaker
strength: 6 heaping spoons for 12 cups of water
accoutrement: half-and-half
timing: first thing in the morning, as soon as the pot is ready
verdict: smooth and mild, perhaps a bit too mild

I consider myself a medium-roast kind of girl, but this was a bit more on the mild side than I'm used to. It was definitely smooth but a little too light. I wouldn't call it "rich." Still, not a bad cup of coffee. I would drink it again. But I like something a little stronger first thing in the morning.

Tiny Dancer rockin' the Bloggers Fuel cap.

One of these days I'll post some actual knitting content. I hope to finish Baby J's placket-neck sweater tonight. What a sweet little knit. I look forward to making ones for LB and TD next fall.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bloggers Fuel: java review #1

Herein lies my first ever review of Boca Java's Bloggers Fuel.

The first brew I tried was Blogs of Bravery, which bills itself as "front line fuel from a blend of South American dark and medium roasts to create a well balanced smooth taste." The blend was roasted on May 4th and I made my first cup on May 14th. Verdict: YUM!

beans: ground right before brewing
brew: regular drip coffeemaker
strength: 6 generous scoops for 12 cups
accoutrements: half-and-half
timing: first thing in the morning, as soon as the whole pot is ready

The first sip of Blogs of Bravery left me a bit uncertain. I am usually not a dark roast girl, and I thought the first taste was a tad bitter. A few more sips had me convinced, though. Good stuff. Strong stuff. My Old Man liked it, too, but as he reminded me, he doesn't have a particularly discerning palate. I, on the other hand, am pretty hard to please, especially when it comes to coffee. I like it fresh - freshly roasted, freshly ground, freshly brewed (if it's been in the pot more than an hour I won't drink it). This was definitely fresh, though I honestly couldn't discern a difference in freshness between it and my usual brew (organic free trade whole bean coffee bought at the local natural food store).

This was the first of the Boca Java blends I tried and so far it's my favorite (I have since tried two other blends). In fact, I loved it more with each pot - very strong and very smooth. The perfect combination. Would I drink it again? Most definitely. Sadly, I only have enough left for one more cup of coffee.

Little Buddha, sporting my "Always Blog on a Full Tank" bloggers fuel cap.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The view from the window

Here is CJ's scarf, hanging in the window. I just love holding my knitting up to the sunlight, and thought this lace looked especially nice.

This is what the neighbors see, when they walk by the same window. Our Tiny Dancer, the exhibitionist, looking ready to bust out of this joint. Little Buddha looks on from behind with brotherly appreciation.

Monday, May 22, 2006

CJ's Birthday

Here's CJ, modeling her birthday gifts. (My Old Man also made her a mix CD. She chose not to model it. She is, however, wearing the dandy hot pink bow that adorned the present.)

I love this picture. The scarf looks perfect on her. And doesn't she look French? You may ask, how does a person look French? Well, you mix class, panache, sophistication, a sleek new 'do, add a dash of pale pink lacy scarf, et voila'! CJ, the French ingenue!

CJ's lace scarf

This is a scarf I made for CJ for her birthday. It is the Airy Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, done in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, in grace (a pale pink). It is the first lace project I've done - and the first thing I've ever blocked. Though it is not without mistakes (don't look too closely, CJ!), this may actually be my favorite thing I've ever knitted. And I have half a skein left, which will make a matching scarf for me!

Socks for CJ

These are the socks I made for CJ's birthday. I used Lorna's Laces superwash worsted weight, in Icehouse, one size 6s, using Knitting Pure and Simple's Basic Women's Socks pattern. I think they are rather yummy. One of these days I'm going to make myself a pair!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Free Stuff

You see all this? Six bags of coffee beans, one humungo coffee mug, and a cool black cap - all free. One of the women over at KH let us knitting bloggers know about this sweet deal last month. The first 500 people to sign up at Boca Java's Bloggers Fuel to review their coffee would get this free gift pack. As a complete coffee addict, I jumped on that quick as I could. FREE COFFEE! It doesn't get much better than that. (Okay, free yarn - that would definitely outrank it).

But man, I had no idea I'd be getting such a big package. Three pounds of free coffee, in six different blends. And the mug and hat were a nice surprise (both bear the motto "Always blog on a full tank.") For almost five years I have had my coffee every morning from the same mug - my Michigan Radio mug (which I got for supporting our local public radio station). But I like this new mug so much that I've been using it as often as my old favorite (I'm a sucker for free stuff, but it's also the fact that it's huge - I can sit and knit longer before I have to get up for a refill). I feel a bit guilty that I'm allowing this new upstart to supplant my trust Michigan Radio mug.

At any rate, my end of the bargain is to review the coffee, which I shall. I've already burned through a bag and a half (coffee doesn't last long at our house, even though we're both trying to cut back). Look for the first review soon.

In other "free stuff" news, I found this pattern to add the cowl neck to my To Dye For sweater. I think I'm going to go for it, after I finish some of my current projects.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

To Dye For

To Dye For. But not necessarily To Die For.

This is the first sweater I ever started (a week later I started My Old Man's anniversary sweater, and I finished it first, so it was actually my first sweater). I had such high hopes for this thing. I love the color. I love the yarn (as a finished product; I'm not really wild about knitting with it). I love the bell sleeves. I love the split sides.

But when I put it on, I look like a lump. And that's not usually the look I'm shooting for. Oh, and the arm seams are too tight. I'm sure I could somehow undo them and redo them, but I'm just not going to do that.

I didn't do the crochet edge on the neck yet b/c I'm thinking that maybe if I could somehow change the neck it would be more flattering on me. I saw someone else's online awhile back and she had added a cowl neck to hers. It was really cute, and I love cowl necks. I think between the cowl neck and the bell sleeves maybe people wouldn't notice the lumpish quality the sweater otherwise gives me.

Thing is, I'm not entirely sure I know how to add a cowl neck. Do I just pick up stitches and start knitting in the round until I think I have enough?

Meanwhile, I'm obsessed with Cozy and dying to get my yarn and start knitting. I really should finish Baby J's layette first, though. And I'm suddenly also obsessing about making little knit things for the boys' 2nd birthday (2 weeks from yesterday). Why do I do this to myself? I will tell myself I'm not going to make any handknits for gifts for a particular occasion, and the next thing I know I am making myself crazy knitting Easter eggs and attempting Easter bunnies. I told myself no knits for the boys' birthday. So why do I keep coming up with all sorts of ideas of things I could make?!? Earth to earthchick: YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME! Get over it.

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Knitty Mother's Day

My Old Man overdid it - but boy am I thrilled. Two knitting books - Alterknits and Mason-Dixon Knitting - an LYS gift card, and can you guess what the Easter basket gift is? I couldn't figure it out either. I kept looking at the needles and thinking, those look exactly like the needles the boys stole out of my knitting bag the other day.... Well, My Old Man wanted to get me this needle case (at my not-so-subtle request), but it doesn't ship till late May. So he put a bunch of my needles in a knitting basket as a kind of hint that I would be getting a needle-holder-type-thingy. Pretty clever. In addition to all the great knit stuff, he also got us a family season pass to the Toledo Zoo, with the promise to go asap. Yay! [Special thanks to my pal CJ for taking him out all over town to buy me the goods!]

Speaking of My Old Man, he is holding steady for now. He had a few fairly good days followed by a few fairly bad days. Today has been reasonably good, though he stays fatigued most of the time (thanks to the high doses of meds). I think we are both kind of emotionally fatigued at this point - he is just not improving at the rate we would like.

People wonder how I keep all the balls in the air but the fact is , I don't. My house is a total sty. And when I get a chance to clean it, what do I do? I KNIT!

I am loving the Bernat Cottontots and the sweet little Placket-Neck sweater from LMKG. Only problem - I didn't get gauge and kept right on knitting anyway. Turns out I was knitting a sweater that probably would've fit my almost two year-olds. So now I'm ripping out to try again with smaller needles. Waaah. In retrospect I kind of wish I had just kept knitting and made it for one of my boys. But I really need to do Baby J's layette first....

Speaking of my boys, they are so into my knitting books. I can't look at Alterknits without Little Buddha coming up to look at every page, and especially at the pretty girl on the cover, and to ask me, "Who's that?" And Tiny Dancer keeps finding a way to get Last Minuted Knitted Gifts off whatever shelf I hide it on. I can't wait till they are old enough to learn their own little crafts and hobbies.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

More Picky Pants

Here are Little Buddha's Picky Pants, in Manos Flame (love, love, love this colorway). I was thrilled with how they turned out, and they look so darn cute on him. I'll try to get a pic of them on him sometime soon.

This morning I led my second Contemplative Knitting workshop at church. My friend yakmidi recorded it for us to do a podcast. Woohoo - I'm psyched. Will post the cast here once it's edited and ready.

My Bernat Cotton Tots arrived two days ago and I am happily working away at Baby J's layette (due date: July 20, so I'm feeling unusually on top of things). So far I've done one Child's Cotton Hat from Last Minuted Knitted Gifts, in cream (did the i-cord in cream, it was too short so I did it again, and it was too short again; I've decided it will be really cute in baby blue - and this time I'm going to measure before I bind off). Last night, I started the Child's Placket-Neck Sweater, in baby blue. I've got about 3 inches done, maybe more (what do I know, since I am so bad about measuring - i.e., I either don't do it or I do it inaccurately). The cotton is soft and I think the layette is going to be very sweet. (Note to self: just because you like making wee knits does not mean you need another baby.)

Friday, May 12, 2006

(non)Stripey Slippers

So I'm finally getting some FO pics posted. These are the LTK Stripey Slippers . The boys love them, but I still need to put some puffy paint on the bottom so they will quit slipping on our wood floors. Little Buddha is wearing a pair in Manos del Uruguay, Flame, which is the same yarn I used for his longies. There was maybe 2 feet of yarn left when I got done. Maybe less. Tiny Dancer's pair is Manos del Uruguay, Caribe, also the same as his longies.

And yes, that is a Patternworks catalog that Tiny Dancer is looking at.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An update

Thanks for all the kinds word of care and encouragement regarding My Old Man. I'm sorry it's been a week since I gave a report. I'm a bit overwhelmed both at work and at home.

My Old Man came home from the hospital on Friday afternoon and has been making very slow but steady progress ever since. His medications seem to be at therapeutic levels, and he is very slowly regaining his reading abilities. He works on it every day and wants it to come back more quickly, so it is pretty frustrating for him right now. I feel so bad for him, because in addition to the fact that our profession requires the ability to read (and write, and speak publicly), reading is also his favorite thing to do with his free time. So it is really sad that he can't do it very well right now, but I do have hope that it will come back to normal at some point. Right now, I am just relieved that we are not looking at surgery.

Life has been such a strange jumble lately that I didn't even knit for three days solid. It was strange to actually sit and watch a movie with My Old Man and do nothing with my hands. But I finally started a new project and am thrilled to be back to my old ways.

I'm also back to my old ways in terms of buying yarn. I order some Bernat Cotton Tots (have never knit with it before but I keep reading good things about it) to make a layette for My Old Man's grandbaby, due in July. I'm going to do a cream-colored hat (child's cotton hat from Last Minute Knitted Gifts), a baby blue sweater (child's placket sweater from LMKG), cream-colored pants (Picky Pants with seed stitch cuffs to echo the trim of the sweater), and a pair of baby blue booties (pattern to be decided). If I have enough time, I'm going to also do an opposite layette (blue hat, cream sweater, blue pants, cream booties). I also am about halfway done with a Diagonal Garter Stitch baby blanket (in cream) that I had originally started for some friends but I think I'd like to finish it for this baby instead (I gave something else for the other baby).

And I'm back to my old ways in planning new projects as well. The only "have to" items on my list right now (since I finally finished all those old projects that had been on my WIP list of my to-do list) are the layette and a pair of socks for my friend T. I'm thinking towards my trip to Italy next fall, and trying to plan some shawls and scarves to make for it. I intend to pack super-light and have decided that the way to extend my wardrobe options is with shawls and scarves. I've never done lace knitting but am getting really eager to try. I think I'm going to start with Cozy , which I've been admiring forever. Then (and this may be a tad over-ambitious) I really want to try a Sivia Harding design - am thinking this one . And then I'd like to do one more, maybe a circular one (EZ's pi shawl?). Or maybe I should do Clapotis instead. Or if anyone wants to shoot me a link to another option, I'm all eyes.

Okay, that's enough for now. I swear I'm going to take and post some FO pics soon....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Strange days, strange nights

I'm home and happy to be here. Unfortunately, My Old Man is not - he is in the hospital. :( It's a long and complicated problem involving a congenital malformation in some blood vessels in his brain. The problem first surfaced (in an emergency situation) 11 years ago, and he has had different problems related to it ever since. Two surgeries and multiple medications later, it seemed things had finally gotten to a good place. But now he's having problems again, and this time the doctors aren't certain why (i.e., there's no new issue in his brain that would require another surgery, but increasing and meddling with meds isn't stopping the problem either).

Sorry not to be more specific about the issues than that, but those of you who know him know the specifics already, and for those of you who don't, it's just too darn long, complicated, and confusing to write in full detail in a knitting blog!

At any rate, it was so good to see his sweet face, and of course to see the gorgeous faces of the other two men in my life, too! The boys love, love, love their slippers. It was so gratifying to see how taken they were with them. Little Buddha wasn't crazy about his pants, though, for reasons unknown. He is wearing them tonight as he sleeps, but the only way I could get him to let me put him on was to promise to read "I Love You Forever" afterwards. Before that, he just said "no, no, no" every time I tried to put them on!

I made the most amazing non-knit thing for My Old Man while I was away. Once I have the time and energy to take and upload pics of all my latest creations, I'll include it too.

It will probably be after the weekend before I can deal with pics, though. Since My Old Man is not only my husband but also my work partner, I now have his workload on top of mine while he's sick. The next few days look like just a wall of work.

In the midst of so much madness, I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the strangest, strongest feeling of peace about everything. (This was particularly wonderful since the night before I got maybe 3 hours of sleep, in 1 hour stretches, b/c I couldn't get my mind to settle down about everything). I really think the peace had something to do with prayers that I know are being offered for my husband and my family. It was pretty wonderful to wake up and just have it wash over me like that. My Old Man said it's just too bad I couldn't bottle that stuff (the peace) so I could take a hit of it whenever I needed it. Yeah 'dat.