Friday, December 5, 2008

Get Thee on the Crafty Bus!

If you're on Ravelry, check out my new group "The Crafty Bus." My knitting gal pal (I've always wanted to use that phrase) Sheila and I came up with the idea, and with a little help from the Crafty Mamas (you know who you are), we put together a list of 24 patterns for a Year of Socks. Well, to be fair, it might be more like 27 patterns, because we sometimes gave 3 suggested patterns if one of them must be purchased. Anyway, you can knit either 1 or 2 pairs of socks per month (or more, if you come up with more patterns) and bust that sock yarn stash.

Why the Crafty Bus? Sheila invented the phrase one day. If I remember correctly, she was talking about how her mother was pretty crafty, and how surprised she would be to find out that Sheila was now, as she so vividly described it, "on the Crafty Bus." I can't explain why the phrase struck me, but I've used it ever since. I've been on the crafty bus for a long, long, time. Once you get on, you never get off!

Why a Year of Socks? I am sad to admit that I have an addiction to Dream in Color Smooshy. In fact, I have enough Smooshy in my Level 1 stash right now to do the Year of Socks. I also have a lot of other sock yarn. It's soooo tempting to buy a skein because it comes with a built-in project. One skein usually equals one pair of socks. No math required, and those of you who know me know that I would move heaven and earth to avoid doing math if at all possible. The other thing about sock yarn? It comes in lots of pretty colors. Kettle dyed, hand painted, self-striping...I could go on and on. All of these things conspire against me and practically force me to buy lots of sock yarn.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, anyway....

There are also a lot of free sock patterns on the Internet, and on Ravelry in particular. Like sock yarn, the variety of patterns is endless. Cables, dropped stitches, lace, unique construction, you name it. Thousands of pretty socks that take just the one skein of pretty yarn. And it's a relatively quick project once you get into the habit of knitting socks. And sock projects are very portable.

My pledge is to knit down my stash of sock yarn during the Year of Socks. I'm committing to 12 pair for sure, and if it goes well, I might push for 24. On the other hand, I have a few projects planned for 2009, including the February Lady sweater, so I'll probably wimp out and do 12. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Social Life of a 5 Year Old

At dinner tonight, we were treated to a long explanation of the kind of social interactions kindergarteners engage in. It was very enlightening, to say the least. I wish I had it on tape, because it was hilarious. Sadly, I can only paraphrase here.

You see, Lily is friends with everyone in her class, except for Joey. Joey told Lily that he didn't like her, because there was a puzzle everyone was doing and he wanted to do it. Also, did you know that Joey doesn't even like girls? He only likes boys. But the boys all think that Joey really does like girls, so when he tells them not to like girls, they just ignore him.

The good thing is that Lily's friend Alex helped her tell the teacher what Joey said, and Joey got a yellow flag. That's bad. If you're at the top of the yellow flag, you can make it back up to green, which is good. If you're at the bottom and you keep being bad, you can get to red. You know what happens if you get to red? They call the principal and you get a letter sent home to your parents and they might even make you go home! Lily wasn't sure because so far no one has gotten the red flag in her class. Lily has only gotten one yellow flag and all the rest were green because she's good at school.

Her boyfriend is Matthew. Actually she has two boyfriends, Matthew and Patrick from her old school. Actually, she has three boyfriends, Matthew, Patrick and Kevin in the third grade. Those are her boyfriends. Alex doesn't have a boyfriend right now, but tomorrow, she's going to try out Nicholas L. She already tried out Luke and Hooper and Nicholas T. but none of them wanted her, so she's just going to have to keep trying out new ones until she finds her boyfriend. She doesn't even know who her boyfriend will be yet! You get a boyfriend when you ask a boy if he wants to be your boyfriend and he says yes. Boys can ask you to be their girlfriend, too. Four different boys asked Lily to be their girlfriend, but she told them all "I already have 3 boyfriends! I can't have any more!" Matthew's other girlfriend is his sister, Ella.

On the playground, she likes to chase Kevin. If you see girls in a group, Kevin is probably with them! That's when Lily says "Kevin is in trouble!" That doesn't mean Kevin did something wrong, it just means that something bad is going to happen from those girls. Kevin has a friend named Colin and he always steals Lily's hat and calls her "chicken." She doesn't know why he calls her that. He calls Sydney, Alex, Savannah and Lily chickens. The other girls chase him, but Lily tells them to stop. Even though she tells them to stop, Colin takes her hat and calls her a chicken, too! Who knows why he does that?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tis' the Season...

...for holiday memes! Here's the latest, sent to me by Ms. Can't Stop Knitting. It's everything you didn't want to know and didn't bother to ask me about what I do at Christmas! Actually, doing the meme got me kind of excited about Christmas -- we'll be getting our tree next weekend, most likely.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags, baby.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Real, especially Douglas Fir.

3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving, usually.

4. When do you take the tree down? Some time after New Year's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog? Only if there's rum in it!

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Raggedy Ann (and I still have her)

7. Hardest person to buy for? Daddy.

8. Easiest person to buy for? Jack. He's 2 and he Just. Doesn't. Care.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a primitive wood set that the kids love.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I'd rather not say in case that person ever read this blog!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story -- "You'll shoot your eye out!"

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Any time I see something appropriate.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I think I've regifted a bottle of wine.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chili Egg Puff.

16. Lights on the tree? Only if they're the small white twinkle lights that don't blink.

17. Favorite Christmas song? Santa Baby as performed by Eartha Kitt.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home, please. At least until the kids are a lot older.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes, if I sing the song!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither. We have a tall red glass tree topper

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Those Salvation Army workers that ring the bells and ask for donations. They're everywhere and the bell ringing makes me crazy.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I like the Victorian style glass ornaments.

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? My special mashed potatoes.

25. What's on your Christmas wish list this year? A new wedding band in platinum.

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? A peaceful holiday with friends and family close by.

27. Who is most likely to respond to this? Why, everyone! Who wouldn't want to talk about Christmas and kick the season off?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3's About Me

Another email meme that I thought would be fun to answer on the blog.

Three places I have lived: Minnesota, California, North Carolina

Three shows that I watch: NCIS, Top Chef, Dexter

Three places I have visited: Italy, Switzerland, France

Three places I have been this week: Yarn & Fiber Company, Trader Joe's and the pediatrician's office.

Three people who e-mail me regularly: My mom, the Crafty Mamas and Knitting Daily

Three of my favorite foods: mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and broccoli

Three places I'd rather be right now: Emerald Isle, Antigua or a cruise to nowhere

Three people I think will respond: Who knows?

Three things I am looking forward to next year: Rhinebeck 2009, the March bonus check and Emerald Isle

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It's Either Sadness or Euphoria

Remember a few weeks ago, when I got the bad news from my GP about my echo results? I ended up doing a follow-up stress echo to get more information. The news was GOOD. My heart measurements were all normal, both at rest and under stress. My EF was normal (and up 8% from the "bad" echo, so that little dip was just a normal variation, I guess).

The only thing that looked bad was my blood pressure. It was low at resting and bottomed out at 70/35 after the test. Did you know that having a BP of 70/35 will make a lot of alarms go off? There was much flurry and concern, especially when my pressure was still 80/50 after everything else went back to normal. There was also some confusion as to why the low pressure wasn't bothering me in the least, at least until I explained that my resting BP was usually around 80/60. After that got straightened out, they let me leave.

My doctor brought it up when he was discussing the results with me on Friday. He told me, and I quote "It's not good to have pressure constantly that low." Oh, really? Because my pressure has been that low for almost 3 years and I've expressed my concern about that to him at least twice that I can remember. In fact, it started right after they put me on the BP medicine after my heart failure. Coincidence? I think NOT! Seriously, though, I was a little taken aback that my cardiologist and the staff doing my stress echo didn't seem to put together the facts that (1) I had low normal BP before my heart failure; (2) I was put on medication to lower my BP to help my heart rest; and (3) now I have unusually low BP. After I told my doctor how crappy, tired and dizzy I felt all the time, he said "let's try going without it for a while and see how you do."

So I am officially heart/BP medication free! Whee! I was a little afraid at first, but now (4 days later), I feel pretty darn good. I haven't felt the bone-crushing exhaustion that usually hits me around noon for a couple of days. I also started feeling a lot less depressed on Sunday, which led me to wonder if the BP meds could have been contributing to that as well. A quick tour of the internet revealed that low BP can cause depression, as well as forgetfulness. I've been dealing with both since Jack was born, so I'm curious to see if the med change will make a difference.

On the other hand, I might just be really, really happy and relieved after 3 years of taking meds that made me feel sick and 3 years of worrying that my heart would never get better. So, I'm withholding my judgment about the effect of going off the BP meds until I've had some time to get used to being a person with a healthy, normal heart again.

Oh yeah, tip to those of you who might have to take a stress echo in the future. Find out before you go in what kind of exercise you'll be doing. It won't make a difference in how hard they push you, but at least you'll be mentally prepared. I was expecting to "ride a stationary bike." I was a little confused when I got into the exam room when I didn't see a bike. It turned out that the "bike" was actually pedals mounted on a table. I had to lie flat on my back and pedal from that angle. When it was time for them to do the echo, the table rotated sideways at a 45% angle. Have you ever tried to pedal a bike on your back while tilted sideways? In the words of the echo technician, "They don't call it a stress echo because it's a walk in the park." No kidding!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Potty Training

We are trying to train Jack. This summer, he self-trained for about 3 days at my mother's house when she gave him some "big boy" underpants. After the novelty wore off, though, he reverted to the pull-ups. Since he left daycare this fall, I've done intensive training several times. He usually pees in pair after pair of underpants until I give up. On the other hand, every time he takes a bath, he asks to pee on the potty before he gets in and does it successfully almost every time. So, we know he CAN train, but he seems to want to do it on his own time.

He has a potty chart right now where he can earn a black licorice dog when he's successful. Every single dog was earned at bathtime...until tonight.

I was knitting a pair of socks and half-watching a movie. Both kids were asleep, but suddenly, I heard "Mommy! Mommy!" I thought it was Lily at first, but then I heard "Mommy, pee started coming out and I have to use the potty!" Apparently, he suddenly woke up and had to pee!

I went into the hallway and saw Jack standing in the hall, wearing his blue footie pajamas and holding a black plastic gun. He said "Pee started coming out in a pullup! I need a potty!" He was waving the gun for emphasis. I took him into his bedroom and unzipped him so he could take his pullup off. We went into the bathroom and he sat down on his little potty.

Nothing happened. After a few minutes, I said "Are you done?" "I need a little more time," he said. I said "Would you like to read a book while you're waiting?" and he said "Yeah!" Then he pulled the bathroom stool towards his potty and laid the plastic gun on it. "I'm jus' gonna put my gun here," he said.

I went to his room and came back with a book, which he took and opened. I said "I'm going to go into the living room. Just let me know when you're all done." "Okay, Mommy!" A minute or two passed, and then I heard "Mommy! Come here, Mommy!" I went into the bathroom.

"Where did THIS come from?" he asked, holding up a small plastic dog. "I don't know," I said. "Are you finished?" "No, I need a little more time." I left the room again. Pretty soon, I heard "Mommy, come here, Mommy!" I went back in. "Are you finished?" "No, I need more time. I'm all done my book," he said, handing it to me. I took it and left.

Several more minutes passed and then he appeared in the living room, naked from the waist down with the bottom half of his pajamas trailing behind. "Come look! I peed! I gonna get a licorice dog!" I gave him his dog and took him to his room to get his pullup and pajamas back on. "I felt a pee coming out and I went potty!" he said. "Good job!" I said and turned off the light.

"Mommy?" I looked back in. "What?" He sat up in his bed and said "I need my gun."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What's Under My Couch This Week

It's been a while, but rest assured, I have been cleaning under the couch. Life has just gotten in the way of posting about it lately. This is what I found last Tuesday:

Yoga Ball pum
empty 2 liter bottle of Orange Dry soda
2 small pumpkins (one was slightly squashy)
paper crown liberally decorated with gems by Lily
sucker ball
1 marker
paint brush
toy walkie talkie
2 binkies
2 halves of Jim's favorite yoyo (Jack took it apart)
book of stickers
felt witch hat from the pumpkin Jack decorated on the 18th of October
1 matching pair of socks
a piece belong to Lily's magic set
2 golf balls
Christmas napkin ring
3 magnet blocks and the entire set of cards showing different designs
silk daisy
1 penny
letter from MGH reminding me of the date for my echocardiogram
2 Hotwheels cars
toy fishing rod
part to the old vacuum cleaner
cow doll
playdough tool (looks like a jackknife with lots of playdough shaping implements)
party blower
glass suncatcher
1 gigabyte thumb drive
1 card from the Wild Things themed UNO game
1 Good Times token
1 stitch marker

The two golf balls were the inspiration for Jack's latest song called "My Two Balls." Some of the priceless lines from the song "I got two balls" and "Eat my balls" (the second line was sung while he tried to shove one of the golf balls into his mouth).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Rhinebeck, Baby!

We had so much fun. I'm already looking forward to next year. If you love yarn and the fiber arts, you really should go. Come on, Rhinebeck 2009!


After my cardiology appointment, which went fairly well, I drove home and met up with Lisa of Can't Stop Knitting fame. We drove out to Northampton to stay with her parents. We made it to Webs about 15 minutes before closing but we each still managed to pick up a few items. I was buying Malabrigo chunky for two friends, so I picked up a skein for myself and also managed to reach out and snag some lovely handpainted sock yarn. Of course, none of this came out of my Rhinebeck budget because we weren't at Rhinebeck yet.

The Webs bus was scheduled to leave at 7:30 am. Lisa and I set our alarms for 5:15 am. We were both overly concerned about missing the bus. We each set our phone alarms and then we set the alarm clock in the guest room where I was sleeping. We also got a little panicky and worried it might be daylight savings time. I ended up checking it out on the internet. Afterwards, when cooler heads prevailed, we both realized that daylight savings time always starts at midnight on a Saturday night, so it wouldn't have affected us. As I write this, I also realize that we "fall back," which means that instead of missing the bus, we would have been an hour EARLY if daylight savings time was in effect. All of which just goes to show you how excited we were to go on our trip.


After a quick stop at Dunkin' Donuts (I run on Dunkin' iced tea), we arrived at Webs well before the bus. In fact, we would have been well before the bus even if we arrived at 7:30 because the bus driver had a little trouble finding us! Lisa noticed a tour bus driving past the entrance to Webs, and speculated jokingly that it was our bus missing the turn. A few minutes later, the same bus drove past going the other direction. Eventually, the girl from Webs who was running the tour went out to the main road, met up with the driver and then rode back with him to give him directions.

Once we were on the road, the group leader from Webs asked several trivia questions. The winners got prizes ranging from Webs water bottles to pretty knitting bags complete with either the materials for drop spindle spinning or knitting a project! Lisa immediately won a water bottle. I stunk at the questions, so I won nothing. As we pulled up to the fair, the group leader announced that the first three people with birth dates coming up would win $10. Lisa was one of the big winners!

Now to describe Rhinebeck. It reminded me of the Topsfield Fair (for those of you in Massachusetts who are familiar with it), except that almost everything was fiber related. We started out in a big building with a ton of vendors. I immediately bought a skein of silk/merino blend, while Lisa got yarn and a pattern from the same vendor. The crowd was insane. It was difficult to move in and out of some of the booths, and I ended up giving Lisa my skein and some money, because by the time I was done shopping, she was about 10 people ahead of me in the checkout line.

She sent me on a mission to find the Blue Moon booth while she waited to check out. We had been warned that the Blue Moon would sell out in the first hour, and we were both interested in checking it out. She met me at the booth, which was pretty crammed. We each grabbed chose a skein and headed to the checkout line. There were about 4 people in front of the counter, but as we headed to the end of the line, we saw that it went around the corner...and all the way across the giant hall, where it then doubled back. There were at least 50 people in line! We both turned right around and put the skeins down, because that line just wasn't worth it.

I was pleased to see a lot of rug hooking vendors, and ended up buying a punch needle kit, pattern and some wool thread for the project. Because I TOTALLY need another craft to do! I also got some great ideas for my etsy store (I'm working on your pin, Lisa!).

We spent an inordinate amount of time trying to locate the Ancient Threads booth. The Rhinebeck website said it would be located between building 26 and 27, but we just couldn't find it. On the bus ride home, Lisa noticed that it didn't appear in the guidebook we got at the fair, so they probably weren't even there this year!

Here are a couple of "friends" from the fair:

We wandered around aimlessly for about 40 minutes trying to locate the Ravelry meet up as well. We wanted to get our Ravelry buttons because we heard a rumor that some vendors would give discounts to Ravelers (I didn't get any discounts, so I don't know if it was true or not). There was a vague description of the meet up site, and a map with an arrow pointing to nothing. Eventually we banded together with another Raveler and just stood in the general location suggested by the arrow. After a little while, Casey, the Very Nice Man who programmed Ravelry showed up with his brother-in-law, another guy and beer in hand. Several of us immediately used the opportunity to get photos with him, which made him very shy and prompted him to remind us that his wife, Jess, who thought up the idea of Ravelry, would be there soon and wouldn't we rather have a picture of her? Lisa and I just thanked him and grabbed our buttons so we could get back to the vendors.

That's little crocheted Bob in his pocket!

Here's what I bought:

- Decadent Fibers Creme Brulee in a semisolid blue (2000 yds)
- Socks that Rock medium weight sock yarn (3 skeins, I was out of control)
- Ellen's 1/2 Pint Farm sock yarn
- Shelridge Farms sock yarn (3 skeins), a Lucy Neatby scarf pattern, and a Cookie A sock pattern
- Briar Rose DK weight in deep reds and blue (1000 yds)
- Spirit Trails sock yarn in semisolid blue
- Some silk/merino blend yarn from a vendor whose name escapes me (blues and greens)
- Creatively Dyed sock in semisolid silver
- a punch needle design, wool thread and punch needle set
- 2 kinds of goat cheese for Jim
- Swedish Fish for the kids
- a Go-Monkey project bag (check out their website)

I might have left some stuff out, I'm doing this from memory. If you have access to Ravelry, you can look in my stash and see everything. Or you can just look at a picture of the whole thing here:

There were a lot of people wearing their Rhinebeck Sweaters. Lisa was wearing her beautiful February Lady, and about 1,000 people stopped us to compliment her. A couple of people even stopped to compliment me on my very detailed Talbot's sweater because they assumed I'd knit it myself. Sadly, I didn't even come close to finishing my Wisteria sweater in time for the trip.

After a long day of shopping, we trudged back to the bus. We were told at the beginning of the day that we had to be back at the bus by 4:00 pm. Lisa and I picked up some apple crisp and ice cream and made sure we were there by 3:45. Some people had such large purchases that they opened the luggage compartment under the bus! We all dragged ourselves into the bus and waited while the group leader took attendance. We had a few stragglers who showed up just before 4. She took the final attendance and one person was missing! The missing lady was apparently traveling alone. No one knew her and no one had a cell phone number for her. The store tried calling her home number and no one answered. Eventually, the group leader left the bus and went back into the fair to have her paged, to no avail. We finally left at about 4:45 without her! We are very curious as to what happened -- my guess is that she met up with someone she knew and decided to go back with that person.

On the drive home, we played a yarn version of "Let's Make a Deal." The group leader called out the description of an item and the first person to show one got a prize. I won a water bottle and a little kit that included needles, a pattern and a skein of yarn.

It was such a fun weekend. It could only have been better if we'd gone with a big group of friends. I hope we can get more people to go next year!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Off to Rhinebeck with a Broken Heart

Well, folks, Lisa and I are heading out tomorrow afternoon! I am as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve. I have snacks, my head lamp (so I can knit on the bus after dark), two projects to work on and a wad of cash in my purse. Lisa's an old hat at Rhinebeck, but it's all new to me.

Sadly, I will not be wearing my Wisteria sweater, although I will bring it along to work on. I am only 20 rows from completing the body, but there are still two sleeves, each of which are cabled at the wrist. I toyed with staying up all night to finish it, but there's a point when you just have to let it go. I'm at that point.

I am going to operate on a cash only basis so that when the money runs out my shopping is done. That way I'll be less likely to go over my budget. I'm going to try very hard to stick to it. Of course, the budget doesn't include any monies spent at Webs tomorrow afternoon. I will be taking a look in the warehouse, of course.

In other news, I got my echocardiogram results this week. I have had some regression since I stopped taking my beta blocker this summer. I will be seeing my cardiologist (who looks like a very cute 12 year old) tomorrow right before I leave on my trip.

I've been pretty down since my doctor sent me the results. People who are diagnosed with an Ejection Fraction (EF) of 30% or greater usually resolve their condition within a year. People diagnosed below that mark have a much lower chance of healing. Since I was at 33% +/- 5%, I could go either way. After leaving my job, I improved significantly and had an EF of 60% +/- 5% (totally normal) last fall. I was hopeful that if I maintained that level for a year, I might be able to stop the medications and resume my normal life. The regression means I might have to go back on my old meds, which means more problems with asthma and all the other crappy side effects I have from beta blockers. Sadly, I've had some slight enlargement and my EF droped to 52% +/- 5%.

I know intellectually that's not a big deal. Technically, I'm still in the normal range, and I have been for the last 3 echos. That's something to be really happy about. There can be variations in EF from day to day that could explain the slight regression.

Emotionally, I'm really fragile right now. I've felt so much better and so HOPEFUL since I stopped the beta blocker. I dread the thought of taking a step backwards when I was so looking forward to coming to an end of this whole episode. I am trying to accept that I may have to take the medications, and then additional medications to counteract the side effects, for the rest of my life. The good news is that I'll be perfectly healthy. The bad news is that this heart problem will be a permanent part of my life. Even though I've contemplated that eventuality for 2 years, deep down I always thought I'd get past this point.

So I'm heartbroken right now (no pun intended). The only thing helping me keep my chin up is the excitement of Rhinebeck. If I had to have bad news, it couldn't have come at a better time.

Anyway, I try to keep my blog light and don't want to make my crappy ticker a regular part of this blog. So that's the way things stand right now, and I have a gut feeling that my very conservative cardiologist is going to go for the cautious approach tomorrow. Guess I better bust out the granny pill organizer again!

BUT...I'm going to Rhinebeck! Wheeeee!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yarns. I Haz Dem.

Wanna see?

My two dyeing partners in crime (hi, ladies!) and I got together on Friday and had a little fun with acid dyes. All told, we did 8 lots of yarn. The gals (Larra and Sheila) each had a sock blank to dye for an upcoming swap, and they had to dye them in Christmas colors. Both of them looked really pretty when they were done, with reds, greens and a dash of gold (for the star, of course!). Larra did almost everything else in blue, as usual, but also threw together a gorgeous hank in the colors of indian corn -- brown, orange, yellow and red.

I had an interesting time. I had planned out colors for three hanks. The first one was meant to be brown and pink. In my mind, I saw it as a rich, chocolatey brown with pale baby pink. It came out much rosier than I planned, but I really like the end result. I named that colorway Cupcake.

The second skein was meant to be various shades of blue. I started out with my favorite Cushing Perfection color, Copenhagen Blue, and something odd happened. As soon as the dye hit the yarn, a pale pink tone leached out on either side of the applied dye. It didn't happen when Larra used it on her yarn, so I'm guessing it had something to do with the way mine was prepared or the type of fiber. At any rate, I loved the colors together. Sheila's suggestion was to go with it, so I dyed patches of yarn next to each other to make spots of pink. I called that skein Hyacinth. I wonder if I can replicate it, or if it was just one of those happy dyeing accidents?

The last colorway was meant to be blues, maroons and purples. In my mind's eye, the colors were going to be darker and more muted, but I fell in love with the brighter colors and they way they blended. The blue to purple range reminded me of irises, so I named that colorway Iris Setosa (the latin name for the flower).

The last time I dyed, I didn't make enough dye up, so this time I made big mason jars of dye. It was a bit of an overestimate, so now I have several mason jars of dye left over. I'm tempted to dye the two remaining hanks from my stash, but I'm going to try and hold out until the ladies can arrange another dyeing play date. I have some silk and merino blend yarn winging its way to me as I type and I want to do that yarn at the same time.

My plan is to sell some of the yarn on my etsy store, but I'm not sure I can part with it! Every skein is so personal and appeals to my specific taste (obviously). I am already planning socks for some of the colors. Partly for that reason, and partly because I have more sock yarn than I can ever knit, I have designated 2009 as my personal Year of the Sock. My goal is to knit 1 pair of socks each month, for a total of 12 pair. I'm not sure I can do it, but that's my goal.

In other yarny news, I bought some pretty stuff at The Yarn and Fiber Company. I got a skein of Kauni in the bright rainbow colors and a beautiful skein of Smooshy in Dusky Aurora, which seemed so familiar...when I got home, I saw that I'd bought Classy in the same colorway a few weeks ago AND FORGOT ALL ABOUT IT.

This upcoming weekend I'll be at Rhinebeck with my friend Lisa. I've decided to make cash-only purchases so I will be limited to a predetermined amount. I'll be armed with my new phone so I can check patterns for yardage. I'll be snapping some photos and just generally enoying the yarnage. Can't wait!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pork... It's the Other White Meat

You know when kids say or do things that give other people the wrong impression of your home life?

Yesterday, Lily had a homework assignment about nutrition. She was asked to draw a picture of her family eating a healthful meal. The sheet also included instructions to the parent. I was supposed to write down her description of the picture and label each of the healthful foods she drew. Also, for reasons unknown to me, I had to sign MY name at the bottom of the page. I think now it was so they can use the document against me in family court, but I digress.

Lily started out by drawing a large table with about 8 legs. Then she drew the four of us around the table. It was drawn as if she took a picture of the table, so Jim's back was to the viewer, I was drawn across the table from him and she and Jack were sitting at each end. I was pretty impressed with her attempt at realistic perspective, actually. She apologized to me because she drew my head "way small." She also felt she'd draw herself "ugh" and compensated by drawing her legs all the way down to the ground to show she was leaving the table. I'm not sure how that made her less "ugh" but that was her explanation.

Then she drew four platters on the table, each with a different food on it. As a final touch, she drew our chandelier over the table with lots of rays coming from the bulbs to show it was very bright.

Then it was my turn to ask her to describe the picture. I obviously don't have the picture here right now (they've probably turned it over to DSS), but I will quote it to the best of my memory:

"This is a picture of my family eating a healthful and delicious meal. The Grimsas is very bright so that we don't eat anything we're allergic to. Mama, Papa, Jack and Lily. Don't eat a healthful meal too much, at least once a day."

You are probably wondering what a Grimsas is. It happens to be the name IKEA gave the chandelier over our dining room table. It kind of stuck with us, and we refer to that light as the Grimsas. The "grim" portion of the name is actually kind of fitting, because the previous owner placed the wiring off center in the room. If we forget and center the table to the room, someone always bashes their head on the Grimsas. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Lily's picture.

Right. The very last thing I had to do was label the "healthful food" she drew. She told me the four platters contained ham, sausage, salad and a banana.

As I was filling out the sheet per the instructions, I was flashing forward to what the teacher was going to think when she saw it. Lily has given her the impression that we load up our table with pork products, that we only eat a healthful meal once a day, and that we need to keep our lights very bright to avoid eating things we're allergic to...because we're recklessly putting out foods containing dangerous allergens every night. AND...she's referring to the lamp by a strange name as if it's alive.

I would like to state for the record that I am not a big fan of the pork products. I cannot recall a single time we've ever served a ham in our home. I can count the number of times we've served sausage on one hand. We actually eat a lot of chicken and beef. Also, none of us are allergic to any foods. Lily used to get a rash on her face when she ate raw tomatoes, but she outgrew that. I assure you, if we were allergic to foods, Jim wouldn't be serving them out at the table and forcing us to poke through the food under the brightly lighted Grimsas to avoid them.

If you're looking for me, I'll be sitting by the phone waiting for the Department of Social Services to call.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Blogging at the Beach

Well, our vacation will be over tomorrow. We had a great time, though. Expect lots of ocean pictures in my next post, because we had a little storm here yesterday and the water was amazing.

Lily and Jack both had a great time. Jack was really scared of the water this year, so he tended to stay by our chairs and play in the sand. He also got some kind of stomach bug a couple of days into the trip and vomited pretty much all day one day. Poor little beggar. The kids made their annual trip to the aquarium, where Lily said the sea horses were her favorites and Jack said his favorites were the jellyfish. They both had a great time playing with Uncle Jeff. According to Lily, they "exercised" every day by climbing to the top of the bunk bed in Jeff's room and then climbing back down again.

Some funny things the kids did this week:

We took Jack to Pizza Inn, our favorite restaurant, and while he was eating, he started shaking. I asked him if he was cold, and he said in a piercing toddler voice "I'm shaking my POOP out!" I asked him if he needed to be changed and he said no, so Jim reached over to feel the back of his pants to see if he was carrying any extra cargo. Jack grabbed Jim's hand and gently moved it onto the table, and then he said in a whisper "Papa, don't touch my poop!" It was hilarious.

Jack also told us that if he could wish on a wishing tree, he would wish for a "giant, giant firetruck, and then put on my fireman hat, and my fireman jacket, and my fireman boots, and then drive around and go WOOOOOOO WOOOOOOO in the truck."

Lily apparently gave quite a lecture on the planets to the people renting the other side of our duplex tonight -- I'm sorry I missed that. She also learned how to do cartwheels. My mom told her to get a running start, and that led her to run for about 20 feet before throwing herself into the cartwheel. If only I'd had a video camera with me! Her wish was that I could have more "alone time" to do things for myself because I work so hard all day to take care of her and Jack. She also wished I could have a robot that would do all my chores for me so that I would have even more time to play with them during the day. She then wished that Jim wouldn't spoil her so much by buying her things all the time. Jim and I were trying very hard not to laugh at her sweet wishes.

We will be packing up tomorrow and flying home tomorrow night. It's been a nice vacation, but I think we're all ready to go home and get back into our regularly scheduled activities again.

Guess what? The +10 Scarf of Loathing (aka DNA scarf) is finally finished. Finally. It actually wasn't too bad once I started cabling without the needle. Sadly, I didn't even think of trying it until I only had 1.5 repeats left. It definitely knit up faster without the cable needle. I'll block it when I get home. I think it will look lovely when it's blocked and dried. Jim tried it on tonight, and it is long enough so both sides can be wrapped over the shoulders, which is something I like in a scarf. I think Jim wants one, but there is no way in HELL I'm ever knitting that pattern again.

So...9 Christmas gifts down, 1 to go and it's on the needles! I am quite confident I'll be done with everything by Christmas, so I'm going to indulge myself by working on the Wisteria sweater in order to have it done by Rhinebeck.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Knitting Plan

It's time for some kind of a plan. After the hellish weeks of the Christmas Knittng Marathon, I indulged myself with a couple of weeks of selfish knitting. Sadly, what with Lily starting school and Jack staying at home full time, I didn't get as much accomplished as I hoped.

Tomorrow is travel day. I promised myself that I would work on the two remaining Christmas knits while in NC. I think I can finish the dread DNA scarf on the way there, so that will be done and out of my hair at last. That means the rest of the week (and as much time after that as necessary) will be focussed on the Sunrise Circle Jacket for my mom. (Don't worry, she knows about it, because she picked out the yarn and the pattern months ago).

That means I have to put down my beloved Wisteria for a while. I was hoping to wear it to Rhinebeck, but I'm not sure I'm going to have time to finish it by then. I'm okay with that -- I'll definitely finish it as soon as the last two Christmas Knits are banged out, and 'tis almost the season where giving is better than receiving. My only question is whether it would be okay to bring the Swirl Shawl along as a second project? It's selfish knitting but it's so much more portable than a jacket. I will probably need a break away from the all stockinette, all the time jacket. I just can't see myself stuck on vacation with just one project, but on the other hand, if I have only one to work on, I'll be forced to get more done.

I think I just answered my own question. I should stick to the 2 Christmas knits and be done with it. That's less to pack and all knitters know how we always overestimate what we can get done on a vacation! I'll admit, there is a tiny voice in my head saying "what will you do if you finish the jacket and scarf?" but I think we all know that ain't gonna happen. If, by some chance it did, I could always pick up some yarn at Walmart and knit something off Ravelry to keep myself occupied.

So that's my plan. I'll let you know later if I stuck to it or if I somehow let the Swirl Shawl get into my suitcase when packing today!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Things I Made

First, look at these:

I made them! Don't they look pretty now that they are dry and reskeined?

I made these, too. They are up on my etsy shop, along with a few other new things and some much prettier pictures of some of my older wares.

I'm in the middle of making this:

I am really enjoying it, but there's no way I'm going to get it finished before my vacation this weekend. Once I hit the shores of NC, I am all about knitting the Sunrise Circle Jacket and the rest of the DNA scarf.


I made these, too. Some of my best work, if I do say so myself!

By the by, I really do know that Curious George is imaginary. I just require cartoons to have a certain internal logic, which Curious George lacks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Curious About Curious George

I know it's not my usual thing, but I've been thinking about Curious George for a while now and really feel the need to rant a bit.

My kids love Curious George. I think that the original art by H.A. Rey is darling, and the original story lines are cute. As you may already know, the Curious George franchise continues, with new books drawn in the style of the originals. For example, Jack adores his Curious George Dictionary book, and I have to say, the artwork is very close to the original. And then there's the cartoon show....

My kids want to watch the Curious George cartoon every morning (and if they miss it, the shows are repeated in the afternoon). As a result, I've seen a lot of the episodes multiple times and have become a sort of Curious George expert. Almost every time I watch the show, I start asking myself a lot of questions about the show. Maybe someone out there knows the answers?

First, why does the Man in the Yellow Hat always give George so much responsibility? Does he not realize that a) George is a monkey and b) every single time he gives George any responsibility, it ends up costing him money? For example, today the Man in the Yellow Hat (MITYH, for short) told George to go buy a dozen donuts. Since George doesn't talk, the MITYH gave him a note asking for 1 dozen donuts. George, who can apparently read and write, added 2 zeros, making it 100 dozen donuts. Ultimately, the MITYH came home to find 1200 donuts hidden in his apartment and an extremely large bill from the donut shop. They didn't tell us how much the donuts cost, but let us assume they are about 50 cents apiece. That means the MITYH had to pay $600 to clean up after George's shenanigans. (He ended up donating most of the donuts to the local firemen, in case you were wondering).

Off the top of my head, I can recall that George recently knocked down a brand new building, destroyed the vegetable garden that belongs to a local restauranteur, filled the MITYH's living room with soap and water after spilling grape juice on the MITYH's brand new rug, allowed a neighbor's pet snake and two pet mice to escape while supposedly "babysitting" them (who puts a monkey in charge of pets that could potentially eat each other?), and wasted three bags of goods meant for a card party by using them to build a bridge for ducks. That's just off the top of my head, folks. Almost every time George does something destructive, the MITYH sheepishly pulls out his wallet and takes care of the damages.

I would really like to know what kind of a job the MITYH is holding down. He doesn't ever seem to go to work. In one episode, he had to submit some kind of paper to the people at the museum, and in another he brought in some robot models for a display at the museum, so I'm thinking his work must have something to do with the museum. Maybe he's a consultant? Who knows? Whatever his job is, it must pay pretty well because he lives in a doorman building in New York City and owns a country house somewhere nearby, and he also has plenty of the ready to hand over whenever George does something destructive. And George always does something destructive.

And that leads me to the real puzzler of the show. Why doesn't the MITYH EVER catch on that leaving George unsupervised is a Very Bad Thing? As I'm typing this, I can recall episodes where George peeled a great deal of wallpaper off of the MITYH's bathroom and let a lot of small items go down the tub, thus blocking the pipes, which he then tried to fix himself. Needless to say, George not only flooded his own apartment but also flooded the basement (he took apart a pipe and forgot to put it back together) and a few other apartments in the building. I'm sure that the MITYH paid through the nose to clean up those messes, too. When the building across the street from my office had it's basement flooded by a broken pipe, they had to call in water removal specialists with high tech drying equipment. It took more than a week to clean up the mess. I'm guessing that the clean up for that job cost at least in the mid 5 figures.

But week after week, the MITYH blithely sends George on errands and leaves him unattended in the apartment or country house. He brings home priceless art, expensive furnishings and important museum exhibits and then leaves them unattended in George's vicinity. The MITYH doesn't even seem to lock his doors or windows, because George comes and goes as he pleases. He opens his wallet and takes care of the damages and then barely says a cross word to George.

Here's some free advice, Man in the Yellow Hat. Get George out on entertainment circuit. A lot of people would pay to see a monkey who can read and write. You could use that money to defray the high cost of fixing George's mistakes. Heck, if you kept him busy on the entertainment circuit, he wouldn't have the time to damage so many things. Alternatively, take a fraction of the cash you're doling out on a regular basis and hire a Monkey Sitter. Or just lock George into the apartment when you go out. You obviously don't mind his destructive nature, but I bet the people who had water blown into their kitchens during George's plumbing fiasco don't feel the same way AT ALL. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mouse in the House

I have never (to my knowledge) lived in a house with resident mice. Cockroaches? Ants? House flies? Fruit flies? Spiders? Check. Mice? No way.

Until last week. Jim was off in Chatham on a company retreat and I was at home with the kids. Thursday night, I was sitting in the living room, knitting and watching Burn Notice. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move over by the radiator cover in front of our bay window. I turned my head to look more closely and saw a little brown mouse sitting in front of the TV. At almost exactly the same moment, he saw me and ran under the radiator as quick as a flash.

I was so stunned I couldn't move for almost a whole minute. All I could think was that the front door must be open and a mouse wandered in. I'm not afraid of mice per se, so I wasn't terrified, but the thought of a mouse running around, eating our food and potentially biting one of the kids made me VERY nervous. I was finally able to get up, and I immediately went to get the broom out of the kitchen.

I'm not really sure what I thought I was going to do with the broom. I think I had some vague plan to sort of sweep the mouse towards the open door and get him outside. Sadly, there were problems with my plan. As I approached the radiator, I could see that the front for was closed and locked. Clearly, the mouse had come from some other place in the house. Also, aside from moving the radiator cover and jabbing the broom around behind the radiator and underneath it, there wasn't much I could do to get the mouse out into the open. And, frankly, if I were a mouse, I would have stayed firmly beneath the radiator if a giant human started poking a broom near me. When the mouse failed to appear, I put the broom away and did what any rational gal would do -- I called my husband at his hotel two hours away and asked him to come home immediately to remove the mouse.

After assuring me that the mouse would not attack our children in the night, Jim opined that it was probably a field mouse who got in looking for shelter. It made sense. The weather was very cool last week. Jim has removed all of the siding from the house, and it could have left some points of access for mice to get in. Jim said we would buy traps on the weekend and get rid of the mouse. Somewhat reassured, I was able to finish up what I was doing and go to bed.

Now you have to understand something. We've lived here for almost 6 years. We've never seen mouse droppings. Nothing has ever been chewed as if by small creatures. I've never heard anything crawling around in the walls. Yes, there is sometimes a smell on the second floor when the wind blows that could be considered mouseish, but I always thought it was the remains of long dead things somewhere under the eaves. As a result, Jim's theory that a lone field mouse had gotten in seemed reasonable to me.

There was no sign of the mouse on Friday. The only thing unusual was the way Oskar spent the day sitting in front of the pie safe cabinet we have with an expectant look on his face. Since the pie safe is right next to the radiator, I tried poking my trusty broom behind and under the pie safe, but no mouse appeared. Jim came home, no mouse. We all went to bed with plans to buy some traps.

On Saturday morning, Lily and I got up and went to hang out in the living room. We were sitting on the couch reading when Lily suddenly said "Oskar found one of his toy mice!" Sure enough, there was a little mouse lying in the middle of the carpet, belly up. As Lily ran to get it, I yelled "Don't touch it! Don't touch it!" At almost the same time, Oskar came roaring into the room and started batting it about. Lily said "I think that might really be a live mouse, Mom! I didn't believe you when you said you saw a live mouse!"

Jim came down at that point and fished the very dead mouse from under the chair to dispose of it. Oskar was not thrilled to lose his new toy and had to be restrained in Jack's bedroom during the clean up. I was so pleased that Oskar was a mouser. All day long, we talked about how lucky we were that Oskar caught the lone field mouse almost immediately after it got in. Hurray!

That night, Jim went in to work. I sat in the living room working on some stitch markers for my store. Oskar came trotting right up to me and dropped a SECOND mouse on the floor at my feet. He looked as pleased as punch. Me, not so much.

This is clearly not a random mouse appearance. We clearly have some kind of mouse problem. Mouse No. 2 was a lot smaller than Mouse No. 1, suggesting it may be the offspring of Mouse No. 1. *Shudder* Since I heard Oskar barging around upstairs, I'm thinking that mouseish smell might be indicative of actual mice. After doing some research on the internet, I poked around upstairs looking for signs of mice. The only thing I found was the chewed up corner of a packing box under the eaves in my bedroom. It's been that way for some time and I always assumed it was from Maggie sharpening her claws or chewing the cardboard. Why? Because that's where Maggie spends 99.9% of her time. Now I'm wondering if there are mice living up there in Maggie's space and she's just been ignoring them all this time! Ugh.

Anyway, Oskar hasn't brought me any more vermin since Saturday night, so we'll see. In the mean time, I'll be busy mouse-proofing my house.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Cool Weather is for Dyeing

We've had a lovely week of cool weather, so I finally pulled out my dyeing equipment the other night and had some fun. Last year, the cool weather was for dyeing rug hooking wool. This year, I'm going to dye some yarn as well and see how that turns out. In preparation, I recently bought some undyed sock yarn and some of the acid dyes that are popular for yarn dyeing. Here's how it went:

I put my yarn in to soak the night before in water and vinegar. About an hour before I applied the dye, I threw in some Jet Dry (it works just the same as synthropol). Then I spent some time setting up my dyeing area and preparing the 7 colors I was planning on using.

It kind of looks like a mad scientist's lab, doesn't it? As it turns out, yarn dyeing requires a lot less equipment than wool fabric dyeing, but it's much more time consuming. I ended up only using a portion of my usual equipment. I learned that I need bigger jars for my working dyes, possibly some squirt bottles to apply the dye with, and a much more concentrated dye solution if I want deeper colors. I also learned that it's pretty hard to get a good brown dye out of the Jacquard Starter Kit -- the different dyes I blended tended to separate. I think next time I'll go back to my tried and true Cushing Perfection dyes. Anyway, I had fun even though my end products look nothing like the colorways I envisioned when I started!

I call this colorway Hideous Kinky (after the movie...get your mind out of the gutter). It's pretty close to what I was trying for, except that I really needed more dye in each of the colors. Next time, I'll know better.

I call this one Elemental, because I was trying to get a blend of yellow (sun), blue (sky and water), brown (earth) and green (plants). I eventually got there, but the colors weren't what I planned. I am interested to see how it skeins up. I skeined it on the length of my dining room table before dyeing it.

Both skeins are still drying -- the humid weather we're having today is not helping matters! I'll post final pictures of the skeined yarn later.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Joking Jack

Before I forget them, I want to memorialize the first two complete jokes Jack ever told. On Monday morning, Jack and Lily were eating breakfast in the dining room. Lily was telling some knock knock jokes and then Jack suddenly came up with two of his own:

Jack: Knock Knock!

Lily: Who's there?

Jack: Orange.

Lily: Orange who?

Jack: Lily is an orange! (with lots of fake laughter after the punch line)

Lily was angry about this joke for some reason, although God knows she's said way worse things about Jack.

Jack: Knock Knock!

Lily: Who's there?

Jack: Banana.

Lily: Banana who?

Jack: Banana Jackie! (more fake laughter after the punchline).

The fake laugher after the punchline is my favorite part. Jack's his own best audience. Jim and I were cracking up, but only because the jokes were so silly. Jack appears to have gotten his ideas from the old knock knock joke where the punch line is "Orange you glad I didn't say banana again?" It's the mainstay of Lily's knock knock repetoire.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Day of School Photos

It went surprisingly well!

Here's Lily in her pretty dress. Note her new haircut and her Hello Kitty backpack. She picked out the outfit herself this morning. She's thrilled that the new backpack matches the Hello Kitty lunch box that Aunt Jill gave her a few years ago (I think it was Aunt Jill).

Here she is waiting in line to go to school. You can't see her very well in this picture, but she was very scared! The boy on her left is her friend from daycare -- she's known him since she was 7 months old. They were amusingly relieved to see each other! He looks nervous, too.

Here she is at the end of the day. She's pointing me out to her teacher so she can be released from school.

Here she is on her run to me after they let her leave.

She told me she had a great day and school was fun. She was sad because she only had time to make three friends. One friend is a girl who has a Hello Kitty back pack, but not the same one as she has. She can't remember her new friend's name. She had fun playing outside but got wood chips in her shoes. She worries that there are a bunch of new rules to follow. She seemed most concerned about the rule that you have to first talk to three people that can help you and if they can't help, then ask the teacher. She told me they don't have cubbies, but they have a hook for their back packs (which are required for each student).

Tonight she seemed a little sad and worried. Hopefully having a full week of school will help her settle in a bit more. She's very excited because I told her she can buy her lunch on pizza day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Musings on my Dream Project and Rhinebeck

Ever since I saw the February Lady sweater, I've wanted to knit it. Ever since I saw Blue Heron rayon metallic yarn, I've wanted to knit the February Lady sweater in it. Even though the Blue Heron is DK and the sweater pattern is for worsted weight, I think I can work out the gauge. The drape of that yarn is sooo beautiful.

Last week, I ordered the yarn. Every night since then, I've spent a little time thinking about knitting it. I have everything ready. I've promised myself that I can cast it on and work on it until I go to the beach during the last week in September, when I'm dedicating myself to the final Christmas present project.

My only question is whether the actual project will live up to the dream. Since I decided last week to take a break from the Christmas knitting (now that it's clear I have plenty of time to the last two projects done before December 1) I've gotten back to my Clapotis, also in the Blue Heron. That yarn is pretty slippy. Beautifully soft but really, really slippery. Also, I chose the colorway Ice, but what if it looks different in person than on line?

I've spent most of the summer thinking about this project, and now I'm worried it won't meet my expectations. I hope that's not true!

In other knitting related news, I booked my trip to Rhinebeck. For some reason, whenever I think of Rhinebeck, I think of the Beastie Boys song "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn!" Except, this is what I hear:

No sleep 'til - Rhinebeck!

Foot on the pedal - never ever false metal
Engine running hotter than a boiling kettle
I don't have a job - it's a damn good time
City to city - spending every last dime
Local yarn stores - touring around the nation
Knitting mama is always on vacation
Itchy throwing finger when I'm doing a cable
Knit's what I do best because I'm willing and able
Ain't no lying - it's your yarn I'm buying
Going coast to coast - watching all the spinners dyeing
While you're at the job working nine to five
The knitting mama's on the road on a long drive

No sleep 'til Rhinebeck!

Another place - another train
Another sock yarn in a skein
Another gorgeous colorway
Another drive all day
My stash is so crazy - it's getting really bad
It's got its own room at the back of my pad
Tour around the world - I shop around the clock
Plane to hotel - knitting on a sock
I'm thrashing hotels like it's going out of style
Rolling all around on my yarn in a pile
Skeins on the floor - another by the door
Ten in the trunk because I'm going to buy more
Got my money in my pocket, 'cause that's what money's for

No sleep 'til Rhinebeck!

No sleep 'til Rhinebeck!

Ain't seen the light since we started this journey
I won't leave until they strap me on a gurney
Looking at yarn and roving all day
I don't care how much I have to pay
Purple, orange, green, blue, red and lemon
I'll pet the soft yarn with all the knitting women
Got Cascade, Regia, Cherry Tree Hill
Classic Elite, my yarn don't pill
Step off knitters - get out of my way
Or I'll be snatching your alpaca away
I'm a tough knitting mama, you better believe
Cause I'll be rocking this festival 'til I leave

No sleep 'til Rhinebeck!

There is just something wrong with me, isn't there?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photo Post - Jack's Hair

As you know, Lily went on a mad haircutting spree this week.

This is Jack sporting the remedial haircut he had to get to cover up the giant almost-bald spot on the front of his head. This is the best photo I was able to take -- he was eating a pluot and kept trying to shove it in front of the camera. Most of the other shots are just a pluot-y blur.

If you look carefully, you can see that the hair near the front is still shorter than the rest. The barber left as much as he could without completely shaving Jack's head.

Lily refused to pose for a picture. This is a shot of the back of her head. The blur on the bottom is Jack trying to shove his pluot in front of the camera. Lily's hair is now chin length since that's how short she cut one side.

These are the socks I'm knitting with my kool-ade yarn. I just threw them in for fun. The yarn smells like cherry!

Photo Post - George's Island

Here are the pictures from our weekend trip to George's Island:

Lily on the boat in Boston Harbor.

Jack enjoyed the boat ride too!

Here's the old fort we explored.


I took this picture because the doors were so pretty.

Here's a shot looking out one of the cannon slots.

We saw some beautiful wildflowers growing around the fort.

We tried very hard to get a picture of all four friends looking at the camera. It was harder than we thought!

Jack got some chewing gum. He was very excited!

Etsy Update!

I put two new sets of markers up on etsy today. Here's a preview of the sets I'll be adding during the upcoming week:

If you want to reserve one in advance of it going up on etsy, contact me!

Saturday, August 30, 2008


Here's a placeholder post until I can write a few longer posts about these things.

First, I've been busy lately getting Lily ready for her first day of school next week. She is very excited and a little nervous. I'm very nervous and a little sad. It seems like only a few weeks ago that she was an infant.

Second, now that Lily is in Kindergarten, we've decided to put Jack in a smaller, less expensive preschool program that is closer to home and has much more convenient hours. Unfortunately, he won't be eligible to start until he is 2.9 years old (why don't they just use months? I don't get it).

Third, I have almost completed the Marathon of Christmas Gift Knitting. I have about 10% left to do on one project and only 1 more project to do after that. I'm pretty confident I'll be done with everything well before my self-imposed December 1 deadline.

Fourth, I am knitting my first project with yarn I dyed myself -- my Electric Kool-Ade Acid Test yarn. It's the one dyed with every single flavor of Kool-Ade I had access to. I'm doing socks for myself and it's nice to do a little selfish knitting after 2+ months of knitting for others.

Fifth, Lily gave herself and Jack haircuts yesterday morning. As a result, she and Jack now have significantly shorter hair than they did earlier this week. She claims that Jack asked her to cut his hair. His only comment when asked was "Lily do it."

Sixth, my etsy store is doing a nice, brisk business and I will be updating this week with more of my itty bitty knitty markers in some new and exciting styles. Well, new and exciting if you're a knitter and like stitch markers.

So that's where I am right now. Also, I want to close this post by saying:

I'm totally on the Crafty Bus! Hi, Sheila!

Sorry, inside joke.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Here Be Pirates!

We went on a trip to George's Island today, along with our neighbor and his two kids. Jack was very excited. He got to go on a boat and then he was promised a trip into the "caves." George's Island is home to Fort Warren, and visitors are allowed to explore portions of the underground fort. Some of the passageways are pretty dark, so flashlights are necessary. Once we got home, Jack could not stop talking about his adventure.

I decided to interview Jack about the trip. Unfortunately, the interview reads like some kind of surreal, stream of consciousness speech, but you'll eventually get the point -- HE LIKED THE CAVES.

Me: Did you see any ghosts in the cave?

Jack: No.

Me: Did you see any pirates in the cave?

Jack: No. They write in the cave (Jim told our kids grafitti was "pirate writing.")

Me: Did you see any monsters in the cave?

Jack: I saw pirates!

Me: Really? You saw pirates?

Jack: I just jokin', mama! (big giggle)

Me: You know what I saw in the cave? A big dragon!

Jack. Noooo. Dragons is too loud.

Me: Well, I saw an alligator in the cave.

Jack: No. A alligator open and close his mouth. No noise!

Me: I saw a grizzly bear in the cave!

Jack. No, bear too loud, too!

Me: I saw Santa in the cave.

Jack: Santa? He a good boy! He in a cave.

Me: I saw a ghost in the cave.

Jack. No, no ghosts in the cave.

Me: I saw a pirate in the cave.

Jack: No, just pirate writing. That is what it means.

Me: Did you like the caves?

Jack: No.

Me: No?

Jack: I like the caves.

Me: What else did you do at George's Island?

Jack: I like my, I go in another cave. I got my feet in there and it was.... (he is suddenly distracted by my typing). You type my word?

Me: Yes.

Jack: (pointing at screen) That is mommy words? That is Lily's words?

Me: Do you want me to type your words?

Jack: Yes. Type my words.

Me: What you want to say?

Jack: My word! My word! My word!

Me: Do want to tell a story about George's Island?

Jack: Where George's Island?

Me: Where we went today.

Jack: (pointing at the edge of the computer screen where the scroll bar is) I peek in that kind world!

Me: That's where I am typing. See my typing?

Jack: What does that kind says? This one says papa (pointing to the button marked "publish post"). Open this kind up. What that says? Open that kind page. What is that?

Me: I can't open that, it's the computer screen. Why don't you tell me about George's Island?

Jack: Georges Island. Where is George's Island go?

Me: That's where we went today.

Jack: (pointing at the last thing typed) That says George's Island?

Me: Yep.

Jack: That says George's Island?

Me: Yep.

Jack: No, that not say George's Island! This kind says George's Island (pointing to the "publish post" button again).

Me: Do you want to tell what you did there?

Jack: What? I go and see all the caves in George's Island, George's Island has all the caves.

Me: What else did you do?

Jack: Saw caves at George's Island.

Me: How we get there?

Jack: I saw some caves at George's Island.

Me: What did we do to get there?

Jack: Some a boat at George's Island that has a really fire at George's Island. (No, I have no idea what this means).

Me: Did we go on a boat?

Jack: We go on a other boat.

Me: Did you like that?

Jack: I liked the cave.

Me: What did you see in the cave?

At this point, Jack spotted an am/fm radio headset lying on the windowsill and lost interest in our conversation.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Things I Didn't Know About My Kids

In the spirit of my recent post, here are a few things I learned this week about my own kids that I never knew before:

1. Lily has a boyfriend -- her friend Patrick. She advised us at dinner tonight that she would be "getting a new boyfriend" when she starts kindergarten. We were a little surprised, since we didn't know she had an "old boyfriend." She said "I will meet a new boyfriend and I'll have to get used to him." I am not so sure she fully understands the term "boyfriend." That's fine by me!

2. Jack's favorite song is "I kissed a girl" by Katy Perry. I linked to the YouTube video so you could hear the song lyrics (don't worry, Jack has not seen the video). The song was playing on my car radio yesterday and Jack suddenly piped up from the back "Dis my favorite song, Mama!" Who knew?

3. Jack's favorite house is a blue house in the Highlands.

4. Lily can read one of her "I can read" books from cover to cover. She came out in the living room last night and read the whole thing out loud. Kind of makes it difficult for her to continue claiming she can't read.

5. Lily likes having me at home better than when I was at work because "I take care of her better." Talk about a double edged sword of a compliment!

6. Jack will ask for something 27 times in a row, even if you tell him "no" the first time. Occasionally, he will leave the immediate area and then return and ask again. I think he believes that by going away, he can make me forget he already asked.

7. Jack can take off his pants and pull-up by himself. He did it during his "nap" on Wednesday. I have placed the word "nap" in quotations because he did not actually sleep. Not only did I find him naked from the waist down, but I couldn't located the diaper he removed for about ten minutes. He told me he "couldn't remember" where he threw it. I eventually discovered he had wedged it between his crib (where I was trying to get him to nap) and the wall. It was completely dry, so I'm not even sure why he removed it in the first place. When I got over to the crib, he said "Look at MEEEEEE!" with glee.

8. Lily is no longer afraid of water splashing on her face. She went on every kid's slide at Water Country, even the ones that took her through spraying water spouts.

9. Jack does not like getting splashed in the face. He really does not like it when Mama tries to "help" him by sliding down with him, and ends up throwing him face down into the water when she gets to the bottom of the slide. Actually, no one liked that whole incident. I don't think Jack will be trying a water slide for some time.

10. Lily is interested in learning to play badminton.

11. Jack's favorite color is green. Unfortunately, he uses "green" as his default name for any color he doesn't know, so "green" could mean anything. I guess what I learned is that he has a favorite color.

12. Jack is already planning his next birthday party. He wants cake and balloons. He informed Jim of his plans this morning as we went out to the car.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Stuff on Etsy!

I've been a very busy girl lately. I just put up some red hot chili markers on etsy:

Aren't they cute? I got the beads at the Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester. They are hand blown glass. The markers are good sized, so I would recommend them as best for a project on larger needles -- maybe size 5 and up.

I'll be updating the store every day for the next few days with my new markers. Here's a preview for you all. See something you like? Let me know! (You can also click on my shop name, pennywenny, on the etsy widget in the side bar -- it'll take you right to the store).

With the exception of the chilis, these markers were designed to be used on smaller projects. Most are shown on a US 3 needle for reference. They all feature my new seamless loop. Enjoy.