Archive for December, 2007

My Knitterly Life

December 31, 2007

My friend Yankee Lagniappe tagged me to review my 2007 knitterly accomplishments and my 2008 knitterly resolutions. Here goes:

My 2007 Knitterly Accomplisments (not necessarily in order, because who can remember?):

1. I was a big, brave girl and went to my first Stitch ‘n Bitch meet-up. One of the best things I’ve done – knitwise and lifewise. I’ve met a wonderful group of girls who have become great friends – and they share my knitting addiction. Can’t beat that.

2. I started this knitting blog!

3. I got my invitation to Ravelry and found yet another endeavor to keep me from doing laundry and dishes.

4. I knit my first pair of socks. Socks. I made socks. From scratch. With a recipe. Proud!

5. I learned the magic loop method of knitting in the round. Love love love it. Nothing against dpns, but magic loop really helps me avoid lots of dropped stitches and mess-ups.

6. I spit-spliced! Thanks CostumeChick!

7. I went to Rhinebeck! It was my first trip to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY with 4 fabulous friends from SnB. What a great day. It was knitter’s heaven.

8. I knit lace. Okay, so I didn’t use laceweight yarn (even though I bought some at Rhinebeck). I tried, but I just wasn’t ready for that tiny little string. I consider my Candle Flame Shawl my lace, so I’m taking credit for this accomplishment. Humor me.

9. I figured out how to modify an existing pattern to knit something I really wanted to make. Believe me . . . this was a proud moment!

10. With a lot of help from smarter knitters, I completed Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Baby Surprise Jacket. EZ patterns, to me, are so not easy!

11. Two men fought over a sock that I made!

Okay, so maybe I’m going a little overboard with this accomplishment thing, but I’m having fun.

12. I knit with Knitpicks Options needles. (Thanks Mom & Dad!)

13. I wound my own balls. With this.

I think I’m done. I think. That’s enough, right? Are you bored?

My 2008 Knitterly Resolutions:

1. I will organize my yarn and accessories. I’m in search of a yarn wall (like CostumeChick and Anphoe). I want to have my yarn in a place where I can not only find it, but enjoy it by just yooking at it.

2. I’ll knit real lace. With that tiny little string.

3. I will knit a sweater for myself. A grown-up, adult-size sweater.

4. I’ll finish my WIPs. Be quiet. There’s no laughing allowed. It’s rude to laugh at someone’s resolutions. Geez.

5. I’ll teach some of the kids at school to knit. Maybe. I have some major concerns about sitting in a room with a bunch of 8 and 9 year-olds while they’re holding pointy sticks. Maybe we’ll try crochet. One stick per kid – and not so pointy.

6. I’ll do some charity knitting – maybe for the Snuggles Project.

7. I’ll try colorwork. Maybe just a little swatch.

8. I’ll organize my knitting patterns into a pretty binder with page protectors. Right after I finish my WIPs.

9. I’ll finally go to WEBS in Northampton, MA. SnB girls – you’re with me, right?

I think I’m done, although it would be nice to have a nice round 10 things on my list. Wait . . . what am I thinking? 9 is more than enough to tackle.

When we go back to school on Wednesday (ouch . . . that was painful to say), I’m going to have my kids write about their New Year’s resolutions. I make it easy for them by having them write answers (in complete sentences, of course) to a series of questions about their resolutions. I think I’ll pick my first resolution to write as a model for them. If I do, I’ll share it with you. Chuckle, chuckle.

Gotta get knittin’ now.

Ur Not Funny

December 31, 2007

Now my mom wants 2 sho u sumthin she is makin wit dat string i likes 2 chase.

My knitting A.D.H.D. continues. Yesterday, I started my new Satchel Grande using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick.

I love the color – Sky Blue. So far, this knit is moving along pretty quickly. Despite the fact that I hate hate hate seed stitch, this super-thick rope of a yarn lets me make fast progress on US 11 needles. My gauge is a little off (what else is new?), so the bag will be an inch wider than it’s supposed to be, but that can’t be a bad thing.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with my 2007 Knitting Accomplishments in Review, along with my 2008 Knitting Resolutions, a la my friend Yankee Lagniappe.

Emmie says:

My mom shood makes rezolooshun to nit a noo kitty carrier cuz dis iz not wurkin fur me.

To Market, To Market

December 27, 2007

I forgot how quickly I can get a project done when I’m using big needles. Yesterday, during our family Christmas get-together at my aunt and uncle’s house, I started knitting the Fantasy Naturale Market Bag with my Cotton & Eco-spun Organic Cotton/Recycled Soda Bottle yarn (167 yards for $1.79!). Using my, ahem, Knitpicks Options needles in US size 10 1/2, I knit the bottom square in garter stitch, then continued the pattern in using my, ahem, Knitpicks Options Harmony Wood needles in US size 15.

If you look carefully, you can almost see the pretty wooden needle tips at the top of the picture below.

I cranked through the bag for quite a while yesterday, a little more last night, and then a lot of the day today. I did have a little snafu yesterday when the needle tip unscrewed from the cable, but it was completely my fault. I hadn’t tightened it with the cable key, thinking I was manly enough the screw the tip on tightly myself. User error. I put the tip back on the right way and fumbled through finding my dropped stitches. Kind of hard when you have 80 bajillion yarn-overs and K2togs, but I think I did okay.

I had almost finished the bag, using just one of my purty little yarn cakes, when I realized that I was going to need to start a second cake. I needed a teensy bit more yarn. Crappity crap crap. I don’t like joining yarn when I have such a loose knit. How do I weave in the ends so that they stay in? Hmmm. Did a little research and I did a Russian join. I can’t remember where I saw this join mentioned, but a little googling led me to the link that showed me how to do it. Totally worth the effort. The picture below shows my newly joined yarn. I didn’t have to be perfect, because the textured yarn hides my less-than-stellar job, but it worked.

I knit the few more rounds I needed, and voila . . .

Done, done, done.
I followed the pattern almost entirely, changing it only to add 4 additional rounds of garter stitch to widen the handles. They seemed like they’d be wimpy if they were left too narrow.

This bag is loose and stretchy, and it’ll be the perfect bag to use when I stroll through the market, carefully selecting fresh fruits and vegetables.

Um . . . wait . . . I never do that.

It’ll be the perfect bag to use when I . . . um . . . give me a minute. I’ll think of something.

I know! I know! It’ll be the perfect bag to use when I stroll through the CT Sheep, Wool & Fiber Festival in April. When I’m shopping at WEBS. When I go to Rhinebeck next fall. I’ll load it with tons and tons of yarn! That’s what I’ll do.

How do you like them apples?

I Must Have Been A Very Good Girl

December 26, 2007
Hope you don’t mind if I share a few of the knittingish Christmas gifts I received. My mom knit me a beautiful turquoise throw. (She also made one for my son and each of my nieces. She’s got to get busy knitting a few more!) And who gets mittens to match their throw? So much fun! (Both of my sisters got these mittens, too. Is our mother still trying to dress us alike?) My sisters and I also got 5 new cross-stitched Christmas ornaments to add to our collections. I snuck mine onto my little tree while Emmie wasn’t looking.

Lookie, lookie! I’m the proud owner of a set of Knitpicks Options nickel-plated needles, some Harmony wood tips in the large needles sizes, and an assortment of accessories. Woohoo! I also have a new ball winder and swift, and the 2008 Stitch ‘n Bitch Knitter’s Calendar.

When we came home from Christmas Eve at my sister’s house, I set up the ball winder and swift before I even took my coat off. Couldn’t wait to make yarn cakes.

And another cool gift . . . this sweater from my sister. I opened the box and thought, This is pretty. Black with purple trim. Cute!

And then I pulled it out of the box and got a good look.

Love it!

It’s been a very merry and very knitterly Christmas for me. I had a wonderful time with my family with lots of laughs, gifts, and food. More tomorrow. My new needles are calling me. I can tell already that they’re going to demand a lot of attention.

Hope you all had a fabulous holiday!


December 24, 2007

What’s more fun than smashing candy canes with a hammer?

Eating the peppermint bark that the smashed candy canes make. Yum! (No worries . . . the hammer was covered with many layers of plastic wrap. I think I should check to see if Martha Stewart sells a candy hammer. It’s possible.)

Then I made these . . .

Carrot Cake Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Talk about yum! Here – take a closer look:

100% delicious goodness. Here’s how to make them:

1 box carrot cake mix

1 15 oz. can of pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

6 oz. chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips)

Dump the cake mix into a bowl. Plop the pumpkin into the same bowl. Mix until combined. Really. That’s it. NO eggs. No oil. No water. No nothing else. Except the chocolate chips. Mix those in now, too. Bake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for approximately 15 minutes. Check the bottoms of the cookies to see if they’re golden-ish. If they are, they’re done.

So easy and so good. Really good. Want to know how good?

This is the cookie from which my boy took a bite. After he took the bite, he said, “Mmmmmmm. These are good.” My boy does not eat carrot anything. My boy does not eat pumpkin anything. My boy was sucked in by the chocolate chips. Now he likes Carrot Cake Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We’re going to work on broccoli next. Any ideas?

Merry Christmas Eve!


December 23, 2007

That was just me . . . exhaling. I’m sitting on my couch with the TV on, our new little Christmas tree lit, presents wrapped, grocery shopping done, knitting on my lap, and enjoying my freedom. After a week spent with wound-up, sugared-up 3rd graders and having a 5-day headache the size of Nebraska, school is out until January 2nd. I don’t even want to know when January 2nd is. It’s in the future. Far in the future, right? Don’t tell me.

I must admit that the school week was a whole lot of fun . . . if you were 8 years old. For me, it was stressful babysitting while trying to convince myself I was really teaching the kids some valuable things. I tried. I gave it some good effort. I even gave a math test. I haven’t allowed myself to look at the tests yet, though. Don’t want to ruin my holiday.

In the end, I had to give in to the needs and wants of the masses and just . . . make paper snowflakes. We spent an afternoon cutting out snowflake after snowflake after snowflake. I have to admit I get a little charge when I show the kids how to make a really good one. It’s all about the square. You have to start with a square sheet of paper and fold it into triangles. No matter how you cut, you can’t mess it up. It’s going to be cool. After I cut the first one, the kids ooohed and ahhhed and wanted to know my secret. I showed them and they made a room full of beautiful snowflakes. I wish I took pictures, but when I went to grab my camera out of my bag, I must have gotten distracted by the giant bottle of Advil and its promise of headache pain relief. Never took any. Pictures, I mean. I took lots of Advil. Here’s a photo of one I’ve just made for your viewing pleasure:

But don’t think that just because the kids were caught up in snowflake making that they were little snow angels. Oh no. There was most certainly some running with scissors. Not good. There was shouting and silliness. There were unkind words exchanged between classmates who may or may not have been taking things that didn’t belong to them. And there were threats of last-minute notes sent to Santa from the teacher. I told them it was never too late for a teacher to get a note to Santa. And oh, how Santa gets upset over those last minute notes. Luckily, he’s well stocked with lumps of coal. Big lumps. But no, my threats didn’t make a bit of difference.

On Thursday, we had Polar Express Day. The kids came to school wearing their pajamas. So did I. (Have to admit, it was very freeing – despite the funny looks from the people in Dunkin’ Donuts.) We pushed all of the desks to the side of the classroom and the kids sat on the floor on blankets they’d brought from home, holding their stuffed animals. I read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg while we drank hot chocolate served by some wonderful parent volunteers. The children in the story were wearing their pajamas, so that’s why we wore ours, too. (In the movie version, hot chocolate was served on the train on the way to the North Pole. We were planning to watch the movie the next day.) We all loved the wonderful story and had a lively discussion about how we know that Santa is real.

In the afternoon, more parent volunteers came in to help us with a holiday craft. Each child made a bobble-head snowman with curled wire arms – a photo holder. After we were done making the big, gluey mess, I gave each of the kids their Christmas gifts from me – a stack of three books and a candy cane tied together with curling ribbon. The kids were excited about the books (imagine that!) and quickly untied the ribbons to look through them. Now . . . remember those stuffed animals – the ones they were holding while snuggled up on their blankets listening to a heartwarming story? Yes. Those. Well, within three minutes, the majority of the boys (and I have 9 boys) had tied the ribbons around the necks of their animals and were swinging them around. The girls were quick to catch on and soon most of my 19 children had leashed their bears and puppies and bunnies and were having bashing battles.

Here’s when things get iffy for us teachers. When a child goes wild – I mean makes poor choices – while his parents are right there in the classroom, who yells at – I mean reminds the child to make good choices? As a teacher, I have a hard time disciplining a kid when Mom is right there. As a parent, I think Mom is thinking I’m in the teacher’s territory. Better leave it to her. So not much happens. I tried to calmly and sweetly bring the class back under control while the parents hung their heads and cleaned up the gluey messes. Then, one or two at a time, the grown-ups said they were leaving. Without seeming desperate or begging, I tried to get them to stay. No dice. They were out of there. Can’t say I blame them.

I did get some delightful gifts from the class, including a handful of Milford Money – gift certificates that can be used at lots of different shops and restaurants around town. Such a great present! Another fantastic gift from one of the girls was a Macy’s gift card with her photo and a message to me printed right on the card! So cool. I’ll keep it forever – especially since it’s from the girl who, when I joked that I had once gone out on a date with Santa, said, “If I were a guy, I’d date you.”

But the most heart-tugging gifts were these:

Above is a hand-woven ornament from a delightful little girl who I’ve wanted in my class since she was in kindergarten (and I got her!). She told me she did the weaving all by herself. I told her it was unbeweavable.

Below is a silver and gold shell wreath made by one of my sweet little boys and his younger brother. They even signed the back.

Okay, okay, so the week wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. But I was still exhausted and slept last night as if in a coma. And I’m happy happy happy that I have a break from those adorable little hooligans. I kind of miss them.

On the knitting front, here’s one of my latest acquisitions – my first Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino Wool in the River Run colorway. It’s even better in person. I bought in on ebay for $19.99 with free shipping. Not a bad deal! I can’t wait to knit some socks with it. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s the progress I’ve made on the Karaoke Drop Stitch Scarf. It’s so pretty – the colors are gorgeous.

Don’t thing you’re going to get through a post without a reference to balls. Here it comes. I gave away 15 balls so far as gifts to teachers, staff members, and parents at school. They were a big hit. My ball bowl was emptied. I made one new one today, and I’ve got a second on the needles. A few more to go, and my affair with balls will end. For this year. Balls.

We Just Can’t Have Nice Things

December 15, 2007

We tried. We wanted to have a nice Christmas tree this year. We’ve always had a beautifully decorated tree. Always. Until last year. It was Emmie’s first Christmas and she was a tiny little peanut of a kitten. When we put up our tree, she immediately climbed in to play and sit in the branches. No big deal. She was too little to knock the tree down, so we let her have her way, but fearing electric lights would zap her and our ornaments would be ruined, we lived with a plain old artificial tree. Sad, but necessary.

This year, with Emmie being a well-behaved, no-longer-a-kitten (cough cough) kind of cat, we thought we could have a pretty tree again. We bought a new artificial tree (because we pitched our old one when it began losing more needles than a real tree and I don’t want to talk about the fact that our new one does the same frigging thing) and put it up. Emmie climbed at first, but then left it alone. The next night, we added lights – all blue this year (not nearly as pretty as I’d hoped, but whatever) and Emmie climbed and played in the branches. We left it that way for a few days, then I was ready to try some ornaments.

I figured I’d start with the cross-stitched ornaments lovingly made over the years by my mother and happily hung them on the branches. They’re so beautiful! (And look, Mom, almost enough to do a tree with just these ornaments! Hope you’re working on more for this year. Hop to it!)

Look at one up close. Pretty nice, huh?

Emmie played in the branches as I hung the ornaments, but when I took a break, so did she. She went into the kitchen for a few minutes. Then the sneaky little $&@! peeked into the living room, went back for a running start and FLEW across the room toward the tree. She jumped up and whacked off two ornaments in one smooth motion. Crap. Within five minutes, there were seven or eight ornaments on the floor. We just can’t have nice things.

M. came downstairs, looked at me with tremedous sadness in his eyes, and proceeded to take all of the ornaments off the tree. Can’t do it this year.

We decided to leave the tree up with just the lights. An attempt at being festive, at least. Then, this morning, I came down to see this:

She had pulled out some of the branches and pulled the lights down from the top of the tree. After telling her what a bad girl she was, I tried to put things back together. Then this happened:

Guess I should just give it up.

Let’s look at some balls, shall we?

Eleven 1/2 done, a little more than that to go. Must knit more balls.

Feeling Crabby? Getting Grumpy?

December 12, 2007

Watch this and it’ll cheer you right up.

Santa Gets Flats, Too

December 12, 2007


December 9, 2007