Monday, March 29, 2010

My Day in Pictures

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Actually, here's what I did after my summer vacation:

The vacation album! Just finished it tonight, and only seven months after the fact. Hooray for finishing!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Knit More!

Today was a double victory. First, this:

That's right, BGM's rainbow afghan is finished, only 13 days after it was begun. I still cannot get over how quick crochet is compared to knitting. Too bad I love the look of knitting so much, or I swear all I'd do is crochet just to finish projects.

The next victory happened awhile back, but the prize just arrived today. Behold, my award for being one of the winners of the Knitmore Girls' "Do Some Good Contest":

How cool is that? A gorgeous skein of Tess' Designer Yarns Microfiber Ribbon, the yarn that Jasmin of the Knitmore Girls is always raving about. And how appropriate -- it's in rainbow colors! Plus they were kind enough to send a Verena Knitting magazine, a sample of Soak, and a whole bunch of Knitmore Swag. Sweet!

Now I'm sort of in a quandry. I still have a bunch of WIPs that I really should finish. Mom's blanket jumps right to the front of that list since it was supposed to be her 80th birthday present...this past September. All it needs is the rest of the seaming to be done, and then the burying of the million and a half ends. I am never, ever using my little 4-inch square Weave It loom to make a blanket again.

Since the blanket isn't portable, I suppose I'll go back to my cabled aran vest for my train knitting. And, of course, there's the Sand Dollar pullover that I really need to finish seaming. Oh, and if I get tired of working the needles, I can always pick up the vacation scrapbook and finally do the last 6 pages. I feel like I'm so close to the end on all these projects, but the siren song of the new is always beckoning me away. (I'm looking at you, Tess Microfiber.) What to do, what to do....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Almost There

I'm so close to finishing BGM's blanket that I can taste it! After dance class tonight (did I mention I bellydance?), I sat in Starbucks with a couple of friends over tea and just powered through the second-to-last colored stripe. Now I have about a row and a half of white to go, then four rows of my final color and a finishing three-row stripe of white and I'll be done, done, done.

To tell the truth, I can hardly wait.

It's not that I necessarily have project that I'm dying to get back to knitting on. I'm still working on my cabled aran vest from the Paton's Cables booklet, but even though it's lots of fun, it's something that I'm fine with picking up and putting down; it's not a siren song but more of a steady drumbeat kind of knit. No, I think I just want to finish some things, and this is about as close as I am to finishing anything right about now.

I did manage to pull out my photo album from ::ahem:: last August and get a couple of more pages squared away. I'm trying something new and experimenting with scrapbooking. Honestly, it's not really my thing. I love the finished product, but I'm just not visual enough to make everything hang together as nicely as people who really get into it do. The vacation book is coming out nicely enough, but it's a shitton of work and I just want it to be done with. I was hoping to get it all finished over this week's spring break, but that was just not meant to be. Still, I've gotten a bit more done, and more importantly, I've taken the supplies out of the back closet where they were hibernating, so at least they're out in view and therefore more likely to be worked on. Once I finish the blanket, I think I'm going to concentrate on getting this book done.

Then, of course, I need to finally seam up my Sand Dollar pullover. It's only been more than a year since I finished the knitting up. Why, oh why, aren't all sweaters constructed in the round??

If I can get these three projects out of the way by the end of the month...well, let's face it, if I manage that, I will also have managed to squeeze an extra week into the available 31 days of March, so we'll just see how that goes. But at least I have goals.

Right now, I'm off to work on one of them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Getting Phat!

I can only wonder what my foremothers would think of the fiber "sellout phenomenon." I'm sure there's a more official name for it, though I have no idea what it is. I'm talking about the way certain sellers (like Wollmeise) or certain product lines from certain sellers (like The Sanguine Gryphon's Bugga!) barely have time to hit the virtual shelves before being snatched up by eager buyers, many of whom don't even bother checking the colors that they get in the excitement of getting something, anything at all.

It kind of reminds me of my first trip to Rhinebeck, when I saw the line snaking from the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth past at least half a dozen other sellers, practically to the exit of the showroom. I asked one woman whose arms were filled with skeins of Socks that Rock yarn what was happening. I honestly thought the yarn must have been free to generate such a line. No, she replied, we all just love STR. No special show discounts, just the chance to see colors in person instead of online. People walked away with bags full of the stuff, paid in full.

I went through a period when I bought yarn at least in part for the phenomenon factor. Much as I adore Ravelry, I find it all too easy to hear about the latest and greatest yarns there -- the fiber must-haves that I then suddenly decide I must have, too. I've stalked Wollmeise at 3am, bought colors of yarns that I didn't even like because I knew they had good "trade value," and generally built my stash the way some people build their stock portfolios.

Then, I stopped.

I think I sort of burned out on keeping up with the Joneses. I had a metric shitton of yarn but relatively few FOs; yarn stalking does take time away from actually using said yarn, yanno. I was also worried about DH's job situation and decided that cutting back in general was a good idea. So, I quit cold turkey.

I stopped hanging out on the Ravelry swap boards, which made a huge difference. I don't think I bought yarn for over half a year, maybe longer. I actually didn't mind. I didn't feel like I was missing out, like I was denying myself anything. When events conspired to keep me away from Rhinebeck for the first time in 3 or 4 years, I was down for a bit, but ultimately I was glad not to have spent the money I was sure to have dropped had I gone.

Oh, I've bought yarn and fiber since then. Some special pretties at excellent prices mostly, stuff I love that also happened to show up on sale or on a particularly good Rav destash at a time when I felt I couldn't pass them up. I've done a bit of trading, too, to get yarn I want for specific projects. And I treated myself at the start of the year to my very first spinning fiber club, from Crown Mountain Farms. But, in general I just passed on the phenom yarns. Just a few days ago, in fact, I had 3 skeins of Bugga! in my cart at The Loopy Ewe -- I'd caught a note on Rav about an update just moments after it happened -- but I closed the window without buying because I couldn't see spending nearly $90 on three skeins of yarn that were okay, but nothing spectacular. Trade value or no, I just didn't love the yarns enough to want them that much, so I didn't buy.

But tonight, I finally succumbed to a phenom. I bought a Phat Fiber box.

Honestly, I'm not quite sure if it will be worth it. I've been intrigued for awhile, and I've even tried scoring one before but with no luck. I was always the kid who loved the surprise packages from the mail-order catalogs, after all; it's only natural that a surprise box of fiber would appeal to me. I picked a Fluff box figuring that I could do more with a bunch of samples of spinning fiber than I could do with short sample lengths of yarn. And I do have high hopes. If nothing else, it will be something different, out of the ordinary. I'm calling it a little birthday present to myself.

And if I wind up loving it, all my ancestors can watch from the great beyond in bewilderment as I hover over the computer next month, competing with thousands of other fiberistas from around the globe for the privilege of spending my money. Who would have ever guessed?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Borrowers

When I was a kid, I remember reading a book about these teeny, tiny people called the Borrowers. They lived in people's houses and took things. They weren't mean; they weren't even stealing. They were borrowing. Whenever people went looking for their stuff in the place where they'd left it but it wasn't there, it meant that the Borrowers had taken it.

I was reminded of this last night, as DH and I frantically ripped apart the entire house looking for this:

No, not the Stitch doll. The Baby Surprise Jacket. The one I spent two weeks knitting for DH's colleague, whose baby boy is due in less than a month. I'd finished the jacket, sewn on the (functional) snaps and (decorative) buttons, draped it around Stitch for a photo shoot...and promptly lost the thing. I swore that I'd folded it up and put it back in my project bag, but when I pulled the bag out to wrap the jacket, it was empty. I searched all my project bags, my sock yarn dresser (yes, I have an entire dresser full of nothing but sock yarn; perhaps I have a problem), the little hanging shoe racks behind the hall closet door...but, nothing. At least, no jacket.

DH and I continued to search together. I may have implied that the jacket got lost after DH commented, upon my showing him the end result of all my hard labor, that now I could "wrap it up nice and pretty, m'kay?" Clearly at that moment, DH, usually a sensitive and intelligent man, was not at his best. Understanding soul that I am, I chose not to wrap the jacket up inside his anus, as I had very briefly considered doing. Instead, I simply lost it. The jacket, that is.

When the jacket finally turned up, it was in the least likely of places: inside my younger daughter's dresser. Now, my younger daughter is 2. She can't even reach her dresser, much less care about putting clothes into it (pulling everything out, however, is a different story entirely). I didn't put the jacket in there. DH didn't put the jacket in there. Cue the creepy music: the Borrowers must have done it.

But, all's well that ends well, right? DH gave the pressie to his friend at work today, and it was received with all the joy and appreciation that I could have hoped for. Meanwhile, I'm now free to go back to work on DDM's ripple blankie.

Now if only I can find where I put that crochet hook....

Monday, March 08, 2010


I came to the fiber arts through crochet. My mother taught me when I was so young that I don't even have a clear memory of being taught. I do remember spending hours making crochet chains, trying to see how long I could get them before I grew too bored to go on. As I got older, I moved on to thread crochet. I made doilies and fillet crochet picture-squares before realizing that I didn't like them enough to display them, which (in my mind) made the making rather pointless.

Mom had taught me to knit as well, but when I picked it up again as an adult it quickly supplanted crochet as my fiber art of choice. Crochet seemed so hopelessly old-fashioned, so 70s acrylic, all granny-square kitsch with none of the smooth sophistication and flair of knitting. I put my hooks aside.

But recently, my older DD has been asking for a blanket. She dearly loves all my handmade gifts, and since I realize that this will not last forever, I want to capitalize on it while I still can. If the girl wants a blanket, then a blanket she will get.

I decided to pick a crochet pattern because, like it or not, crochet does work up faster than knitting. I looked up free crochet afghan patterns on Ravelry and let her choose the one she liked best; she picked the Easy Ripple Afghan. We then went to Michael's and I let her pick her colors of Cotton-Ease, whichever she wanted. She chose "rainbow," which meant we went home with seven more-or-less primary colors plus white. I cast on two days ago. Here's what I have so far:

Unbefrickinlieveable, isn't it? Two days of easy double crochet and I've got a foot of blanket-width fabric to show for it. The rhythm of the pattern is soothing, and it feels good to wield a crochet hook again. DDM (formerly Baby M, though with her 5th birthday fast approaching she's hardly a baby any more) has already said she loves how the blanket looks, and at this rate it will be done in time for her birthday in just a few weeks. While I love the look of the knitted afghan I've been toiling over for the past few years (on size 4 needles, with the end nowhere in sight), there's really nothing like a crocheted blanket for a fast, satisfying project that produces BIG results in little time. Yay, crochet!

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Pioneer Life

I used to have this little fantasy. In it, my family and I were pioneers circa the mid-1800s. We would live in a cozy log cabin that my husband, "Pa," had built with his own two hands out of nothing but materials from the land around us. While he was out trapping or hunting or fishing to put fresh game on the table, I -- with the help of my daughters -- would knit and sew and preserve the bounty of the garden we would plant ourselves using nothing but the most basic of hand tools. It wouldn't be an easy life, to be sure, but it would be oh so rewarding in its honesty and simplicity.

Then, last week, I got to live my dream.

The power went out at around 10pm on Thursday. We really shouldn't have been surprised; over 2 feet of snow had fallen, and trees were bound to be coming down all over. But, in over 10 years of living in our house, we'd never been without power for more than a day and a half. We headed to bed, secure in the knowledge that the lights would be back on the following afternoon. Evening at worst. In the meanwhile, I would indulge in my Little House on the Prairie daydreams.

I got up on Friday morning, raring to start a fire in our wood stove. Of course, we hadn't used the stove since my older daughter had been born nearly five years earlier, which meant the only wood we had was a termite-ridden pile that was currently buried under nearly a yard of snow. Undeterred, I brought in a few soggy logs and set them up at the back of the stove, behind the pile of crumpled newspaper and junk mail that I'd scrounged up in lieu of actual kindling. My inner pioneer just shook her head sadly.

Fifteen sooty, smoky, fire-less minutes later, I finally remembered the lone Duraflame log I had tucked away in the downstairs pantry. At last, success! A fire roared in the stove, and I hastily piled wood as close as I felt I could without setting the house ablaze in an attempt to dry it off. Night fell with no power in sight, and we all realized we were in it for the long haul.

Saturday morning, I headed out to find that not only had all the generators in a 20 mile radius been purchased the morning before (and, really, a generator? who needed a generator? we were pioneers!), but so had all the Coleman lanterns, camping stoves and firewood. I stocked up on Duraflames, bought a three-pack of battery-powered headlamps and headed for home. When I got there, I found that in addition to having no heat, no way to cook food and no telephone, we now also had no water. I began to wonder why people referred to the past as the "good old days."

By Sunday, we sent the girls to stay with my in-laws for the duration. DH and I melted snow to flush the toilets and heated it to bathe. Do you have any idea how long it takes to heat a big pot of water on a wood stove? I could have licked myself clean, cat-style, faster.

Monday, I woke up to find dishes, including the coffee pot and oatmeal pan, in the sink. Not usually a problem, except when you need to boil water to wash those pots and pans before you can actually cook breakfast. So, while DH slept, I fed the fire (started this time from the prior night's embers -- Pioneer Me was so proud!) and spent 2 hours collecting, melting and heating snow, all so I could wash the freakin dishes in order to dirty them again immediately. When Pioneer Me pointed out that this is why the dishes should never sit in the sink, unwashed, overnight, I wanted to slap her.

The power came back on again late Tuesday. DH and I celebrated by taking hot showers, eating takeout Chinese and staying up past 9pm. Pioneer life had been pretty exhausting, and quite frankly, I was delighted to be done with it.

I have a new fantasy now. In it, my family and I live in a cozy A-frame with heat, hot water and light, all available at the touch of a button.

Oh, wait a sec...that's my reality.

At least, until the power goes out again.
A Fresh New Look

Over on Ravelry, someone commented that she'd checked out my blog and wondered what had happened with my life after I stopped blogging. She mentioned that I should pick up the blog again, and I'd been thinking the same thing myself. So, here I am.

I've cleared away much of the old crap that I had in the sidebars, header, etc. Feels like a fresh start is in order.

I stopped blogging because life got busy and dropping out of the blogosphere was easy. But more than that...I think towards the end of 2007, right before Baby Z was born, I wound up developing a somewhat uneasy relationship with my blog. There was so much strife leading up to Baby Z's birth, and I put some of that strife down in the blog. And then I just wanted to forget all about it. It was too hard, too painful. I'd cried my way through every ob-gyn appointment from 20 weeks onward, and I really, really wanted to leave that behind. And so, I left the blog behind as well.

Things are very different now. Baby Z is no longer a baby, she's a full-fledged toddler. She is an absolute joy, so full of life and so very healthy and wonderful, despite her disability. She, she runs most of the time, keeping up with her big sis who will (unbelievably!) turn 5 in just a few short weeks. She talks nearly nonstop. She managed to dodge so many of the typical SB (spina bifida) bullets that I'm still in shock. My gratitude to the vagaries of the universe knows no bounds.

I'm ready to write again, although I don't know how frequently or about what. Bear with me. I'll do my best.