Friday, August 28, 2009

Cluck Cluck

My first chicken in hatching. That's right, my first chicken. Ok, first of all, how I can knit just one of these things? B. My cousin weighed in and expressed extreme interest in a chicken of her own. And 3. I'm starting to think my mom may need one as well.

Again, this girl who developed the chart is pretty darn clever. I am enjoying knitting it (although, truth be told, it's best done without too much wine). My only real disappointment is that she created the chart for the smallest of the three sizes. I was hoping it was for one of the larger chickens. And a smarter, braver, math-ier person might be able to convert that, but I know my limits. It's going to be small chickens all around.

Leah's socks have been finished and delivered.

Mom's socks, finished and delivered.

Emily's coffee sleeves, finished and delivered.

Kristin and Tiffany's socks--inching my way along on sock number 2 for each of them.

Snowbird mittens--a whole 3/4 of an inch!

With free sock needles, I'm getting the itch to start more! It's all I can do not to allow myself to begin Scott's Alpaca Sox pair, especially now that my circular needles are again free. And I have piles of Jane's Lorna's Laces calling my name....Actually the only reason I haven't started the socks for Scott (husband to Kristin) is time.

With my husband working a 2nd job at night four nights a week, and then with me working on the weekends, I spend a lot of time dealing with things around the house all by myself (except for the giant dead rat in my driveway. That I waited for Mike to deal with. There are some things I JUST WON'T DO). But between the laundry, school shopping, refereeing Lego ownership, the laundry, convincing Ryan to eat his lunch, cleaning up popsicle drips off the kitchen floor which is interesting because I have a strict popsicles-only-outside-policy, the laundry...well, you get the picture. I'm not complaining, mind you. We're very grateful for the work. There are still a lot of people out of work, or waiting for the ax to fall. And finally finally finally, we are no longer those people. But as a result, my bathrooms don't always get the attention they deserve and my garden....oh dear. Well, fortunately, most of my beloveds will continue to grow even if I don't have time to tend them.

In less than a week I will officially have a 4th grader and a 1st grader, I will be able to rid myself of the giant pile of school supplies sitting on my dining room table, and peace will be restored to my kingdom once again. Between the hours of 8:00 and 3:15. All I need is some cold rainy weather and my joy will be complete!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Making Progress...

Hello people--I'm back. I have several things to share with you today, so prepare to be impressed!

1. Deer update: it seems the deer have taken my threats to murder them in their sleep seriously, as they appear to have moved on to greener pastures. Which means my tomato plants are laden with tomatoes and my rose bushes are short, but in full bloom. Any deer reading this, be for- warned--I shoot to kill.

2. I suck as a photographer. Jared Flood says that knitted items look best when photographed in natural lighting. So that is what I did today. I took all of the items I wanted to share with you outside and photographed them on the deck. Which apparently I did wrong because the sun was too bright and everything looks washed out. Whatever. If you squint real hard you can see Leah's finished Lilypad socks (see Leah, FINISHED).

3. I'm getting close on my mom's Mixed Berries Monkey Socks,

4. I'm starting on sock #2 for Tiffany...

5. ...and I'm making good progress on Kristin's socks. Whew! That's a lot of socks! I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how much sock yarn I have left, thanks to Jane, but I will tell you that it's somewhere in the neighborhood of a baker's dozen....

6. I'm especially proud of this picture, being the worst of all the photographs I took today. Wow. This one is truly bad. But you still get the gist. My sister Emily has been hinting about coffee sleeves. Emily is a hairdresser. And more importantly, she is my hairdresser. And the irony is, she is one of those weirdos who never wears socks. Ever. Dead of winter--no socks. Here I am, oodles of sock yarn coming out my ears, and no point in gifting her with the only way I can afford to pay her (did I mention I never have to pay her?). So when she mentioned coffee sleeves, I remembered that my new Knitted Gifts book has a pattern for a great coffee sleeve. This first one I did in a charcoal gray Cascade 220 tweed (which is well hidden by the beauty of this natural lighting).

...and this second one I am doing in a brand new yarn called Brae Tweed, which is a merino, llama, and bamboo blend. I'm putting cables in this one, just to mix things up. This is a fair trade for a cut and color every 5 weeks, don't you think? No, I don't think so either, but it's a start!

7. And finally, the piece d'resistance--I bought the pattern for the chicken this week. I think I shared this with you a few months ago, and it has been on my short list ever since I laid eyes on it.
Now, the original pattern, by Blue Sky Alpacas (and let's be fair, Susan B. Anderson) is fine. Cute, but not compelling to me. But when I saw that someone actually created this design and knit it up in these striking colors, well, there is no WAY I'm not going to make this thing! This has my friend, Heidi, written all over it. Between Christmas and her birthday, this will be gifted to her. And I can say all of this loud and clear on my blog because she will never ever read it.

Heidi is a dear friend. One of my best friends. And I don't believe she has ever read my blog. To be fair, I don't think she has ever read anyone's blog. Heidi cares less about technology than anyone I know (although she may be neck in neck with my mother, who can't find her own daughter's blog). So I can talk about Heidi and the gift I'm going to make her all day long on this site and she will never ever ever know of it. When I give it to her, she will be totally and completely surprised. Heidi Heidi Heidi Heidi! See--she can't hear me.

This particular chicken is made out of Cascade 220, which is so completely affordable. The pattern cost me all of $5.50, and the chart was generously made free by ElleM, who, let's face it, is a genius.

And now, I have 2 hours left of freedom before picking up my boys from their playdate. Then the fun will really begin when I take Eric to the doctor during rush hour to confirm his case of Fifth Disease (don't freak out people who have been around Eric--it's NOT contagious. I repeat, mother of Blake, NOT contagious). But since his rash currently makes him look like he's gone 6 rounds as a prize fighter, I'm thinking someone with an actual medical degree should confirm the diagnosis that I came up with via Shirley-the-neighbor and Cori-the-nurse. Rumor has it, the rash from Fifth Disease can last for weeks. Good thing they moved school pictures up to September 1st!

I'd love to stay and chat all day, but I don't want to. I'm going to bask in my last 2 hours of solitude.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Knitting Queen's Excellent Adventure

It actually wasn't that excellent. It was fine. But indeed I have been on a 24 hour escape from the tedium that is my summer.

Yesterday at noon I dropped the boys off at Mike's sister's house for a sleepover. I need to emphasize this: this was completely 100% Tiffany's idea. I of course needed no convincing, but I do have to set the record straight that in no way did I foist these beings upon her.

The boys adore that baby, Blake, and Blake is mighty fond of them as well. There was much squealing involved when they greeted each other. And then there was some squealing of my own as I drove away at record speed.

My plan was this: 2 yarn shops, the bead store, the paint store, dinner with my husband before he went off to his 2nd job, and then hours upon hours of time to knit. I'm not sure where all those extra hours were going to come from, but that was the plan.

The first yarn shop, Village Yarn and Tea in Lake Forest Park, is a favorite. I oo-ed and ah-ed for a bit and really did intend to buy something fun, but of course since I actually had the time and some money, nothing jumped out at me. I then went to Acorn Street Yarn in the U District. I have not been to Acorn Street in quite some time and I always forget just how crazy that shop is. Crazy good. Crazy-floor-to-ceiling-shelves-of-yarn-and-a-library-ladder kind of crazy. Crazy as in they apparently carry every single solitary brand of yarn, do-dad, gadget and book one would ever need for knitting. Ever. All packed into this tiny crooked hexigonical shaped corner building.

And that is where I found Louet Gems Fingering Weight. The exact yarn needed for the Snowbird mittens. Because I'm disturbed and want to knit them. And I almost almost bought the pink and brown Lorna's Laces for the Sonata mittens. It was in my hands (because, again, this shop is amazing and they had SHELVES of Lorna's Laces sock yarn) and I walked around with it for a bit. See, a few days ago I (gasp) ripped out the Sonata mitten I had been making with the Cascade Heritage. I love Heritage and really wanted to make it work. But it wasn't working. On size 2's my stitches were uneven and on size 1's the mitten was too small. And I knew I would never make that 2nd pink and brown mitten. So I almost bought the correct yarn to give it another go. But I didn't. Couldn't pull the trigger. I think I may be over those mittens for the time being. But I did escape with my Louet Gems and I am itching to get started on those Snowbird mittens. Itching, I tell you.

I then went to the bead store, which was rather uneventful, and then went next door to Bellevue Paint to get a big pile of paint samples. See, I have 2 unpainted bathrooms and a 6 year old's bedroom that apparently needs to be any color other than the yellow we picked out for that room 10 years ago before he was even a sparkle in my eye. And I haven't been painting these rooms because destitute unemployed people don't throw good money around on paint. However, marginally destitute employed people with steady paychecks can throw good money around on a can of paint. So I'm beginning that process. Then, after traveling all over kingdom come, I went home to knit before meeting my husband.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Aunt Tiffany was unable to put Blake down for a nap because he didn't want to miss one iota of the party going on in his house, and my boys, who discovered her supply of Goldfish, kept telling her they were hungry, and naive new mom that she is, Tiffany kept feeding them said Goldfish to the point that, come dinner, they weren't hungry (to be fair, they also ate cupcakes).

I then met Mike at Jimmy Mac's Roadhouse where I had a great big ol' margarita and threw my peanut shells all over the floor, sent him off on his merry little way, and went back home for an evening of solitude.

Blake, ornery little stinker that he is, apparently didn't sleep most of the night because, again, the party (even though my boys were zonked out by 9). The boys then had donuts for breakfast, played some more Wii, and then I came to rain on their parade by taking them back home where they belong.

But of course, why go straight home when you can stop by Fred Meyer to look at their shoe sale and deals on school supplies? Which is great if you are Ryan and they have the exact pair of Sketchers that you have always wanted your whole life. And it sucks if you are Eric and they have several suitable pairs of Sketchers Z Straps and Super Z Straps and whatever the hell they are called but no Luminators which is apparently the shoe of his dreams. So it's a good thing I chose to go shoe shopping on the way home from a sleepover, because that left Eric with no coping skills with which to process the concept of going to a different Fred Meyer on a different day to look for these magical shoes.

We then drove through McDonalds and Eric was accidentally given 2 straws (2 STRAWS!), which is apparently worse than being given no straws, or even leaving the shoe store with no shoes. He complained about my choice of music the entire way home, and is currently in the living room, watching Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas and plotting my demise.

And people, this is why my shopping cart at Fred Meyer contained not only a pair of shoes, some bargain school supplies, but also a nice big juicy bottle of wine.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

And now it's August....

Since the temperature has literally dropped 30+ degrees in the last week, I am now able to return to my computer without melting. Today I'm wearing jeans, socks and a sweatshirt. And I'm still slightly chilly. And that is just the way I like it!

So, my little experiment with Tiffany's sock kind of got away from me and I'm nearly ready to start on the toe. For whatever reason, this sock practically knit itself. I almost feel like Mrs. Weasley with this sock, it has been so effortless.

Unlike, say, these socks over here for Leah. These are the socks that I can knit and knit and knit, yet they never grow. And when they do grow, I get ladders, weird misshapen stitches...Somehow the yarn I'm using for Tiffany's socks got all the mojo and these Lilypad socks, with the darling picot cuffs, are completely void of any mojo. I have had to reknit each sock for different reasons and, seriously, the will not grow. Both yarns are Lorna's Laces, I am using the exact same needles for each...I have no explanation.

I was at Leah's the other day and warned her that there seems to be a curse upon these particular socks for her. So, when she gets a hole in one and then slips and falls and breaks her leg the first day she wears them, she can do so knowing she had full disclosure. But they're pretty darn cute at least....

Yes, I still have 1 1/8 of my mom's Monkey socks and 1 1/6 of Kristin's Narragansett socks. I seem to have gotten a little carried away with the sock knitting, if I do say so myself.

And just because I truly think there is something wrong with me, I finally found a use for my beloved Tilli Tomas yarn. And I started that project too. I've been thinking of trying out the Juliet Scarf from Lousia Harding's Knitting Little Luxeries. And I'm really liking it. It's a lace pattern, but it's not your typical repeating lace picture. There are several different "stripes" going down the scarf, which I think is fun. And it really shows off the yarn. Ok, this picture doesn't show off the yarn, but the glass beads are great in this pattern.

Knitting aside, we're sort of in survival mode here. With Mike working two jobs, I just don't have enough time to get everything done that needs to get done. I mean, I'm working too, just in opposite hours at the shop, and then when I'm at home, I'm trying to knit baby hats, keep up with the house, laundry, run all the errands, and oh yeah...spend time with my kids. So, while we are so very grateful for jobs and for the ability to actually pay some bills on time, I can't say this summer has actually been fun (ok--the part where all four of us got to see Harry Potter--that was pretty fun. I'll give you that).

When school starts I will begin babysitting a newborn. It's a situation that sort of fell into my lap and it actually works out nicely. I'll keep the same number of hours at the shop, and then pick up more income here at home. The hours will be from about 9:15 to about 4, which is really manageable. But again, no free time. Don't get me wrong--this job couldn't be more convenient. For someone looking to earn more money and still be available for her kids, this definitely fits the bill. And spending time with a newborn actually is appealing to me, since my babies are no longer babies anymore. But I keep thinking that, now that I can actually afford to paint my two unpainted bathrooms, I have no time to do it!

Mike keeps telling me that all of this will eventually work out. I'm not sure why he is so confident of that (he is sleep deprived, so some of it could be delirium), and I keep thinking that we can't keep this up, working 45 different jobs....but that's the situation we're in right now, so I guess we'll go with it.

Wow--I sort of ended this with a downer. You can blame the heat.