Rains and pours

First it was the weather, raining raining raining last month, drowning my yard.

Then it was work, of which I shall not complain, but I went from nothing to three jobs (more really, but only three are paid) in a week.  Work is good, I keep telling myself.  Work is money.

Unfortunately, there is nothing interesting to write here about my job, which is freelance writing and editing and even if I would, I can’t because of the contracts, but trust me.  I work on reference volumes and they serve a purpose but it is not to entertain.

The rain kept me from doing much gardening, although it did not stop me altogether because at some point, turns out, even I am desperate enough to garden in a light drizzle.

The baby has kept me from doing much knitting but the good news is that I finished the first Zauberball sock, started the second and, according to the kitchen scale, I have enough yarn to finish the pair.  Fingers crossed for no more knots!

But nothing stays the same forever.  I am writing here today in the middle of a beautiful spring morning – having watered the young plants and taken photos of all the marvelous things that are growing this year – because Baby Elinor has learned, is learning, how to sleep on her own finally.  For more than six weeks, we have held her while she napped because she would get cold and/or move her arms, startling herself awake.  She has now doubled her birth weight and learned some coping/self-soothing mechanisms so nap time is more restful for us all.

Meanwhile, I have lots of work to do so of course all this blogging, knitting, and gardening is on borrowed time.

Matt is bugging me for his Urban Aran Cardigan, aka the birthday sweater.  Since it’s spring in Michigan that means our hot and humid summer will start any moment now.  I swear he’s jealous every time he sees me knitting something other than his sweater.  I tried to explain that the sweater is a lot of yarn to haul around and I still need the chart to check my progress… and I right now I only knit when we go out because then other people are playing with the baby while I knit furiously on the sidelines (at home, I am working while Matt watches baby)… he says he understands but… boys.

And the older child?  He wants me to knit something for him too.  I should grow a third arm.

And then there were four

Elinor finally arrived on March 18.  Labor was fast and intense but over with in time for breakfast, which I heartily enjoyed – and no heartburn!

We are floating through our postpartum period, enjoying the weather, which is mostly Spring-ish.  I’ve been planting seeds and working on Matt’s Urban Aran Cardi, which has one back and one-and-a-half sleeves.  Sadly I had to rip back a significant portion of the second sleeve a few days ago due to skipping a few rows in one of my cables.  But onward, upward…

More pictures to follow.  I’m writing this one-handed while a half-asleep little girl makes funny faces at me.  I think she has gas.

Nine hours and seven minutes

Dashing fingerless mitts

Today was one minute longer than yesterday.

Here we are on the other side of the year’s longest night.  Yes, some of us, myself included, managed to stay up all night.  There was a tough time between about 5 and 6 am during a Wii Golf tournament when I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  We were pretty useless the entire next day but it wasn’t stressful.  Matt and I took turns napping (and so did the toddler, whew), leftovers were consumed.

The holiday projects came out as well as I could have hoped and predicted.  Noah’s fingerless mitts – Dashing – were finished just in time but Abby’s slipper socks were not.  I finished those later in the evening and they warmed her toes all the live long night.  Completely unfinished were Matt’s felted clogs and Zander’s sweater, which only needs seaming but that’s not knitting so this is a huge (mental) hurdle for me.  As of today, the clogs are done and I’m just tacking the soles together with a backstitch before tossing them in the washer (fortuitous since there’s lots of laundry to be washed).  I hope they will be dry enough for Matt to wear tomorrow night, Christmas Eve, at his mom’s house.  They will be sans leather patch soles for a while because, well, I have other things on my mind.  And maybe he will do that part himself.  The only reason we have leather in the house is because he does stuff with it, crafty Eagle Scout that he is.

I started my Moss Stich Beret yesterday using Tahki Donegal Tweed probably in #894 Dark Grey-Green. I’m already planning to mod the brim with a turning purl row and no second needle to pick up the provisional stitches for knitting together the hem.  I do hems like this all the time, love ’em, and will just pick up and knit the stitches as I go around.  It’s not really a pattern change, just a different way to do the same thing.

My sister gave me a crocheted hat with ear flaps for Solstice so my IMMEDIATE need for a warm head covering is relieved but… it’s not a beret so I am not satisfied yet.  I was explaining the beret series to Matt while we wheeled around on Saturday.  He was amused that I needed more than one but gamely went along with advising me on matching pattern and hat as I got started.  Also, I completely forgot that, being an Eagle Scout, he was also deeply into berets once upon a time.  I am assured he doesn’t want one (whew, they are still ALL for ME) but I know he needs a warm winter hat (like I need more books or yarn – he has a hat collection – I will show it to you one day – but it is true that woolly winter hats are underrepresented in said collection).  I am thinking Thorpe will be a welcome addition as well as easy to come up with some yarn laying around the house.

And omigod I almost peed my pants when I went to get the Thorpe link and saw the new pattern pair at Through the Loops: Lisa and Katie.  Will the slouchy hat love never end?  I am especially weak for Katie but unsure that a hat with that much slouch is good for me, whereas Lisa is a bit more like what I am immediately after.  Actually, Lisa is pretty similar to the Moss Stitch Beret with which I am currently engaged, only with some attractive star-swirling decreases.  Am I so fickle …?  Maybe.  The beauty of hat knitting is the shockingly small amount of yarn that goes into knitting them.  I could make myself a whole army of slouchy hats.  Bwhahaha!

The Fall

Warmer days (1 Oct 2008)
Warmer days (1 Oct 2008)

I found my (first) beret pattern.  I was paging through patterns on Ravelry, found this one and I will look no further.  This is IT:

Moss Stitch Beret

A near second is Norah Gaughan’s Sunflower Tam.  But I would like something pretty basic for my first hat.  And don’t tweed and moss st belong together like PB & J?

SE Michigan is buried under 6+ inches – our first big snowfall of the year.  And it is STILL snowing.  It will be a white Solstice, hah.

I had a breakdown last night over the Solstice projects.  This was perhaps inevitable and you may not pity me because I gave as good as I got to my poor cohabitants.  Hopefully this will be my only “moment” – I am older and wiser after all.  I now have 3 of 8 projects done and the remaining 5 are half done, or more.  To accomplish this, Matt spent half his evening working on Tessa’s gift (which is not a handknit) and my sister’s gift did a 180.  That is, I magically produced a finished object which had been just waiting for the right recipient (hint, see the photo in the previous post). I went from having not even started her gift to finished in less than 5 minutes.  Whew.

I feel a lot better.

I also take Matt’s point, over Forage Night dinner (ie, leftovers), that I had sworn I wasn’t going to do handmade gifts this year.  That I was going to take a break, take it easy.  He’s right. I completely forgot I promised that to myself.  When did I change my mind?  I think it was a slow evolution.  I was always going to knit something for Matt and Zander, I think a hat and socks at first.  Then I made that deal with Noah and Abby and Abby’s part became a Solstice gift (Noah’s was his birthday legwarmers).  My mom’s gift was a happy accident.  Then I must have convinced myself I had enough time to make gifts for everyone else.  Except that I KNOW BETTER.  I know I need to 3-4 months to work on all of these to do it without insanity.  Sheesh.  AND I keep telling myself I should make birthday gifts, not Solstice gifts, so I can spread the love throughout the year.

Oh well, better luck next year.

Excuse me, I need to lock my computer in the basement and get back to knitting.  And watching Rudolph and the Island of Misfit Toys for the 351st time.

Kudos…and some stuff.

felted clogs

My site was down for a few days–apologies to those who were wondering what was going on.  My lifestyle is such that I am not hardwired to my computer so it took me a while to learn there was a problem (thanks to my friend, C, who emailed me repeatedly until something sunk into my pregnant brain).  The kudos are to Bluehost, our web hosting service for fast and easy and non-demeaning customer service.  I think I was on the phone for all of 2 minutes and my site was working before I hung up.  Not to mention the fact that in three or so years of being their customer, I think this is the first time we’ve had to call them.  If not, Matt’s not been complaining.

The flurry of holiday knits is upon me.  My family–my parents, sibs, and our SOs and offspring–celebrate Solstice as our winter holiday  (my husband and I do a traditional Xmas with his family).  I’ll write more about Solstice later in its own post.  What’s important to know here is that my mom introduced us to the idea of Solstice when we were kids and she would give us handmade dolls and whatnot.  It was awesome!  So we re-adopted this holiday as adults (in lieu of Christmas or Hanukkah) and try to give each other handmade or sentimental gifts.  Perfect outlet for a gift knitter, eh?

The Winter Solstice is at 7.04 am EST on Sunday 12-21-08.  Our party begins the evening before (some of us try to stay up all night).

I have 8 giftees total.  So far this year, I have exactly ONE gift done and tucked away…and 8 days to go.  This is not a strong year for me, clearly.  Two are half done or more.  Two others are not knit but involve sewing; I plan to do them this weekend.  Two more are not even started, although I have the yarn: one I will start today on the theory that I would rather gift everyone half-finished projects rather than some done and some not even close to done; the other I don’t have a pattern for and am trying to find one before I start designing it (love to design but damn, it takes a long time and I only have days).  That brings me to seven.

So number eight is my dad and I am not giving him a handmade gift this year.  Sadly.  He loves to receive clothing and will always wear the goods but I recently learned that my mom is hiding the handknits from him because she considers him too rough on them.  Which I don’t argue with per se, but I would rather someone wear them!  So while I sort through this conundrum in my head, I have only 8 days to finish everything and will gladly give him something that is not handmade but makes him happy: clothes.  He is, hands down, the easiest person to gift.  Just walk into the nearest department store and pick something masculine and warm, be it socks, sweater, jacket, slippers, or jeans, in a large size.  An optional step is to put it in a gift bag rather than the store’s bag.

The next week is going to be busy.  Luckily most of these gifts are of the hands and feet variety and involve worsted weight yarn.  I am trying to be somewhat realistic.

Of course, this crazy crafting schedule doesn’t take into account all of the extra things that come up on life like the stocking I am designing, which is only half-knit also needs to be done by Solstice.  Or my car, which broke yesterday.  And on and on.  You can imagine it.  It happens to all of us.  The best laid plans, etc.

My plan for foward momentum today involves starting Matt’s gift, which, I am going to go out on a limb and assume he’s not read this far and even if he has, he shouldn’t be too surprised since he just asked me for these last week.  I’m making him the famous Fiber Trends’ Felted Clogs with Cascade 220 in the Women’s 10 which is equivalent to Men’s 8.5, his size (their smallest Men’s size is 11!).  This is my first time through this pattern. I am hoping to find some suede scraps in his leather crafting stuff to put on the soles since we are phasing out carpet and wool+wood or cork or bamboo is SLICK!

Sorry about the lack of photos.  I am not in the habit these days, obviously, and when I sit down to start composing a post, it’s too late to start snapping because that’s a whole other brain wave.