Thursday, May 31, 2007

Little Boys of Three

Little Boys of Three
Look tenderly on little boys of three,
Their softness is as fleeting as a flower.
The cheeks like petals such a little hour,
The deepest dimple theirs so transiently;
Even tomorrow softness may be hard.
The little cotton cushions on the knees
turned into bony knobs for climbing trees.
The fists so like a rose grow lean and scarred.
His full moon cheeks will narrow to a line,
the silken hair becomes a brush of bristle,
As Mother's little flower turns to thistle,
And there will linger not one little sign
To prove the cuddly cupid that was he.
Look tenderly on little boys of three.


Little Buddha
born 31 May 2004, 1:56 p.m.
6 lbs. 8 oz., 19 1/2"

Tiny Dancer
born 31 May 2004, 1:58p.m.
6 lbs. 8 oz., 20"

The woman in this picture honestly has no idea of how much her life has just changed.

Little Buddha
Loves animals, words, books, clothes, and exploring the mechanics of things.
Possibly the most observant little guy I've ever known.
Total mama's boy.
Tiny Dancer
Loves animals, music, dancing, books, puzzles, and jumping from great heights.
Possibly the most sensitive and expressive little guy I've ever known.
Total ladies' man.

I believe that making new people may be humanity's most hopeful act. Three years ago today, my own hope for the future was born. And in a way, I was born too. Born a mama, born into a new kind of vulnerability, and strength, and a fierce kind of love. Thank you, my little boys, for making me a mother, for giving me new reasons for love and hope, and for being your amazing, charming, beautiful selves. Happy 3rd birthday, little men. Here's to many more!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What I'm working on, what I'm not. And what I will be.

Firstly, let me thank you for your kind comments and good vibes for Cathy. Her six-hour brain surgery yesterday went well - the tumor was completely removed, and the nerve it was on (the balance nerve) was not damaged. Hooray!

Thanks, too, for the assurances about my knitting mojo. It has been disappointing not to have finished something I had such high hopes for, but I have let it go and am moving on. Still don't know what Cathy's socks will be yet, but I know they will be, sometime this summer.

In the meantime, I have dabbled with another little bit of knitting. For Mother's Day, Tiny Dancer gave me this yarn:

KnitPicks Shimmer, in Turquoise Splendor

Okay, truth be told, I picked it out and ordered it. Still, he was pleased as could be to give it to me, and I think he'll be even more pleased when I have a finished shawl to show him and to remind him that he gave me the yarn for.
I'm working on the the Shoulder Shawl in Syrian pattern from Victorian Lace Today (the book was also a Mother's Day gift, from My Old Man). The pattern is super-easy, though I'm afraid I won't think so when it's time to make the border. And I really love the yarn and, in particular, this colorway. So you noticed that this just so happens to be the same colorway this same shawl was shown in in the Spring KnitPicks catalog? Well, it's true - and not the first time I've gone with the exact same color a pattern is shown in. The power of suggestion - it is quite strong over me.

What's interesting to me about this knit is that, in addition to imagining myself wearing it at the beach in July (*fingers crossed* that I actually get it done by then), I also find myself dwelling a lot on fond remembrances of my trip to the Middle East exactly 12 years ago. And I only just now realized why that might be - because that trip included several days in Syria, and of course this shawl is in a so-called Syrian pattern. See? I wasn't joking about the whole power of suggestion thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm a marketer's dream.

This is the only thing on my needles right now. Well, if you don't count what's about to be frogged (Cathy's Charade Socks) or what is hibernating (My Old Man's zippered raglan) or what isn't supposed to be hibernating but that I find I am not working on: the Tomten. Megan so generously - and quickly - sent me three skeins of KnitPicks Sierra in Pool when she read about my Tomten disaster. But the moment was lost. The Knitting Mojo, she is a fickle thing. I do have almost a whole tomten done now (minus one sleeve and a contrast border), but I only pick it up every several days, and then I only knit a few rows. I guess once I realized I wasn't going to get them both done in time for spring, I lost my zeal to Get Them Done Right Now. And now that the weather is warm, I have warmer weather projects on my mind. Fortunately, they are big enough that I think they will fit for a long time. Maybe I'll even get them both done in time for fall (even though they are in spring colors; I'm sure the boys won't mind. Okay, maybe Little Buddha will mind. He's kind of picky about what he wears.)

So that's what I'm working on, and what I'm not. Now, on to what I will be. Because I know you're dying to know.

Ali at Skeins Her Way is having a Pre-Summer Contest. The prize - the pattern she wrote and some Blue Sky Alpacas cotton to knit it in. The rules - pick which color cotton you would want, and then write a post outlining your summer knitting goals. (Oh, and if you jump over there and enter from here and mention that I referred you - then I get an extra entry. And I know you really want me to win, right? Because what better cure is there for the sad loss of mojo? Don't you think I need to win a little something? Oh wait! I just did!)

So without further adieu. Here are my knitting goals for this summer:
1 - Shoulder Shawl in Syrian Pattern (see above) - for me
2 - Socks for Cathy
3 - Socks for Sockapalooza Pal
4 - Two Tomtens for my boys (*ahem* okay maybe I won't finish them, but I hope at least to work on them!)
5 - Tempting for me - here's the yarn for it (a Mother's Day gift from Little Buddha - please notice that it's not even the color featured in the original pattern!)

KnitPicks Shine Worsted, Green Apple

All in all, I'd say that's a fairly modest list, given my usual ambitious tendencies. The reasons for this are: a) I realize the shawl is likely to take a whole lot of my knitting time, and b) my to-sew list has grown unwieldly beyond belief (you know it's bad when the people cutting the fabric at the sewing store for you comment on how many projects you are apparently planning to pull off!)

So, there ya have it. Everything you could possibly want to know about what I'm knitting, what I'm not, and what I will be.

Monday, May 28, 2007

For Cathy

It has happened to other knitbloggers, I know. The dreaded loss of the knitting mojo. Now I fear it has happened to me, too. Ever since I finished Julie's clogs, I have been off my game. It's not that I don't have things I want to make - my list is as long as ever. I've just lost a certain something - energy, focus, time, I don't know.

At the top of my priority list has been a pair of socks for my friend Cathy. Cathy is one of the coolest, wisest people I know. To wit, she is a knitter, a musician, a Canadian, a clergywoman, a contemplative. She is also having brain surgery tomorrow. There is a benign tumor growing in her head and it needs to come out. One definite result will be total loss of hearing in one ear. If you are a musician (Cathy plays the violin), then you understand what a devastating loss this will be. One possible result is facial drop. I'm sure Cathy's face will be just as beautiful if this happens, but I hope along with her that it doesn't happen.

Ever since Dave sent me this gorgeous eggplant-colored sock yarn, I've known it was going to become socks for Cathy. One of the first things I ever knew about Cathy was that she liked to wear purple socks. Also, since the yarn arrived from Dave in Ontario, I thought it would be kind of cool that it would go back to Ontario in the form of socks. And I wanted to send them to her in time for her surgery. Seeing that the surgery is tomorrow, this isn't going to happen.

I wanted these socks to be really, really nice. Partly because I want any gift I give to be nice. Partly because these are for another knitter. And partly because of the occasion I'm giving them for seems to call for something a little special. Deciding on a pattern proved to be unbelievably difficult. I wanted something that would look good in a solid color, but was not lace. I wanted it to be elegant without being frou-frou, and simple without being boring.

Turns out I have gauge issues. No matter what, I cannot get 9 stitches to an inch with this yarn, even on size 0 dpns. So that ruled out the socks I originally planned to make (Mim's Blessing socks, which would require 75 stitches to accomodate the colorwork design, which at my 7.5 sts/inch would've turned out ridiculously large). After much searching, I decided to go with the simple, elegant Charade socks. A lovely herringbone rib that looks equally good in variegated yarn or solid. So I cast on.

And then I lost my knitting mojo.

This is how far I got before I decided that the mistakes I have made in this pattern were just too many. You can't tell so much in this picture, but the socks just aren't what they should be. I'm not sure what's happening (it is NOT the pattern, which is perfect), but every now and then it's like I just don't know at all how to knit. The mistakes are ridiculous, stupid mistakes. I mean, seriously, the pattern is about as simple as could be without being stockinette, so why do I keep randomly throwing in a whole round of mess? I don't know what's going on, maybe it's the weight of the occasion for these socks, but whatever the reason, these socks are not happening. Also, they are a bit slouchy. And in a couple of places, the yarn seemed to split or fuzz oddly (you might be able tos ee evidence of it in the heel), something I probably could've attended to before knitting those places into the sock.

I wanted so much to send her a pair of lovely socks to let Cathy know of my love, and concern, and prayers as she faced this surgery. Those things are all still true, even though there will be no socks now till her recovery. Still, I'm disappointed.

I will make some socks for her, and soon (once I find the right pattern, and also get my mojo back). In the meantime, if you're a praying person, would you mind saying a little prayer for Cathy? And if you're not, would you mind just sending good healing vibes towards Hamilton, Ontario?

This is Cathy in Italy, on her 49th birthday last November, looking out at Subiaco, where St. Benedict lived in a cave for three years and began to formulate his Rule. It was a gorgeous, perfect day, and a sublime place. As Cathy goes through surgery tomorrow, this is the picture I will hold of her - standing on a high place, on the threshold of a new terrain, a whole new world laid out before her, but one that is beautiful, and good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Is she, or isn't she?

She isn't. But if you saw her in this, wouldn't you wonder?

It's no secret that I wouldn't mind having another baby (note: that is ONE baby. Not two at a time, ever again.) But after losing 73 of the 86 pounds I gained during my pregnancy, and being most definitely NOT pregnant, I really don't care to wear anything that might give that impression. And this? So gives that impression.

I look five months pregnant! (Of course, when I actually was five months pregnant, I was measuring as seven months pregnant. I definitely couldn't have wedged myself into this little thing.) [must admit that for this pic I am doing the pregnant sway-back thing a bit for emphasis, and not holding my tummy in the way I usually do]

I have seen tops from this pattern - Built by Wendy, Simplicity 4111 - all over the web and thought it looked so cute. At first I was a little concerned that the shape of it was a tad maternity-ish, but after I saw this one, I was convinced it didn't have to. I had fallen in love with the fabric while making a patchwork tablecloth with it (pics to come one of these days) and decided I had to make a top out of it.

Thing is, I never seem to learn. No matter what the measurements say (and I do go by body measurements, not my usual clothing size), I should always make my clothes one size smaller than indicated. Because the big problem with this top is that there is too much material both front and back, which makes it hang not close enough to my body. I really think without the extra fabric, I might not look pregnant. Also, there is this:

Jumbo sleeves. Even with the elastic threaded in, the sleeves are several inches larger than my wrists.

Other than all the extra fabric, it's really kind of a cute top, and comfy.

But how can I make it cuter (in a non-maternity way)? I haven't hemmed it yet because I wanted to get advice from all you seamstresses out there on how I should modify it. Should I take it apart and cut it down a bit? (including sleeves?) Should I try to put some waist shaping in? Should I take the elastic out of the sleeves and let them just be loose?

Or should I just get pregnant? ;)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Merry Christmas!

You know, at Chez Earthchick, we stay behind on things. Way behind. I can't keep up with emails, blogging, chores, or my to-do list. And let's don't even talk about the last time I updated my checkbook. So it should come as no surprise that I am nearly five months late with someone's Christmas present. I'd love to try to call it seven months early, but the fact is I gave my friend Julie a gift certificate last Christmas, promising her a knitted item of her choice. Smart chick, she chose the clogs.


(my first variegated pair)

pattern: Felted Clogs by Fiber Trends
yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, in Chestnut Brown for cuff and sole, and Rosewood for upper
needles: KP Options size 13
size: Women's medium (for a size 8 foot)
started: April 27
finished: May 9
modifications: I don't mess with a good thing
verdict: As usual, a delightful knit. I adore this pattern. This time it took me longer than usual, because life keeps interfering with knitting. Okay, not just life. Also Ravelry. Under normal circumstances, I can usually get a pair of these done in 5 or 6 days. The Patons Merino felted much more quickly than the WOTA I usually use. In fact, I'm afraid these might be a tad small. They are supposed to be a size 8 (which is Julie's shoe size), but they are pretty perfect on my size 7 feet. In fact, though this is the fourth pair of these clogs I've made, it's the first I've ever actually been able to try on myself (the first two pairs were child's sizes, and the third pair, a women's large, was way too big for me). I must say, I'm pretty tempted to keep these. But since it will probably be Christmas before I can get another pair knit, I'd best send them on.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

I took a break from spending every free moment cataloging my knitting projects, plans, and yarn over at Ravelry to go to a Cinco de Mayo party at church. You'd be surprised at how well a bunch of Anglo Midwestern churchgoers can celebrate such a day. Granted, there was no tequila or Mexican cerveza, but dude. There were cupcakes.

Thanks to Mariko, I am always making cupcakes these days. Ever since she recommended the Cake Doctor's cupcake book, I find a reason to make a batch at least once a month. These are Brooklyn Blackout Cupcake (sans chocolate filling) with Buttercream Frosting. Festive, no?

And speaking of festive:

Tiny Dancer sports his first sombrero.

Tiny Dancer prepares to swing at his first pinata.

And, clearly, I am not above inflicting matchiness on others. Though I must admit it's cuter on 2 year-old twins than on a pair of 19 year-old cousins.

Watching the pinata-swinging.
Hope your Cinco de Mayo was festive, too. Ole!

Now back to Ravelry....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hey look! I knit something!

Mark this date down: May 3, 2007 - earthchicknits actually features some knitting.

It's a pair of Monkeys!

And they are mine, all mine!
And I love them!

pattern: Monkey by the fabulous Cookie A
yarn: Brooklyn Handspun, Winter Sunrise (a lovely combination of pink, light orange, and lavender), 480 yds, gifted to me by the fabulous Dave
needles: size 0 rosewood dpns
started: April 12, I think
finished: April 27
modifications: just a couple:

I love a picot cuff, so that's what I did. I CO 60 (instead of the 64 the pattern calls for) to make up for the snugness I would be losing by not doing the twisted rib (I based this calculation on the Simply Lovely Lace Socks pattern I knit last summer). Then after the picot rounds and a few more rounds, I increased by 4 before starting the pattern.

And I did an Eye of Partridge heel.
In retrospect, I kind of wished I had just done the heel as written (plain stockinette), because between the pattern of the sock and the variegation of the yarn, I don't think it really needed any extra movement.


Sandal weather, new spring socks, and a sweet cat. What's not to love?

And now, something I may regret. But Rachel asked for it, so here ya go:

earthchick and cousin
Easter 1991
ages 19 and 19

And though I claimed only the Easter matchiness, the trend sadly extended far past a once-a-year phenomenon.

earthchick and cousin
not Easter, 1981
ages 9 and 9

And worst of all:

earthchick and cousin
on our way to aerobics, 1987
ages 15 and 15

Woah. You may need to poke your eyes out after that one. Sorry! Maybe this will help. Here, look! Knitting!