Friday, May 30, 2008

More Knitted Love

Excuse my blurriness.  We're having an evening thunderstorm (hold the tornadoes, please) so there was poor light for photographs and my flash just washed out the cabling.  I went with slightly blurry.

This is the sweater I'm knitting for Anna.  It's from that book using Canadian Regal yarn.  I couldn't be happier with how it's turning out.  The pattern is a pleasure to knit and I'm very curious as to how this will fit!  This is my first Big Cable and I love how simple and intuitive it is, after a fashion.  I can see how cabling can get addictive.

I bought the yarn at a small, but excellent, yarn store in Two Harbors, MN.  I think it's called (help me, Rachel) Playing with Yarn or Playing with Fiber.  Such a nice store, but no web presence to speak of.  I like the yarn a lot.  It's very sheep-y.  I frequently have to pull bits of straw out of the yarn.  It's never enough to be obnoxious or to mess up your gauge.  Its' just enough to make you say, "Baaaa" as you knit away.  For me it brings up fond memories of playing in the hayloft as a child.  I'm hoping that the wool will become softer after I wash and block the sweater.  It's not horribly scratchy, but it ain't no merino!

In baby news, I'm still pregnant.  I had my second OB appointment today and I seem to be right on track.  I'm measuring about 18 weeks, which I should, and as of last night I'm wearing maternity clothes which my doctor assures me is normal.  I think I felt the baby move a bit yesterday, though I never like to say for certain until the kid is pummeling me in the kidneys at 30 weeks.  I'm really starting to look forward to meeting this new little one and seeing what s/he is like.  

This is our last (planned) baby and I'm having mixed feelings about waving the Baby Years good-bye.  One the one hand, I really enjoy having older children.  I REALLY enjoy older children.  I love my babies, but they don't get to be much fun for me until they're about 18 months old or so.  I'm looking forward to all of the great things you can do with older kids like this or this or this.  But there's something sad about ending this period of our lives.  It's probably because I don't really know how great the next stage is going to be or I'd be more excited about that than I am sad about leaving night-wakings and dirty diapers behind.

Well, in any case, I guess I have to stop having the babies at some time.  If I don't stop myself, Nature will certainly do the job for me!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Finally, A Finished Object

Here is the picture I promised of Thomas's new sweater.  It is, perhaps, a little big.

Thomas is delighted, however, and that makes me very happy.  The yarn is nubby and soft.  I'm very pleased.  He'll enjoy wearing it--when he's, say 12 or 13.

No one grows out of my handknits too fast around THIS house.

I started an account on Ravelry so now I'll have to figure out how to put this into the system.  I'm not incompetent, technologically speaking, but it takes a lot of concentration for me to learn something new.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Like A Mississippi Steamboat

I looked in the mirror today and realized that I am roughly the size of a ship.  I don't really know how this happened and it may just be that my shirt is unflattering, but I was truly appalled.  I don't know why women have to get big when they're expecting babies.  Aren't the hormone changes enough without the wretchedness of seeing your already generous mid-section expand?  

Other than that, I have no pregnancy news to relate.  I am feeling well enough that I can cook dinner most nights and have energy enough to keep us in clean clothes.  Except for me.  None of my clothes fit.  But I suppose that no news is the best news of all when you're expecting a baby.  I dislike exciting and eventful pregnancies.

In knitting news, I have been working on the Classic Cable Sweater from the book Top Down for Toddlers.  I'm doing it in Canadian Regal yarn in the Fundy Fog color.  I'll see about posting a picture of my progress soon.  I'm knitting this one for Anna.  I'm not 100% sure of the pattern yet.  The collar seems VERY big, but I'll have to wait to see for sure, I guess.  If it's ridiculously large, I'll think of some fix.  I like the charts in the book and the key is easy to reference and very clear to read.  I'll knit a couple of other patterns and write a review of the book.  Until then, try to imagine how this little cutie will look in a cabled sweater next winter:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

An Ode to Nature

Wildlife is always a good idea.  I just never want to see it in my house.  Spiders are great--outside.  Centipedes are great--outside.  I like toads and frogs even better because they eat all of the spiders and creepy crawlies that you often find--outside.

One place I wasn't expecting to see any wildlife was on my daughter, Anna.  I was holding her on my lap last night, comforting some bump or bruise, when I discovered that Spring had finally happened and that she had a tick.

I grew up in the country.  I know about ticks.  They don't make me even a little squeamish.  But I should specify that I am mostly used to your standard wood tick.  My darling Anna had somehow managed to pick up a deer tick.  And this bugger meant business.  I don't think I've ever seen a wood tick so intent.  I thought that a gentle tug would take care of the little guy, but apparently I was wrong.  I got his body alright, but not his head.  I haven't had a Parental Freak-out Overload moment like that in a long while.  The area was already red looking and I should mention that in our region Lyme's Disease is a very real danger.

The end result was a 7:45 pm doctor's appointment, right at little Anna's bedtime.  I got her into her little pink sleeper--yes, the fleece one with the footies--and put her hair up into pig tales so that the doctor could see the bite.  She was adorable in the waiting room, cheerfully chomping her sugar cookie and smiling at the other patients.  I was miserable because, in my experience, the more adorable the kids are in the waiting room, the more painful and unhappy their visit with the doctor will be.  It's a Law of the Universe.

The appointment was as you would expect it to be.  She was such a trooper at first, but eventually the removal procedure just got to be too much.  She crumbled her cookie and sobbed--well you can imagine.  Poor thing.  The doctor couldn't get it all out, either, but said that there was only a tiny bit left that would most likely work itself out over the next few days.  She was put on amoxicillin (yea for her--she loves medicine, boo-hoo for me--I hate keeping track of it) and was in bed by (eye roll) nine o'clock.

At the end of her appointment she sat on my lap, looked at me, and said, "That was a bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad BUG!"

That's right, baby.  It was a BAD BUG.  Poor thing!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name Would Smell Like Fabric Softener

I realize that laundry scent is a preference that is largely personal, formed in us from our childhood. The laundry detergent people use can be traced back to the bottle that sat on a shelf in their mother's laundry room. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to it and I don't think I know of anyone who has ever changed.

On summer nights or sunny weekend mornings, P and I can often smell the thick, faux-floral scent of fabric softener wafting from drier vents throughout the neighborhood. In this diffused way, I can almost enjoy the way fabric softener smells. But it's the only way.

You see, I buy most of my kids' clothing used. Ebay, garage sales, second-hand kids' clothing stores--I could write a book on how to satisfy a desire for quality kids' clothing on a modest budget (see my next book, "How to Dress Your Kids in Hanna Andersson on a Faded Glory Budget"). The biggest downfall to this practice has got to be the pervasive smell of fabric softener. It is everywhere, thickly coating the very fibers of every adorable piece of children's clothing you find. On my more high-strung days, it drives me Up The Wall. It can be so difficult to get the smell out of the clothes. I've found I have to wash the clothes in Tide (unscented--ha!) and then hang them up on the clothes line outside for a few hours. Lately I've come across some items that are particularly heavy with the smell (or the smell has gotten stale while the clothes have been in storage-yuck) and I'll have to wash and hang dry again. What a process.

I think the problem lies in my understanding and experience. I am not used to scented clothes. My own mother's nose was as sensitive as any police K-9 (luckily I never got into any smelly mischief as a teenager) and she had a strong aversion to laundry additives. Also, as an adult, I look at bottles of Downy sitting on the store shelf and think, "I have to pay money for something that does what exactly?" It seems unnecessary. Also, if I want to smell like something pretty, I'll put on perfume.

I may be alone in this. Goodness knows that if you're going to go by the contents of most garage sales or second-hand clothing stores I am certainly in the minority. It seems like Most People adore that giggly Downy bear and often wish that he would fling himself on a pile of their clean towels. But personally, the little Bear of Softness gives me a headache.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Awkward Pregnancy Stage

Is it possible to start growing a baby belly at 13 weeks? I don't really think so, but yesterday and today have found me ridiculously uncomfortable in my regular shirts. I haven't gained any weight yet, but I feel like I should be unearthing my giant container of pregnancy clothes. I look at my stomach and wonder if it's actually bigger or if it's just my imagination. I just feel bigger all over.

I remember when I was pregnant with Thomas and Anna that there was a long period where I couldn't wear maternity clothes, but all of my regular clothes felt uncomfortable and awkward. Is there a fashion remedy for this?

Nothing brings back the painful and uncomfortable feelings of puberty like pregnancy. Your whole body morphs beyond your control and you barely understand the things that are happening to you. You just hope that it will all work out alright and that you'll end up looking more like Molly Ringwald and less like whomever played her unpopular, unattractive friend in her movies. I guess that no matter how grown up you become, there's still an insecure 13 year old who lives on, desperately hoping she gets her braces removed before her first kiss.

Loaves and Fishes

It's been a while, but I do realize that this blog is supposed to have some knitting content. Here it is:

This is a sweater that I started knitting for Thomas way too long ago. I fell down and got pregnant so I found working on it very difficult for a month or two. Also, as much as I'm enjoying the way this yarn looks, knitting with it is like trying to knit with cotton balls.

The Sweater Miracle that you are, perhaps, not seeing is in that wee tangle of yarn laying next to the Unfinished Sleeve. A closer looks, perhaps?
I didn't think I'd have enough yarn to finish this sweater. I didn't think I would have enough yarn to finish the sleeve. I was trying to figure out some sort of plan so that I could actually make a real sweater for my son using much less yarn that the pattern called for (how did I mess that up?) The yarn has a distinctive, nubby texture that doesn't lend itself well to mixing with other yarns. I bought these skeins a year ago or more, so obviously buying more of the same was out of the question, even if I knew what dye lot I was looking for (how did I manage to loose the tags? Crazy woman.) Also, I bought this yarn from a small yarn company online, so I didn't feel very confident coordinating colors from a website. Luckily, I remembered the name of the yarn's color--Big Sky Blue--and when I went back to the website I saw that they also made a Big Sky Heather. Worth a risk. So I ordered a skein of what I hoped would coordinate nicely. You can see it at the end of the finished sleeve.

I decided to use it for the neck ribbing (to be completed) and the cuffs. I thought I would just knit the first sleeve and then do as much as I could of the second. I thought I would rip the bottom of the sweater back and use the yarn to finish it up and then use the lighter yarn to do the bottom of the sweater.

As I finished the first sleeve I looked at my remaining dark blue yarn and thought No way, there is no way I'll have anywhere near enough yarn to finish this sleeve. I'm going to have to rip the bottom half-way to the arm holes. You can imagine my surprise when I laid the sleeve out and measured a full length of sleeve.

*cue angelic chorus*

I'm absolutely amazed. It's a little like how the disciples must have felt after feeding the multitudes and having leftovers. And I'm so, so glad since this isn't the best yarn for ripping and reknitting as it's pretty soft and fluffy. Now I can't wait until this sweater is all knit up and ready for Thomas to wear. He's pretty excited, too. He asked to try it on before I even had the second sleeve on the needles. I hope to get it finished tonight and will have pictures to show you if the weather holds out tomorrow.

I'm spending the morning in a neighboring town, though, as they start their city-wide garage sale weekend. I was unable to find childcare, however, so we'll see how long it lasts with the kids in the back seat.

Until then, I have a little miracle to celebrate!