Saturday, December 29, 2007

Peace, spinning, & knitting

After many days with overexcited children I am now alone for a few days. They were quite happy to be going back to their dad's, and because of pretty constant bickering... I was excited too.

I finished the EZ BSJ! I was watching the skein of Fiesta Boomerang dwindle (the color is caribbean, not alaska) and hoping I would have enough, but no. I finished off the edges with a little bit of handspun. My fiber of the month from Spunky Eclectic - it's the lovely merino/tencel blend dyed in the Colorado colorway. I spun it into a 3-ply so it's a little more bulky and rumpled the edge a little, but it's blocking right now and doesn't look bad. The shoulder seems were the issue for me. I suck at seaming garter stitch. Others seem to find it easier than I do, if there's a trick, I haven't found it yet (and I've been looking). My solution was to single chain crochet along the top. I only had enough remaining yarn to do the seams, nothing around the neck. Now, I'm contemplating crochet around the rest of the opening. Hmmm. Have to think about that a little more.

baby surprise jacket

After my adventure to my LYS to spend my most generous gift certificate, and a conversation with Anne - yarn goddess - applied I-cord will become the neck treatment. And I found the perfect buttons there, too! I got some Brown Sheep for felted clogs, some Fortissima for Priscilla Gibson-Roberts Scandinavian socks (I got the Vogue Ultimate Sock Book for the holidays too). Some beautiful Hempathy just because I've always wanted to try it, and some Noro Iro.


It has been cloudy for days so I only have relatively crappy indoor shots of Odessa. The lovely top

odessa top

And the side


I love this hat! It is so soft and pleasing.

My first toe-up sock in Interlacements Tiny Toes. Right now I find it more fiddly than a top-down. Maybe after I get going a bit I'll be more fond of it.

toe-up sock

I'm almost done with Bowen's pair of socks and, for the first time ever, I found I have a "bad" skein of Opal! No problems through the fist sock, but I've found four places where the yarn was almost split completely. It's at regular intervals, so it seems to be a machine glitch, but it was pissing me off. I'm saving the scraps for invisible cast-ons. I hate throwing away yarn.

I've started Bowen's sweater. Since it's raining (a good thing, here in the drought) I'm hunkered down with piles of knitting around me. I'll have to do a little housework soon, my parents are coming on Wednesday - which means I'm bunking with Chicky - and her room is a mess. Most of the time I deal with the children's rooms by not looking in them. I may have to go stand in her room for a minute to get motivated.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Staying up late, waiting for my carcass to simmer

Not my own - the turkey breast - for stock. After a very long night of overexcited children not going to sleep AND bothering me while I was trying to wrap presents, I am staying up late for me (past 10 pm),again.

Chicky came and got in bed with me around midnight (I thought she was the only one asleep around 11, but I was wrong). The boys were pure bananaheads. They kept knocking on my door and whining, "We can't go to sleep. What should we do?" I kept telling them to go lie down. I did not tell them that this was great practice for later in life when they would be awake for hours on end with no way to get to sleep, and no apparent cause for the sleeplessness.

I think the neighbors across the street might have the right idea. I'll be honest with you, every year I secretly curse them because they make their children run around from 8-10 pm in the yard. They are between 12 and 16 years old (three of them) and they are very loud. Their loud antics did not help my people and my sleep campaign either. I was playing the Charlie Brown Christmas CD as loud as was sensible, given my plan to LULL the children to sleep, and the neighbors were much louder. Morgan wanted to call the police because they were bothering him. I laughed to myself and told him what they were doing was not against the law, it was merely annoying. Next year, I'm tossing my three into the mix and then I can wrap presents in peace.

The children were up at 7:20 am to open gifts. They were pleased and spent the day in and out of their new sleeping bags (Chicky most of the time with the guinea pig in her bag, too). One of my presents, a lovely hefty gift certificate to my local LYS, I am saving for some time when I can shop without the children in tow. They tolerate a yarn store, but I feel the pressure of their glaring eyes, and hear their weighty sighs. Some treats are meant to be enjoyed alone.

I started Grumperina's Odessa hat on Sunday, my knitting mojo was not with me that day, and I kept repeatedly fucking up the K3, P2 ribbing. I was just not focused enough. Later on that day, I made a very focused effort, and was whizzing along after that. I finished the hat this morning and all is well. It is blocking as I write. Then I immediately cast on for a new attempt at the EZ Baby Surprise Jacket, using Fiesta Yarns Boomerang in the Alaska colorway. A co-worker is due in February and I need to get hopping. So far, I love the colors. Perfect for the new boy baby. Pictures tomorrow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wee sweaters & Cocoa

To start, here are the wee sweaters I've made so far. Morgan pointed out that these do not need to be limited to Christmas at all. The use of "regular" sock yarn makes them appropriate year round. Thank you, my son.

wee sweater 1

sweater ornament 2

sweater ornament 3

Today, the children and I went to see The Golden Compass and enjoyed ourselves. I love the books and was happy with the screen adaptation - Lyra had some lovely knitwear, I must say. Hey, could I just knit for movies? If that's a job, sign me right the fuck up, please. We also had a theological discussion on the way home (about the movie, not the knitwear). I had debated whether or not to read the books aloud to the children for that very reason. I thought that the scope was too big, and purposefully not giving them any particular religious instruction would have been a hindrance in this case. Don't ask me why the movie was ok when I wouldn't read the book. I've changed my mind, that's why. Now, happily, they have decided it's next on the list of Books Mom Reads Aloud. Yea!

After much wheedling and pleading we have new guinea pig. We have had many guinea pigs in our lives over the past decade. Chicky is a small animal whisperer. Really, they love her. She asked for a new pig, had enough money saved, and has promised to clean it's cage and feed it (when she is here). I have the pleasure of introducing you to the sweetest cavy this side of the Mississippi, the lovely Cocoa.


Her right side

coco right side

And her left

cocoa left side

Guinea pig love is here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Steve and wee sweaters

Steve Earle is up for two Grammy's this year. The first for best contemporary folk/Americana album and the second for best vocals with wife #7, Allison Moorer. He's also got a small North American tour going on soon. The closest he'll come to me is Chicago, which is about as close as the moon for my practical purposes. Damn. He used to have a thing for Asheville, but now that he's all converted New York City Boy I don't know if it still holds something special for him.

Jared has made some perfect sweater ornaments. I think part of their extreme wee perfection may come from being carefully steamed. Three sweet little sweaters have come off the needles today. Please note, mine are not blocked or steamed - I'm having my sweater ornaments rustic or just-out-of-the-box, if you know what I mean. I'm going to try a different increase tomorrow, but these may be the gift next year. I'm feelin' the love already.

My day off wasn't technically work, but it wasn't rest either. I was a rotten parent last year, and due to extreme stress did not participate much in the classroom, or even donate delicious delicacies to teacher appreciation lunches. In order to make up for my slackness I told the boys' teacher from last year I would bring him a roasted potato tart with rosemary, sauteed mushrooms and melted Gruyere tomorrow. I used to make tarts and sell them, but I stopped when I was vegan. Now that I am back to being an omnivore I recalled how much I like them. Normally, men do not even think they want a tart, but I know Brent and his family are foodies, so it seemed worth the effort. It smelled so lovely while baking.... I may be making another soon.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mittens, a sock, and a cold

Last week, when it was briefly cold here in North Carolina, I realized Chicky had no mittens. I let her borrow my handspun mohair/romney gauntlets, but that was hard for me, and not really warm enough for her. I told her while she was at her dad's for the weekend I would knit her a pair. Bowen, sitting beside her on the sofa, looked at me with eyes welling with tears and said, "but what about my socks?" I said, "Sweetie, I'm working on your socks but your sister has no mittens and I can make her a pair very quickly." (Actual tears were coming out of my ten year old son's eyes) "But, I'm just afraid my feet will grow more before you finish them!" I assured him that I could knit more if that happened, but that I was close to the end of the first one. I even let him try it on (which helped him feel better). I finished the sock on Sunday and have started the other. Who knew there'd be tears over the handknits?

Bowen's sock #1 in Opal - no idea which one. He hates much of a cuff so it was quick, once I sat down and actually knit the thing.

bowen sock #1

Chicky's mittens in Fiesta Baby Boom, colorway Alaska. I really love all the Fiesta yarns I've tried (except for my poor color combo on the frogged chevron scarf, and that was all me.)

chicky's mitts

A new cold attacked me last week and it has now settled in my lungs - ugh. I am taking the day off tomorrow to rest, but then realized that my sons have a presentation at school. I guess a little rest is better than none at all.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Catalogs be damned!

During this lovely holiday season I have been receiving, on average, at least three and sometimes as many as eight catalogs a day. I like a catalog. I buy from catalogs. This is a kind of advertising waste and pace I can't keep up with and it pisses me off in general. Now the catalog waste has even affected my knitting. How could that be? Well, last week I got a new paperback knitting book with traditional sweater styles. I remember opening it and briefly looking at it. I remember seeing it on the dining room table with the pile of catalogs it came with that day. I have torn the house apart tonight looking for the $26 book and I fear it has been accidentally recycled since I have been tossing catalogs in the bin daily. To say I'm bummed right now is an understatement. I am in agony! AAAGH!

I think I need to go work on Chicky's mittens and calm down a bit.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The call of the wheel

I have a NEW WHEEL! She is an Ashford Traditional, single-drive with a double treadle (I know, Alden Amos claims a double treadle is unnecessary unless there is something wrong with your legs, but I like it.) My first wheel is a Louet S 17 kit that I proudly put together myself. I like that wheel, but when I treadle I have to put my left foot on the bottom of it so it doesn't move, and it gives me shin splints if I treadled too long! So, only having ever spun on an upright style wheel, it seemed like a double treadle would be the way to go. I do like it, I am stressing each leg equally, and my shins haven't hurt at all. The traddy has higher ratios than my other wheel, it doesn't make this amazing squeak that hindered my spinning after the children were asleep, and it's a thing of beauty. In my mind, the picture of the wheel is in some bucolic setting... rather than my house. Please use your imagination and create a meadow in the background with a few sheep grazing about and minding the shepherdess.

new ashford traditional

I've spun half my October fiber from Spunky Eclectic on the traddy. The lazy kate that came with the wheel is not tensioned, so I'm trying the re-loading of the bobbins before I ply so I won't have the tangled mess I did last time. Yikes! I was too excited the first time, and decided to ply beyond a reasonable hour for me (the clock strikes 10 pm and I turn into a pumpkin). I was plying tired, people, never a good combo. There was cussing, tangling, and general crankiness. The yarn doesn't look too bad though. I want the yarn to ply, not one strand twist around the other, and I only manage to do that successfully about half the time. Sigh. I'm reading Alden and following all the instructions carefully. I'll let you know how it goes.

goblin eyes spun

The silk pouch is finished. I didn't do the i-cord drawstring because of the unevenness of the yarn. I did i-cord straps for the Himalaya Tote with the Mango Moon recycled silk and I did not have a good time, so I decided to use a more knitter-friendly drawstring method. I think it works fine. The only problem is that I cannot give an empty pouch as a gift to someone. Maybe chocolate inside?

silk pouch

Tonight I'm going to spin, of course, and work some more on various socks. Sounds lovely.