Monday, January 29, 2007

What a day and sweater update

After doing all of our Monday morning cleaning, breakfasting, second breakfasting, and little ones' schoolwork, Thing 1 and I sat down to knock out a couple rounds from her spelling book.

I had asked her to bring her book into the kitchen so I could multitask and wipe counters down while we pondered the spelling of words like "seamstress." The stepstool was a perfect place for her, the stove for the book. As she wrote, she suddenly said, "Ouch!" I looked at her, and she shrugged, and then said, "Ouch!"

Further investigation revealed that she had slipped getting off of her bunk bed this morning, hanging unexpectedly by one arm. Further further investigation revealed that her collarbone had a definite sore spot on it. I looked up "symptoms of broken collarbone," and read enough to suggest that I'd feel more confident if our doctor, the Greatest Pediatrician in the World, took a look at it.

Joy, joy! He had an opening and I had already engaged the services of my Wonderful Sister for babysitting as -- get this -- Thing 1 already had a dentist appointment for a cavity filling. Sister could come earlier.

Off we went, knitting in tow. GPW said he'd feel better with x-rays, fitted her with a sling, and sent us off. Fortunately our local hospital embodies many of the good things about small town hospitals, and our wait was very short. She looked very small and vulnerable on that table, and I said a little prayer of thanksgiving that my kids are so ferociously healthy most of the time.

Off to a quick lunch, to the dentist, who is also pretty wonderful, and Thing 1 was ready for a nap. I think my sister was ready for a break, too.

Good news! The collarbone isn't broken -- probaby a strain from the slip. And I got a few more inches done on the second sweater of the year.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Thing 3 will ever wear this orangey goodness -- I'm learning to let go of expectations. It did go to the zoo with him and his sisters last week, where it began a campaign of copying him:

The stick insects liked it. I wonder if they'd like some sweaters? See them? They look like sticks!

Clearly, this has been a long day for me. It got a little bit longer when Thing 1 announced cheerfully that she had broken her retainer. Tomorrow I'll call the orthodontist. Now? I'm going to finish the movie I've been watching, knit to the beginning of the next cable crossing, and go to bed.

Monday, January 22, 2007


The little one has worn that finshed sweater twice. Both times under protest.

Really. I head toward her, saying "Let's put your sweater on and go outside!" and she starts shrieking, "No! Nooooooo! Jackie! [jacket]"

Put her jacket on, she's happy as a clam. Little twerp. I am currently hunting a More Deserving toddler for sweater-wearing duties. It has crossed my mind that it may be the hood that the jacket has that moves it past the sweater, but she's so overt in her loathing that I'm certainly not in the mood to knit her a new sweater any time soon.

Nevertheless, I have more sweaters yet to make, so I am this far into the next one:

Top down raglan, Knitpicks Merino Style, overdyed with orange Koolaid. Cable from Vogue Stitchionary 2: Cables. I think they call them Winding Road. I also made the neck opening too small and so will be carefully picking it out and going out about three rounds larger.

I had high hopes this weekend of knocking out a large part of this sweater. However, Thing 2 had other plans. She's increasingly jealous of her older sister's ability to go out in the world and make money (notice it's not her mother's money-making ability that she's envying. Smart girl.) So I told her that there were things around the house she could do to make money.

"Take those stored clothes bins upstairs. If you (who, I did not add, messed them up in the first place) would sort them by size and separate them neatly, I'd pay you."

Off she (tailed by Thing 3) ran. Soon, they came back downstairs and I heard much moving of stuff.

"What are you doing?"

"We're moving all of our clothes up there! There's a lot of clothes in there that fit me!"

Notice, here, how a straightening job has morphed into a clothes shopping expedition, compounded by removing all of the neatly stored clothes from two bedrooms and putting them upstairs where it is never what I would call "neat."

I spent all weekend undoing. The bins are now neat, but Thing 2 didn't actually make any money. I should have charged her.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Close Enough

It's been cold here lately -- cold for us, that is. And since we don't have anything as quaint as insulation, or tight-fitting windows and doors, or even central heat, it's also cold in our house. Mornings and evenings are about 50f. I'm especially concerned that Thing 4 stay warm as she's close to the floor, small, and while quite verbal -- last night, she said, "More tortellini" rather clearly, probably isn't up to "I'm feeling unusually chilly -- can I have a hat?"

That's one reason she got the first sweater of the year. The fact that she's fairly small has nothing to do with it. (Well, maybe a little.) I haven't purchased buttons yet, but I just got every pesky end woven in and have decided that ignoring my mistakes while vowing to become a much more careful knitter in the future was the way of wisdom, while balling it up in a corner and weeping wasn't. When I realized that I had burned the beans I was cooking because I was overfocused on end-weaving, the corner/weeping option seemed a little more attractive.

Some day I'll work out collars and bands to my satisfaction. Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan Sweater, tweaked to a small size, KnitPicks Merino Style in Honey, Cornflower, Iris, Vanilla, and Asparagus.

I'm having to fight temptation to cast on for an earflap hat that matches -- she might wear it and be warmer -- and remember that I have eleven more beauties to go. I may just do that hat tonight, though, because the yarn for Thing 3's sweater (he's next -- same top-down raglan, but a pullover this time) is outside drying on the line. Maybe it will freeze first, because it's heading back down tonight around 28f. Freezing is drying too, right?

His yarn is also KnitPicks Merino Style, but overdyed with lots of orange KoolAid. I do not like KP's "Crocus" colorway at all. It's pretty nice now, looking something like my very favorite yarn in the world. The red skein was a natural aran-weight I had lying around, just waiting for "Fruit Punch" KoolAid. It will make a sweet hat for Thing 2 (when I'm done with those 11 sweaters, the afghan, and her quilt, that is). Anyhow, winding and dyeing the yarn kept those middle Things happy while the baby napped and so what if dinner burned while I was weaving in ends?

There's always take-out.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

It's good to be Queen

Instead of holing up inside knitting the collar for that little sweater (on size THREES, people), I took advantage of the mild and pretty day to stir up the bees a bit. I've been reading back copies of a beekeeping journal, and getting a little worried that I hadn't been managing their mites very well. The last thing I wanted to do was have the death of 60,000 or so of my pets on my hands. . .

I figure I can avoid questions such as "Just how are you planning to knit that sweater this month, young lady?" and "Why haven't you set up the Sweater a Month KAL faster/better/why am I not on the sidebar yet/do you even read your email?" by posting a photo-heavy distracting bee tour!

Among other clues, one reason I know I'm not a real beekeeper is that I can't keep my smoker lit. There is special fuel that burns and smokes for hours, but I don't need hours of smoke -- just minutes. Beekeepers talk about grabbing some leaves, lighting them up, and off they go. I painstakingly gathered bags of dried eucalyptus leaves during last fall's soccer season (just another way I distinguish myself from the normal other soccer parents) because they're so oily they're supposed to be good smoker fuel.

Mine go out every 2-3 minutes. It got so bad that Thing 1 had to bring out a lit candle and periodically brave the bees to relight it for me. She's a trooper!

Those bees looked pretty great, actually. Four very full frames of capped honey -- more than enough to see them through any winter we might have.

No drone brood, or very little, which is good, since cold weather is no time for loafing males who do no work yet consume food. Ahem.

As I was replacing some of the frames, I hadn't put them at what is the preferred spacing -- bees are big fans of the "not too close, not too far" approach, or something called "bee space." When I looked in, the bees were making a chain of their bodies (this, alas, isn't a great picture -- I took it while wearing my veil. The good ones Thing 1 took with a clear face). They do this when they're going to fill up a too big space with honey comb. It kind of looks like a bucket brigade, but I think it's more a wax brigade.

I even saw my favorite sight, the good mother of them all.

See the big, pointy red/brown bee in the middle of the top of the frame? That's her. Every time I see her I get jazzed all over again. That's probably another clue I'm not "real" -- although I'd rather be an amateur and get excited over her.

Her children may be planning for a future that doesn't include her, however, as I think that peanutty-shaped thing is what's called a "swarm cell."

That happens when some workers decide, for whatever reason, to feed one of the babies a mix of pollen and honey and some goop from their pharyngeal glands. That baby then develops into a queen. She'll either swarm away with other workers to form a new hive or kill the existing queen and install herself. This is a decision I'm going to let them make for themselves.

So now my children would like me to feed them, although not from a gland in my head, and I'd like to get that knitting done. Maybe onion soup and corn bread will buy me some knitting time later.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Wonky Ribbing

Yep, I don't go down in needle size enough and my ribbing (although knit on needles two full sizes smaller than the body) seems bigger. I'm deluding myself into thinking that blocking will Solve All.

It had better, because I don't have enough time to take it out and redo -- because I took the plunge. The blog is rough, but if you want to knit a sweater a month, or want to try, or want to watch me try, or know someone who fits any of those categories? Send 'em over.

For the other edges? I'm going to use a four. Or maybe a three.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Come, Join the Insanity!

Okay, so because I'm not crazy enough and because I really really need more pressure in my life and everything and I'm not second-guessing my time usage more than 24,583 times a day anyhow?

I want to start a KAL -- yep, it's the Sweater a Month in 2007! I'm going to set up this blog bad boy tomorrow and if you want to join, drop me an email and somehow, although I really don't have enough skill level to do it, I'll manage to get it going. Anyone want to join, design a button, and then tell me how to get it on that blog?

bfmoma, you with me? Can you help manage the blog? Got any fun names (Twelve Months of Sweaters? A Dozen a Year and Vests Don't Count? Do You Know 12 Babies?) in mind?

All this by way of saying that the tulip sweater isn't quite done, although I'm pretty sure how I'm going to do the last color work and maybe tonight I'll get the body completed, leaving me the weekend for sleeves. Bwaaa haaa haaa. My family is so going to eat pasta from now on.

Anyhow, any takers?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Hopes and Plans

While it's obvious that making resolutions just because it's conventional and the calendar "says" it's a new year is a cultural artifact, you can't deny that people want to celebrate the turning of the year and new beginnings. It's pretty deeply-wired, I think.

After thinking about my knitting for last year, my thoughts turned lightly to my knitting for this year. Actually, at that point, it was my theoretical knitting, as I hadn't picked up needles for what seemed like months. I still have that lace thing hanging over my head, and just becauseI keep ripping out mistakes and whimpering in the corners with it bunched up in my bag doesn't mean I have to keep being afraid of it. So I'd ideally finish that before my mother comes to visit.
And there's the chocolate and cherries sweater I started for me, stalled because I'm not eager to do the sleeve math. Talk about wimpy reasons for not finishing! Oh, and there's also the whole "what twist stitch to use on the sleeves and do I really remember how to do a twist stitch?" part. At any rate, that's another bit to finish. I'm not even going to think too hard about the orange vest. . .

Then I thought, well, Thing 4 doesn't currently have a cardigan that fits. They're either too small or too big, and a pullover isn't the same for the people who dress toddlers. Cardigan for her! And thus the Knitting Manifesto for 2007 was born:

A sweater a month, quilt that quilt, and make an afghan (and don't count The Lace Thing).

Seem reasonable? It does to me -- let's see how it works out. I know Thing 1 wants another top-down raglan, as she's outgrown both her old top-down AND the green leaf sweater. (Plus umpteen pairs of shoes, but we'll stick to knitting for now. . .)

I want some sweaters, and I bet the middle Things wouldn't hate them, although they are much less sweater-inclined than others in the family. So it seems as though I'm going to get a lot of sweaters for me this year! Oh, and ideally I'll do this without actually having to buy yarn. I have a lot, anyhow. And since my wonderful sister gave me spinning lessons at a local shop for Christmas, I'm sure I'll have lots of free time, and fiber doesn't count, right? I actually dreamed that my local hardware store sold roving and combed top on the big spools that rope comes on. All this before lesson one. My dream life is out of control.

If I quilt 1/12th of the cowgirl quilt per month, it can rest under the Christmas tree next December. Never mind that critical hardware is missing from the quilt frame, I can't justify buying another quilt frame, I hate quilting in a hoop, and besides we're supposed to be spending the weekends putting up shear walls in the basement. Never mind reality! Onward!!

There are other goals, but they involve things other than knitting. Some of them involve this person (and not because of her ears):

Some of them involve boring things like exercise and housework and bees and meditation. . .

But I did start on the knitting stuff. The kitten helped a lot (maybe I should focus some goals on our computer desk!)

After last night, it looks more like this:

After I get the body done (today?), I'll do the sleeves and then deal with the mistakes charming asymmetry in the colorwork and decide just how to color-edge the cuffs, bottom, and collar. I'm hoping that this will be done sooner rather than later, allowing me to stride into the new year with confidence and aplomb.

Then I'll take up that lace again.