Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Day 22

It's Thanksgiving!  Today I give thanks for my wonderful extended family who I get to spend all day with.  I am blessed to have a rather large family who like to get together and have relatively few disagreements.  I hope all of you have a wonderful day of thanksgiving and have someone special to share a great meal with today!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful, Days 17-21

I am thankful I have so much to do that I haven't been able to blog about what I am thankful about!  Seriously, it is much better to be busy cleaning the house, (so thankful for that roof over my head), taking care of my kids (so thankful for those two little monsters), and taking care of shopping errands (so thankful for the funds and transportation to do so) than the alternative!  And now for the rest:

18. Working appliances, because really, who wants to wash all those dishes by hand!

19. Our newest family member, Thomas O'Malley.  No home is truly complete without a fur person to share it with.

20. Wireless internet, it is so nice to be able to be out on the couch with my kids while I take care of business, and often play, instead of being confined to our office.

21. Ravelry, I love that site!  I think I am a much better knitter because of it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful, Day 16

Today I give thanks for Mobile Notary Public people!  Why, because the Mister and I are both sick (I think this is the first sick day he has taken in at least 5 years) and we need to sign the documents for our mortgage refinancing.  So thank goodness for a Notary who will come to our house to witness us signing all the paperwork all while exposing themselves to all our yucky germs and those rotten kids of ours. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful, Day 15

Today I am thankful for Hot Cocoa weather, there is just something about a cold, gloomy day (like today) that makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a vat of hot chocolate, a warm blankie, a book and the warm glow of my monster television.  Mmmm, chocolate...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful, Day 14

Today I am thankful for naps, no necessarily for me, for the kids.  You have no idea how much you will miss them until they are gone.  Destructo-Boy used to nap reliably for at least 2 hours a day, until we enforced the removal of the pacifier by cutting off the tip, he retaliated by cutting off the naps.  I really miss those quiet few hours every day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful, Day 13

So I should have started this on the first of November, sue me I'm late (probably because I just thought of it, d'oh!).  I want to remember each and every day what I am thankful for and I thought I would record it here, some things are silly, some ridiculous, and a whole lot are simple but here are 1 through 13 in no particular order:
  1. My husband, a great guy who puts up with me and all my craziness and has for 15 years now.
  2. The smell of coffee, yes, just the smell.  
  3. My kids, the little loves of my life, I can't even imagine life without them.
  4. Fall, my absolute favorite time of the year, and yes I do realize I live in southern California but we do still get fall (at least us natives can tell the difference without the more obvious clues such as leaves changing color!)
  5. DVR's, so I can watch American Horror Story, CSI, Grimm, etc. without giving my kids nightmares or having to hide in my room.
  6. My families health, we are all amazingly healthy, knock on wood it stays that way!
  7. Dr Demento, because I was sharing some of his albums with the kids yesterday, his humor will always be weird, offbeat, and in style!
  8. That I was fortunate enough to be born here, in the United States, we may have our problems but I still feel this is the best place to live.
  9. Chocolate, because really, would life be worth living without it?
  10. Manual transmissions, because really, driving a stick is SO much more fun!
  11. The home I live in, it is ours (well, some of it anyway) and safe and a great place to raise our kids.
  12. Warm Vanilla Sugar perfume, because who doesn't want to smell like a big ole' sugar cookie?!
  13. Handkint socks, you don't know there is even a difference until you wear them, especially ones made with skinny bugga, mmm, cashmere!

Friday, September 21, 2012


Excuse me while I get all tingly and tounge tied here, but this flew over my house today!

Yup, that's Endeavor riding piggy back on top of a 747 on its way around the Southland before landing at LAX.   I think I upset Destructo Boy a little when I grabbed him away from his lunch to go run outside to look for it since it just passed by Disneyland and I knew it was on its way to flyover us.  Our neighbor and I chatted for a minute before whe burst out "There it is!"  and we ended up running out in the middle of our residential street to get a nice unobstructed view.  It was amazingly close, following a street only 3 blocks away from us.  

I am so sad to see the end of this incredible period of space history and hope the government pulls its act together so they can get us to the moon again and even farther away, but what a way to inspire all the youngsters who were lucky enough to get a view of this amazing sight today!  I can't wait to take the kids to the California ScienCenter to go see it even closer in a few months!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Ravellenic Games Wrap Up

I didn't challenge myself with a specific technique or a huge project this time, I just completed a large amount of projects in the two weeks, for me at least.  I started and finished 3 projects, also competing in three additional events.  All in all I feel pretty happy with what I was able to accomplish.

The three projects I completed in full were a Tropical Lily top for Lil' Miss, a Milanese Loop cowl for Missus Gordon's Christmas present and a pair of Autumnal Mitts for Chatty-Cathy's Christmas gift.  The Tropical Lily and the cowl I actually worked on while we were on vacation, almost finishing them within the week.  I did learn I can knit in the car on super windy roads as long as I don't look down to much, and wow is the 245 between Woodlake and Badger windy beyond reason!  I cast on the mitts after finishing up the top for Lil' Miss and realizing they would be the perfect way to use up some of the yarn left over after knitting a cowl for a Christmas gift earlier in the year.  They took only 2 days to work start to finish, and I didn't even work them two at a time on one needle!

For the remaining events I competed in the frogging trampoline by ripping out one of my first sweater projects, Scabbard.  It was just too warm and I didn't do well with the alpaca, it made me itch like crazy so the yarn is destined for a cowl neck vest instead.  I also participated in the modular relay by working two additional sections of the Babette blanket that is still in progress for Destructo Boy.  Finally I cast on two projects for the cast on trap shoot, Chrysanthemum Frutescens Socks (that I also got to work as part of the KAL in the Violently Domestic Fans group on Ravelry) and a heavily modified Castle pullover.  I completely changed the neckline to be a scoop shape rather than a boatneck, I am hoping to make the sleeves 3/4 length at least, and I moved the start of the lace to below the bustline.

It was so much fun to have my own goals while I watched the athletes compete, and chatting and seeing what others did on Ravelry added to the excitement.  I am definitely looking forward to Sochi in 2014!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Best Ravellenic Project EVAH!

Yup, I win!  We adopted this fella from the shelter today and are just delighted with him.  Poor guy doesn't even have a name from us yet, Hopefully he will by the end of the weekend.  Kudos to National Cat Protection Society in Newport Beach, they were awesome!

He will be keeping me company as I start taking Destructo-boy to pre-school this fall, sniff-sniff.  Plus, now I feel like a 'real' knitter as I have a fur-ball that will chase down stray yarn balls and eat them as they roll away from me.  Please don't complain about the stray hairs in your holiday knitting, you might not get any the next year! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Let The Ravellenic Games Begin!

I'll be quiet for the next 2 weeks as I will be busy knitting for the Ravellenics.  What are the Ravellenic Games you ask?  It is a friendly personal challenge competition held over at Ravelry while we enjoy the Olympic Games being held in London this summer, all the information can be found here in the Ravellenic Games 2012 group.

My projects competing in the Games are as follows:
  • Castle pullover knit with Cephalopod Yarns traveller in san francisco bay, I'll be heavily modifying the neckline on this one to be a round neck rather than the boat neck in the pattern.
  • Milanese Loop cowl knit with Knit Picks Capra in carnation, a holiday gift that I am attempting to complete in a week while on vacation.
  • Tropical Lily using stashed Knit Picks comfy in sea foam and planetarium, this one is a n attempt to use up some leftovers creatively and to hopefully work on my intarsia techniuque as I'll be knitting all the garter border stitches in the darker blue.
  • Babette Blanket, yes I already started this one but I plan on getting one of the huge sections of it done for the Games, especially as I haven't touched it in several months
  • Silken Scabbard, I blogged about making this sweater when I first made it, but I don't wear it as it is really hot and the alpaca in the yarn makes me super itchy.  So this project is getting frogged and I will reuse the yarn to make myself a vest that will be work over shirts.
I am so excited to get started and have been prepping my projects for weeks, getting my yarn  all organized, swatching done for each project, and the biggest thing, planning out all the math for my Castle pullover.  The athletes all train for their events so this is me training for mine!  Excuse me now while I make sure my favorite knitting spot is all ready for me to plant my backside while I enjoy the best athletes the world has to offer doing their best and I knit along with them like a mad woman.  Mass cast on at 11:30 am my time (9:30 pm BST), it's time to begin!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Veggie Garden, year 2

I'll be honest, we didn't eat much from it last year.  The kids didn't like the carrots, the broccoli never materialized, the radishes were spicy, and neighborhood critters got into the rest before I had a chance to harvest it.  This year we are hopeful for better results having started from seedlings instead of seeds except for the pumpkin that a critter got as soon as the first leaves appeared.

This year's crop includes two varieties of tomato, two varieties of bell peppers, a cucumber, a zucchini, and green onions.  The tomatoes are going gangbusters, I think we will definitely plant them along the fence next year and train them up a trellis, yup-look at that pic again, definitely need to do that!  We have been enjoying those tomatoes regularly, every few days more are ripe and ready to eat.  Destructo-Boy loves to eat them fresh off the vine, I have to keep reminding him to hold them for me as I pick them instead of taking a bite out of each one I hand him. 

The cucumber isn't producing that much, but the two I've had were nice and juicy.  Likewise with the zucchini, not much is coming from it this year and the one I have harvesting was so tough I wasn't even able to cook it up.  Maybe I waited too long to harvest it?  Still waiting on peppers, one is growing off the chocolate beauty plant, and just the one.  I wonder if peppers are just hard to grow?

Tomatoes, yum, we will definitely keep doing those next year!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Magical Mystery Sewing Machine Tour!

I got bit by the quilting bug, badly apparently as this just came home with me on Friday.

tldr; Hey!  I shopped around & got a new sewing machine!

It all began because of the quilt I am making for Lil' Miss (isn't it easier to blame our foibles on someone else?) I looked at the meager machines available for sale at my JoAnn's while I was there buying fabric to back her quilt.  They were Singer's and none too fancy, a whole lot more expensive than my current Singer but just didn't seem to have the extra harp space I was interested in.  So I went home, thinking about how maybe it was time to upgrade my machine.  I looked online, I perused various blogs and discussions about which manufacturer was best and tried to compare as best I could.  Which sounds great, but have you ever tried to find the price of a sewing machine online?  It's like they're a national secret or something!  I finally realized I just need to make a trip to my local sewing machine dealer.

Happily my closest dealer is in the same shopping center as my JoAnn's and since I needed to get some batting anyway...  So I went in and told the nice salesguy what I was looking for, a machine good for a novice quilter.  He starts showing me this lovely machine, demonstrating what it does and all the cool bells and whistles on it as I am coming to the realization that this machine is way out of my league.  So I ask how much it is and almost loose my bladder right there on the floor, $2399 plus tax!  This is so beyond the budget I had in mind of $500 that it is just sad.  I explained there was a monetary constraint to this purchase and did they have anything more in my price range.

He showed me a perfectly serviceable used machine (who knew a 20 year old machine would sell for $500!) and their limited selection of lower priced machines, yes, $500 is lower priced in the world of sewing machines.  As he was getting call away to assist another customer he mentioned the machines up by the front window that were their best-sellers, Pfaff Amitions, and that the store did offer financing.  I looked at them but was feeling so overwhelmed that I needed to go home and resume my internet searching for these specific models now that I had narrowed the field somewhat.

Have I mentioned that shopping for a sewing machine has a lot in common with shopping for a car?  Trade-in's, financing, servicing plans, oh my!  Anyway I came home and resumed my search, looking specifically at the Pfaff Ambition line, because with the 0% interest financing I could definitely swing it.  The reviews overall for these machines were glowingly positive and everyone seemed to love the built in walking foot.  Although the used machine was perfectly nice, I will admit I wanted something new, I like me some bells and whistles.

meet Pfrannie Pfaff... I think we are going to be good friends, she and I

I was able to pick the brains of my friends in regards to my sewing machine quest and their advice was to test drive any machine before I purchsed it.  Their preferred brands were Viking and Bernina, but since Bernina is so far beyond my means I didn't even consider it.  As for the Viking I found that the Sapphire line seemed comparable to the Pfaff Ambition line, and after further research I focused in on the Sapphire 835.  I located my local dealer for their machines and planned to go test driving the next day with my 2 selections in mind, the Viking Sapphire 835 vs the Pfaff Ambition 1.5/

I charged up my ipod to entertain the monkeys while I was doing my test drives and got an early start the very next day to compare one right after the other.  The very nice sales lady at the Viking dealer went over the machine with me, not pushy at all and answered all my questions.  What I particularly liked about it was that there was more harp space than the Pfaff, about 1.5", and when you take your foot off the pedal the presser foot automatically lifts, a nice feature for doing straight line quilting.  I did not like that there was not a bobbin sensor for the model I was looking at (every damn time I sew I run out of bobbin thread and don't notice until at least a foot of fabric has gone under the needle, so this was a priority feature for me), and even on sale this machine was $100 more than the Pfaff with less stitches available and no integrated walking foot, a separate one would have to be purchased for another $100.  Additionaly, this dealer did not offer any financing or trade-in rebate.

At our second visit to the Pfaff dealer I homed right in on the machine I was interested in and the sales guy there went through a whole demonstration of all the features of the Ambition 1.5 for me, again he answered every question I asked kindly and with respect.  After sewing on it a bit, I was pretty happy with it and was ready to ask about pricing.  Turns out it was on sale, plus they offered trade in credit, and financing with a minimum $1000 purchase.  I really liked the integrated walking foot, the huge selection of 196 stitches including 4 alphabets, and the specialty buttonhole foot on the Pfaff.  The financing deal was the final trigger though, both machines were great but the ability to stretch those payments out over a year at no interest was what got me to pick the Pfaff, plus the offer of free classes on how to use the machine, a free service at one year, and the ability to trade up in one year while being cresited for the full value of the machine I just purchased (not that I will actually take advantage of this, but nice to know it's possible!).

check out all those stitches!

So yea, I am the proud owner of Pfrannie Pfaff, an Ambition 1.5.  I have barely started to play with her but I already know I will definitely need that free 'Get to know your Pfaff' class!  As typical for me though, this was partly triggered because I know to do free motion quilting you need to lower the feed dogs or cover them...guess what I found while packing up the Singer to take for the trade in?  Yup, that's right I found a cover for my feed dogs right there in the accessories storage area.  Oh well, still not sorry in the least that I upgraded, now I just have to learn how to use this fancy machine!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dolman sleeves are back?!

Apparently they are and I just finished knitting one up to wear this summer.  I didn't set out to make one, in fact the yarn, Comfy fingering by Knit Picks, has been in my stash for over a year now.  Initially it was earmarked to make a Tempest cardigan, but I was really unsure about how the stripes change sizes in odd areas, like towards the bottom of the bust, but not under it like an empire waist.  So I rethought and decided perhaps Paulie would look better, some easy garter stitch at the shoulder and the same size stripe after that for the rest of the sweater.  The yarn however continued to sit as I worked on other projects that excited me far more than this cardigan did.  Until the fateful day while perusing the patterns on Ravelry I discovered the Roxborough Dolman by Courtney Kelley and was smitten, I had to have it.

Okay, the dolman sleeve thing was a bit odd I thought, and I wasn't really sure how the fit of it would work on me with my remaining post baby belly (still working on reducing that sucker down), but when I looked into the sizing I realized it was given in ranges so it would fit me now and if I ever manage to make my goal of losing 10-15 pounds it will still fit, awesomesauce!  Even better, I just happened to have a discount code from Interweave that I was able to use to purchase the digital verision of the magazine.  It was in my hot little hands, er, my laptop and then my ipod within minutes.  I did my gauge swatches that night.

The pattern is simple, just change the color after a set number of rows, and work increases on each side seam after another set number of rows, repeat endlessly.  It made for great tv knitting.  The yarn makes for a really nice light and so soft fabric when knit up, I am in love with it!  Now that it is all done I am hopeful I will be wearing it quite a bit over the summer and am again perusing patterns on Ravelry looking for fingering weight tops, they take awhile to finish but are oh so nice.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Failure & Triumph!

I started with trying to make a cardigan out of one of my issues of Verena knitting, #49 Milk.  It did not go well.  In fact it went so badly I never even bothered to take a picture of it before I destroyed it.  Lesson learned here, try to keep to a yarn not only with the same weight but also the same general fiber content, and don't keep trying when the gauge is really off, sometimes even going up a size or 2 won't work.  Of course I didn't figure this one out until after I had the back and one front done with the second front halfway done.  I guess I really liked those cables!

I did learn to re-skein and wash my yarn after frogging because of this debacle though, it really does take the kinks out once it is all dried out again.  I also have gotten really good with my nostepinne after winding it all up into balls for the second time, sigh.  The biggest pain was that the yarn, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, is rather 'sticky' so it kept grabbing onto itself both while frogging and when I was winding it up after it's bath.

My second attempt at a cardigan with the yarn has gone much better and sadly enough is what my intuition was telling me I should have done in the first place, Snowbird.  It's a great pattern that gives fantastic results.  The start is kind of tricky, but once you get going it is pretty easy to follow.  I did notice that the back of the neckline is too big for me (possibly due to the yarn stretching out some after washing) which I fixed by doing a crab stitch with a crochet hook along the seam to pull it in.  This has helped a little, but it still feels like it might slip off my shoulders at any second.  Next time I'll follow the next size down for the back of the neck instructions.  I say 'next time' because knitting Snowbird has gone so well that I think I'll do it again with the knit side of the stockinette being the right side and using the cable and garter edge I liked so much from Milk for the collar instead of reverse stockinette.  I could of course just use an appropriate yarn for Milk, but I've been burned once and don't want to have it happen again!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer knitting

After an aborted start working on a Poolside with my stash of Rowan Calmer I started again on Irish Coffee and am quite pleased.  I stopped the Poolside because I realized my yarn wasn't a really good match, Calmer acts a lot like a wool yarn, not very much like a cotton so I decided it would work better for me in a  pattern that actually calls for wool.  I also have come to realize that living in southern California doesn't really require wool for sweaters, at least for pullovers.  As cold as I can get (hey, I got cold in Lahaina, Hawaii, true story!), I still can feel like I am suffocating in wool when I wear my one wool pullover, so perhaps a blend is the way to go for me.

I have also heavily altered the neckline and fit of this sweater, it is supposed to fit like a tunic, rather loose, but I am making it significantly more fitted.  The snugger fit is also me hedging my bets a little knowing that cotton tends to stretch and definitely more so in a full garment than in a 4" x 4" swatch.  For the neckline I cast on far fewer stitches than are called for because in just about every project on Ravelry with a model, she is wearing a t-shirt underneath since the wide neckline is so wide their bra straps would show otherwise.  Since I want to be able to wear this as a sweater without something else underneath I knew that neckline would need to change.  So I grabbed my copy of Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard and took inspiration from her raglan pattern Pink to adjust the sweater more to my liking (plus copious amounts of math using my gauge swatches, checking and re-checking myself to be sure).  Thus I have a great v-neck for this fabulous sweater.

Once I got to the split for the sleeves I have pretty much faithfully followed the pattern.  I really love how the cable on this one comes together, so very pretty.  Thus far I am loving working on this and as always Thea writes a great pattern, I highly recommend this one, I may even make it again but following the original neckline!

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Quilt for Lil' Miss

I finally got around to picking out fabrics for Lil' Miss to have her very own quilt.  Since I already made one for Destructo-boy she needed one too, plus her bedding is getting kind of sad looking and needs to be freshened up.  I found a great collection of prints from Michael Miller Fabrics called 'It's a girl thing" that called out to me.  I wasn't sure at first if it was too sophisticated for her but after consulting with a few friends at our Memorial weekend bbq I was convinced that it was something she would enjoy now and could grow into.  Because who really wants to make a quilt that after a few years the child says 'But Mom, princess ballerinas are for babies!', yeah, not me so more grown up fabrics it is for this quilt.

I wasn't even sure what kind of quilt pattern to make at first, I wanted something interesting but not too complicated for a novice quilter like myself.  I've done 2 quilts now that are essentially large squares with other fabrics used as sashing around them and want to move on and work with some piecing in the squares.  I searched for some nine patch quilt tutorials (we read the Little House books together and there were several times she wrote about them working on their  nine patch quilts) and came across this great tutorial on the blog Oh, Fransson! for a crazy nine patch lattice quilt.  Yes, it is for a baby quilt, but doubling the size of the quilt results in finished measurements really close to a full size quilt so I'll be doing this one doubled.  I am pretty excited and can't wait for the fabrics to arrive so I can start cutting out and sewing them up.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A book review: The Knitters Curiosity Cabinet

After loving everything in Silk Road Socks by Hunter Hammersen and really enjoying knitting two of the patterns already, of course I had to get her newest volume of patterns, The Knitters Curiosity Cabinet in spite of not being even close to finishing the patterns in her first book.  Taking her inspiration from the collections of the Victorian era middle class that inspired vintage botanical prints, she created 10 different paired patterns for socks and a coordinating accessory piece.  As of right now all I have is the e-book, with the physical book due to arrive in another month or two, but what I have is beautiful and impressive in and of itself.

I love how she begins the book with a history of curiosity cabinets detailing their evolution along with photographic examples of them.  It serves as giving a sense of how she came about with the creation of the patterns and explains how the patterns in the book relate to one another resulting in a very cohesive selection of knitting patterns.  The photos of the patterns are all charmingly taken in the location a library from the looks of it.  Each pattern is photographed beautifully with both close up images of the stitch pattern and a full shot of the knitted piece being worn.

As to the patterns themselves, they are well laid out and easy to follow.  Each pair of patterns are accompanied by an inspirational botanical print and a brief description of the plant in the image along with describing what exactly served as the inspiration for the stitch patterns created.  The patterns are charted, which I prefer, and if you don't know how to follow charts I strongly suggest you learn as it is so much easier to work then following written instructions!  An improvement over Silk Road Socks layout was that as opposed to just having a a master stitch key at the beginning of the book, there is also a stitch key included with each pattern listing just the stitches used for that pattern.  This will make using the book while knitting each pattern much easier as all relevant information is right there on one page, instead of forcing the knitter to flip back and forth to check the chart symbols.

In closing, I am delighted with this book as not only does it have a wide selection of patterns I can't wait to cast on, but it is a lovely book in and of itself.  Available in e-book form now through or it's own site The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, available in print form late spring or summer of this year, 2012.  There will also be Knit-A-Longs for the book in her group on Ravelry beginning in July 2012.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gettin' my crochet on.

After promised for who knows how long I finally ordered the yarn, bought the pattern, and got started on a blankie for Destructo-boy.  I had long admired the Babbette blanket but the thought of making a huge blankie out of fingering weight yarn made me want to weep.  So after checking the numerous projects that have been made with that pattern I decided it would work just fine with worsted weight yarn.  Then the conundrum of finding just the right colors of yarn in a washable fiber.  Knit Picks to the rescue!  They recently came out with their very first selection of acrylic yarn, perfect for a grubby little kiddo.

I am a little overwhelmed at the amount of squares that need to be made for this blanket, but it will look so cute when finished I think it's worth it.  Now I just need to figure out how to relax and not worry overmuch about the colors used in each square.  I don't want it to be too heavy on one color and light on others, but don't really want to stress about it either.  Regardless it is coming along nicely and it a nice change of pace from the knitting that normally takes up all my time.  When it is done I think it'll look great, that's just a long time from now I fear!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Scary Lace...

Is not so scary anymore!  I finally have cast on the lace project that inspired me to learn to knit lace in the first place, Shipwreck Shawl from the Spring 2009 issue of Knitty.  I admired it way back then but thought I would never be able to do something that complicated.  So I started smaller and kept learning about how to follow charts and that lace is essentially just making increases and decreases.  I am currently about 30 rows into it as of writing this blog entry and am sailing along quite nicely.

The trickiest part thus far was the cast on, I had to watch Fleegle's video of the cast on repeatedly before I finally realized what she was doing and got it done myself.  Normally it doesn't take that long for something to 'click' but for some reason this technique took awhile.  Once I had that done it was pretty easy sailing since I have already mastered working the magic loop (although dpn's could be used for this project just as easily, but who would want to!) and all the first rows required were knitting and yarn overs.  I already did the strawberry chart and it was a breeze, I am beginning to suspect that I am quite capable of knitting this project with little to no difficulty since I have been making lace shawls for over a year now and seem to do pretty well with them.

Admittedly I have no idea what I will do with this shawl once it is completed, I have never worn a circular shawl and don't know that I ever would.  This is one of those projects that I am attempting to do just for the challenge and the fact that the finished object is gorgeous.  Maybe I'll need to buy a piano just to put this shawl on for display!  Just kidding, because seriously, where would I put a piano, and I don't even play!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


He is potty trained!  Destructo-boy that is, Mister Vonkysmeed came to me that way.  It was so much easier this time around than it was with Lil' Miss.  Maybe because I learned that pushing ended disastrously with her so I backed off this time and let the boy take the lead.  I showed him what to do, set up a sticker reward system and then let him have at it.

Don't get me wrong, there were quite a few mistakes made along the way, on both sides, but after 8 weeks he is going days at a time with no accidents, it has been a few weeks since his last oops.  I think the last one was when he was away from home and didn't know where the potty was, can't really blame him too much on that one.  Amazingly enough he is usually waking up dry too and it took the girl well over a year to be trained at night after we started her potty training.  Although on those nights he falls asleep early and we don't bother to put on the night time diaper are of course the nights he wets himself.

He was so excited to pick out his new underpants choosing Toy Story and Cars 2 when I laid them all out for him.  Then he wanted to show them off, to the point that he dropped his pants in the quad of Lil' Misses school to show them to a neighbor.  I haven't laughed that hard in awhile!  Now that he has been wearing them for a few days he isn't dropping his pants to show them all the time, but he is getting particular about which one he wears on a given day.

Next I'll let Mister Vonkysmeed demonstrate how big boys pee in the potty (I don't really have the equipment to do that for the boy!), I see Cheerios kept in a bowl in the bathroom in our near future.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

OCD Much?

That's Obsessive Compulsive Delightful as I heard on the morning news program the other day!  That said, I got rather obsessive about some quick to finish projects that would use up the bits and bobs of yarn that I have clogging up my stash bins.  Why did I get crazy about this one asks?  Well, I need to get rid of them so I have room for all the new yarns I want to buy!

For starters I gave away yarns that drove me crazy, such as the 2 partial skeins of Berocco Vintage left over from Destructo-boy's Tomten cardigan and some really pretty but difficult to use mohair bulky yarn.  The Vintage stuff just doesn't hold up, it pills if you look at it funny so regardless of how much I spent on it I'll never use those bits and off they went.  The mohair I just gave to Goodwill, I tried to knit with it, I really did but it made me cry (literally, is that sad or what?!) so away it went too.

For the knitting I first took a little trip through Rebecca Danger's great book The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, knitting 3 different monsters so far, with a 4th planned.  The monster creation used up 5 different yarns, hooray!  Then I made a pair of fingerless mitts for Destructo-boy (who put them on immediately and would not remove them for the rest of the day) and a ear-warmer headband for Lil' Miss (that still needs a cute crocheted flower to finish it off).  Those 2 projects used up 4 different skeins of leftover bits, so happy!

The only problem was that I have 3 larger projects going on already and I have been totally ignoring them in the instant gratification of pulling yarn out of my boxes, making something and being done in a day or two.  Additionally I found myself getting all anxious about the amount of yarn still in the boxes and that I wasn't getting rid of it fast enough.  Then I stopped and reminded myself that knitting is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby, not something that creates angst.  So I am currently back to the big projects and trying to remind myself to enjoy each and every stitch.  It helps some that I made a new rule for myself, only 1 yarn order allowed per month, and I still need to have room to put it into a box before I can order it...yes, I already made my order for March!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

I discover the delights of Skinny Bugga!

I admit, I am late to the indie dyer party, but I finally ordered my first skeins from Cephalopod Yarns, and wowzers, I am hooked!  Not only does the yarn come wrapped in the most lucious color of teal tissue paper but it is very soft and smooth in the skein (I can only imagine what it will feel like after washing, swoon), but it even smells good!  Kind of like when you got a new textbook in school and the first thing you;d do after getting it was to crack it open and sniff...wait, that was just me?!  How about mimeographs (oh dear lord, did I just show my age?!)?

I got only 2 skeins, but yum, the first is one of their regular line of colors called Oleander Nymph, a truly lovely shade of buttery yellow.  The second skein is a new color that will only be available for a limited time called Leafy Seadragon (although after another Raveler posted a photo of Sully from Monster's Inc. as being what the colorway looked like that is what I will always think of when I see it).  I am not sure what I will make with these skeins, although the yellow in all likelihood will make a pair of socks from the soon to be released Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet, but regardless they will be something for me, me, me!

Now that I have seen the quality of their products I am really wanting some of the Traveller line of yarn they sell, a dk weight, in another limited edition color, Blue Ringed Octopus, so pretty!  Wouldn't a Drambuie pullover look fabulous in that?!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

It's done, for reals this time!

Yes, I finally finished my Dark & Stormy.  No more ripping stitches out, it is officially done, hooray!  This really is a great pattern and I think I am now hooked on Baby Cocktails designs,  I had already knitted Nantucket Red by her and love it too.  The only thing I found was that to me her designs run a little small, or maybe she likes her sweaters snugger than I do mine.  Hmm, or maybe I am just lying to myself about my true measurements...

To get my Dark & Stormy right I ended up ripping out the collar to the last of the short rows and picking out the bottom hem so I could add on the needed length.  On the bottom I added 12 rows of ribbing (about an inch and a half) before binding it off again.  For the collar I used a separate piece of yarn to do the pick up rows on each side where the hem was longer before spit splicing the yarn back together at the end of the short rows and continuing on with the pattern instructions from that point.  I did need to add a fifth buttonhole, thankfully I was able to find the last button in my sewing basket!

One thing I learned is that although a sewn bind off makes a wonderfully stretchy edge that looks good it is utter misery to pick out!  In spite of the pain this was and the additional week of working on it and nothing else really, it was worth it in the end.  I am now totally happy with the sweater and foresee much wearing of it.  I certainly hope the yarn will hold up, it is so soft I fear it will start pilling if I look at it funny!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sick Girl

She's been sick for three days now, I know this isn't big news to anyone else but my child has one of those iron-clad constitutions that mean she rarely gets sick and even then not for long.  Poor thing, I hope she gets better soon because I'd really hate to keep her home from school tomorrow.  Not that I don't like having her around but if I do she won't get her perfect attendance for this year like she did last year (that said I am not sending a sick child to school, it's not worth sharing with everyone else!). 

Thankfully the vomiting stopped after Friday night, but anyone know how to get the smell out of a couch?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Dark & Stormy is done...psych!

I thought it was done, then I wore it for two days straight.  However, every time I saw a mirror all I could think was 'That sweater should be about an inch or two longer'.  Sigh, so you know what I did next.  Yup, I pulled out most of the collar (I stopped at the short row part as I should be able to finagle the pickup row into looking okay on the new hem rows) and unpicked the sewn bind off on the bottom hem.

I wore it for the 2 days and LOVED it, just that length thing really bugged, so it is all back on cables now and I am working on adding another 12 rows to the bottom ribbing.  You'd think I would have learned by now to trust that intuition and really look at my gauge swatch (it only grew in stitches across not in rows, so it should have been obvious my sweater wouldn't grow that way either), but no, I didn't.  I suspect I was feeling a bit tired of working on it and just wanted it to be finished and my impatience has now bit me in the a$$. 

The upside of my current misery is that I will have a sweater I am in total love with at the end, I just need to remember to keep my patience in the future when I knit (like that'll ever happen!).  That patience will be sorely needed with the next cardigan I am working on, #49 Milk from Verena of fall 2010.  It is a nice long cardi that will take quite awhile to complete.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Here's my 15 seconds...

Check it out, my Straightforward Mitts got mentioned on the WEBS blog today!  Apparently they liked them so much they asked me if they could include my picture in their feature on socks and mitts using the Valley Yarns Charlemont yarn.  They also did features on Charlemont for sweaters and for shawls over the weekend, check those posts out too for some great ideas.

I will say it is a great yarn, very soft and easy to work with.  It is a little splitty, but what yarn isn't that has silk content?  That silk content gives it a really beautiful sheen too.  After a good wash and block the yarn really softens up and develops a nice soft sproingyness (is that even a word?).  I do wish there was a greater range of colors, they are all in the dark jewel tone range and I am more of a spring colors girl.  But at 439 yards for $12.99 this is as really affordable merino/silk fingering weight yarn.

As for the mitts, a great pattern with lovely results.  It does require some concentration at first to get the angled ribbing set up but I found once I understood the pattern it was really easy to work along.  I loved having a chart to follow but the pattern is also written out for those who don't work with charts.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Stash down progress

One of my goals for 2012 was to knit down some of my accumulated stash.  Why you ask?  So I can buy more yarn silly!  Like I have been dying to try Bugga! by The Verdant Gryphon, something from Quince & Co., and something from The Plucky Knitter, among other endless choices.  Since my stash boxes wouldn't close before the new year I definitely needed to use up some of the collected yarn before I could set about gathering more.

I am currently working on four different items using up stash: a Dark & Stormy cardigan with my 14 skeins of Knit Picks City Tweed, the January Mystery KAL by Susanna IC using up a skein of Araucania Ranco, a Dew Drop Cowl using 2 skeins of Serenity, and Gordes Socks from Silk Road Socks using my gorgeous skein of Madelinetosh tosh sock yarn (I don't know why, but it is so pretty I just want to eat it, I know it won't taste good at all, but...).  The extra bonus is that the cowl is intended to be a gift for Christmas, so I am also working toward the goal of knitting for the holidays all year long!

I have already finished up a Stacked Eyelet Cowl with 2 skeins of Serenity sock yarn (another holiday present bonus!) and a Springtime in Philadelphia hat using the last of my Valley Yarns Charlemont.  See, I am knitting so fast I haven't even had a chance to blog about projects before finishing them up!

I am feeling pretty good about getting enough skeins out of my sock yarn box that I can now close it, and my worsted weight box now has some breathing room for the yarn currently residing there.  I still need to clear out more yarn before I can buy anything but progress is being made, yeah me!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Potty Training, mark 2

Good God, I have to do this again!  I don't know who was unhappier with it last time, me or Lil' Miss?!  Neither one of us like it and I gave up for a bit before starting again and letting her take the lead, that worked much better.  Now it is time for Destructo Boy to give up the diapers.  I hope we both survive!

Yes, I do realize I am starting this WAY later than most people would, but I didn't want to turn it into a huge fight and he just didn't seem ready.  I say this because he is already 3 and I know many people think I am way late on starting this.  In my defense he was a late talker and had no interest whatsoever in the potty.  Now he is very interested and I am hopeful the whole process will go quickly and smoothly!

We just started this week but he seems to like the potty chart so far, there is just something about kids and stickers.  For our potty chart Lil' Miss and I decorated a half sheet of poster board with diecuts made with my handy dandy Slice leaving a space in the center for an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper where we will actually keep track of the pottying.  For the 8.5 x 11 paper I just used an Excel spreadsheet to create columns for the days of the week and a marked starting line at the bottom of the page.  Every time he sits he gets to put a sticker on that day regardless of whether anything came out or not (right now we are encouraging the habit of sitting on the toilet, I don't care if it is successful or not).  And yes, I did just tape it to the back of the bathroom door with packing tape, I am so uncreative with my hanging of the actual chart!

Next we need to go to the store to get the inspirational potty training underpants, I am not talking about Pull- Ups, I hate those things (glorified diapers that are impossible to get off without making a huge mess!), but rather about the cloth ones most often sold by Gerber.  It seems like the Pull-Ups style pants are just too much like diapers and keep the kids too dry but regular undies are so thin that if when an accident happens everything gets wet.  The nice thick cloth ones are  a nice happy medium for our family, now just to find the blasted things!  They do seem to be nearly impossible to locate in local stores, which I kind of wanted to do for Destructo to get to carry them to the checkout and be able to understand what a big boy he is.  Maybe we'll get lucky at our next Target trip!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New obsession; fingerless mittens!

I made myself a pair a few months ago and loved them so much I promptly made some for, well, just about everyone for Christmas.  They were pretty well received, one friend even sent me an email to let me know it made driving much more comfortable for her since she suffers from neuropathy.  Now that the holidays and knitting for them (at least for thwe moment!) are over I can get into some truly selfish knitting.

I finally made another pair of fingerless mitts for myself, Straightforward Mitts out of Valley Yarns Charlemont in dusk to match my Polaris shawl.  I never would have found the pattern myself, it was this month's KAL for the Fingerless Glove Fanatics group over on Ravelry.  It was actually a very straightforward (heh, see what I did there!) pattern, very easy to memorize what to do once you got into the rhythm.  It took a whopping 3 days for me to complete them form casting on the weaving in the ends.  Unfortunately it is rather warm here right now, a little summer in January, so I haven't had the chance to wear them yet but once winter reasserts itself I will definitely be sporting them with my scarf.

I even had a chance to make Lil' Miss a pair of fingerless mittens that match her Uptown Girl hat I made a few months back.  I used the Maine Morning Mitts pattern again for hers that I had already used once and resulted in a really nice pair of mitts that were gifted to Wobbly Head, my BIL.  Hers took even less time than mine, one day start to finish to make them both.  I think they may have ended up a bit on the tight side but I told her I would make her new ones next year if these ones don't fit anymore.

I think I'll make the BonBons mitts next with some KP Gloss lace doubled to wear with my Advent Calendar scarf.  I am a little short on yardage, but nothing ventured, nothing gained!
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