Saturday, September 30, 2006

All work and no knit makes earthchick an irritable girl

This week is killing me with stress and busyness, and I'm looking at at least two more too much like it (though I hope without some of the bad surprises this week brought). So a lot of things have suffered - sleep, exercise, proper nutrition, and knitting. There have been plenty of times when I've done without sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition and been all right, as long as I still had time to knit. But lack of knitting time is unacceptable!

Okay, I should clarify what I mean by "no knitting." I have still knit a little here and there every day. But it's been a very little. Today I've done 5 rows. Yesterday I think it was maybe 4. Oh wait, no, yesterday I also knit 3 rows in the funeral home parking lot when I arrived earlier than intended, but I don't count those because, in my stressed state, I did something way wacky and had to unknit them all. You know your mind is fried when you can mess up something as simple as the scrunchable scarf - and then not catch it for 3 rows!

So instead of blogging, I really should be knitting, right? Right. Except every time I go sit in my knitting chair, I am surrounded by piles of clothes I was sorting through for my Parents of Multiples clothing sale (read all about that disaster here), and that just stresses me out more.

On top of everything else this week, my computer is having horrendous problems. Why, oh why, did I not purchase the extended warranty on my iMac last June? A mere 8 weeks past the 1-year warranty expiration, I began to have problems, and the problems have snowballed. As of Thursday, it no longer recognizes my printer. Which also means I can't upload photos until I find the cord to directly connect my camera to the computer (not that I expect the computer to handle that well either). It is true, isn't it, that unless your Mac is under warranty you can get neither phone support nor repair at one of their shops?

Enough grumpiness. Without further adieu, I bring you some shots of my current WIPs. If the shots seem familiar, it's not just because of my inability to upload photos right now but also because of my current woeful lack of progress.

Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan
Still finished with the knitting.
Still not touching the seaming.
And today was my deadline for myself.

Mmmmmmalabrigo Scrunchable Scarf in Azul Profundo
now for me instead of Little Buddha
it's a lot longer than it was when I took this picture, but the same idea

I have one more unfelted felted clog now.
It looks just like this, only different colors.

I should go clean up the living room now so that later I might actually feel like knitting in there. Then I should seam my sweater. I should, but I'm not sure I will....

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fiddley, Felted, Fantastic - and Fun!

So I'm like the last person in cyberspace to finally try the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs, and now I see what I was missing. Seriously, these are freakishly addictive (and this is saying something, since I find almost any knit project to be addictive - these are just more so). Part of the appeal, of course, is how quickly they go - I cast on for the first one late Saturday night and finished felting the pair late Monday night. Considering that Sunday and Monday are both work days for me, that's a pretty quick knit. Of course, I also have OCD on my side.

But the appeal of these clogs is not just that they are fast. They are, as my title up there says, fiddley, fantastic, and fun! Now to me, fiddley isn't usually a good thing. It requires concentration (not my strong suit), is easy to get wrong, and doesn't often feel to me like real knitting. But in this case, it was great fun because you fiddle around and fiddle around at what looks like just a mess of stitches, and then suddenly the shape just starts emerging beneath your hands and before your eyes. (An example of the fiddliness: you actually have to read the directions to bind off! Becky didn't believe me until she saw the instructions, which include random m1s multiple times while binding off.) I think it is a fantastically clever pattern.

my first clog, unfelted

and felted.
Child's small, in Wool of the Andes Lake Ice and Arctic Pool
16" size 13 needles, plus a spare needle for doing fun three-needle things

felted clogs, in use
(sorry for the flash pic)

Little Buddha, kicking back in the clogs
(Tiny Dancer isn't so crazy about them. When I asked if he wanted to wear them, he said, "Nope." When I asked if he thought they were cute, he said, "Nope." See why I turn to you people for affirmation?!?)

And a first ever picture of me knitting (thanks, GL!)*

Meanwhile, I have made some decisions, with helpful (read: enabling!) input from you folks. I am keeping the Malabrigo scarf for myself! And, I am going to make Tubey!

I still have some Tubey decisions to make, though. Namely, which yarn to use. I'm probably going to go with a KnitPicks yarn for the sake of my wallet. The question is which one: Swish (the one I'm leaning towards)? Merino Style? Andean Silk? I want to do it in a chocolate brown with light pink and tan stripes, and probably one more color (Rachel, will you think me too stalkeresque if I go with a mossy green?) Anyone want to share any opinions on these yarns. I haven't knit with any of them before, but am leaning towards Swish simply because it has the colors I want in the shades I like.

Meanwhile, I'm steadfastly avoiding seaming my Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan.

*edited to add:
Okay, I'm a total dork. I just realized that this is not technically the first
picture of me knitting. There's one here from my second Amazing Lace challenge. But the truth is, that one was posed, and no actual knitting was done during the process (which isn't to say that I've never knitted while overseeing the boys' potty efforts). Maybe that's why I thought this was the first one? I don't know. I'm a goof. But you already knew that. ;)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

bad mommy, selfish knitter, helpless wife

Remember the dark blue Malabrigo scrunchable scarf I'm supposedly making for Little Buddha, who apparently would prefer red? Well, I must admit that every time I pick it up I start imagining it around my neck. Do I need another scarf? No. Do I want it? Oh yes, very much. It is so soft, so yummy, and so skinny (I love long skinny scarves!). It's not like anything else I own. I'm certain I would appreciate it in a way that Little Buddha probably wouldn't. I have to make a decision soon, because I'm close to where I was going to make the keyhole opening for the toddler scarf, a hole I'm not going to make if it's for me. My Old Man says I should keep it, that it's too nice to give to a two year-old. Just what I needed, someone to enable my selfish tendencies. If I keep it, I still need to make a scarf for LB and one for Tiny Dancer. What to do, what to do....

Speaking of selfish knitting, I had declared this the Summer of Selfish Knitting, and since today is the first day of autumn, that season is technically over. It's time for making T's fall socks, hats and scarves and felted slippers for the boys, the zippered raglan cardigan for My Old Man, and several Christmas presents. And honestly, I need to whip out some baby booties quick-like to go with a hat for a babe who was born two weeks ago. So why is it I am so very interested in so many things to knit for myself? Like the scrunchable scarf. Chocolate brown socks. A lacey pink scarf like the one I made for CJ. And now I'm suddenly obsessed with Tubey. Rachel, I've been seriously stalking your blog archives because I am completely smitten with both the colors and the stripe pattern of your Tubey. If you have a site meter and you keep seeing Ann Arbor popping up over and over for long periods of time, just know it's me, drooling over your sweater and plotting how to make one just like it.

While my mind is on such selfish and obsessive pursuits, My Old Man is in massive pain. In the middle of the night last night, he fell down the stairs and either broke a rib or bruised it badly. (We live in a Cape Cod, where the upstairs is all one big room and the only bathroom is downstairs - great fun when I was pregnant and needing the bathroom every couple of hours). It was a pretty frightening thing to hear him falling, to know exactly what was happening and to think he was probably breaking something. He's in a lot of agony, and today is his day to watch the boys while I work (and take a quick blog break!). Poor guy. Send healing vibes, please. I'm too buy knitting stuff for myself to be much help. ;)

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sneak peeks and such

Otherwise known as WIP Friday.

But first. Thanks so much for the sweet comments on my hair! I'm still loving it and am so happy I got it cut.

The following paragraph is only for those who either: a) have an interest in all things hair; b) specifically asked about what products I use; and/or c) are so bored that you would read anything as long as it's on a computer screen. The rest of you can move along to the actual knitting content portion of this post.

I have a very specific hair routine that, for me, minimizes frizz while attempting to maximize curl. Every day my hair looks a little different, but overall I have been happy enough with it since I found what works for me (mostly through trial and error, but with some big help from the Naturally Curly forums and the awesome book Curly Girl). What I use/do: a low-sulfate shampoo called Low Poo by DevaCurl (the line created by the author of Curly Girl, who is a curly hair specialist in NYC, and who cut my hair one glorious time in 2002), a super-cheap conditioner for detangling (basic Suave conditioner), finishing off with One Condition conditioner (also a DevaCurl product) which I use generously as a leave-in (I love this conditioner and consider it the most important part of my routine). I don't use a comb or brush on my hair ever, I just detangle in the shower with my fingers. After putting on my leave-in, I mix together two products by Curlisto: Control II gel and Structura Lotion - these are what work for me now, but every year or so I will try a different gel, based on reviews at Naturally Curly. After putting the gel/lotion mix on my hair, I put clips along my scalp (for lift) and go to bed with my hair wet. I have found that letting it dry overnight gives me the least frizz, but it also ruins my pillowcases (even though I put towels down first). Also, it takes too long to let it dry during the day, and I don't like to spend the time it takes to diffuse it dry (I'd rather be knitting!).

Speaking of knitting (the rest of you can begin reading here), here's what's going on in my house on this grey last day of summer:

Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan.
I finished knitting it yesterday, bought the buttons, and now have miles and miles of seaming to do before it's done.
I love the way it looks. And I'm pretty certain that it's going to be too tight.

Stupid orange sock.
I hate this for two reasons.
#1 - It's knit in Plymouth Encore worsted, left over from The Amy Project. I don't know why people invariably recommend this yarn to me. I HATE IT. I do not like fake stuff. I do not like stuff that does not feel good. I do not like stuff that makes my fingers almost forget how to knit. I know most people love it. I am not one of them. But it was the required yarn for The Amy Project and I wanted to do something with what was left of it. So here we go, children's socks. Well, sock. Now I have to make myself make the other one.
#2 - I made it too short and screwed up the toe. I almost always screw up the toe when I graft, but this time I did it worse than usual. And I made it about a half inch too short. Stupid.
Fortunately, Little Buddha thinks it's cute instead of stupid, short and vile.

Mmmmmmalabrigo Scrunchable Toddler Scarf, about half done.
The perfect pattern for the perfect yarn.

And now, we are going to celebrate summer's last day with a family trip to get ginormous burgers. Mmmmm. Happy last day of summer to you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


1. Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, which makes me happier than you'd think, and I have no idea why. According to the Pirate Name Generator, my pirate name is Cap'n Shakira Dullblade. For staff meeting today, I made little signs for all the staff with their pirate names (shoutin' out to Fruity Lindsey Hornigold!). My husband, Ambiguous Edward Dregg, was not nearly as amused as I was. Somehow, that made it even more hilarious. But the best part of Talk Like a Pirate Day was that as I walked across the U-M campus, I actually saw a student dressed from head-to-toe like a pirate. Except for his backpack. I love Ann Arbor. ARRRRGH!

2. Every day I ask the boys what they want to be for Halloween, though they have no idea what Halloween is. Every day Tiny Dancer tells me, "a pig and a lion." I love this, because it is an unexpected answer and an incongruous pairing. He wants to be the pig and he wants Little Buddha to be the lion (which is what LB was last year). Today, Little Buddha said, "a pig and a giraffe." No way am I trying to put together a giraffe costume. So I've been trying to convince them to go for a pig and a cow, which would be a believable pairing, and not too hard for mommy to make. But neither wants to be the cow, or the giraffe, or the lion. They both want to be the pig. So I think we're going to have two pigs for Halloween. I think I'll get pink sweatsuits, try to sew little corkscrew tails on, and buy snouts. So all I have to figure out is the headpiece. I could just do a headband and make some ears to attach to it. Or I could try to sew a hood with ears on it. My latest thought is to knit the Kittyville hat from SnB but to knit it in pink so it would look like pig ears. Thoughts? Suggestions?

3. My new babysitter won't be here tomorrow because she's going to be on Oprah! It's a segment on motherhood, and she wrote a letter to the show and they liked it well enough to invite her. How cool is that?

4. I have a mental block on my lace inset cardigan. I've seamed the shoulders but have been hesitant to move forward with the collar. I'm daunted. So I've taken a tiny break and have started a scrunchable scarf (toddler size) in the Malabrigo Azul Profundo. I wish I had more than one skein of this colorway (an impulse buy at an LYS in Atlanta last spring). I looooove it. Of course when I showed it to LB and told him I was making it for him, his response was, "Red!"

5. I got my hair chopped off today. Well, chopped for me (about five inches).

It feels so fun to have short(er) hair! And I'm thrilled to finally find someone in A2 who can cut curly hair. [Please pretend like I'm not a total dork for standing by myself in my little bathroom doing a photo shoot of myself.]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The upside

There are three upsides to being sick.

1. Taking care of each other. Not only is it a privilege to get to take care of another person (or, in this case, three other persons) in their weakest, most vulnerable moments, it is a really touching thing to have someone take of me. My favorite moment: I was lying on the pullout sofa in the middle of the living room and the boys were jumping and crawling all over me. My Old Man explained to them that mommy had a tummy ache and they needed to be gentle. Little Buddha then prodded me on to my side and began to rub my back. Then Tiny Dancer wanted a turn. They just kept taking turns rubbing my back. It was so sweet I wanted to cry.

2. Losing weight. I lost 2.5 pounds in one day. I know it's not permanent, but man it makes me grin to see the scale dip down like that. I know. I'm very vain. And caught up in things that shouldn't matter. Yeah, I'm like that sometimes.

3. Feeling better. The great thing about being sick, is that when you start to feel better, it is such a contrast to how you had been feeling that you feel like you feel really really good. Or at least I do. I realize I probably only feel just as good as I did the day before I got sick, but relatively speaking it just feels so much better than that. In fact, I felt so good that I decided I could make a trip to my LYS. Just to get some needles for the felted clogs I'm going to make (since the children's clogs require 16" circs and my new KP Options do not offer a 16" option).

I really, really only meant to buy needles. Really. But, well, plans changed.

Yup. That's Malabrigo. Jewel Blue. I got 6 skeins of it. It's going to be the Zippered Raglan Cardigan from LMKG for My Old Man. I think this is going to be a perfect color on him. Remember what I said yesterday about Lorna's Laces maybe being my favorite yarn? Okay, so maybe that was an exaggeration. Maybe I should've clarified that Lorna's Laces is my favorite machine washable yarn. Or my favorite yarn for socks. Or my favorite yarn that my LYS doesn't carry.

Wanna see the Jewel Blue a little closer?

Is that yummy, or what?

Come on, come a little closer.

Yes, I agree, it does look like a little piece of heaven fell into my hands.

Oh, and that wasn't the only piece that came raining down on me.

Here's a little Polar Morn. Just one skein that I had to have. It might be the bumper for my boys' clogs, or it might be a striped edge in My Old Man's raglan. I couldn't decide, but I had to have it. Just looking at it made me think of sitting on a porch at a northern lake wrapped in a thick wool blanket sipping a cup of hot coffee while the morning fog floats over the water.

Um, yeah, I get a bit carried away in the yarn store.

But I'm not the only one.

Friday, September 15, 2006

At least it's not e. coli

After last week hit me like a ton of bricks, I really expected to play catch-up this week, on all the things I'm sooo far behind on. Or at least once I got through Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, with meetings every night. The wee hours of Thursday morning changed my best plans, when I woke up to, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy!" and then when I got to the room, "Uh-oh." Not that I needed the "uh-oh" to tell me what had happened, because the smell of it hit me as soon as I opened their door.

Little Buddha had lost his stomach, pretty much everywhere. And after a half hour of cleaning it all up and tending to him, Tiny Dancer woke and did the same. I stayed home from work to take care of my poor little sick ones (who braved the bug quite well), and then about midday it hit me (I do not brave such things well - I am terrible at being sick because I spend the whole time being miserable about all the stuff I'm not getting done). By last night, My Old Man was the only one still standing. By this morning, he had succumbed as well.

My mom called today to tell me about the e. coli outbreak. We live in one of the states that has been infected, and in fact we buy bagged fresh spinach quite regularly. There is even a bag of it in our refrigerator right now. But we hadn't yet opened it. So I'm pretty sure this is just a standard stomach bug. I'm feeling better already, and my three fellas all seem to be rounding the bend as well.

The worst part about it, other than watching two two year-olds be sick (and let me tell you, I have learned my lesson - you should not feed blueberries to a child who may not have yet recovered from such a virus, unless you enjoy seeing those same berries in partially digested form 12 hours later, and this time I'm not talking about blueberry poop, either), is that I've had all this time on my hands (having cancelled all appts.) and absolutely no energy to knit. This is how I know I'm really sick.

Still, even in sickness I find myself obsessed with all things fiber. I am making ridiculous plans for all kinds of fall and Christmas knits that I know I can't possibly manage. Meanwhile, today I received a package from Angelika's Yarn Store (lightning-quick shipping! - I ordered midday Wednesday - and the most gorgeous assortment of Lorna's Laces you can imagine). The package included the Fiber Trends patterns for the felted clogs (adult and children's). After nearly a year of following other people's obsession with this pattern, I finally gave into it myself. The package also included Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, in Tuscany, to make socks for my friend T. Such a lovely autumnal colorway. I Love Lorna's Laces. It may even be my favorite yarn (will the Malabrigo gods strike me down for saying such?).

I like to have pictures in my posts as much as possible. But there are no knitting pics to show right now. I could take a pic of my new patterns and yarn, but I haven't yet dumped the 297 pictures from my CF card and just don't want the hassle of trying to upload one pic while waiting for the computer to sort through all the others. So for now, a different kind of pic. A long time ago, I promised to post a pic of a non-knitted thing I had made for My Old Man on my retreat last spring. There was a woman on the retreat who works with stained glass, something that I would never consider to be my medium since it isn't fiber-related and involves more precision than I consider myself to have (not to mention a certain degree of caution). This woman brought all her materials and taught everyone who was interested how to make a cross. I didn't think I could do it, but I did. It was a truly therapeutic endeavor. It was more soothing to work with glass, copper, and a soldering iron than I would've imagined.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


In my household, of course that word could mean something potty-related (or, unfortunately, not potty-related but smeared-on-the-walls/floor/bed/toys/boys-related). But this time it just refers to the people in my household. We are all pooped, tired, drained, completely exhausted.

This week has steamrolled us all, as the beginning of the program year at church usually does, but man, it is just infinitely more exhausting now that there are kids involved. First we had to hire a new daytime sitter (props for craigslist, love my new sitter and her darling 3 year-old daughter who comes with her). Then for the times when we don't have her (like evenings or weekends) but we have work commitments, we either have to scramble to find someone else (which has been the case 5 times in the last 8 days) or we have to cart the boys off to church with us again to be in the nursery (which, thankfully, they love).

Added to all this is the fact that now that the boys' cribs have been dismantled and they have free reign in their room, naps have been happening less than half the time. They still spend two hours in their room each afternoon, but more often than not that time is spent playing, tearing things up, and harrassing each other. At 5:00 in the evening, two, two year-old boys who have not had naps can wear me out like nothing else I know of.

Then added to all this is the fact of my total ineptitude in dealing with the practical little details of normal life. This past week included really idiotic things like:
  • leaving my makeup bag in a public restroom and having to replace everything in it, including two things that were brand new
  • buying the wrong thing three different times in five days (a deep cleaner that I thought was a steam cleaner but it's not; a CD player alarm clock for the boys' room that isn't a CD player but has a line-in where you can attach a CD player to play through it; a new skirt for a wedding that was actually the one I meant to leave in the dressing room because it was too big, of course I didn't discover this until right before I had to go to the wedding)
  • losing the receipt to the most expensive of these three items (the deep cleaner)
  • having computer problems with boot-up (with a Mac! this isn't supposed to happen!), and doing the same wrong fix for an hour before I finally realized what I was doing
  • somehow ending up importing 295 duplicate photos when I was only trying to get two off that particular CF card
  • driving myself totally nuts trying to nail down lodging in Tuscany when none of the places I was looking at would've been a wrong choice
I make things so much more difficult than they need to be. Still. This week, and especially this weekend, a whole lot of things turned out way better than I expected. It has been a very good week.

And I got to hold a newborn today (born yesterday) - a definite perk of being a minister (the one hospital call I'm always thrilled to make). *Sigh*. I'd take a thousand crazy weeks if I could hold a newborn baby in every one of them.

Meanwhile, I am knitting. Just not taking pictures of my knitting till I get my CF card dumped. I'm almost done with the first sleeve of my lace inset cardigan (perhaps I will finish it tonight, but not if I'm wise. If I'm wise, I will go to bed immediately - I get up in less than 7 hours already. Actually, if I was wise, I'd be in bed already instead of blogging). What's left now is the other sleeve and the collar (the thing that sold me on this cardigan), then blocking and seaming. The current weather is perfect cardigan weather so I'm very ready to be wearing this baby.

And, finally, some pictures of pooped.

Little Buddha fell asleep in the middle of the wreckage he and Tiny Dancer had made of their room. Knee up, partway off the bed, head in a wire maze. Now that's pooped.

And yes, that is a toothbrush he's clutching.
And yes, he is asleep, even though his eyes are a little open. That's the way he does it.

If I'm not around much this week, you can assume I'm either trying to keep up with the speed of life, or trying to undo all the stupid little mistakes I've made in the process!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Solace of a Knitted Thing

I had been afraid that after spending so much time and focus on Cozy, I would end up not even using it. I've never worn shawls before (though I did do the poncho thing as a very young girl). But I knew the first time I saw Cozy that I had to make it. And it turns out, I needn't have worried about whether or not she'd get any use.

Every morning, after I've brushed my teeth and poured my coffee, I wrap Cozy around my shoulders while I sit and drink my coffee, have some quiet time, and do a little knitting. To wrap a silk shawl around my shoulders at 5:00 a.m., to sit for an hour alone, in silence, with that earthy goodness wrapped around me - it just starts my whole day right. No matter what else happens in a day, those few moments were just what I needed.

Later, when the boys get up, Tiny Dancer wants to sit in my lap under the shawl for a bit, while he wakes up.

Sometimes in the afternoon, when the boys are sleeping, I sit outside in the almost-autumn sun, on my bench swing, with Cozy wrapped around me, and I write.

I sometimes wear it in my study, the coldest room in the house, while I sit at the computer and work.

I wore it to church on Sunday, and I'll probably wear it to a wedding on Saturday.

And yesterday, when Tiny Dancer woke early from his nap, crying, I brought him to the living room, where he fell back asleep on my chest. For half an hour we lay there, with him snoring on me, and it was delightful. But then I really needed to get up and do work. I rolled out from underneath him and he whimpered. I put Cozy on top of him, and he went right back to sleep, for another half hour. There are no words for the tenderness I felt watching my little boy sleep peacefully under Mommy's handmade shawl.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Fun with knitwear

So this weekend I dug up some of the little things I knit last fall and winter. This was partly an exercise in nostalgia on the occasion of my pseudo-knittiversary (I learned how to knit in the spring of 2002, but not very well. I relearned, thanks to Knitting Help about this time last year). And it was partly in a desperate ploy to entertain the boys on a cold rainy weekend.

They were definitely entertained. We spent at least a half an hour just trying on mittens over and over again, and then taking turns trying on daddy's watchcap. They especially like pulling the cap down over their faces and playing "Where's Little Buddha/Tiny Dancer?" Little Buddha even rode all the way to the post office with me with the cap pulled down over his face.

Here they are, modeling
Picky Pants, toddler mitts, and daddy's cap.

And here's a totally different look. My first scarves.
With sunglasses, of course.

Little Buddha makes some sort of fashion statement.
I laugh every time I look at this picture.

Last year, I couldn't get them to wear a scarf or hat or mittens. Ever. I'm so glad they're at a stage where they appreciate the things I make!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Actual Knitting Progress - and Regress

So a few days ago I cast on for Sweater Babe's Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan and I have made quick progress. (What a difference to go from knitting fingering weight on size 0s to knitting bulky on size 13s!). I love the pattern and love the yarn (Lamb's Pride Bulky). As of yesterday morning, I was done with the back and halfway done with the left front. Here's what it looked like.

Last night, My Old Man and I watched part of a DVD together, which gave me primo knitting time. I made major progress and felt certain I could complete the left front before the boys got up this morning.

Got up early this morning, took care of something other things, then finally settled down to knit. I stared at what I had done. And realized that last night I had totally skipped the whole binding off for the armhole part! Back at row 43! Guess where I started last night? Row 43! So basically I have to unknit everything I did last night. So as soon as I get it frogged, my project will look like this.

That's what I get for knitting while watching Weeds.