Tuesday, November 30, 2010

it got cold!

And I discovered today, getting Jamie out of his carseat at the grocery store, that he has nice warm handknit mittens (that have button eyes, thank you very much, so they are not only mittens but alligator-esque hand puppets). The Fool has nice warm handknit mittens that I made him from some tweedy Cascade last year.
I have no mittens.
I have something to do this afternoon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The day before

I always find the day before Thanksgiving to be like an extra Friday thrown into the week. Nothing's quite the way it should be, it's usually cold here in the Midwest, so it's easy to make the house feel all cozy, there's baking to be done ....
But I just want to play with yarn and sit on the couch and watch episodes of "Sherlock" on the computer. I don't want to unload the dishwasher and clean up from the Fool's gravy-making extravaganza last night.
I've been knitting along on the socks I want to have finished by Dec. 1 so I can start on the self-imposed-sock-club work. I have two ready for Kitchenering (that's two out of six, so it's possible....)
Meanwhile, in the category of Inscrutable Muggle Comments on Knitting, I got this yesterday.
MUGGLE: What are you knitting?
ME: A sock.
MUGGLE: Only one?
ME: ?!?!?
I never know what to say to that, and I get it a decent amount. "Only one?"
Well, no, not only one. Two. Most people knit two socks. I'm just not doing them both at once because that would be... insane. And that's a lot of explaining.
So I usually smile and say something awkward like, "I knit the first one," or, "I'm planning to knit two."
Or, in this case, six....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mom on the lam

I escaped to Target for an unsupervised visit last week. It was terrific! I looked at whatever I wanted, not just the stuff on my list, I read labels, I compared prices ... so much fun! I was standing in the office supplies aisle, wondering if they had page protectors (I have this fantasy in which I reorganize our recipe binder and put the recipes for similar types of food next to one another. Crazy, I know!)
Anyway, this guy, looking confused, turned to me and said, "I'm looking for that sparkly stuff you put on glue and blow off...."
"Glitter?" I asked.
"Yes! Is this the right aisle to look in?"
I said it was, and pointed out the little package with three little tubes of glitter in it.
"Do they have the big jars?" he said. "They just nickel and dime you with those little ones. "
We looked around, but no luck. Finally, as I was making my way to the checkout aisle, I said, "You know, there's a Michael's in this shopping plaza; they might have a better selection."
"Thank you!" he exclaimed. "I didn't think of that ... I'm divorced and I don't have a wife to tell me those things. I need a wife...."

Knitting continues. I'm in a self-imposed-sock-club with three friends, and I've been having a lot of fun picking out the 12 skeins of sock yarn that I'm going to knit up this year, and then thinking of all the patterns I might like to try out, too.

But first, I'm trying to finish up the socks in progress. By Dec. 1. Ha.
From the top: toe-up Wildfoot for the Fool; playground sock 1 in ... oh, good grief, I can't remember, but also for the Fool; playground sock 2 in ... horrors. Something else with heels and toes from the ort bowl, for Eric the accordion player; and then something in Maizy for a friend who's allergic to wool (and corn, which this is made of, but I made her promise not to eat her socks.)
And now Angus is eating a big fat slow moving winter housefly. Horrible, cat. Just horrible.



Some of the moms and kids from the Waldorf class Jamie and I are in came over for indigo dyeing today. We colored silk scarves, and another friend dyed yarn. Really fun. I enjoyed having people visit without having to take off my sweatpants.

Finally, a short parade of FOs.

This is a scarf from "A Fine Fleece," made from two skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed, which I sort of adore as a yarn. I like knitting it, I like the fabric it makes, I like the colors it comes in ... great stuff. This particular scarf, however, is going in a silent auction for Breaking Up Thanksgiving, the Chicago contra dance community's dance weekend. Which is OK. The fun was in making it.


The fun in this, however, was finishing it. I decided to knit an organic cotton baby blanket (Lion Brand) a la the modular log cabin blankets in Mason Dixon Knitting, and let me just say, after knitting this in garter stitch, I am reminded of why I quilt. But done is done and it's sitting in the linen closet, waiting for a friend's baby that's supposed to come along next spring.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall

Today was the first really autumnal day we had, and by that, I don't mean clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures and orange and yellow leaves dancing on the sidewalk. I mean, gray and cold and damp and just chilly enough that going to the park with Jamie, even with a latte in hand and the knowledge that I could visit with some other mom friends, seemed like an unpleasant thing to do.
Sorry kid. I'll do better tomorrow on the whole getting-outdoors-every-day thing. Instead, we delivered some leftover pizza to a friend (I invented this! It had pesto and smoked mozzarella and roasted squash and garlic chunks and sauteed spinach and onions and a little fontina on top because it didn't look cheesy enough to me ... and despite all the roasting and sauteeing and shredding and fridge-diving I had to do ... it was delicious) for her lunch, and stopped at the grocery store.
The fall is especially bittersweet because I am leaving a good, good summer behind. I finally decided to carve out enough time to rub two brain cells together and learn how to upload photos with the new laptop, so ....



The Fool shows Jamie the tools of our people, visiting with Toni at The Fold's booth at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair. The Fool has a bad thing for these big wheels....



We explore the beaches of Michigan as part of a short break en route to a dance weekend on the shores of Lake Huron. Edward, Rachel and the two of us spent a few days in a cute little cabin being lazy, knitting socks and playing on the beach every day. The Fool had to work, poor guy, and so just caught the train up in time to drive across the state for the gig.
After that, Edward and Rachel moved to Boston, and that is no fun at all. Jamie is short a calabash aunt and uncle, I am short a cooking and knitting buddy, the Fool is short a fiddling friend, and now our band lives in three states. Boo hiss.



Studying ducks at a local forest preserve.



Someone turned two.



The Cosmic Otters quartet (quintet) play in Champaign Urbana. The Fool and I are still playing gigs as a duo, and that's fun, because it's how we started out, but we hear the missing accordion and fiddle parts when we play, little musical ghosts of gigs past. We're going to have to work on some arrangements that aren't quite so dependent on having the four parts for the times it's just the two of us. Meanwhile, Edward is trying to book dance weekends, because we can all get together for those.

I've been knitting like a madwoman. It's like I think I'm going to get a prize if I use up all my worsted yarn or something. Now that I have this photo thing figured out, I'll start photographing my knitting again.

Friday, September 24, 2010

oh hell

The Fool found the sleeves and is on a tear tonight.
Instructions flying, demands for yarn needles, questions about how to work the steam iron and now, feet pattering down the steps and pattering back up, my sewing machine in hand.
"How do I wind a bobbin?"
"What does 1, 2, 3, mean here?"
I'm trying to figure out if he's being purposefully obtuse in hopes that I will step in.
Meanwhile, I have a button band to knit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

at last!

In the car, heading home from boring errands.

JAMIE: I want to go yarn store.
ME: You do?!
JAMIE: I want to grab yarn.
ME: Really?
JAMIE: And put it on my arm.
ME: Why do you want to do that?
JAMIE: It's pretty.
ME: You like yarn?
JAMIE: It's nice.

Unfortunately, no yarn store for us today. Probably not even any knitting. We're packing for a contra dance weekend and and some time on the Michigan shore.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hummf. The Fool won't play

If he's not going to put his sweater together, he could do something useful, like clean out the Saturn. I'm 2/3 of the way up the hood.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Anything you can knit, I can knit faster!

I can knit anything faster than you!
The Fool has been plodding along on a gorgeous little Dale of Norway sweater, that, if he were to finish it, would fit Jamie perfectly this fall. He cast it on when I was still pregnant, and has been busy producing it, in fits and spurts. There are completed sleeves, too. All it needs is assembly.
In an effort to get a usable sweater during the time of Jamie's life when it will fit him, I cast on a sweater for Jamie on Tuesday (children's top down sweater from Knitting Pure and Simple) out of some Cascade I picked up at Threadbear a few weeks ago. Then I told the Fool that I was going to be able to knit this entire sweater before he could sew some steeks, attach some sleeves and do a little finishing work on his opus.
He said, "Well, not if I get motivated."
I said, "I'll still beat you."
He said, "How do you know that?"
I said, "Because you don't know where the sleeves are."
He paused, thought, and said, "Oh, crap."
Will put up finished sweater pictures later this week. (The Fool is lobbying for the hooded version of the sweater because he thinks if I knit a hood, it will buy him valuable searching time.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sticky hot weather here....

... everyone is getting a little touchy. Jamie complains loudly every time I put him in the car ("Mama! Too hot! Turn on air!") and the Fool and I are both avoiding spending too much time in the great outdoors.
I started to teach myself how to crochet this week. I'm not sure why, other than wanting to make a net bag for groceries and deciding that knitting one was not the way to do it (been there, knitted that, a couple times at least.) I got a crocheter to show me the basics at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair, while I was staffing a table during vendor check in, and have been figuring out the rest.
Yesterday, I taught myself how to make granny squares. I made a few from leftover sock yarn, which has been accumulating in balls in vases and jars on the mantelpiece.
The Fool and I had this conversation:
FOOL: You're really taking to this crocheting thing.
ME: Yeah, I guess. It's interesting to learn.
FOOL: What are you making?
ME: Tonight, I made granny squares out of sock yarn.
FOOL: What for?
ME: Well, I read somewhere that crocheting takes more yarn and less time than knitting, so I'm playing with the idea of making a sock yarn blanket.
FOOL: Huh. Really? That's ... that's kind of weird.
ME: I thought I could use up all the sock yarn orts that way.
FOOL: Oh! I thought you were going to make a blanket *for* the sock yarn, to throw over it when the Muggles came over or something, so they didn't see how much sock yarn you had, or didn't get scared by it, or ....
ME: You're so strange sometimes.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

In which we have a birthday and lots of summer

It's a humid summer here with lots of thunderstorms, the exciting Midwestern kind that wake you up at 3 a.m. with thunder and lightning. I love them so much; when I lived in Oregon, summer storms were one of the few things I missed about Illinois. It's made laundry challenging, though. We have a load that's been on the line for a few days now, because we forget to take it in, and then we get a storm, and then it's really humid, so we leave it out trying to get it to dry, but then it rains .... you see where this is going. The Fool and I capitulated and threw it in the dryer tonight because it was starting to get a little silly.
Jamie turned two on Monday. We celebrated with some grocery shopping and a nap, after which the festivities really began. When he woke up that morning, he looked at us reflectively and said, "I want ... ice cream! Chocolate ice cream!" So around 3 p.m., post-nap, I said, what the heck, kid, and we both had chocolate ice cream. Then we played with his new wooden train set, and then we went to meet the Fool for dinner and a contra dance. We brought a watermelon to share with everyone. (See above re: heat and humidity. I say that's nature's way of telling me not to bake, and definitely not to frost anything.)
But now, he is officially a toddler, I guess, and we have conversations that go like this.
ME: How would you like to walk to the post office with me?
JAMIE: OK!
ME: Great! Go get your shoes, please.
JAMIE: No.
ME: You need to wear shoes to go to the post office. Please go get your shoes.
JAMIE: No.
ME: Would you rather stay home?
JAMIE: No.
ME: So you want to go to the post office?
JAMIE: Yes.
ME: Please go get your shoes, then.
JAMIE: No.
ME: How about walking to the bar?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nothing gets you spinning again...

...like going to a festival of fiber such as the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair.

I swung by Toni Neil's booth (of The Fold) to ogle (okay, pet) various rovings. I realized that one of the reasons my spinning had fallen by the wayside (other than raising a toddler) was that I had run out of bobbins. (Okay, sometimes really stupid things become enormous hurdles for me.) So not only did I go home with a couple more bobbins to solve this problem, I also went home with a heavenly blend of silk and wool which is just magic to spin up.

I did set the wheel back up last night, but I decided that nightly spinning gratification wasn't quite frequent enough. So this morning, I threw my Bosworth top-whorl spindle (along with the roving) into my work bag, and I very nonchalantly pulled it out on the train and began to spin.

It was really fun. I didn't need nearly as much elbow room as I thought I might. In fact, I found that I could spin effectively with people sitting on both sides of me... though I fear I may have been overexposing my armpit to the fellow sitting to my right. (He would occasionally clear his throat, but it was difficult for me to tell if this was somehow commentary or simply a throat tickle.)

Oddly, even though I thought I would be out of practice, I'm still quite good at the spindle. I had forgotten how much control a spindle gives me... and the Bosworth spins like a absolute dream. I still spin a bit unevenly, but I'm hoping that it all becomes a wash when I go to ply.

I have no idea what I'll use the silk yarn for, but I'm sure that Meg can come up with some ideas. Toni told me to not worry.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Midwest Fiber and Folk Arts Fest

So I'm the vendor coordinator at this fiber fest ... we're on day two. Last day is tomorrow. The venue (Lake County Fairgrounds building) is terrific. Everyone is having fun. The yarn and fiber and pottery and jewelry and baskets ... all pretty. It's a nice time. We're in Grayslake, up near the Wisconsin-Illinois border.
Jamie and the Fool stop out each day to see how I'm doing. The Fool had a stomach bug yesterday, so I had Jamie all morning. He rode around on my back or in his stroller when I had to run out on the floor to talk to vendors. This worked, as long as we stopped to visit the angora bunnies each and every time we went for a walk.
Angora bunnies? Really cute. And soft. And furry. I admit, I thought, wow, if one of these got along with the cats, I would be OK with having one of these hopping around the place.
And then I took a good look at the rabbit guy, who was wearing a dark blue T-shirt, and noticed that he had an awful lot of rabbit fur on his shirt, and decided maybe not. I can't keep up with the cats. I found an Angus hair in my sandwich the other day and thought, good grief, I've probably eaten an entire cat by now.
Nevertheless, each time Jamie saw the rabbits, he hit me on the shoulder and said, "Mama! Go see really really big bunny rabbits! Go see bunny rabbits! Over there!"
Last day tomorrow. (And I get to go to an indigo dyeing workshop. Can't wait.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best Buy is not a super-fun place to take a toddler

But at least we have a digital camera again. The Fool and I were giggling about how, when we got our first camera six years ago, 5 megapixels was the big fancy-schmancy deal, and now, even the cheapest cameras have 10 or 12.
Then Jamie and I continued on our way to buy lawnmower parts. Big Fish, a large stuffed salmon pillow that lives in the minivan for various and weird reasons, got a reprieve from his car-centered life, and was allowed to come in the lawnmower repair shop. Mainly, I was too tired to argue about why Big Fish could not be shown lawnmowers, as Jamie wished to do. I hope the visit inspired Big Fish to change the air filter and mow the lawn.
Today, I sat in the car while Jamie napped and Kitchenered socks. We had a busy weekend and I was an Irish band wife (sorta like a soccer mom) and so at the Fool's various gigs with Chicago Reel, his new Irish band, I watched Jamie beetle around various parks and knit socks. During sound check, Jamie and I walked down to the big fountain at Millennium Park, that you can wade in, and splashed around for nearly an hour.
By the second-to-last number of the band's 45-minute set, when Paddy and Denis were doing their dueling Irish tenors act, belting - and I mean belting - out "The Lowlands of Holland," Jamie said to me, "Mama, hold you," and so I picked him up, and he put his head on my shoulder, and by the end of the song, he was limp. By the end of the concert, after a big set of reels with stepdancers clattering around in hard shoes and a lot of applause from the audience, he was snoring softly in my ear and didn't wake up when we put him in the stroller.
That kind of behavior gets a person lots of knitting time to finish nearly-finished socks.
I'm not complaining. I'm just Kitchenering.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tuesday night

No thunderstorms tonight, which is unusual for the week. We've had a lot of storms over the past few days - big, exciting ones with lots of thunder and lightning. Midwestern summer storms were one of the things I missed when I lived in Oregon. Jamie and I went to a park for playgroup this morning, only to find that the dark gray skies frightened everyone else off. Or we were at the wrong park. I decided, as we'd come all that way and it wasn't raining, he could go beetle around by himself and if the rains came, we'd run for the car.
It's all part of recovering from another eventful weekend. The Cosmic Otters and Rachel went to Lansing, Mich. for their Saturday night dance, which was loads of fun. Jamie played with some neighborhood girls who we hired to watch him, and as the dance is held in a church hall, there was a conveniently located Sunday school room nearby, with a lot of blocks and small tables and chairs - basically all the things he needs to be entertained.
The dancers were terrific fun to watch, and we had a really good time.
Rachel and I had an especially good time, because she had never been to ThreadBear before. We had the guys drop us off and told them we'd see them in 45 minutes. I've been in a bit of a knitting slump lately ... but now? Obviously, all I needed was a couple balls of sock yarn and some Cascade superwash for a fall sweater for Jamie, because I'm back happily making socks again. Also, all I needed, I guess, was a lot of blue yarn, because that was all I got. Except for this self-striping ball with some purple in it that's going to be my next pair of socks for playground knitting.
I bought a ball of dark indigo Pagewood Farms yarn that I'm really excited about. Lots of people in my knitting group love this yarn, and I'm looking forward to making something (Rachel got the purple ball) nifty - but probably not socks. I'm leaning toward Multnomah. And I'm leaning toward putting beads in the border, but we'll see when I get there.
The next day, after chatting with Sam-the-banjo-player, we stopped by Rae's Yarn Boutique as well, and had something like this conversation.
RACHEL: I really don't need any more yarn.
ME: Me either.
RACHEL: Let's just look.
ME: Right.
RACHEL: Oh, except I wanted some dpns.
ME: Isn't this red yarn pretty?
RACHEL: Oooh. And it's not blue.
ME: I know! And there's some with purple in it over there.
RACHEL: Ooh!
The Fool and Edward watched Jamie during the yarn-shop excursions, but the Fool got his fiber on as well.
Saturday night, after the dance, we were hanging out at our hostess' house. Sam-the-banjo-player came over to visit. His sweetie knits, so he's not totally unaware of the fiber arts.
THE FOOL: (Admiring a throw over the back of a chair at our friend Bonnie's) Wow, this is a cool stitch. I wonder what it is?
SAM: Knitted.
THE FOOL: No, I don't think so. That looks like crochet.
SAM: No, look at this. That's the yarn over. This is knitted.

And then, we headed for home the next day with a couple stops en route (Bell's Brewery, Sweetwater Donuts) and here it is, another hot week in which perhaps I will make the time to shop for a digital camera. Because Best Buy would be a super-fun place to take a toddler, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Knitters: Naturally agreeable?


Here in Illinois, they're just starting to try a former governor of ours on corruption charges, and so the news is full of stuff on his trial. Jury selection started, and among the candidates is a knitter. I thought this article was interesting - one analysis of the jurors suggests that the ex-military members might be more conservative, and the knitter might be more inclined to go along with what everyone else says.
I dunno ... I don't think it's fair to say that knitters, as a group, are generally agreeable. I think knitters are as prone to disagree about stuff as anyone else is. And if we were generally agreeable, would we really need three or four ways to knit socks?

The camera remains missing in action; Angus has begun to nudge and bite the Fool each morning until the Fool gets up, at which point Angus happily curls up on the bed in the Fool's vacant spot and falls asleep. Ah, summer.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Weekend away

The Fool, Jamie and I - without instruments or a gig - snuck off to Madison for a weekend. It was great!
I got to go to knit night at the Sow's Ear with Thorny and Renee, which was about 16 different kinds of fun, even though I was darning socks. Note to self: It's not enough to save the online newsletter article on darning socks to read later; one actually has to read it later and maybe print it out for reference.
Leaving for Madison was a little tough, though. Jamie is in the middle of some kind of mad angst, either growing molars or getting over a cold, or both, and so he was disinclined to leave my arms for even a minute, which made packing the car and loading the dishwasher impossible. So the tote bag of odds and ends that needed to go north with me got left on the kitchen counter, and we were without a) birthday presents for Thorny's kids; b) snacks for Jamie; and c) my knitting in progress.
Fortunately, knit night is held at a yarn store, and so I got some Hiya Hiya short dpns, which I had been wanting to try, and a couple balls of on-sale sock yarn. It's been very satisfying, knitting around and around on a plain old sock.
And now we are home, and the Fool is making muffins, and I'm sorting through emails I need to send and trying to corral the hamsters in my head long enough to see what this week will bring.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Summer reading

I'm listening to this pulpy audiobook in the car (can you have a pulpy audiobook? Anyway.) The premise is that there's this demon hunter who is a minivan-driving stay-at-home-mom by day. She has two kids, one teenager from her first marriage, and a second kid by her second husband (first husband was also a demon hunter and died mysteriously). The second kid is about Jamie's age. The husband knows nothing about his wife's secret double life.
What I was thinking as I put my laptop in the car and escaped the house, leaving a somewhat tetchy Jamie and the Fool behind to "enjoy" each other's company tonight, was: How did this woman get her toddler to sleep so well that she can sneak out to slay demons without worrying that her husband will be woken by a kid with a wet diaper or other small angst and notice that she is gone?!
Jamie would blow my cover in a minute.
The camera is missing. So you'll have to take my word for this:
* Bloomington, Ind. trip this last weekend - so fun! Two good gigs, a really delicious homemade rhubarb pie from our friends Katie and Eric, milkshakes.
* The quilt for my class is coming along pretty well. Lots of flowers.
* I'm on a bit of a sewing binge right now. I'm finishing UFOs and experimenting with new stuff. It's a lot of fun.
* Romeo! Romeo! Whyfor are you always getting it on with Winnie the Pooh? Jamie's poor bear is flat! Flat! (OK. I wouldn't put up a picture of the cat doing the nasty with a stuffed bear. But all the quilting stuff, I totally would show you if I could.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This bodes badly

Both of us are underslept, and so Jamie is being an almost-two-year-old, which is to say, a bit of a pain, and I have no patience, which I have learned is a winning combination for parenting.
So I think we will go for a ride on the train and meet the Fool downtown for lunch. The novelty should prevent Jamie from being too much of a twit, and I can get a coffee or seven.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Some things never change

Jamie and I are taking a parent-child class at the local Waldorf school. Lots of other parents I know spoke pretty highly of the teacher, and the general vibe of the classes is appealing - mellow, quiet, windows open, pollen blowing into the classroom.*
I digress. Jamie likes the table of little wooden animals, seems to get along fine with the other kids, and was absolutely blown away when the teacher handed him a broom! And asked him to sweep! As his grandmother said when she visited over Mother's Day weekend, "Jamie likes putting things away! I can't imagine where he got that from."
And then I tried to kill her with a teaspoon.**
One of the things that happens in class is, the kids get to play and the parents get to make crafts. I'm not kidding! It's so great! Our first project was sewing felt pouches for the Acorn Shop at the annual MayFair. *** The teacher handed out pre-cut pieces of felt, and all we had to do was decorate them with flowers and business and then stitch them together. We got bits of taken-apart silk flowers, and a big bag of embroidery floss and a bag of felt scraps to rummage through. So I did a couple like everyone else, and then I started remembering some of the embroidery stitches I thought I had forgotten about, and put a few daisies on one piece of felt, and then found another piece I could applique, and then ... you know how it is when you really get into something and you're just sitting there in your own little world with a big pile of new-to-you craft stuff, and you get cranking along ... and then someone notices what you're doing and makes a big fuss, and you get all sheepish and sort of wish you weren't there?
Yeah.
I seem to be the class embroidery prodigy. Which is funny, because there is not a lot of embroidery going on in my life.
At the end of the class, the teacher said to me, "Would you like to take some materials home to work on during the week?" and I thought, "Uh, no, because I have lots of other handwork projects I would prefer to work on," but I do try to be a good team player, so I took stuff home for two pouches. In the privacy of my own home, I raided my small stash of embroidery floss and buttons and made these.



And I don't care that they don't look like anyone else's.

* Something about this spring has been driving me crazy, pollen-wise, and I don't really get hay fever. I hate to imagine what it's been like for people who do get seasonal allergies. I was standing in the classroom the other day, the wind shifted, and suddenly, I was sneezing like crazy, my eyes all itchy and watering. Astounding.

** It was one of those things people say that can get taken either way. At first, I thought, oh, ha ha, very funny, and then about two days later, I thought, wait a minute! I spent every spare minute of my time for four days cleaning the stupid house before she visited ... and next thing you know, the Fool is talking me down from a pretty big tree.

*** It's really not worth explaining. Just take the whole sentence at face value.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Long week

It's only 9:37 a.m. here and I have an eye twitch.
Jamie has been experimenting with some new and bizarre sleep patterns. Sunday night, the Fool was chatting online with a friend of ours who has two small kids, and she asked how dark his room was when we put him down for naps. Some blackout curtains might be just the key, she said.
The Fool leapt to his feet, demanded I put down the sewing project I was working on (nice flowery pretty stuff) and make, that minute, a blackout shade for the skylight in Jamie's room.
He hauled the stepladder out the next morning before work and hung the shade, and now Romeo spends all day in his new, cushy cave, snuggled on quilts sleeping.
Glad someone is sleeping around here.
Now if only he'd help with the laundry.
Anyway, in light of the long week, I combined a 40 percent off coupon at JoAnns with the new Martha Stewart needlework book, and it's been about as wonderful as I expected. I just like looking at all the very tasteful beautiful pictures of needlework projects in their native environments ... soft dusty earth tones, sage greens ... and not a board book in sight. Obviously, no one lives in her photo shoot land.
But, you know, that's all OK ... because we are mostly packed for Maryland Sheep and Wool! See you all on Saturday. I've been preparing Jamie for his first big fiber festival by singing the sheep and alpaca verses of Old MacDonald.

(Annual kid-in-a-tree picture. Spring 2010.)


(Same kid, same tree, 2009. I had no idea he and the Fool collaborated on outfits for these photos.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The differences between men and women...again

ME: I dunno, it's been a bad week. I feel like I'm stuck in a rut or something. All my friends are doing interesting things and I'm just plugging along here.
I mean, look at me, I've had basically the same hairstyle since college.
FOOL: That's a rut?
ME: Yes.
FOOL: See, I think that's more "finding what works." You found what works and now you're just sticking with it. Like me.
ME: You have really curly hair that you get cut four times year.
FOOL: Yep. That works.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I decided this morning....

.... after pawing through Jamie's sock drawer, which has many, many useless socks in it (too small, mismatched, etc., etc.) that when I run the world, toddler socks are going to come in one color, and one color only. I'm leaning toward white. Although I would consider blue or green for a little variety.
I've been told by various mom friends that I should just go to Old Navy and buy a bale of white socks, and other mom friends have suggested that maybe I work on letting go of the idea that socks need to match.
But regardless, Jamie is out in the world today in a white sock (because I found two white socks but on the way to getting them on his feet, dropped one and couldn't find it) and a blue striped sock (because then, I said, 'screw it' and grabbed the first sock I saw) ... and I'm working on not caring very much.
This week, we were at a parent-child program thing, and one of the other moms saw his mismatched socks and said, "oh, did he pick out his clothes today?"
I smiled and said, "Yes."
That's my story and I'll be sticking to it.
To take the edge off, I cast on a sock myself. This is my Basket of Inspiration, or, a basket of pretty pretty sock yarn that I have on my computer desk so I can look at it and start knitting it. The stuff in the front is part of a pair of Skew socks. The yarn I cast on today is Miss Babs "Frog Princess," but to me, it says "Spring bulb garden."
The Fool has the camera cord today, so I can't photograph the sock, but it's from Charlene Schurch and Beth Parrott's "Sock Club."



Back to knitting! Jamie is taking an extra long nap today and I've decided to take full advantage and not do anything useful at all.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

She turned me into a newt!

That's the best excuse I have for the prolonged absence.
Here is how pathetic it is: One of my knitting group friends had to tell me someone posted on Ravelry to see what we were doing because I haven't even been on Ravelry very much either.
Nothing bad, nothing difficult ... just some things getting in the way of blogging.
The Fool joined a new Irish band (but they're arguing over the name, so I can't tell you who they are yet), and so he's been busy with some extra rehearsals, which means I've been busy with Jamie more evenings.
The Cosmic Otters have had a lot of gigs. We just finished a week in the Southeast, which I will blog about in 2014, and we've got some more gigs coming up.
We did some car shopping. The Fool's car developed a bizarre can't-be-reproduced-for-the-mechanic power-steering/ power-brakes failure and we'd been researching for a while, so we took the big step into suburbanhood and ... bought a minivan. Like every other family-with-kids in the suburbs of Chicago. I went to the grocery store, parked my new car and couldn't find it for six weeks in the parking lot. So that ate up some blogging time.


As soon as I got it home, I put an identifying marker on the tailgate so now I can find it in parking lots.



Before spring came, I knit the Fool a pair of mittens.

Old mittens. Notice that when I knit those I didn't understand that thumbs aren't webbed the same way flippers are.



New mittens. Bulky Cascade 122 tweed. So fun to knit, because they were so fast. And the thumbs fit and everything! The contrasting brown strips are because I was afraid I was running out of yarn.



I tried to knit a sweater from A Fine Fleece for the Knitting Olympics, but I didn't quite make it. Still, I was impressed with how much sweater a person can knit if they knit like a madwoman on one thing, and one thing only. I was going to try to finish it for the Fool by St. Patrick's Day, but I was pretty sick of it, so it's on a time out for now.



Jamie continues to prevent me from getting lots of things done. Dear blog, don't feel neglected, because despite my sincere and desperate desire to spend time with my sewing machine, that hasn't been happening. Nor have plans to reorganize the bathroom, fix the screen door or sort through all the books and send some to the resale shop. Instead, I spend a lot of time reading about raccoons and pretending to call raccoons on the phone with Jamie. He's on a raccoon kick, or at least, he has been ever since one showed up on our porch and scared the living daylights out of him one night. Instead, we talk about them a lot. A. Lot.

Also, cussing out cats. I spend a lot of time cussing out cats, especially bad cats who get all friendly with the wool and chew small holes in it to show their love. This was a baby surprise jacket. Now it's going to get felted and made into a sack that I can stuff bad cats into.



This is the most amazing thing I have eaten lately. It was all Rachel's idea. She and Edward were over for a weekend visit/ Cosmic Otters rehearsal, and we had leftover roasted asparagus from dinner and a few mushrooms kicking around in the fridge, so she pulled up this recipe, and ... voila! I was afraid the egg thing would be weird, but it is not in the least.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Portland update

Knitting continues, but it's not looking good at this point. Jamie completely stymied any attempts at knitting yesterday by refusing to nap, and then I discovered I had actual work that needed to be done, so .. not a stitch yesterday.
I continue to miscross single stitch cables, so every so often, I have to stop, drop those and recross them. Which I am getting good at.



I made a mistake, though, at the very beginning. The Fool is a long, lanky guy, and if I knit this to 14 inches before the armholes, as the pattern says, the Fool will be sporting a belly Aran. As I told Edward at our gig this weekend, when I held the sweater up to measure on him for comparison, next Olympics, I'm picking a guy with a shorter torso to knit for. Edward volunteered. He has been admiring the color of this sweater since I cast it on. I think 16 or 17 inches may be in my future. Maybe 16 inches, and I'll count on Blackwater Abbey's tendency to grow when washed.
Over the weekend, we all went to Valparaiso*, Ind., for another contra dance gig. The Fool and I played with our other band, the RoarSharks, Rachel called, and Edward entertained Jamie and ran the soundboard. Jamie likes the RoarSharks, because I play percussion, not guitar, and it's a lot easier to mess with my stuff when it's a pile of drums and shakers. Here he is sitting in with the band, happily thumping away on my snare drum during sound check.**



Walter, the fiddler, looked at the Fool sadly and said, "I don't think he's going to grow up to play the fiddle."

*I totally know about the great yarn shop in Valpo. Rachel and I checked it out when we were there for a gig last month. I'm not in any great need of yarn these days, as I am finishing projects and anyway, I have a gorgeous basket of sock yarn on the mantelpiece for inspiration, but ... wow. What a cool shop. I could see falling down pretty hard in there.

**Yeah, he's wearing one shoe. One fell off in the car, and the Fool didn't bring it in, and then when we asked Jamie if he wanted to take off his other shoe and be in his socks, he said "no," so he went around lopsided for a while. Toddlers are weird. He also likes clomping around the house in his boots, so, whatever.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Another day of knitting....more miscrossed cables



Knitting continues apace. This is a photo I took yesterday. The yarn is much more cranberry-colored than the photo shows it. The lovely Chicago winter afternoon light either gave me photos that showed the real color and none of the cables (with flash) or the wrong color and all of the cables.
It's Portland, from A Fine Fleece, by Lisa Lloyd.
I'm knitting it in the round to the armholes, because I hate seaming, and so far, it's going fine. There are some mistakes in the chart, though, and the first repetition of the cable design took a little while to figure out because I had to sort things out.
But there it is.
Feeling a bit brain-dead right now, because the Fool is in a new Irish band, and they had rehearsal last night, and I got Jamie to bed earlier than usual, and I was so excited by the evening to myself that I put on an old episode of A Prairie Home Companion and stayed up way too late knitting.
Like none of us have ever done that. Further updates to come....

Monday, February 15, 2010

the Sweater of Minor Setbacks

The Fool said, as I knit and cussed tonight, because the chart wasn't matching what I was knitting, that I had very little good to say about the project.
So far, I've had to drop and recross two cables, and drop and fix five stitches that should have been purls that were knits. And now I have a dropped stitch to ladder back up, and there's a cable cross in the way and ... grrr.
If this were Olympic figure skating, I would be the skater who keeps falling down.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cast on!

Tonight, at knitting group at Panera, I started the Aran sweater I'm making the Fool for the Knitting Olympics. I forgot how much I like knitting cabled things. It's so much fun. Of course, I had the wrong size needle with me, but Peggy loaned me a KnitPicks needle of hers, and I was able to get things started.
At home, the Fool and Jamie watched raccoons on the porch. By watched, I mean, Jamie cried and hid on the Fool's lap. Raccoons seem to be something Jamie likes in abstract (pictures in his books, video on YouTube), but does not like when they are on his porch, peering through the sliding glass door.
Earlier this week, Jamie and I were at his doctor's for his 18-month checkup. His pediatrician, who also knits, finished up her exam and stepped outside to write up her notes. She finished, poked her head around the door and said, a little quietly, "So, are you doing anything for the Knitting Olympics?"
We compared project notes - she's doing a lace cardigan from the Twist Collective patterns.
Too fun. The camera batteries are charging, I swear, so maybe there will be a photo on this blog one of these days.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Busy day ahead

Jamie greeted the day by pulling on his snow boots over his pajama bottoms, picking up my box of contra dance cards and a small canvas bag with his animal book in it (we call it his murse) and stomping over to the door to wait.
He looks like a short and weirdly dressed contra dance caller. Which, I suppose, is what I usually manage for gigs, too.
It snowed here. Not as much as other places, but still enough to make my yard beautiful again. It's a bit too cold for my tastes and as pretty as the snow is, I'm tired of winter.
In fiber arts news, as part of my drive to finish works in progress, I'm tackling a big one. I had an inch and a half of ribbing for a sweater for the Fool. I frogged it, swatched to check gauge (because I'm using Blackwater Abbey and I discovered that yarn grows when you wash it) and am re-casting on for the Knitting Olympics at Friday night knit group. A cabled sweater in 17 days seems like a bit of a stretch, but we have two out-of-town gigs in that stretch, so I hope to get some good knitting in while we're on the road.
In other news - I bought a new camera battery charger, so I can put up pictures of this lunacy.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Three things

1. Whyfor did you get up at 4:30 a.m., kid? What did you have to do that needed such an early start? Because I got up with you, and let me tell you, I think you could have waited until 8 a.m. or so to look at books and chase Angus.

2. I started dismantling the curtain valances I got at the Salvation Army so I could get my hands on the beautiful sunny Marimekko fabric, and I discovered that somebody made these curtains out of a tablecloth. That makes me really happy, to know that this tablecloth gets three lives, not just one.

3. Jamie was helping me unload groceries and in an effort to get him out of the way for five seconds, I handed him four rolls of toilet paper and told him to go put those in the bathroom. Yeah. Next time, I need to go with him and show him the cupboard the toilet paper goes in, because he threw them in the toilet. I rescued one roll, but three are completely done for.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Sick of winter

My tolerance for winter ran out about a week and a half ago, which is not so good, because the groundhog saw his shadow yesterday, so I've got six more weeks of this nonsense.
Jamie still won't set foot on the snow and I am frankly running out of ideas for places to take him so we can both get out of the house and look at something other than each other all day long. Playgroups are fun, but they only go so far. Although yesterday's featured a house with a mid-sized dog, big enough to not be yappy, but small enough to not scare him. He got a friendly lick on the cheek, and that made him giggle happily. The Fool is afraid we are heading down the road to becoming a Dog Household, but I stand firm.
Firm-ish.
More or less firm most of the time.
Anyway, today, I thought I'd try a little retail therapy, so after getting some coffee, Jamie and I headed for the local Salvation Army store. It was a good day. I found three diaper covers for 90 cents apiece, a fancy beaded coin purse shaped like a red flower and four Marimekko valance curtains, which I snapped up, because I love Marimekko flowered fabric. I don't mind that they're in long strips, because I went and got two yards of coordinating fabric and I'm going to make a cheerful striped modern looking quilt.
Of course, I can't find camera batteries. Oh well. The light's fading anyway, because it's the Midwest in the winter and no one can see anything past 4 p.m. anyway.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lost and found

The Fool, Jamie and I were leaving a concert the other night (Genticorum. Awesome French-Canadian band. Soooo good.) I was the official sherpa; Jamie was riding in his carrier on the Fool's front, happily snuggled under the Fool's coat. We got to the car and when he took off his coat to load Jamie into the carseat, the Fool - for reasons I can't even begin to imagine - put his winter coat down on the ground, and we all hopped in the car and drove off without it.
He didn't notice his coat was gone until he went to put it on again the next morning, and unbeknownst to me, embarked on a string of texts and calls, and got Rachel to take a walk for him and see if his coat was still there, which it was.
I didn't learn about this until it was all over, not just because he didn't want to tell me he might have lost an entire winter coat ... but because he would have had to report the missing handknit mittens in the pockets, which I just finished over the weekend.



The old mittens, possibly the first pair I ever made. One skein of Cascade 220. No understanding of how to make mittens that fit hands, hence the too-short cuffs, the loose ribbing and the weird flipper-thumbs.



The new mittens. One skein of Cascade 122 tweed, plus some brown alpaca for visual interest. 2x2 ribbing at the cuffs and thumbs that are actually as long as the Fool's thumbs. Fast knit, as the yarn is almost a bulky weight, so that made them fun.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January, january, blah, blah, blah

Wow. Time flies when you're trying to chip ice off the sidewalk.
I had a nice post all written about Christmas, but so much of it seems not newsworthy anymore. We've been busy contra dancing, and I have sworn off casting on new knitting until the first day of spring, which isn't too bad. There's enough projects in progress that I can entertain myself very happily.
I put a quilt on the Fool's grandmother's quilt frame and am hand quilting on it now. I don't think I'll ever become a hand quilter. It's nice work, and I enjoy it, because it's different for me, but I think this one quilt will be enough.
It was a good Christmas in many ways, a bit of a rarity for me. I always seem to be longing for childhood Christmases I will never get back, with family who are no longer with me, and no one really to even help me reminisce. This year, the Fool and I made a sincere effort to clear out the clutter of the holidays early and spend time doing things with Jamie and each other. We did pretty well (despite knitting a pair of socks in three days before Christmas, but that's the Fool's story to tell.)
One night, he and Jamie walked around a local shopping mall, admiring all the lights and trees, until the giant tree started blaring out Mannheim Steamroller's "Carol of the Bells," and flashing lights, which the Fool found menacing and alarming and caused them both to beat a hasty retreat to the Barnes and Noble for a restorative drink and some quality time with the train table in the kids' section. (Jamie has acquired a serious train table habit - I've started marking their locations in my head - one at the Barnes and Noble, one at the library, etc.) Now, the Fool calls the band the Anaheim Scrambler (which I think is a breakfast entree somewhere we've eaten) and spent the rest of the holidays avoiding large trees.
We went to church on Christmas Eve with his mom and brother and Jamie, who was really well-behaved and didn't complain at all about having to sit still for 45 minutes. (I was a little worried, because we are Unchurched Heathens, and Jamie hasn't had a lot of practice behaving in church. By "a lot," I mean, "any.") The best part was when we were all singing Hark the Herald Angels or something like that, and the organist pulled out all the bass stops for the last verse and Jamie absolutely went nuts, grinning and giggling and waving his hands.
We also baked a lot. A. Lot. I got the King Arthur Flour Cookie Cookbook from the library and tried a bunch of new recipes in there. The spice cookies were a hit - tasty, easy to roll out and fun to decorate. The Fool made the first batch and after I somewhat testily said, "The cookie cutters are out, just use whatever you want!" produced a bunch of "BOO" cookies from our Halloween selection of cutters. (I counted. We have more Halloween cookie cutters than Christmas ones. I had to make crescent moons and oak leaves and call them solstice cookies.) Snarkily, he said it was a tradition among the Methodists to jump out at each other during the Christmas season and shout "Boo! Christ is born!"
So keep that in mind if you want to liven up the holidays next year. I see it as being one of those universal faith traditions. Shout "boo!" and the holiday greeting of your choice.
Finally, the three of us went to Brookfield Zoo to enjoy the holiday lights and the late hours and see the animals in the winter. We visited the egrets, the otters, the wombats, the fruit bats, the polar bears, and the farm animals. A problem in relying on books to educate yourself about farm animals is that you don't get a good sense of scale. We plopped him down in front of the cow's pen and said, "look, Jamie, a cow! Cows say 'moo!'" and he just stared with his mouth open, like someone had just smacked him in the head. We think he had no idea how big cows really are.
The slide toward spring is beginning, though, and I'm glad of it. This year, we're going to make it to Maryland Sheep and Wool for sure. The Cosmic Otters have already turned down gigs for that weekend, so it's officially on the household calendar.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hooray!

Finished the last of the Christmas knitting tonight!
Fortunately, people seem to like receiving presents no matter what the season.
(Camera still out of commission; has turned into Issue With Battery Charger.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

camera batteries dead

So just to say this:
I love knitting group after the first of the year. Everyone is brimming over with holiday goodies (or post-holiday sale goodies) and big plans and big ideas and it's just so much fun to take over the table at the back of the Starbucks and knit and natter.