29 December 2007

Watch this space!

We've been bustling post-Christmas. I have been knitting like crazy and will have some progress photos and FO coming down the pipeline soon. But first we have to finish Christmasing with Kitty Daddy's family! So off to Iowa!

P.S. Didja see the jump in gas prices a couple of days ago? Yeah, that was us. It does that EVERY time we go somewhere. Sorry. We don't have anymore trips planned for a while. ;o)

26 December 2007

Post-Christmas Lazies

We had a lovely Christmas and Kitty Daddy is back at work today. The kids and I are enjoying a lazy day. They are playing with Christmas presents and I'm easing back into the day. We had planned to have our traditional Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, but I somehow managed to lose Grandma O's Swedish Meatball recipe somewhere between making the shopping list on Saturday and preparing to make meatballs on Monday. Since I couldn't get ahold of my parents in time to make Christmas Eve dinner, we had Christmas Day dinner instead. Our dinner was Swedish meatballs (k├Âttbulle), mashed potatoes, veggies and lefse. Growing up we also had korv (Grandma's homemade sausage), fruit soup, and rice pudding, but I haven't gotten motivated enough to try any of these. Besides, I don't expect fruit soup to be on the menu any time soon. I'm not a huge fan of dried fruit (though I do make Grandma's Christmas Bread with dried fruit in it once in a while) and I'm pretty sure raisins are evil.

Bug and Bean added to their Lego and MegaBlok collections, respectively and are both having a great time playing. Our Christmas present from Grandma and Grandpa was the portable DVD player for the car we got last May for our road trip. They also sent videos for all of us and we are watching Bug's movie right now (The Incredibles) and Bean's new Dora movie is queued up next. Kitty Daddy got me a gift certificate to the Sow's Ear, so I may have to force myself to go look at some yummy yarns and see what comes home with me!

We will be doing Christmas again next weekend with Kitty Daddy's family in Iowa. We are looking forward to seeing his mom and sisters (and their families). We might even get a chance to see his brother and his family, but we're not sure our visit will overlap with his visit.

25 December 2007

FO: Brave Knight




I finished it in time for Christmas, and now that we have opened presents, I have pictures of it being modeled and it isn't a secret anymore!

Specifications
Yarn: Lion Brand Glitterspun (Silver), Lion Brand Lion Suede (Ebony)
Needles: Denise Interchangeables, size 10½ and 11
Pattern: Knight Rider from New Knits on the Block
Modifications: Obviously subbed yarn since the "right" yarn is long discontinued. I also made modification for the helmet. The pattern seems to be wonky with shaping on both even and odd rows and ended up a really weird shape. This is what I did that seems to work:

Rows 1-36: As written
Row 37: Insert knit row
Row 38: Row 37 from pattern
Rows 38-66: As written
Row 67: Knit
Rows 68 to end: For row n, knit following directions for row n-1. For example, row 68 follows row 67 directions, row 69 follows row 68 directions, etc.
Basically, the only changes are shifting some rows around by one to get all the shaping on even rows and to make the finished piece look like the schematic.
Verdict: Overall a fun knit (except for the helmet weirdness). I wish the glitterspun came in a dark gray glitter instead of the bright silver. Also, if I were to knit it again, I would probably switch the suede-y yarn to a something leather colored (brown). I wish that I could have knit it in the round, but the body is based on garter stitch so flat knitting was much easier. I also think if I did it again, I would do the helmet in one piece something like this: Cast on 41 stitches, pm cast on 41 stitches, K 13 rows, then starting with row 14, knit row 14 to marker, knit row 13 to end, knit row 14 to marker, knit row 15 to end, knit row 16 to marker, knit row 15 to end, knit row 16 to marker, knit row 17 to end, and so forth. Then at the end use a three-needle bind off to bind off stitches at top.

22 December 2007

Getting there...

I finished knitting and seaming Bug's knight outfit at the Sow's Ear Knit Night last night. I would have completely finished, but I didn't have anything the right size to wrap yarn around to make the sash fringe, so I went and hid for a while this morning and finished that, so the outfit is completely done! I'm going to wait for a FO post about it until I have a picture of Bug wearing it.

Knit Night was very quiet as we have been completely socked in with fog for two days now (all day yesterday and all day today). As I was driving to Verona, I felt like I should roll down my window and stick my arm out so I could feel my way along the road. The visibility has consistently been THAT bad! Fortunately, for running errands and going to the library, it wasn't quite as foggy. Unfortunately, all the completely insane pre-Christmas crazies made up for it! While we were out and about, we had about a half a dozen near misses of being hit by other cars. Made for a cranky mama by the time we got home!

I finished my last batch of cookies this morning, so things can quiet down in that regard, too. We just have to deliver a couple more bags of cookies. I sent Kitty Daddy to the grocery store for Christmas dinner parts and regular shopping, as I could not bear the thought of being out among the last-minute crunch insanity! He doesn't get nearly as uptight with crowds and crazies as I do!

One last thing...family lore has it that when I was wee, I called a music box a "mew-git box." This morning Miss Bean brought me a Christmas music box and asked me to make it play "mew-git." Must be genetic. :D

20 December 2007

'Twas the week before Christmas...

and the crazies are heating up! I am getting close on my knitting though. Unfortunately, the three skeins of Glitterspun I bought weren't enough. I only have about a third of the second helmet half to go. Daddy is going to a work Christmas party, so the kids and I are going to use our Noodles buy-one-get-one. Both kids with teeth are just nuts about their Mac and Cheese. I think I will have to dig out another 40% off coupon and pick up another skein when we go for dinner. Then I still need to scrounge another coupon and get a skein of faux suede for the sash and finishing on the way to Friday Night Knit where I will frantically do the finishing away from prying eyes.

On Tuesday we went to a wonderful caroling party at a friend's house. We met so many lovely folks and the kids had a blast mixing and mingling. My friend supplied a "My First Christmas" Santa hat for Beeb (pictures will be coming) and he had as much fun socializing as the big kids. Although we have had our decorations up for a while, the party really felt like the holiday kick-off, now that we have gotten past Bug's birthday. With a mid-December birthday, it is hard to balance getting everything done without having Bug feel like his birthday is just a snuck-in side event.

Since then, we have been in Christmas cookie mode. The kids helped me make bark candy yesterday and I made candy cane cookies after the kids went to bed last night. Today, we are working on peanut butter kiss cookies and will probably do Spritz cookies after supper. Since I am hiding the cookies from the heathen hordes spiriting the cookies away for gifting and Christmas, picture will have to wait until I am packaging them up. I never get as many peanut butter kiss cookies out of a batch as other people. I think it has something to do with the fact that I would be delighted to just eat the whole batch of dough without even turning on the oven. Mmmmm...any cookie dough is good, but I think the peanut butter kiss dough is my favorite.

17 December 2007

Happy Birthday Bug!

Here is a sweet little Bug five years ago today (one day old!!):

And here he is yesterday at Ella's Deli celebrating his fifth trip around the sun (the big day was yesterday!). Grandpa D joined us for lunch at Ella's and cake and ice cream:

This is the little dude that made me a mommy and he has been sweet and funny and smart and challenging and spirited. He is still a real mama's boy (in a good way!). While he is generally
confident and out-going, he also needs to check in at the mommy-base frequently to keep his batteries charged. Needless to say, I'm crazy about this little dude. His cake this year was a bat:


Those are allegedly exclamation points after "Happy Birthday." I'm not sure why the icing suddenly quit cooperating at that point.

Legos were the clear favorite gift this year! He has been building away like crazy and having a blast. His other big birthday excitement is that we decided that five is old enough to start being responsible for a library card, so we signed him up on our Friday library trip. Bean was devastated that she didn't get one too. When I told her she would get hers when she is bigger, she offered to stand on her tippy-toes, but no dice. She probably is nearly as responsible as Bug, but Mama just doesn't want to keep track of four cards yet (I keep track of mine and Kitty Daddy's due dates on the computer now, so Bug's will be added to the keeping track). The scary part is that now we have the ability to have 300 books checked out at a time! Gulp. But I don't think we will be making any major changes to our borrowing patterns.

I am still furiously knitting away at the chain mail. My goal is to get the knitting done this week and sew it up at late night knit on Friday. It may be close as there was a wee setback. I have the front of the tunic done and only have a few rows left on the back, so that will be easy to get done. The hood has been a little more challenging. Each half of the hood has 92 rows of garter stitch with shaping. I got as far as row 85 and it looked NOTHING like the picture and I thought it was kind of wonky that the shaping was on even rows for the first 36 rows and on odd rows after row 50. If I used my imagination and kind of squinted at it, it seemed like having all the shaping on the even rows would make it look more like the picture, so I ripped back to row 34. I am back up to row 60, but that is a LOT of lost ground for stealth knitting, even though it goes quite fast when I have privacy! I will post my modifications when I make a FO post after Christmas!

14 December 2007

My marbles, it appears, are intact!

Yesterday, the kids were watching a video where a group of friends was playing marbles and when I came home from running a couple of errands last evening, Bean accosted me as I came in the door and kept asking me where the marbles were. I sat down on a dining room chair, looked her in the eye, and said, "Baby girl, mama has completely lost her marbles." (It has, in fact, been that kind of week). Bean then insists that my marbles are upstairs. I chuckled, but Bean kept insisting and grabbed me by the hand and practically dragged me up the stairs. She leads me into the bedroom, opens the center drawer in my vanity and hands me a cat's eye marble out of the drawer. Who woulda thunk it?

13 December 2007

Another FO

Specifications
Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton, Bernat CottonTots for Trim
Needles: Denise Interchangeables, size 7
Pattern: Easy Knit-from-the-Top-Down Hat from Knitting for Dummies
Verdict: I have made quite a few of these hats and love the pattern, but this one turned out too big (I couldn't find good numbers for the size of a newborn head). I actually had the knitting done before I went into labor, but didn't have the ends woven in. I took it with me to the hospital with ends dangling, but discovered it was huge on him. The picture above is a recent one and it's still pretty big. I made it to match the Baby Kimono, but he had grown out of that by the time this fit! Oh well, live and learn! At least he can wear it as a winter hat.

In other knitting news, I really would like to get my shawl finished by the end of the year, since in January, I am planning on taking part in the Secret of the Stole II. The swatching instructions are out, but I don't have yarn yet. I am planning on getting a couple of skeins of KnitPicks Bare lace-weight. I have always like natural yarn colors and if I decide that another color would work better after the theme is revealed, I can alway dye it.

12 December 2007

Spinning FO

Spinning has been slow for a while. I didn't spin much at all over the summer, since I didn't like the feeling of getting fibers stuck to sweat. But since fall started I have been doing a little spinning. This skein is about an ounce of Merino-Rayon blend and I managed to get a nice, thin (mostly consistent) single. I haven't measured WPI, but it made about 84 yards of two ply. I got the roving from Susan's Fiber Shop a while back and used my Turkish spindle to spin and ply. I'm not sure what this will become, so stay tuned. ;o)

I have also been working a little on the big bag o' alpaca on my Ashford spindle. I have spun about 1¾ ounce from the six ounces of fluff. The alpaca is wonderfully soft (and has to be cuddled by Bean every time I bring it out), but it doesn't draft as nicely as the Merino/Rayon I just finished.

11 December 2007

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The snow has been coming down quite heavily all morning, the radio is tuned to Christmas music*, and I have been madly knitting on a Christmas present. I figured out a work-around for snagging some knitting time when Bug is around. We shall call it "artful misdirection." I had sneaked out the chain mail armor to work on at the dining room table while Bug and Bean were playing in the living room. Of course, they got interested in what Mama was doing and it went something like this:

Bug: Ooooh...pretty shiny yarn!
Me: Hmmm? Oh yes, it is!
Bug: Whatcha making?
Me: Um...er...I haven't really decided for sure yet.
Bug: Is it another shawl?
Me: Well, it could be.
Bug: Oh.
So now I have carte blanche to keep knitting, whenever. Well, as long as it is vaguely rectangular. I will have to find some private time for seaming up and finishing, but that will be relatively shorter.

I am now just a couple of rows from being done with the front:

The back should go quick, as it is just like the front, except no neck shaping (which you can't see in the picture as I wanted to keep it vaguely shawl looking while I took a picture.)

The kids are enjoying the snow by pitching a tent in the living room and camping out. The tent is right in front of a sliding glass door, so from the dining room table, it actually kind of looks like they are out in the elements, since the Christmas tree is right next to the tent door and there is snow falling in the background.

And, since it has been a while, some gratuitous kid pics. First up, Beeb with a case of ferocious bed-head yesterday morning:

It takes a certain je ne sais quoi to pull off a 'do like that, but I think the Beeb manages it. You can't see the fine fuzzies in the flash picture that is in focus. C'est la vie. (Not a clue where all the French is coming from today....maybe I am channeling Maurice Chevalier...complete wizz ze Frohnch ahk-zent). Yep, seem to have lost control of the neuroses again. Rats.

Next up is Bean, eating a ice-pop while it snows.

Yeah, I know...whatever.

Finally, Bug hamming it up for the camera:

No, the picture isn't rotated. He was.

* Ooo-oo-oo. My mostest, favoritest Christmas song just came on the radio: The Little Drummer Boy duet with David Bowie and Bing Crosby. Their sounds are so different, but blend together so well and it has an old favorite carol with a different twist. I just love it.

08 December 2007

Oink, I say, oink!

Last night I finally made it to the Sow's Ear late night knit. Although it was an all-nighter this time, I only made it 11:30 or so. While I knit, the Beeb flirted and worked the room. As near as I could tell, he charmed all comers! I think it qualified as a "mom's night out" as the only kid with me can't move and can't talk back talk.

Although I have enough projects to keep me more than busy, I took advantage of my (mostly) kidless state to cast on a new project. I started the chain mail armor in New Knits on the Block. I am trying to do this for Bug for Christmas. Although I got a good start on it, I'm not sure I have enough Bug-free knitting time to keep it a complete surprise. The fact that I was starting to make mistakes on [yo, k2tog] was my cue that I had exited my productive knitting hours and entered my productive sleeping hours.

One especially fun part of knit night was getting to meet some of the local knit-bloggers that I read, including Molly Bee, Chocolate Sheep, and Dale-Harriet (and Lovely Daughter with whom Beeb flirted shamelessly!).

03 December 2007

Eat your heart out, Martha!

We don't need to take our Halloween decorations down. We just turn 'em into Christmas decorations. I made nine little Santa hats for the bats living on our sliding glass door and Bug put the hats on the bats. The pompoms on top came from the three-hole punch. I haven't yet come up with any bright ideas on how to Christmasify the spiders, but perhaps inspiration will come!

Completely unrelated (yeah, one of those posts *snort*)...I got my Ravelry invitation over the weekend. Oh my. Very cool stuff. Of course, that means I can see the potential for another huge internet time suck. For now, I'm trying to behave and just enter things a little at a time. I'm KittyMommy there too, if anyone wants to add me as a friend!

In other knitting news, I am doing my best to convert a non-knitter to the dark side (Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha). Another knitting friend and I have been extolling the virtues of knitting to the victim non-knitting friend and seem to have gotten her hooked. I gave her a pair of homemade needles and a little ball of yarn with the promise of lessons in October and we are finally getting together this afternoon. Even better, it will be late afternoon, so I KittyDaddy agreed to come home a little early and watch Bug and Bean. He is willing to have Beeb too, but the Beebster is still happy to hang out in the sling and not dump hot cocoa or remodel furniture or otherwise leave a trail of chaos and destruction in his wake. That and it's easier to take him along than to pump. Some actually Mama-time! And on Friday, I'm planning to go to the Late Night Knit at the Sow's Ear on Friday. Twice in one week, which is pretty much unheard of! In case you are wondering, both events will probably look a little like this.

Finally, today we celebrate Beeb accomplishing one-quarter of a trip around the sun. Little dude is three months old today. It doesn't seem possible...it's just going too stinkin' fast. Don't even start with the fact that I will have a five year old in less that two weeks. Ack!

02 December 2007

Look out Martha Stewart!

Although we got a bit of snow on the ground before Thanksgiving, we got a bona fide winter storm yesterday. Although it turned into sleet about mid-afternoon and was rapidly turning to massive amounts of slush today, we still have plenty on the ground and it has really helped me turn residual grinchiness from seeing Christmas stuff in the stores in October into a little bit of holiday spirit. After running a couple of errands in the morning, we came home and put up holiday decorations. Martha Stewart would be so impressed with our spindly little 4' tall artificial tree, with decoration that a moved around on an hourly basis. After putting up the tree, we also put up some lights, held in place with festive, seasonally-appropriate blue painter's tape.

But, ya know what? I don't give a honkin' hoot what Martha would think of my display. We listened to Christmas music on the radio and drank hot chocolate while we worked and Bug and Bean were the ones hanging most of the ornaments. I had a wonderful time pulling out the old decorations, including a metallic angel inside a star that is engraved with my first name and "1977," one of the ceramic angel ornaments that my Grandma 'Dell made dated 1972, the drum ornament I took for "show and tell" in kindergarten. (I have absolutely no idea why I remember that, but there was a moment of very vivid recall of the kindergarten room when I took the drum out. I also remember that I had a lot of trouble keeping the drumsticks where they belonged and was very worried about losing one or both of the drum sticks at school), and the handmade felt story book characters that we accumulated a few each year at the Fantasy of Trees at the YWCA (among others, I have the three little kittens. It was a little poignant finding the one kitten that used to have a purple vest and both purple mittens until the Christmas that Kitty Man adopted that kitten as his own and carried it around the house with him no matter how many times we hung it back up or how high on the tree it was. That kitten is down to one purple mitten and lived a year in a basket in the living room when we found him well after the other ornaments had been packed up and put away).

Now the kids are starting to build their own memories with those ornaments. Since the tree was decorated, groups of ornaments have been on the floor talking to each other, flying around the living room, and one reindeer from McDonald's circa 1985 that, Bug tells me, is actually Hello Kitty after having taken a magic potion that turned her into a reindeer (or moose, he keeps going back and forth). There have been and will be a few casualties. At the moment, Bean has piled up all the wheat heads from one ornament. Most of the straw appears to be spread on the floor next to Bug. I am also having zero luck keeping the vintage paper towels and tissue paper that are stuffed under the batting from the snowmen my mom made at least 30 years ago (you can see one of the pair in the upper right of the picture above).

So may I just say, "To he!! with Martha Stewart...I like my decorations A LOT better than hers!"

29 November 2007

Bleh

I think the combination of the short, gray days and living on the edge of sleep deprivation is finally catching up with me. I have been knitting away on the shawl edging, which seems interminable! So the edging is 12 stitches wide with an 18 row repeat. All the even rows are identical. The odd rows are very nearly identical. Except for row 1, all the odd rows are the same except that some rows pick up two shawl stitches and some only one. I haven't had any problem with those, once I found my rhythm. The crazy-making part is row 1, which is the same as the other odd rows except that it does a wrap stitch thing. After the third stitch, a loop is pulled between stitches 7 and 8. I have stitch markers on the shawl itself to mark where the 18 row repeat restarts. I take the marker off after knitting row 17, hold it in my mouth while I go back to the edge with row 18. Then row 1 goes something like this: Stitch one (okay, this is row one...got a wrap coming up here pretty soon), stitch two (it's coming, it's coming, gotta watch for it), stitch three (okay, it's right after this stitch), stitch four, stitch five, stitch six, stitch seven, stitch eight. Realized that I sailed right past the wrap (AGAIN), swear quietly, tink back to stitch three, do the wrap and then carry on. Repeat every 18 rows. I think I have gotten the wrap on the first pass on maybe a half a dozen of the 60 or so repeats I have done so far. It has gotten kind of demoralizing. On the one hand, I'm almost halfway around the edging of this huge, gorgeous, yummy-soft shawl. On the other hand, I still have probably 80 or so repeats of the edging, which means tinking back on row one about 72 more times. *sigh*

Since the knitting of this edging is not my finest moment, I have been distracting myself with more spinning than usual. I am almost done with an ounce of merino/rayon blend on my Turkish spindle. It's pretty lightweight and I'm planning on making this into a two-ply. Hopefully, there will be pictures of the finished yarn before too long! I am also slogging away on about 6 ounces of alpaca. I'll have to see what the finished yarn looks like, but I am imagining a shawl or wrap of some sort. If it ends up bulkier than I hoped, maybe a hat, scarf, and mittens. It is wonderfully soft and is supposed to be very cozy and warm. Considering that I spin in about 5 minute intervals on a drop spindle, six ounces is a LOT of fiber, so it could be a while!

26 November 2007

Gratitude

With Kitty Daddy off work for a couple of days for the holiday, blogging time has been in short supply, but this has been stewing in my head over the holiday. If you follow the comic strip Mutts (I read it in real-time here), you have probably already seen these quotes, but I thought they were worth repeating.

Not what we have, but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance.
J. Petit-Senn

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.
Estonian proverb

...the thankful heart ... will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessing.
Henry Ward Beecher

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.
Karl Barth

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope or fear;
But, grateful, take the good I find,
The best of now and here
John Greenleaf Whittier

We give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way.
Anonymous

If the only prayer you say in your life is
thank you,
that would suffice.
Meister Eckhart
Although I think that we need to be thankful for all we have every day, not just on Thanksgiving, the holiday gives a special day to take stock.

The whole family has been in the Madison area for a little over two years now. Between the stress of picking up and leaving a place we had lived for many years and the slow sale and ultimately low price of our house in Iowa City, it has been all too easy to focus on the things that we don't have or had left behind. However, in the last year or so, things have been settling and calming down and we are at last really feeling at home in Wisconsin, which makes it much easier for us to count our blessings. The things that I am most thankful for:
  • My family, especially my kids. Even on our craziest, most chaotic days, I am truly grateful to have these three wonderful little people in my life. They are smart, funny, affectionate, cute, and teach me more about life than anything else ever has.
  • Our pets. Although we were sad to say good-bye to Kitty Man last August, we were very lucky to have had his fuzzy brand of silliness for the time we did. Kitty Chai and Mollie Dog continue to provide us with unconditional affection and warm feet at night.
  • Our health. Other than the annoying colds and such that we fight all winter, I know we are very lucky that those are the worst we have had to face.
  • Our home. I still miss the space in our Iowa City home, but I know that we are lucky to have a roof over our head where we can all be together. Even though it is a rental, "home" is more about who lives here and how we live our lives than the actual roof and walls.
  • Friends. Although I am notoriously slow adjusting to new places, I am truly grateful for the wonderful new friends I am making in Wisconsin and in the blogosphere. I am also thankful for the old friends that I have managed to stay in touch with, in spite of my reputation for staying in touch.
Our Thanksgiving was on the quiet side, with a relatively simple meal. It was the traditional turkey dinner, but the stuffing was out of a bag and the pie came from the grocery store bakery. However, I didn't have to worry about whether the kids would have a wild night and leave me doing all the cooking even more sleep-deprived than normal! Kitty Daddy's dad joined us from the Milwaukee area and we had a lovely afternoon.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope that everyone else has as much to be thankful for every day!

21 November 2007

It's a Corner!

You REALLY have no idea how exciting this is. Yes, it is a square shawl pattern. Yes, squares more often than not have corners. No, I can't come up with a good reason why my square should come out with no corners. However, I have edged around the place where the corner belongs and am absolutely gobsmacked that it turned out looking cornerish. I mean, I knit it on circular needles and it has been distinctly blob shaped since early June. Intellectually, I understand how a square thing can be blob-shaped on circular needles, but seeing it actually happen is a whole 'nother ballgame!

So I am more than a quarter of the way around. I did get a bit hung up turning the corner. I carefully counted stitches, plotted and schemed to get the middle of the edging pattern centered on the corner, knit past the corner, took a look and realized that I had centered the pattern on my stitch marker dividing the four chart repeats. Not the corner. Crud. I had to tink back about four repeats of the edging to get past where I fudged stitches to get things to line up. Each edging row is twelve stitches; each repeat is sixteen rows. That's a LOT of tinking (or should that be gnittink??)! But I tinked (dettink?), adjusted where things fell, and reknit and now things are puttering along nicely.

When I was downloading the shawl photos, I found this one of a Bug creation. He made a crane out of Bean's mega-blocks (the line is a vine and the "picker-upper thing" is a fence section from some Dora mega-block sets). Technically, it's a "racing crane." You know, one that races around the race track and also stops to pick up broken race cars. Yeah, one of those.

19 November 2007

Busy weekend

We kept ourselves quite busy and on the move this weekend! Since the public schools weren't in session on Friday for parent-teacher conferences, we decided to pass over our usual library for our Friday library trip. It is a very small library and when school isn't in session, it can get pretty chaotic. Instead, we went to a branch with a bigger children's area. Since we didn't get our big ol' stack of holds for the week, Kitty Daddy set out early on Saturday to take our old computer monitor in to be recycled and then picked up our holds and some books for himself at our regular branch. We completed a library trifecta on Saturday afternoon when we met some friends at the Monona library for Tellabration.

Our big event for Sunday was visiting the Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills. They had an open house, with tours of the mill, which was pretty cool. Blackberry Ridge has their own line of yarn, which comes to the mill as bales (about 700 lbs) of wool from a flock of sheep in South Dakota. They card, spin, ply, and dye (except, of course, their natural colored yarns) all the yarn that they sell from this wool, including some very pretty hand painted yarn! They also do custom milling for folks that have fleece that needs to be turned into roving or yarn. I think by now we have seen most of the possible routes a bit of fluff can take from critter to finished object. We have seen sheep being sheared, an alpaca show, and seen sheep on farms both to the north and to the south. The kidlings have seen me spin with a drop spindle and knit, and we have seen knitting machines, drum carders, and spinning wheels demonstrated at some of the fiber events we have gone to. The only thing that we have missed for the past two years is the lambing at A-Z farm. We will have to make a point of getting there this spring!

15 November 2007

America Recycles Day

America Recycles DayToday is America Recycles Day. We celebrated by reading some books about garbage and recycling and then Bug, Bean, and I, together, took the recycling pledge. Since we have been pretty lax about recycling since moving to our new apartment (the recycling dumpster was always crammed full of non-recyclable trash), we have a lot of room for improvement. The apartment management sent around recycling information and threatened to crack down on dumpster mis-users, so this is as good of a time as any to get back into the recycling groove. We read about what can be recycled (item one on the pledge), set up a recycle bin in the kitchen, picked a couple of recyclables out of the trash can, and took them to the recycling dumpster for practice (item two), we will be taking our old monitor to be recycled on Saturday (item three), and sent the pledge on to five other people (item five). We skipped number four this year. I think it would be more meaningful to do that together when the kids understand more about government. Sure, I could do it myself, but I would rather pledge to do things that I know will get followed through on, rather than procrastinated on.

In other news, Beeb has been smiling for a few weeks now, but those smiles have been too fleeting to capture until recently. So for your perusal, the Beeb-man smiles:





Yeah, between him and big brother, the chicks don't have a chance!

FO: Patriotic Socks

Specifications
Yarn: Fortissima Colori Socka Color by Schoeller and Stahl
Needles: KnitPicks Circular, Size 1.5
Pattern: Interweave Knits, Summer 2007, "Working Socks from the Toe Up" by Ann Budd
Verdict: Not a huge fan of the Eastern Cast-on, though it might get better with practice. I really liked the way the short rows heels were done with yarn-overs instead of wraps. I have done (I think) two pairs of socks with wrapped short-rows and used wrapped short rows a few times in other places and I have to have the instructions laying in front of me for every. single. wrap. The techniques absolutely refuses to stay in my head. With the YOs, though, I may need to refresh my memory if I haven't used them in a while, but while knitting them up, they make sense to me and I can remember how to do them! I also have decided that I do like going toe up, so I can use every last bit of yarn rather than trying to guess where to put the heel for the longest cuff without running out of yarn and having to rip back! Dudes, I wear size 10 shoes...reknitting the entire foot is NOT a trivial matter.

Throughout this project, I have kept my references rather oblique as I was planning from the start to gift these to a blog reader and didn't want to ruin the surprise. They are in (on?) the giftee's hands (feet?) now, so I can spill some more project details!

When I saw this yarn, I immediately thought of my mom. We have a thing going based on her fondness for a stars and stripes sweater, as well as a couple of other clothing and jewelry items with patriotic motifs. Combine this with the kind of abject humiliation that I can only hope that I am one day able to inflict on my kids ;o). You know the kind of inside joke/story that you get going with certain family members and friends. It's flamingos between my dad and me...I may spill that tale one day, too.

Anyhoo, I knew that these would be a gift for my mom at some point and when I found out that she was looking into surgery to address chronic back and leg pain sometime this fall, I thought that would be a good time. So I cranked away on them. However, when the surgery was scheduled, I found out about the Tuesday surgery the Sunday before. There was absolutely no way to get them done and mailed to the west coast in two days, so I hurried along, hoping to get them out by the end of the week, but I ran into the whole DPN and cuff fiasco, that added several days to the project.

So in the meantime, she had the surgery, everything went as it should and she is recuperating nicely. It will still be a few weeks before we all know whether it did all that it was supposed to, but the word is "cautiously optimistic." So without further ado, the socks on the victim's giftee's feet, only about a week and a half late:

Incidentally, the picture at the top is my feet modeling the socks. Yes, big feet are indeed genetic. And the last picture is the full, belated get-well package including leaf art from Bug and Bean and a card/picture of Mr. Beeb, since he is too little for art projects.

14 November 2007

hee

We're in the newspaper! You can see the article here. And for the record...I said that I "sneak in" to blog during odd moments, not "streak in." Hee-hee...gotta love typos! Bean is currently the only streaker in this house, and that has been curtailed by the nippy weather and trying to save money by keeping the thermostat low!

13 November 2007

Late to the Party

When the buzz about Ravelry started traveling around the knitblog community, I swore I was going to stay away. Things are crazy enough without another internet time-suck. I finally gave in over the weekend and put myself on the wait-list. Based on the blogs I read, I figured I was the only person in the known universe that hadn't joined, but when I looked back today (less than 48 hours after putting myself on the wait-list) here was my status:

  • You signed up on November 11, 2007
  • You are #56058 on the list.
  • 9991 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 1011 people are behind you in line.
  • 79% of the list has been invited so far
I guess that means that there are people slower on the uptake than me! Dudes, save me a seat...I'll be joining you sometime!

In other knitting news, I am approaching the first corner of the shawl doing the edging. All along I had been thinking that the edging was a relatively small part of the whole, but I did the math and the border is close to 20% of the stitches! So I'm not as "almost done" as I thought, but I just love how it is turning out and it will be so worth it! I have also been picking up the Kitty Man sock at odd moments. I discovered (once again) that I can't swatch for beans, so I ripped out a huge toe and about a half an inch of foot and started over with fewer stitches. As I knit socks I have been trying out different toes and heels and trying toe-up and cuff-down and I think I have finally hit on *my* combination, so I will have my own generic sock recipe. Not that it is anything I have invented or I am deluded that I am the first person to use this particular combination, but it meets my own unique combination of neuroses needs. In a nutshell, they are toe-up so I can maximize cuff length and not wind up with tons of teensy balls of leftover sock yarn; I don't have to join in the round and worry about twisting; no toes to kitchener; and if I use a single kind of yarn, the *only* finishing is weaving in two ends! I will share more details when the Kitty Man socks are officially finished objects.

I am proud to say that I think this is the first post in a while that doesn't contain bodily functions. No one said being a mom was boring!

12 November 2007

A quick math quiz

Creativity + Y chromosome = ?

I'm afraid to say it isn't alway pretty, but it is always interesting! This morning the kids had been building forts with the coffee table and play table in the living room using pillows and blankets. After a while, the pillows and blankets wound up in a big pile on the carpet with Bug buried underneath. He starts hollering, "Help! Help! I've been eaten by the slime!" I played along and lamented that my poor boy had been eaten and how much I would miss him. We went back and forth like this for a bit, when he announces, "It's okay momma, the slime is pooping me out!" He wanted me to use a "pooper scooper" and free him from the slime. I sent Bean in to do the "dirty work" with our invisible pooper scooper and when he was free, Bean and I washed him off with invisible hoses. So I got my sweet boy back and all is well. Needless to say, I am a bit apprehensive to see what we end up with when Beeb is big enough to be Bug's partner in crime!

10 November 2007

OMG!

Well, I know I'm a crazy cat lady with a weird sense of humor and too much yarn and I have strong suspicions I'm not the only one, so I had to share this! The recipe is here. Uh, yeah, that's right "recipe." It's not really a litter box. It's a cake. There is chocolate involved. I'm trying to decide if Kitty Daddy is twisted enough to receive one of these as a birthday cake next March.

08 November 2007

All the news that's fit to print

We may get a couple of our fifteen minutes of fame! A local reporter is working on an article about Moms who blog, so we met her at the 'Bou for coffee this morning and a photographer stopped by this afternoon. Too exciting! I will certainly link to the article if I can!

In the forty-five minutes we were at the coffee shop, Bug upended his cocoa the minute it got to the table, Bean managed to dismantle a piece of the fireplace (I think (hope?) that it was already broken and she just knocked it loose), and Beeb, who was tied to my chest with a wrap, let loose with a poo that probably registered on the Richter scale. So if you read about unusual earthquake activity in Wisconsin, it is probably a false alarm. So, pretty much, a normal outing!

07 November 2007

From the Department of Vital Statistics

Bean and Beeb had well child/baby check-ups last week and I completely forgot to report! The Beeb was a couple of days shy of two months (the appointment was the 30th) and tipped the scales at 11 pounds 10 ounces...well into double digits and he has climbed from around the 25th percentile for weight at birth to around 50th percentile. He is currently 22¾", or as I prefer a studly 1'10¾".

Bean continues to be a tall, exceedingly solid girl. At 3'4", she remains right around the 95th percentile for height. Although she looks very proportionate, albeit with a pleasant amount of baby/toddler chub remaining, she is again way off the charts for weight at 47 pounds 2 ounces. For her age, 95th percentile is around 37 pounds...whereas she weights more than 95% of five-year-old! Both last year and this year, the doctor thought that the weight had been recorded wrong as she doesn't look like she should weigh that much! But mama is getting her upper body work-out lifting her!

Hmmm...

We've had a few of "those" days. After completely mutilating my DPNs on the first sock cuff and getting halfway through the second cuff, I had the bright idea of trying on the sock (it isn't for me, but it is for an adult, so my feet are in the ballpark). Ahem. It wouldn't go over my heel. Not even close. Crud. Fortunately, in the interim, I had been led astray by the siren song of "Clearance Yarn" (Knit Picks Gossamer in Blue Jeans, four skeins, buried deeply enough in the stash so I can pretend it didn't happen. Shhh. We shan't speak of it again. Especially since there are a few skeins of Alpaca Cloud in Sunlight Heather calling my name. Loudly. Insistently. Irritatingly.) and also ordered a 32" circular needle midway in size between the one used to knit the socks and the abused DPNs. So I ripped back and redid both cuffs and finally finished them. I'm pretty sure I knit about 3½ socks to get this pair. Anyhoo, I'll get a FO post up at some point with pictures and specs. I immediately cast on for my Kitty Man socks (second picture down). I swatched, made the toe and have started up the foot, but I am still calling it a swatch as I think it will be too big. So I'll do a few more rows and decide whether or not to start over.

The puker was Bean. I'm still not convinced that it's a stomach bug, even though she puked in bed again last night when we tried to give her some cough medicine. She has a really loose, "productive" cough and I think she is gagging herself. Yeah, I know, TMI. Want to hear about the color, consistency, and texture of Beeb's poops? No? I didn't think so. Moving on...

05 November 2007

Why is it...

that kids, cats, and dogs insist on barfing on the carpet? Can no one puke on linoleum? I'm just sayin'...

02 November 2007

Why I hate DPNs

Okay, I'm not bashing DPNs. I have several sets of Brittany DPNs in larger sized that are just wonderful to knit with, but when it comes to smaller DPNs, I'm hopeless. I tend to be a little tense when I knit, if you understand "a little tense" in the sense of Wisconsin has "a few" cows. I can't remember how many wood and bamboo size 3 DPNs I broke in the process of making my first pair of socks. Things got a bit better when I switched to metal DPNs, at least for size 2 or 3 needles. When I finally discovered "Magic Loop," dude, it was like discovering religion. Not only are circulars generally made of sturdier stuff than (some) DPNs, going from ten pointy ends to just two was magical. Seriously, I used to have nightmares about having to explain multiple puncture wounds to Child Protective Services. However, I don't have any really tiny circulars for cuffs, so I had to break out the DPNs. Not only did this lead to much creative vocabulary, but also this:

Okay, it goes a little something like this. I'm starting out "a little" tense (see above). The needles start bending, making it easier to drop stitches and harder to pull loops through. This makes me more tense. The needles bend more and so on. I have finished a little less than one inch of cuff on the first toe-up sock, stopping periodically to unwind myself. So now I just have the same amount of cuff on the second sock to complete. After getting this stressed out, I'm glad I have knitting to relax me. Oh, wait a minute...nevermind...

01 November 2007

Happy Halloween

We had a lovely Halloween! While looking through my blog subscriptions, I found these (recipe here) and just had to try them myself! I think they turned out ghoulishly good!

For trick-or-treating, we had a fairy princess (who decided that she needed her Iowa Hawkeyes football jersey under her costume instead of the pinkish turtleneck that we wore to the zoo. So, more accurately, she was a football fairy princess. The wee one was a tiny lion and the trio was rounded out by Spiderman, who refused to wear his mask or have the neck velcro fastened.

A couple of detail views...the cute little tail on the lion cub:

And the football fairy princess's pigtails, which lasted about two minutes before she pulled the elastics out. Earlier entries in the pigtail history are right here.

Since we had trick-or-treating at the zoo a week and a half ago, we decided to do "quality" trick-or-treating rather than "quantity" trick-or-treating. Our apartment complex has a fairly high turnover rate, so we don't know many of our neighbors, so the kids and I hopped into the car and drove to trick-or-treat at a couple of friends' houses. I think it was more fun going somewhere that got "oohs" and "aahs" for the kids costumes and a chance for momma to chat with grownups. We even got invited in for a piece of yummy pumpkin pie, though Bug wondered aloud why the other trick-or-treaters didn't get to come in for pie!

31 October 2007

Bulky Butttock Muscles: Part II

I have been hoarding this particular little anecdote for a while now. First, I needed the visual aid and by the time I had that, I had read about the contest on JenLa (click button below for details) and decided that these two things dove-tailed nicely*.

Regular readers may remember us coming across the phrase "bulky buttock muscles" while reading about the body and the giggle fits it caused for the Bug. Well fast-forward to early September and the arrival of the wee Beeb. While we were still in the hospital, I was getting ready to change a wee diaper and Bug came over to see the action. Before I got down through the layers to bare baby, out of the blue, Bug asks, "Does Baby Brother have bulky buttock muscles?" I chuckled while finishing with the denuding of the baby bum and told him to see for himself. Bug studied the minute hiney for a few seconds before announcing, "Nope, not bulky. They're baby buttock muscles."

These are said "baby buttock muscles" about a month later. While the skinny little butt (compared to the rest of the body) is obvious, the scale isn't, but take my word for it, even with a humongous cloth diaper on it, Beeb's sweet little butt fits comfortably in my hand.

And, as an AWW bonus, a reprise of a picture from last spring:

I am still wondering what happened to the "A."

*Edited to add: Due to a bit of controversy accusing JenLa of malicious intent for using a phrase that I have seen on several sites other than the person who started it, they have withdrawn the contest. I am pulling the button and link and the abbreviation of the offending phrase, but will leave the post since the world needs more cute baby butts.

28 October 2007

We Love Fall!!

We went back to Lake Farm Park on Saturday and took Kitty Daddy along. And I remembered my camera this time. It was another beautiful fall day, so we had a nice walk and Kitty Daddy tossed horse shoes and I knit while the kids played at a couple of the playgrounds.





I have been knitting, but at the moment, all my stitches are going into biggish projects that don't show much for the effort. I will throw in a progress photo of the Frost Flowers and Leaves shawl, though.

I started the edging and have completed a couple of inches of the twelve miles of edging to finish the shawl...so the end is in sight, but not necessarily all that close! The edging is 12 stitches wide and every 16 rows finishes off 10 shawl stitches. There are 1380 stitches around the edge of the shawl. Yipes!

25 October 2007

Eeeewwwwww...spiders!

No, actually, there are nice and cute, cuddly spiders! Yet another Halloween-inspired crafts project. We made the spiders a couple of weeks ago and finished up the webs this morning. We got black pipe cleaners, black pom-poms, and google eyes from the craft store and added paper plates, black paint and black and white yarn from the home supplies.



Other than that we have been alternating between camping at home nursing colds (Beeb, Bean, and I) and trying to get out and enjoy the fall weather. In preparation for winter, we have added a Tuesday library trip to check out some of the other nearby South Central libraries. We like the familiarity of the branch we have been using, but it is a tiny library in a strip mall and the kids are getting a little bored with the limited kids area toys and I'm getting a little tired of having the teensy-weensy kids area cheek-by-jowl with the computers and feeling like we are disturbing everyone!

After the library, it was too beautiful to go back home, so we went looking for a park that we had heard good things about. I couldn't remember the name and only had a vague idea of where it was, but we hid pay dirt! We found Lake Farm park, which has wonderful hiking trails, three playgrounds scattered among the hiking, a lovely setting with trees, prairie, and Lake Waubesa. First, we alternated hiking and playgrounds and on the way back we alternated hiking and sitting on park benches overlooking the lake and reading library books. Since it was a spur of the moment trip, I didn't have my camera, but we definitely be going back, so I will get pictures sometime!

22 October 2007

Wonderful weekend

We had a marvelous weekend this week, marred only by the fact that Grandma and Grandpa weren't here to share it with us as planned. In addition to perfect fall weather and gorgeous fall colors, we had a whole bunch of fun activities.

On Saturday, we went to the Enchanted Forest put on by the City of Fitchburg. It was held at a local park and included wagon rides pulled by Clydesdale horses, a bonfire, and a walk through the woods lit by Christmas-type lights and populated by folks dressed up in story book costumes. Of course, I forgot my camera, so no pictures! We went the first year we were here, but missed last year due to an unfortunate combination of iffy weather, cancellations, and company.

On Sunday morning, we got up and headed out for trick-or-treating at the zoo. I remembered to bring my camera, but discovered that the batteries were dead when I went to take the first pictures, so I only have one picture of Beeb from before we went to the zoo (I promise to get costume pictures of everyone on Halloween!):

In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight...

Sunday afternoon and evening were dedicated to Bean's Birthday! The divine miss Bean is now three years old! We celebrated by going to Ella's Deli (which has become a birthday tradition here) and then coming home for cake, ice cream and presents.


If you aren't in the kid-vid loop, it's Map from Dora. Say it with me: "Cake - Presents - Three Years Old!"

18 October 2007

FO: Blanket Squares

Two small finished objects! Both were quick knits but SLOOOOW finishers. I am just too lame when it comes to weaving in ends. I have had the knitting done since before Beeb was born and I finally took the whole two minutes (no joke) to weave in the ends today. I swear I am going to take them to the post office tomorrow! Please feel free to slap me around if I don't. Anyhoo, will be shipping them off to Ms. K for the Miner's Blankets she is assembling.

Specifications
Yarn: Paton's Soy Wool Stripes (Natural Berry, left and Natural Blue, right)
Needles: KnitPicks Options, size 8
Pattern: Seat of the pants log cabin block for Berry block, mitered square (based on pattern for blocks in New Knits on the Block)
Verdict: Love SWS! A soft cushy yarn to knit with, a neat lady organizing the project, and a good cause. What's not to love??

As long as I caught a brief ray of sunshine to get the blanket block pics, I tried to capture the gorgeous roving I got last weekend. I have a little assistant helping me to keep the ball from rolling away in the wind. Even with the sun, the picture really doesn't do the colors justice. Plus you can't see the green and blue sparkly synthetic fibers that are mixed in. I guess you're just going to have to take my word for how purdy it is...

17 October 2007

Oh Crud.

We have been just having quite the series of mishaps and plans fallen through this month! Kitty Daddy's mom was schedule to be here the first week of October to see the grandkids and to keep Kitty Mommy company while Kitty Daddy went to Minneapolis for a two-day conference. However, because of some health issues, her doctor suggested that she remain close to home until things are better resolved.

Next, my parents were supposed to leave Oregon last Saturday and arrive in Wisconsin today. Unfortunately, Grandma Dell (my dad's mom), who also has some on-going health issues ended up in the emergency room on Friday morning, so my folks had to scratch the trip, too. That puts poor little Beebster at 0-2 with the grandmas (through no fault of his *or* theirs!). Of course, Bug and Bean (as well as my parents and I) are way more disappointed than Mr. Beeb.

Then, if that weren't enough, we had yet another flat tire on the van yesterday. The interesting part is that we were on the way to the library and had the flat within a half of a block of where the last flat occurred. The good news is that this time, it wasn't cold, dark, and raining...the bad news is that this time, I had three little assistants in the car with me. Fortunately, Kitty Daddy was able to make an appointment close to where he works and will be taking it in tomorrow morning, so we are only house bound (other than outings on foot) for two and a half days instead of waiting until Saturday, when we usually take care of these things!

Fortunately, we have also had a lot of good stuff too. Last weekend was lovely. We went to the Fitchburg Fire Department open house for the third year in a row we've gone. No new pictures this year, but we did a lot of the same things as last year. On Sunday, we drove down to Rainbow Fleece Farms near New Glarus. I oohed and aahed over Patty's beautiful roving colorways and ended up coming home with just under four ounces of "Deep End of the Ocean." Deciding which one I wanted to try was NOT an easy choice! If we get a sunny day (and I remember), I will see if I can get a picture that does it justice!

09 October 2007

The Many Faces of the Beebster

Last night after bath time, we did a photo shoot of BB. The HR folks at KittyDaddy's work needed a picture for the employee newsletter. This is the picture we sent along of our devastatingly handsome (pronounced "devathtatingly handthome") little dude:

And here are a few others that are particularly cute or silly looking:




And lest you think he might be a perfect angel ALL of the time:

"'Nuff pictures, mama, leave me alone!"