Monday, January 31, 2011

ees boke

some handy sign language in use

He Talks!  Well, kind of.  When a toy isn't working as expected, has another toy crammed into it, or just isn't doing what he wants Destructo-boy walks up to me (usually stomping on my feet in the most painful manner possible) and presents me with the toy stating "Boke!" or occasionally "Ees boke!"  Another common word is "Wah" meaning water which would be our cue to go get him a sippy cup.  We are also starting to say something resembling truck which are one of his favorite things right now (boy does this kid love trash day with trash, green waste and recycling designated trash trucks rumbling through the neighborhood!).

It is no less frustrating to communicate with the boy, he understands most of what we say to him and I know he is capable of speech now that he has said a few words.  He has decided however to use grunting and pointing most of the time, he will say a word and then not repeat it for weeks.  "Boke" and "Wah" seem to be the exceptions which he usually uses at least once a day.  Thankfully we also finally got him to use at least one sign language sign, putting his hand to his mouth to indicate being hungry.  This has certainly helped with some of the crying (yes, some of mine too!) around here.

At least I know for sure he is capable of speech, he is just stubborn about using it.  Although I have a sinking feeling once he starts talking he is not going to stop!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Christmas knitting already?!

Yup, it is only 27 days into the new year as of this writing and I have already completed three little Christmas presents.  I found these awesome little patterns for ornaments and I think they are perfect for using up my leftovers from knitting socks.  My plan is to knit up one of each after completing a pair of socks this year, that way I'll keep up with Christmas knitting all year and use up my scraps, happiness all around!

The patterns?  Yes, all three are well written and easy to follow, it will be a pleasure to make them over again multiple times.  On the left is Mini Mitten Ornament by Andrea Kopacek, in the center is Cheers! by Cheryl Niamath, and on the left is Mini Christmas Stocking by Little Cotton Rabbits.  I was able to get all three done over the course of a Saturday in between dealing with kids and getting distracted by my computer from time to time.  I used sock needles sizes US 2 1/2 and US 3, and each ornament used up about 5.5 grams of sport weight yarn.

The stocking ornament is knit flat and even comes with suggestions for different fair isle designs (maybe I can learn on something this small?) which look really fun to try.  Looking at other project pages quite a few people have added initials onto the sweater ornaments a'la Harry Potter, which look really adorable, I think I'll give that a try too!  Hooray for keeping another goal for the year!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Trains, trains, trains

Lil' Misses latest setup, pretty good for a 5 year old!

 It was Christmas of the year 2007 that we were introduced to GeoTrax.  From cruising around the 'net I quickly realized that these toys can become an addiction (well at least more for the parents if not the kids!).  I think everyone bought a little something for Lil' Miss that year to add to the GeoTrax set, this happened even though she didn't quite "get" what to do with it all and certainly couldn't build herself a track yet!  So, in spite of the somewhat uncomprehending 2 year old, the collection grew exponentially at first (mommy & daddy needed all those extras to build an interesting track!) with extra track packs, bridges, and assorted buildings.  She did however rather quickly understand that the controller for the R/C train was important (still didn't know exactly what to do with it) and refused to give it up.  So what did Mister Vonkysmeed do?  If you guessed he went out and bought another R/C train for his own use, give the lady a prize, you're a winner!

We are not lucky enough to have a basement, finished or not, as they do in other parts of the country in which to put a playroom for the kids.  We also have a fairly small home (Destructo-boy & Lil' Miss currently share a room, sorry kids but the planned addition will cost about 200K, gotta wait a few more years!) so our family room where the tv and my laptop reside also house most of the toys.  Of course, fairly quickly the family room was being completely taken over by train tracks.  We adults were getting ambitious with our constructions and every time someone wanted to sit down on a couch they quite literally had to step over various parts of the layout to get there.  So I decided that the trains did not need to be out all of the time.  But what to do with all those trains?  Target (pronounce it tar-jhey so it feels fancier somehow) gave me my affordable solution of two Rubbermaid plastic totes.  They fit ever so nicely behind the end table out of sight, keeping me happy and all the parts together when not in use.

Enter child #2 to the trains and what first started as a spot on imitation of Stitch in the "Ooh, SanFrancisco!" scene starring Destructo-boy as Stitch, has evolved into more interest in actually playing with the trains instead of tearing the tracks apart and flinging them all over the family room (yes, this resulted in Lil' Miss screaming and crying trying desperately to both stop him from pulling up more tracks and recover the pieces already flung across the room which would've been much funnier if I didn't have to physically pull them apart).  He is finally starting to 'get' how to use the trains on the tracks, placing them correctly and running them back and forth with his little hands, he even got an R/C train of his very own this past Christmas.

 I love to watch them when Lil' Miss is using the R/C train and Destructo-boy is madly running back and forth to keep up with the trains progress, squealing all the while, jumping up and down, pointing and yelling "Ack-Ack" (didn't know he had watched Tim Burton's Mars Attacks!).  They have gotten a whole room of adults to sit watching them play with the trains this way, quite entertaining (or are we just easily amused, hmmm).  He is absolutely fascinated with watching it go round and round, particularly when the track has been set up with lots of elevation changes, a roller coaster track as Lil' Miss calls it.  I love it when a toy entertains the children and adult equally, talk about value for the money!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

First socks of 2011

nobody can dig out the chocolate first with these neapolitans!

Yea!  I am on my way to keeping one of my goals with my first socks of the new year, only 5 more pairs to go.  I used the Carolina pattern by Monkey Toes with KnitPicks Felici yarn in the Neapolitan colorway.  I love them!  Okay, it figures that I make some nice warm squishy socks out of sport weight yarn and we have a taste of summer in the middle of winter (it is currently 76 degrees F in my front hallway, gotta love Southern California!) so of course I can't wear them.

that nifty eye of partridge heel flap, love it

Unfortunately I did get almost done with one sock only to realize my gauge was too tight and they were really hard to get on my foot.  Sigh, so I put in an order for some larger sock needles (can I tell you I was so disappointed with that!) and pulled it all apart to start anew.  Since I has to start over anyway I decided to use my newly learned TAAT technique that I had just started to figure out on the sleeves for Lil' Misses new sweater.  Knitting actually went rather quickly doing this, it only took me a little over a week to get them done.  The only thing I am kind of iffy on is the toe, I do like the eye of partridge pattern I knit but I feel that I should have switched to that earlier even if it meant I just knit a few rounds without decreasing yet.  Maybe it's just me but it looks a bit weird with the sock pattern going onto my toes, my toes are a bit squarish so it doesn't take too much to decrease for me and it just seems a bit sudden to my eye.

zoom, it's a toe!

Next up will be Toe Up Socks With a Difference by Wendy Johnson using the design element from Pillars by Lisa Stichweh with some KnitPicks stroll tonal yarn in the blue yonder colorway.  I plan on starting these next socks along with the Knit Picks Lovers group on ravelry as part of a February KAL.  I am really excited about these socks and am looking forward to learning toe up, here's hoping I can figure it out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to: Make a tote bag for knitting, crafting or toting

I can't believe I didn't get better pictures before gifting this...

I do realize there are probably a million and a half free tote bag tutorials floating around on the web, but I haven't seen anything quite like mine so I thought I'd share.  I absolutely love this bag I created to hold all my various knitting projects and tools and have already made several more as gifts.  If you didn't guess on the timing of this tutorial, yup, the one pictured here was indeed a gift for a certain someone, Granola Mama in this case.  I must say with this pattern there is something I really enjoy about picking out all the various fabrics and seeing how they work together.  { it's located in PDF format here}  Here's what you'll need to make one for yourself:
  • 4 pieces of 18"x 8" fabric for the outside of the tote, one 4 1/2 " x 7 1/2" for the closure, and 2 more pieces 4 1/2" x 28" for the straps
  • 3 pieces of 18" x 7" contrast fabric for outside of bag
  • lining fabric 1/2 yard of 45" wide fabric
  • interfacing (I use either medium or heavy weight), 4 of 18" x 8", 2 of 18" x 7"
  • batting, 4 of 18" x 8", 2 of 18" x 7"
  • fusible interfacing, enough for the straps and closure fabric
  • zipper (if you wish to put in a zippered pocket, you'll need some extra pieces of fabric also)
  • button or velcro
It is actually a pretty straight forward design (since I came up with it I'd be really surprised if it were anything but dead simple!) and doesn't require any fancy stitch work, well at least not anything I'd consider fancy.

materials all assembled and ready to sew!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New technique for a new year

I want to try a few new techniques this year, not just knitting ones (which of course there are a few), but tricks to keep my life happier and absolve some of my guilt at letting things go too long this past year.  If you are curious as to what all of these are I listed them in the sidebar off to the left under Goals 2011, feel free to laugh and learn along with me this year!
    I am already in progress on conquering one of my resolutions, learning to knit two at a time on circular needles (abbreviated as TAAT cause I really don't want to have to type all of that over and over).  I am currently knitting a Mi Escuelita cardigan for Lil' Miss, for which the yarn, Ella Rae Amity in aquamarine, was ordered last fall (yes, it's been sitting in my stash for a few months now, holiday knitting kind of got in the way!).  It is actually a really quick knit and I must say I am very pleased with it so far.  I have already finished the lower body of the sweater and decided to do the sleeves TAAT.  It was a total bitch to get started but now that I am a few inches in I 'get' why people like this way of knitting.  I am no longer obsessively counting rows and worried if my gauge changes from one sleeve to the other, and if they will look the same, etc.  It may go a bit slower but they'll be done at the same time, and I need to finish both sleeves up to the armpit to join them to the body and continue work on the top portion of the sweater.

    Maybe I'll give TAAT a try when I finally decide to face the music and restart my Carolina socks languishing in my knitting bag.  They really are too tight and need to be redone, but I just don't have the heart to do it yet!

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Sock Resolution

    I'll admit it, I am knitting socks that is!  I already have completed one pair, the ever popular Monkey socks by Cookie A., and am currently working on my second pair, Carolina by Monkey Toes.  Wearing handknit socks just makes me feel so decadent!  Probably the same feeling some women get from wearing fancy underwear.  I will admit, I felt a pang of jealousy at the last image in this post on Mooncalf's blog, oh to have a sock drawer like that!  So that's my goal, well at least one of them, to knit a sock every month (I know my limits and my level of laziness so a pair each month might be asking too much) so at the end of the year I'll have an additional 6 pairs tucked in my drawer to keep my toes nice and toasty.

    My dear MIL got me off to a good start with my Christmas gift of knitting books, one of which was Sock Innovations by Cookie A.  Squee of excitement from me when I opened that little bit of joy!  Then later on Grumpy and Chatty-Cathy gifted me with some sock blockers and a skein of Imagination sock yarn, double squee!  I think they must have known about the goal fermenting at the back of my mind even then.

    I am going to be joining in the toe-up sock KAL planned for February in the KnitPicks Lovers group on Ravelry also, which will be my second knit-a-long ever.  I just am a bit concerned about that style of socks fitting my freakishly high instep, remember my bitching when knitting my Monkey socks?  Anyway, while perusing the forums on Ravelry when girding my loins to start those socks I found a number of knitters cursed afflicted born with high insteps who reported that the heel style of toe-up socks didn't work for them.  However I have voiced this concern and am eagerly awaiting feedback from my fellow knitters as to how this obstacle shall be overcome.

    Check out the nifty eye of partridge heel!

    That said, I think a bit of cheating rule-bending may be in order, meaning the pair I have started and am working on will count as the first of my socks!  Since I haven't even finished the first sock that shouldn't be too much of a cheat, although they are on hold at the moment as my gauge has changed.  I may need to start them over anyway on larger needles.  So, do you have any resolutions for the new year?
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