Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

There's a real post about Christmas in the offing (e.g., I need to download the photos), but in the meantime, the Fool and Jamie and I wish everyone a happy 2010 filled with all the stuff they love,
and none of the annoyances.
Tonight, we are staying in. I've already made potstickers from scratch from my new Asian cookbook (Asian Dumplings, by Andrea Nyugen. Great!), broiled teriyaki chicken wings, sauteed some bok choy and made almond biscotti for a present for Edward and Rachel (who better be too busy having fun in London to be sitting around reading blogs tonight.)
Jamie got to help clean the house, and he ate potstickers and took bites from my chicken wing, and despite the fact we seem to have a mouse living in the car trunk that scared him when he saw it earlier today, he had a good end of 2009.
(The mouse thing was pretty funny, at least from my point of view. Jamie got startled when the wee brown critter dashed into view and burst into tears, with a quivery lower lip and everything, and kept pointing and howling and signing "mouse" [he knows some sign language] while I held him and told him it was OK, little mousies were nothing to worry about.)
A little later, after Jamie goes to bed, the Fool and I are going to sit up and work on a Christmas present we need to finish by tomorrow. It's going to the same home as the biscotti, and it rhymes with "knee posy."
Happy 2010, everyone!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pretty far gone

The Fool decided yesterday to knit his brother a pair of socks. (Story to follow; it's pretty good.)
For Christmas.
Which is really, really soon.
(We have cast on both, we are both knitting, and we are pretending that gauge is the same between knitters. Don't tell us otherwise.)
The Fool is getting a new year's present from me. He says assisting him in the crazy knitting of his brother's socks is enough of a present for now.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The darkness is making me delusional

Even though I haven't finished any of the Christmas crafting projects I already started, I just added two more to the docket.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

quick update

... Am busy taking advantage of naptime to work on some Secret Christmas Projects around here. It's not bad, except that with Jamie asleep, the cats start vying for affection, so in order to properly work on the SCP, I have to first evict and move cats. It's mostly Spoot and Mab who get in the way. Romeo and Angus like to nap near Jamie.
This is the vile black walnut bath I cooked up several weeks ago, but totally failed to post about.
Basically, I peeled the hulls from a bunch of black walnuts, nearly a 5-gallon bucket full. I covered them with hot water and soaked them for a couple days (admittedly, because I got busy and sort of forgot what was going on.)
When the Fool started asking why the kitchen smelled like compost, even though he had emptied the pail and the garbage and cleaned the fridge and looked for scary things in the sink trap .... I moved on to the next step.
I poured the black walnut mess into an old enameled kettle and boiled it for a while.

Then I strained it back into the bucket and added three skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes and two skeins of their undyed tweedy sock yarn with little colored flecks.

Here's how it came out - a nice dark brown.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Fool in crisis

Last night, as we tried to work on our Christmas knitting (I say 'tried,' because I frogged a sock for the third time, and I was past the gusset, too, and the Fool was busy tangling a ball of yarn over and over as he tried to wind it), he said, "I have too much knitting to do; I don't think I'll make it."
This is funny. Usually, because the Fool does no Christmas knitting at all, or such small amounts, it's downright comical, what he considers a knitting time crisis. He says stuff like, "Oh god, I don't think I'll have time to finish this felted mouse by Christmas."
Meanwhile, I'm trying to knit him a sweater or something goofy like that.
But this year, he actually has Christmas Knitting to do. And now, while Jamie is blissfully occupied throwing things down the basement stairs, or dropping silverware down the heating vent, or any number of vaguely destructive toddler activities, I'm going to see if I can get that stupid sock to go anywhere at all, other than to the frog pond ... again.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Hoot!

I've been having an owl period, much like Picasso had a blue period, but not resulting in the generation of actual art. My mother collected owls, but she was selective in her collection, only acquiring ones she thought were particularly beautiful or interesting. These are a couple of my favorite ones.



Owls have been popping up otherwise, too. We dressed Jamie as an owl for Halloween, but he wouldn't stand still long enough for a good picture. (Martha Stewart pattern, hat hand-knitted by the Fool out of Cascade 220.)

And I knit him an owl hat (Hoot Hat, one of the Spud and Chloe patterns), and for a first try at this pattern, I think it came out OK. I think the body of the next hat needs to be longer and the beak needs to be bigger. I'll have to find another little kid who needs an owl hat this winter. Again, an uncooperative model. I sense a trend here.

(body of hat in brown Sheep Shop Yarn Co. bulky weight, bought from WEBS at Stitches Midwest, top in doubled Cascade 220, features in odds and bobs of worsted weight.)
I had a dream this morning, between waking up, falling asleep, and waking up again when Angus and Jamie came tromping in to visit me (The Fool was out in the living room, only barely supervising the livestock and working on his own knitting). It wasn't a very profound dream; it was about eating breakfast. But I was really disappointed to wake up and learn that I was not eating a freshly made fruit-filled crepe with Nutella and coffee for breakfast, but instead, peanut butter toast and tea.
Sigh.
I could taste the strawberries, I swear to you.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Clink, clink

is the sound of the Fool knitting on dpns.
"Oh, wait," he said. "These aren't circulars. I can't just drop the one I'm finished with."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Broke Up Thanksgiving....

... and now I am very tired.
The Fool and Jamie and I packed up on Friday and headed north for the Chicago contra dance community's big weekend dance camp, with lots of jamming and dancing and what-have-you into the wee hours of the night.



Except Jamie and I started coming down with a cold and so our activities were somewhat curtailed.


Look at that expression - that's a kid who wishes his nose wasn't running.

He had a good afternoon on Saturday while I was calling square dances, because it was sunny and warm and he found a pile of sand and a stick to scratch in it with. The Fool and Edward played tunes with a couple friends and kept an eyeball on Jamie, beetling around in the sun, and all was well.
The Fool and I played a set of tunes with our friends Spider and Steve on Friday night, and after the Fool saw us safely to bed last night, he went back for some more tunes and dancing and jamming and passing-of-a-flask.
Spider had a tuba with her that she had bought on behalf of a friend (Spider plays banjo), and at 3 a.m. or so, when I was up nursing Jamie again, I heard a sort of mournful tunely bellow across the camp's empty field, through the dark and the fog. I hadn't woken up enough to sort out the sound, so at first, I thought the Fool was singing in his sleep, but then realized no, Spider had probably just gotten a little bit tipsy and decided to take this tuba outside with the other late-night revelers for a honk.
(Amusingly, the Fool also heard the tuba in his sleep and thought it was Edward singing outside in the field, maybe, or from his bunk bed down the hall.)


The tuba.

It is a good start to the end of the year and the darkest season, although because of my cold, maybe not as much music and dance as I prefer to fortify myself for the winter. We've had a rough year, the Chicago contra community, with death before its time and a long-time fiddler and dancer in hospice right now.


Saturday night band.

In my own life, I received news a few weeks ago of a friend from grad school who died of cancer, a year older than me, two kids and a wife. With all this darkness in my mood, I wanted my spirits lifted a little higher, but instead, I played spectator at the weekend and provided Jamie a good solid lap to cling to.



We're into the holiday rush for sure now. I had to frog a Christmas present for the second time - grr. I will defeat this yarn. I feel better about Christmas this year than I have in years past. I think it's going to be more fun.
And now, I'm going to take my running nose and go see my dripping kid about bedtime.





Baked good photos for Lanae.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving is coming...

... and then Christmas, and that means I have plenty of things that I can do with my copious (ha!) spare time.
So, of course, the thing I think I want most to do right now is take up spinning.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A parade of FOs

A tiny parade.
Susan-in-the-comments had asked about the pillow. Here it is. Couldn't be easier. Get 11x17 pillow form, find fabric, eyeball an appropriate size, fold and stitch. Hem open end, slap some trim on, and there you have it, a pillow.
Note the total lack of a sleeping toddler on top of it. That seems to be its biggest flaw. Every time I haul it out for naptime and explain that people sleep with their heads on pillows, he starts pointing at the pictures and giggling.



Baktus on the piano ... the Fool did really well on Freecycle recently and we have an old piano, converted from a player piano, hanging out in the living room. No pianowarming party yet, unfortunately. We had to get it tuned, and as it has not been tuned in decades, we couldn't get it tuned to concert pitch - it's about a half step flat. Oy. In the spring, the tuner will try to tune it correctly and we'll see.


Janice came by this afternoon with a pile of toys she scored from a neighbor getting rid of them (we have entered the Era of the Duplo Blocks, I guess), and a pizza from Homemade Pizza Company, and we made tea and ate molasses cookies and apples all afternoon, and turned this pile of pinecones into.....



This!



And this! I need a big fat red bow. For the wreath.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Where does the time go?

It's funny; I feel like I have had no time at all over the last two weeks, but I'm not sure what I've been doing. Well, sleeping, for large parts of it. The time change turned Jamie into an early bird, and so now, we all get up together early in the morning and wave goodbye to the Fool as he heads off to work.
Some mornings, when we're especially with-it, the three of us go to a little cafe for a quick breakfast before taking the Fool to the train station, which means I get coffee. Other mornings, I stagger around and make tea and oatmeal and Jamie works on feeding himself.
I've been knitting, too. And sewing.
An old Girl Scout friend, who found me through Ravelry, sent me a nice piece of blue flannel with cars and trucks and trains on it, and suggested I could use it to make something for Jamie. I had it out on my sewing table for a couple months, thinking about what I could do with it. Finally, it hit me.
I found a small pillow form, like you'd use for a rectangular throw pillow, whipped up a pillowcase, put some of the Fool's grandmother's rick-rack around the open edge, and voila, a small pillow for a small person to nap on if he wants. He noticed it the other day, pointed at the pictures on the pillowcase and giggled.
I cast on and finished Baktus in fairly short order for me - less than a month. Ha!
I can see that when I change colors, I pull the stitches of the yarn I'm changing from a bit too tight; the scarf has a funny curl to the two ends that remind me of a manta ray. I think I could fix that with blocking, or I could just see what it looks like on and perhaps, it won't bother me very much.
It was a totally fun knit and entertaining to watch the colors change. I used a Zauberball I got at Stitches Midwest, and the kitchen scale to divide it into two balls of equal weight.
Pat, in the comments, had asked how the Zauberball was to knit with - she'd heard varying reports as to the yarn's consistency and quality.
I didn't find any knots in mine, and while the yarn got a little thick here and there, it wasn't anything I found to be obnoxious. It's two plies, spun together, and sometimes, when I get knitting along, I split the plies, or I'd snag one or two fibers with the wrong needle. It's also not the softest yarn I've ever knit with, either. I'm not sure I'd buy another, not because there was anything glaringly wrong with this one, but because there are a lot of fun, colorful sock yarns out there that I haven't knit with yet.
I'll put up a proper picture later, but this is one I took last night, when I turned away from writing this post to discover Angus on the couch (elements of photo labeled to aid understanding.)



The poor guy has had a bit of a ... cold? something, lately, so he's been trotting around the house like a furry plant sprayer on four feet. It's a little alarming to be woken by Angus standing over your head, spraying cat sneezes everywhere.
Anyway, waffles and coffee are on, and I need to go supervise Jamie's dining efforts. If we don't watch him carefully, he tries to slip the cats food.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween quiz

What might the Fool be pretending to be, as indicated by his hat? In other words, what types of people wear that kind of hat?
(Rachel, the correct answer is not "Edward." Because that already occurred to us, and the Fool is not dressing up as Edward for Halloween.)



Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We had an unusual gig early this morning...

... at o-dark-thirty, as my friend Carrie likes to put it, the Cosmic Otters and a sleepy Jamie, travel mugs of tea in hand, bundled into the car and headed for the Paramount Theatre, where a bunch of Christian ministry folks had gathered for Story Conference.
(Given my professional background, a story conference, to me, is not about sharing interesting ways to teach the Bible, but about what's going in the newspaper the next day and also a little bit about dodging your editor. But I digress. It totally would not be something that needed an Irish band.)

They had a bunch of displays and companies setting up their tables in the lobby, including a big book vendor, who was right underneath us. We hung out in the upstairs balcony overlooking all the scenery and played tunes together for an hour and a half.
Not a bad gig, really. Jamie had the run of the area, since nobody else was up there. We had a Plan B In Case of Fussy Toddler, but we didn't have to put it into effect.
The theater had several amenities for a small person to entertain himself with, once he finished dancing around, eating his banana, snacking on a handful of pretzels and sitting on Edward's lap. We were sitting in front of floor-to-ceiling picture windows that overlooked a busy street with lots of different vehicles rumbling past, and the Fox River, with a big splashing dam. Jamie spent a lot of time looking out the windows, and a lot of time looking at the people in the lobby.
It was some lobby.
The guy organizing the event said he wanted us to "lend an air of theatricality" to the lobby. We were not the only ones doing this. There were people in costume, who looked like they had stopped by from "A Christmas Carol" and "Hello Dolly!" There was a harlequin juggling, a pair of angels and a British police officer, which gave Edward a start.

Best of all? On the landing directly opposite us, a group of puppeteers set up and made their dinosaurs and dragons and monkeys dance to our music. I wish I could have gotten a photo of the dancing skeletal dinosaur.

Anyway, we finished up, took our air of theatricality, made a brief pitch to the guy who hired us about our services as a contra dance band with traveling caller who could provide his church with a fun, intergenerational activity, and left.
Then we stopped off at the Corner Bakery on our way home so Edward and the Fool could get bacon-and-egg sandwiches and coffee, and I could get oatmeal (I have become such a creature of habit that when I'm out, I buy the same breakfast I make at home. Lame!) and within an hour of arriving home, Jamie and I were both napping.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

fall day

Today is, I'm afraid, probably one of the last fine fall days we'll have before cold blustery weather sets in. We may get a couple more, but I'm not holding out too much hope for it. The Old Farmer's Almanac says we're in for it this winter.



Anyway, Jamie and I have hooked up with a new playgroup that likes to get outside a lot, so when today's expedition to a local forest preserve with a lake and a walking trail hit my in-box, I made sandwiches, packed a banana and we headed out.


The lake had ducks and lots of people walking dogs, and falling sycamore leaves, and all in all, it was a Good Day. It was such a good day that someone has been asleep for three, going on four hours.



In the quiet, rather than clean, or load the dishwasher, or pick stuff up, or even mess with my walnut skins and my crappy bucket, I cast on for Baktus, a scarf that allows me to do something I absolutely adore in knitting - make striped garments with long-repeat self-striping yarns.
The two-row Noro scarf everyone made last year, or maybe the year before? Loved it. Would knit one for everyone I know with a neck if I could.
This uses a Zauberball I bought at Stitches Midwest, and so far, it's utterly captivating. It's going to be my computer desk knitting.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A trip to the goat zoo

Jamie and I went to the Cosley Zoo today, a little local zoo with farm animals and some examples of the local wildlife. I couldn't pull him away from the Nubian goat pen, not even to look at the sheep or the two llamas. Goats, goats, goats. He likes to sit cross-legged in front of animals that entertain him, as I found when he planted himself in front of some puppies at a pet store last week.
So he planted himself in the barn in front of the goat pen and giggled when the baby goat walked all over an adult goat.
We had a near mohair-disaster, speaking of goats and Jamie. We were in Knitche on Monday, and Jamie, who is getting over a cold, sneezed, a big, wet boogery sneeze, and before I could get a tissue out of my pocket and catch him, he rubbed his hand over his nose in bewilderment and reached for a pretty fuschia ball of Kidsilk Haze.
I have never moved so fast in my life.
Goats aside, Knitpicks came through, and tomorrow, I will be taking my crappy bucket and my sack of black walnut hulls and starting some kind of a dyebath.
Pictures to follow.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's gone and gotten cold around these parts....

... it's making me think of mittens. Particularly Jamie mittens. I looked at some at the store and the problem is that they seem to be sold in sets with matching hats. He has a goodly number of hats already and needs no more. I just need the mittens. Preferably multiple sets of the same color. He seems to be too young for thumbs, thank dog, because I think knitting a tiny thumb, nevermind persuading him to use it, would be crazymaking.
So I think I'll go through the sack of worsted weight yarn, find a cheerful color, and knit him a bunch of little mittens.

And, thanks to the commenters, I'm also thinking about how I could get some plain wool to run through a dyebath of black walnut hulls. Sigh. I guess I could just place the KnitPicks order today and be done with it, or I could horse around trying to find something at my LYS or at JoAnns - maybe that Lion's Brand stuff?
Like I need more projects this week.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Friday night

FOOL: Are you OK?
ME: I'm trying to get up the energy to trace around my foot.
FOOL: Why do you want to do that?
ME: Because Cat Bordhi is telling me to.
FOOL: If Cat Bordhi told you to jump off a bridge....
ME: (withering glance.)

Apropros of nothing: I wish Nancy Bush would write more. I've been re-reading "Folk Socks," and it has the same effect "Knitting Vintage Socks" had on me - an urge to call Knitpicks, order 40 size 1 circulars and cast on every ball of sock yarn in the stash at once. I suppose I could pick up "Knitted Lace of Estonia," but that way lies madness.

We steeked at knitting group on Wednesday. That's Lorna, working on a Cheryl Oberle pattern. It's funny; patterns that call for steeks rarely offer much hand-holding. Everyone stood around and watched her with a great deal of interest. Or they were standing around watching, the way people like to gape at car crashes on the interstate.
Our Starbucks got remodeled, and Dana was chatting with one of the employees about the new look. The employee said, "Well, some people are complaining because they think it's too contemporary," to which Dana said, "God, they're not living here. They're just coming in for a cup of coffee!" One of the features of the remodel is a big conference table under four overhead lights in the back - the barista showed it off like they put it in for us specially. So funny. Although, you figure, 10 or so people, each good for a drink at least, and usually a cookie or piece of pound cake too, we're probably decent business for them on a Wednesday night.


There's been a lot of knitting going on around here. I've been trying to finish up projects and the Fool, typically the most monogamous of knitters, has ... gasp .. two things going on at once! Last night, he worked on Thing 2 (part of Jamie's Halloween costume, which is from the Martha Stewart Halloween magazine, and let me say, typically "Martha," in that it looks very simple, until you read the directions closely and it turns out you're not only supposed to locate a cloth pilot cap, but you're supposed to dye it to match. Ha. We went to a Pittsburgh knitting store's Wall O'Cascade and did some digging on Ravelry. Dye to match, my foot.) and I finished a Baby Surprise Jacket.

Following EZ's directions, I gave the amorphous bit of knitting to the Fool and challenged him to fold it into a garment of some sort.








Good times, good times.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Generally....

.... the Yarn Harlot has improved my fiber life. She's funny, I like hearing her give speeches, I thought the Sock Summit was a whole lot of fun, all good.
Except on her blog, in the past, she's talked about the Heat Wars, in which she and her brother compete to see who will be the last to turn on their heat in the face of a Canadian winter.
This year, the Fool decided to play. (Why he couldn't pay attention to the parts of her blog that talk about spinning or Latvian mittens, I don't know).
He issued the invitation on Facebook and has several takers, surprisingly. A lot of our friends live in apartments or condos, so don't have any control over when the heat goes on. One friend has twin babies, so I said she was off the hook. (Although she's a knitter, so she could knit them stuff. But she has two, so, nevermind.) But a handful - either cheap or green - are in. Someone even asked if we could issue handicaps so people in California and Washington DC could also compete.
My friend Barb nobly refrained from snarking when she didn't point out that most mornings, the Fool goes off to a nice, climate-controlled office building, so in reality, Jamie and I are the ones saving money and the environment by keeping the heat off.
The house is well-insulated, though, and is somewhere between 65 and 68 degrees most mornings. It stays cool until the sun hits the big windows in the living room, and then it warms up. It's often warmer outside than it is in the house, at least until about mid-morning.
It's been a little nippier than I like it, but not impossible to manage with wool socks and a sweater. Jamie has been getting lots of mileage out of his frog sweater and I make a big mug of tea first thing. We've also been eating oatmeal for breakfast, and today, I found if I put the bowl in my lap, I can warm my hands on it.
I just wish he'd warned me that he was cooking up this idea. I could have been engaging in protective knitting ahead of time, maybe making myself a nice cardigan over the summer, rather than messing around with lace and socks.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Duck! Bonk!

We are full of adventure these days, chez Sock Knitters.
On Sunday, the Fool and Jamie and I went apple picking, and then returned home to do a little gathering of our own.


We have two black walnut trees, and last year, after the Fool drove over the fallen walnuts with the mower (ka-thonk, ka-thonk, ka-thonk!), he asked, "how come we don't eat these?" I said, "Because they're a pain in the neck to get out of the shell."
This year, we decided to go pick the walnuts up before the Fool mows next weekend. Somehow, this turned into actually harvesting the walnuts. He consulted that valuable reference for squirrels everywhere, the Internet and Facebook, and decided the best way to get the husks off the walnuts would be to run them over repeatedly with the car. Now, there are trays of walnuts drying, a bunch of walnuts in the driveway (it's my job to drive over them) and I guess I'm going to make a black walnut pound cake at some point in the next couple months.
His fingers are stained black, because the rubber gloves he was wearing had holes in the fingers he didn't see, and so far, people have asked him if he has forgotten to wash his hands, or if he is a mechanic.


The Fool and Edward shake tree branches to knock down walnuts. We giggled about the bike helmets, but both of them got conked on the head with falling nuts.

Today, Jamie and I went to the Cosley Zoo in Wheaton. It's run by the park district, and is just about enough zoo for someone like Jamie to handle. They have a well-stocked duck pond, with many different kinds of ducks, a selection of wild animals native to the area, a pen of peacocks, a bunch of rabbits and a good assortment of farm animals. We were supposed to meet some playgroup friends, but it was raining, and they bailed. I decided we were not going to let some drizzle stop us from seeing animals, dammit, so fortified with the Power of Wool (socks for me and a hat for him), fleece jackets and an umbrella, Jamie and I had the run of the place and only got a little damp.

Damp llamas!

The knitting continues. I recovered from the case of Finish-itis I had contracted last week and cast on a brainless sock for playground knitting, another toe-up sock with Mini Mochi and a hat for Jamie that looks like an owl. Sigh. I thought I gained some ground on the projects, too. Well, the hat is a fast knit, at least.

The dark side of a SWAK

That's "Spouse Who Also Knits."
We are meeting some friends at an apple orchard this morning. It's about an hour away. The Fool is in the middle of some fancy sleeve knitting that has captured his attention. I'm in the middle of some interesting stuff, too.
FOOL: So, if I drive out there, will you drive back?
ME: Equal knitting time?
FOOL: Yep.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Pittsburgh Family Reunion

We took a trip to Pittsburgh last weekend to attend a family reunion. We got to see my family again, and Jamie got to meet them.

Outside of the reunion itself, we spent some time with my mother. Jamie got to play with my childhood xylophone.


We met up with my father at the Pittsburgh Children's Museum. Jamie got to have a look around. He likes fish tanks quite a bit.


In appreciation and reciprocation, Jamie took Meg to a local yarn store in Squirrel Hill.


On our way back from Pittsburgh, we spend a half day in Cleveland seeing some of the more interesting sights. For us, this included a visit with some friends, a lunchtime visit to the West Side Market and a trip to Knitgrrl's studio.

The market was simply amazing.


We spent an hour wandering around all of the nooks and crannies, buying whatever we thought would last in the car without a cooler (Drat! You should always travel with a cooler!)


We ended up buying some pierogies, two loaves of bread, some cured sausage, salami, and lunch (we both got the chicken schwarma sandwich while Jamie napped on Meg).

We shared a strawberry and Nutella crepe for dessert. Fantastic!

Knitgrrl's studio promised to be devilishly difficult to find, just as the website warned! It is located in a half-converted industrial building on the west side of town. I walked up the front stairs, and one of the locals asked me who I was looking for. When I told him, he said, "Oh, you'll never find it. Let me show you where it is." He was right. We went around two corners, through a door I never would have guessed to open, and down this hallway:

See that blue door way down on the right? That's it.

Anyways, it was fun to talk with Shannon. She's been a supporter of KnitML since she found out about it a year ago. Jamie was immediately taken with the toddler-sized spinning wheel on the floor.

After we took this picture, we realized how quickly Jamie has grown. Both his little lumberjack flannel and his frog pants are noticeably too short. When did that happen?

Anyways, it was a good trip. The drive to Pittsburgh so much easier than last year, for many reasons, but mostly it was because Jamie was a bit older and could appreciate a good car ride. The bad part, however, was the inexplicable vomiting that started during the last leg of the trip. Fortunately, the upholstery of carseats come off and can be thrown directly into the washing machine. Clearly, this has happened to many babies in the world before Jamie.

Socktoberfest fail

Socktoberfest is not off to a rollicking start around here. I thought I'd celebrate by finishing up two unfinished pairs of socks that have been languishing for a while. Here's my current status:
Pair 1: unfinished sock located, needles still holding the toe stitches of a second sock elsewhere, pattern missing.
Pair 2: first sock located, pattern in my purse, second ball of yarn totally missing.

The second pair irks me. First, I knit a sock, then I couldn't find the second ball of yarn. I found the yarn, but lost the first sock. Then I finally found the first sock in a strange and unpredictable place, only to discover that the yarn is missing. I put the sock back where I found it, noting to myself its bizarro location, and a couple days later, the yarn turned up. Finally, I went and got the sock from its secret home and yesterday? Could not find the yarn. It's like the two items can't exist together in the same knitting project bag.
Ironically, I have been carrying the lace pattern for this sock on an index card in my purse for about a year.

To solve the problem, I went stash diving and came up with two balls of self-striping yarn that will make really nice playground knitting. Grrr.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Happy Socktober!

Somewhat random Thursday.

1. I made a Concord grape pie out of Nancy Baggett's dessert book a couple weeks back because I didn't have enough grapes to make jam with. Baggett said this was a prizewinning recipe from some grape event in New York. I think that's because a) the other pies must have been really, really terrible; or b) this was the only entry in the category of "purple grape pies."
Oh recipe, my recipe, what is wrong with you? The crust called for vegetable oil instead of solid shortening. Ick. The filling tasted like forkful upon forkful of grape jam. Weird. I'm afraid Concords pretty much taste like grape juice or grape jelly and any other use is doomed.

2. I discovered, when I had to put Jamie in one of the emergency disposable diapers we keep around here for airports and laundry crises, that the only thing the kid has to hold his pants up is his big cloth diaper and cover. In cloth, he wears 12-month pants; in paper, he's lucky to get 9-month pants that stay up.

3. The Fool enjoys talking to me when I am half awake, and I'm only posting this to beat him to it. Previous conversations featured Ron Yaga, the usually anonymous husband of the Russian folklore witch Baba Yaga (the one who rides in a mortar and pestle and lives in a hut on chicken feet) and what Claude Monet's nieces and nephews did when they saw him (answer: Yelled "aaaaagh!") Last night, I explained, in somewhat exasperated tones, that pants are actually called "Joy to the worlds," because everyone is happy to see a person wearing pants and not walking around in their underwear. If the Fool were a dog, that conversation would be the smelly thing he is rolling in with great, overflowing happiness.

4. It is getting colder here and so in honor of fall arriving, and partly because I can, I put on a fresh pair of never-worn-before handknit socks. These are toe up! I have never knit toe-up socks before. I learned how to do this at Sock Summit (I think my reasoning was that I wasn't going all that distance to listen to people tell me how to do things I was comfortable with in sock knitting) from Deb Barnhill's "Toe Up Socks For the Stubborn" class. Next time, I think I need to make the foot of the sock a little shorter. I didn't really understand that until I knit it. I also need to be more diligent about writing down relevant numbers, stitch counts at various points, etc. The second sock had a little creative knitting to it, as I tried to remember how it went.



Judy's Magic Cast-on at the toe, EZ's sewn bindoff at the top, Charlene Schurch's garter rib in between. Yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Blue Parrot.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

it's a miracle anything happens around here

FOOL: (looking at the diaper pail) I wonder why the thing doesn't close?
ME: (thinking he is talking about the nightstand) Because it's stuffed full of magazines and books.
FOOL: No, it's not.
ME: It is. They're probably stuck in the hinge or something.
FOOL: It stopped working when I took the insert out.
ME: It doesn't have an insert.
FOOL: Yes, it does.
ME: What are you talking about?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Wednesday night

A few random things:
http://xkcd.com/369/

So once the Fool got out of the hospital last week, we thought we were done with Bad and Inconvenient Things.
Then Angus had a serious and dramatic lapse in litterbox habits that not only required me to use a flashlight to look for cat poop in Jamie's room where he was sleeping, but caused Angus to take a trip to the vet this week.
The vet explained that cats who venture outside their litterboxes in the dramatic manner that Angus did (and I'm sparing you all the gory details, but let me just say if you're ever in my living room, sit on the couch, not the armchair) are generally not ill with any kind of kidney infection, nor are they making a comment about the condition of their litterbox. Instead, he theorized that Angus is suffering anxiety about something, and is generally upset.
The vet suggested I go to the pet store and get some of this cat pheromone spray and spritz that around the house liberally to improve feelings of feline well-being (kind of like lavender for people, maybe?) and put out another litterbox, and if that doesn't work, then we can take Angus to an animal behaviorist he recommended (cat shrink) or try drugs (cat Prozac.) Sigh.
I really hope the spray works.
Then, because he felt better over the weekend, the Fool decided to tackle some household projects. He oiled our deck furniture with linseed oil and threw the rags out. I forgot - and the Fool never knew - that linseed-oil soaked rags spontaneously combust if you wad them up and put them in a closed container. When we returned home Sunday night from a contra dance I called at, the house reeked and I suddenly remembered about the rags. Jamie wanted to nurse himself to sleep, and after we determined there were no leaping flames, I went to settle the kid down, and the Fool continued the search accompanied by inadequate narrative, so I had to stage whisper questions from the bedroom.

ME: What is on fire? Is anything on fire?
FOOL: Sort of.
ME: Sort of? What is sort of on fire?
FOOL: Well, it's not really a fire. It's just sort of ... smoldery.
ME: Not really a fire!?! Is it a fake fire?!
FOOL: It's OK. Mostly.
ME: ?!?!?!

The lidded kitchen garbage can that I felt so smug about buying, because it locks and keeps Jamie out of the trash, is on time-out in the yard until I can figure out how to wash the sticky oily smoke residue off the inside of the lid.
And you should all be warned: Linseed oil soaked rags are flammable.

I've been knitting, too. I finished the Fool's socks from Vintage Knitted Socks. These are with a Dutch heel and a wide toe, made from Opal Hundertwasser yarn.


View of Dutch heel from the bottom.

I wanted something without a lot of fancy knitting going on, so the giant expanses of stockinette were just what the yarn needed.


It's finally cooling off here, so Jamie can wear the sweater his dad knit for him last spring when we were in Seattle. It's a Dale of Norway pattern, which I could go look up if I hadn't gone biking with Jamie today and made my legs tired. I don't know what to make of this picture. He looks really mature for a kid in a frog sweater.


p.s. I found the bratwurst. The package had slipped down behind some other things in the freezer. Thawed, simmered in beer and onions, ate. Delicious.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ravelry continues to amaze me

They have a feature that links you to a massive online library catalog so you can search for a book in your local library without going to the library home page, logging in, etc.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wow. What a week.

On Wednesday, Jamie took a long nap and I started in on my new favorite hobby - cleaning off the dining table. This time, I decided no matter what I picked up, I would see that object to its final destination, whether it was the trash, the recycling or its home in the house.

I found that I had been avoiding hand-sewing by hiding all the projects under junk mail. Procrastinate no more, I told myself, going for needle and thread.



They are, from left clockwise: a fabric owl purse with a loose eye, four buttons sewn on Jamie's new shirt (he kind of picked the fabric out himself by pointing and hooting), a $1 duck I found somewhere that developed a small hole, and a selection of fabric beans that I made after Jamie spent a weekend collecting small hand-sized rocks. The beans, while fun to make and fun to dump out of a plastic cup and put back in ... are also fun for Angus, who likes to play bean hockey each morning on top of me as I try to sleep.
(Angus acquired another obnoxious habit recently: at 4 a.m. when he discovers his food dish is empty, he climbs on top of me and bites my butt.)

Wednesday afternoon, all heck broke loose when the Fool came home sick from work and ended up in the ER. He is fine now, home and happy to be here, after spending a couple nights in the hospital. Obviously, it wasn't under the best circumstances, but he had the presence of mind to take his knitting when the three of us left for the hospital and made some good progress on Jamie's sweater.



Now we are all home, and the turkey bratwurst I had planned to cook for dinner are mysteriously missing. They've either crept into a far corner of the freezer, are growing disgusting under the seat in the car because they fell out of a grocery bag, or Angus has cooked and eaten them, because I think even he would not eat frozen sausages.