Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Baby Arrangements

I've been saying it for a few months now, but really: Slim, stroller, groceries and dog are too much for me to bring up the apartment stairs. Phew. It's handy to be able to walk to the grocery, but for the next couple of weeks I'm commandering the car for trips.

Today was my weekly midwife appointment. Nora is back for check-ups, but won't be catching babies until after the 14th. The Cap'n got to meet her for the first time, and we got some tips on handling Labor Day. So far baby is still head-down (and not likely to flip) but hasn't dropped. She actually said that some babies don't drop until labor starts, and then they're on the fast track out.
She guessed that Baby Dos is going to cross the 8-lb mark, since she could still feel everything from head to butt. Slim was 7-lbs, 11oz, but I was 8-lbs, 11-oz, so it wouldn't be out of the ordinary to have a bigger second baby. Actually, it'd be cool (I say not having yet pushed it out), because I also haven't gained as much weight this time, so it would be less to lose after.

This is the other progress made so far in our tiny one-bedroom apartment to get ready for Baby Dos.

Poor Slim has been kicked out of the antique, refinished changing table/dresser and into a clothes storage unit from IKEA. But I only dress him once a day, and I remember newborns needing 2+ outfits per day. So Baby Dos is now ready to be dressed when he/she gets here.

You'll notice a good bit of blue in that photo, but those are Slim's hand-me-downs, not hints. We'll just have to see when Baby Dos gets here what we end up using.

I'm also stocked up on newborn-sized diapers and Weleda cream to keep the diaper rash away. And the co-sleeper is waiting just under the bed to be set up. Now I just need to pack our hospital bags and an overnight bag for Slim, and we'll be well on our way to being truly prepared.


The baby sweater is still on the second sleeve, with the second front to go. I'm hoping to get some serious work done on it over the next couple of days, but with the Cap'n returning to work, we'll have to see how that goes.

I do have to say I've been loving the garter stitch. I think it's my prego brain needing simple, mindless knitting. I also wouldn't mind starting some plain stockinette socks, but I've been restrained and trying to practice monogamy with the baby sweater.

KnittinSis is working with the same Dale Baby Ull on a lemon hat and some little mitts to go with the sweater, and we have both been raving about the yarn. It's so soft to work with. It's going to be wonderful for baby.

What am I forgetting?




Yay! Thanks, Maryse! And thank you random number generator!

Finally my "fashion sense" has done me good...check it out...


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Making Progress

So the big Stash Reorganization of 2007 has yielded the perfect hat for my 23-inch head.

I often have trouble finding something that fits my melon. It's where the kid inherits his 18.5-inch head from. It took me 5 tries to get his right, but with the good karma of an organized stash behind me, I was able to make my hat work on the first try. For the most part...but more on that soon.

(Picture of 37.5-week belly and messy kitchen thrown in gratis. You're welcome.)

Random question: Magnets/pictures on the fridge or no? What's your style? Every place we move, the Cap'n swears he'll have nothing on the fridge, which lasts for a month, until one little reminder goes up. Then the rest of my magnet collection jumps out of the box it was packed away in and makes itself at home. Funny that.

Here are the hat stats:

The Pattern: Santa Cruz from Magknits

The Yarn: Malabrigo 100% merino wool

Colorway: Oro y Vino from the orange-y skein left over from My So-Called Scarf (The other skein had more coral oro in it. You can tell when the scarf and hat are close to each other.)

Needles: Clover Takumi US8 bamboo and Brittany US6 birch

Time: Started Thursday, February 22, and finished Friday, February 23

Modifications: Well....

First, let me confess that I could not resist casting on something new while I was playing HYS. Even with an honest tally of the projects OTN, I wanted something fun to do, and when I was packing away the leftover partial skein from My So-Called Scarf, I succumbed. I figured, how long could a hat take?

And in this case, I was actually right. I think this is the quickest thing I've ever made, and a very nice break from the US2 (3.0mm) needles of my recently finished socks and the in-progress baby sweater.

I have been meaning to make a matching hat to my scarf since I finished it. The scarf was the first thing I made and kept for myself, and that was a year after I first learned to knit. This pattern did not jump out at me when I first saw it in Magknits, but I loved the one Mary made. However, she said it turned out small enough to fit her daughter, so I read the pattern closely (wha????) and noted that its finished circumference is 19 inches.

Hello: Meet my son, the kid with the 18.5-head at age 20 months.

So following the worsted weight recipe, I added two extra lace repeats to bring it to a 96-stitch circumference and another 4 inches around. Problem with my brilliant solution? I didn't exactly think through the rate of decreases for the crown.

I was chatting with KnittinSis on the phone while working on the hat, and she re-awakened my fear of a Conehead Hat. That was one of the problems with Version 3.0 of Slim's hat saga. So I fudged the decreases, but when I cinched it off, it turned out a little on the short side. I like my hats to cover part of my ears, and mine just ended at the ears.

In truth, if I had read the pattern *that* closely, I would have added more than just the 3 k1-p1 ribbing rounds that it calls for. It just wasn't enough ribbing to stay tight on my big head. So in a fit of brilliance the next morning (yes, most of the hat was finished in a day), I picked up 96 stitches at the cast-on edge with the US6 needles and started knitting down with more k1-p1 ribbing.

I decided that I wanted the extra ribbing to turn up, so I knit one plain row in what I thought was roughly the middle of how far I could go with the yarn. I kept knitting until I got anxious about how much yarn I had remaining. I actually have about 5 yards of the Malabrigo left -- certainly enough for a few more rounds of ribbing -- but at the time, I was knitting knervous, so I bound off.

I love how the Malabrigo feels and how warm it is, particularly with the cold weather coming back. The yarn pills like crazy in the scarf, but I think it's from the frequent friction of tying and untying it. I think it will stay more defined in the scarf.

KnittinSis thinks the hat has a crochet look, and I would agree with her. But it's a simple pattern, and with directions in every weight of yarn (sock, sport, worsted, and bulky), you really can't go wrong. It was the perfect stashbuster!

I have made some progress also on the baby sweater, but not much since the Cap'n has returned. I'm hoping to work on it some more tonight. Luckily, KnittinSis is coming to the rescue with a perfectly matched lemon hat and possibly some booties. If I have time, I want to tackle the leggings in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitters Almanac. What a well-dressed baby this will be!

I also made another bit of progress on reducing the stash. Lady Knitterly has been coveting the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Black Purl, and I just happen (ahem) to have some in my cough17paircough sock stash. So my sock yarn is winging its way to NYC, and if some trade yarn happens to fly down to DC, well, that will have to be counted in the next stash reorganization, won't it?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

He's BACK!

The Cap'n has returned from Baghdad!! And look what he brought with him....(Bob, can we zoom in for a closeup on that ball band?)

Y'ALL. HE FOUND IRAQI YARN. 100% WOOL. (we think...maybe some mohair...)

Is my husband not the greatest?????

(There was so much excitement getting ready for his return, I'll post more later on the perfect hat/stash project.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Burst of Knitting Energy

They say that right before you give birth, you get a burst of energy and an urge to clean house (so to speak, not literally, in my case) to get ready for the babe to be born.

In my case, I do need to clean the house before the Cap'n's return from Iraq tomorrow evening. He's safely in Amman, Jordan, now enjoying the Four Seasons Hotel spa. But my burst of energy has so far been directed to my knitting and stash.

First, a longstanding WIP is off the needles! Let me introduce you to my Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern. Here at the stats:

The Pattern: Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern
The Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock
Colorway: Brick (extremely like the color of the sample socks in the book)
Needles: Addi Natura US2 (3.0mm)
Time: Started in November? December? Yeesh. Finished February 21
Modifications: Only 6 pattern repeats in the leg and slightly larger gauge for my size 10 feet

I really can't gush enough about Nancy Bush's patterns. I mean, even Grumperina feels the same. Grumperina! This pattern was clearly written and easily memorized. The socks turned out just perfect. They make my feet feel pretty.

BUT...these socks are now my deal with the universe. The deal is: If my midwife delivers me (the same midwife who this week commented that she has not been able to get warm this record cold February), these socks will be my thank you gift to her. She's a knitter, so she'll get it.

See, I knew from the beginning that my two midwives were only on call 50 percent of the time. The other times, the doctors in their practice take the call. But they catch 80 percent of their patients' babies. So I felt like I had pretty good odds. And because I've had an easy pregnancy, I never saw any of the 5 doctors.

But last week, with the ridiculous (ha!) amount of snow and ice we had (more like people's utter stupidity in clearing it, but anyway...) one of my midwives broke her arm. So it's down to one to deliver. I'm a little anxious about it...but she's supposed to be on the weekend I'm due, so we're going to do our best to hit the nail on the head.

So if Marsha catches Baby Dos, the most beautiful pair of socks I've made so far will be hers. She's seen me knitting them at visits and I think she will like them. But if some random doctor catches Baby, those are the socks I'm wearing home from the hospital.

Anyway, to randomly change the subject, I wanted to share my new DPN holders that I discovered while KnittinSis and I were at the Michaels in NC. I had never seen these before, and I think they are supposed to be used to keep DPN sets together when they are not in use, but they work great to keep the sock from sliding off the needles while it's in my nifty little pouch. I highly recommend them.

I managed to resist stash enhancement, though I did see two yarns that I had not before: Lion Brand Wool and Patons SWS soy yarn. The Lion Brand Wool looks like it will give Patons Classic Merino a run for its money, and the SWS had some great color combos. I will probably try them at some point.

However, I neglected to fill you in on my SEX at the LYS while Indy Grampy was in town watching Slim. This picture does no justice to the deep jewel tones of the purples in this yummy, yummy yarn cake. It's "Purple Earth" by Claudia's Handpainted. I'm thinking about trying to just whip this up in some plain stockinette socks, and try to get done by D-Day. I could use some grounding to the earth while laboring.

Although...I totally want to try Cookie's Monkey socks in this yarn. I think it would be fabulous. And have you seen the other sock designs on her blog? Oh. My. God. Wow. It makes me sorry to miss Stitches West. There was nothing so amazing here in Baltimore back in the fall.

I'm really proud of myself that this yarn is my first stash enhancement in 3 months. The last yarn I purchased was December 1 for the Cap'n's felted mittens. If I can keep up this kind of restraint (which probably won't be that difficult considering I'll have 2 under 2 to deal with), I will be proud of myself.

And I think I will earn these two books: More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch and Favorite Socks - 25 Timeless Designs. I reeeeeaaaallly want these.

They will come in mucho handy, even with the sock books I already own, considering what I just did to the stash. I mentioned a while back that I was inspired by Brenda's big reorganization that she talked about on Cast On. So taking advantage of the Cap'n being halfway around the world and not being able to find out how much is really in the stash, I unloaded everything out onto the couch.

Umm. Wow.

No. Really.


I have pictures. I sent one to KnittinSis, and while I realize it is blackmail material, I will also gain access to her stash and start photographing if I have to. I know she's working hard on accumulating too.

So I organized everything by project type and put the wool yarns in my cedar lined bags to protect them. I have a list of number and type of projects doable with my stash now, and I thought about posting it on here. But then again...I think that would give the Cap'n a good idea about the size of the stash. If there is general clamouring for full admission, or if I feel guilty enough to be held publicly accountable, I may change my mind and post the list.

Let's just say for now that I have plenty to keep me busy...for example, there are 6 possible baby sweaters, and I will be lucky to finish those before the kids grow out of the amount of yarn I have. I'm just not that fast a knitter.

The other productive part of the stash reorg was creating a spreadsheet to keep track of my needles. I don't have "that" many, but I did just get the KnitPicks Options set at Christmas, and I don't like having repeats. It keeps me from casting on more projects than I'll likely finish.

It felt so refreshing to have the stash organized and tallied. It made me excited to play Home Yarn Store and rediscover project ideas that I originally was so enthusiastic about. It made me giddy anticipating casting on...

Perhaps a little too giddy. I'll have more to post about tomorrow...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Baby Sweater Hell

We are back to the M&D baby kimono.


Okay, so for those (2?) people following the drama so far: I started the baby kimono with some Dale Baby Ull that was a gift from KnittinSis for Christmas. We have documented gauge issues (umm, I don't swatch?), so the 80-stitch wide, 25-row deep "sweater" became a gauge swatch. Live and learn.

That got frogged and I went on a quest to find another baby sweater. Do you hear the tick-tick-ticking?

I settled on Haiku from Knitty, which is adorable and adjustable based on gauge. I'm charmed by the idea of doing a sideways sweater with fewer seams. Off we go again...

And today, once I hit the box stitch, I finally faced up to the fact clearly written into the pattern: This sweater is going to fit a 1-year-old, particularly as small as my newborn is bound to be, based on precedent. I mean, it was 10.5 inches long. My last newborn was 21 inches long. So much for my math.

But if I turn the 54-stitch wide front of Haiku around, it makes a slightly larger baby kimono back with only 1 more inch to go until casting on for the sleeves. I say, let's live dangerously...I'm going to go for it.
Not that I've read any further in the pattern than comparing my gauge and giving myself a mental high-five: "You can do it!"

Meanwhile, there was un poco stash enhancement yesterday at the LYS. Perhaps I have a new sock obsession after seeing Carrie's two-week miracles. Will go into it more when I have a good photo of the yarn I had to have.

And how did I have time today to ponder all this knitting, inspired by my day at the yarn store yesterday? And listen to an episode of Cast On and Lime 'n' Violet? Here's how the boys spent the afternoon:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sit 'n' Knit

I had the most fabulous, wonderous, splendiferous day today!!

I was sittin' and knittin'.

Grampy took Slim to the Air and Space Museum, which the boy never tires of. While they were enjoying the rocketships and learning about the solar system, I hauled down to my LYS.

Meanwhile, don't fret for the poor boy seeing the same museum twice in one week. Here's what he thought...

So I made good progress on my second sock, chatted about law school with a woman taking the bar this month (good luck, Lauren!) and laughed about picking kids' names with the LYS owner, who has a 3-month-old at home.

I must have fondled every yarn in the store, some twice. We dished about Interweave's new layout, and the general feeling was "eh, so-so." I dittoed other feedback I've heard about having a hard time telling the ads apart from the content and about separating the patterns from the pictures. I also would appreciate having the designers' names in the photos so you can tell who made each one. At least Vogue Knitting does that. I just got a subscription from my mom for Christmas, so I hope they go back to the old design a little bit.

But as far as new design goes, if you happen to make it up to NYC, take in the "Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting" show at the Museum of Art and Design. There were some fantastic pieces there, including my favorite: the Bobbin Lace Lamp made of fiber optic cable. Beautiful. The whole show was unique and inspiring.

I tell you, my mood is so much better with a little civilized knit time. Makes me worry that much less about the Cap'n embedding with an army patrol this weekend in Baghdad. He arranged flowers all the way from Iraq. Now that's something to live up to, guys!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Confinement Begins

My confinement is underway, and I couldn't be happier. No more traveling, just sitting at home and finishing up this baby. I'm reading up on this, since March 10 is getting closer...

And we have a heel!!

It's on to the foot of the second sock...I am definitely planning to finish these up, hopefully by the end of the week. IndyGrampy just got into town on the heels of NCGrandpa heading back home. So I'm hoping that Slim and Grampy can go enjoy the museums while I sit home and knit.

Slim had a great time with NCGrandpa (DiDa!), taking in a show at Air and Space's Einstein Planetarium. Snow and ice have literally kept us confined at home the last two days, so Slim is getting cabin fever. Tomorrow he's at least going to the park.

What we don't have is any baby handknits made by mummy. I still need to measure my garter swatch and see if I can work up a little something in the next few weeks. Luckily it's Aunt KnittinSis to the rescue!

I'll have to get her to leave a comment on what the yarns are. I think the little golden one has some alpaca in it and the cranberry one is made of leftovers from Uncle Ben's hat. Too cute!

Getting these, plus a new monkey rattle from LAAuntie, makes it more real that baby is getting closer. And I'm anxious that I'm not ready. No clothes laid out, no diapers, no co-sleeper set up. And NO HANDKNITS! Sigh.

But there's nothing like breaking a few fashion rules with your knitting to make you feel better!

Stop by Maryse's before tomorrow and show off your handknit sock style.

And before I sign off, I want to send a big Valentine's Day shout-out to my Cap'n. I had a dream last night that I was headed off to Iraq to report with him. Wouldn't that be fun?

My Cap'n is the man. He cooks gourmet meals and he's the best father I've ever seen. He tells me I'm beautiful even when I waddle, and even when he's thousands of miles away in a war zone. He gets my favorite joke in the whole wide world: Two men walk into a bar, the third one ducks. (Think about it. heehee...)

Happy Valentine's Day, Cap'n. I love you.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Still Here

It's been a while since my last post, and we're off to another family gathering soon, so I just wanted to leave an update that we're still hanging in here.

We had a little excitement in NYC with one of the SILs taking me to the hospital on Sunday for some light contractions. Luckily it was just the onset of a stomach bug that caused the contractions, so they eased off the next day. We haven't made a baby yet here.

Slim and I had so much fun in NYC. Slim playing with his cousins, and me hitting the art openings and museums with my SILs. It was so good to hang out with family. And all the art was inspiring.

But things are on a high stress level here...I won't lie. We're off to NC with NCGrandpa so we can meet up with all the family for my aunt's wedding. I'm looking forward to it, but I don't feel like I have everything together yet. Plus we're planning on traveling through the day, and Slim can be, well, "challenging" in the car for too long. We'll see how it goes.

Pics when we return...and a review of the MofAD knitting show and hopefully, actual knitting content.

I think that is part of the reason why I'm stressed...I haven't picked up the needles in almost a week. EEK!!