Tuesday, January 30, 2007

NYC Bound

I wanted to get a quick word in during the boy's nap because Slim and I will be taking Mia up to Brooklyn this coming weekend, and I don't know how much blogging I'll be able to fit in.

Yesterday was a big day hanging out with our Safta, whom Slim had running around chasing him all afternoon. Here he was "helping" bring out some tangerines for snacks.

Our Safta is an amazing woman -- 87 next month -- and still volunteering and driving around younger, more invalid neighbors. Slim enjoyed hanging out and reading her books and showing off his cars.

And we got good news at the midwife's this morning: Baby Dos decided to cooperate and turn head down like a good little bean. I guess the swimming and crawling around this week has helped!

The funny thing is that I think I feel more pregnant now that the little baby is in the right position. I've got more pressure on my pelvis when I'm out walking, I get more out of breath and I have more kicks in my lungs.

I'm getting tired more easily, but I can't wait to hang out in NYC. While I'm there, my SIL will have an opening of her artwork at Sunny's Bar in Red Hook. I am always inspired by her art. I identify with the distance of them, with how they capture that feeling of traveling and waking up in a strange place at 3am where you don't speak the language.

Plus her show openings are fun. So NYC knitters/art lovers, come on down!

I am also angling to catch the Radical Lace Subversive Knitting show at the Museum of Arts and Design. If I can, I'll leave the kiddo at home, but I imagine the little screamer will be along for the ride. Maybe the aunts and cousins can help entertain him. The NY Times gave only a so-so review for the show, but I think it will still be interesting.

I'm looking forward to the trip. It'll be good for Slim to hang out with the cousins and I need the sisterly support. And when we get back, NC Grandpa is coming for a visit, and then we'll have a family wedding to celebrate.

All kinds of good news...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Going Swimmingly

The Cap'n called before going to bed and said that his room at the hotel has a small balcony. He opened the curtains, looked out the window and said, "Wow. That's Baghdad." Weird, huh? There he is, halfway across the world. But safely, thank goodness.

Skype has been wonderful so far. I can hear him better over the computer than I could my SIL on the cellphone in New York. And last time we talked, I asked him to check into Baghdad yarn. They've got sheep, right? Someone's bound to have wool...

Meanwhile, Slim and I are staying busy here. It took me all weekend, but I finally finished the necessary cleaning around the house. This is Slim enjoying the Thomas trains at the bookstore on Friday.

The boy and I floated about at the neighborhood pool Saturday and enjoyed a walk with the dog in the 52-degree weather. Sunday we woke up to rain and made our daily grocery store walk in sleet, but Saturday was awesome. Today we've got a grand high of 30. Toasty.

And I'm so proud to say that this weekend I resisted the siren call of my LYS's winter sale. I have a new game: HYS. Home Yarn Store. It's gotta be the way for me...though I won't make any promises about souvenir yarn this weekend from NYC. I think Mim said it wonderfully about why stash enhancement expeditions (SEX) are so tempting...

Brenda of Cast On inspired me when she talked in this last episode about reorganizing her stash. I think I might try to pull out everything tonight (really, it's not that much, Cap'n!) and figure out what I have and what projects I have lined up for them. Those baby sweater ideas are weighing on me as D-Day inches closer.

Silly me cast on for the Mason-Dixon baby kimono with the Dalegarn Baby Ull I got for Christmas, but I didn't think it through enough. I mean, I actually put thought into it: But the train of thought derailed before it made it into the station. Here's how it went:

1. The pattern calls for worsted weight on US6 (4mm) needles.
2. I have fingering weight and a US2 (3mm) needle.
3. I'll cast on double the number of stitches the pattern calls for (80 instead of 40) and figure it out as I go.
4. Hell no, I won't swatch. I'll assume that somehow my gauge will be half that called for.

Sheer knitting brilliance, huh? Anyhoo. After holding up a day's worth of knitting to Slim and noting that it will probably come out fitting him, and remembering that babies are actually quite small, I put it down and am back on the hunt for another pattern.

Besides, Carrie challenged me to finish big on my SAM2 commitment and get that Child's First Sock done before the end of the month. I have not had a chance to work on it this weekend, but tonight I'm going whole hog. THE RACE IS ON!

I've got 2 more pattern repeats on the leg and then it's the heel and foot. Wish me luck...

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Don't Love to Sew...

But I do love my husband.

I have been knitting this week, but on the down-low, so I couldn't share it until now. I would like to introduce the Cap'n's Felted Mittens.

The Pattern: Double-Cuff Mittens from Knit One, Felt Too (my first felted project!)
The Yarn: Bemidji's Original Homespun from A Good Yarn in Baltimore
Colorways: Oxford Grey and Charcoal Heather
Needles: Susan Bates aluminum US11 dpns and Clover Takumi bamboo US4 dpns
Time: Little over a week? I started them after we got back from Oregon and I finished today.
Modifications: I made the inside ribbed cuff longer as per the recipient's request. I also included a colorwork Shetland-style pattern around the palm, inspired by the samples knitted up in the shop.

First, the yarn is AWESOME. I purchased these two skeins plus a cream one the night before my LSAT in December. I got it on the recommendation of the girl in the shop, who said it felted beautifully. The yarn is also incredibly soft (considering it is untreated wool) for wearing next to the skin. And at $6 for 225 yards, you can't beat the price. I still have a good bit leftover from the mittens -- I'm hoping enough to make a pair of boot socks to match for the Cap'n. I'd like to modify the Country Sock pattern in Folk Socks.

The shop had a pair of these double-cuff mittens knitted up, and they were worked up in the same colors with a Fair Isle pattern across the palm. I knew I had to make some for the Cap'n.

Unfortunately, I didn't study the mittens closely enough to remember the pattern nor did I draw it out. So when it came time to do these, I cast about for another Fair Isle inspiration. Luckily I have the best one close at hand: The Art of Fair Isle Knitting. (A birthday gift card purchase last year.)

I believe this pattern is referred to sometimes as "three to the fireplace, three to the door." The author, Ann Feitelson, had a pair of gloves knitted for her with this pattern by an 80-year-old Shetland Islander who remembered her aunt making this pattern in the 1920s. The aunt was 70 years old in the 1920s and had been making this pattern for decades, according to the book. I so appreciated Ms. Feitelson's research in this book, and thanks to her I can continue making a pattern that is more than 100 years old. You can see it better in the unfelted before photo.

There is not a pattern written up for this in the book, but I just hand-charted it and inserted the pattern across the palm. The challenge was keeping my floats loose, especially since I knew it was going to shrink. The colorwork definitely came out to be the tightest part of the mitten. I probably would have liked to felt the mittens for slightly longer, but was afraid that the palm would become too small for the Cap'n. As it was, it only took about 10 minutes to felt them in the washer downstairs.

The ribbed cuff is unfelted and whipstitched in. I own absolutely no thread and no sewing needles. On purpose. I don't really like to sew and in 4-H I begged my mom to let me take Consumer Clothing instead of regular Clothing, just so I could get new clothes without sewing them. But in the space of a naptime, I overcame my fear of sewing and finished off the mittens.

When I originally purchased the yarn and book, I showed it to the Cap'n to see if he would like them. He said he would, but he wanted a longer cuff that would tuck into his sweaters. Luckily, he forgot he OK'd this project, so when I decided to make him something to send off with him to Baghdad, these mittens came as a surprise.

You will note however, they are not in Baghdad.

Despite the quick knit nature of the big double points, the mittens did not dry in enough time to get the cuffs sewn in before the Cap'n flew out last night. (I did get a call from him saying he made it to Amman safely and will make the last leg of the trip tomorrow.)

So now he has to promise to come home and wear them.

Slim approves too. (But he did rip them off quickly after this shot...)

Slim also had a fun day, playing with Thomas trains at Barnes & Noble. And I made progress on my Child's First Sock. We'll see what progress tomorrow brings...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Walking Out

Clearly, my unborn child is exceptional. I mean, he/she fits the profile of only 5 percent of births that occur.

Yep, the midwife thinks Baby Dos is breech. The little critter is in position to walk out of there.

On the one hand, it gives me more to worry about, but on the other, I am proud of the strength of those punches in the ribs I've been getting. I thought it was baby's feet.

There's still time for baby to swim in the other direction. Slim is going to think I'm the one regressing, because the midwife suggested I crawl around on all fours. He and I also will be going to float in the pool more in the coming weeks.

But I'm open to any and all suggestions...

And to keep this from being yet another whiny, picture-less post: Gratuitous Baby Cuteness. This is him being really proud of tasting the watercolor paints...

Can't Concentrate

This morning out hasn't relieved any of the anxiety I'm feeling or helped me get anything done on the law school stuff. I can't focus on it. I'm still writing the personal statement, and I don't know what I want to say.

I want to say that the month ahead is looming like an incoming mortar, just bound to wreck something in my world. I want to admit to being easily distracted, but then scream at the first person who suggests that I don't have a reason to be: "Excuse the hell out of me, but are you 7 weeks from your due date with a willful toddler as your sole responsibility and a husband who is going to a war zone where they just shot 5 U.S. civilians?!!?"

How stupid would it be to hit the 95th percentile on the LSAT and not go to law school?

Of course, now I'm thinking I would be better off applying next year, with my applications due around Baby Dos's 1st birthday. That way I would start school when he/she is a year and a half and Slim is 3. If I can't work at home now on writing with just one kid, how am I going to do it with another infant?

But then, that may just be a rationalization on my part to justify not doing these damn applications.

God, I hate this.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Over There

I think everyone who should really hear this by phone has heard by now, so it's okay to post on here about the Cap'n leaving this Thursday for Baghdad.

Yep, that Baghdad. You know, the one with all the shooting and dying and carrying on.

I'm having a hard time right now not self-censoring and editing this post before I even write it. What with keeping myself busy being just fine.

Let's put my feelings in algebraic form:

X but Y.

I am proud of him and supportive, BUT I'm worried about him going there.
I am sure he will do a great job, BUT I don't want him to get hurt.
I am a confident woman who can handle being alone, BUT I am a 33-week pregnant lady with an active toddler and a dog and I get tired.

The Cap'n was asked to go by his work (not as part of the military), and he'll only be there for a month. He should be back two weeks before my due date, and since Slim was 4 days late, I'm not really worried about him missing anything.

I also know lots of people have it worse than me. Though it is not helpful to the Cap'n's cause when HE points it out. There are military families separated by a year or more. Guardsmen suffer loss of businesses, salaries, etc. with their extended deployments. There's been plenty written elsewhere of the overextension of U.S. troops and the affect it has had on them and their families. I'm not going to get political right now.

I'm just knitting and trying to stave off worries by not reading too many of the news stories out there. The Cap'n has been getting ready all week, so we've had a taste of him not being around. And it's already hard. This does not bode well.

As I told a friend of ours who was in Baghdad for 8 weeks doing the same thing as the Cap'n, it's about ME. I know the Cap'n can handle himself and I'm comfortable with what his workplace is doing as far as security goes. I'm stressed about handling things around here for a month while he's gone and my belly gets bigger. The third trimester tiredness is definitely starting to kick in, and I have the millionth cold of this pregnancy.

My family is prepared to swoop in (Thank God), and I think the grandpas are going to come to entertain the boy. And I have plenty of activities to keep me busy...I keep telling myself it will be fine. And that's all I can do.

It'll be fine, right?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Let It Snow

Winter finally made it to D.C. Slim got some good use out of his new snow boots and winter pants (Thanks, Gramma!) I had to share the picture with the snowflakes. He is wearing his hat, so it counts as a Handknit Street Style pic too!

Kiddo also got to hang with his babysitter on Friday night while the Cap'n and I enjoyed a great show: Pan's Labyrinth. If it's anywhere near you, go see this movie. It was so well done. The story, the visuals, everything worked together beautifully. It was completely engrossing from the first minute.

Before the show, I also put my B&N gift card from Christmas to use. Okay, maybe plus a little more. I went a little insane: Johnny, Loretta, Nickel Creek, the Highwaymen, the Raconteurs. I haven't had new music in so long, and it is all so good.

So it's random, but it's a post. More news tomorrow. And hey! Maybe I'll have part of my law school apps done too! But don't bet your booty on it...

Saturday, January 20, 2007

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other...

One of these things is just not the same.

First Knitting Swatch Option 1:

Here we have a little bit of garter stitch, a little bit of stockinette. There are a couple of big loops at the cast-on edge from dropped stitches, and our swatch shares much more in common with a parallelogram than a rectangle. Clearly, not a knitting natural. Let us have pity on this poor beginning knitter, who obviously needs mental help.

First Knitting Swatch Option 2:

Here we have row upon row of nice, even garter stitch. Don't bother looking closely for any dropped stitches, inadvertent increases or accidental decreases. There aren't any. This knitting savant was apparently born with needles in hand. Her first swatch actually functions quite well as a cute little bookmark.

Wanna guess which one is mine and which one is KnittySissy's?

Now apparently Mom is knitting too. And KnittinSis has already cabled. I've started a revolution.

Let's just hope my head isn't the first one on the chopping block...

P.S. I do think I remembered when my last yarn purchase was. I got some Bemidji undyed wool at A Good Yarn in Baltimore the night before my LSAT on Dec. 2. So let's hear it for me going almost 2 months without buying yarn! Whoo. and Hoo.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Oregon Trail

A long weekend being pampered in Oregon is just the ticket for a tired 32-week pregnant lady.

I have to say I owe the Cap'n and our friends, Dos Doctores, for the wonderful time. El Doctor demolished one of the bathrooms in their beach house 3 months ago, and after (shall we say) "limited" progress, La Doctora called the Cap'n for his dormant but formidable contracting skills. I formed a substantial part of the cheerleading squad.

So while the Cap'n and El Doctor shored up framing, drywalled and spackled, La Doctora and I got a babysitter for the 4 kids and had a facial at the spa and got our toes painted. (It's a hard life, I know.) Then we took the kids to the indoor wave pool and out for pizza. I also finally got to see "Cars" and loved it. You can't tell Slim is having a good time from this picture, can you?

The time in Florence couldn't have been more relaxing. There's something wild and beautiful about the Oregon coast, and the kids loved digging in the sand and climbing on the huge driftwood logs. We had a delicious dinner out sans kids and had the best time catching up with our friends. El Doctor and the Cap'n went to high school together, but I feel like I've known them both forever.

And it was priceless seeing Slim playing with their 3 kids. Their youngest is one month younger than Slim, and while sharing was a foreign concept, they played well next to each other. The bubble machine was a big hit.

We even got to see a friend from that other Portland (Maine) in Portland before we flew out. He was visiting his West Coast girlfriend, and we all got to have dinner together before our red-eye flight back.

The red-eye was one of those good in theory, not in practice ideas. I thought all three of us would get some sleep, but it didn't happen. We're still adjusting back to East Coast time and catching up on sleep, but Slim is finally back on his schedule.

I saw two KIP-ers, one going out and one coming back, on the plane. And one woman on her way to the bathroom saw me working on Slim's mitten and asked if I had any trouble getting needles on the plane. I only brought three pairs of wooden DPNs, so I didn't even get flagged.

Again though, No. Souvenir. Yarn. And not that much knitting time, but it was worth it. I'm still working on my second Child's First Sock in Shell pattern, and I hope to have it done by the end of the month to meet my SAM challenge.

The next Sock-a-Month starts in February, but I'm not sure about joining again. I had fun this time and am really proud that I made a pair almost every month (2 in September but none in October). I'm just worried that I won't be able to keep up with it while entertaining an infant and toddler.

I am tempted to re-join a Stashalong or Knit From Your Stash challenge. Just because so far I've gone without a yarn purchase since before Christmas. In fact, I can't remember my last purchase...though I'm sure the Cap'n will be happy to remind me.

I'm actually psyched to play Home Yarn Store (HYS). I've got so many cool projects stashed away in there, including some baby sweaters planned that I must get to before they grow out of them.

RULE 1: It is NOT OKAY to knit for your grandkids when your children are under 5.

That's a keeper.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Florida or Bust

I am having such a hard time dressing appropriately for the weather in D.C. Florida is still on my mind.

After a flight back from Indiana midday, Slim and I spent the afternoon repacking with warm weather gear and waiting for the Cap'n to get off work at 1am. We started out at 2:30am and made it down to Ft. Myers in a marathon 22 hours, including a 5 hour stop in Savannah, Ga., to meet up with my parents who were coming back from a dive trip in Florida. I think Slim's shirt says it all. (Thanks, LAAuntie!)

Clearly, this is the beginning of the trip -- a quick gas stop in Benson, N.C. But Slim has been a really good soldier throughout all our travels this last month. It's a point of personal pride for the Cap'n that Slim made it to Florida and back (and the Oregon flight, too!) with no DVDs. Just a lot of books and cars. It was tiring work to entertain him, but worth it, I think.

Why Ft. Myers? None of us had been there yet, but the Cap'n and I still reminisce about our canoe trip to the Everglades that I blogged about a month or so ago. And we were offered a free place to stay by our friend, who knew us back in the first town where the two of us lived together. Plus that child of ours needed some warm air and palm trees, as did his daddy.

It's a beautiful city, even if we didn't get to see any manatees the entire time we were there. We spent two days over on Sanibel Island, including exploring the Ding Darling Nature Preserve on a 4-mile nature walk.

We saw ibis, herons and egrets. There were plovers along the shore lines, and little crabs scurrying along the mangrove trees. We did not see any gators, but Slim got a new nickname: A.B. (Alligator Bait...doesn't he look tasty in his little stroller?) There were definitely times walking along the pathway where I could imagine a hungry gator sneaking out to snack on us.

The birds were a real highlight of the trip. We also rented a canoe at the Port Sanibel Marina and the whole family (Mia, too!) paddled out to find more birds. Again, no gators or manatees, but lots of birds, including a very large osprey.

The woman who rented us the canoe clearly thought we were nuts. She asked the Cap'n, "Don't you think you're taking a lot on?" What, there's something weird about a 7-month pregnant woman, an 18-month-old and a dog who doesn't like water going out for a paddle? But Slim was really into the ride, and most of the canoe trail was in water about 2-3 feet deep.

After the walking and paddling, the Cap'n and I needed a quiet day at the beach, which we got next down in Naples on Barefoot Beach. We saw quite a few gopher tortoises just in the parking lot. Slim napped naked on the beach and we all went for a dip in the shimmering blue waves, even if the water was still a little cold. A perfect January afternoon.

Unfortunately, we had to cut the trip a day short because we learned my grandfather got sick, and we wanted to make a detour through North Carolina. But before we left, we made a point to take Slim on an airboat ride, thinking he would be really into the wind in his hair and seeing the big gators. We did see the big gators, but Slim also quickly fell asleep on the boat.

We saw a lot more birds too, including very large wood storks and iridescent purple gallinule, but despite the Cap'n's best photographic efforts, most of the shots are of the backsides of the birds as they fled the noisy airboat. Okay, I know airboats aren't the most ecologically sensitive crafts or that good for the wildlife, but I'm just redneck enough to like the noise and the speed of them. Sorry.

So on the way back to DC, we visited good friends in Tampa and made the push through to North Carolina. By the end of the trip, there was nothing more we wanted than to be O-U-T of the car. Slim was just squirming in his seat and whine-crying. Even Mia was giving us that look from her perch on top of the bags in the back.

A fun time was had by all, but I think we may have to make shorter trips and maybe get a bigger car (Mazda6 wagon, anyone?) with BabyDos...

Quite a memorable first family vacation!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Quite a Life

Phew. All I wanted to do this evening is put on comfy pants and some handknit socks. Good thing my watermelon socks were clean and waiting for me after our redeye flight from Portland, Ore.

What a fun time in Eugene and Florence!! I'm going to get some pictures up from the trip soon. Slim had such a good time playing with our friends' kids. I got pampered and the Cap'n got to pound around in the mostly demolished bathroom they were refinishing.

Meanwhile, there's a lot going on here...but all in good time.

I did get the second Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern started and I'm about done with the ribbing. I think this one will go pretty fast, since I have the pattern down now. I made one mitten for the boy out of leftover yarn from his Elf Swirl hat, but I think it's too small and tight. So it's to the frog pond for that one. It only took a day and a half, so I need to get it restarted and finished since it's cold back here in D.C.

Mom made a request for a pair of socks from Knitting Vintage Socks, so that's the next sock project on the needles. (Note: I said "sock" project. Not all projects.) She likes the Child's French Sock, and I'm thinking about using some Opal sock yarn (color 64 on the web site) that I found at Springwater a long time ago. I do want to swatch, however, so that I'm sure I'll get socks that fit Mom.

And you heard right: I'm using more stash yarn. Our trips to Florida and Oregon yielded NO opportunities for souvenir yarn SEX. NONE. When I was making notes of what to catch the blog up on, I somehow wrote that down twice. NONE. Of course, stash enhancement has been helped by significant gift yarns, so I have plenty to work on...

Of course, I mentioned the baby sweater with the Dalegarn Baby Ull. I need to swatch it and still find a pattern. I'm thinking I might try to go through some of the vintage pamphlets that my dad and grandma gave me to see if I can find something in there.

And I HAVE TO FINISH MY SWEATER. Y'all it has been almost a year since I started it. It's shameful. I am totally afraid of blocking and finishing. I'm not even sure if it will fit me and my 32-week belly right now, but it's the principle of the thing. And there might be some chilly days after March where I can trot it out.

The Cap'n has "laid down the law" on the sweater. I'm not supposed to pick up crochet, from the Happy Hooker or anyone else, until the sweater is finished. I've been psyched since getting the Big Box of Yarn from Dad about learning crochet and have been thinking about taking a class. KnittinSis gave me Deb Stoller's book, so I'm going to start there. But, yes, after the sweater. Heck, probably after BabyDos.

So I really meant to post pics, but I think I'll do a separate post on Florida and another on Oregon. By time I get those done, I'll have knitting progress and other news to post about. And hopefully those law school apps done....ooh, don't remind me.

Instead of working on them during our travels, I managed to finish two fiction books: "Restless" by William Boyd (a Hanukkah gift from the Cap'n) and "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. I can highly recommend the first one, which is a fun read, but the second one was so-so. It was too reliant on stereotypes of the South.

So now I'm on to "Specimen Days" by Michael Cunningham, which I got just on the basis of "The Hours,"which haunted me for weeks after reading it. And knitting...I need the relaxation.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Catching Up

It's come to that point where there is so much to blog about, I have a bit of writer's block. But I know that if I don't start somewhere, I won't start at all. So here goes...

A second blog post from Indiana was interrupted by the 18-hour stomach bug. First Malcolm was throwing up all Tuesday after Christmas, then I could barely crawl out of bed on Wednesday -- missing the big family shindig.

So it's taken me until now to brag about all my Knitty Kristmas presents! I am waiting on stitch markers and needles for my new Interweave subscription to start. And I'm really excited to start using my new KnitPicks Options set. I would like to use them with my Dalegarn Baby Ull in sage green to make a baby sweater for Baby Dos, but the needle sizes only go down to US4, and I think I need a US2. Any pattern suggestions?

But the siren call of German sock yarn is hard to resist also. Mike and Mom returned from their recent trip with three balls of sock yarn that I am dying to dive into: one Online Supersocke and two Lana Grossa (a Colortweed and a Cotton Fantasy).

The Lana Grossa ColorTweed, I've decided, goes too perfectly with the purple Cherry Tree Hill that I already had at at my At Home Yarn Shop. So I'm thinking of making Devan from Knitty for Baby Dos after the green sweater is complete.

Thank goodness I have my new camouflage Go Knit pouch and chic(k) tape measure to carry my sock projects in and measure them with! Ha! You pull an egg out of its butt! It's the little things that amuse me.

Good times...There's more to blog about, particularly gators, birds and baby, but another day. I'll leave you with my very slow knitting process over the vacation.

That's one finished Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in brick (an astounding replica of the sock color from the book). I LOVE IT. Now I just have to start and finish the second.

Bask in its glory until our return from Oregon....yes, yet another trip. Ta-ta til Tuesday!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

We're Back!

Blogging to resume shortly...

We made it back safely from our marathon vacation tour of the Midwest and Southern US. After a quick half-day turnaround from our Indiana visit, the family headed off for southwest Florida.

Pictures of paddling, alligators and birds to follow...

Hope everyone had a good holiday season. Are you as glad as I am that it's over?