29 November 2007


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


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.

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

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


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


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!


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!