Thursday, July 31, 2008


The other day Tiffany emailed, asking a group of us if anyone was interested in a last minute babysitting job. For 6 week old Blake. For this little monkey pictured here.

Had this group of people been in the same room with me, I would have shoved them all to the ground in my haste to run to the front of the line, shouting "pick me pick me!!" Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George was at a children's birthday party and a fire broke out? George trampled children and shoved a grandma with a walker out of the way in his attempt to flee the building. That was pretty much my response to this request. Many lives were left hanging in the balance in my selfish quest to get my hands on that baby.

Tiffany, unaware of the cyber injuries I tried to inflict, graciously did give me the job and I was practically giddy all day at the thought of my first date with Blake. And my excitement was rewarded quite handsomely when she handed this little morsel of yumminess to me.

So this is what Blake does. He looks at you with these big monkey eyes and makes baby squeaks.

And then he does this.

Multi tasking
In this position,
I could knit and
hold the baby at
the same time!

And then when you try to put him in his little bed, which is right next to you, he starts to make some little baby mumbling noises, letting you know that he is not quite perfectly and completely blissfully comfortable. So you pick him up again and he practically lets out a little baby sigh.

So Blake and I watched Maid in Manhattan while I ate my dinner with one hand. And after a while we tried this. Blake lying on my lap while I picked up my knitting. Genius. We had this happy little existence where he continued to let out little sighs, letting me know how much he completely and utterly adores me, and I got to watch tv and have no other responsibilities whatsoever and there were no older children arguing in the other room over a red marker while simultaneously placing random items all over the living room floor and under the kitchen table while my husband develops a temporary case of Tourette's, shouting random disciplinary type things their way while doing whatever he does on his laptop and watching Sports Center, failing to notice that once again he used too small of a pot to boil Ryan's pasta noodles and now pasta water is boiling all over the stovetop, forcing me to get out the special cleaner at some later date. But I digress...

So now I am in love with another man. I wonder if Tiffany needs a live-in nanny?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ta Da!

I am the queen of all knitting. The Knitting Queen. Best knitter in the whole entire world. There is no greater knitter than I. Behold what I have brought forth--the most beautiful sweater you have ever seen. I can't imagine how you will ever draw your eyes away from this page, now that you have seen the most stunning piece of knitting workmanship on the face of this earth. I know you're looking for a Kleenix right now to wipe the tears from your eyes so that you can continue reading. I shall become known far and wide as the supreme empress of all that is knit.

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I finished my sweater. The bane of my existence. My reason for living since February.

It has been blocked, meticulously seamed together, and I painstakingly used a tubular bind off on both button bands and the collar. Both sleeves are the same length, the two front pieces match the back piece, and the fit is proportional to my body. In other words, despite my total and utter mental block against that blasted sweater design class, it worked. I have created a beautiful garment that fits me and looks nothing like my-first-sweater.

This morning I sewed the buttons on, threw the kids in the car, and high-tailed it to the shop to present it to Shannon on a velvet cushion. Well, actually, I took it out of a plastic bag. But it is done and, when I go to work on Friday, it will be on a mannequin for all the world to admire.

It is such a complete fluke that this project is a success. An anomaly, really. I have never made a garment that has actually fit me. And I'm sure that if I ever tried designing my own sweater again, it would be met with disastrous results. And that's if things were going well. I have no explanation for this sweater. None. There is no reason that it should fit me. There is no reason that my seaming job is probably the best I have ever done. Ever. There is no reason that I had the courage to look up the invisible bind off in my Vogue Knitting book and actually attempt to try it. There is no logical explanation for the existence of this garment. And yet here it is. In the flesh.

You have my permission to express your awe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Reuse, Recycle, Reclaim

Look at me, blogging 3 days this week. This post is brought to you by Sonic and the Secret Rings--the new Wii game that is keeping my boys totally and utterly captivated this morning, thus enabling me to complete a coherent thought.

I learned a new trick this week--reclaiming yarn. A few years ago I knit a couple of sweaters. One for me and one for Mike. Neither sweater fit. At all. On mine, the sleeves were too short and the bottom flared out in this weird way. I wore it a couple of times and then decided that it was just a little too handmade for me. On Mike's, it was just bad. Bad. He was so happy to wear it, but I couldn't take it. It was painful to see him wear it and watch how the back was noticeably shorter than the front and how the entire thing was too short for his body. I forced him to give it back to me and I ripped the whole thing out.

I began a different sweater, with the same yarn, for Mike and then it all got shoved aside for a long long time. This week I somehow got it in my head to wind all my yarn that needs winding, put everything neatly in ziplocks, and take apart my unwearable sweater. I'm not sure why I thought I had hours and hours to devote to this, but that is indeed what I did. I painstakingly ripped the whole thing out, wound each pile of yarn around a chair back, tied it all up, and washed it to get all the crinkles out. I love Google.

It totally worked. I soaked the yarn in cool water for about 45 minutes and it fluffed back up. It is now hanging all over my laundry room and as soon as it's good and dry I will wind it and bag it while I look for the perfect pattern for it. Naturally I have no idea what the yarn is. I didn't save any ball bands and it's unlike anything we sell at the shop. It's at least an aran weight, has kind of an undefined fuzzy quality to it, and is a beautiful charcoal gray with little nubby flecks in it. I don't think I'll make another sweater, but I have my eye on a couple of vests that are pretty darn cute. I searched for aran weight vests in Ravelry and found pages and pages of possibilities.

After taking that sweater class at the shop I'd like to think I learned a thing or two about sweater construction and pattern reading. As in, the worsted weight Cascade 220 that I have for Mike's 2nd go-around is not going to work for the DK weight pattern I chose for it years ago. So, back to the drawing board for the 3rd time. But again I turned to Ravelry, searched for Cascade 220 pullovers and found some of the most beautiful aran style sweaters... I now have Alice Starmore's book on hold at the library.

I'm feel quite smug about my new knowledge and the bags of usable, beautiful yarn I have just waiting for me. Mike walked in the door last night, found me draped in yarn in the living room, found tubs of yarn soaking in the kitchen, and sighed and shook his head as he walked into the office. After a while he finally found the words to ask "why? why are you doing this?" My answer? "Because I can".

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not my day

This is how my day began. Two boys up at 5:30, chomping at the bit to play with their brand new basketball hoop. 5:30.

Mike and I have been wanting to get the boys a hoop for a while. They have the little adjustable Fisher Price one in the back, that falls over each time there is a slight breeze, but Ryan has really been wanting an honest to goodness full sized basketball hoop. He loves basketball and is quite the little charlie hustle. I don't have the heart to tell him that his little pipsqueak sized body will most likely not make him a star center, but this does seem to be his sport of choice right now.

Getting a new one was out of the question. If I have a spare $300 to spend, it is certainly not going to be on a basketball hoop. I'll get my antique chicken incubator before that ever happens. Mike has been watching Craig's List, but even the used ones have been pretty pricey. Until yesterday when he found one for free. It's fairly weathered and the net was missing, but who cares! So last night Mike and Ryan picked up the world's heaviest basketball hoop and brought it home at 9:00 last night. We got our neighbor, Keith, to help get the 200 pound base out of the van, and then Mike and I were left with the disassembled pieces and one antsy 8 year old.

Ever tried assembling a full sized basketball hoop in the dark? Whatever you are imagining, that is about how well it went. I am always so careful with my language around the kids and last night Ryan heard words from Mommy that he has never heard her utter before. And I'm surprised he didn't repeat any of it when we explained that we would have to wait until morning to finish putting it together. So at 5:30 this morning both boys were out of bed waiting to play. At 7:00 Mike decided it was time to finish the job, so he turned to me and said "going to teach Eric any new words? He missed out last night".

It's done, they're happy, and now I have to spend the rest of my summer sitting on the front porch watching the boys play basketball.

Today was also the day I decided to start painting the boys' bathroom. I primed it a couple of weeks ago and I have this uncontrollable urge to finish the job. Because I want them OUT of my bathroom. My beautiful chocolate brown and linen white bathroom with all the matching fixtures except for the towel rack that they keep pulling out of the wall and my special jetted tub that is suppose to be just for me. About a month ago their 125 year old toilet broke and, since I'm in the middle of painting, I've declare the whole room off limits until I finish. But I want them out. It is suppose to be my room. In fact, the only reason I allow Mike in there is the fact that he paid for it. But it's mine. And now have I have towels everywhere, little dirty footprints, Spiderman underwear on the floor....I want them OUT. I want them out as badly as I want the moles and deer out of my backyard. The moles who have left about 20 craters in the lawn the the deer who came and nibbled all of my rose bushes last night. All of them. But I digress.

I had the paint all picked out. I was going to use the leftover paint from our halfway remodeled downstairs bathroom, just to get the boys BACK IN THEIR OWN BATHROOM WITH NO MORE HANGING TOWEL RACKS. And guess what. No paint. Empty paint can. Can of paint with no paint inside. More bad words.

I guess I'll spend the rest of the day knitting. The rest of this long day in which my husband, who brought a basketball hoop home to me, will not return until 8:00 tonight. A day in which Ryan and Eric cannot seem to keep their hands off each other. A day in which I have not been able to complete a single solitary task without "Mom.....". It may be a blessing in disguise that I can't paint since I have 3 hats to finish for Willow & Bloom, a pair of custom baby socks to complete by Saturday, and I need to learn an invisible cast off for 2 x 2 ribbing for my sweater.

With all this time on my hands, perhaps I can find a way to train the deer to kill the moles. Kind of a wildlife whack-a-mole. Fun AND functional.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Show and Tell

The almost-finished sweater
No, Lucy did not
make this sweater!

Yes, I know I know--the Queen has been absent this week. It was Day Camp week at church. A week of 300 kids and 150 adults at church all day, all wearing the same shirts every single day for a week, and all returning home at 3:00 each afternoon to piles of laundry, empty refrigerators, and piles of Legos all over the floor. No one involved in Day Camp has the energy to clean, shop, or blog. It was all I could do to manage to lift the bottle of Pyramid to my mouth each night.

Thank goodness each of my boys received a cd of the camp music, lest we forget any of the songs that are burned in my brain...

And even though my house did suffer considerably this week, I do have some knitting excitement to share. I am done sewing up my sweater! Done sewing it up. The sewing up of the sweater has been completed. There is no more seaming of the sweater to be done. The seaming of the sweater shall be no more.

Anyone who knits understands my utter joy in expressing these words. Seaming sucks. And add my terror of viewing the finished product and you see why I am so excited now that the sewing up of the sweater is now and forever finished. Because you see, THE SWEATER ACTUALLY FITS ME. It fits me quite well, in fact. The sweater, that I designed using my brain, fits me. The sleeves are a tad too long, but that is completely because I blocked them too long. But the sweater actually looks nice. Lucy Ricardo has left the building--I actually would be proud to wear this sweater. I still have to add the button band and collar, so I'm not completely home free, but this is HUGE, people!

In other happy news, I recently picked up some Panda Silk. It is merino wool, bamboo, and silk. Love it. Love it. LOVE IT. And I've begun a fun little project with it that I have no time for, but I so want to do. So I pick it up and knit a few stitches every night, after my "work knitting", just to have a little "ahhhh" moment.

The other night Leah came into the shop to visit since we were meeting for drinks after I closed.

Leah, who does not knit and who has never visited my shop before, fit right in. The shop was full of regulars that night so my conversations with them were already pretty casual as they shopped. Leah, who perhaps I mentioned is not a knitter, was completely chatting them up. And then Leah (did I mention she is not a knitter?), started shopping. She poked around for a bit, checking out the sock yarn, fondling the cashmere, and then she found the Noni felted purse patterns on display. There was an audible gasp.

Leah, who is not a knitter, opened the pamphlet, and began to read her very first knitting pattern in order to start shopping for materials for the purse that she was inevitably going to ask me to knit for her. It was making me smile to watch her poke around through the yarn, trying to select just the right color. And then I believe there was a squeal when I made a couple of suggestions to send her on her merry little way. I now have a happy little bag of yarn just waiting to be a chocolate brown felted purse with lime green flowers and sparkly brown centers. Hee hee!

My goals for this week? Sanitize my bathrooms before the health department shows up, catch up with my orders for Willow & Bloom, pick up stitches for a button band, sit on my butt and watch tv since Day Camp is over, and laundry, laundry, laundry.

I'm thinking I should prepare Shannon before presenting her with a sweater that actually fits me and has been sewn up to perfection. She may have a slight coronary. I mean, I don't think anyone actually expected this thing to turn out. I know what you all have been thinking. Yeah yeah yeah--you can tell me that you knew I could do it the whole time, but I can see it in your eyes. You're just as stunned as I am. It's further proof that alcohol and knitting truly are a good combination.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Home Stretch

I am within about 3 inches of finishing the last piece of the sweater. I am also on my last ball of yarn, which is a pretty serious concern since I will still have to add the button band and collar. I'm hoping to finish knitting the sleeve today and then, technically, I could block the pieces today. Blocking takes some time, so we'll see how that goes, but this is a huge milestone!

I am really nervous to sew it up. I have another cardigan that fits me perfectly, so I will be using that as my model when I block the pieces, but, well, you all know why I am nervous. I designed this sweater and it is suppose to fit me. I can't even go there. One crisis at a time.

We are out of this yarn at the shop. I know we are out of it because I took each and every skein we had when I selected it for the sweater class. And we have not reordered. I also know this because I am intimately familiar with every single solitary ball of yarn we have. That's what happens on a slow day at work. After months of rearranging displays and profiling yarn on sleepy Sunday afternoons, we have become one.

The yarn I chose for this sweater is Sublime Extra-Fine Merino Wool DK. And even though we no longer have any of this in Putty, what we do have is Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK in Putty. It is the exact same color and the exact same weight. It just has a bunch of cashmere and silk thrown in. Which means that my button band and collar will be extra luxurious because that is what I am using. I couldn't bear the thought of ordering the yarn for just a couple of balls and then waiting for it to come in when I'm ready to do this NOW. So I checked a couple of the Cashmere Merino Silk skeins out of inventory and I'm back in business. Wish me luck!

Yesterday in the mail I received my socks from Sock Wars III! Yes, I know I had given up on them, and well, the game took a very weird turn. Someone else took over and there is a group still playing. And somehow my name ended up on that list. One of the participants contacted me a few weeks ago and asked where I was in all of this. I was pretty honest with her and explained that, not only do I not have time for this, but the communication is so wacky that I just have given up.

Well, this girl is way into it. She has already knit 5 pairs of socks and is still going strong. She asked if I wanted her next pair, as technically I was her next target. I very sheepishly explained that I had already ripped out the sock I had been making because the pattern was so poorly written, so I would only have a ball of yarn to send her. She seemed fine with that and, voila, here are the socks she made me! This girl is very sweet and I think I would have had a lot more fun playing the game if everyone had had her attitude.

In other knitting news, I think I may be knitting a dishcloth. This is news because I truly don't understand the world of knitting dishcloths. Other than the fact that they make a great my-first-knitting-project, I see no need. I can't imagine anything more boring. Fine--it's a reusable resource granola granola granola...I have better things to do. And then I found this on Wilde Thyme Knits blog: a martini glass dishcloth (which she got from Bavgirl). And I know a certain someone at My Pink Toes who has a little thing for the martini....

The baby hat business is crazy busy as usual. I took a week off from Willow and Bloom to get caught up on some other things and I'm sure that will come back to bite me since I kind of forgot that Day Camp is next week. Which only affects me in that I'm in charge of snacks for 300 kids for the week (and I was smart and took my husband to Costco with me this year to avoid a repeat of the 1-girl-2-Costco-shopping-carts-fiasco of 2007). And no, I didn't really forget that we had Day Camp. I just didn't think long and hard about the implication of taking the week off when I will have no time NO TIME next week to get anything done.

Other exciting things in my life? I discovered that vinegar really does kill weeds, my sister is bringing me back a I'm Not A Plastic Bag knock off from a street vendor she found on her trip to New York, and AT & T said it's finally time to replace my 2 year old duct taped together cell phone. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Weekend Update

We survived the barn sale. We spent much of the 4th setting up, and then we were up and at 'em by 6:30 in the morning to prepare for the day. Everything went exactly as I predicted.

My mom left many items unpriced. I had teased her, yelled at her scolded her, cajoled her...and yet throughout the day people kept coming up to pay for items that were unpriced. Items like vintage linens. Not nice enough to be sold in her shop, but clearly worth more than a quarter. Mike declared our section of the barn "Jackie's Dollar Store" and sold every unpriced item for $1.00. And since her phone was indeed turned off when I tried to call her in the shop, I wholeheartedly supported his decision. When she came to check in with us hours later, we explained that we didn't think she was making very much at her Dollar Store. She did laugh at that, which was better than her reaction earlier that morning when she thought the coffee pot wasn't working and preceded to yell at my dad, who was not actually on the property at that time, because none of his extension cords were working, when in actuality it was the light on her coffee pot which was not working.

She did manage to iron her outfit for the sale. She ironed her outfit for the barn sale.

These sales are amazing. We had 6 vendors on the property, all good friends of my parents, and people came in droves. Which gave my dad ample opportunity to talk about his tractors, his tomato plants, vintage gas pump, Airstream, the remodel job on the house, and the Geiger counter that he sold for $20.

My mom was a little disappointed that she only made $1000 (think of how Mike and I felt about the $106 we made) since 2 years ago she made over $3000. She also got me thinking about buying her spare antique chicken incubator to transform into a kitchen island, since her friend Karen has one in her house and it is ADORABLE and my current kitchen island is hideous. An eyesore. I loathe it. And yes, I did say spare chicken incubator. Giving a couple of antique dealers 6 acres in which to house their treasures is a dangerous thing.

I got quite a bit of knitting done that weekend. I made good progress on the sweater sleeve, made 2 baby hats, and am now 2/3 of the way done with the first sock for Mike's mom.

We arrived home at 8:00 Saturday night, after waiting in the ferry line for 90 minutes and I immediately started on the laundry. I hope to fold it one of these days.

I did manage to putter in my garden for a few moments and was able to put this together. I never ceases to amaze me that all of this grows, year after year. It is with such a sense of joy that I can say "I didn't kill it!". Sadly, I am unable to say the same about our "grass".

Today I have to take 2 boys to Target and try to get out of there with just a birthday gift for a little girl. And no, Eric, I don't think she likes Venom. Then tomorrow we get to attend said party at Chuck E Cheese. Kill me now.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Where is the queen these days?

Where is she, you ask? Why does she not post with any regularity? I mean, c'mon--how hard can it be finding a few minutes to sit at the computer?

Well, let me tell you. I DON'T HAVE A MOMENT TO MYSELF. Oh look. Here comes Eric now. I set him up with his new Bionicle, his blanket, and Tom and Jerry, thinking that I could actually have a few minutes to post. And yet here he is, ready to tell me that Tom and Jerry is on and get one more snuggle. Which would be great and adorable if he didn't want to snuggle every 23 seconds. It is a Ryan and Eric marathon around here. All day, every day. With quite a bit of Emily-the-neighbor-girl thrown in. And the laundry....I can't even talk about it.

But wait--don't you have a holiday weekend coming up? Well, let me tell you. We will be going to my parent's house on Whidbey Island and one sister and her family will be there. Which will be fun and great and the boys will run themselves ragged while the grownups set up for the giant barn sale to be held on the 5th. Seriously. Giant. Barn. Sale.

My parents live in a farm house on 6 acres and my mom has an antique shop on the property which she opens each weekend unless she doesn't feel like it. And my dad has this humongous barn, which is a front for the workshop of his dreams. They invite vendors to set up and they post flyers all over the island. And each year my sisters and I are summoned to the island to help run the sale because my parents are not helpful at all. Not helpful. (I actually did not go last year because it was the day of the Keith Urban concert and I thought my mom would have a coronary. But I held my ground. And she was going to hold it over my head forever until she picked up one of his cds and then promptly forgave me). My mom never manages to price half of her stuff and then she disappears for hours on end--into the antique shop, visiting with the neighbors, an impromptu trip to the sale down the street....while we are frantically trying to call her on her cell phone to ask how much she wants for the antique linen thing that I know nothing about. And the message I end up leaving on her phone usually ends with some kind of remark about TURNING HER PHONE ON.

My dad, on the other hand, also not helpful. He loves the sales. Loves them. Because he gets to hobnob with the other islanders and show off his 3 tractors, 2 airstream trailers which he says he will refurbish some day, all the work he has done on the house, the random metal things he is selling...all the while we are searching the acreage for him because my mom, who swore she would not do this again this year, has disappeared and people want to buy their stuff.

So, that will be my Friday and Saturday. And Sunday I work at the shop. Where everything is priced and in its proper place and no one will ask me questions about my dad's portable chicken coop.

And the knitting? Dismal. I have just the sleeve left on the sweater and then I will block it before piecing it together and then crying because it doesn't fit. I have a list of about 20 hats to knit and I wish they all could have beads. All of them. I'm knitting a pair of socks for Mike's mom and I've completed 2 whole inches. Pathetic, really, how much knitting I have to do and how little time I have to do it.

My house is dirty, my kids are dirty, I have to pack, I promised my mom I would bake a know what? Want more posts? My kids spend the week with you and I'll write every day.