Archive for August, 2007

I Can Almost Taste It

August 31, 2007

Just checked in at Ravelry and I’m almost there:

Found you!
You signed up on June 24, 2007
You are #10856 on the list.
56 people are ahead of you in line.
18999 people are behind you in line.
36% of the list has been invited so far

I can smell it!

It’s really sad that I signed up for Ravelry at the beginning of my summer vacation, and I’ll get my invite at the end of my summer vacation. I would have had SO much time to play there and now I won’t have much time at all. My real life, especially now that a new school year is starting, really gets in the way of my knitting. It’s a problem. (For the non-knitting-obsessed, Ravelry is a new website – billed as a knit and crochet community where you can organize, share, and discover. Val from SnB is in and loves it, calling it a time sucker – but in the best possible way.)

This week, I’ve been getting ready for school – organizing my classroom, putting up bulletin board frou frou, putting the kids names on all of their folders, booklets, clothespins, and craft sticks. It’s a fun and easy part of the job, but it takes up a ton of time. That’s the reason you haven’t heard from me for over a week.

A little while ago, I felt I was finally done with my room, had everything all set and ready for kids to walk in on Tuesday morning. I went to a great workshop today led by one of my former grade partners and current principal of another school in town and I was all charged up for a new school year. I came home to enjoy my l-o-n-g last weekend and made the mistake of listening to my messages.

Hi! It’s Joanne from school. Just wanted to let you know that we had a parent come in this afternoon to register a new student and . . . you’re getting him. His name is E… (mumble something unintelligible). Have a great weekend!

Rats. Nothing against this delightful young boy, but couldn’t his mama have registered a little sooner? Doesn’t she realize that I don’t have clothespins, craft sticks, folders, booklets, nor a birthday sign with her son’s name on them? Her boy will feel terribly left out if I don’t hustle my not-used-to-getting-up-at-6AM rear-end into school early to scramble and get this stuff done. It’s a big deal. I don’t just write the kids’ names on things. I write the kids’ names in a cutesy fancy way so that they feel special. Oh, and this young man needs a desk with his name on it. Maybe even a chair. At least the chair doesn’t need to have a cutesy fancy name.

It could be worse. One year, on the first day of school, my principal decided to bump a child from another class to mine because she thought it would be a better fit for him. She told me this at 8:10 AM and that gave me exactly 10 minutes to do all the cutesy fancy things that would make this bear cub feel welcome. I started the day with a racing heartbeat, frizzy curls around my face, and the unpleasant odor of someone who just ran a marathon. I couldn’t stand myself that day. Sticky and stinky. I’ll pace myself on Tuesday so that I don’t race, frizz or smell. I hope.

I have been lucky enough to find time for knitting. I’ve been working on wallet-size felted purses to sell and/or raffle at our upcoming Relay for Life benefitting the American Cancer Society. My team is all about breast cancer (that sounds like we’re for it, but we’re really against it), thus the pink. Here are the befores:


And the afters:


The purses were identical when they were knit, following the same pattern, but the two yarns felted so differently, leaving the purses a different size and shape. The light pink is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Pink Cheeks. The bright pink is Patons Classic Wool in That’s Pink. The Knit Picks yarn shrank/shrunk less in height and more in width, while the Patons did the opposite. I like them both. The bright pink purse will hold a checkbook, while the other size might be a better fit for makeup or money/ID.

I came up with the pattern myself, based on some of the purses in the book Felted Knits by Beverly Galeska. It’s a quick and easy knit. An easy quickie? Here it is:

Lil’ Felted Purse

*100% wool worsted weight yarn (not superwash)
*Size 11 circular needles – 16″
*Stitch marker
*Crochet hook (size H/8 5.00MM works for me)
*A pretty button

Gauge: What gauge? We don’t do gauge here. This is the anti-gauge purse.

Cast on 60 stitches (I use long-tail cast on method).
Join round and knit 30 rounds in stockinette stitch (knit every stitch). I don’t use a stitch maker to mark the beginning of the round, since the tail left by the long-tail cast on shows me where the round begins, but you might want to place a marker before joining your round.
Round 31: (decrease) K4, [K2tog, K3] 4 times, K2tog, K34 (55 stitches remain.)
Round 32: P25, K30
Round 33: B/O 25, K30 (30 stitches remain) (The bound off stitches are the opening of the front of the purse and the remaining 30 stitches will form the flap).
Row 34: (WS) K3, P to last 3 st, K3 (We’re no longer knitting rounds – we’re knitting rows.)
Row 35: (RS) K all st.
Rows 36-43: Repeat rows 34 and 35 four (4) more times.
Row 44: Repeat row 34 once more.
Row 45: (decrease) K4, [K2tog, K3] 4 times, K2tog, K4 (25 stitches remain)
Rows 46 & 47: K all sts.
Bind off knitwise.

To add a button loop, I add a row of single crochet: Single crochet in each of first 12 stitches, chain 10, skip one stitch, single crochet in last 12 stitches. Finish off and weave in all ends.

Before felting, the purse should measure roughly 9 1/2″ W x 7 1/2″ L, with the flap being about 4″ L. But then again, it just doesn’t matter. After felting, it’s anyone’s guess. My bright pink purse is about 7″ W x 4 1/4″ L, with a 2 1/4″ L flap. The light pink bag is about 5 3/4″ W x 4 1/2″ L, with a 1 3/4″ L flap. Not that it matters.

I felt my purses in a hot water wash with an eensy drop of laundry detergent. With both of the yarns I’ve used, they felt well in about 10 minutes. Speedy quick and they don’t take forever to dry – a few days at most.

You might choose to finish your purse differently. You can skip the crocheted button loop (although it’s so pretty), felt the purse as is, and cut (!) a button hole in the flap. I’ve done it, and as long as your yarn is tightly felted, you’ll have no worries. I think. Maybe. You could also knit a button hole by binging off a few stitches in the center of one of the last few rows, and cast the stitches on again in the next row, using a backward loop cast on.

And one last thing: In absolutely-not-necessary-but-greatly-appreciated payment for felting a hand-knit bag belonging to my SnB friend, Barb, I’m now the proud mothe . . . owner of a skein of Opal sock yarn!

Isn’t it the cutest thing you ever saw? It’s a self-patterning yarn, so I’ll be entertained as I knit a simple sock. Can’t wait to use it.

I’m not sure what color it is, because I can’t read the language of the Germans. (I can occasionally pick out the words bratwurst and Volkswagen. ) This is what I see: Opal 6-fach, Farbe 1251, Partie 3. It also says: Nur Garn aus einer, and Partie verwenden. Whatever it says, it sounds good. Thanks again, Barb.

Hi Mom.

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Never a Dull Moment & the Final Surprise

August 24, 2007

Our Thursday night Stitch ‘n Bitch Meet-Up was even more fun than usual, thanks to a visit from WTNH Channel 8’s own Geoff Fox, Ted Koppy, and local celebrity knitter/news anchor Ann Nyberg. Now don’t get excited and think they were there to do a story about our talented and lively knitting group (After all, Geoff Fox is a meteorologist and try as we might, we haven’t been able to get our skeins of cotton and wool to absorb all the moisture in the air and lower the humidity. He wouldn’t want to do a story on us, right?). They simply came in to Panera to have dinner between their 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM newscasts. Being the fun and friendly people they are, they came over to our group of table hogs to say hello.

There’s just something about pictures of people holding socks, so here we go:

1. Geoff holds Val’s new Walk-Like-An-Egyptian sock (her own design!) while Ted keeps a smile on as he wishes he could hold it.


2. Ann looks at Pat’s latest dishcloth (she finished one and started another in the same sitting – Prolific Pat!), probably wishing she could quit her job at Channel 8 and join the Stitch’n Bitch-ers.


3. Ted finally snaps and his attempt at swiping my modified-Monkey sock from Geoff turns into an all-out Tug-of-War. Boys play rough.


4. Everyone calms down as Geoff hands the sock to a very gentle, lady-like Ann.

5. Ann holds the sock while showing it the respect it deserves. It takes a knitter to truly honor the sock.

Geoff Fox asked me to email him the picture of the Tug-of-War, saying there was a possibility that he would show it on the 11:00 PM newscast. In my excitement at the idea of showing my sock to the worl . . . um, to Connecticut, I actually left S’n B early to be sure I could get home in enough time to send the pictures. I sent the requested photo, but also sent the picture of Ann shown above. Sure enough, at the end of the weather forecast, Geoff showed both photos and told the viewers about going for dinner and interrupting the “Stitch and not going to say the word but it’s a rhyming word.”

Big excitement for me! My last brush with celebrity was having Eddie Murphy come through the drive-thru at Burger King where I worked when I was 16. Since I know you want to ask: Yes, it was him. A gold 280 Z. Two cheesburgers, mustard and onion only. There was a real, live cat laying on the dashboard.

And the final Baby Surprise Jacket:

I sewed on the buttons, crocheted a blue edging all around, and finished the weaving-in-of-ends at S’n B. I wish I was tiny enough to wear it.

I’m still not sure which baby is going to be wearing this jacket. There are several bundles of cuteness hanging around. Alphabetical order? Age? Doesn’t scream when she sees me? So hard to choose . . . Need to make more.

I Can’t Even Stand It!

August 20, 2007
It’s so freakin’ cute! I finished the BSJ! I love, love, love it!

All of the confusion, the do-overs, the ripping – all of it was so worth it. This is such an adorable sweater and I’m going to say what all other BSJ knitters have said before me: Elizabeth Zimmermann was a clever genius. I’m amazed.

One thing I’m not so thrilled about is the idea that she has you make button holes on both sides of the front of the sweater. Based on whether the baby is a boy or a girl, you sew buttons on your chosen side over the button holes. Good idea, I guess, except my button holes didn’t exactly line up. Not EZ’s fault – it’s mine. She said to “work 5 small buttonholes evenly-spaced on end sections.” I should have been careful to match them up. Thought I did, but I was a little off. It won’t matter when the buttons are sewn on. Can’t wait to pick them out.
I also have to decide if I’m going to add an applied i-cord edging, or if I’ll take the easy, quick way and add a crochet border. I’m leaning toward crochet. We’ll see. I’m also trying to decide if I should use a different color for the edging. Green? Yellow? Deeper blue?

EZ suggested that “before you sew up the shoulders, have some fun by tossing it to someone (knitter or not) and challenge them to fold that amorphous bit of knitting into a sweater.” Of course, I threw it to M. and made him try it. I gave him this:

And after flopping it all around, he made this:

He called it a “baby corset.” Now how, may I ask, does a 13 year-old boy know about corsets? He’s nothing if not entertaining. Love this kid.

I Can See Clearly Now

August 19, 2007

Woohoo! Making progress on the BSJ. I just started the neck shaping and I’ve finally figured out where I am! I can start to test out the folding to get an idea of what this baby is going to look like.



Don’t be fooled by my confident attitude and my calm demeanor. I haven’t reached this point without some sweating, some heart-pounding, and lots and lots of ripping.

Yesterday, I was knitting happily along, thinking I was following the instructions to the letter. To me, M1 = Make One = lift the yarn between the stitch on the left needle and the stitch on the right needle, place it onto the left needle and knit into it. Simple. I did this whenever I was told to M1.

Boy, did I have some big holes. Big ones. My big holes didn’t look very nice. I did a search through many, many pics of finished BSJs and not one seemed to have big holes like mine. Rats.

Then I noticed a little drawing in the bottom right corner of the BSJ pattern. It showed “M1, K1, M1” below the drawing and the M1 was made with a backward loop cast-on stitch. Rats again.

On the next row, I tried this version of the M1 and it didn’t make such a big hole. It made a cute, little, reasonable hole. Rats, rats.

I carefully inserted a smaller circular needle way back into row 45, well before I started increasing and into one of the only rows where I knew I’d done straight knitting without any wacky business. Then, I ripped and ripped and ripped some more.

You know I was successful, because you didn’t see a story about a crazed, vengeful Connecticut knitter on the evening news. What I would have done with those circulars!

Now I’m knitting along happily and things are going my way . . . for now.

But don’t watch the news for the next few days. Just in case.

A Before, an After, and a First Time (and a Lil’ Knitting)

August 17, 2007

M. went for his back-to-school haircut this week. His curls were getting really big – his hair seems to get bigger, not longer, when it grows. Here’s the before:

And the after:

Last night, I did something I’ve never done before. Most people have done this at least once – probably more than once. Probably hundreds of times. At 41 years old, I had never done it before. Never. I was kind of afraid to do it. I’d thought about it, but never dared.

I took a deep breath, and I . . . used my dishwasher. I’m so proud of myself. I grew up in a house with three dishwashers – Kathy, Kim, and Kelley. Why would my mother need a dishwasher when she had three perfectly good ones? Because of that, I’d never had any experience with a non-human-powered dishwasher. I never had one in any of the places I’ve lived before. Now I have one in my current home. Never mind the fact that I’ve lived here for two years. I just didn’t see the need to try it. I’m a good dishwasher. I do a good job. Lately, though, I’d find myself with a sinkfull of dirty dishes, some especially cruddy due to being hidden by M. and then forgotten because he was too freaking lazy to carry them to the kitchen when he finished eating and didn’t want me to see them and yell at him again and go on and on about how I was sick of this and we’re not going to live like pigs and what do your friends’ rooms look like do their mothers let them get away with this what would your friends say if they came in here right now we can’t have anyone over because I’d be mortified. Oops. Sorry about that. Sore subject. Deep breath.

I’d never before felt comfortable going to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, but I found myself starting to do just that. Then I’d get up in the morning to a pile of yuck that I had to deal with before coffee. Not a fun way to start my day. I heard the green bottle of Cascade that I’d bought months before calling my name. It was time. I loaded. I put Cascade in. I closed. I turned the dial. Nothing. Checked the instruction books. Check. Check. Check. Troubleshooting page. Fuse? Power on in fuse box? Check. Fiddle fiddle. Try again. Nothing. Hmmm, what is that switch for? The one on the wall that I’ve never touched. Flip. Try again. The delightful sound of water running through this machine. It’s a beautiful thing.

After the noise ended, I checked the dishes. They were hot and steamy and squeaky clean. Cleaner than ever. I LOVE MY DISHWASHER. I’m so happy now. I just want to get lots of dishes dirty and do it again. I’m hooked.

Now for the knitting. Here’s my progress on the BSJ: (Notice that the monster has not gotten any smaller. Love this monster.)

I’ve finished the section of decreases and now I’m starting to increase. I still have no idea what the he . . . exactly what part of the BSJ I’m knitting, but I do know that it’s pretty. I’m trying to remain confident that if I’m careful, follow the directions, and continue to rely heavily on these notes, I will end up with a beautiful BSJ. I will. I will. (Sheila, are you with me? We can do this thing. Hold my hand and I’ll pull you along with me.)

To all my SnB friends, some math equations:

Long day + tired girl = stay home

Stay home – SnB meet-up = SAD GIRL

I’ll see you next week, for sure! Missed you!

Fell Off the Sock Wagon

August 14, 2007
After I finished my modified-Monkey, I thought I’d cast on right away for its twin. But that Elizabeth Zimmermann Baby Surprise Jacket (from here on to be referred to as the BSJ – I can’t keep typing all of those words) kept waving at me and whispering, Make me next, you know you want to. So here I go.

I’m using my monster skein of Sugar’n Cream cotton in Robin Egg. It was my Michael’s $5.00 bargain – 14 oz. and 710 yards. Now that’s a big ball of string! I cast on the 160 stitches, knit along happily, using stitch markers, but still counting stitches because I never trust myself. I found a helpful set of notes about this pattern and they really helped me to make sense of EZ’s brilliant, but confusing-to-me, pattern. And after 17 rows, I knew I was in trouble. I had too many stitches, so I’d messed up somehow on my decreases. Tried to figure it out. Couldn’t. Darn it. I was afraid to rip it out the bad rows and try to get it back on the needles, so I tried to insert a smaller needle into a earlier row where I was pretty sure I was okay. I went to visit my old friend on KnittingHelp.com and watched the video explaining how to insert a needle into a destination row, before ripping. Her video was really helpful, but I wasn’t successful. I think I missed some stitches – okay, I know I missed 3 stitches and just got frustrated and sweaty and had to call it off. I ripped out the whole freakin’ thing and started over. It was not a happy night. M. had to point out that I had “worked on that all day!” Thanks, buddy. I knew that. That was several hours of my life that I’ll never get back.

I cast on 160 stitches – again. I’m being careful. I’m pretty sure I know what I was doing wrong. To decrease, I’m supposed to slip 1, k2tog, pass slipped stitch over. Decrease 2 stitches each time. I think I was either forgetting to pass the stitch over or forgetting to k2tog before I passed the stitch over. (I know you’re thinking, do I really need to know this? Yes, you do. It helps me to talk about it. Very therapeutic.)

Here’s my BSJ after 13 rows. Lovely.

Here’s an attempt at showing how it might lay when it’s done. I think the corners are the bottom fronts of the cardigan. Maybe. Hard to tell at this point. But I love it anyway.
DISCLAIMER: No cats were harmed in the making of this photograph.
Emmie loves to get inside things. It’s her mission in life to get her entire body inside a variety of small items. She successfully worked her way inside of the zipper bag in which M.’s new mattress pad was packaged. What a goober. Believe me when I tell you that the bag remained unzipped the entire time she was in there (maybe 3 minutes) and after taking this picture, I lifted the flap to keep her from using the bag as a sauna. This lifting action only served to tick Emmie off, and she crawled out, mumbling about how I’d ruined the whole thing for her. Geez.

Ta Da!

August 13, 2007

I finally finished my Monkey-ish sock! My first modified no-purl Monkey is done. I made a few mistakes – but I don’t think they’re too noticeable, especially since they’ll be inside my shoes. It’s hard to figure out how to fix mistakes with yarn-overs and ssks. Hard for me, at least.

I’m ready to cast on for the twin. Here I go.

Still Loving These

August 9, 2007

I just turned the heel on my Soxx Appeal modified Monkeys. I love these. I love them so much that each time I knit a few more rounds or rows, I have to try them on. It’s really slowing my progress, but I can’t help myself. Love these.

Here’s another thing I love. Emmie. It looks like she put herself in kitty jail. She was really just waiting for me to come out of the bathroom where I was drying my hair. She hates when I go in there and close her out. She has to wait for me right outside. At least she made herself comfortable.
Another thing I love . . . spending time with my sisters. I met them for dinner tonight – just the 3 of us. We don’t do that nearly enough. Love them. They’re NOT sistey uglers.*

*Look what I found!

We’ve Been Simpsonized!

August 7, 2007

I found a great website today called SimpsonizeMe.com. It allows you to upload your photos and get a Simpsonized version of yourself. This beauty is me:In real life, I have a chin.

This is my boy:
In real life, he has large ears. They are not, however, as large as these appear. Please understand that my son chose these ears for his Simpson. One you’ve been Simpsonized, you can tweak yourself (um, bad choice of words), changing hair, facial features, ears, body type, etc. M. chose these ears. He’s proud of his ears and I’m proud of him. I have a soft spot for kids with big ears. I had two boys in my 3rd grade class last year who had exceptionally large ears. They were so freaking cute. I always wanted to hug them. The boys, I mean. Not the ears. But I didn’t hug the boys. No hugging. Unless the child initiates the hug. They didn’t initiate. No hugs. I’m off track.

I had big ears myself when I was little, but I finally grew into them. I did, right? Please don’t even tell me if I didn’t. I don’t even want to know. Anyway, I know that big-eared children often have to withstand some occasional teasing. Dumbo. Can you fly? Can you hear me? Brats. Children can be brutal.

Adults can be brutal, too. When M. was in kindergarten, I took him to a craft show on the green in the center of our town. We were walking along, looking around, holding hands, when I realized M. was sobbing. I picked him up and asked him what was wrong. He said, “That man made fun of me.” “Oh, M.” I said. “I don’t think that a man would make fun of a little kid.” M. insisted that this man did. I asked him what the man did. M. pulled outward on each of his ears with his finger and stuck out his tongue. I was furious. I asked M. which man it was and he pointed ahead at a man in a jean jacket and blue jeans with scraggly hair, who, may I just say, was no Al Pacino. I started marching toward the guy, ready to rip his head off when M. said, “What are you going to do, Mommy? You’re not going to say anything, right?” I kept marching and he went on, “When somebody says something mean, you have to just ignore them.” Clunk. Stopped me in my tracks. My boy listened and learned and was a better man than I was. But what I wouldn’t have given to . . . Okay, I’m taking a deep breath. It was 8 years ago. Let it go.

M. recently reported that a girl at school was looking through their 8th grade yearbook and saw a picture of him from when he was younger. She told him he’s really grown into his ears. Sweet.

Oh, almost forgot. In real life, M. has a chin, too.

Look! Twins!

August 6, 2007

I finished the Irish twins today. They’re done! I’m so happy that I finished a pair.

Hey Kelly . . . I’ll hold up my end of the bargain. I’ll wear these on Thursday if you wear your Isabella. We can both be show-offs.

And since I finished the first socks, I let myself start these:


They’re another modified Monkey with my new Soxx Appeal yarn. This is my new favorite yarn. I absolutely love the way it feels – it’s so soft and stretchy. I like the way the colors are working, too. So pretty. I want more.

On the mothering front, I’m so proud of my boy. M. has been doing the teenage boy stay-up-all-night-sleep-all-day thing. After pulling a 24 hour-straight-awake day, he’s back to normal. He woke up yesterday at 9 AM – all by himself – and today he woke up at 10 AM. It doesn’t take much to make me happy – and he’s happy, too. He likes being up during the day and seeing the sunlight. Imagine that. I took him out to dinner last night to celebrate. Tomorrow I’m taking him to buy a new mattress. Um, maybe that’s not a good idea.

Lil’ Bush is on, so I have to go watch it. Barbara Bush just helped Lil’ George get dressed in his Aqua Man undies. Too funny. Love this show.