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


.... 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.