29 December 2006

Handspun Wooly Goodness

I finished spinning the singles from my wool/silk roving last night and started plying it. I finished with the plying this morning and am very pleased with the result. Here is a picture of the plied yarn on the spindle:

And here is a close up of the yarn:

I still need to wind it off the spindle into a hank, lightly wash the yarn to set the twist, and let it dry before I can start knitting with it. I am planning on making myself either a hat or a pair of mittens (or both if there is enough yarn).

Now I have spun up all of the roving I had. I will have to decide whether the kids and I need to make a trip to the farm where we got the spindle and roving or if I can wait until February. In mid-February, we are planning to go to see a sheep-shearing at a farm in Oregon, WI. The website mentioned that they would have roving available for sale. We'll have to get the rest of the way through the holidays, use up the yarn gift certificates and see how the knitting is going before I decide.

This, that, and the other

We did our normal Friday library trip and realized after we got there that school isn't in session. It was a zoo! While I think it's great that there are so many kids at the library, the branch library we go to is a very tiny one in a strip mall, so it doesn't take many people at all to make it feel chaotic and clausterphobic. As a result, it was a quick trip! We picked out our videos (Bug's job while Bean and I put our return items in the slot), picked a couple of books, tried to play with the trains for a few minutes, and then picked up our holds and made a get-away!

On Sunday, we head to Iowa to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and cousins on Monday. Bug is very excited. Every morning, he asks, "See cousins today?" and we say the days that are left. Today on the way home from the library, his little voice piped up from the back seat, "On Sunday we're going across the Mississippi, then turn right and go to Grandma's to see Grandma and Charlie." I'm glad to know we have a navigator on the job!

This morning, Bug had three toy kitties on the dining room table. Using a squeaky kitty voice, each of the kitties said, "Me first," "Me first," and "No, me first." Using his regular voice, he explained to the kitties that they had to take turns and helped them get into a line to do so. If that doesn't make a Mommy proud!! Is it too early to say that I think I am liking four better than two or three?

28 December 2006

If you don't have a healthy respect for knitters...

you darn well should. Fortunately, knitters are good people and use their considerable power for good, not evil.

Haunted House

This was the conversation that Bean and I repeated at least 42 times last night before going to sleep:

Bean: "Boo"
Mommy: [inhales sharply]
Bean: "You gare mama?"
Mommy: "Yes, I was very scared!"
Bean: [riotous giggles]
On a few of the repetitions, the third and fourth lines were
Bean: "You hoe-kay mama?"
Mommy: "Yes, sweetie, mama is fine."

27 December 2006

New knitting project

I have already knit a sweater each for Bug and Bean, but they took so long that Bean's was too small and Bug only got to wear his once last winter. Bug's green sweater fits Bean nicely now, so Bug really needed a sweater of his own. I decided a while ago to scrap the sleeveless shell that I was going to make for myself and, instead, use the yarn to make Bug a sweater. I started it this weekend and it is perking along nicely (having Daddy off work for a few days means more knitting time available!!!).

Here is the start of the body and part of one sleeve. Even though the standard directions say knit the body up to the armpits, knit one sleeve, knit the other sleeve and then attach them and finish the sweater, I decided to switch to a sleeve about 1/3 of the way through the body. Once I finish the sleeve, I'll do another 1/3 of the body and then do the other sleeve. I think it will break up the monotony of the endless stockinette in the body!

When I was updating my WIPs on the sidebar, I decided that I definitely have to just bite the bullet and finish several very-nearly-done projects. I got gift certificates to KnitPicks and a LYS for Christmas, so there should be new yarn in the not-too-distant future! Which means new projects!! I am trying to decide whether I should try and finish projects up this week, or load up a bag of unfinished stuff for my car knitting when we got to Iowa next Sunday. The current ignored and languishing list includes:

  • Bloomers for the Crumpets dress - put elastic in the waistband
  • Candle Flame Shawl - weave in four yarn ends and block (obviously can't do that in the car!)
  • The Ball-band Swiffer Cover - finish the straps over the back of the swiffer and weave in ends
  • Kitty Daddy's Hawkeye Scarf - That I gave him half-finished for Christmas last year and didn't finish knitting until the weather was too warm for scarves. As a result, I never got around to weaving in the ends. I was working the dissertation, I had a good excuse, but that excuse is gone now!!!
Man, oh man, am I pathetic. The first two would take about five minutes apiece, and the other two not much longer if I would just sit down and DO THEM!!!

I think my knitting New Year's resolution needs to be to get things off the WIP list and on to the FO list sooner after knitting the last stitch.

Showin' off the Grandma and Grandpa loot

Since we couldn't spend the holidays with my family, here are a few pictures for them (we will be going to see Kitty Daddy's family next weekend, so there will be more pics coming!). Here is a picture of Chai checking out our Christmas tree, moments before chaos ensued:

Since my stash of Christmas wrap is still in storage, we just bought one jumbo roll of paper, so everything was wrapped in the same paper. Pretty boring, but bearable, since we didn't dare put any presents out until the very last moment!

This is Bean's new doll house. She loves moving around the dolls and the furniture. When she lays a doll down in the bed, she says, "Nigh, nigh." When she sits a doll on a chair or sofa, she says, "Dit, Cha-ah." When she puts a doll on the tractor from Bug's farm, she says, "Wye-ee tra-toh." Very cute!

Bug got this farm set, made by the same company as Bean's dollhouse. Clearly, the biggest problem with the new Christmas toys is getting the three kids to share and play nice! Okay, fine, I'll 'fess up. All four of us are having fun!

Kitty Daddy's new favorite thing is his Star Wars reference book. He'll be able to read it while snuggled up in his new Star Wars fleece blanket from me. We got the fleece yesterday. I had planned to have the fabric before Christmas, but the coupons I had set aside managed to disappear!

25 December 2006

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is having (or has had) a wonderful Christmas! We opened presents last night and had Christmas dinner this evening. More on the presents later, but for dinner tonight we had Grandma O's Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, gravy, and lefse. And, it was the good lefse. We got it at Fosdal's Bakery in Stoughton, so it wasn't the fakey stuff you get at most grocery stores.

Although we wish we could have spent the holiday with family and friends, we still had a lovely holiday with just the four of us (or seven if you count the "wildlife").

23 December 2006

"Wood" you like a snack?

One of Bug's birthday presents from mom and dad were a set of wooden fruits and veggies. I am just enamored of them. Of course, having picked them out, I am probably a bit biased. In the basket are:

A pear that can be cut in two, a bunch of grapes (doesn't do anything), watermelon for slicing, a radish that can be cut in two, an orange and a head of garlic, each of which can be halved.
A banana (that doesn't do anything), a mushroom that can be cut in two, an apple that can be cut in quarters, an eggplant and a green pepper that can be sliced and a half avocado with a pit that can be removed. Except for the watermelon (which has a magnet), the slicing action uses velcro dots, so it makes a nice "crunch" when slicing. There is also a wooden knife to do the slicing with. I thought I had it in one of the pictures, but of course, laying the food out for a photo shoot meant that both kids were immediately driven to cook something!

Both kids have been having a lot of fun with the fake food, which is good since I also picked up some additional wooden food for Christmas (shhh...don't tell them!!!), so more pictures will be coming. Just for the record, the eggplant is actually the color of an eggplant...the flash photo didn't do good things to the colors!

22 December 2006

From the department of vital statistics

Bug had his well-child check-up on Tuesday, and I am finally remembering to post his stats. He is 41¼". That is right around the 75th percentile for his age and only ¾" from being tall enough to ride the water slide at the city pool next summer (a very important goal!). He weighs in at 41 pounds, which is right around the 85th percentile. Since he has long been a tall, skinny dude, I kind of suspect that he might be due to shoot up soon. Just as long as he gets his ¾" before the city pool opens next spring.

21 December 2006

I'm dreaming of a WHITE Christmas...

or at least one that isn't soggy! We have had rain all day. We walked over to the apartment office to deliver some Christmas cookies and to get our parking tag and both kids had a ball jumping in puddles. By the time we got back home, we had two sets of soggy shoes, soggy socks, and soggy jeans. Well, okay, muddy too. Great fun, but definitely not December 21st weather!

18 December 2006

Bug's Big Project

While Bean and Mama were watching the end of "The Muppets Take Manhattan," Bug was busy working on a big project. When he (and the movie) finished, he insisted that Mama take pictures to capture this for posterity. Well, as long as we are going for posterity, why not blog it as well! Bug put together three beds on the living room floor.

This one is Bug's, using his blue binkit. Things to notice include the library book, which is blue like the blanket and the official bed car (a green Range Rover) he picked out.

The next bed was constructed for Bean with the yellow binkit that actually belongs to Mama, but that Bug has decided is also his. Bug picked out Daddy's Star Wars pillow for this one, because the yellow letters match the blanket. Sneetches and Other Stories was the book of choice, since the yellow Sneetches (Star-Bellied and otherwise) also match the blanket. Bean was also provided with a bed car (a white pick-up).

Last, but not least, is Mama's bed. I got my big penguin binkit, since I am the biggest. My book is Green Eggs and Ham, and I have Sam-I-Am to keep me company. I also have a bed car that is a white city bus.

Before pictures, we had to drag Daddy downstairs to admire. He asked where his bed was. Bug told him (with an are-you-serious look), "Upstairs in the bedroom." The two of us will have to work out whether it is a bigger honor to have a specially constructed bed or one with an actual mattress.

17 December 2006

Happy Birthday Bug!

It seems impossible that this great big boy is the same newborn I was cuddling four years ago! Where does time go?? We had a cozy little family party. We had "cheesy noodles" (his phrase for macaroni and cheese), and even though they weren't from a "lunch store" as he requested, they were pretty yummy, nonetheless. He also went to the grocery store with daddy and picked out the corn for our side dish. Top it off with orange pop, and you have a meal fit for a king (assuming, of course, the king is four years old!). After supper, we opened birthday cards and presents:

Clearly, a job he takes very seriously! One of the favorites was a set of wooden fruits and veggies with a wooden knife for "slicing" apart the velcro that holds them together. Little sister thinks the pretend food is pretty cool, too. Another big hit was the "Cars" pin he's wearing (and has only taken off for sleeping)!

We finished off with birthday cupcakes, brown (chocolate), of course! Naturally, devil's food cake. He picked it out himself. I swear it wasn't a mama editorial comment!!!! The cupcakes were intended to be bears, but ended up looking more like mice. Since he is often a little kitty, it works.

All in all, a lovely day!

15 December 2006

The kids are still here

So, between my new toy and regular knitting, it may look like I have abandoned the kids. Really, they are still here. It's just that it's winter and chilly, so we have been spending a lot more quiet at-home days. We did go to our group at Happy Bambino this morning, followed by our usual Friday ritual of Burger King and library.

Tomorrow is Bug's big day...stay tuned!

Halfway there...

I am halfway through my red, white, and black socks. I think I am finally getting better at sizing socks...I am making them a little smaller so they hug my feet better. It also helps that the cuff and the top of the foot are k3p1 rib. I have to say that I just ADORE the peasant heel with self-striping sock yarn. This is my third pair of striped socks and I just haven't been happy with the way the heels look (one was a heel flap and one was short row), but the symmetry around the heel delights me!!

In other "knitting knews," I finished knitting the candle flame shawl. All that remains is weaving in ends and blocking. Oh, technically, I still have to weave in ends on the above sock to be officially halfway.

13 December 2006

FO: A Swatch

So, you've got 22 grams of the most gorgeous hand-spun bulky yarn ever, thusly:

So. What do you do with it?? Get out the sticks and knit that stuff! It was pretty bulky and not a lot of it, so the end result was a cute little swatch:

I knit this on size 13 needles...not exactly an airy lace-weight, eh? Seriously, if you had enough of this stuff, it would make a sweater that you could wear in Antarctica and never feel a chill. It's really thick and cozy feeling. As it stands, it is only big enough to be maybe a coaster. More likely it will just continue to be a swatch. One that I carry around with me, stop random people on the street, and say, "Look what I did!!"

I have started spinning my wool/silk roving. It is already looking like it will be more consistent and not quite as bulky as the first try. Of course, "more" and "not quite as" are relative terms, but I am happy with improvement.

12 December 2006

Christmas Treats

We started our Christmas "baking" today with bark candy. Bug did all the dry measuring (marshmallows, rice crispies, and peanuts) and helped with measuring the peanut butter. He's turning into such a little chef! I put the blobs out on waxed paper and he did most of the 'prinkles. Although a couple of them got away from him, he did a beautiful job. A real light touch compared to last Christmas!

Bean got to help, doing 'prinkles on a few. Light touch? Not so much so.

The bright side is that after winding up with two each of red sugar and green sugar, I am now down to one each!

The downer is that I discovered after the fact that the spanish peanuts were raw. That explains why Bean eats one and then spits out all of the peanuts.

11 December 2006

My first handspun

I spun up the second little ball of roving and turned it into two-ply yarn! Here is my first skein. It isn't much, but I'm awfully pleased with it! It is pretty clear to me that there is very little consistency in thickness or in tightness of spin, but I'm sure that will come with practice. I think what I need more than anything is to watch someone who knows what they are doing!

I washed the hank (to set the twist, or so the books tell me) and it's hanging up drying right now. Maybe tomorrow I can knit a swatch with it! I snapped these pictures just before washing.

Here is a close-up of what the yarn looks like. Even though things weren't very even, they seemed to kind of average out, so the yarn is slightly more consistent than the singles. Of course, I found the nicest looking part for the close-up!

New Toy for Mommy

As a result of my knitting obsession interest, I have been reading a number of knitting blogs. As a number of fibery types are into more than just knitting, I have been reading about people engaged in other sorts of fibery goodness. The one that has been consistently intriguing me is spinning. Even as a child on numerous field trips to the Dacotah Prairie Museum I remember being fascinated by spinning demonstrations. As a result, I have been looking at some spinning books from the library and thinking...

Last week, we saw an announcement for an open house at the Rainbow Fleece Farm in the Isthmus. This farm is about 25 miles from where we live and they raise sheep and sell sheep products (sheepskins, yarn, roving, meat, etc.) from their sheepies. We drove out to check it out. It turned out that the woman who runs it has been at our local farmer's market with her wares. So we had a nice time looking around. Mama looked at gorgeous yarn (the wool is sent out to be spun at a mill, but they do all their own dyeing), roving (carded at the farm), unprocessed fleece, and lots of spinning and knitting paraphernalia. I bought a drop spindle and a ball of roving (blame it on the wool fumes...that's what the Yarn Harlot says!!). The spindle is (to the left) is an Ashford bottom whorl hand spindle. The hot dog truck is for scale (for non-spinners). That is the actually Oscar Meyer weinermobile. These spindle things are HUGE! It doesn't even fit in the house...okay, just kidding, it's really just a Matchbox car. The spindle came with two little balls of roving. One is on the left of the picture, the other has already be spun and wound on the spindle. I am considering this my trial roving and I will spin up the other ball and then ply the singles to try and make two ply yarn. At some point, there will be more pictures.

This fluffball is my other acquisition. It is about 4 oz. of wool/silk roving. It is so soft and fluffy that I just want to sit and pat it and love it and call it George. While the hand dyed stuff is gorgeous, I just LOVE the natural yarns and rovings we saw.

While Mama was inhaling wool fumes, Daddy and the kids wandered around and saw lots of different kinds of sheep, some turkeys, free-range chickens, peafowl, kitties, dogs, tractors, and other farm stuff.

10 December 2006

Groove things were shaken

Woo-hoo. Mama had a long overdue girls' night out. I joined a couple of ladies from a group I have been attending and we went to "Women Who Love To Dance" night at a local bar. It is an early event (at least according to clubbing standards) that went from 6:30 to 9:00 pm, so it didn't keep me up too far past my bedtime. It was a lot of fun, there was a broad range of ages, and the music was dance music from the 70's, 80's, and 90's. Although Bug wasn't sure what to think of Mommy going someplace fun without him, I think he and Bean had a good time with Daddy, watching Star Wars movies, eating popcorn, and drinking hot cocoa.

09 December 2006

FO: Feather and Fan Scarflet

At long last, I proudly present the Feather and Fan Scarflet!! This was my first stab at lace. The pattern is just a basic feather and fan lace. I used a skein of sock yarn I found half price at Ben Franklin ages ago and the band is long gone, so I really don't know what it is, but I knit on size 3 straight needles.

Basically, this was a stash buster project, since I only had enough yarn for one sock and didn't have the information I needed to track down another skein. I like how it turned out, though!

In other knitting, I am only three rows away from being done knitting. After ages of picky lace knitting, I am having almost more trouble with the garter border (18 rows). I have had to tink back three or for rows to pick up dropped stitches in two places already. Once I am finished knitting it, all that will remain is blocking!

The Crumpets bloomers and the Swiffer haven't gone anywhere. Clearly I am not able to finish projects by mind power alone. They'll be done eventually.

The sock continues to piddle along. I am only about an inch from shaping the toe, so working a few rows here and a few rows there are making very slow, but still noticeable progress!

I have been working on the behind-the-scenes, ahead-of-time figuring for Bug's sweater. I have swatched and measured and I think I have in mind the design I will use. The only thing that is keeping me from starting is trying to decide on needles. The obvious answer is the old reliable Denise needles, but I am having a huge hankering to get some more KnitPicks needles. The sock is being worked on a KnitPicks 32" size 2 circular (magic loop) and I really, really like everything about the needles. I don't dislike the Denise needles and I have knit many stitches with them, but I really like the KnitPicks better. Do you think the needle fairy will leave the right tips and cords under my pillow one of these nights???

07 December 2006

Productive Day

The kids and I had a particularly productive afternoon yesterday. Well, to be strictly accurate, I had a productive afternoon, while the kidlings did their best to make more work for me. Oh well, c'est la vie, non?

The first part of the big job was completely changing the layout of the living room. Everything was where we put it when we moved in, and, while it worked okay, I had been thinking about how to make it work better for us. Yesterday was the day for making the changes.

For those of you that have seen our living room, this is what we did. If you haven't seen it, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph! The entertainment center was moved to the other corner (at the other side of the sliding glass doors. The rocker/recliner went where the entertainment center used to be. The big white cabinet was moved over next the barrister bookcase (which stayed put, as did the piano). Then the sofa was moved so its back is facing the dining area. The little stuff (which has been pretty mobile all along) was put where it fit.

One result of the chaos was that I finally got a couple of things done that will be very useful. The picture at the left is pretty boring, but has a point. Two, actually. First, we finally put the outdoor thermometer out doors instead of on the shelf next to the base. I just tucked it between our storage bin on the back deck and the sliding glass door. While not ideal from a meteorological stand point (yes, I'm a freak that thinks about these things) it won't be visible to passers-by and will give us at least an idea of what to expect when we open the door! The second thing was that I investigated and discovered that there was enough give in the sliding glass door weather stripping to feed our Sirius antenna through, so we don't have to put it outside every time we want to listen and leave the sliding glass door ajar (pretty chilly this time of year). I got it situated and then put the antenna on top of the stuff in the storage bin and locked the cover. It still gets a strong signal through the cover, but is tucked away safe and sound!

The inspiration for all of this chaos was getting the our beautiful el-cheapo Target Christmas tree out. I have been bending branches around and things are looking better, but I swear, it looked like the tree Charlie Brown found when we first set it up! We haven't found our ornaments yet. They are buried deep in our rental storage thingy and probably won't be seen until spring, but the tree is pre-lit, so it looks okay anyway. Needless to say, Bug is absolutely enchanted with the tree! Since we can't find our auto-timer either, I had to unplug it before we went to bed and Bug pitched a huge fit! We finally convinced him that it needed to sleep, too, and got him upstairs. First thing this morning, he made a bee-line downstairs and plugged it back in!

06 December 2006

A Bigger Bit

Although it isn't new, by any means, "a bigger bit" is one of my current favorite Bug-isms.

Mom: Should we go to the park and play for a little bit?
Bug: No, I want to go a bigger bit.
No matter what it its, a little bit is never enough. Cracks me up every time, and apparently, I use the phrase "a little bit" an awful lot!

05 December 2006

The two-hour grocery trip

Part I: The Good News

So, we took the van in to Tires Plus to get the tire fixed on Saturday so we could take two cars and I wouldn't have to be stranded at the "car-fix store" with two littles (Trust me, two days without wheels was better, besides, the spare was on in case we had a bona fide emergency in the interim). While it was there, we went ahead and got an oil change, too. Well, we got it home and went to run errands on Sunday afternoon and noticed that the "check engine" light was on. It seemed more than a little coincidental that someone was dinking with the engine and the next time we drive it, the engine light goes on. So we stopped by Tires Plus to ask if the two events could be related (e.g., a loose cap, a bumped meter, etc.). They informed us that it would be HIGHLY unusual for the two to be related, but offered to do a $90 diagnostic test. Since it would be a wait to do it the same day, we deferred. So today, just for kicks and giggles, before going to the grocery store, I popped the hood, loosened and retightened any lids I could find and did the same with the fuel tank lid. Guess what...no engine light! Not related, my granny's corset cover.

Part II: The Bad News

We continue on to the grocery store. The grocery part was pretty standard. Kids in the cart. Kids out of the cart. Repeat ad naseum. When we unload the groceries on the conveyor belt and I start digging around for my money and discover no purse. Left the house without it. Apparently, the two brain cells that I still have after having kids are currently out of commission by way of the same stuff that is stuffing up my nose. The nice cashier finishes ringing up, suspends the sale, and the gentleman bagging steers our cart back to the cooler. We trek out, pile in the van, drive home, retrieve the purse, drive back, pile back out, and go to the service desk to finish our transaction. Get that taken care of, trek back out, pile the kids in the van, settle in for our post-grocery-doughnut-reward. While noshing, I take a look at the receipt since the discount with the store card wasn't as much as I had expected. Our grocery store occasionally runs "Meal Deal" specials: if you buy the item they are pimping out, you get several items to round out the meal for free. For example, today we bought a Stouffer's Frozen Lasagne for $10.99 and got a 2-liter soda, a bag of salad mix, and a bottle of salad dressing for free. Or, it was supposed to be free. So, unload the kids, trek back to the service desk to ask about it. As an aside, if it had been something I had been planning to buy without the discount, I would have just lumped it, but I wouldn't have gotten any of these four items if it hadn't been for the special. Anyway, we got the money back ($5.53, so worth the trip) and finally got to go home and unload our groceries.

04 December 2006

Daddy's little metal-head

Yes, Bug is clearly becoming Daddy's little metal head. Based on this picture from when he was seven months old, we should have know it would be inevitable!

Yes, a seven-month old with his very own Iron Maiden onesie. Kitty Daddy had just found an Iron Maiden t-shirt online, had ordered it, received it, and was VERY proud of it. Since Kitty Daddy had this album on CD (which had the same picture as his shirt), I found some ink-jet iron-on transfers, scanned in the album cover and made Bug a matching shirt.

A few intervening facts that will become clear shortly: (1) Somewhere along the line, Kitty Daddy found and purchased Iron Maiden/Vision of the Beast: The Complete Video History on DVD; (2) Eddie is the mascot of Iron Maiden; and (3) When Kitty Daddy has some cleaning to do, he will occasionally put in his Iron Maiden DVD and crank the volume. Bug, naturally, has been around when this has happened.

Anyway, fast-forward to now. The other day, Bug and Bean were digging through our DVD and video collection and came across Daddy's Iron Maiden DVD. He brought it over to me and described how he and Daddy have watched the "Sketelon Music" together (the "sketelon" being, of course, Eddie, who is, technically, a zombie. Whatever.) and that he wanted to watch it. So we put it in (probably not as loudly as Daddy, though) and played some. Bug did some very serious jamming out and dancing, and, at one point stopped, walked over to me and announced in completely earnest tones: "Mommy, this is GREAT music!"

Daddy is so proud!

FO: Bean Mittens

I finished the second pair of red speckled mittens! They are similar to the previous one, but knit bottom-up instead of top-down and slightly smaller. Also, I used k2p2 ribbing instead of k1p1, since my k2p2 is slightly less ugly. I don't think they are actually different sizes, the right one has just been stretched a little more from the kids playing with it while I knit the left one! They did turn out longer than I expected...I misjudged the length that would be added by the shaping at the top!

Some things I am considering for future mittens: k2p1 ribbing for cuff, looking for a stretchier cast on or bind off, experimenting with the shaping for the tops (especially the possibility of incorporating ssk and k2tog into the grafting so they don't have "ears" at the corners).

But first, I would like to get back to the candle flame shawl. I only have a repeat and a half left...getting so close.

01 December 2006

FO: Bug Mittens

Knit using Lion Brand WoolEase in Red Sprinkles using Denise Interchangeables (5 for cuffs, 7 for rest). Based roughly on this pattern. Knit from top down, which I disliked as much as knitting sock toe-up. Maybe someday when I find a really stretchy, wonderful cast-off that I like (the ruffly edges are from the cast off suggestion in the pattern). The verdict? Fun knit, went really fast (I started them yesterday) and I am already planning to cast on a pair for Bean, but for the time being I am firmly in the cuff-down sock and cuff-up mittens camp. And although Wool-Ease isn't the most wonderful yarn in the world, the bit of wool makes the acrylic bearable to knit with and when I use a 40% of coupon at Michael's, it sure is cheap!

Snowy day entertainment

After the rain turning to freezing rain on Wednesday night, we had a smattering of snow on the ground yesterday. The kids, of course, had to get suited up and run around a bit. But this morning, there was some Real Snow on the ground when we got up! We got bundled up and the kids had a great time playing.

I swear, she started in mittens, she just refuses to keep them on. Her little hands get so cold, but those mitties are so hard to maneuver!

After getting cold and snowy, we came in, had lunch, and tried to get down for a nap. I must have dozed off, but no one else did. When I woke up, I discovered that the kids had dug around in my vanity and found my jewelery box and some make-up. Bug added his binkit as a lovely shawls with necklace and bracelets:

Bean thought some lipstick would complete her look perfectly (a lot of it rubbed off while I was waking up and searching for camera batteries):

29 November 2006

Mama said there'd be days like these...

She just never mentioned the frequency and intensity. Today has been mostly a series of small disasters (like the knitting needle fiasco), at least until this evening. Kitty Daddy scored a traffic ticket today and then, after supper, when I was returning some overdue books to the library, I had a flat tire. The bright side is that I was by myself, so I didn't have to deal with the flat *and* the kids. I'm about ready to go hide under a quilt until life is willing to give me a break!

Tomorrow will be better, right? The only way to go is up!

Oh man...

If you heard a panicked shriek sometime this morning, that would have been me. The kids and I had been having a quiet morning, since we are all still sniffling a little from our colds. The typical...coloring with crayons, watching videos, mom sneaking in a bit of knitting here and there...

At one point, I looked up and saw Bean waving a knitting needle. I thought to myself, "Hmmm, must have fallen off the piano or cabinet or whereever I put my knitting last." Because, of course, I know to keep WIPs out of little ones' reach. As I walked over to grab my needle before someone gets stabbed, it dawns on me that she is brandishing not one, but two needles. Uh-oh, my knitting life flashes before my eyes as I realize that I had left my Candle Flame lace on the sofa!!! Fortunately, Bean hadn't grabbed any of the yarn and the needle came out cleanly with almost no ravelling:

So I put the pile up VERY high until nap time, which was spent fiddling stitches back on to the needles and picking up dropped stitches and yarn overs. Man, knitting at nap time is supposed to be my downtime, not the most stressful part of my day!! Fortunately, everything is back where it should be and I have added another couple of rows as well. I am getting close to the end of the (lucky) 13th repeat, so only two more repeats after that. The end is in sight (if I don't have to fiddle anymore).

28 November 2006

Pumpkin Hat

Finally, another long overdue finished object...Bug's pumpkin hat. This was also finished well before Halloween, but just not blogged. The hat is a standard "Knitting for Dummies" top-down hat, knit in a craptastic hunter orange acrylic that Bug just absolutely fell in love with! No fun to work with, but it turned out cute anyway (or maybe the models just make everything look cute)!

Bean had to model the finished result since Bug decided not to cooperate with the phot shoot! That's also a mama-knit hand-me-down sweater from Bug that she's wearing.

27 November 2006

Halloween costumes

I am long overdue on posting this, but...

The kidlings dressed as black cats for Halloween...Black sweatpants, black velour hoodies, and mama knitted ears and tails. Even though I have been slow to blog, they were done and ready for trick or treating at the zoo on 10/21:

Pretty cute kittens, if I do say so myself!

Here is the ear pattern:

With black yarn (I used Cascade 220), CO 4
Row 1: knit
Row 2 and all even rows: purl
Row 3: k1f&b four times (8 st)
Row 5: (k1f&b, k1) four times (12 st)
Row 7: (k1f&b, k3, k1f&b, k1) twice (14 st)
Row 9: (k1f&b, k5, k1f&b, k1) twice (16 st)
Continue in pattern until ear is desired size. After last increase row, purl one row, knit one row, purl one row. (44 stitches total worked for me)

Base and inner ear.
BO 25 st, k17, BO 2, pull yarn through.
Slide live stitches to other end of circular needle (or slip all purlwise to another straight needle)
Note that front of inner ear is back of main ear
With pink yarn (I used Bernat CottonTots):
Row 1: knit (knit side of black is facing)
Row 2: ssk, knit to last two stitches, k2tog (purl side of black is facing)
Row 3: purl
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until two stitches remain
Last row: k2tog, pull yarn through

It looks something like this:

Then I used the tails to sew up the ears so they looked like this:

For the tails, I just did a long skinny stockinette swatch with a fuzzy black boucle yarn:

26 November 2006


I ran to the grocery store this afternoon, while Bean was napping, and Bug stayed home and watch Dora the Explorer. They watched the video where Dora's mami has a new baby and Dora becomes a big sister. When Dora is telling her news to Boots the Monkey, she tells him that there will be someone new at her house and gave the clues "sleeps in a cradle," "drinks from a bottle," and "wears diapers." The answer, of course, is a baby. Here, Bug announced to Kitty Daddy, "Babies don't use bottles, they drink nummies!" That's my boy!!! I'm so proud...

25 November 2006

Under the Weather

Everyone in the house seems to have come down with the cold that Kitty Daddy brought home from work earlier in the week. Fortunately, it seems to be pretty mild. In addition to standard cold symptoms, just your garden variety tiredness and crankiness. Combined with post-turkey wind-down, Bug was in rare form last night...turning your regularly schedule tantrum into high theatrics.

We went to the downtown library this morning (since we missed our regular Friday trip due to the holiday), but then came home and all seven of us took a nice long nap. We are laying low this evening, "enjoying" the videos that Bug and Bean got from the library.

WIP Saturday???

Okay, so I'm not doing so hot on knitting updates on Friday. At least this week I have a holiday excuse. Today is the second Sunday in a row this weekend! No new pictures this week though...everything looks a lot like it did last week:

  • Candle Flame Shawl continues to grow...I am almost done with the 11th pattern repeat.
  • Bloomers for Crumpets Dress...as Nike says, "Just do it" already!!
  • Red, White, and Black socks also continue to grow. I figured that there should be about 10.5 stripe repeats between the heel marker row and the toe decreases. I have about seven repeats done, so only a little over three to go. Then the toe decreases and heel construction go pretty quickly, because I am just geeky enough to get really absorbed watching decreases happen!
  • Feather and Fan Scarflet...see Crumpets Bloomers...*sigh*
  • Swiffer Cover...the first green band is almost done, but I haven't really done more that a few rows on it.
I have also done a gage swatch for a sweater for Bug, but haven't completely decided on a plan of attack yet. I think I might try and get the Candle Flame shawl done first...we'll see.

23 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, lots of yummy dinner, and much to be thankful for! We had a nice dinner with turkey and all the trimmings and a nice visit with Kitty Daddy's dad and half-sister. The pies were not the prettiest pies I have ever seen, but they tasted good and, dang it, I never once claimed to be Martha Stewart! Here are the pies:

I think the pumpkin pie recipe was for a smaller pie plate. It was pretty shallow. It looked fine when I took it out of the oven yesterday, but it deflated. Oh well, I would take yummy, ugly food over pretty, tasteless food any day of the week and twice on Thanksgiving!!

22 November 2006

Pie are round, cake are square

Today is another glorious fall day...sunny and in the high 40's to low 50's. The kids have been in and out all morning running around and "vacuuming" the leaves with the snow shovel!

Today is pie baking day and I have an apple pie in the oven at the moment. The pie crust is the old reliable 8th grade home economics recipe. For those of you who don't know the history, I learned to make pies in 8th grade home ec and the crust turned out so nicely that I demonstrated my proficiency at home with some pies for family. Everyone was so impressed by the crust that my grandmas (who are/were both wonderful bakers of all kinds of yumminess) switched to this recipe! Anyway, in the intervening years I have made scores of pie crusts from this recipe, with consistently good results. Then suddenly, I couldn't make a nice pie crust if my life depended on it. The same recipe, the same technique, but inexplicably nothing turned out. In recent years, I even resorted to buying pre-made crusts from the grocery store. So today, with no little measure of trepidation, I dug out the old recipe to give it another try and it turned out beautifully! Well, a little iffy visually, since my crust crimping skills have rusted away to almost nothing in the intervening years, but the same old, easy to handle crust as before! After the apple is done baking, we'll try it again with pumpkin. I suspect the mystery of the moody pie crust recipe will never be solved. Oh well, as long as it is working again now...

One of my favorite things about baking (which I don't do terribly often, but enjoy it when I do) is that many of my kitchen supplies were hand-me-downs from Grandma O. We did a lot of baking together when I was younger. Not only did she teach me a lot of what she knew about baking, but she was also just an all-around special lady. I have so many wonderful memories of grandma and grandma's house growing up. Even though grandma passed away almost 11 years ago, we still bake together whenever I bake. I use her old measuring spoons, her rolling pin, her old bowls, and, in a way, she is there with me.

And finally, if anyone was wondering whether or not I was truly crazy (not that I have ever denied it), I leave you with this picture. This is what the kids were doing in the dining room while I was making the apple pie...bowls, measuring spoons and cups, a pie plate, and some sugar and cornmeal:

They had a blast! And it wasn't as bad to clean up as I had thought it might be...though I still have to vacuum! I figured there wasn't much point until the pumpkin pie is done!

21 November 2006

Gobble, gobble, gobble

This morning the kids and I did the grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. While it isn't going to be an over-the-top, all-star gala kind of dinner, I'm starting to get a few pre-turkey jitters. In addition to the four of us, we will be joined by Kitty Daddy's father and half-sister, so not a huge crowd. Even if it was just the four of us, I'd still be a little nervous, because no matter how many charts and cookbooks you consult, there is no way to predict when a turkey will be finished. Which would be fine, except that you would kind of like everything to be finished and still hot at close to the same time. I don't doubt that things will turn out fine, it's just a small case of the pre-performance jitters.

Since today is sunny and in the high 40's, the kids ran around in the backyard for a while before lunch. We need to be sucking up fresh air as much as we can, because, before long, we'll probably be looking at snow-drifts, which will make outings shorter and chillier!

20 November 2006

From the department of vital statistics

What with the excitement of company (Grandma and Grandpa), missing kitties, and other random excitement, I neglected to blog about a very important milestone: Miss Bean's second birthday. Her birthday was 10/21 and the pictures below are from our little party on the 22nd. Bean has become a huge fan of Blue's Clues. When we have a BC video out from the library, she will point up at the DVD/VCR and say "Boo-boo" with the hand sign that they use for Blue's clues in the videos. So her cake this year was a big clue!

She had her two-year well child checkup the Tuesday after her birthday and weighed in at a 37½ pounds (just for comparison, the 95th percentile for two-year-old girls is about 32 pounds). She is 2'11" tall, which is around the 80th percentile. She doesn't look like she should weigh anywhere near what she actually does (and the doctor agrees)...she is just a solid, densely put together little gal!

The birthday cake!

Birthday card from Great-grandma 'Dell

A star-bellied Sneech (with accompanying book) from Grandma and Grandpa

High fashion from Grandma and Grandpa (It's the dress we used for our pictures yesterday)

A "Waldorf-y" doll from mom and dad