Archive for August, 2008

Poked and Prodded . . .

August 31, 2008

. . . and happy about it. 

Last night, some of the SnB girls were getting together at Anphoe‘s house for food, pina coladas, knitting, and laughs.  The gathering started at 6 PM.  At 7:30 PM, I was asleep on my couch when the phone rang.  It was YankeeL, poking and prodding me to get my butt over there.  The thought of food and pina coladas didn’t sit well with me at that point.  I was feeling a little low and slow after the previous night’s school-stress-related happy hour (made necessary by an afternoon of teacher-to-teacher student flipflopping while trying to figure out how to make kids and parents happy).  Ugh.  Problems had been solved, but nerves had been frazzled, so we needed a few hours of happy.  I was introduced to a new-to-me drink – a watermelon martini.  So delicious.  Smelled like a Jolly Rancher candy and tasted like one, too.  I didn’t get blasted (I swear, Mom), but I think the combination of stressful scrambling and vodka sent me over the edge.  I slept until noon, drank lots of coffee, took a shower, and tried to feel human.  Feeling human meant conking out on the couch.

The phone call from the girls poked, prodded, and pushed me right off the couch.  Although food and drink didn’t sound good to me, knitting and laughs did.  And I was never good at handling that peer pressure business.  I’m so glad I went.  What fun!  It’s amazing how knitting and laughing, along with some chicken & pasta and a pina colada, can bring a girl back to life. 

Here we are:

(Photo courtesy of Wife”Mom”Knitter – swiped from her blog because I barely remembered to bring my knitting with me, let alone my camera.)  

This photo shows the relatively calm part of the evening, before Rock Band started.  Rock Band is like guitar hero, but allows people to play drums and bass in addition to the guitar.  It also lets someone be the singer.  I was a quiet observer throughout most of the musical entertainment portion of the night.  Okay – not that quiet.  I’m pretty sure I snorted a few times while I was trying to control my laughter.   After a while, I was talked into singing “Creep” by Radiohead.  I’m a creep.  I’m a weirdo.  I scored surprisingly well.  It seems that if you laugh into the microphone when you’re supposed to be holding a note, the game thinks you’re awesome.   Thanks to Anphoe for hosting, and to Cookie the cat for entertaining us with countless games of fetch.  (Cookie thinks she’s a puppy.)

While I was there, I finished my Cap’n Crunch neckwarmer.  So cool.  Just needs two buttons and it’s done.

The details:
Pattern:  Cap’n Crunch by Jennifer Adams
Yarn:  Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Dusty
Needles:  Knitpicks Options Harmony US 10

I’ll post another photo once I’ve found some buttons for it.

As soon as I finished Cap’n Crunch, I started another felted bag.  My sister, Kim, has been bitten hard by the knitting bug and has been making lots of beautiful bags.  Since I always want to copy everything she does, I’ve started a version of the Romantic Ruffles Felted Purse.  Kim made a gorgeous one with Farmhouse Yarns Lumpy Bumpy and I had a few balls of the same kind of yarn laying around.  (Did you notice I said balls?)

Here’s Kim’s bag: 

(Above photo used without permission of the owner, but I don’t think she’ll mind because the bag is really beautiful and it should be shown off.)

Here’s the start of my bag:

It won’t be just like Kim’s when it grows up, but I think I’ll love it anyway.

I hope.

Oooooh ooooooh!  Almost forgot to tell you.  The boy’s room . . . it’s CLEAN!  He did it! I helped him do it today!  It’s clean!  We still have to work on getting the spots out of the carpet (boys are messy), but there’s no clutter, no crumbs, no dirty clothes, no trash, and no miscellaneous broken things.  It only took two months and eleventy-nine trips to the dumpster to get this done.  I’m the happiest mother in the world.

A Sign of Good Things to Come

August 27, 2008

In August of each year, letters are sent home to elementary school parents in my district to let them know who their child’s teacher will be.  As soon as I know the letters have been mailed, I send a letter of my own to each child on my class list.  I always begin each letter with, “I just heard some great news!  You’re going to be in my class!  I hope you’re as excited as I am about 3rd grade.  We’re going to have a great year together.”  I go on to tell the kids what they should (and shouldn’t) bring to school and I let them know where I’ll meet them in the morning before our first school day begins.  The kids are thrilled to find a letter in the mailbox addressed to them and they’re usually happy to see that it’s from their new teacher.  

Yesterday, I went to school again to work on organizing my classroom.  Before I left, I went into the Teacher’s Room at school to check my mailbox.  Hidden among the usual pile of notices and catalogs, I found a small envelope addressed to me – in pencil.  It was my turn to be thrilled to find a letter.  Here’s what I found inside: 

Cuteness.  What makes it even cuter is the fact that it was written by a boy.  I’ll bet you thought it must have been a girl, right?  I think it’s so sweet that this child wrote a letter to his new teacher – before she even made him do it!  Within the first few days of school, I always ask the kids to write a letter to me, telling me about themselves and what they’re looking forward to in 3rd grade.  This boy already finished that assignment.  He’s a peach.  I’ll keep him.

In my knitting life, today I participated in:

When I came home from school today, I found a box on my doorstep.  I’d been tagged for Dish Rag Tag.  Inside the box, I found a pretty pink dishrag, a ball of Sugar’n Cream cotton in Natural Stripes, a pattern, and some treats.  The pink dishrag is mine to keep, and I had to use the ball of cotton to knit a dishrag for the next member of my Dish Rag team.  I grabbed my needles and started knitting. 

The dishrag I knit is shown in progress, front and center in the picture.  The green-ish ball of yarn is the one I’m sending on to my team member.  She’ll use that to knit her dishrag.  We’re racing against other teams of twelve to see who will be the first team to have get through their whole roster. 

Here’s the pink one I get to keep.  (Thanks Ann in IL!)  She sent me a needle-size-gauge-stitch-counter thing (what DO you call these things?) along with some chocolate (which I realized had completely disappeared shortly after the boy came to check out my goodies).

Here’s the one I just finished, ready to go to Marianne in NY.  She’s also getting some treats in her box from me.  Not telling.  Now it’s up to her to knit like crazy like I did tonight.

It was the first time I’ve ever done something like this.  Fun!  I’m only the third person to knit on our team of twelve.  I’ll let you know how we finish.  Wish us speedy knitting!

A Dumpling and a Shameful Secret

August 23, 2008

Relax, Mom.  It’s not going to be that bad.  Really.  As my mother – as a person who took great pains to try to bring me up to be a respectable woman, this might only embarrass you a little.

But first, the Dumpling – my second one.  I used a bulky yarn and knit a 4-stitch i-cord (rather than 3-stitch).  This time, I followed my sister’s suggestion and did the handles in a different way.  I made the longer loop much longer.  The long handle will feed through the smaller loop.  Here it is pre-felting:

And here it is post-felting. 

This yarn made the bag feel thicker and more solid than my first one.  Cuteness.

The details:
Pattern: Dumpling Bag from Interweave Knits Fall 2008
Yarn:  Lamb’s Pride Bulky in Aztec Turqouise – 1 1/2 skeins
Needles:  Knit Picks Options Harmony US 13

Now . . . the shameful secret. 

It’s this:

I have a little nightgown problem – a raggedy, worn-out nightgown that no self-respecting young lady should wear.  I can’t seem to let this one go.  I know it should have received a respectful and proper burial long, long ago, but it’s my favorite nightgown.  I love it.  My sister Kim has the same one and when we used to go on vacation to the Cape together, we both wore it at the same time.  (It was bed-time.  We didn’t wear it in public.)  I think we got them from my parents for our birthdays or for some other gift-giving occasion, and I can’t remember if Kathy got one, too.  (Kath, please comment on this.)  This nightgown has been slept in, painted in, knitted in, hung around in, cleaned in, and washed and dried so many times, its holes have holes and it’s see-through in some areas. 

I love it and I’m keeping it forever. 

I might even answer the door when the UPS man comes and let him catch a glimpse of me in it.  Give him a thrill.

See Mom?  It wasn’t so bad after all.

We Interrupt This Cabling . . .

August 20, 2008

. . . to bring you a dumpling.

I’ve been making progress on my cable bag.  Here’s a peek at it.

Since last night was Tuesday-Knit-at-the-Library-Night, I needed to work on a simpler project – one that wouldn’t require a whole bunch of concentration.   Rather than work on my black garter stitch Anthropologie-ish cardigan like I should have, I started a Dumpling Bag from the Fall 2008 Interweave Knits.  It’s easy and adorable.  Look . . . the balls are doing their job.

I figured I could work on this bag tomorrow night at Stitch’n Bitch. 

Oops.  Finished it already.

It’s such a fast project with worsted weight yarn knit doubled on big needles.  Mykindaprojeck. 

Here’s a close-up of the handle construction with straps fed through two loops.  I couldn’t find any of the lucite rings specified in the pattern, so I used some simple silvertone rings I found at the craft store.

And I felted it right away.  Couldn’t wait.

Details:
Pattern: Dumpling Bag – Fal 2008 Interweave Knits
Yarn:  Patons Classic Wool Merino – That’s Pink
Needles:  US 13 Knit Picks Options circulars 

It’s adorable.  I didn’t do the embroidery that was suggested in the pattern, but I may do some needle felting to add some pizzazz.  I think it’s cute the way it is, though.  It’s a dumpling.

I’m feeling a little bit anxious about my knitting lately.  About my knitting time, actually.  The start of a new school year is creeping closer.  I’ve been in my classroom each day this week getting things ready.  I’m taking things home to work on.  Gulp.  It’s going to be a little bit painful for me to give up all of my free time.  I’ll get used to it quickly.  I always do.  I love the kids and I’m looking forward to spending quality time with a delightful bunch of children telling you more funny stories about the wacky things that third graders do.  Stay tuned.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled cabling.

Good Stuff

August 16, 2008

Being the smart knitter that I am, I decided I should make a swatch to test out my picking-up-stitches method.  My mission was to pick up 144 stitches from 72 loops.  I realize I made the tiniest swatch one could possibly make, but it gave me some practice.  And practice was needed.  Look at this mess.

I tried a few different ways and found the one that worked the best.  I’ve knit a few rows of the body pattern and it’s looking good so far.  Slow going, but good.

 Remember these you-knows?

Several of the SnB girls liked them and wanted to buy them.  I had no idea what to charge for them, so I came up with what turned out to be a great idea.  At SnB the other night, I set out about six sets of stitch markers, told the girls to take them if they wanted and to make a donation to my Relay for Life team.  I went home with a $50 donation!   I’ve just posted this latest donation to my personal page at the ACS site.   Thanks, friends.

On another happy note, I was invited to lunch at the home of a woman I met last summer.  She was celebrating being on the other side of treatment a year after beginning her battle against breast cancer.  She looks and feels wonderful and I was so happy to see her in such great shape.  I had a lovely visit with her, her sister, and her niece.  This particular niece is a former student of mine – the very first student I ever met as a teacher.  (I remember setting up my classroom before starting my first year of teaching and out of nowhere this adorable little freckled face popped up at the window.  She introduced herself and told me that she was going to be in my class.   It was a really special moment for me.)  She’s a great kid.  I was lucky enough to have her brother in my class a few years later, and it’s so nice to have developed such a good connection with this family. 

As I was getting ready to leave, my friend presented me with a pretty pink box.  I didn’t expect a gift – I’d brought one for her.  She told me that she remembered seeing me before she even knew me – at a school drama club performance – my first public appearance in the midst of the school community after a very long absence.  She remembered kids, teachers, and parents being happy to see me, and me being so happy to be there.  According to her, I had very little hair and looked wonderful – happy and healthy.  Remembering that night showed her that she could get through her own battle.  I was the first person she’d seen who’d been through breast cancer and was coming out on the other side.   Such a warm fuzzy. 

This is what she gave me.

So sweet. 

It’s a strange thing – breast cancer.  It invites women into a club they never wanted to join.  After they’re in the club for a while, they realize that their fellow members are some pretty wonderful women.  Some good stuff has come from all of that crappity crap crap.

Progress Report

August 15, 2008

Subject:  Quinn Cabled Bag

Focus Technique:  Cables

Progress:  Cable band for top of the bag completed on 8/14/08.

Reflection:  (Aka Notes to Self): 

1.  A heavily cabled piece of knitting is probably not the best choice of project for a Stitch’n Bitch meet-up, especially when said meet-up has roughly 24 attendees and a birthday celebration complete with singing and cake, and when cabler has limited cabling experience. 

2.  It’s best to remember to bring your cable needle to distraction-filled SnB meet-up.

3.  It’s good to have organized knitting friends who let you borrow a cable needle.  (Thanks, NutmegKnitter.)

4.  It’s smart to wait until you get home from the meet-up to attempt to remove the first provisional cast-on you’ve ever done, put live stitches back on a needle and graft the two ends together. 

5.  More practice with provisional cast-on technique is needed. 

6.  More practice with unzipping provisional cast-on is needed.

7.  More practice with figuring out where your missing stitch is – or is supposed to be.

8.  Don’t attempt to use the kitchener stitch to graft two ends together when you’ve had to create a wonky stitch somewhere so that you have the 24 stitches you’re supposed to have.

9.  Stick with your mad 3BO skilz to join ends when you’ve messed up.

10.  After finishing the band, take a l-o-n-g break prior to attempting to pick up 144 stitches from the band in order to knit the heavily cabled body.

11.  Consider knitting the body in plain stockinette stitch.

12.  Tell yourself to stop being such a weenie and knit the flippin’ cables.

 

Love Me Some Malabrigo

August 13, 2008

I mean it.  It’s my new favorite yarn.  I want to knit a sheet out of it so I can roll around on it.  Or at least a pillow case.  I could mush my face into it.  It’s so soft and it’s just plain gorgeous.

I’ve finished the second part of my experimental purse.  That’s what it is.  Or at least it will be when it grows up.

I knit the body of the purse in the round, intending the stockinette side to be the right side.  Then it happened again . . . I liked the other side better.  The reverse stockinette is pretty and it seems to look better with the seed stitch on the flap.  I think. 

This is how it kind-of-might look after it’s blocked and sewn together. 

That’s the part I’m nervous about.  I don’t love the finishing part of the knitting process.  It intimidates me.  I just need to force myself to do it.  Maybe later today.  Or tomorrow.

I started another project with my other ball of Malabrigo.  This color is Bobby Blue.  It’s the Quinn Cabled Bag from CogKnition.   

Like my old-knee-high yarn bra?  It’s doing a great job of keeping my yarn cake together.

This is going to be a challening project for me.  I’ve knit cables before, but this project has some serious cabling action going on.  Tons of C4Fs, C4Bs, T3Fs, and T3Bs.  Here’s a close-up of my slow progress.

It called for a provisional cast-on, which I’d never done before.  Had to look that one up.  There are a few methods and I tried one that had me laughing at myself.  Couldn’t do it.  So I did a crochet cast-on, crocheting loops right around the needle.  Good stuff. 

So far . . . so good.  Can’t wait to get back to it today.

Last night, I went knitting with friends.  I had no idea I would come home with goodies.

Rmsheffler brought me these adorable stitch markers that she made herself.  Love them. 

I keep thinking I see WTF among those letters, but it’s just my eyes playing tricks on me.

She also brought some goodness from the garden.  Lemon cucumbers!

I’d never seem them before – or even heard of them.  They’re cute.

I tried one as soon as I got home and I swear that they have a lemony flavor to them.  I don’t know if they’re supposed to, but there was, at the very least, a sweetness to them that regular cukes don’t have.  Yum.  They’d be so good in a salad.

Dani.C. also brought some good stuff for me to borrow.  I’d mentioned my amazement at her entrelac project and she remembered.  She brought the book Scarf Style and an issue of Interweave Knits, both of which have great entrelac instructions.  Another project on my list.

Thanks, friends.

I’m going to go roll around in my Malabrigo now.

Go Get Barack Rolled!

August 11, 2008

Buying Food Gives Me Gas . . .

August 11, 2008

 . . . at an amazing price! 

I needed to fill up my gas tank today, and almost stopped at the Sunoco near my house.  It was $3.949 per gallon there.  Under $4.00.  Nice.  Then I remembered that I might do better at Stop & Shop.  It was $3.899 there.  Better.  But then I did SO much better. 

When you shop at Stop & Shop, you earn points for each purchase – one point for every dollar spent.  With each 50 points you accumulate, you get $.10 off per gallon.  They let you rack up points that are good for two months.  I had accumulated 765 points, which equals 50 points times 15!  15 times $.10 gave me $1.50 off per gallon!  Do you believe it!  I paid $2.399 per gallon!   I filled up with 11.795 gallons for $28.30!  Woohoo!

When I saw the per gallon price on the pump, I almost fell over the hose.  I almost started jumping up and down.  I almost ran up to the little pay booth and kissed the glass in front of the cashier.  But I didn’t.  I rocked up and down on my toes a few times with a big goofy smile on my face.  That alone was enough to get some strange looks from my fellow customers.

The moral of this story is:  Shop at Stop & Shop, use your S&S card, rack up points, and buy your gas at Stop & Shop – and don’t embarrass yourself.  Really. 

I have no idea how long this program will continue, but I’ll be so happy if it keeps going.  My bottomless-pit-boy has me spending huge chunks of change at the grocery store.  At least I can save on gas.

I’ve been working on my something-pretty with my pretty blue Malabrigo.  Here’s the first part.

Working on the second part.  If it turns out well, I’ll show you. 

If it doesn’t, I’ll show you anyway.  You can point and laugh.

I Give Up . . .

August 10, 2008

. . . the scarf.  As much as I’m loving it and as much as I want to keep it, I will give it up for a raffle to benefit the American Cancer Society at Milford’s Relay for Life.  (You can click on the link for info about the Relay.  A few friends mentioned that they’d might like to stop by, so you can find details there.)

I think this scarf is so pretty – I love the pattern.  It was knit in 2 halves from the ends up and joined in the middle.  I could have joined it several different ways and I planned to graft the pieces using the kitchener stitch.  The pina coladas* I’d been drinking immediately prior to the joining left me thinking I wasn’t in the right . . . we’ll say . . . frame of mind to test out my mad kitchna skilz.  Instead, I did a 3-needle bind off.  Used my mad 3B-0 skilz, not requiring much . . . frame of mind.

*Those things are SO deliciously delightful.  Why on Earth have I not been drinking those every single day of my life?  Oh . . . wait . . . I know why.  It’s because I need to function in the real world.  Right.

I did all the weaving in of ends today, with a clear head, and steamed the scarf to block it.  It’s lovely.

The facts:
Check Your Boobage
Pattern:  Classic Elite Yarn Breast Cancer Awareness Scarf
Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus in Lt. Rose (about 1 1/4 skeins)
Needles:  Knit Picks Options US 9 & US 6

Now I’m trying to knit something pretty with my pretty blue Malabrigo.  So far, I’ve done three froggings.  Not pretty.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Hopefully, pretty soon.