Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Guess what made their debut in the airport screening line on Thursday?

The finished (Seedless) Watermelon Socks are lovely, warm and, ahem...too big. At least, the second one is. It's loose around the picot edging. And the heels don't exactly match. And they don't have the little dyed seeds that the knitted-up samples in the store have.

But I still love them in all their seedless glory. Here are the specs:

The Pattern: Judy's toe-up socks (always handy, always useful) on 56 stitches

The Yarn: Hand-dyed by Robin from Yarns Unlimited in Bloomington, a birthday present from the first KnittinSis

The Modifications: Picot edge cuff from this wonderful tutorial and short-row heels by Wendy and Lucia

Time: Dec. 1 to Dec. 20 (only two days for the first sock, longer for the second...isn't that always the case?) I think this is the first pair since the Socks of Doom that I have started and finished both in the same month for my Sock-a-Month challenge.

The guy who sat down next to me while we were putting our shoes back on at the airport kept checking out my socks. That's about the only checking out I get nowadays, so I appreciated it.

Thank you to everyone who commented and told me to keep my head up about the house hunt. I really appreciate it. I know it will get better. And it's amazing what a little sleep and getting over a sinus infection will do for your outlook on life.

So Slim and I have made the journey up to the grandparents in Indiana for Christmas, but since he's napping before the unwrapping, I thought I would catch everyone up on our trip. The socks were welcome company on the plane. And Slim made friends while we were waiting to board. The picture is blurry because it's frankly difficult to catch a 19-month-old and an 18-month-old in stillness at the same time.

The trip was uneventful, though much singing and reading was done on the plane to keep Slim entertained. We've actually had time to relax up here because the family parties don't start until today. So there is knitting content to share.

ALERT THE MEDIA: We have a new knitter joining the fold! Besides the first KnittinSis, we have KnittySissy (we'll maybe let her pick a new nickname) practicing her first garter stitch last night while A Christmas Story played.

Isn't it even stitching? Don't we hate her because her first swatch looks so cute? I think she may have the gift. But I was having trouble showing her different ways to hold the yarn because I'm so used to the way I do it now. Does anyone have any online tutorial tips for how to hold yarn?

And I have to say that KnittinSis has completely come over to the dark side. Check out what she travels with for a one night stay:

The little blue bag on the left (I love it: Will Knit for Tattoos) carries clothes and overnight accessories and the other two (the grocery bag and the giganto Tilli Tomas) carry her overnight knitting stash. You know, just in case she runs out of projects to work on.

Maybe a guest blog from her is in order so she can describe what she's working on???

I am practicing project monogamy on this trip, and it's already killing me. However, great progress has been made on my Child's First Sock in the Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks. I'm through the first heel and I think the foot will go even faster.

Mom has made a request for the next pair of socks: Child's French Socks also from KVS. She wants blue, green or purple yarn, so I think that will be my purchase at our planned yarn crawl to KnittinSis's LYS on Wednesday. Also, I'm thinking of making Baby Dos a baby kimono and hat from Mason-Dixon Knitting, and they carry Dale of Norway Baby Ull.

I better wrap this up before Blogger decides to kick me and my prolific mouth off this thing. Here are two final photos and a moral: The kid always decides when he's finished with a popsicle. Always.



Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Well, That Was Quick

Our offer on the house was rejected. Apparently, an investor made an offer significantly above asking price (which we couldn't have afforded anyway), so that's that.

I'm a bit devastated. And I can't cry because I don't want to upset the kid.

I am going to try to count my blessings, that I have a nice, warm (tiny) place to live and a good husband and a healthy baby and an uneventful pregnancy and a dog that loves to cuddle up to me.

But you might have to give me five minutes....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

WARNING: Grumpiness Ahead

Well, actually, not until Dec. 22nd...we put an offer in on a house today and gave them until Friday to respond. I don't have high hopes, especially since I actually like the house, it's in D.C. in a not-so-bad neighborhood and it's not an absolute shithole.

The Cap'n doesn't want the house anyway, so it'll probably be better to have the (low) offer we made rejected. Our realtor had me write a cover letter, and that helped me get some of the emotions of wanting the house out, so now if it doesn't work out, I can rationalize that it's because the seller is a Grinch.

Welcome to the Cranky Zone.

I was hoping this post would have a picture of some finished watermelon socks, but I've had no time to knit at all. Also the second short-row heel is coming out with bumps on both sides, though no holes. And I'm worried that I might run out of yarn. Whoo-hoo! We're a barrel of laughs around here, aren't we?

So, let's change the subject, eh?

Happy Hanukkah!!

As we were lighting candles this morning with the boy, I was trying to count my blessings, I really was. He's digging the 8 days of presents, once he learned that there was something cool behind the paper. And he's learned to cheer when we spin the dreidel.

So far we haven't missed a night of candle-lighting. On Saturday, the Cap'n made latkes for friends visiting from Philly. And in the grand tradition of gift-giving for the Cap'n, I've had my usual 50 percent success rate with presents. So it's back to the store tomorrow for a return. I'm sure there won't be any crowds, right?

Sorry. I was going to drop the negativity, wasn't I. I'm sounding like this...

Hello, we're horrible parents who take pictures of our child having a screaming temper tantrum. Don't you wish this thing came with sound? He's fully hit the terrible twos 6 months early. What a funny little boy...he's also taken to walking backwards lately. Why?

I have to share this story about him. Yesterday at the park, Slim picked up a ball just laying on the ground and started to walk toward me with it. All of a sudden, this 5-year-old boy with his 3 or 4-year-old sister ran up and grabbed the ball out of Slim's hands. The girl was giving Slim the evil eye and standing between him and her brother. She had her arms crossed and was trying to stare Slim down for having the nerve to pick up the ball.

She stuck out her hand in the universal "STOP" sign to Slim, as if to say he better never even think about getting that ball or any other ball, for that matter. So what does Slim do?

He gives her a high five and walks away.

Y'all. He is a funny kid.

And I did get to finally open my gift from North Carolina. May I present a Big Ole Box O' Yarn?

I have ideas, thoughts, inspirations from this...I'm actually thinking about the "C" word...

Likely no posts til Indiana this weekend...and I promise to be in the Hanukkah spirit by then, 'kay?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

A Secret FO

I can't show you pics, but a little less than a day and a half worth of knitting got me another FO this evening. I will tell you some of the specs, you know...just to tease.

The Pattern: the Spiral Top-Down Hat Calculator
The Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick (they aren't kidding)
Colorway: I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you
Needles: Susan Bates aluminum US11 DPNs (set of 5)
Time: cast on Saturday at noon, cast off Sunday night around 10pm
Circumference: 64 sts, 22in or so

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know right there, but isn't there a good chunk of the story missing? The who(m), most certainly, and the why, which is an interesting story.

But it is proof that stash diving is a fun and diverting activity.

Will have more pics tonight of Hanukkah fun and a big ole box o' yarn...stay tuned.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Want to Knit....

I saw a knitter on the Metro today. My first encounter with a fellow subway train KIP-per. It looked like she was working on a scarf with some nice worsted weight purple (maybe tweedy?) yarn. She was a thrower (English), working with some wooden straights.

That got me to thinking about sitting down with my KnittinSis at Christmas and having our very own SnB. I really want my mom and other sis to join in with us, so I think I'll bring along some extra needles and yarn for them, or pick up some from Sarah's stash. It would be really nice for the 4 of us to do a crochet class together, since that's something I want to learn too.

I can't wait for vacation. It should be great.

Of course, I really need to get to work on the watermelon socks if I'm planning to wear them on the plane to Indiana. I didn't get any knitting in today at all, what with cleaning the entire house and having friends come visit from Philly.

We hit the National Building Museum and Smithsonian American Art Museum today. I think it's on to the Holocaust Museum tomorrow, and maybe another one. We'll see what the kid is up for...

I gotta get some stitches in tonight while we sit up chatting...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Random Wednesday

1. I love Wednesdays. It's my favorite day of the week. I think it's a leftover from school, when it meant the school week was half over. And today was such a lovely Wednesday, with some mild weather for a December. Slim and I spent a couple hours at the park.

2. Reason #139 why I am so cool and in touch with the trends: So there's this little show called Scrubs that I just found. It is hilarious. And it has apparently been on this newfangled gadget we call the "teevee" for like six seasons now.

3. Decorating for Hannukah is priority #1 right now. I planned to do it last weekend, but my kitschy menorah from Tar-jay didn't work, so I have to return it tomorrow and decorate in the evening. Presents also need to be wrapped. I'll be listening to the Cap'n's cousin singing "Hooray for Hannukah."

4. I'm planning to get the watermelon socks done before leaving for Indiana next week. So the preparation for knit packing has already begun. I'll definitely take the Child's First Socks with me, which means I'll need the Vintage Socks book to finish the pattern. So I'm thinking I'll take some yarn with me to start another one of the patterns in there. I have some Sunbeam St. Ives in a very manly color (Mallard, maybe?), so maybe the Cap'n will get another pair of socks? I like the Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern and the Gentleman's Fancy Sock, but the latter may be too close in pattern to the Purled Ladder from Sensational Knitted Socks that I first gave him.

5. KnittinSis and I were chatting today about our planned yarn crawl to her LYS with our cousin when I'm visiting Indiana. She said they have Dale of Norway's baby yarn, which I thought I had seen in previous trips. I am thinking of a souvenir yarn purchase to make a present for Baby Dos. Maybe the Mason-Dixon baby kimono? But with a button or bobble closure instead of a bow/ribbon. I want it to be unisex, so I'm also thinking a nice sage-y green.

6. I have this idea for a book...

7. In a huge sign of restraint, I have a box full of yarn and knitting supplies sitting in my living room unopened. My Dad and MawMaw have been on the hunt at yard sales for KnittinSis and I now that we're into this crazy craft. So they divided up their haul and sent it to each of us. The Cap'n says I must wait to open it until Hannukah (his Moldy Ogre side coming out), so in a few more days I'll present the photographic evidence.

8. Slim has been convinced to wear his Elf Swirl Hat by me telling him each time that he looks as cool as the Cat in the Hat. Have I mentioned how much he L-O-V-E-S this book? I have it memorized. No, really. The whole thing. If he's crying in the stroller, I can start reciting it, and he stops.

9. The other thing that gets Slim to stop crying is when the Cap'n or I start singing Johnny Cash's version of "Sam Hall." It's got an interesting history. We're raising one tough little boy.

10. Does it violate the spirit of Random Wednesday to have an even Top Ten random list?

11. Oh well....I can't remember the rest of the random things I was going to put in here, and Seconds from Disaster is on. I luuuuve this show.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Eh, Who Knows?

That pretty much sums up the way I'm feeling right now...I think it is the socks that are holding me together.

I was talking to my sister earlier this evening about house hunting in D.C., and I just got depressed. There is seriously nothing we can afford. And I SWEAR I am not exaggerating. What you can get in the city for under $250K is either in the ghetto or needs to be completely gutted and redone with an additional $100K, but most of the time it's both. And if I'm lucky, there's a bus nearby...not the easy access to Metro that I really need being car-less.

So we also are looking in this little suburb of D.C., Greenbelt. It's a wonderful community, totally planned and walkable, and it's more affordable. That is: If we had an extra $25,000 lying around to put down on a townhouse in the cooperative there and we could afford the condo fees on top of the mortgage. The houses are affordable because they are in the cooperative, but we can't afford one because we can't meet the downpayment requirement. Is that the definition of ironic?


No point in stewing over it. The four of us will be very "bonded" in March in our little 550-sf apartment.

I am also starting to get anxious over having nothing prepared and no space to prepare for Baby Dos. We have no room for two sets of diapers, bringing back the newborn clothes, the co-sleeper, etc. But we'll have to make do. It's only 13 weeks away, and I'm starting to feel the pressure. I guess I should be happy that it's only kicked in now.

I have been working on my law school applications, but will have to kick it into high gear this week so that I don't have to spend vacations working on them. The Cap'n has been really helpful about taking Slim in the mornings. Today they went to the National Building Museum, which is an almost unknown gem in D.C. They have a great kids' playroom that makes for a wonderful (free) activity when it's cold out.

I also feel rotten today because I fell off the 4-day wagon and had a Diet Coke. See, I'm not making a big deal out of it, but I'm trying to get off the DC so I don't push out a hyper-caffeinated newborn who is going to start having caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Also because there are very confusing statistics out there about the safety of aspertame (NutraSweet) in Diet Coke. So for the last few days, I've been slugging back the flavored seltzer and being really good. And today while I went to the coffeeshop to work, I was back in a familiar habit -- having Diet Coke while studying for the LSAT -- and I just did it. It didn't even taste good. So it's back to raspberry seltzer for me, and the self-flagellation will have to wait.

So on to the socks...let's end this post on a happy note and with some pics, shall we?

I'm going round and round on the foot of the second watermelon sock, and since stockinette is not exactly rocket science or that photographically exciting, let's wait for the finished pair. Maybe this weekend?

But in more challenging news, I'm happy to report a successful cast-on and 3 full, un-screwed up pattern repeats of Nancy Bush's Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern. I am using the Lorna's Laces Shephered Sock in Brick, and it looks quite a lot like the socks in the book. (Please ignore the months-old pedicure...)

The Cap'n has already cast his vote of approval.

In baby news, Slim comes over to my belly and pulls my shirt up so he can hug it. I ask if he says hi to the baby, and he waves.

Let's hope that attitude lasts after Baby Dos gets here.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

To Happier Endings...

I can't get the story of the Kim family in Oregon out of my mind. I'm really upset by this. James Kim sounds like he was a strong guy, and both parents really put themselves on the line to save their kids.

I guess in some ways, I could see it happening to our family. The Cap'n and I have not been shy about setting out on adventures of our own. The Kims were only on a simple road trip, when one mistake took them off the path. It could happen to us. We even visited friends in Eugene, OR, earlier this year and made a trip to the Oregon coast.

Did I tell you about the time the Cap'n and I got lost in the Everglades? We joke and laugh about it now, but we got lost on a canoe trip and ended up spending a night out sleeping in the bottom of the boat. From the vantage point of a canoe seat, all the mangroves lining the route look exactly the same and they are all about 8 feet high. You almost feel like you could stretch and see over them, to figure out where you're supposed to be going.

But you can't.

Both of us had just finished reading "In the Heart of the Sea" just before our Everglades trip. It's the true story of the whale ship sinking that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick. Wonderful book. The descriptions of the stranded men had both of us thinking that one day our boat would float out of the swamp with nothing but bleached bones at the bottom of the canoe.

The first day went well. We put in on a marked trail, every twist and turn noted with a length of PVC pipe anchored in the mud and numbered. It was like connect the dots. Some of the openings between the mangrove trees were just barely wide enough for the canoe and tall enough for us. We joked about snakes dropping down from the vines into the boat, or onto us. The scenery was beautiful; the mosquitoes weren't that bad; and we were getting cocky.

We arrived at the chickee (a platform serviced by an outhouse where you set up camp -- there's no other option in the water-covered Everglades) in plenty of time to set up our tent, make a nice dinner and enjoy the company of Al the Alligator who was swimming around looking for handouts. That first night it was a double chickee, and two old canoeists were camped out on the next platform over. We should have had an inkling of suspicion -- when we told them our bold plan for the trip, they were surprised and said they wouldn't have the nerve to do it, despite their recent canoe outing in Minnesota's Boundary Waters.

Reporters -- we only recognize foreshadowing when it's written down for us.

So our chickee companions headed back to the visitors' center at Flamingo the next morning and we set out for the next chickee. This time with only our compass and map to guide us. The rest of the route was through larger bays and waterways, and none of it was marked.

Another hint we missed: We got a little disoriented not long after leaving the first chickee and backtracked so we could re-consult the map and compass. We ran into "Mr. Stinky" -- our nickname for the ranger and the actual christened name of his boat -- as he was cleaning the outhouse, and he gave us encouraging words for finding the next chickee, "Head into the wind."

We debate to this day whether he meant that literally or figuratively. I thought he was giving us general directions. (Let's save critiques of my general directional sense for another day, 'mkay?) The Cap'n argues that its only common sense from a man piloting a boatload of poo.

The second chickee was the same distance from the first chickee as we had crossed the first day. The first leg had only taken us a couple of hours, and we were getting warmed up, too. No problem, right? We paddled out a second time from the chickee happy as larks. As we went, we made sure to do as the ranger back at the visitors' center advised us before we set out: We looked behind us to note our surroundings, and we described the mangrove formations to each other as little landmarks. "That one looks like a man bending down." "That one looks like a dog jumping." Ha, ha.

Perhaps the Cap'n became a little concerned before I did, but it was nearing on mid-afternoon (we had set out from the first chickee around 8:30 in the morning) before I started getting an inkling that something was wrong. We were seeing the same blind bays. One had a white cloth tied to a tree branch at the entrance of it, as if someone else had been in our same predicament. Our landmark mangroves didn't look the same from the opposite direction. We tried going in the direction of some motorboats (airplanes?) we heard. We tried going back toward the first chickee again. We ate lunch in the canoe. We started seeing the sun set.

Around 5, the Cap'n said, "We're going to have to find a place to tie up for the night and try to make it in the morning." I think that's the only point at which there were tears. I don't swim well, I frankly don't like the water all that much, and I really don't care to lose any appendages to alligators. I did not want to hear about a night spent in an 18-foot canoe.

We found ourselves (again) in a large bay that we had already explored to find an exit -- no such luck. We tied off to a small island in the middle and the current pushed the canoe the rope's length away from the trees (snakes), underbrush (raccoons -- damn things swim), and greenery (mosquitoes). The sun started to set as the Cap'n made ramen noodles over the campstove in the middle of the canoe.

Our "romantic" dinner was aborted until about an hour of sunset, however, as the barrage of mosquitoes was too powerful even with the 100 percent DEET Everglades sauce we were marinating in. It kept them off for about 20 minutes, and then we retreated under a tarp as the little buggers beat against it, looking for any way to reach flesh.

After dark, we were able to finish dinner and contemplate life truly without illumination. Actually, I believe the halo on the eastern horizon was the lights of Miami, which only made where we were a little more scary. So close to civilization -- were those motorboats we kept hearing? -- and yet so far away. The moving pinpoints of jet airplane lights in the sky were always overhead. I could imagine being on one just then.

We stashed the backpacks and coolers at either end of the canoe and, lifejackets firmly on, managed to wrap ourselves around each other (head to toe, toe to head) and around the thwarts in the center of the canoe. The METAL canoe. The very HARD METAL canoe. We could only sleep for about an hour before our hips and shoulders would cry out for a shift. Then we would gingerly -- very gingerly! -- trade places in the floating, rocking canoe in the dead of night in a swamp full of alligators.

My dreams became half-waking hallucinations. Once I thought that I had set up and noticed a boat ramp on the other side of the bay that we had just missed before. My parents were there with the van that we had taken my childhood camping trips in, and we drove out of the swamp to a party where the mayor of the town I covered was dressed as an Elvis impersonator. It seemed very real at the time.

The fog rolled in as it come morning, and so did the clouds. It was starting to look like rain for the next day of our "adventure." And the Cap'n has this charming habit...when things aren't looking so good, he likes to say, "Well, if we weren't here, we wouldn't be seeing this (insert natural phenomenon, i.e. sunset, stars, sunrise, clouds rolling in, etc.) right now." Ha. Don't you just want to smack him?

An aside to note: If you desire tips on how to handle it when "nature calls" while you're stuck in the middle of a swamp in a canoe, please email me, and I'll be happy to share my experiences.

So we set out that drizzly morning with a new mission and a new plan. I silently decided that there was no freakin' way I was spending another night in rocking canoe surrounded by alligators. The Cap'n decreed that we were going to take a compass heading for the second chickee, based on the sunrise, and we would not deviate from that path. We would navigate through the mangrove trees, marking each turn along the way with a knot from the rope that tied us up the night before.

It must have been around 7am when we put our paddles back in the water, and as the sun burned off the clouds, fortune started smiling on us. We entered larger and larger bays -- none of the cramped coves of the afternoon before. We paddled through one final switchback of mangroves before we entered the largest bay since we had left the first chickee the day before. An island was ahead of us, and as I looked at the map, I told the Cap'n that it looked like there was an island in the bay where the second chickee was located.

Then...chickee ho!!

There it was at last, the closest thing to solid ground we had set foot on in two days. We made straight for it and arrived 26 hours after we had set out originally. Of course, it turns out it was only about an hour paddle from the first chickee.

I immediately passed out after declaring that no persuasion by the Cap'n could get me back into the canoe to fish for dinner. Obviously, I would never sleep well on a waterbed, but give me flat planks, and you wouldn't wake me for days. The Cap'n did go fishing (and almost got lost again), and we celebrated in style that night, with an honest-to-God tent to keep out the buggies, a full meal and plenty of room to stretch out in our sleeping bags.

The rest of the trip (a night on the third chickee and then a full day's paddle all the way back to the trailhead) was aborted since we spent the night in the canoe, so we set out the next day for dry land. We soon figured out where we had missed our turn the first time around, and passed the first chickee in about an hour. Then we entered the marked mangrove trail, and pulled out in time to load up the canoe and gear, get cleaned up back at the visitors center, and enjoy dinner and a sunset at the restaurant there.

Quite a difference from two nights' before. We laugh at pictures of me with one eye nearly swollen shut from a mosquito bite, hunched over in the canoe tearfully consulting the map. There's a celebratory photo of the Cap'n at the second chickee in the all-together, finally taking a bath.

We joke now about how tour companies should hire us to do trips at the same time they're taking groups out. We could get a cut everytime they passed us -- stuck or lost -- by pointing at us and telling their clients, "See, that's why you hire a guide!" We'd be stars if someone still made educational movies about What Not to Do in the Wilderness.

But it's only a joke if you survive.

The Cap'n and I talked last night about putting together a little survival kit for the car, and we weren't joking around this time. Being a parent has given me a new appreciation for preparation, for being responsible for other, smaller human beings who need protection.

I'm grateful for our happy ending (so far). But I will be thinking about Kati Kim and her daughters every time we head out for a trip. I hope they can find peace and a happy ending somewhere in front of them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Juicy News

Dude. There is absolutely no holiday knitting to be found on this blog. Nada. Zip. Zero. Not now, not later.

Why, you may ask? No good reason, I suppose. Love the fam, made them scarves, belts, socks. I have no idea whether they're even being used. I guess I came to the realization this year that I don't want to force handknits on anyone, and that they may just appreciate something else.

But hi! More knits for me!

Lookie! Watermelon! And exclamation points!

This is birthday yarn from my newly knitting sister, purchased at her LYS from a local hand dyer. She said there was a sample knitted up in the shop and it looked like a watermelon, so I knew I needed to make this a very simple sock.

Perfect timing, what with the LSAT last Saturday. I cast on Friday with the plan of making a toe-up sock on my tried and true formula. Round and round. Sweet, perfect stockinette. Mindless knitting just at the right time. And two days later, we have this...

Isn't the picot cuff at the top girly looking? Smooches...I love it. Lolly pointed the way to this wonderful tutorial by Kristi on how to make a picot cuff on toe-up socks. I went with #4, putting the stitches on scrap yarn and then weaving the live stitches in with the corresponding stitch below.

But that's actually new technique #2 for this sock. See the heel? Dig's my first short-row heel. I went with Wendy's generic recipe, with some help from Lucia. It wasn't making sense at first, but then the heel just started popping out.

I was really proud of one side, even though my only hole (since darned up) appeared there, but the other side doesn't look as smooth. I think it was the purl side, and it was right where the color change happened between green and white. Little white dashes appeared on the turning line. Oh well. I still love how it turned out.

Actually, I think the short-row heel was faster for me to execute than either the toe-up heel flaps I've done or the two forethought heels. I'm just not sure how it will wear or how I will like it. I've been wanting to try something new with socks, so this gives me a little confidence boost to just pick this up.

A much needed confidence boost after Saturday's test. Oy vey. After some boo-hooing and driving around for a while, I feel a little better, but not much. I just don't feel I did as well as I could have -- I got flustered, almost panicked at one point, and the test administrator threatened to count me absent after I spent 4.5 hours struggling. Oh well. It's over now.

Let's talk about yarn, shall we? It's the only thing keeping me together right now, considering my cold came roaring back the day of the test too. Since I was up in Baltimore for the test, I decided to track down a new yarn store to check out the day before the test to help me relax.

I can highly recommend A Good Yarn if you're in Baltimore city limits anytime soon. They are right on the edge of Little Italy and the Inner Harbor attractions, which is a fun area to visit anyway. It's a very small shop, and they specialize in yarns created by "local" artisans. They've expanded the definition of local across the country, which makes for a whole roomful of unique yarns.

I resisted the hand dyes, but got a great deal on some worsted wool straight from the sheep. It's made by Bemedji Woolen Mills, which has been in the same family for something like 150 years. It's not treated, so the wool only comes in natural colors. It's a great deal of yardage for the price. They had a sample knitted up in a felted mitten with a ribbed cuff, and I just have to make a pair for Oren. I also thought they would make him a nice pair of boot socks, maybe similar to ones in Nancy Bush's Folk Socks.

Speaking of my idol, I did swatch(!?!) and cast on for the Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern in Knitting Vintage Socks. I'm still only on the cuff, and I think it may take a little while to get the pattern down. But I think the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in brick will look a lot like the one in the book.

And now for the part the family is waiting for...Slim photos.

This morning while house-hunting Slim decided it was his turn to drive, of course with Daddy's coffee cup in hand. He's really such a Daddy's boy. He walked up to the apartment door yesterday afternoon, hit it and said, "Da!"

He's really such a sweet kid. I had such a proud moment the other day when both he and the Cap'n were at the park wearing their handknit hats. I DID THAT! Whoo-hoo!

The Cap'n was Mr. Domestic this weekend while I was busy testing and whipped up this little beauty on Saturday. Any guesses? The Le Creuset teapot sitting next to it is a clue, as is the fact that it was inspired by the Cap'n's favorite cookbook. Sock yarn for you, if you know. Or a knitted pair of socks, if you don't knit yourself.

P.S. The apple doesn't fall far from the trees...fell asleep reading.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

For My Boy

I'll admit right now to bribing the kid to get him to model the hat. Cartoon? Cookies? your bets now on how often Slim will actually wear his new Elf hat.
The Specs:

Pattern: Elf Swirl from Kids' Knitted Hats by Cabin Fever
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon
Amount: 3/4 of a 330y/300m skein, I bet enough left over to make little mittens or fingerless gloves for Slim
Colorway: #206, Lumberjack Black
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo US4 (3.5mm), set of 5 dpns, and an Addi Turbo US4 metal circular
Time: eh, who knows?
Circumference: 110 sts, 18 in.

Notes about the pattern: To create the swirl, it called for an SSK after each marker and a YO before the next marker. What happens the round after you create a YO? That's right, a big hole. The book's pictures did not show a line of holes to the side of each swirl, and I really didn't want them there. So after about 6 rounds like this, I put the hat aside for awhile.

I hate ripping back, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to fix the YO holes any other way, and I wasn't going to finish the hat if I left them in. So I pulled back all 660 stitches in those rounds and started the swirl again. I ended up knitting through the back loop when I came to the YOs and closed up the holes. That's my favorite type of increase anyway -- works great on toe-up socks.

After I started the swirl decreases, the hat started moving a lot faster. Some other good things about the hat: It perfectly matches Slim's new coat (everyone is still going to think he is a girl between the hat and the coat) and it uses up a ball of self-striping yarn that I bought back when I was really into the stripes. I want to start making solid-color socks, preferably some of Nancy Bush's, and besides, the Cap'n is hating the striped socks. So this way, the yarn (on sale from Michaels) did not go to waste in the stash.

I also modified the pattern by adding two (way too long) I-cord ties. The only way that you're seeing this hat on Slim's head is bribery and the ties. He's like that with socks, too. They don't stay on for long if his shoes are off. I first made each I-cord and then attached them by picking up stitches inside the hat and then binding off the I-cord and the picked-up stitches together. I was pretty pleased with myself.

We've had some scares with cold weather blowing through the DC region, and no hat for Slim's head, but clearly I am responsible for global warming as I have finished the hat on a 70 degree day at the end of November.

It may also be a sign of the upcoming apocalypse that this hat actually fits Slim. Originally I thought this was my 4th try in making a hat for him, but the Cap'n corrected me: It's actually #5.

First was made before my knitting class last November when I was determined to make a hat for Slim. I used the Knifty Knitter small loom and Lion Brand boucle yarn. The crazy thing barely fits one of Slim's teddy bears. One could say I knit a little tight. I mangled the loom knobs so bad, I don't know how it will work for another hat.

Second was a cute little earflap hat made with Lucia's cool calculator and some Debbie Bliss cotton/angora. Perhaps it was made without a gauge swatch or head measurements. Perhaps. was gifted to my cousin's new baby.

Third was another earflap cap; this one also from the Cabin Fever pattern book. I thought I was being quite brilliant, making my own calculations to adjust between sportweight and worsted weight yarns. I thought I was getting better about at least measuring his head before I cast on. And I was very pleased how my first Fair Isle attempt turned out. When I finished, I was prepared to turn a blind eye to how it actually fit Slim, until my youngest sister tried the hat on and I realized it looked cuter when it actually fits. Even if it fits a 17-year-old, not a 1-year-old.

Fourth was another Cabin Fever pattern: Candy Dots. I really can't tell you what went on there. I believe I measured Slim's head wrong. Luckily the appreciative Cap'n has adopted the hat and wants matching slip-stitch mittens.

So here we are...a FO to build my confidence just before Saturday's rapidly approaching LSAT. Likely no blogging til Sunday or later so I have time to decompress after the test. Then it's on to finishing the applications, preferably before holiday vacations start on the 22nd.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

3,000 years and 3 days old

Happy Blogiversary to Me!!! (3 days late)

My family will probably recognize the title reference. I have a very crafty grandfather, a woodworker, folk painter, creator, who has gone through very unusual phases of craft in his life. Between "authentic" Native American artifacts -- he is British-born, actually -- he occasionally took up making "real" Egyptian scarabs that were "3,000 years and 3 days old."

PawPaw sold these items at the flea markets to buddies who would act as middlemen and pass them on. Whenever any of us would express qualms about the public purchasing these objects, PawPaw would tell us something that has always stuck with me: "People buy the story you tell them. That's the real value."

Isn't it true? Isn't it why we write, particularly on these blogs?

We could all throw up pictures on our blogs, just to share our knitting. We could post tutorials and technical tips on how we accomplished what we did. But it's the story of how and why we do what we do that keeps my blogroll long.

I'd like to use this blog in my second year to tell more stories, both to myself and to any readers out there. I don't feel like I went as deep as I had originally hoped when I set out on this blogging journey. It's been wonderful to have the outlet, but I've felt constrained when writing about my everyday feelings -- partly from not wanting this to be all bitchin-n-moanin, and partly because my inner editor is pretty strong.

This next blog year, I hope to tell more stories, both of yarn and of motherhood. Sometimes just taking the time to blog was an obstacle (yeah, that'll improve with a newborn in March), but I need the creative outlet. I have to take the time and not feel guilty about it -- consider it an investment in my sanity.

Maybe I'll delve into the creativity that surrounds me everyday to inspire blogging in my second year. As I was telling the Cap'n the other day, our home is really one that is full of creation. It's everything from the art on the walls to the knitting books, Slim's daily journey learning new tricks to the piles and piles of yarn. We have made a home made up of creativity, and I'm proud of it. I would like more of that to come out on the blog.

So here's to Blog Year 2, and everything that keeps getting better as it grows. Two is better than one! Clearly when you're talking pacifiers too...

(Slim disappeared for a minute and was a little too quiet...I should have known. He found both of these in the bedroom and came into the living room carrying them like this. That's us...we bring the crazy.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lucky Number 7 (and Thanksgiving)

From overeating to family visiting, studying to baby wrangling, it's been hard to blog about knitting. It's been hard to knit. But the Lucky Number 7 Law School Socks are finally in my sock rotation.

I say rotation: These are the only handknit socks I've made for myself. I rotate them with my truly lovely handknit Socks of Doom. But these will not be my last handknit sock presents to myself.

This is the 7th pair of socks I've made since I took the sock class from Karida at Stitch DC in mid-March. There is something about handknit socks that I didn't realize before getting these and the Socks of Doom on my feet. I adore them. I feel like I'm walking on air, and that never hurts a waddling pregnant lady with a grouchy toddler.

The Specs:

Pattern: Chevron from Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit, colorway 5060
Amount: I'd guess 3/4 of a 420m skein. Maybe enough left over to make baby socks?
Needles: Addi Natura US2 (3.0mm) set of 5 DPNs
Circumference: 66 stitches
Time: um....

These socks started their life in secret, as a focus for my job search much earlier this fall. Then when I made the decision to go for law school this year and study for the LSAT (this Saturday....AAAIIEIEEE!!!), they became my Law School Socks. I finished them last week and wore them Monday to my last practice test before the big one this weekend. Maybe they'll bring me luck!

Some notes on the socks: This is the second of the chevron-type patterns I've made from SKS. I gave the Welt Fantastic socks to my MawMaw. I only made those on 64 stitches, and they were smaller than my feet. These fit wonderfully, though I am worried about how they will wear. I got gauge for the yarn (7 sts per inch), but I'm worried that the socks aren't knit tightly enough to wear well. Does anyone out there have any experience with this? On the positive side: If my feet swell with this pregnancy as bad as they did last time, then I think these will still fit.

Thanks to Alison, the awesome hostest with the mostest of the Sensational Knitted Socks KAL, the forethought heels turned out great on this pair, compared to the Welt Fantastic pair. Instead of decreasing down every other row on the heel, I followed her advice to go halfway decreasing every other row, then start decreasing every row. Bingo! No nipply heels.

You'll notice the unmatched stripes on the Lana Grossa. It may be possible to create identical socks from this yarn, but I think that would be crazy-making, and we all know that there's enough of that to go around in this house already. Cap'n thinks these are ugly, and says that he wouldn't wear them, but we've already established that he will only get very, very boring socks knit by me. Or Norwegian stockings, his other choice.

So now I'm back on track with my Sock-a-Month commitment, and have just extended the Socktoberfest fun for another month. I just counted up, and I've made 7 socks in the 9 months since I learned. Not too shabby. Better than I thought I was doing. I'm still hoping to get a pair done for December as well. Maybe the Magic! Loop! still OTN??

Oh, and you wanted to hear about the 4 Kitchener stitches (two heels and two toes) on this pair of socks? Smooches! I (HEART) Kitchener stitch. Nevermind any aspersions that may have been cast before when knitting the Welt Fantastic socks. Forget any loud grousing, foot-stomping or other tantrum-throwing made in the past. I LOVE KITCHENER STITCH. I may just start using it on every project, called for or not. It makes such a beautiful line of stitches, and I love the little "knit, purl, purl, knit" mantra I can chant. MWAH!

And in other socky news, my so-far-blogless yet newly knitting sister just finished her first sock: a Fuzzyfoot on dpns. YAY! Felting updates to come...

So in non-knitting news, my non-knitting (maybe soon-to-be crocheting?) sister got to play with Slim McCool this Thanksgiving weekend, and we had multiple opportunities to gorge ourselves. A fun time was had by all.

Some are just born having more fun than others.

P.S. You know, I really do stay warmer with just the addition of a scarf. I've been chilled this evening, and My So-Called Scarf is just the ticket.

P.P.S. Another F.O. to come after some I-cord and Slim modeling pics.

P.P.P.S. There's still time to weigh in on suggestions for the next pair of socks I should knit. Suggestions?

Friday, November 17, 2006

One. Word. (oops)

I like this, since I really shouldn't be blogging right now, but am being an avoider.

You can only use one word to describe each item.

1. Yourself: studying
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): sexy
3. Your hair: long
4. Your mother: generous
5. Your father: busy
6. Your favorite item: yarn
7. Your dream last night: chase
8. Your favorite drink: DC
9. Your dream car: ours
10. The room you are in: coffeeshop
11. Your ex: who?
12. Your fear: failure
13. What you want to be in 10 years? better
14. Who you hung out with last night? Cap'n
15. What you're not? rested
16. Muffins: no
17. One of your wish list items: time
18. Time: out
19. The last thing you did: read
20. What you are wearing: scarf
21. Your favorite weather: today
22. Your favorite book: all
23. The last thing you ate: bun
24. Your life: moving
25. Your mood: optimistic
26. Your best friend: husband
27. What are you thinking about right now? LSAT
28. Your car: feet
29. What are you doing at the moment? blogging
30. Your summer: traveling
31. Your relationship status: wonderful
32. What is on your TV? nothing
33. What is the weather like? sunny
34. When is the last time you laughed? earlier

Back to the books!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Random Things I Keep Forgetting...

I'm going to write this stuff down before I forget again.

1. MawMaw said she loves her Welt Fantastic socks, especially since she broke her foot earlier this year and had to have screws and plates put in. She says her foot hurts like a toothache when it gets cold, but that the socks keep her feet nice and warm.

2. The Malabrigo yarn was acquired at the Brooklyn General Store, conveniently located just a few blocks from my SIL's house in Red Hook Brooklyn. They've recently moved from their basement location (where I first visited) to a street level shop that is brimming with great yarn choices all stashed in these vintage "general store" type shelves that came with the store. It's awesome.

3. Getting closer to the second heel on the Law School Socks. Just over two weeks to the test. Gotta keep moving. Any votes on the next pair of socks?
Choice A: any Nancy Bush pattern
Choice B: a lacy sock from Sensational Knitted Socks
Choice C: one of the cool Knitty patterns out lately
Choice D: Fuzzy Feet

4. B-L-O-C-K-I-N-G. eeek!!

5. Random blurry belly shot at 23 weeks.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Less Yarn, More Baby

I just realized yesterday while talking to my Mom on the phone as she was scanning my blog, that she really only looks for kid pictures. That's OK. I know this is a blog (almost typed blob...Freudian slip) about knitting and motherhood, so for the fam...

Slim is a man on the move. This is him on a visit to the zoo with one of his new play buddies. Slim, of course, was stealing the other little boy's book. He's REALLY into his books. Even at 6 a.m. Love that. How can two night owls pop out such an early bird?

I think he's getting more teeth coming in, because his eating and sleeping have been a bit off. And we're moving into the phase where we need to come up with some "positive discipline" in dealing with small tantrums, hitting, throwing, etc. Any suggestions are welcome.

Overall, though, he's such a happy guy. I hope Baby Dos is the same way. Slim walks over to me and pulls at my shirt so he can pat my belly and give it a hug. He fondles my knitting probably as much as I do, and he loves to give kisses and cuddle.

We've been working a punk rock Bam-Bam look for him sometimes, since his hair is constantly in his eyes. Of course, everyone thinks he looks even more like a girl, no matter how much blue he's wearing or how many truck noises he's making. That's Auntie's Spam truck he's holding in the photo. He loves that truck.

Finally, this is Slim in a staring contest with the Cap'n. What do you think that signals for the future? Ha.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So-Called Progress

At last, there is knitting related FO content for the blog. I've been feeling a little blah lately about my knitting, despite the stash enhancement, and I think it is a function of not having anything done.

The Specs:

Pattern: My So-Called Scarf courtesy of Sheep in the City
Yarn: Malabrigo 100% merino wool
Amount: About 1 and a quarter skeins (which unfortunately are noticeably different in color, but probably enough left over to make a matching hat)
Colorway: Oro y Vino, except that one skein has more orange oro and the other skein has more coral oro
Needles: Boye US10.5 metal straights (funny story: These are the first needles I ever bought, and the first time I've ever used them.)
Time: about a week and a half
Width: 4-3/4 to 5 inches
Length: 76 inches

Unfortunately, it rolls a little on the edges, so if I made this pattern again, I would probably put a flat border around it to keep it from curling. The pattern stitch is beautiful, and I'm worried that it won't be seen as much since it's bunched up.

I made it extra long to accommodate my extra belly. Since it came out narrower than I wanted, I wanted to be sure I had enough to wrap around my neck twice and still hang low. Since I waddle to and fro. (That song in your head now?)

Today is officially my first knitaversary, and this is the first thing I've finished for myself. The sweater and a pair of socks are still on the needles (cross your fingers both will be done soon), but everything else has been gifted.

Knitting first bit me at Target, of all places. One day after first moving here to D.C., I was out shopping with Slim and spotted one of those "Learn to Knit" kits with some blue and green fun fur type yarn for a scarf, the Boye needles and a DVD that was supposed to teach you everything you needed to know. I was able to figure out the slipknot, but that was the extent of it. I got so frustrated, I told the Cap'n, "I'm going to have to take a class." And he said I it began.

I first cast on in a beginning knit class at Stitch DC. I've blanked on my teacher's name, but maybe she wasn't the greatest. Didn't matter. I still fell in love with the challenge of it. I've spent most of my life living up in my head, and it was so wild to create something with my hands.

The class project was a scarf out of Manos del Uruguay and two strands of Kidsilk Haze held together. I didn't like how thin it was, so it ended up being frogged and restarted as a scarf for my Safta. Now my anniversary scarf is out of another kettle-dyed Uruguayan yarn, and just as lovely as the first.

I'm disappointed I don't have my first sweater done by my first knitaversary, but I hope to have it done soon. I'm going to try blocking it tomorrow or Thursday. Then just the collar and seaming to go.

I'm going to treasure this scarf as a reminder of my first year knitting. It has been such a fulfilling creative release during that first year of motherhood, which carries its own share of frustration. I enjoy the challenge, and I enjoy the learning process. There's so much more for me to learn and so many more projects I want to take on.

Here's to many more knitting years ahead!

P.S. I think I may be raising another knitter, too!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Yarn Porn...At Last

Finally, as promised, a picture heavy yarn porn posting.

I know I've been talking it up so much it's going to seem anticlimatic, but the birthday yarn is awesome. Besides the yarny books, my family got me a gift certificate to Knit Happens, and I held onto it for awhile just to salivate over the possibilities. Silk or cashmere? Sweater or scarf? Do I really need more needles?

Finally I settled on this Sex on a Skein:

Y'all, you can't tell anything from this picture. Honestly. It's neither black, purple, blue or red. It's Scarlett's Dark Secret, and it's Alchemy Haiku's 40% silk/60% mohair lusciousness. It makes me lust. I know I want to make a shawl with it, but I feel the need to practice lace first on some slightly simpler yarn. Plus I still need to find a pattern for this. Any suggestions?

My other Knit Happens purchase was Lorna's Laces Black Purl. Because Hi! I am a Sock Yarn Ho!

Apologies for the flashy picture. I really want to find a pattern that highlights the pretty purple and grey variations in this yarn without causing any pooling or other funkiness. This will also be my first time working with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, so I'm psyched. I love the worsted weight stuff.

Also in Birthday Yarn, my sister sent me yarn that we picked out last year when I was trying to convince her to knit, after only learning a month before myself. (Sorry, Rach, you are not off the hook yet! Not with Rie and I both knitting now!) It's one skein of Lion Brand Homespun in #345 Corinthian (sorry, no photo) and 10 skeins of Moda Dea Wild! in the Funky colorway. They aren't lying:

Any suggestions on pattern possibilities? I mean, it's enough to make a sweater, but I'm afraid that in my current "condition" I would look like the Cookie Monster after a food fight. It's very furry and very soft. I could just crank out 10 really long scarves with it. But that would make me insane(r). What to do?

Then comes the Stitches East haul. As if I need more yarn.

First, a word about the event. With the Cap'n down with the flu (seriously, he lost 10+ pounds), he was in no condition to take Slim for the day. I was battling a cold, but death would have had to knock a little harder to keep me away from that much yarn. So off to Baltimore we went.

Slim did what he could to hang in there for the afternoon, but it sure would have been easier to enjoy the show with someone else to keep him busy. And I got a little pissed at some of the dirty looks from the little old biddies who didn't appreciate his appreciation of fine yarn.

Look, if my kid wants to fondle the cashmere, I'm going to let him. He's not going to hurt it, his hands are clean, and it's good for him to learn to appreciate the colors and textures. So BACK OFF! (That was what I should have said to them.)

But overall, it was completely overwhelming. In hindsight, I should have had some kind of plan of attack, some way to keep myself from getting overstimulated while still seeing the new stuff. Is that even possible? At any rate, I really enjoyed the exposure, and now I have an idea of what my next fiber fest will be like. I've heard that the Sheep & Wool type shows are even more fun (how could they not be with herding dogs like our Mia?), so I can't wait until next year's Maryland event.

On to the haul: The plan was to get one "unusual" purchase, something that couldn't be found just anywhere. I think this fits the bill. Any guesses on the material?

It's 50% merino and 50% yak. Yep: Y-A-K. I bought it at the School Products booth. It's enough for a sweater for a kid age 3-4. Considering Slim will probably be that old when I get it finished, it's all good. It's a lovely deep brown with black flecks, so rich and so warm.

But then I couldn't resist this at the end of the afternoon, especially thinking of the poor, coughing Cap'n at home.

I do love my man. Can you read the labels on that yarn? 100% cashmere, baby. Oh yeah. And patterns for Norwegian ski stockings, mittens and a hat.

His comment? "I'm never going to see this." And: "This is $100 of yarn." (Y'all he DOES NOT KNIT. How does he know these things??? He's good.) But now I've been challenged to improve my Fair Isle skills and jump on this so he at least gets these next winter. (I'm not crazy: I know he's not going to get it in '06.)

Finally, I had to hook up my new knitting seester with a gift, especially since her next goal is to learn how to knit socks. So from Lisa Souza's booth:

It's Mars Quake, and it's 560 yards. I'm trying to convince her to make knee-highs with it. I've seen on some of the other cool blogs that this pattern works well. I wish I had gotten some of this stuff. I mean, you can't beat $16 worth of 560 yards of soft, squishy sock yarn with a stick.

So before Blogger craps out on me, I'm going to post this and get ready for the Cap'n's and my Date Night. Can I hear a Whooo! and a Hooo!! for babysitters???!!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I'm a Knitter, and I Voted

If it's not too late in your state, cast your ballot! I'm watching the returns on TV, and I'm angry about not having a vote on the national level. I had no idea that moving to D.C. would make me so frustrated in that regard.

I do like our prospective mayor, a Democrat who carries two Blackberries and runs marathons. He's smart, he's focused, and he's not business as usual -- a huge problem here in D.C. I went ahead and cast my vote for the independent Ward representative, since the Republican pulled the race card and the Democrat has been sitting on the dysfunctional Board of Education.

But WHY, WHY, WHY can't I make my voice heard in Congress? Aaauuugh.

Will try to update later on the Stitches East experience. My first "fiber festival."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Good Kind of Frog

Happy Halloween and Happy Socktoberfest to everyone out there!

Slim and I went trick-or-treating with friends last night after dining on Dead Man with Worms (body-shaped meatloaf served over spaghetti). We didn't make it to Hilloween, but he seemed happy with the loot he collected along the way, and he was asleep within 5 minutes of making it into the house.

I'm sorry to say that I did not finish my pair of socks for Socktoberfest, which means I also did not make my Sock-a-Month commitment. (sadness) However, I am psyched about the sock tutorials that Lolly posted on her blog and really appreciate all the effort everyone put into it. You know, Socktoberfest is all about the love of handknit socks, and that still burns brightly in my heart, so I'm going to proudly say I was an enthusiastic participant in Socktober!

But what is now resting lightly on top of my LSAT study guides? Here's a hint: Not a Sock. I had stumbled across this pattern online a long time ago and forgotten that I bookmarked it. Lolly's International Scarf Exchange reminded me of it, and I couldn't get it out of my head. Particularly with the weather getting colder last week.

So I decided to make something for me. ME, ME, ME! (It's Malabrigo's Oro y Vino. Yum. And the second link is to an already finished one since BLOGGER BITES and won't let me post a second picture!)

I'm going to say it's in honor of my 100th post to the blog, which this is. Or it can be in honor of spending 7 hours on the Chinatown bus last weekend going to NYC, which I did. Or improving on my second LSAT prep test, which I also did.

I just needed to spoil me. Besides, realistically, there is no way that handmade holiday presents are getting made for one husband, one son, four sisters, four parents, two sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-laws, two parents-in-law, a niece and a nephew. So I say: STOP THE MADNESS! I'm just going to knit for me.

I mean, besides the hat for Slim and the mittens for the Cap'n that are either OTN or about to be.

Speaking of, avoid our Plague House if you can. The Cap'n has a 103-degree fever and has been in bed for 14 hours. I've got the worst sore throat I've had in a couple years and the kid is getting cranky.

I'm off to finish the chicken soup...

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Sock-y Wind Is About to Blow

Guess whose smiling face and top-of-his-lungs screeches did not wake me up this morning?

This is my first day by myself since before Slim was born, and the first time the Cap'n has traveled alone with him. The boys and Mia have ventured up to NYC for Slim's cousin's birthday party and I'll ride the Chinatown bus up this afternoon to join them after my tour of GWU.

I love them all, and yet I can't describe to you how well-rested I feel.

It's been crazy busy around here, but my sock-knitting mojo is coming back...slowly but surely.

The first of my Law School Socks is finito. I'm hoping the 6-hour bus ride this afternoon will give me time to make significant progress on the second so I at least finish one pair for Socktoberfest and Sock-a-Month.

I LOVE THESE SOCKS! lovelovelovelovelove...These are for me and they fit perfectly. They are soft, warm and comfy. I'll put up more details about them when I get the pair finished, along with hopefully better pictures. But I do have a LSAT formal logic question for all you sock knitters out there:

If you knit one sock with yarn that stripes at randomly alternating widths, then:

  1. The pair of socks will last longer than other handknit socks.
  2. The second sock will be an identical twin of the first.
  3. The knitter should abandon all hope of having two socks that stripe alike.
  4. The stripes are set at a distance that is most pleasing to the eye.
  5. You must knit the second sock with a different set of needles.

Congratulations to all of you who chose #3! In order, we have answers that are (1) out of scope, (2) 180 degree logic, (4) faulty use of detail and (5) out of scope, according to LSAT logic rules.

Can you guess that I've been spending a lot of time studying? As much as I can anyway. I've still not blocked the sweater (eek!), Slim's head is not covered with a handknit despite the colder weather, and I haven't been commenting on anyone else's blogs either.

I'm really hoping to get some more time going into November. Last weekend we made our first visit back to NC in a long time and Slim got to make his first visit to the State Fair. No fried Twinkies or fried Snickers for him, but he did like the giant turkey legs and caramel apples.

We're not planning any more trips in the next month, so I'm hoping to have more study/application time. I've still got to take some pics of the other birthday stash enhancement that I have to show you. Sex on a skein, I tell you.

But leave a late Happy Birthday comment here for my sister who just learned how to knit! Sarah has finished up her class at Yarns Unlimited, and in the grand tradition of our family who knit (the two of us), has ripped out her first class project (baby booties) to make a fisherman's ribbed hat. Sounds fabu, and I'm so proud of her already working the DPNs! (P.S. Tell her to start blogging too!)

She's starting to get a stash with birthday money and another yarny present may or may not be winging its way to her, thanks to a Sugar Bunny. And like I said, a sock-y wind is blowing: Her next knitting class is going to be 2 socks on the Magic! Loop! I hoping to finish my pair of socks on the Magic! Loop! in November for an early Christmas present. We'll have to race.

I gotta start getting ready and get out of here for my tour. I do want to make a short plug for Chrissy's new blog: I'm a Knitter and I Vote! I signed up as soon as I heard, and I'm going to try to post up there when I get back from traveling. As a new DC voter, I don't know the political terrain around here really well, but I do think it's important to get people active in the politial process.

Gotta run!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hats! Bloggers! (No Socks)

I had my first brush with knit-blogging fame yesterday. Guess who I saw near Eastern Market?


And she looked fabulous this fine Socktoberfest Saturday. She looked vaguely familiar, but honestly, it was her beautiful Multidirectional Scarf that made me do a subtle double take.

She was bustling and I was bustling (down to the coffeeshop to study for the LSAT), so I didn’t get a chance to kvell over her, but I was bursting all afternoon. I saw Lolly! In person!

(Not that I would have known what to say...or even what to call her. By her real name, her blog name? What's the etiquette on this?)

The rest of the afternoon was spent analyzing my first practice test from class last week. I am so pysched about this law school idea. Now I just need to find a few more hours each day to get everything done on time.

I did find time to finish my latest hat project. But I ask you, which of these fine gentlemen is wearing a hat and which one is not?

The Stats

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Midnight Green and Limeade
Pattern: Candy Dots (large size) from Cabin Fever’s Kids’ Knitted Hats pattern book
Time: Less than a week to complete
Modifications: Only 2 colors instead of 3 and no roll ridges (deemed "girly" by eventual recipient). Oh, and also top down instead of brim up with the help of Lucia's awesome guidelines.

A blog post about this project was not forthcoming when promised because the Cap’n took the hat with him on a work trip. He confirms that it is nice and cozy and is now requesting matching mittens. I’ve found this two-needle mitten pattern online that I think will allow me to get the slip stitch pattern on the top of the hand to match the hat.

For those of you keeping track, this is now the 3rd attempt at making a hat for Slim. What went wrong? Well, I went with the bigger pattern, and I think, though Slim’s head is large, the combination of the yarn and the pattern made it stretchy enough to fit the Cap’n. Who (I must say) is by far my most favorite handknit recipient. While he isn't a knitter, he appreciates the work that goes into it and asks for more. Gotta love him.

So Slim is still in need of something to cover his head now that temps are dropping. I’m going to try to the Elf Swirl pattern out of the same book because I already had some Lion Brand Magic Stripes (Lumberjack Black colorway) sitting around. I got it c-h-e-a-p on sale at A.C. Moore awhile back when I was still in love with self-striping yarn.

The advantage is it is straight stockinette for awhile (good to study with), but the disadvantage is working it on a US4 16" circular Addi Turbo, which is making the tendenitis in my left wrist flare up. There's not much needle to hold onto there.

I have more yarn acquisitions for you to slobber over, but that will have to wait til Tuesday night. It's back to the salt mines to make progress on the Law School Quest, and hopefully, the Law School Socks.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Hats Off to Socktoberfest

I promise a post with photos tomorrow of the FO hat that came off the needles late last night/early this morning. It's worth its own post.

It is strange that for Socktoberfest so far, I have been knitting hats instead of socks. I lurve socks, but I think the pressure of Sock Wars got to me a little bit. So I've been on an almost two-week hiatus.

So I thought I would answer Lolly's sock history questions to get back in the mood for sock-knitting. Here goes:

1. When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

Originally, I wanted to tackle my fear of the DPNs, so I jumped in to this pattern online. I made it through the foot, turned the heel and when I got back to the ankle, the sock was barely wide enough for Slim's 1-year-old foot, much less the Cap'n's (the intended giftee). Not sure where I read the pattern wrong. So I took my second class at Stitch DC, taught by the mucho knowledgeable Karida. She used Judy Gibson's toe-up sock pattern to get us started.

2. What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

The first pair was made from Patons Classic Merino in Deep Olive for the Cap'n. I love me some Patons. Who can argue with cheap 100% wool in a wide range of colors? I used the Purled Ladder pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks for the legs, and made them as long as his other favorite camping socks. They are his favorite hiking socks right now.

3. What would you have done differently?

I'm pretty sure Patons is hand wash, and I would have made the Cap'n's socks machine washable. I think they've accidently gone through the machine, so they have felted a small bit. I also didn't really know how to bind off well, so both socks are a little funky at the top.

3. What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

Claudia's Handpainted is really nice to work with, as is Lorna's Laces. I still want some Cherry Tree Hill and Koigu KPPM to try.

4. Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I adore DPNs, particularly Brittanys and bamboo. I really hated Bryspun plastics (too bend-y) and got frustrated with havnig only 4 needles instead of 5 Boyes. My first Magic! Loop! sock project is still on the needles. Honestly I started getting ladders with Magic! Loop!, which I NEVER do with dpns. Hello. Tight Knitter here. Also, I'm trying two socks at once. So it's slow going.

5. Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

My next sock challenge will be a short row heel. I prefer toe-up socks with what I guess you could call a backward heel flap. I did a pair of forethought heels on the Welt Fantastic socks, which came out nipply. I think there might be a solution to that, however, with the next ones.

6. How many pairs have you made?

I think six. That's pretty impressive for not quite a year of knitting, I think. I'm trying to keep up with my Sock-a-Month commitment, so hopefully there will be 3 more before year's end. I still want to finish a pair for myself. Until my Socks of Doom arrived, I still hadn't had a pair for myself. And WOW, do I want more now.

Well, that actually has inspired me to get back on my main pair of socks OTN. They are my chevron, striped Law School Socks (formerly aka Job Search Socks).

Knitting on...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Knitting From Beyond the Grave

Appropriately spooky for the month of October, this knitting blog is being brought to you from beyond the grave.

Yes, I have met my end in Sock Wars. I believe I have my original assasin, The Beav, to thank for the tweedy goodness of the yarn, Cleckheaton Country Silk 8ply, which I had never heard of before. Get thee to a yarn store that carries this 85-wool, 15-silk yarn from Australia. It is awesome.

Gartlande (my assassin's assassin's assassin's assassin -- confused, yet?) dealt the final blow (sweetened by some Dove chocolate), which essentially came at the same time as the most wonderful package from my victim. Stinky Socks sent me her unfinished socks in a lovely Regia along with the cutest matching earrings and necklace, lovely smelling perfume and lotion, a CD, and Milano (yum!) cookies. I was completely and utterly spoiled, and must say thank you to Yarn Monkey for organizing the swap.

A friend thought it was funny that we were able to take an inherently peaceful, quiet hobby and turn it into "violence." I say competition is where you find it.

Thank you again to Stinky Socks, The Beav and Gartlande for making Sock Wars so much fun. I know there were some organizational snafus, but I have had nothing but an enjoyable experience. I love my socks and my treats!

And for other treats, we have birthday loot to show off! It was a busy week for the UPS, USPS and FedEx guys delivering packages to Chez Muthaknitter.

With my dad and stepmom's gift certificate, I scored Knitter's Stash, The Art of Fair Isle Knitting and EZ's Knitter's Almanac. The Fair Isle knitting book is WOW. I find most Fair Isle sweaters to be a bit busy, but the whole history and art and tradition of them is fascinating.

With my step-grandfather's gift, I got the law school book you see there in the back. I'll just come right out and admit it: I'm studying for the LSATs and am going to apply for law school to start next fall. I am really nervous, but so excited. It's given me a goal to focus on, and I'm pysched about the idea of being in school again after almost 9 years out. Wish me luck. You know, what with actually getting in and then really going through with the idea of full-time law school, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old.

As far as meditative practices go to keep the LSAT pressure low, I've now got a ball winder to keep me calm, yet entertained. The Cap'n ordered one for me from Louise's Studio. She sent it to me quickly and with a sweet handwritten note, so if you need any craft supplies, I can highly recommend her. Plus, you have got to check out her art quilts.

So as soon as the ball winder got here, I had to try it. As you may remember, we were decorating with yarn for awhile, so I had some skeins ready to be wound. My "swift" was still at work, so I decided to just drop the skein over my forearm and wind, baby, wind.

This is what the literature majors call "Foreshadowing."

I'll spare you the grisly shots in the middle of the winding. Not that I could have taken any pictures, what with both hands and arms completely wrapped in wool. But at last, I reached Yarn Cake Nirvana:

Ta Da! That's purty. My sister says it stripes up in the sock like a watermelon. This is where she got the yarn and also where she is taking her first knitting class!! Yay! The virus is spreading...Maybe she'll start blogging too, and then we'll be sister knitbloggers!

Finally, before I fall asleep and bang my head on the computer: Actual Knitting Content (TM)

Now that it is actually getting colder, Slim is in need of a hat that fits his big head (No, really. 19-1/2 inches around, but mine is 23") with strings that keep him from pulling it off. I dug into some longtime stash and pulled out Brown Sheep Company's Lamb's Pride Worsted in Midnight Green and Limeade. The Limeade is a lot more subtle in the hat than I was expecting, but we'll see if the cords and these ridges to be added later make it stand out more.

I was going to work on it some tonight, but it's Bedtime for Bonzo. I've got to get some rest.