Friday, February 29, 2008

Double it, go up an order of magnitude

That's the rule of thumb someone told me to use when estimating how long any "around the house" job will take. So, for example, if your contractor says it's going to take two days, you think, "Four . . . months."

Except that I routinely forget to do this. Thus I find myself sitting and looking at a dining room with three coats of paint on the walls (Benjamin Moore's "Shenandoah" covered with two coats of "Limelight,"* even though some of the "too dark" green is coming through. We're staying with the "rustic" look) and yet only .75 coats of trim paint, and .8 areas of trim which are taped for painting. First the tape ran out, then the paint. And I had a lot of that helpful kind of "Mama, can I help?" help, too.

Oh, and that trim paint? This is quart number THREE. We couldn't quite figure out what color we wanted, and our little local store doesn't have sample sizes of all the colors, so a quart here, a quart there. It's still less expensive than hiring that color consultant I like so much, even for an hour.

Quart number three is called "Opulence," but it's really purple. Just a less-pinky purple than quart number one or quart number two.

This painting project might also explain why that stripy sweater for my little son isn't done. I ripped out the swollen head version and began again yesterday, after reading quickly through a couple of hood patterns. Since I had it all figured out, I proceeded without the stitch markers I couldn't find decided blithely I didn't need, and it was only as I was about to drop off to sleep that I realized why stitch markers would have been a good idea.

Yes, you want to increase, yes, you want the sides to grow, but no, you do not want to travel those increases out to the edge of the hood, making the back panel widen and ending up with no stitches left on each side. You want to sort of stack the increases.


Too bad I'll spend tomorrow finishing the paint/cleaning for a party on Sunday/grocery shopping for the party on Sunday/sitting in a heap in the corner whimpering instead of ripping out and redoing that hood.

Besides, that much knitting should only take me a couple of hours. Right?

*Okay, Laurel? Can you imagine it now?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Instant gratification

Or as close as I get.
Knit on a 12" Crystal Palace #6 bamboo needle (I actually dislike their joins, but I needed a needle when I bought it) with Louisa Harding "Grace" 50% silk 50% merino in color #5, "Moss."

Thing 1 wanted a no-fuss beanie -- and I think she got it. Probably best for the hat that I finished it as she returned from the weekend's muddy, windy, rainy frisbee tournament.

It's just a k3, p1 rib all around until it was long enough to cover her ears, then I k2'd together, k1, p1, then continued for 5 more rows, then k2together, p1, then went in pattern again for 4 rows, then k2'd together all around. Pulled yarn through, and voila! I hope the "steps" even out with a nice blocking.

Of course it took exactly one ball and about 3 yards of another. I may have to make a lacy hat of some sort for me or for a gift. It's such lovely yarn, but what do you do with only one ball, less a few yards? Sheesh. Maybe I'll have to buy a LOT and make something multicolored with it.

Now it's off to a birthday party for the busy girl. I get to play chauffer, of course.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

At least it's working for someone.

Katherine passed on a "You make my day" award, which is incredibly sweet.

But, since she mentioned how it was the more tawdry details of my life that cheered her up, I figured I'd just add some more.

The stripy sweater? Well, after nearly finishing the hood without a pattern, I tried it on Thing 3. It's too . . . puffy. He looks like a striped marshmallow head. So much for me thinking I can just figure out a hood. I'm going to have to dig up a pattern from some other sweater and redo. The thought makes me feel less than brilliant.

I finally got my dining room painted with the first coat, which isn't actually what's showing in the picture. it's greener, less blue. I'm thrilled. Daughter #1 and husband both say it's too dark. I keep asking, "Too dark for what?" and have as of yet received no answer. We do neither tatting nor brain surgery at the dining table, and there's enough light to spill milk and refuse to eat anything another sibling has described as "yucky." Thing 1 just said it's going to look like a room in some old mansion somewhere rather than a "modern Victorian house." Keep in mind this house was built in the 1880s.

[This color will have dark purply-blue trim. -Thing 1]

At yoga yesterday I was carefully lifting my legs over my head in a triangle head stand when my legs tipped over and I had to make a forward roll to keep from crashing down. Fortunately, it wasn't the kind of day where it was all mats on the floor -- I had room to roll without hitting a better-balanced student. Unfortunately, I managed to sprain my right ring finger knuckle. So I sat there trying not to say, "Ow ow ow" and just felt like an idiot.

I still do.

Thing 4 reported today that she was a "Ma-ah-ah-auve and red" giraffe. When Thing 1 pointed out that these were unusual giraffe colors, she said haughtily, "I'm not really a giraffe."

The she leaned close to her big sister's ear and whispered, "I'm really a dragon."

So there.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fun with Writing

I've been thinking about this one for a long time. As another term comes to an end, I want to round up some of the best of my bad student writing to share.

My students are writing about Sir Philip Sydney right now. Yes, his "Defense of Poesy," or "piety," as some are naming it, is up for dissection. Many are struggling with how to refer to an author who's a member of the nobility. So far, we have "Sir," "Sir Philip," and my favorite so far, "Mr. Sydney."

And I sort of remember how tired I would get when I was reading philosophy or criticism for classes -- it was difficult to struggle with intellectually challenging stuff. And this essay can be a toughie to get your mind around. Maybe that's the source of the following gems:

"His belief was that poetry is a form of writing and should be highly respected."
"In my conclusion about Sir Philip Sidney, I will have to say that he is definitely a man of self worth. Upon saying this I cannot seem to conjure his actions as a stance in learning for concrete meaning, but he certainly can send one’s mind into a world of poetic twisted fury."

Then we move on to Shakespeare, specifically Sonnet 130 "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun." Remember that gem? Well, it might have been long ago, but apparently social problems really haven't changed, according to one student:
"He believes the Petrarchan poets to be homeless romantics that see things how they want to see them, and not for what they really are."
"This is showing that Shakespeare love is not beautiful as Petrarchan is for his love. "

I call it February

This post could just as easily be titled, "This one's for Jude," if it weren't for the fact that I have many friends who are locked in frigid places to whom I want to give some sunshine. Each picture is enlargeable by clicking.


And don't feel badly if all you feel is envy or irritation -- it will rain for days and days here again soon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Girly yarn

My personal style tends toward the rectangular and plain. However, just like any other person, there are exceptions. I like baths that smell good, for instance. I have one shirt that has ruffles. I wish I could knit lace.

I'm trying to expand my spinning repertoire. So today, in honor of a friend's upcoming birthday, I tried beading some.

Sheep Shed mill ends, rayon sewing thread, and glass beads. On the lemon blooms as a Valentine for the snow-bound.

I think I may try more some day. I'm not a great plyer in the best of times, and this was par for the course. I'd also like more beads.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Safe from the stewpot

At least for now, the chickens are. I know, I know that I promised that these would be pet chickens and we wouldn't eat them, blah blah blah, oh these many years ago, but during the long dark rainy days of winter, to buy feed for them and check their water and so on and so forth, with very little to show for it weakens my resolve. "Wouldn't a nice pot of chicken rice soup taste good?" I ask.

And the children shriek. "You promised!" So I back off. But today, when I went out there just to tell myself that, yes, the kids are still neglecting their chores, I found something else that helped.

Since I can't tell who lays the brown eggs, all three of the possible suspects have a reprieve. The Americauna lays the green eggs, so she's safe too.

The warm weather (well, much warmer than it has been -- eight days I think so far without rain, sunshine is pouring through the windows and the kids are wearing next to nothing) also cheers me mightily, even though it was almost upon us when the stove guys finally got around to hooking up the heat stove. It took three tries, but it works like a dream now. Heat, indoor heat, seems like a bizarre and terrific concept.

Now that we might not need it until November. Actually, my friend Suzee has reminded me that we get this kind of teaser every February, and woe to those who believe in its lasting power and try to put tomatoes in the garden for an early start. March is coming.

It looked like summer at yesterday's ultimate match, though. Artificial turf on a parking garage, surrounded by buildings made for a warm day.

You can't really see much, but that's Thing 1 catching the disk. She's playing with the high school team even though she's a youngun, and I'm very happy for her. Thing 4 found playing on the sidelines simply exhausting:

(She actually asked me to take that picture -- strange little thing.) It was a much nicer game than the one only a week before, as you can tell in this picture from that game:

They beat the same team two weekends in a row, in very different conditions. Seems conclusive to me. Since her team is made up of middle-school and high-school students, beating the local university's team is a nice touch.

The hooded sweater isn't yet finished, but I started the hood and I will just need about 3/4 of each ball to finish it, so yes, I did have to buy more. But that will leave me with about 1 1/4 ball of each color. The yarn is so beautiful and soft I may have to make a colorwork hat for me. How many hats can one woman wear? How many do you have?

While I worked on it last night, I haven't yet finished spinning the three-ply sock yarn (bfmomma, do you still want to knit socks for me? Pretty please?). Did that stop me? No, my mother gave me a gift certificate to Loop and lookie what came for me today!

Bamboo, delightful beautiful bamboo. Perfect for socks, but wouldn't I have to ply it with wool for memory? I may, and I may just have fun spinning this beauty up. The colors are less insane than the picture shows, although unfortunately there's nothing left on her site to show the true colors. That's the "Chocolate Liquor" colorway, and then there's the "Sour Apple" bamboo/alpaca -- ha ha ha!

I'm wondering if I could eek out a little lacy something -- a tiny sweater for me? out of six ounces. Any ideas?

The weather also helped bring out the wander woman in me. I forced the kids to come along to take advantage of one of the neat weather quirks here. A few weeks of rain charges up the hills with water, but then the lovely weather makes getting to the result much more comfortable and rewarding. I'd like to come back and camp in this state park, because we only investigated one trail and there are many others that look just as fun.

For those of you to whom spring seems like a slightly stale joke these days, I wish I could box up and send you some of our reprieve to enjoy.