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!

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

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!"