Saturday, April 8, 2006

I Went To State and All I Got Was A Finished Sweater

Before I did something I've never ever done before yesterday, I cleaned some of the house. I read out loud to Thing 3 while the bigger sisters were at the ballet (hooray for Swan Lake -- I never thought it would darken our door again, after Thing 1's ferocious love affair with it during the Fairy Wing years). I even did some seaming on the sweater and began the neckband. But I didn't finish the sweater then, because I had to make a dinner to leave behind. Then I did the never-before-done thing.

I left Things 2 and 3 alone with their father. Overnight.

And boy, oh boy oh boy, did I appreciate it. He cheerfully took over the night and day duty so I could take the other children for Thing 1 to compete in the state level of Destination Imagination, and stay in a hotel and talk to adults and drink a teensy bit and not deal with short people saying, "It's not fair!" and "I'm bored!" roughly every 1.7 minutes. Never mind that my wild night out was spent, in great part, watching seven eleven year-olds jump on the beds in my hotel room. In the face of his great gift, not finishing the sweater before I left seemed minor.

A moment of appreciative silence, please.

There was a baby eating cereal Os in the carseat on the way to Elk Grove. There was a bit of reading aloud on the way. There was rain on the way. There was traffic. During the traffic, I figured, "What the heck! I'll knit some more on that collar," since I was nearly done with it. Imagine my horror when I reached into my bag and found the sweater, the collar, and the (circular) needle in two pieces. One needle had pulled right off of the cable. Yipes. I casually asked Thing 2, reading aloud to me from Pride and Prejudice from the back, how she was with picking up dropped stitches in ribbing. She calmly responded that, since she had never picked up a dropped stitch, she didn't know how she was with it. Made sense to me.

Fighting panic, I slooowly reached over (traffic is beginning to move a little more briskly at this point) and picked up another needle. I lifted the orphaned stitches onto it and put the whole mess down, resolving to buy a new needle as fast as I could after we checked into the hotel. I also decided that perhaps knitting on an interstate wasn't the wisest choice to make.

There turned out to be a yarn shop not two blocks away from the hotel. Now I'm going to rant. It really was two blocks away. But you couldn't walk there, nooooo. Elk Grove was, I assume, once a lovely teeny town surrounded by beautiful, productive farmland. I don't think there really was a downtown, because it wasn't much of a town. It was, well, if my eyes didn't deceive me, farms. Now, it's a collection of indistinguishable stucco housing developments going up like mushrooms in mulch, plus strip malls. Just what the world needs -- more imposing middle-class houses with large garages in front of them.

The hotel was new, too, and so was the strip mall in which the yarn shop (excuse me, The Yarn Shoppe, located two doors down from a Pastry Shoppe. I kid you not. What on earth possesses people to think that using Ye Olde Fpelling somehow distracts people from noticing that your strip mall/housing development has very little to do with Elizabethan England and a heck of a lot more to do with tawdry design and quick-buck agricultural land despoilation?)

One couldn't walk the two blocks to the store/shoppe in the Brave New Olde Englund that is suburbia today. It's all cars, all the time. Walking to the shoppe would have endangered our lives because the streets are huge, there are no sidewalks, and despite the "compact" signs painted on the parking spots in the asphalt scars over former pastureland, sport-utility vehicles are the new farm trucks.

And the yarn was pricey. But they had the needle I needed, and I heeded the pleas of Thing 1 for souvenir yarn and got two balls of this, fortunately on sale, for a scarf. Wasn't there a mohair scarf with a leaf or vine motif all over the blog world? Suggestions welcome. We all know about my lace issues -- be gentle.

At any rate, as I mentioned already, I had some down time at the hotel. I used it to good purpose. Back view:

Front view. I particularly like the penguin pajamas with it. Despite my fears, I had scads of yarn left. I could have knit this child a two-year sweater. Instead it fits her perfectly, if a little retro-trimly, right now.

Better pictures later. She wouldn't take it off today for me to bring it home.

I came home -- with a baby who now has teeth -- to happy, tired kids and a vacuumed house. Eric also managed to start the framework for Chicken Jail. The birds are getting a little antsy being cooped up, but it's all that little bird's fault. He's won the Above and Beyond the Call award for the weekend, and it's only half over.

Back at the former ranch, her team did a terrific job, as we had expected. Look! Neato puppets and an island hat:

There's just something about this team. Remember, they have to conceive of and execute everything themselves. They were ably led by my buddy Lisa, who seemed to be able to guide them without being either overbearing or driven mad, and they simply sparkle. No matter if they placed in the competition or not (the announcements weren't made yet while I was there), this experience has blessed the kids with great memories and deepened their friendships in ways I couldn't have predicted.

So maybe all I got was the finished sweater (50 days start to finish -- a personal record, I think) but we all got much more.


Rain said...

The sweater looks fantastic and is a really good fit on her. By the sound of it, she loves it and you can't beat that!

The leaf scarf was Branching Out from Knitty. It'll be in the archives. It's very easy lace and would look gorgeous in that yarn.

amy said...

hooray for finishing sweaters! you go!

And I really can't stand that situation with a short distance but no way to walk. So frustrating!

allisonmariecat said...

Branching out is a nice easy lace pattern--I taught a friend of mine to knit lace with it. I highly recommend writing each knit side row on a notecard so you can keep track of where you are.

I love the sweater! I'm not sure the penguin pajamas show it off to its best advantage, but it looks wonderful.

sewingsuzee said...


That was tons of fun to read.

The sweater was VERY CAREFULLY monitored for the rest of the afternoon.

Janis said...

WONDERFUL!!!! What did I tell you about knitting and driving Missy?

String Bean said...

Yay! A sweater! It looks great and I love that green!

Don't they make electric collars for chickens? Fried chicken sounds good. a spare chicken for me?