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I spend way too much time on the web, and I frequently come across blogs that are a ghosttown.  Wind whistling and tumbleweeds tumbling and all.  So why I am I so ashamed that I am the owner of such a blog?

I could argue that I have neglected it because I have self-esteem issues: “Why would anyone want to listen to me?”  Maybe that is responsible for 10%.  Give another 20-25% to just plain feeling like I have a boring life. I certainly ain’t some devil-may-care thrillseeker, or living the life of luxury and the envy of all.

But mostly it is that my children have sucked out all my braincells, which simply can’t be regrown.  It has left me to be the most forgetful person.  I always forget where I left my keys, I have no idea when my own mother’s birthday is, and I quite often call my eldest daughter George, which is her father’s name (usually when she’s being gross or a smartass.) Its not my fault.  It really isn’t.  Children simply cause early dementia.

But rather than dwell, I’ll just carry on, like nothing ever happened...

I have been knitting like crazy, since the family and I moved in June to be closer to a variety of yarn stores.  Well, we didn’t move purely for the yarn shops, but it is a definite plus.  I have already given creative yarns more money than was available in our tight family budget.  But what beauty I have gotten from it!!

ditasscarf3This was my only my second time doing lace.  It was really not as hard as I thought, and I have to say blocking is the best thing.  Not just for knitting either. 

Its made of alpaca, which is so soft you’ll never want to go back.  The lucky recipiant will be my father’s wife, and it is the first thing checked off my xmas list.

Next up, the scarf for my father:

dad's scarf2Modeled by my charming, albeit sassy, 9 year old, who insists, and I do mean insists, on modelling everything.  I will never knit pasties or a thong.

I really enjoyed this pattern, and I think my father will really like it, being that he’s a scientist and all.  The only thing cooler would have been bugs, since he’s an entomologist.  Oh, or maybe like a sound wave or something, since he studies bioacoustics (bug songs)… Since starting this, I have had so many ideas for my father, while I struggle to come up with something, anything suitable for others.  Ain’t that always the way?

One note though- this is pure wool, which is more fun to knit than acrylic, but it was not nearly as soft as the alpaca.  Every once in awhile I had to pick up something soft for awhile for a while and fondle it.  Not knit with it, just fondle it.  Try it sometime.

I planned well after the scarf though, and got to do something super, super soft.  This is a cashmere, merino and silk mix:

wendisscarfThe picture is a bit blurry (It ain’t easy to keep a kid still, even when they volunteer.  Another reason I don’t let the 3yo model stuff) but this really turned out well.  I wish the internet had touch-o-vision.

Now, the risk one runs by doing holiday gifts early, is that other gift giving occasions may arises that necessitate the sacrifice of a holiday gift.  This went to my sister for her 50th birthday.  She seemed to be very pleased, so it was worth the sacrifice.  However, I had to remove one of my checkmarks. 

And then there is this:

rileysfishhat2I am so proud of this, and at the same time I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of it on my grandnephew’s head.  Hopefully my niece will think of it.  But it is such a fun and quick pattern, and turned out so well.  Again, not xmas- Riley had just turned 2.

I have also finished a hat for me (An elephant hat!) and a pair of socks for my husband’s grandmother, and a scarf for another sister for xmas.  All of these pictures should be forthcoming.

Well, I don’t know how interesting this post was, but at least I did it.  Now I have to give up the laptop to amuse the children.  I like to act like I resent it just a little, but I don’t, because while she uses the laptop, I am ‘forced’ to knit….HA!

Let’s just say I’m giving it another go.

Frankly, Life got so crazy that I never had any time to knit.  I go through phases like that.  But then I realized I was depressed and that maybe part of that was because I had given up everything (read: knitting) to take care of my 3 kids (2 beautiful little girls and a big, hairy, lazy husband!). 

I’ve decided I need to knit.  It keeps me sane.  All work/servitude and no knitting make Mama something-something.

Perhaps Christmas is the cause.  In the past year (or so) I have pulled out the needles a few times to work on the master’s swatches, but frankly, they are boring, and I’m tooooooo critical of myself.  And then I make up some other excuse to quit, like I can’t find the right tags for them (happened upon them last week, so there goes that one.)

But with the holiday I realized my youngest still doesn’t have a personalized stocking.  I crossstitched one for the eldest before her first Christmas, in Winnie the Pooh, and she hates it.  Apparently, Tigger is NOT cool enough for an 8 year old.  So I’ve started to make them stockings.

I had the eldest pick out colors for them.  I’m relieved she didn’t go the red/white/green route- Too much of that is simply too much.  She chose pinks and purples for her sister, and a variety of ‘cat-friendly’ colors for herself.  Apparently hers has to contain an orange cat image. 

I discovered I love fair isle!  it makes such a thick, tidy piece without much effort.  And I’m really enjoying the bright colors.  And so far, knock on wood, it hasn’t become boring. 

It is a touch too big, but the kids won’t complain about that.  More room for the loot!!

So here is a picture of the stocking so far.  I really, really wish I could take beautiful pictures like I see on other blogs, but I don’t have the gift (or perhaps the camera).

The Fair Isle pattern on Kesara's stocking

Busy busy busy….

What a day!  It started off so miserable (headache, upset stomach- like a hangover without the previous nights fun) but much too many tylenol later, I took the girls to see the Earth Rangers with our homeschooling group.  A wonderful organization- both the homeschooling group and Earth Rangers.  Libby and Kes had a blast, and may even have learned something.   

Then we had to hurry home to bake a birthday cake for daddy/husband, which of course resulted in 2 kids covered in chocolate, before we even got the cake in the oven.

Then dinner, get Libby to Brownies, then try to get the baby to sleep in 15 minutes (utter failure) then I have to run off for a work meeting , then pick up the kid again. Whew! 

So no knitting today.  But I did find some time to stop into Ravelry. 

Another one of the brilliant people I meet everyday on Ravelry has come up with a great idea to support world peace.  I’m adding the link here so that if anyone is listening, they might check it out: KnotMagick

Stupid lys people…

Okay, so I went into our lys yesterday, which isn’t really a yarn store at all, but rather a quilting store that ‘tolerates’ knitters by offering them a cramped, disorganized, ugly stash of yarn at the back of the store. I hate this store.  Perhaps hate is too strong a word- I’m not one prone to hate anyone or anything, but I seriously think the people that work in this store could use a little lesson in general manners.  Yesterday was particularly bad.  The main room is no bigger than the average size kitchen, and in the middle, taking up most of the space, is the table they use to cut fabric, and all the quilting customers sit around it. Yesterday they not only seemed to have recieved a delivery they had yet to put away, they also had invited every quilter in town, and a dog.  Yes, a dog.  Just in case it wasn’t crowded enough.  I had to say excuse me twice to get to the back of the store, and step over 2 boxes, and 1 dog.  (I am a dog lover, really I am- they could have kept the dog and tossed out a couple quilters, and that would have worked for me.)

So I get to the hideous yarn room, which is smaller than most bathrooms, and as usual all the cubbies are over packed, with many, many mixed colors and even mixed brands of yarn.  I know exactly what I’m looking for- yarn for my swatches for level 1, and I know I want Paton’s classic wool- but it takes me a few minutes to find even the worsted weight section.  Meanwhile the oh-so-helpful attendant comes over and asks if I need help, but she’s only asking because I’m in her way, so she asks with a somewhat nasty tone to her voice.  I tell her I am looking for a worsted weight Paton’s wool.  She snarkily (is that a word?) says that Paton’s sells many different wool yarns.  Uh, no, they don’t… they only sell one with 100% wool and a couple that have a wool blend, but they certainly don’t have either of those here- they try to only sell the expensive stuff at this place, since (and this is just my theory) they know that anyone desperate enough to come there for yarn will probably be willing to pay the big bucks.

She asks me what this is for, so I tell her, and of course she acts like I’m crazy, just stareing blankly.  I didn’t expect she would know what I was talking about, but I’ve worked in a yarn shop before, and if someone had told me about the Masters then, I would have been curious to know about it.  I wonder if they even know what Ravelry is?

She tells me how there are other wool yarns that can be exchanged with Paton’s, and I tell her I want the Paton’s because I know it well, and like how it knits, and really, no two yarns are exactly alike- I want to work with something I know I’ll get the result I can predict.

She leaves after that, and I find the Patons, jammed in with another yarn.  There are maybe 10 colors in the one cubby, and I can’t see a single pair that match of a light color, so I have to start pulling out balls in search.  I couldn’t even find a light beige with more than one ball!  In the end, the choice of color was made for me- its a kinda ugly yellow called ‘maize’.  I can live with it, but it reminds me a bit of creamed corn.

3 balls and 30 bucks later, I’m out of there, relieved to be away.  She didn’t even want to give me my receipt- but if I got the stuff home and decided the color was too offensive, I intended to come back.

If I only had a car, I would have gone somewhere else….

But, on the positive side, I have completed 2 swatches, blocked. They probably won’t be the final product, but I’m pretty happy with them so far.  This is the seed stitch swatch:

Seed stitch swatch try1

And this is the garter stitch with double ribbing:

Garter stitch swatch try1

 I’m not too impressed with my ribbing, but I’m working on it.  I may be a bit too particular.  I’m presently knitting the single rib and stockinette swatch, and I think my single ribbing is even uglier, but I’ve got some new ideas to try.

Just for the record, I don’t like garter stitch.  Its just not as nice as stockinette, and it grows way too slow.  Just my personal opinion.

In other news, i think I have a busy day ahead of me.  I have to get the week of homeschooling planned out today, plus prepare for the interview I have to do on Tuesday.  And tomorrow is hubby’s b-day, and even though he didn’t do anything for mine, he’s expecting us to do it up for him.  He even said he wanted an mp3 player.  Not just any one, but a specific one.  Okay, I’m a bit resentful…

I really, really, really don’t want to do this interview.  I think the fellow I’m interviewing thinks I’m a professional or something, which I’m not.  And I frankly have no idea what to ask.  I have to write about his research (he’s a university professor) and I think I can do that just fine, but I’m too shy and insecure to actually ask him all these questions.  I don’t want to be a journalist or anything, but I had to take it because we need the money.  Badly.  I wish hubby would go do something he hates for money, so he could buy his own stinking mp3 player…. but I’M NOT BITTER!! (she says, through clenched teeth).

Here it is, the finished touch of whimsy scarf:

atouchofwhimsy scarf

I’m very pleased with it.  Not only was it my first time knitting lace, it was also my first time using wool… I will never go back!  I love wool- I love the way it feels to knit, I love the way it looks, and I even love the way it smells- even after I wet it for blocking.  I will never feel the same way about acrylic- I was helping my daughter with her first project, using acrylic, and it actually made my skin crawl to here the little ‘creak’ of the yarn as it passed over the needles.  Creeeeeepy!

My dear friend Susan will be the recipient of this effort.  It didn’t really take long to decide- originally it was meant for my stepmother, but that was back when I thought I could finish it for xmas- haha! Right!  A few other people were on the short list, but right now I need someone to be very appreciative, and I think Susan will. 

So now on to the Masters!  While my scarf blocked yesterday, I pulled out a ball of yarn and my instructions for level 1, and started reading/knitting.  Really, it was like that- I’d read for a bit, I’d knit for a bit, then I’d check the web for advice.  I tested out the first 5 or so swatches- none done to specifications, but just to see how hard the knitting would be.  And I’m pleased to say I still feel confident- sorta.  I like my seed stitch, which I had heard was really hard, and I even like how the increase swatch looks, but I found that the more concious I am of potential problem areas, the more I overcompensate and create problems.  In stupid spots too, like stockinette stitch. And my ribbing.  But now I’m not sure if I’m just seeing problems that aren’t there… what do you think:

fooling around with Master’s swatches

Again, remember they aren’t to size specifications- I have no intention of sending them in.  And they aren’t blocked.  I’m thinking of blocking them today, to see if that changes them at all, if I can get them away from the girls- apparently Barbie needed a seedstitch blankie.

It is AMAZING how much I have learned already.  One thing that seriously surprised me is that I discovered I had been twisting all my stitches!  It was an easy fix, but an embarassing mistake.  Imagine if I had sent in all my swatches like that, and had them all sent back to me! total humiliation!  In my defense, they still looked good, I think.  I’m a very tight knitter usual, so perhaps that helped.  Also in my defense, my mother taught me to knit, and when I ask her stuff now, she has no idea what I’m talking about.  I mean, she is a very practical knitter- if it works, do it.  There is nothing wrong with that, but as a result I thought I was a good knitter even before I knew about doing swatches, blocking, and now twisted stitches.

My biggest concern about doing the Masters is my organizational skills- I don’t have any.  I try, I really do.  Everyone asks if my girls are on a schedule, and other than going to bed at the same time every night, I can’t really say they are.  And my house looks like there is a place for everything, but most things have a place ‘jammed in under the sink’ or the like.  It works for me, most of the time.

 Look at that- 2 posts in a row!  Holey crap!

Return to try again….

Oi!  I have been so busy with children and work and life, that I have not blogged in months! I won’t bother with apologies, I’ll just get back to it.

 So much has happened, and yet it is all so insignificant in the broad scheme of things.  I received the instructions for the Knitting Guild of America’s Master knitter program sometime back in January- it was my birthday gift to myself, which is a good thing since I didn’t get anything else for my birthday.  But I haven’t started it- I’ve been working on the touch of whimsy scarf… DONE! finally finished it last night, but still have to block it, so i don’t have a picture yet.  That’ll give me a reason to blog tomorrow…

Other big news: I went and pulled my 8yo from that awful, evil school.  I’d had it.  She hated it so much she was trying to make herself throw up so that I wouldn’t send her.  She hated (still hates) learning, and that’s just not right. 

Its been 3 weeks now, and I thought for sure she would be begging to go back to school by now, but nope- in fact, using “if you don’t cut that out, I’m going to send you back to school’ as a threat still works wonders! We haven’t really done much learning, but I tried the first week, with a couple good days and a couple bad days, and it was strongly suggested to me that I deschool her for a bit, so I have been for the last 2 weeks.  Her Daddy doesn’t like this- he’s all for homeschooling, but he thinks that should mean she works harder and gets ahead of all the other kids.  So I’ve been working on building a curriculum, so we can start next week.

If you’ve been here before, you might notice I already complain about how much I have to do, so what the hell am i doing adding one more thing to it?  I have no freaking idea…

But it hasn’t been too bad so far.  The bigger concern is how I’m going to do all this and find a way to make more money.  But i’m working on it…

That’s it for now- boring, I know, but I’m just trying to get myself in the habit of sitting down to do it everyday.

Better days…

Oh what a nasty post I did last time.  I apologize to anyone who read it- I’m doing much better today, and promise to refrain from pouring out such drival in the future.

First: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my sweet little Kesara!  She turned 2 yesterday.  The day was pretty quiet- just her sister and I mostly- but I think she had fun.  She also had a tummy ache from all the sweets that kept being offered to her.  Her sister had left some cotton candy out (i won’t bother to explain how her sister got cotton candy on a Friday night, but it was a highly unlikely situation) so that is what Kes snuck for breakfast.  Then later we decorate gingerbread men- Kes liked eating the sprinkles best.

Kes’s birthday

Her sister had a ball feeding her gummy worms, then of course we had cake and ice cream: by then Kes was completely turned off the cake, and only ate the ice cream.  I’m surprised she didn’t throw up.  But I did sneak her a sliver of a Rolaids tablet- couldn’t hurt, I figured.

The fun part was that she didn’t even seem to understand what was going on until we sang the birthday song to her and gave her the cake.  Then she lit up and started pointing at herself saying “birthday?” Adorable.

So now she’s a terrible 2.  They grow up so fast.

In knitting news: I finished the skull scarf.  I’m having very mixed feelings about it.  I think it looks great- my knitting was neat, the pattern was cool, etc.  But I screwed up and the two ends don’t match- I didn’t alternate the yarn color on the one end.  I was really ticked with myself at first.  But you know your maturing when you get over something like that alot quicker.  The way I see it is I  learned how to double knit, and pretty well too.  I’m so grateful I have a bright 7 year old to be a fan of my knitting- my husband pointed out the flaw before he said anything positive- which came out kinda like “it’s still a nice scarf”, which was about as flattering as plaid polyester pants! It sucks to live with an apathetic man.

Finished and flawed skull scarf

And now I’m going to learn to knit lace.  I’m doing the ‘touch of whimsy’ scarf. And here’s the really embarassing/monumental thing: I’m knitting it in wool.  I’m ashamed to say I’ve never knit with pure wool.  Frankly, I’m cheap.  Really cheap. Or poor- depend on your perspective. But this time I’m knitting with wool- i’ll find the brand name later. 

The primary cause of my conversion is Ravelry. I never realized how despised acrylic yarn is. On ravelry, people apologize for using it.   I have yet to form an opinion- after I mull it over awhile, I think I will start a discussion there.  In my own defence, if a defense is needed, I normally knit only for kids, (I have no patience for larger projects) and as a mom, I know that clothes that require special laundry treatment are a pain in the ass.  Quality acrylic yarn will do just fine for kids, and comes in bright and cheery colors. I don’t really see the drawback.

But my lace scarf is for my step mother, so I’m giving wool a try.  So far, I do like to knit with it. I’ve only done 3 rows so far.

starting lace scarf

I also bought 2 balls of alpaca- when I jump, I leap! So soft!  But not as soft as cashmere… Oh my god!  I found some cashmere at the yarn shop, and fell in love!  Insanely soft- they had swatches knit up, and I’m so glad I was alone and no one could see me fondly it… But it was sooooo insanely expensive!  I almost cried when I found out the price.  I wonder if I’ll ever be able to afford to knit with it- at that price, I’d end up with a very soft, very expensive wrist band!

So there you have it- isn’t that a happier post? I hope I didn’t drive my few blog friends away with that last one.