Friday, November 25, 2005

Inspiration and Vexation: Just when one gets a bit cocky as a knitter, the universe makes sure it bites said knitter in the arse. So, I should definitely beware when, after say a sock class, I make comments like "why can't they do the figure 8 cast on? I do it all the time, and I didn't have anyone to show me how to do it." Time for humble pie. So, this wonderfully long sock that I finished is just a scunch too snug (like 4 stitches). I thought I would try it a little bit narrower. I pulled one of those "it'll be okay" deals each time I tried it on. It is not okay. There is, apparently, a reason I always have made my socks the size I have always made them. Because that's the way I like them to fit, that's why. So, this FO is a finished, fantastic, f****ed, and about to be frogged object. But, I did accomplish something I always wanted to do: I used an entire skein for one sock. Another lesson learned: I don't like my socks that tall. Love that Humble pie, another slice please. So, below is my new most favorite book. Mittens. Oh, how fickle am I? But seriously, this is a re-release of two previous books by Robin Hansen, and is totally cool. This is a collection of traditional mittens from Maine and the Northeast coast. These folks know how to make warm mittens. My first mitten(s) are so exciting. The first one went slow because there were several new techniques I had to work through, as well as some instructions that I feel could have been a bit more clearly written, and a bit of wonky math. Nevertheless, I am totally HONKED on this book. I'm a sucker for ethnic knitting, and mittens hold the same lure (I'm learning) as do socks. Short but sweet (sometimes bittersweet) and tons of variety. Plus, the potential to bust stash backlog. So, of course the second mitten went much faster, since I knew what I was doing, right? Huh, that's funny how the decreases at the fingertip didn't work out the same as the first one. But it looks okay, keep moving. Let's crank out the thumb so I can start another pair. OH holy mittens so that's why. I had put two too many stitches on my thumb waste yarn. Just two stitches. But see how the thumb is? Those brilliant stripes perfectly branching off the main? I could fudge it or rip it. What would you do? What would the old ladies in Maine do? (Or the young ladies, as an old lady would never have made this goof) I had to sleep on it. Rip it, rip it good. I am stuffed on pie, thanks much. 4 sock stitches + 2 mitten stitches = a lot of extra knitting opportunity. We all have learning to do. And between the annoying skinny sock and the mitten affair, all those six pair of socks are sitting dejected. I had not touched a sock since Tuesday. Until last night. After being jilted by the striped mitten, I went home to the comfort of my familiar sock. I started the second of the pair of the one above. I don't have the nerve to rip the first one until I knit the second one. Then at least if things fall apart, I still have a pair (be it ever so imperfect). I love knitting.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

What Is This Insanity? Yes, that's right. You are seeing that I have 6, SIX socks started at the same time. It's so shameful. My other projects are looking at me accusingly from my dusty knitting basket/heap. In fact, I actually pulled the needles out of one sock to start the "Christmas" sock. I want to have them done by December 10, my extended family''s party day. The sock from which I filched the needles is a cotton/wool blend, so they are really spring/summer socks, so can wait. But still, it says something that I have enough small double points to have 5 socks on the needles.
So what do we have here? At the top, the cream, is woolease. A cuff down, with 3x1 ribbing, with a traditional heel flap from Nancy Lindberg's sock pattern. I decided I wanted to do a heel flap just for fun. Next, clockwise, is my FAVE: Steinbach Wolle Sport. This sock is almost done, toe-up, with 3x1 rib, and I am determined to use the entire skein. Next is debbie bliss baby cashmerino in red, knitpicks dancing, in hoedown (I think), then Knitpicks sockgarden in Hollyberry. This is the first pure merino (ie no nylon) sock I've done for me. It's very soft but I don't think too durable. But I just hope it';ll make it through Christmas. I used a new toe start on this one, so that was fun. Then finally, the green is knitpicks essentials in grass, toe-up, using a beaded rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch. That book is largely responsible for this sockiness. I've always done socks, but now I'm seeing them sort of like shawls, but on a smaller, less expensive scale. And I actually where these everyday, unlike all my shawls. My head is swimming with pattern choices for the tops of all these socks. And what lies ahead? Well these, among others. Here is my new, long awaited Mountain Colors bearfoot (the little ball in the front) in "mountain tango". Behind it are two more Steinbach Wolle aktiv effekt, colors 07 and 08. I know at some point I'll go back to my standard no brainer sock that I always do, but right now I'm giddy with sock schemes. That little foot on the right is Shiloh's, with her newest socks on.
SO, I noticed that for some reason my settings got switched (it wasn't me--it couldn't have been..) and would not allow comments for awhile. Got that fixed now, I think.
IN other news, no more fish have died. I've had enough pet death this year. Olee, our 18yo crotchety male cat (he took pride, I think, in his crotchetiness, so it's no insult). Then Ginger cat disappeared. So sad, she was only about 10. Then Swimmy and 2 zebra danios (fish). And then Jake. Ugh. But, looked at another direction, we still have Miss Biddie, 13yo kitty, PJ, 8yo toughcat, Elly, 8yo doggy, plus the two new cats: Cleo, 3yo and Fern, 4 months. Plus fish. And 25 hens. What are we, the funny farm? It's not funny. Socks, fur, and eggs. That's us. Off I go to sock land.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goodbye Old Friend. Jake has been part of our family since before our kids were born. He was never anything but a good dog. Kind, intelligent, so patient, and an old soul always. Stoic until the end, when even he could no longer hide the pain he suffered from a degenerative spinal disease. I'm so sorry that I could not do more for him, because he did so much for me. There are a lot of great dogs in the world, but there will never be one exactly like Jake. I am so glad we crossed paths so many years ago, and that I was given the chance to show him that life could be better than he had known up to that point. This picture was taken just a couple weeks ago, when there were still warm days when he could let the sun bake away some of his aches. Elly is in the background. Jake and she were best friends of course. Our loss is great, but tempered by knowing that Jake is not hurting anymore. Although his life had changed over the years, as our lives changed, he had a great doggy life. Lots of sun, plenty of deer chasing (or rabbit, or whatever other imaginary animal he could smell the track of as an excuse to go running through our woods), love, treats, people to bark at, and one big daddy (Keith) for his entire life from 6 months (when we got him). So, goodbye Jake. And thankyou so much.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This Is a Hard One For Me: For months and months now (maybe a year!) Shiloh has been in nap transition. Her need for a nap doesn't really catch up with her until around 3:00 or 4:00pm. If she naps then, she wakes up an hour or two later, then is ready to stay up until 12:00 or 1:00. If she doesn't nap then, by 5 or 6 it's so awful. She's exhausted and cranky and so sensitive (as I would be if someone was telling me I couldn't go to sleep). But I need to keep her up until atleast 7 or she still doesn't sleep through. I try soothing her. I try comforting her, distracting her. I'm not into trying to convince her she's not feeling what she's feeling, but I also am trying to keep her even-keeled. Meanwhile Iva has needs too at this time of day. She's a little tired too, plus it's dinner. Interestingly, once we get past this tough period, that is once it is, say 7:00, she gets her second wind and might stay up playing happily until 9:00. We've managed thus far, but I am amazed that it's lasted so long. I mean, it was really different and easier with Iva so this is a new experience for me. But I'm worried that I'm implanting in Shiloh this precedent to ignore her body's messages (ie "You're sleepy") , and I feel like it is a real point of conflict between us, even if I am trying to be supportive. The thing is, her staying up until 1:00am just will not work for our family. It's not just that I want her to go to bed at a "proper" bedtime or something. And maybe for some families it would present no problem. But I really need this evening space to get myself recharged for the next day. It is my quiet down time, and regular solitude is essential for me. When I don't get it, I can definitely tell a difference in my ability to parent creatively and patiently the next day. This time of year Keith is only working two jobs, instead his spring/summer three/four (depending on whether you consider running a plant nursery and doing farmer's market as one or two jobs.) Oh, wait, I forgot he is doing a part-time construction job 2 days a week now. Add in another job. He doesn't get any space for himself either. But I'm talking space from the little ones, so that I can be a good mom. It is really the only non-kid space I get, except for 7 hours at work once a week. But that's not my time either, in the sense of getting myself grounded. So it's a toughy. I'm not trying to bitch too much about how busy we are, I'm just trying to explain that I've tried to convince myself that maybe I should just let her stay up with me, which sometimes I do. But that is just not sustainable for us right now. I've tried making quiet time earlier in the day, like around 1:00 (or even 2 or 3 when I can tell she's really tired) and encourage her to take a nap then. She just hangs on and fights it. Amazing. She's such a beautiful person, so unwilling to miss a second of this exciting world. I feel so sad for her when she's so sleepy and I'm telling her "you can't go to sleep right now". Any ideas?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Where Have I Been? Well, I'll say it has something to do with this hen. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it. This, by the way, is Orangejuice, and she is a silver-laced Wyandotte. And, actually, in the background is Careful (directly behind OJ's head), who is an araucania, and Twin (to the left). Twin is one of two Twins, of course, so named because there are only so many silverlaced wyandottes in a flock that are distinct enough to tell apart. Although Iva knows which Twin is which, based on their behavior. We have twentysome hens and they are totally cool. We also always have about 11 dozen eggs in our fridge at all times. Along with my yarn stash, these eggs will secure my future when the new Eggyarn economy comes to pass.
Swimmy Lookout the betta is dead. He looked great yesterday, as far as we can all recall, but this morning he looked as if someone had dissolved 80% of his fins. I felt really sorry for him, he looked pretty miserable. So in that sense, the death is a relief. I kept saying "poor Swimmy" and Iva said "he's not poor Swimmy now, Mommy, because he's dead."
I taught my first classes at work this weekend. It was so great. Class #1 was drop spindling. Class #2 was a topdown sweater. Everyone had a good time I think. Except maybe the couple people who had to swatch about 6 times each (no kidding) because they really had no guess as to where their gauge was at. But everyone left with atleast a start of a sweater. I'm curious to see what comes back in two weeks. The drop spindling was awesome. Five people getting revved up about spindling. Hopefully they will stick with it and come back in for more help when they need it. Plus, being at work on a different day, I got to see a couple friends that I don't see often. It's nice to have someone to talk Sock with who is as enthusiastic as me.
A journey North is on our Horizon. Are you ready for that Andy? Hopefully it'll happen, AND I'll get to scope out some yarn shops in southern Wisconsin.
Gotta go. I think I here Orangejuice coming.