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?