Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Extermiknit! Extermiknit!

My friend David in Arizona is a bit of a science-fiction fan, especially the current Dr. Who series on the BBC.
So when I found a pattern for a knitted Dalek on Ravelry, I decided he needed one.

I printed out the pattern, noticed it requires a whole bunch of bobbles - maybe three dozen or so? - knit in a contrasting color, and sort of hid from it for a while, because, well, that's not something that sounds like a great time.
I find bobbles a pain in the neck at the best of times and having to carry two colors didn't sound like more fun.
But in August, about an hour after my water broke, I decided I would cast on the Dalek while waiting for labor to start. I think my reasoning (which might have been a little off-center) was that annoying, fiddly knitting would help me keep my mind off the contractions, which were getting stronger.
I sat around most of the afternoon, drinking water and knitting bobbles, and trying not to get too excited about things.
Finally, after dinner, I finished the bobbly part of the Dalek, and right about then, lost interest in knitting for the evening and for several days thereafter.
Nothing motivates like a deadline, so I decided to finish the thing for Christmas, which worked pretty well. I shipped it off to Arizona. David liked it - it made him laugh - which I'm glad of. That was my goal. He suggested I could make these and sell them, which I really can't, because it's not my pattern.
Instead, he can enjoy the fact that he has an extremely limited edition of one Dalek, because even if I were to get pregnant again, I'm not casting another one of these things on.
Happy New Year, everyone.

Home sweet home

As a follow up to my last post on lullabies, I wrote this one this morning as I walked Jamie around trying to get him to sleep so I can finish a freelance piece and go have fondue and board games for NYE with some friends.
(One of Jamie's goofy names is "Mr. Boo.")

Mr. Boo, Mr. Boo, I love you,
But I wish you wouldn't scream like you seem to like to do,
I wish you wouldn't scream, I wish you wouldn't cry,
You make your mama want to stick a finger in her eye.

Mr. Boo, Mr. Boo, I love you,
But I wish you wouldn't scream like you seem to like to do,
I wish you wouldn't scream, I wish you wouldn't shout,
You make your mama want to tear her hair right out,

Mr. Boo, Mr. Boo, I love you,
But I wish you wouldn't scream like you seem to like to do.
I wish you wouldn't scream, 'cause screaming really stinks,
And screaming little babies tend to drive their moms to drink!

Mr. Boo, Mr. Boo, I love you,
But I wish you wouldn't scream like you seem to like to do.

The bouncing will continue until morale improves.
Happy New Year, everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2008


The days go by, and here it is Monday, the day after the solstice, and we're trying to get organized for a trip to Pittsburgh.
It's been insanely cold here and a bad weekend for ice. A friend of ours slipped and fell and broke her wrist, so on Saturday we helped her get her car from the store where that happened to her house. Then the Fool and I baked like madpeople.
We made hazelnut-butter-chocolate-chip cookies, which Mama Fool loves and I like a lot too, gingersnaps with minced crystallized ginger (gives them a really good gingery bite), shortbread with pistachios and cranberries and lemon spritz cookies. I wanted to try these chocolate hazelnut cookies, but we ran out of time, so I'll make those for new year's.
I made panettone off the King Arthur's Flour baking blog (good recipes, once you look past all the shameless product plugs, but hey, it's a company blog, so I don't expect impartiality from them.) The flavor is great, although it didn't rise like I expected it to. I'll be making this again and experimenting with pans.
We're heading out for lunch with a friend of mine, and then after that, back to packing, making beef stew and planning for the dance I'm calling tonightall by myself for the first time ever - ulp!
The stew is a present for Mama Fool, and I recommend this if you're stumped for holiday presents at this late date, because casting something on is insanity.
If you have someone in your family who lives alone, doesn't like to cook and tends to eat from the frozen dinner section of the supermarket, I think it's helpful to make them some homemade frozen dinners.
Mama Fool likes beef stew and it's not loaded with sodium and preservatives.
My dad liked frozen pizzas and lasagnas. Roll out the dough, top, freeze on a cookie sheet and slide into a freezer bag. You can make single-serving lasagnes in those mini disposable loaf pans.
(If you have someone on your gift list who commutes by car, I recommend "Traffic," by Tom Vanderbilt, a book about the sociology and psychology of driving and drivers. You can even get it as an audio book. It explains all the stuff that people think about while they're stuck in traffic and I'm finding it fascinating.)
Two ideas and a picture of some socks I made for a good friend, wrapped and ready to give. I've got some more knitting to show off, but the recipient reads this blog, so ... later.

My trip knitting is all my unfinished socks. That's three pairs and I plan to knit the pairs one at a time until the socks are all done. I started a pair of Christmas mittens for the Fool, but they're turning into New Year's mittens, or possibly Epiphany mittens. Heck, it's entirely possible he'll get a Martin Luther King Day present this year.
I'm also thinking about trying to replicate a pair of cheap glove/mitten combo things I bought at Target before I learned to knit, in wool, rather than acrylic-cotton blend. I have enough stash yarn to make that work, and I'd really like a pair.
OK. Back to the salt mines.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Go to sleep, little creep, meep meep meep meep meep meep meep

When Jamie was born, Edward, the fiddler we keep company with, gave us a book of lullabies from different countries. We were leafing through it the other night, looking for something to harmonize on, and the Fool started reading lyrics out loud.

Some of them are poetic, like this Welsh one:

Sleep my baby, rest my loved one,
Softly slumber now with me
Clasped in mother's arms so tender,
Warm in mother's love for thee.

Others are a little weird:

Out on a gorse bush, dark and wide,
Dark and wide, dark and wide,
Swift rain was falling on every side,
O hard was my sleep last night.

And some of them, we agreed, were made up by very desperate parents, such as this one from Belgium:

Sleep, baby sleep
baby go to sleep quite quickly
Sleep, baby sleep
Baby go to sleep at once.

Don't you think the second verse probably goes, "Sleep, baby sleep, dammit, go to sleep right now! Sleep, baby sleep, why the hell won't you sleep?"

The title lullaby in the post comes from my friend David. It's sung to Brahms' Lullaby, and it goes exactly as written: "Go to sleep, little creep, meep meep meep meep ... etc." It works pretty well. So do three verses of Kum Ba Yah, although by the end of that, I'm ready to go to sleep too.

All this is to say that Jamie has been fighting sleep all morning, and he has just now crashed in his sling, which means my plans to mail presents at the post office, buy some boots (I know, I know, I live in Chicago and I have no boots. What the heck?) and get the Fool's oil changed for him have been pushed back. Sigh.
However, it does mean I can do a little secret Christmas knitting and perhaps some freelance calls.
I leave you with a photo of the kind of thing I have to put up with now. That's Jamie, sleeping in my lap after nursing and Angus insisting I pet him that very minute. Don't worry; we snapped the picture and evicted the cat from my lap. There are no cat bottoms allowed on heads around here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My grand plan would work better if I remembered to plug in the crock pot.

Buoyed by the success....

... of completing one pair of socks and one scarf for Christmas presents, I decided yesterday to take an entirely different direction on another present. Will be casting on at knit group tonight.
To facilitate my quick departure for knit group, I assembled a chicken and cauliflower curry in the crock pot. It's cooking, I'll put the rice on at 5 p.m., and then out the door to commence my Grand Plan. Wish me luck. I've only got nine days.

Monday, December 15, 2008

While shepherds watched their flocks by night

The Fool and I have a friend who helps run her church's living nativity pageant. We went a couple years ago, and it was pretty interesting. Then, when it became clear I was having a baby in August, Marylee started eyeing me speculatively.
When she met Jamie for the first time, while she was playing guitar for a contra dance, she smiled at him and said happily, "Hello, Baby Jesus!"
So on Sunday night, we bundled Jamie in his best snowsuit and took him to the church, where he got swaddled in a couple more layers of fleece and a rustic looking wool outer layer.
He's an easygoing little person, so we knew he wouldn't have any problem hanging around with other people, and Joseph looked like the kind of guy who has spent serious time visiting with babies.

While Jamie hung out with Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the sheep and goats (he really liked looking at the goats), I hung out behind the manger, about four feet away, with the other animal handler - the woman whose sheep and goats were lending realism to the scene.

We watched our respective charges - I fretted when Jamie's hat fell off, she put a hand out to stop a nosy sheep from pushing out of the scene altogether.
And she and I chatted while I knit a few rounds on a sock.
Knitting a dark brown and navy blue sock in the night is dumb. I have to frog a round today.
It turns out she has all these sheep, some of which produce good wool, and she has no one to take this wool from her. She said she holds onto it as long as she can, but her husband usually makes her throw it out.
(Her husband also asked me why I was knitting a sock when you can get them for a couple bucks at Wal-Mart. Seriously. So the guy may not be a true appreciator of wool.)
Well, now she has my address, and perhaps I will have some wool one of these days. I think I'll get the Fool to spin some up and send her a hat or mittens in return.
The best part of the night, though, was when I went out front to take some pictures and listen to what people were saying when they realized that Baby Jesus was being played by an actual baby and not a doll.
My favorite?
"Dude, he's going to have to live up to this the rest of his life. He does anything wrong, his parents are going to be all, 'hey, you were baby Jesus! Cut it out!'"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Today, Jamie and I went to the JC Penney Portrait Studio for his holiday picture. The Fool was on the phone with his mom last week, not-so-subtly asking her for gift ideas.

FOOL: Oh, a family portrait? We would have time to do that, sure. We could get that done by Christmas.
FOOL: Just Jamie? Uh, sure. That's fine too.
ME: What are we?
FOOL: (aside) chopped liver.

Anyway, Jamie, despite needing a nap, put up with the goings on with remarkable good humor and was kind enough to smile several times, so we have one more gift crossed off the list. Two more, actually, as Grandpa Fool is also getting a picture of his grandson.

We put up a tree the other night. Angus was delighted. He had no idea that we celebrated the holiday by bringing a tree into the house, setting it in a dish of drinking water and then hanging it with cat toys.

I bound this off the other night, and just have to weave in a couple ends and package it up for a friend in Minnesota. It's killing me not to run out to the yarn store, buy two more balls of Silk Garden and start another for ... well, someone with a neck, I suppose. Two balls of Noro Silk Garden, two rows each, alternating balls ... directions all over the knitting blogosphere.

Now I'm trying to finish socks. I frogged this, which was supposed to be Embossed Leaves, but turned out to be nothing distinguished at all, and am doing a wavy lace thing instead. More pictures later. Jamie is howling and we think he wants to eat.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Random Saturday

Boy, I'm glad it's the weekend.
I've been spending a lot of time hanging out on the floor with Jamie, keeping him company as he rolls from his back to his stomach and then gets irritated because he can't crawl. It's entertaining enough, but it does tend to give a person a rather small worldview. We intersperse it with the singing of silly songs and the reading of books, but it's still a lot of rolling and shrieking. Also, he drools a lot. I thought my friends with kids were crazy for giving me bales of bibs, but they were not. Here he is, rolling, drooling and wearing a bib.

It was a rough week for Angus. He kicked over my coffee Thursday morning and there wasn't enough left for me to have another cup. Then the Fool got to work to discover that Angus had, uh, soiled his shirt, necessitating an emergency trip to Old Navy, lest he get a reputation as "that guy who smells like cat pee."
Finally, I unfairly blamed Angus for the disappearance of the blue wool hat I knit for Jamie. The cat had a bad track record for the week already and has some proclivities regarding wool and what he likes to do with it (let's just say if he were a teenaged boy, he'd be blind by now), but it was us that put the hat under some clothes and therefore out of plain sight.
So, sorry, Angus.
Spoot has not been an angel, either. She spent this morning collecting interesting items from the bowl of compost and dragging them out for closer examination.

Yet, the knitting continues. I've been making a woolen block for Jamie, with plans to make more. I adapted the pattern somewhat for minimal seaming, and I've been replacing each panel with knit-purl combinations that entertain me, rather than the ones the original author used. I need a better stitch dictionary. And a sock, and, well, let's just call this last thing, "Baa, baa, baa, I am a sheep."

But a sheep that's one up on the Christmas knitting.

Friday, December 05, 2008

KnitML and Life

When I told Meg about the release of KnitML 0.4 last week, she asked me, "Does it do anything useful yet?"

"What do you mean by useful?" I replied. "Being able to render patterns in Spanish is quite useful!"

"Well, not to me," was the answer. "I mean, does it allow me to change a pattern's gauge to my gauge yet?"

"Well, you see..."

"It doesn't, does it?"

"Well, no. See..." I stammered, "that's not the purpose of the software. It is trying to lay the foundation for other software to do that."


Anyways, so I set about to remedy this situation. Meg, dearest, love of my life, mother of my child... I give you Gauge Transformer 0.1.

1 I would like to point out that she has been very supportive of the effort I've put into KnitML, even if she doesn't really understand what it is I am doing.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The cobbler's kids....

It snowed last night, beautiful white sticky stuff that outlines all the tree branches and is my favorite kind to look at. The windchills are low, too, in the teens.
So guess who has no wool hats or mittens?
Me and Jamie.
Casting on tonight....

Sunday, November 30, 2008

And straight on to Christmas

The (downward? depends on how you see it) slide is beginning. Thanksgiving over and past, it's straight on to Christmas, express, with a brief stop at the solstice to wish I had time to throw a solstice party with carols and warm food. (No time, plus others have claim to the pre-Christmas weekends.)
We spent Thanksgiving with my grad school friend, cooking a huge dinner and eating too much. Wonderful.

Janice with bacon wrapped dates. mmmmm....

Last minute food prep

Then the Fool and Jamie and I packed and headed for Breaking Up Thanksgiving, the annual contra dance weekend, in the wilds of northwest Illinois. It was Jamie's first dance weekend. He visited with many of his Chicago friends, laughed for Big Bill, made some new friends and hung out in his sling while we danced and played tunes.

The Fool explains to Jamie, "See, you push this with your finger and it makes a sound." He was pleased to notice his kid does not bang with fists, but instead uses his index finger. I said, "wait until he's a toddler."

The dance floor on Saturday night.

We discovered something about him that thrills the Fool to no end. Saturday night, Jamie didn't want to settle down after dinner. He didn't want to nurse, he didn't want to sleep - although he probably needed to do both. We went back to our cabin, thinking maybe the quiet would calm him down enough to nurse and nap before the dance. No luck. Finally, the Fool said Jamie could fuss just as well in the dance hall if he was going to fuss, and at least we'd get some dancing in. He plopped Jamie in the sling and set off for the hall. They walked across a field together, Jamie complaining and fussing all the way, and as soon as the Fool opened the hall door and Jamie heard the music, he quieted down. As soon as the Fool started dancing, Jamie fell asleep and the Fool is delighted that he has a tiny little tune hound for a son.

Sleeping baby, dancing Fool

The Fool and I ate potluck food, played for dances, visited with people and otherwise goofed off. We got to jam with Matt T., a fiddler from downstate Illinois, who is such huge, huge fun to play tunes with, I can't stand it. Our friend Walter sat in on piano, too, and we delivered a loud, raucous set of tunes for a square dance and then a contra. We started the contra set with Waterbound, and then changed to Grub Springs, and by the time we finished, Chirps Smith, fiddler extraordinaire, had sat down to finish the tune with us. The dancers hit the balances all at the same time; they made the floor shake, and we grinned and grinned.

Chirps in full flight - I experiment with camera settings. Artsy, no? I should read the manual sometime.

I knitted some things for the silent auction. They did pretty well. So well, in fact, that someone asked me to knit them another pair of fingerless gloves in exchange for a donation to the Chicago Barn Dance Company. I said yes, especially because their company will match the donation.

Dashing - Cascade 220

Two Anna Zilboorg hats. I think I'm over stranded knitting for the short term. Give me a week.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve

Jamie is rolling around on the floor under the supervision of the Fool, and I've been given the day to mess in the kitchen and generally cook and get ready for Thanksgiving and Breaking Up Thanksgiving, two major cooking holidays.
I've got two batches of bread dough rising, some pineapple roasting for a cranberry salsa, and I think I'll bake cookies next.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thanks, Lanea!

We got a nice surprise in the mail from Crazy Lanea today.

Jamie says, "See, it's easier to hold up my head when I have a cool blanket to do it on!"

Top view. Poor kid is losing his baby hair in such a manner as to be sporting a faux-hawk.
Yes, I made it stand on end after his bath a couple nights ago.
Yes, I'll be showing those photos to his prom date.

We also got his Social Security card in the mail, so maybe he can go out and get a job - grin. It would be nice to have more time to knit.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanksgiving hats

I've been working on some hats for the silent auction at Breaking Up Thanksgiving, our contra dance community's annual big dance weekend. There's dancing until the wee hours to pickup bands, workshops, a great potluck, lots of jamming and hanging out - very fun.
This is Hat 1. It's from Anna Zilboorg's "45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit," which I bought when I was a very new knitter and didn't know anything other than that those hats were beyond me and knitting books tended to go out of print and skyrocket in price. It was an aspirational purchase.
It's a beret, and it's larger than Jamie's head, but Angus wouldn't hold still. I feel like it's a little shallow, but my niece, (a self-described pinhead) who visited over the weekend, tried it on and said the hat fits fine - it's my head that's funny-sized. I'm still debating whether to pick up stitches from the bottom and whomp a few rows of ribbing on. I don't quite believe her.
Poor kid. Wait until he finds out his mom used him as an Internet hat stand.

Here's the back of the beret (and the front of the Fool, who was making silly faces to get Jamie to smile.)

Anna Zilboorg's hats were a challenge to me at first - she writes about a half page of general instructions for each type of hat, and then makes charts for the rest without too much explanation. They're not so great if you want a mindless knit. I've got another of her hats on the needles, so I'll put up pictures of that one when it's finished, which should be only a dozen rounds more. I might knit a third, they're so entertaining, now that I've figured her patterns out.

The other fun knitting-related event was last Friday, when I put Jamie in his "Future Knitter" onesie and headed downtown to meet the Fool for dinner at Wishbone, (restaurant I didn't realize how much I missed until I lived far away from it) and then Franklin's booksigning at Loopy Yarns. Franklin's book is funny and a skein of some Malabrigo silk/ wool deliciousness followed me home, which makes it a prime Friday night in my universe.

The autumn leaves sweater is progressing, although slowly. I finished one sleeve with the I-cord bindoff, and I'm afraid it's too short. I'm going to block it and then decide whether I need to take the I-cord off and put on a regular cuff. I'm leaning that way anyway. The next step is to but the other armhole steek, but Jamie hit a growth spurt and has been nursing a lot at night and I haven't been sleeping so much and I think steeking on no sleep is probably a dumb idea and picking up stitches fails to amuse me even at the best of times. It's just as well I have these smaller projects to entertain me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Baker's Contrasts

Years ago, I got into making bread with sourdough starter in a big way. I had initially tried to make starter from just flour and water, and when that failed, Meg bought me a starter kit from King Arthur. That starter worked great for about 6 months, then I accidentally let it get moldy in the fridge. That was the end of round one of sourdough breadmaking.

Round two started a few weeks ago. For some reason I stumbled across Sourdough Home which renewed my interest, so I got a new starter going from scratch. This time, it worked beautifully. I turned out some of the best sourdough bread of my life on Sunday morning. (I wish I had pictures. When I reheat loaf #2 I will take a picture and put it here.)

Filled with baking confidence, I decided that our chicken stew dinner should be supplemented with flaky biscuits. The original recipe called for 16 biscuits, so I decided to halve the recipe. It all started out fine, except that I forgot to halve the baking powder. Fishing around in the flour / baking powder mixture with my fingers, I removed what I considered to be a good approximation of half of the baking powder. (Crude and against all of my meticulous instincts, but I really didn't want 16 biscuits on hand.)

Things were going along swimmingly, then I added what I thought was 3/8 cup of milk. For some reason in my head I calculated this to be "1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons," which is actually 5/8 cup. When the dough looked more like waffle batter than dough, I realized my fatal error. Meg calmly suggested that I could now just go ahead and double the recipe, except that this proved to be a challenge I had already cut in all of the fat and mixed up the dry ingredients. I then performed a random assortment of enhancements to the dough to try to "double" what I had. I started mashing the missing butter in with a fork, I rolled the goop around in some extra flour, and then finished it off by sprinkling a couple of handfuls of salt and baking powder.

While the texture ended up being good (surprisingly), the biscuits were completely flavorless. We left the remainder out for the squirrels, and even they won't go near it. (Actually, the raccoons won't, either, which is really saying something.)

Civics 101

This morning, I said to Jamie, who was wide awake and smiling (a nice contrast from last night, when he alternated mostly between sleeping and yelling), "Happy Election Day, kid. Today we're putting Barack Obama in the White House."
The Fool chimed in, sleepily.
"Actually, we're nominating him....electoral...mrrf."
I gave Jamie a brief overview of the Electoral College and how it worked, and concluded with, "But as you're only three months and two days old, I think we'll stick with, 'today we're electing a president.' I'll explain the rest of it next time."
This morning, Jamie and I are going to go vote. Well, I'm going to vote. Jamie's going to be hand luggage, as usual. He seems happy with our agenda.

(Darnit. Forgot to adjust red-eye. Can we just pretend I don't have a wee fiendish baby?)

I asked the cats about their Election Day plans, and Spoot said they had all agreed to vote Fibertarian. (Who knew my cats were a voting bloc?)
"We considered Obama," she said, "and McCain, but in the end, four-legs have to stick together, y'know?"
Mab emerged from under the bed and said she liked McCain's black and white cat, "Oreo," but she wasn't so sure about his domestic financial policies, and as her investments had already taken a hit this year, didn't want to take chances. I tried to explain to her that Oreo wasn't responsible for policy decisions, but she went back under the bed to watch CNN. I also tried to explain to her that I didn't think Dolores was any kind of expert on any kind of domestic policy at all, but she just turned the volume up and asked me to bring her a fresh bowl of crunchies.
And Angus said that when he heard Obama had no pets at all, he emailed him a biting. I expect to hear from the Secret Service any day now.

The sweater moves along. There are nine leaves per sleeve, and I have completed eight leaves on the first sleeve. I feel like I'm knitting more slowly than I used to. No idea why.

Go vote, everyone.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We went out to a further western suburb to trick or treat with some friends of ours and their family. The neighborhood was incredible; masses of kids, strollers and parents packing the sidewalk.
Jamie went as a scary, scary vegetable. Here he is next to the funniest Halloween decoration I've ever seen - skeletal black flamingos. Tell me you don't all want a flock of those things. I think they even glow in the dark.

(What did the Fool and I go as? Why, sleep deprived zombies, of course. Not really. We were going to dress up as farmers, which I thought could be accomplished with jeans, plaid shirts and straw hats. But of course, I couldn't find a straw hat that said 'farmer' to save my freakin' life. Seven stores, we tried. I found two cowboy hats made for pinheads and two big purple fake fur pimp hats - not even close. The Fool found cowboy hats, pointed Chinese peasant hats (!?!) and sombreros. I suppose two Chinese farmers would be just as likely to cart around a giant peapod as not.)

And now, back to the autumn leaves sweater, which is completely captivating me these days.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Welcome to the new workplace

Jamie woke up, this time without shrieking, but just by opening his eyes and peering around at us, a definite improvement. The Fool made coffee, which I smelled, and which drew me out of bed, which was just as well, because I had to meet a freelance client at 10:30 a.m., which, pre-baby, used to be halfway through my morning and definitely do-able.
The Fool is working from home today because the furnace broke last night (an extra quilt and two cats kept the three of us very comfortable and warm), and in keeping with the urge to make warm, friendly food, I tried to make oatmeal without overflowing it in the microwave (I failed), then without slopping the spillage from the plate onto the floor (failed again) and then, insult to injury, stepped in it. (Ish.)
Out the door, running late, got to my meeting, stopped to pick up lunch for the two of us on the way home ... late.
The Fool had an online training to conduct, requiring my presence to mind Jamie while he lectured on, uh, computer and programming stuff, so when I got in, I saw this:

(note stylish moose pants for the working-from-home dad)
I ate my lunch on the floor with Jamie, accidentally inserting some background noise into the training.

ME: Angus! Cats don't eat Chipotle! Go away!
FOOL: Shhhhh!

Jamie nursed for a few minutes, fell asleep in my lap, and I got to knit a half dozen rounds before the Fool's call ended, and now I'm waiting to talk to one last person and send off my freelance assignment.
The heater is fixed, the house is warm, Jamie is happy and Angus is, thankfully, asleep. And I am about halfway done with this sleeve. Hooray!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Midwife Socks

It was somewhere around the 20th hour after Meg went into labor that both of us started knitting in the delivery room. Our midwife came in to check in on us, and seeing us both sitting there knitting, said something jokingly to the effect of, "I can't watch this..." and walked back out. I noticed that she was wearing Birkenstocks and was in sore need of some nice handknit socks. I casually inquired after her shoe size the next time we saw her.

So here are the socks that I knit for our midwife:

We don't have a picture of her modeling them, unfortunately, but she was a bit floored when Meg brought them in to her 6-week post-delivery checkup.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The one post that would make everyone happy....

... according to the various people who read this blog for various reasons, would be this: We knit Angus and Jamie technically difficult sweaters and make the two of them model their new garments while on vacation somewhere interesting and scenic. Possibly by asking Jamie to sit on Angus, or vice versa.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"Oh, it's easy," I said at knit group a couple weeks back. 'When I finish knitting this part, I'll just cut it down the middle here and pick up stitches for the sleeve."
Silence. I wondered if maybe I'd said it wrong.
"You're going to cut that sweater apart and do what?" someone asked.
It sounded much more insane when it was put that way.
Nevertheless, I got my good sewing scissors out and steeked one armhole. When I'm done with this sleeve, I'll do the other, and then I'll do the big one that makes it into a cardigan (and opens the door for something like six miles of I-cord, but that's another blog post....)

Angus helped me. He made sure my steek didn't unravel by sitting on the sweater while I wound balls of yarn.

Finally, I kicked him off, but he made it hard.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Consolation Rhinebeck '08

Somehow, the New York Sheep and Wool Festival goes on without us. Last year, we went to Arthur, Ill. rather than Rhinebeck. This year, when airfare proved to be too high, we went to Madison, Wis.

(See! We were there! And Jamie is not asleep in his sling.)

We went to the wonderful Dane Co. Farmer's Market, held downtown around the Capitol building and bought leeks, wee potatoes, apples for applesauce and pie and eating for snacks (although we miscalculated and just ended up having enough for pie and snacks), and heirloom garlic and a delicata squash, which I read about in some fancy-pants food magazine and want to try cooking.

(I bought some of those potatoes near the top.)

We ate breakfast at the Hubbard Ave. Diner and got slices of pie for later, because even though I'm an advocate of pie for breakfast, I'm not gutsy enough to order that in a restaurant.
We went to yarn stores and came away with some Cascade, some Noro and a skein of Cascade sock yarn. I'm knitting the Embossed Leaves socks out of some Claudia's Handpainted, and these are turning out to be some really fun socks to knit. So fun, in fact, that I plan to make a pair in a green colorway to cover both seasons. The Fool is muttering about making Jamie some soakers for winter.
What? We had to go to yarn stores. It's a Consolation Rhinebeck tradition.
We visited Thorny for a while.
We went to the contra dance in town Saturday night, where Jamie made more friends.

(Mary is comfortable and warm, Jamie says. Nice to sleep on.)
The Wire Tappers played, and they were great fun. Then we went back to our hotel room, and ate pie.

(The band, and Bill, the caller, who is a good clogger although you can't tell from this photo.)
The next day, we stopped in Mt. Horeb on our way home. Mt. Horeb has a Trollway, which is a collection of troll statues along the main street, a troll-themed brewpub and the only mustard museum I have ever been in. We enjoyed all three.


(the Fool pauses on the Trollway)

(The world-famous mustard museum. Edward asked us to bring him some souvenir mustard. We got him some with whiskey in it, not what I thought was the weirdest flavor in the museum shop. That was chocolate merlot.)
And now we are home, and the Fool's dad is coming to see us at the end of the week, and hoo boy, do we have some cleaning to do.

(Also? I steeked!)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thanks, ladies!

When I got to knit group last night, I got a wonderful surprise - all sorts of nifty baby presents from the women I knit with, in a basket big enough for, well, lots of things.
There's some stuffed critters, which Jamie will enjoy as soon as he works out how to grab, there are cute outfits and a monkey towel, and books too.
He says, "thank you!" and the Fool thought it was pretty cool also.
(Angus also says thank you, and how did you know to wrap everything in crinkly cellophane, his Favorite. Thing. Ever.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Oh, the diaper bag debate?

Usually, we're big fans of making do with what we have, repurposing items around the house, etc., but we decided to fix the diaper bag dilemma by throwing money at it. I went to REI and got a couple of these thingers, and they're great. All the diapering items have a convenient red pouch, and all the non-diapering items have their own pouch as well. I can carry my various items in the diaper bag, the Fool can find what he needs in a hurry - all is well and good.

... and we're off!

It's been a busy few weeks chez SockKnitters. We've been taking Jamie on a variety of urban and suburban adventures. He went back to the arboretum with me, where I was volunteering while I was pregnant, and spent a pleasant hour or so in the exhibits office, sleeping in his sling while I did some dry-mounting and laminating.
We went to a playgroup for new moms together. Three of the kids are old enough to sit up and play; the rest of them, including Jamie, sit in laps, nurse, nap and wiggle around while the associated mothers revel in adult conversation and eat brownies.

We went apple-picking with Edward and Rachel and made a great dinner to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary.

Jamie slept in his sling.

And we went downtown to the Field Museum on that really rainy weekend when the remnants of the hurricane swept through the Midwest. It was free day for employees and families of the Fool's workplace, and we had been meaning to take advantage of this for three years, so we decided, hell or high water, we would make it this year. Because we are also trying to be responsible about energy consumption, we decided to take the train downtown, walk to State Street and catch a bus to the museum. In the rain. With Jamie. And a recalcitrant secondhand stroller, since replaced.

The Fool and I visited the museum's excellent exhibit on evolution. Jamie slept in his sling. Probably just as well. Lots of scary dinosaurs.

Here we are in Millennium Park. Jamie slept in his sling.

The rain caused the cancellation of the Chicago Celtic Fest, so we did not get to see a bunch of Cape Breton musicians we really hoped to see. Here's the Fool, as close as he got to the concert.

We went to the Kalamazoo Irish Fest to hear the Fool play with his Irish band. Jamie slept in his sling, for the most part, but also woke up so we could dance together.

We had a stray cat visit the porch a few days ago, and because we love our animal friends (read: are big fat suckers), we put out a little food and a bowl of clean water. Angus and Mab kept our visitor company during dinner.

I've been knitting on my Kauni autumn leaves sweater, which is a great deal of fun. I've got a lot of momentum going on this project and while I am not ready to abandon my beloved cables, this stranded knitting has its good points. I don't think I'll ever be the Fair Isle fanatic the Fool is, though.

More adventures afoot, but first! I get a shower!