Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And the Awesomest Mom Ever award goes to....

ME! For keeping my sanity when a) Baby M has gotten up every freakin' night for nearly a week now -- and gotten me up in the process -- for everything from needing to go to the bathroom to wanting to hold hands after a bad dream to simply begging/pleading/crying/wildly gesticulating to come into the "big bed" with Daddy and me, and b) Baby Z-to-be has decided to shift position and dig some sort of sharp, pointy body part into my... kidney?? gall bladder?? causing me shooting pains that left me doubled over on the subway and so scary-sick looking that I was actually sent home from work yesterday by my worried colleagues. Remind me again why I have children....

Remind me, too, why I knit for them. This has got to be the slowest-going baby kimono I've ever knitted. I like the yarn, the pattern is a breeze, but why isn't it finished already??

There's also no good way to photograph this thing in progress.

Unfolded it looks completely unrecognizable as an article of clothing, at least one that would fit a human being.

Folded but on the circular needle it still looks...let's just say weird and leave it at that.

I also think that in widening the sleeves so the cuffs will accommodate a wrist larger than Barbie's I inadvertently caused the v-neck to come up so far that poor Baby Z might as well be wearing a turtleneck instead of a wraparound kimono. But I'm feeling just a little sick at the thought of ripping all that work back, so I think I'll just call it a design element and leave it at that. Plus babies need warm necks, right? Yeah, that's it...I'm only looking out for the welfare of my little girl.

It's the least that the official Awesomest Mom Ever can do.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Finishing Stuff....

Well, my vacation is nearly over. It's amazing how fast three weeks just speeds by. Monday I go back to work -- to intake testing, actually -- and then it's just two more weeks before the new semester starts, another week more before I begin teaching, and then...well, then it's just five or six weeks till Baby Zoe makes her appearance. Yikes! That's fast!

I haven't yet gotten things ready for Little Z's arrival. Baby M's outgrown clothing still sits in ziplock baggies and disorganized piles in her closet, which itself needs a good cleaning out an reorganizing. Not to mention that I have to figure out how to make space in her dresser for her little sister's stuff even as her own stuff is getting more and more voluminous. At least we have a couple of contractors coming over in the next two weeks to give us estimates on dividing the large, little-used upstairs space into two bedrooms and a bath for the kids.

And at least I've been knitting! I finished Zoe's blanket a few days ago, right down to the duplicate stitching of her name (and thanks to those who provided me with the name of the technique -- it was driving me crazy trying to think of it).

At first I thought I'd duplicate stitch a giant "Z" right in the center of the blanket but on further thought decided that might look a little too Zorro-ish for my taste. I like how her name turned out, but I was incredibly disappointed to find that a) the lovely soft alpaca that I was knitting with had some splits and joins in the skein -- I know I was working with Knitpicks yarn, which is decidedly budget-priced, but c'mon, folks, let's try to keep the skeins in one piece, shall we? and b) the joins sucked, to the point that as I was duplicate stitching Zoe's name, one join completely disintegrated and I lost several stitches of my basic knit fabric before catching the break and halting the damage. Aargh! Now, this wasn't like dropping a stitch and picking it back up -- the yarn itself had broken right in the middle of a stitch, right where I had been working with my tapestry needle, so of course both yarn ends took off in different directions, pulling out of their stitches and running (downward farther than upward) without leaving a clear indication of where they came from and how they should go back together. Not to mention that I had to join the freakin' ends somehow, so even if I could have figured out how to pick up the stitches seamlessly, I wouldn't have had enough yarn left after tying the ends together to do so.

I solved the problem by cursing loudly (didn't solve much, but sure made me feel better) then tying the errant ends together tightly and duplicate stitching over them. It's not a perfect fix, but no one but me will ever notice.

I've also started an MDK baby kimono in Swish Superwash, a deep heathered purple colorway. It's knitting up really nicely -- far nicer than the dishcloth cotton I've used with this pattern in the past. Once I have two or three of the kimonos in a couple of colors all knitted up, I think I'll be done with knitting for baby for the time being and may move on to doing something fancy, like a pretty lace shawl for myself. Just the thing to beat the postpartum blues.... :)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Here at Chez No A/C, Baby M and I have been valiantly trying to beat the sweltering heat all week. Monday we hit the local swimming pool; Tuesday it was a trip to the mall (a place I loathe but at least it was cool) followed by a $1 movie (gotta love second-run theaters); yesterday we camped out at DH's parents' house. But today? Today I had to get the freezer fixed.

Remember this? The Iceberg that Ate the Freezer? Well, thawing it didn't help. Oh, it got rid of the immediate problem of melted ice-water flooding the kitchen (and maybe, just maybe, if it had made the house even one degree cooler, I would have sucked up the water damage just to help beat the heat), but no sooner was the freezer nicely ice-free than it started icing itself up all over again, first a thin trickle down the back wall of the freezer, then an suspiciously iceberg-shaped layer coating the bottom shelf. Action needed to be taken.

And so. Baby M and I have been chained to the sweltering house all day waiting for the freezer repair person. While I was at it, I figured I might as well get that load of mulch that I'd been waiting on all summer finally delivered. Of course, the freezer has long been fixed, but the mulch is yet to show. I've already bribed Baby M with a trip to the air-conditioned library (taken before our 5 freakin' hour wait-time window for deliveries and repairs began), a candy bar and half a sippy box of organic chocolate milk. I did manage to get her down for a nap nearly an hour ago, amid much wailing and many cries of, "Mommy, HELP! Gigi CRYING!" (Just in case I hadn't figured that out myself, you see.) So, what have I been doing with a blessedly quiet if heat-hazed hour to myself and no sign of mulch in sight?

Why, I've been knitting, of course. Knitting, and photographing knitting.

First up: Baby Zoe's in-progress baby blanket.

Luscious 100% alpaca, Knitpicks Decadence. I bought six skeins awhile back for a project I had in mind. Can I remember what the project was? Of course not. And so I did the smart, not to mention frugal, thing: when I decided to make Zoe a blanket, I shopped my stash and decided to use the Decadence. Yes, it would be a pain in the butt to handwash a baby blanket. But, honestly, how many times have I washed Baby M's baby blankets? 'Nuff said. Plus I lovelovelove alpaca, and I knew that the pattern -- EZ's double-knitted baby blanket from Knitter's Almanac -- would be even softer, squooshier and more deliciously huggable in alpaca than in plain ol' wool.

Of course, the blanket was looking a little plain, what with the simple stitch pattern and no colorwork. So, I decided to add some color by stitching a great, big "Z" on the front side of the blanket. There's a name for this technique, I know, where you stitch embroidery-style directly over each knit stitch so it looks like you did fancy intarsia or Fair Isle work when you really didn't, but damn if I can't remember it now. Nor can I be bothered to look it up. Suffice it to say, I of course went straight to the Knitpicks site and picked out a lovely rose color skein of Decadence to make the Z with. And since it wouldn't do to pay for shipping for one lousy skein of yarn, and since Knitpicks is kind enough to provide free shipping with a $45 purchase, I just had to pick up a few more things.

Like some Swish Superwash in Indigo Heather and Lemongrass Heather, both to make MDK baby kimonos for Baby Zoe. Poor thing will be born in November, after all. We'd better have some cold-weather knits on hand to keep her warm.

And two skeins of Knitpicks Shimmer (alpaca/silk blend...yum!) in turquoise to knit this, from my latest fave knitting book, Victorian Lace Today:

Isn't it gorgeous? A lacey, spiderweb-type shawl, something open and interesting enough to work well with the muted tones of the subtly variegated turquoise yarn.

And four more skeins of Shimmer in Stained Glass to make this:

This shawl is done in something called a Trinity Stitch, which I think will look amazing with the vibrant purples and pinks of the Stained Glass colorway.

And just 'cause I can't pass up an "oops" sale, a couple of skeins of Essential Special in Peacock. Now that I may actually have a sock nearly finished on my sock machine (we'll overlook the fact that it's sat there in its nearly-finished state for over a month while I work up the nerve to take it off and find out if it is indeed a sock or yet another giant, tube-shaped tangle of wooly misery), I might as well start picking up some pretty-pretty sock yarn as well.

But the first thing for me to do is finish that baby blanket. That, and figure out what else to do to get away from this blasted heat.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Just yesterday I was reading Crazy Aunt Purl's blog post about the zen of deep cleaning and thinking, "Wow...why don't I do that?"

Well. Be careful what you wish for is all I can say.

This morning I woke up to DH saying plaintively from the kitchen, "Oh, no." DH, as it turns out, had discovered a big honkin' puddle of water in front of the fridge, the very same fridge that busted a water line not once but twice and flooded the out-of-sight area behind the cabinets so badly that it collapsed the ceiling in the garage. A puddle in front of the fridge is very bad news in our house.

DH soon realized that a busted water line wasn't to blame this time. It was this:

And this:

The Iceberg that Ate the Freezer (not to mention the frozen corn...clearly, it's been way too long since I've checked up on the frozen corn).

How did we get to this sorry state of affairs, you might ask? How could our freezer possibly get so choked with ice that it finally began to melt around the edges in the furnace-like heat we've been having lately and ooze out all over the floor?

I must admit, I think it was my fault. If I were to be totally honest, I'd admit that it's definitely my fault.

I have a thing about stockpiling food. It's in my family's blood. Even as a little kid I remember Mom and Dad keeping one corner of the credenza in our teeny tiny apartment reserved for the "emergency food." This mainly consisted of a bag of uncooked rice and several cans of potted meat, the kind with the devil holding a pitchfork on the paper wrapper. I think my mom used to rotate the food every once in awhile, swapping out the old bag of rice for a new one and using up the former "emergency bag" over the course of several dinners. Dad was the only one who ate the potted meat. I don't know what kind of emergency they thought they were planning for, but apparently boiled rice and meat spread were going to see us through it.

In light of that, it makes perfect sense that I keep lots of food on hand. (OK, maybe it doesn't exactly make sense, unless by "makes sense" you mean "still sounds crazy"). When DH and I moved into our house and bought the Icy the Fridge, I originally picked it out because it looked like the biggest one they had. Before we signed on the dotted line, though, I asked the salesman if they had an even bigger one.

"Ma'am," he said, clearly trying to be polite to the crazy woman, "this fridge holds enough food for nine people. Exactly how many people are living in your house?"

"Just the two of us," I replied calmly. We then bought the fridge...and the largest chest freezer the store had in stock. Never let it be said that I would run out of food in my lifetime...or anyone else's.

Eight years later, Icy and the chest freezer have been joined by a second fridge in the garage (given to us by DH's brother when he bought a new one) and a pantry full of food. Not to mention the kitchen cabinets, also full of food. None of which would be bad, except....

Well, let's just say I'm not nearly as good as Mom at rotating the food around. Our freezers in particular tend to resemble archaeological digs, with the oldest stuff at the bottom or the back and the newer stuff piled on top or in front. If I were a good rotator, I would probably have paid more attention last year when I noticed that I could no longer pull out the bottom freezer drawer in the kitchen fridge. I might have said to myself, "Self, it's time to pull the bags of corn up front and use them. But, what's this? They're frozen solid to the back of the fridge? Hmmm...maybe, Self, you should look into this."

Instead, when I noticed that I could no longer pull the bottom drawer out of the freezer, I simply let it alone and placed the newer food in front of whatever was in the back (see "frozen corn," above). Maybe I heard a few crickets chirping quietly in the back of my mind. All I know is when I mentioned to DH as he sopped up the mess in front of the fridge that maybe, just maybe I'd noticed the bottom drawer had been a tad encased in ice for, oh, the past year or so, he simply stopped and stared at me incredulously. I think it was all he could do not to ask how I could have been so incredibly stupid. I sort of wonder myself. How have I not managed to seriously hurt myself these past four decades?

So, that was our day: chipping great hunks of ice out of the freezer, melting ice sheets with the hair dryer, using up copious amounts of towels (at least they were cloth -- no trees were killed as a result of my stupidity) and occasionally resorting to the wet/dry vac to get rid of the watery evidence of my extreme lack of good judgment and sense. I did at least manage to give the freezer a good deep-cleaning, washing all the shelves to within an inch of their lives, scrubbing the inside of the door handle, throwing out the frozen squash puree from three or four summers ago when the garden produced way more pattypans than one family should have to deal with.

The freezer has now been deep-cleaned. Funny, though, I just don't feel the zen of it.