Friday, June 26, 2009


It has been a trying week chez Sock Knitters. I don't know what it was - the heat, the hormones, a thousand small annoyances - but I'm glad things turned around.*
Today, Jamie and I went to the local crunchy moms' playgroup. They're nice people, although in chatting with one, she remarked that she's been in a bit of a mood too this week, which she credits in part to the digestive system cleanse she is on. She was explaining what she's been drinking for 10 days now and how her body has been reacting, and let me just say that if I were doing that, I would not have time to go to playgroup, because I would be too busy looking for places to hide the bodies. I couldn't help but think that if she ate something, that might take the edge off, but, eh, not my colon.**
I'm glad she finds it rejuvanating.
Jamie had a great time.
The host mom put out a wading pool, so he puddled in that for a while. Then he crawled down the porch steps and we went for a ride in a swing hanging from a tree. Then the big friendly dog came over and snuffled at me and licked my cheek while Jamie shrieked with laughter, and then we practiced walking barefoot in the grass and ate some watermelon and blueberries.
Honestly, I think everyone should get a day like that.
This afternoon, I went back to the eye doctor. I have an infection in my right eye and I've been wearing my glasses all week and squinting into the sun when I drive and muttering about smeary fingerprints on the lenses and fooling around with eye drops, and this has not made me cheerful. (Annoyances #756-761.)
Jamie was parked in his stroller by the sink, banging the cabinet door happily, and I was knitting a sock when she came in. We had this talk:

DOCTOR: Oh, what are you making?
ME: A sock.
DOCTOR: What else do you knit?
ME: Uh, well, most things. I make sweaters sometimes, and hats, and occasionally a fancy dishcloth, but I like socks because they're portable.
DOCTOR: (Carries on with eye doctor stuff.) Is that yarn different colors, or are you changing yarn as you knit?
ME: It's variegated yarn - I'm too lazy to do it the other way. So, um, do you knit too? (thinking
she is showing a lot of interest in my knitting for a Muggle.)
DOCTOR: No, but I've been thinking I'd like to learn how to do something with my hands like that.
ME: You know, there's a knitting group that meets at the Panera across the street on Friday nights.
DOCTOR: Really?
ME: Yes. (Aside: I love how people say that, like I'm going to say, 'Aw, no, I'm just kidding. A knitting group? Come on.')
DOCTOR: Do you charge money?
ME: Uh, no. We meet at Panera and sit and knit.
DOCTOR: At a big table?
ME: Well, there's at least a half dozen people, so, yeah, a big table. We get there around 6, 6:30 p.m. and we knit until they kick us out.
DOCTOR: Really? So I could come after work some time?
ME: Yes, you could, and I bet someone would show you how to knit.
So she has my email and I told her if she was going to come, to drop me a line, and I would bring some extra needles and yarn to teach her with.
Here's the socks that helped net a convert.
Feather-and-fan, oh, how I love thee, feather-and-fan, turning goofy pooling variegated yarns into organized stripes. I'm even going to knit a short row heel so I don't interrupt the nifty striping thing going on. It's made of Blackberry Ridge wool in the Tropical Fish colorway, and I bought it one winter when I was sick with a cold, (so judgment was impaired) and needed to look at something colorful.

* Things that helped turn the week around: Iced coffee with skim milk and one packet turbinado sugar; great garage sale deal wherein I got two Jamie-sized playground balls, a cute outfit and a bucket of baby-sized cars that hook together into trains for $7; the eggplant in the fridge we are going to slice, grill and serve with balsamic vinegar and bread crumbs sauteed with garlic and red pepper.

** We were discussing cooking at playgroup, and I mentioned that last night, we made Cajun shrimp with corn flapjacks, and this woman and another mom asked me to share the recipe. I thought to myself, "I bet if I said I'd sauteed our dishtowels in motor oil for dinner, that would have sounded good to someone who has had no solid food for a week."

Random addendum:

Squee! Babies! The Dad Pit from the Midsummer's Party, where all the various dads hung out on the rug with their babies while the moms took pictures. Jamie is the oldest, but not the biggest, of the bunch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Too hot to think of a title

The Fool and I had a reckoning with the contents of the fridge Sunday night and all of a sudden, we found where all the good Tupperware went. Eek. We were jockeying the leftovers from the Midsummer's party into place when we realized matters were dire.
(Good party, btw. We were pleased. I was especially pleased because I resisted the urge to add six additional dishes at the last minute and drive myself crazy.)
Anyway, it was a good weekend, even though the Internet was down intermittently for several days. On one hand, it made it hard for me to work on stuff for this fiber festival I'm volunteering for, but on the other hand, it also made it harder to waste time goofing around online.

It also brought you the following conversation:
FOOL: I would have biked to the train station today if I'd known it wasn't going to rain.
ME: Why didn't you check the weather this morning?
FOOL: Internet's down.
ME: We have a radio. And a television.
FOOL: (silence.) Um. I don't really know how to work that.
ME: ???

He pointed out that to use the radio and TV to learn the weather forecast, you have to find the right station and then hang around until they give you the weather, and ....
It reminded me of a talk I had with my father when he visited my junior year of college and stayed at the duplex I was sharing with two other girls.
DAD: Where's the microwave?
ME: We don't have one.
DAD: You don't have one?
ME: No.
DAD: How do you heat up water for tea? (immediate, "I can't believe I just said that" expression.)
ME: Well, Dad, this is a kettle, and we fill it with water and put it on the stove, which is this big box over here with the buttons along the back and then ....
DAD: Smartass.
ME: At least I know how to boil water.

Anyway, the cable guy came out and reported that the problem seemed to be with their hardware, but just to make sure, he would replace the cable that runs from their box to our house. He told us it seemed like something had been chewing on it.
The Fool believes the Gerries are trying to prevent us from slandering them online.
I say that if the cable company would bury their lines like they're supposed to, then nobody would chew on them.
After that excitement, our dryer broke down early Monday morning. Sigh. I can't in any good conscience blame the woodchucks for that, either. I think it's the age of the dryer. The Fool was delighted to find a repair company that specializes in "vintage dryers." I'm just happy the rain has stopped long enough for me to hang out all the wet laundry.
Been knitting socks. My drive to finish projects ended when I cast on a feather-and-fan sock out of madly variegated yarn today. I told Thorny over the weekend that someone needs to sit on me next time I try to buy crazy variegated yarn. I love it in the skein, but it's so challenging to knit.
If I had more needles, I'd cast on more socks, I'm afraid.
Poor Jamie. He spent a couple minutes today trying to play peek-a-boo with Angus, but Angus is not impressed.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I feel like this woodchuck thing...

... is kind of like when I said on the blog that I was ready to have a baby and everyone jumped in with all these weird suggestions for things I could do that might bring on labor.
I half suspect it's a conspiracy among blog readers to see what they can get other people to do by sheer force of commentary.
Yes, we have used cat litter lying around. And the Fool is not as shy about "watering" the yard as some might think. Any more ideas for things we can do in the yard to cement our neighborhood reputation? Eh?

(A side note: My father had a long history of peeing in the yard, much to my mother's embarrassment. We have a really secluded house and yard - it's on a couple of acres, and when the trees are in full leaf, you cannot see the house from the road - but she was still worried that someone would drive by and see. I always thought it was one of those things fathers do to drive their teenage daughters to a premature grave. I expect, with two acres of yard to work in, he saw it as a time-saving measure, plus his birthright as a guy. So when we moved in, I kept telling the Fool that my family had a long history of peeing in the yard - it would keep other fiddlers out, it would prevent the neighborhood dogs from stopping by, it would tell the wildlife who was boss, all sorts of crazy reasons, just to yank his chain. He steadfastly refused, until he read in the Rodale composting book that it would activate the compost heap, and then, whoa Nelly, it was my father all over again.)

Yesterday, Angus told me that there was something interesting on the front deck. I looked out, and it was one of the weegees, getting even bolder. Getting into the garden isn't good enough, it seems. (Speaking of which, the zucchini and squash are up, so is either the swiss chard or broccoli raab. I did not buy row markers, and will have to wait until it gets bigger to see what it is. It's too organized to be weeds.)

Anyway, the woodchucks are giving me time to knit.

I like to think of this as my Provencal dishcloth.

I have some friends who just finished an especially arduous move from an apartment to a house that included the following stress-inducing elements: two weeks in an extended stay hotel suite with the entire family and all the pets; a moving company that went out of business and neglected to tell them; a title company that waited until the last possible minute to provide any of its documentation, thus nearly giving people heart attacks as they got certified checks with 15 minutes to spare before the bank closed, and causing the delivery of the house keys to be held up until the end of the business day on a Friday ... anyway, I feel like one artistically knitted dishcloth just isn't enough and maybe I should wrap it around a big bottle of wine before I send it off. But it was a lot of fun to knit, even though I haven't figured out how to finish it. The pattern says to Kitchener, but I should have used a provisional cast-on if I wanted to do that. I got the pattern off Ravelry.

Icarus, fully unfurled.

Attempted detail shot of the edge. There are beads there, I swear.

And now off to the Despot for a screen repair kit. Someone with claws tore a hole in the screen last night and the Fool has declared there will be no opening of the sliding glass door for ventilation until the bug ingress is closed.
Someone tell me this counts as a fiber craft - I would really rather be knitting or playing with quilt fabric or ... yeah.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tuesday morning, the Fool....

... does weird stuff before I wake up.
He took the advice about using human hair to deter groundhogs, but rather than have to explain himself at the barbershop, he decided to go trim his beard in the garden this morning, hunched over the hole one of the Weegees dug.
At least it keeps all the hair out of the sink.
As soon as we get some sunlight, a few knitting photos....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Monday evening, watching Jamie taunt the cat

He has one of the crinkly cat balls in his hand, and he's crinkling it like mad, which is driving poor Angus absolutely batty, as he's convinced any minute now, Jamie will throw the ball for him, but no, instead, he just keeps rustling it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

My view of the show. We remarked that it was a lot like listening to it on the radio, except sitting outside with thousands of other people.

We're fans, chez Sock Knitters, of this public radio quiz show, and so whenever they do a free live taping, we try to be there. Last night, they taped in Millennium Park in downtown Chicago, and so around 3 p.m., Jamie and I got on a train, rode downtown, ran a quick errand at an art supply store, met the Fool, bought salads for dinner, and met up with our friends.
It's been cool and wet here this summer, and it rained for most of yesterday. Even though we had a rain plan, the weather broke and we were able to enjoy - with the help of tarps - a picnic with friends and the show. Jamie was especially interested in a carton of fresh apricots that were brought for sharing. His verdict? Small and nice to hold, and also good to eat.
It was so cold, however, that Chelsea was wearing her wool socks, handknit by Rachel (who you've met here before.) I took the picture so Rachel could see that Chelsea is showing the socks a good time, not just stuffing them in her shoes for hours on end.
CalicoSarah, our Ravelry friend, stopped by to say hello, too, and we compared sock knitting projects until Jamie decided to start grabbing for needles.

KnitPicks yarn, Broadripple pattern, I think?

Jamie had a four-hour nap yesterday, so he got up at 6:30 a.m. today. But he fell asleep again at 8:30 a.m., so I have no idea what's going on. We're checking out a new playgroup today. It's through a local group of moms interested in natural health, green living, that kind of crunchy granola stuff. I've been assured that they're fun people; I asked a woman I know who's been to these what's appropriate to bring for the potluck snack portion, and she rattled off a few typical healthy choices - but then she said, "I think if you wanted to bring a pitcher of margaritas, everyone would be cool with that, too."
I'm playing it safe, and bringing everyone's favorite neo-hippie, gluten- and dairy-free treat ... hummus! With sliced cucumbers!
Wish me luck; I feel like I'm going on a blind date.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Harvest of 2009

So I went out back to check on our strawberry patch. I came back with this wonderful harvest.

Take my word for it. They look nice but taste just awful... I mean, you wouldn't ever want to come over and try our strawberries. You might never come back for fear of having awful strawberries foisted on you. So really, we'll just eat them all ourselves and spare you the agony.

They are especially awful on vanilla bean ice cream.

While I was out back, I noticed our first garden casualty.

That was our parsley. I suspect that Gerry (weegee or otherwise) got to it. I agree with Meg: no more posts about cute woodchucks, the little buck-teethed bastards.

Random Wednesday, um, Thursday

Flowers at the farmers' market.

1. One of the Gerries came up on the front porch yesterday to bang around. Not a Weegee, more of a Medium-Sized Gerry. All four cats were very concerned; took turns looking through the window at him. No idea what he wanted. Fresh additions to the compost heap? A cup of tea? Wood to chuck?

2. Someone ate the parsley out of the garden. Mrrf.

3. It's probably a Gerry. Because I see one in there right now, even though it is pouring down rain and I put a big heap of potato peelings and a handful of rotten Bing cherries in the compost bin. Let the friendly groundhog blogging cease....

4. We all went to wonderful Ann Arbor over the weekend. What a fun city. Lots of walking around, eating strawberries from the farmer's market, poking in used bookstores, eating wonderful food, visiting yarn stores and going to our friends' wedding.

The farmers' market. Strawberries and Amish fried pies for breakfast.

Happy sheep in the window of Zingerman's.

One of the yarn stores had a rocking sheep. Jamie and the Fool played with that while I bought a skein of sock yarn and two skeins of dishcloth cotton. Some friends are moving into a new house this month and I have it in my head that dishcloths make quick and easy housewarming gifts.

The wedding was great. One of the most relaxing weddings I've ever been to. It was at a park, and after the ceremony, people retired to a big shelter to eat, drink, play lawn games, have an old-time jam and generally hang around.

The Fool bowls at bocce ball.

The bride and groom dancing a first waltz together.

Icarus over a worn-out baby who is not only busy growing new teeth (ouch!) but trying to walk.

Worn out dad.

5. It's been raining all week, so no chance to take a good picture of Icarus. Soon. Tonight is the live taping of Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me downtown, and Jamie and I are going to brave the elements, bundle up and go ... I hope the rain lets up. Our friends have a backup plan, but Thai food for dinner is just not as much fun.

6. Been knitting socks like a madwoman.

7. Have I mentioned how much I love "Weekend Sewing"? Here's another project from that book, fabric from a local quilt shop, vintage buttons from Great-Grandma Fool's button box.

A closeup of the shirt I made. It's a little roomy on him, but that's OK. I'm trying to decide whether sewing has suddenly become so much fun because I have a cool book of projects to work with, because the author of the book has given me a lot of good tips to improve my sewing ... or because it means I get to go down in the basement all by myself for an hour and watch TV while I mess with pretty fabric. My friend Carrie, who has two kids, says it's the being left alone for an hour part.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hm. That was dumb.

We drove back from Ann Arbor today, and I drank too much iced tea and too much coffee and now it is 1 a.m. and I am still up trying to write a contra dance program for tomorrow night because I am calling - except the thinking, she is difficult, and the dances, they are not making so much sense, and I really should not be the only two-legs up at this hour. And if I am too tired to do my work, but not too tired to fool around on the Web, then I really, really should go to bed.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"Nice shawl, huh?"

"Wouldn't it be nicer, with, say, a little cat hair on it...."

So asked Romeo while I was trying to unblock the shawl yesterday. The insult-to-injury part was when he kept rolling back and forth, biting my hand as I unpinned it.

Artsy black and white shot. The subject is still the same. Big hairy cat rolling around on my shawl.

The Fool and Jamie and I are off to Ann Arbor for a wedding this weekend. I'm really looking forward to getting out of town, checking out a new farmer's market, eating some delicious things, hanging out with friends ... all the fun stuff.

I got crazy and made Jamie a shirt from "Weekend Sewing," which I will sew the buttons onto in the car. That book really makes sewing much more fun for me than it was before. I could see getting into this. And the directions are so much better than the ones that come with patterns.

For car knitting, I have a bag of partly finished socks, and I think I'll just knit on them until they're all done. I'm afraid one sock won't quite make it to the toe without running out of yarn, so it's going to get an attractive contrasting toe of some kind.

We also looked under our bed and found everything we have been missing for weeks, nay, months. I found my favorite nursing bra, I found an outfit of Jamie's that I'd been looking for, I found a sock I knit and lost before I could knit the second (a new low in losing track of things) ... it was amazing. From now on, when I can't find stuff, I'm looking under the bed. The sock irked me the most, because it was great yarn and it came out really well. I'll put up pictures when the second one makes it on the needles.

Back to packing. For someone so small, Jamie requires an exponential increase in car luggage when we travel.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

We're just lucky, I guess....

Kim asks:
"And how, pray tell, do you manage to keep the Gerries, big and wee, out of your garden? We have one HUGE chuck that has devastated my lettuce, peas, beats, carrots, tomatoes and beans. He saunters right past the humungo size baited trap and proceeds to devour everything. So I am searching for any and all ideas & tips. We've tried the repellants - they have no effect. The den entrances are located somewhere in an 85 degree slope with a 150 foot drop onto railroad tracks, so I can't plug them up or foul them with used cat litter. I'm about ready to concede victory to the rodent and give up."

Well, we have a fence around our garden, but I know from my childhood that a determined 'chuck can easily bypass a fence by digging under. My dad tried growing muskmelons one year, because he loved to eat them, and he went into a stratospheric rage one afternoon because he discovered a woodchuck hole in the middle of the melon patch, from where the woodchuck had emerged and taken one bite out of each melon, effectively ruining his crop.
What we have between the greenhouse and the garden is our compost bin, which is an open, three-bin system. Kitchen scraps go in the first compartment, and we have often seen the Gerries happily munching on broccoli stems and our apple cores and the like. We also have pear trees around the garden, and as the pears tend to be a bit wormy and we don't spray, we let the woodchucks eat those too. Our theory is that the woodchucks, en route to the garden, get distracted by the compost bin and eat their fill there.
So far, we are lucky, although the day a woodchuck eats one of my tomatoes is the day I stop writing sweet little blog entries about the Gerries.
I did read an article in the New York Times last year about gardeners who always thought of themselves as peace-loving, one-with-nature people ending up in battles to the death with critters. And, there's always this....

I blocked Icarus tonight. Put it to soak in the salad spinner bowl, and then used it to get as much water out as I could.

The big picture...

Now it's drying on towels on the guest bed, and I keep sneaking in to look at it. Angus tried to help me by putting his big hairy bottom on it. Sigh.

I can't tell you how many pictures I had to take before I figured out that what I had done was turn off the camera's flash rather than set it to take close ups.

In which I actually achieve a knitting deadline

The batteries in the camera are charging, so I cannot show you an unblocked Icarus tonight. Instead, I will show it to you tomorrow when I block it, well in advance of the weekend wedding at which I plan to wear it.
I can't believe it.
What to knit next?
My knitting group suggested I get back to socks and clear my sock needles off, because I will need them in August, for, um, Sock Summit. heehee!
On the way home from a playgroup today, Jamie and I stopped at a quilt fabric store to walk around and admire fabric, and I ended up with a yard of something fun and polka dotted that, with the help of the amazing "Weekend Sewing," I plan to turn into a shirt for him.