Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some Christmas Knitting

Just because I haven't blogged in a couple months doesn't mean I haven't knit all during that time. Oh, no. I have been a knitting fiend. And I can prove it. Here are a few of the Christmas gifts I've knit so far:

The first is the Polarknits Skull Beanie. Am I allowed to say that I really liked the pattern, but the yarn, well, not so much? My fingers ached all through knitting this. What appealed to me about the pattern and the yarn was that it was bulky, therefore a fast knit, no? Well, it did go fast, along with my desire to knit for a few days. Still, Girlie looks fabulous in it, so all is not lost:
Dare I say that I'd love to knit this pattern again, just with another bulky weight yarn?

Now, if you've read my blog for any length of time, you know how my ZimDee loves fish. Little Sproutie has also developed a love for sea creatures from hanging out with his brother, yo. So out come the knitting needles, and pretty soon this takes shape:
What a silly looking little fish. My greatest accomplishment so far where this fish is concerned has been to keep it successfully hidden, hopefully until Christmas morning.
The pattern is Kureyon Carp. Sadly, I found no link to it out on the web, though you can find it on Ravelry. The pattern calls for the fish to be felted, but that's not really my cup of tea, so I kept it as is. I used Malabrigo Seleccion Privada yarn with some Fun Fur thrown in. Doesn't it seem almost like sacrilege to use Malabrigo and Fun Fur on the same project? But I think the boys will love it, and that's what counts.

By the way, the eyes are some buttons left over from my scrapbooking days. Guess when I gave up scrapbooking? Yep, when I started blogging. I realize now that this blog has become my scrapbook, and I get just as much pleasure (if not more) from looking at all the pictures and reading my old postings. Sometimes I surprise myself with what I wrote--I don't remember being so cheeky. Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I cry, but always I smile.

It's great to be back!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Some Catching Up Before Moving Forward

I know it's time to start thinking about Christmas, and I am feeling the excitement of the season this year like I haven't for a while. But if you'll indulge me for a moment, I'd really like to show you how adorable my babies were this last Halloween. (yes, yes, I know it's December 1st, but sometimes you have to go backwards to move forward, know what I mean?)

Here they are in all their glory. My vampire Girlie, my penguin ZimDee, and my pirate Sprout:Next came time for the Annual Walk or Bike to School Day, and this year ZimDee was old enough to participate. He got to ride in tandem with Dad while Girlie rode on her own. The funny thing is, if you look closely you can see that ZimDee's little feet aren't even on the bike pedals. Apparently he just held on tight to the handlebars with his feet spread out on either side of the bike and kept instructing his dad to "Slow down!" Of course, when he returned home he proclaimed it the Funnest. Bike. Ride. Evar.
And more knitting to show. These are the Sweet Dreams socks from Dream in Color, knit in their Smooshy sock yarn in the Wisterious colorway. This sock now lives on the shelf at Twisted, the best little yarn shop in Portland.
I may have to knit a pair for myself one day.

Now, did I hear you say you wanted to see a close-up of that scurvy pirate? But of course:Aye, Avast! Um, I mean 24 days til Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

As Promised...

Here are pictures of my babies' first day of school. ZimDee is now 6 and is in First Grade. His teacher is fantastic, and we are so happy that he will be in her class for Second Grade as well. He has really blossomed this year from a sleepy kindergartner to an enthusiastic first grader.

Girlie is now 11 and is in 5th Grade. We're very pleased with her teacher as well, and appreciate the fact that she is focusing on preparing her students for middle school next year. Be still, my heart.
I figured it out in my brain (I know! I'm so smart!) and realized that this will be the last year that Girlie will be in the same school as either of her brothers. The boys will go to school together, but not so my angel girl. It makes me a little sad, but she's ready to spread her wings.

Not to be left out, here is Sproutie with his Drammies on his first day of preschool:
He is becoming quite a little man. With him in preschool for two half days a week, I am finally able to volunteer in my older two's elementary classrooms, and I'm really enjoying it.

It took a few weeks for little Sproutie to build up enough stamina to stay awake on the ride home from school. Here he is after his first day:
(Notice he's still got his little backpack on).

Fall also brings with it Girlie's birthday. This year I tried to make a quadruple layer lemon cake with lemon frosting. It turned out more like something you might see in a Dr. Seuss book:
But it still tasted fabulous. Girlie didn't mind one bit.

And lest you think that I've forgotten that this is a knitting blog, here are some pictures of Knit Purl's first sock club project:These are called Andamento Socks and they are knit with Koigu yarn, in a specially dyed colorway called The Pearl. My love for Koigu yarn is well-known, so I was very pleased with this selection. The colors in these pictures do not do the yarn justice.
And notice the pretty decorative cuff. I knit these socks up in two and a half days, fueled by the emptiness of my house with all three children in school. It was just the project I needed to get me through those first quiet days.
Now things are not so quiet anymore. Here is why:
I just had to show you the new haircuts that these two hooligans got over Thanksgiving holiday. Aren't they getting big? Please, babies, don't be in such a hurry...

Friday, November 28, 2008

No, Your Eyes Are Not Deceiving You

I am finally updating my blog!

To ease into this slowly, I will start with where I left off. That would be the pink socks and the green sweater, both of which are now completed.

Here are the pink socks, knit with Lorna's Laces Flamingo Stripe on size 0 needles:This was the first pair of socks I knit using the two at a time toe up method. I've since cast on for two additional pairs (which are in time-out at the moment) and finished another pair that you will probably be seeing in publication before too long. I'm finding this technique to be much more useful than I expected it to be.

We also left off with the start of a green sweater, knit with Louet MerLin. Here it is on the finishing table:
And here it is in its completed form:
The pattern is Camellia by Kate Gilbert. The sweater now resides in the window of one of my favorite local yarn stores, Twisted.
I've enjoyed keeping up with all of you through your blogs. If you have missed me as much as I've missed writing, then it looks like the thing for me to do is to write more often.

During my unscheduled hiatus, I got my children safely settled into their new school year. Girlie is now in 5th grade, ZimDee in first grade, and little Sprout is now going to preschool two half days a week. This allows me to volunteer in the elementary school classrooms, which at first I found completely exhausting, but now I really look forward to it every week. I really like all of their teachers, and this is going to be another great year. Pictures of Sproutie's first day of preschool will follow in another post.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are looking forward to the magical Christmas season.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Knitting Progress and Dish Rag Tag Sign Up

I've been making great progress on my Flamingo Stripe socks that I'm knitting in my two at a time toe up sock class. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to miss the last class, so I read ahead in the book and was able to turn the heels by myself so that I'll be set up to learn the crochet bind off that will be covered when I'm not there.
I expected knitting two socks at a time to be fiddly, and it hasn't disappointed in that aspect, but just like motherhood, it is turning out to be funner than I anticipated. I don't know if every pair of socks I knit in the future will be done two at a time, but I will be using this technique more than I thought I would.

I'm doing a bit of test knitting too (you can go ahead and laugh).
This little green object will grow up to be a sweater someday.
I've been asked to knit the sweater with Louet MerLin, which is 60% linen and 40% merino wool. It's very slippery. The pattern called for size 4 needles, but I had to go down to size 1 to get gauge. Am I destined to knit with tiny skinny needles from now on? I hope not. Isn't it purdy so far?

Finally, sign ups for Dish Rag Tag start today. There are only 300 spots available this year, so if you want to have some fun, go now!
If you sign up, let me know what team you get assigned to so that I can root for you. See you there!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fair Ribbonage and Some Hopscotch

So are you wondering how our entries did at the county fair? Because I'm here to tell you.

My red and white gull wing socks got 3rd place. Still a ribbon, no? They fared better than the face cloth, which is my first submission ever to not win a ribbon. I figured out the problem: I entered the cloth in the knitting: other than specified category, not realizing that that term is so broad that it encompasses, well, everything else. So the little face cloth, while cute and pretty, had to compete against a lot of unusual and gorgeous items. So I'm ok with that.

The jams fared better. Girlie won 2nd place for her raspberry jam, and I won 1st place. Here is Girlie standing by the jams, with the arrow pointing to her red ribbon. My blue ribbon is on the shelf below hers.
I'm so proud of you, Girlie!

Sunday morning ZimDee discovered some sidewalk chalk and made his way out to the driveway. When I followed him out there, this is what I saw:
I had no idea he knew about hopscotch. I asked how he learned about it, and he said his kindergarten teacher showed him at school. You will notice that each number is drawn in a different color. The boy's a genius, I tell you.

So me and my boys spent the morning playing hopscotch.
I hope your weekend was as wonderful as mine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is my 16th wedding anniversary. As I rise before the sun comes up (and those of you who know me well know how unusual that is) I am flooded with memories.
I remember how beautiful my sisters were that day (and you still are, ladies!) Inside, we'll always be three little giggly girls, playing with Barbie dolls and chasing cars.

I remember my brother David walked me down the aisle to give me away.

I remember that fidgety little flower girl-- the niece whose own wedding I just attended last month (and who asked MY daughter to be the flower girl at her wedding). How does time go by so fast?

And looking over these photographs that become grainier every year, I remember the man I married. So strong, so sure.

Today, I remember. Oh, yes, I remember...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Works in Progress

I had gotten so used to not being able to share the knitting process with all of the secret projects I did that now I almost forgot that I could. Come along, friends, and see what I'm working on now:

First is the Creatures of the Reef Shawl.

This is my second Loopy Ewe knitalong. The first Loopy knitalong I participated in involved a project I couldn't talk about. Where was the fun in that? That project was knit with Dream in Color Classy yarn. This knitalong is all about Dream in Color Baby, which is almost lace weight. The color is Beach Fog. I had bought the Creatures of the Reef pattern almost a year ago, but was too intimidated to try to knit such a large project that involved hundreds of stitches with tiny yarn. When the knitalong came along, I finally felt up to the challenge.

Some of it is surprisingly easier than I expected, and other parts are, well, challenging. It's exciting to see the pattern emerge from the knitting. Below is a close-up of scalloped sea shells that involved purling 13 stitches together through the back loop. It sounds a lot harder than it was.
I'm getting a real sense of accomplishment with this project, and gaining confidence in my knitting. This shawl is definitely only for at-home knitting, when I can pay full attention. But I'm having a great time with it.

Next, I'm in the middle of a 4-week series of a sock class with Judy Becker, she of the magic cast on fame. We're learning how to do two socks at a time toe up (say that ten times fast) in class. I had tried this method before on 2 circular needles and found it too fiddly to enjoy. I thought I'd give it one more try, having the chance to learn it from the master. Imagine my absolute happiness when Judy said you can do this method with the magic loop, which is my favorite way to knit socks. The heavens opened up and angels sang and rejoiced. Endless possibilities for my knitting became known.

Here are the socks that I cast on for in class. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Flamingo Stripe, sweetly gifted to Girlie by Patti from my knitting guild. This is my stopping point until the next class on Saturday. Yes, I've finished my homework early like a good student.
In fact, I'm such an over-achiever that I cast on for a second pair while teaching my mom how to do the magic cast on. This time I used Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop in the It Takes Two colorway.
I am in love. The colors, the texture of the hand spun yarn, oy vey. I think I may have found my new favorite sock yarn of all time. Granted, I haven't knit with Wollmeise yet, but until I do, my heart belongs to Sock Hop. (And yes, these socks are also knit to homework dimensions. I wasn't teacher's pet all through school for nothing.)

So now you know what is occupying my time these days. And happily so.

For all of you that remember the fun I had with Dish Rag Tag last summer (my team won 2nd place--way to go, Ladies!) I wanted to let you know that Emily will begin sign-ups next week for Dish Rag Tag 2 on Friday, August 1st. I highly recommend it. The number of participants is limited, so mark your calendars. Who knows? Maybe we could end up on the same team this year. If not, I will root for you wherever we land.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Zombie socks

I participated in Sock Madness II this year, and once again I made it only to level two before being eliminated. Who am I kidding? I don't knit for speed, but for the relaxing nature of knitting. Still, it's good to know that I'm consistent, having made the same showing as the year before. And I love a good challenge.

The result is the Zombie socks.
I used a mystery colorway of Blue Moon Socks That Rock that I obtained from their barn sale in Scappoose last November. The scattered bits of red and charred black just screamed "zombie" to me.

I have to admit to not being terribly thrilled with the socks. And I take full responsibility for that. I have seen and felt socks knit with Socks that Rock that look gorgeous and feel heavenly. The fabric has a wonderful drape and density. I think I should have knit these socks on a smaller needle size (or two). Has anyone else out there noticed that the longer they knit, the more they start needing to use smaller needles, or is it just me? I overheard a conversation in a knitting store where two ladies were discussing this phenomenon, and one said to the other, "I hope I don't end up having to knit on ought-4's". Yeah, no kidding.

Another reason I didn't particularly like the socks is the same reason why other people love them. If we all thought exactly the same way we wouldn't have much to talk about, would we? And I'm cool with that.

It's the runs in them, or what I refer to as holes. They were really fun to knit, but for me not so much to look at or wear. To me they look like I poked my fingers through them when trying to put the socks on.
There are sock patterns out there that incorporate lace in them, with the yarn overs creating a delicate design. I look forward to knitting and wearing some of those. My favorite sock patterns, though, have more texture than, well, holes.

So I put these socks in the limbo knitting basket. You know the one: it holds projects that you're not quite sure what to do with, or misbehaving yarn that you wound thinking it would be perfect for this pattern, but was not. I couldn't decide if I wanted to frog the socks and make something for myself that I would really like, because if I didn't like these, who would?

Enter my mom. She was here for a visit and happened upon the socks and gasped. I'm like, "I know, aren't they awful?" and she very reverently proclaimed them to be the most beautiful socks she had ever seen. Flippantly I asked, "Do you want them?" Another gasp. A speechless nod yes.

So the story has a happy ending after all.
My mommy loves her socks. And they couldn't be going to a nicer home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Going to the Fair

It's that time of year again.For the second year in a row, Girlie has submitted her raspberry freezer jam to the Washington County fair. Her brothers are in awe of their multitalented big sister and just had to get right in there and see everything she was doing.
Girlie's mom also submitted raspberry freezer jam and some knitting to be judged. One is a cotton face cloth, seen blocking below in the lower right hand corner (details to follow in a later post).
The other is a pair of socks (called Gull Wing Socks) that the very talented Cindy designed. I "borrowed" this image from her blog. The yarn is Stitch Jones in the Secret Touch colorway. The socks are knit on size 0 Addi's, using the magic loop method, which is by far my preferred method of knitting socks. You can find pattern details on Cindy's blog or over on Ravelry.

We will be going to the fair this weekend to see if any of our submissions earned any ribbons. I always get a little tickle in my tummy when we walk into the exhibition booths and search for our entries. Will it have a white, red, or blue ribbon, or any at all?

I'll be sure to let you know.

Wish us luck!

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Catching Up

I'm on a roll now--two blog posts in two days. Not sure how long I can keep this up, but I'm certainly going to go with it when the inspiration strikes.

The school year ended with ZimDee graduating from kindergarten. He had a great teacher. She was also Girlie's kindergarten teacher, and I hope that Sproutie will be in her class when the time comes (that time will be here sooner than I know it!)ZimDee celebrated with a few of his closest friends.
I seriously think I'm in trouble with this boy. He is adored by all the ladies. He brought home his yearbook on the last day of school signed with curly little girl writing proclaiming "you're kyute" and "I like you-a lot". In kindergarten! I'm going to have to keep my eyes on those little girls who are after my boy. (In all fairness, he is pretty irresistable).

Two days after school got out, my beautiful niece Stephanie got married. Here she is dancing with her dad. *sigh*She was such a lovely bride.
There was not a dry eye in the house.Stephanie was the flower girl in my own wedding 16 years ago. Coming around full circle, Girlie was Stephanie's flower girl.
ZimDee was a ring bearer. I don't have pictures of him yet, but he looked so completely adorable in his little tux. When I get the pictures back, I will share.

Here is a picture of me and my sweet angel girl, growing up so fast right in front of my very eyes.
And where is Sproutie, you ask?

I think a house fell on him.
I just had to share these pictures of him sleeping in the hotel room. Doesn't it look like a scene from the Wizard of Oz? Even down to the striped leggings. All he's missing is the sparkly red shoes. Maybe Dorothy already came along and took them.
Or is it just me?

And yes, I have been knitting. Like the wind, in fact. I just got so used to not being able to talk about it with all the test knitting that now that I can share, I almost forgot how to.

Remind me to show you Girlie's dragon scarf, three scarves of my own, my tea cozies, and some wash cloths. What am I knitting right now? I finally reached into my UFO pile and started working on a sweater that I began knitting for my sister over three years ago. I still have so much to show you. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Poor little knitting blog...

Poor little knitting blog. So neglected. So patient. Why have I forsaken you?

Whether people want to admit it or not, Ravelry has taken up a huge chunk of blogging time. Something has always got to give. And Ravelry has been great for the knitting community, but what of the friends and family that actually enjoyed pictures of your babies and musings on Easter egg hunts? Sure, you can join a specific group on Ravelry and make small talk about these and other subjects, but where else can you monologue on the subject of your choosing at your leisure? Or read about what your friends are doing in detail? This is where blogging still holds its value to me. But, just like having another baby, your time can't help but be divided, as much as you'd like to be everywhere at once.

So I love Ravelry, yes I do, and I enjoy seeing a lot of you on that site. But I also miss the friends I made before the days of Ravelry, and I so appreciate you checking in on me when you notice that I haven't written a blog post in literally forever. I miss your comments when something I've written has touched you.

I make no promises or expectations beyond the fact that I will write when I can, as much as my la vida loca allows. A particular challenge for me is that you need undivided time to write a coherent sentence. After the millionth interruption because so and so is playing with MY toys, I need a drink, I need a blanket, please can I have a snack, he's playing with my toys again, well, that doesn't leave much left for you and me. Blog posts are abandoned because I just can't get into the groove again after so many stops and starts, and blog posts are not even attempted to be begun because I don't have the energy to balance exactly one hundred and fifty-one (wait--here comes number 152...and 3) things at once. But I want you to know that you all are never far from my thoughts. I hope you know that, whether I happen to write once a day or once a year.

Having said that, let's try to catch up with where we last left off. Girlie got the part of Sacagawea in the 4th grade school play. Many of you wrote your heartfelt congratulations and good luck wishes. How did she do, you all wanted to know afterwards. The answer is: fabulous. I expected nothing less. This girl was prepared. Here are some pictures from that wonderful night:(she is third from the right here):
The whole family came out to see her command performance.
Flowers and presents, and best of all, pizza and family followed the performance. I'm so very proud of you, Girlie!

Next came Easter. The Saturday before was a gorgeous, beautiful sunny day. We walked to our local park and participated in their annual festivities. This was the first year that Girlie was too old to hunt for eggs. My sweetheart was happy to help her brothers instead. Here we are at the park:If you noticed that my expression is more of an annoyed frozen smile, then you are very perceptive. The problem was not so much the average challenge of taking a good picture with three wiggly kids. I'm not a rookie. I've got that part down cold. My particular challenge is that the Count (you've got to love him--more on that later) takes forever and ever and then forever some more to actually snap a picture. It's something I've "discussed" with him ever since we had children. His delayed photo snapping finger skills are not a deal-breaker by any means, but it does get annoying every now and then when I realized that great pictures of me with my kids are going to be rare. This one up here is the best that it got. Pity.

But we went home and colored Easter eggs and waited anxiously for the next day to hide our beautiful eggs. Here are the kids and the Count in action. This most unflattering picture of the Count yawning is my passive-aggressive way of getting revenge for the yucky pictures he took earlier. I could use some therapy. I readily admit this.
If I do say so myself, I love how the eggs looked "hidden" on our deck:
Why are the eggs hidden on the deck and not in the yard? Because as beautiful as the day before was, it was blustery and rainy all day on Easter. But why am I writing about Easter in June? Because I have been trying to find the time to write about it ever since then. It was that, or nothing, and I'd rather you hear anything from me than silence.

Much has happened since Easter that I can't wait to catch you up on. Just let me catch my breath first...