Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A happy, lonely coffee (and bagels!)

I'm all alone this morning! At 8 am, I dropped all three of my children off at daycare (provided for free on post for a certain number of hours per month for families with deployed spouses). I cannot tell you how strange it felt to just walk away, and get in my car by myself.

I went to the gas station and vacuumed out my car, went to the bank, got some groceries, picked up the mail...and now I'm sitting by myself in an Internet cafe on post, just waiting until 12 noon to pick my kids back up. Just me, my knitting and my laptop. All by myself. I feel like I'm 18 again (in a good way).

For real. (And before someone asks, no, that's just the light hitting my hair funny, not purple dye.)

So, about the bagels! Living in a tiny town in Germany, it's impossible to find a bagel. The bakeries are wonderful, but bagels are just something that German's don't do. Now, I did have a pretty rockin' bagel in Berlin, but as far as I know, that's the only place in the entire country where you can get one (unless Munich has them too?)

Anyway, I'm a New Jersey girl. A New Jersey girl needs a bagel from time to time. I'd given up on ever having one while living here, but then when I was on the phone with my mom the other day, she told me about the recipe in America's Test Kitchen "The New Best Recipe", which she's already baked several times. I had to try it!

Seriously, if you don't bake at home, you can only imagine the smell of fresh baked goods coming out of your very own oven.

My little people inhaled them. Thumbs up all around.

I was very happy with these, and was going to post the recipe straight from the cookbook, but then found a blog post at Falling Rock Central, who tweaked it slightly. I agree that the bagels were just a touch dry (although, smothered in butter or cream cheese, who can tell?), so check out his version if you want to bake yourself up a batch.

I finished a pair of socks! I actually completed these a few weeks ago, just before my husband left, but just haven't gotten a chance to show them to you all yet:


I knit these two at a time, 64 stitches, toe-up, using a cast-on technique that my friend Dina taught me...maybe she can be persuaded to create a tutorial for it, because it's pretty cool, and makes a nice wide, rounded toe.


Yarn: Regia Nation Color (I call them retro rainbow, but I'm pretty sure that's not what the label says)
Needles: KnitPicks Classic Circular size 1 (knit 2-at-a-time, magic-loop technique)
Pattern: My own improvisation.
Notes: 64 stitch sock, toe up, Kitchener bind-off, peasant/afterthought heel.

Regia Rainbow "Nation" Socks

I'm wearing them right now. They're so cheerful!

I also just finished a pair of Mother's Day socks for my mom, which I'll show you in my next post.

Oh, the fiber collage that I posted yesterday was the result of one day last week when my hands were sore from knitting, so I photographed most of my stash and posted them on Ravelry. I thought I'd put them together in a little collage for yesterday's post as a kind of "palate cleanser" after the unpleasant paragraph preceding it.

For details on exactly what all of the yummy fibers are, click on the collage, which will take you to the Flick page. Check the description there for what everything is.

Also -- Maple cream? It's stuff you spread on toast. Amazing stuff. I'll post a link for where to get some of your own tomorrow (or whenever I find it.)

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Daisy and I thank all of you for your lovely well wishes, and continued comments of support for our little family. You all are such an encouragement to me, and it really means a lot.

Several of you have wondered in the comments if we'll be going home during this deployment. Yes, we do intend on going home for the summer; one of my sisters is due with her first baby, so we'll be there for that, which will be exciting. I'm not sure about any other trips home -- I guess we'll just have to see how it all goes.

Speaking of the comments, in my Chocolate Berry Sweater post (two posts ago?), this blog received it's very first snotty comment. Now, I would say that I was almost honored to have my first controversial comment, but... well here, read it for yourself:

"The telephone and mobile service is fine in Kuwait. I know I'm a western expat who has lived here 10 years. Don't make generalized comments about places unless you know them!"

Hmmm. Lack of sensitivity aside, it must be embarrassing for a person to leave a comment like that and then realize that they've just gone public with their inability to understand something in context, and lack of reading comprehension skills. Plus, isn't this a place to comment on knitting? Ah well. It happens.

Hey look! Fiber!!

I'm making bagels for the first time today. My mom was making them, and inspired me. They're in the oven right now, so I'll be sure to report back on how they came out!
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Happy birthday little girl!

Today, Daisy turned one year old.  I know, we can't really believe it either.

We started our day at the library on post, for reading hour.  Daisy tried to help everyone else out with their craft projects.

Max would not take off his hat, but ended up being kind of friendly in spite of himself.

Sparky interacted very well with all of the other children, because he says that he's "a big guy now -- I wasn't talkin' to people before, 'cause that was when I was a little guy."  (Very seriously, deep voice tones.)

I brought a sock in progress (plain 2x2 rib for my mom for mother's day -- no pics yet), and got a few interesting looks from the other moms.  One mother (who had one little child there) finally asked me what I was doing, and when I told her about it she actually said "oh, I can't do that, I have kids".  It was such a stupid answer that I just let it hang there and then said, "Oh." and that's all.  (If you read back in that sentence you will see that she had one child.  I'm sitting there knitting with THREE children under 5 years of age.  Hello?  What?  Ok, nevermind.)

We also had to get the mail, pick up some stuff at the grocery store and get the mail, so by the time we were halfway home, Daisy looked like this:

She revived once we'd gotten into the house, and we set about opening some gifts that had come in the mail from my in-laws.

The pink spiky ball was a hit with everyone.

Included was also some gifts for my birthday (I turn 28 in exactly a week), and the very best part was this stuff:

We'd stopped at the bakery on the way home, and I let each person pick out their own thing.  We put candles in each (of course!) so that everyone would have something to blow out.

After singing Happy Birthday, Daisy spent a good chunk of time demolishing (but not necessarily eating) her Pudding Plunder (a sweet pastry/bread twist filled with piped swirls of custard).

Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl!  You've completely changed my life, and I love you like crazy.  You're already such a character; it will be very cool to see who you grow up to be.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The First Week (And a new sweater)

It's been a rough time, but we've made it through week one. I know, we have many more ahead of us, but things seem to be looking up. I've only been able to talk with my husband a few seconds at a time, since he's in Kuwait (for the final training phase before actually touching ground in Iraq), and in Kuwait there is horrible cell-phone and internet service. We're communicating via text message only at the moment -- it will be wonderful to finally really talk next month.

The days have been challenging, but as so many of you suggested, we've been creating our own new routines; not being able to look forward to Daddy coming home at the end of the day is difficult to adjust to, but it gets more normal and "doable" with each day.

Thank you so much to each one of you who took the time to comment or email me. Although I didn't manage to get back to each of you personally, please know that the time you took out of your day to let me know you cared is hugely appreciated. I felt like I was getting a hug from each one of you, and on certain days, it was a total lifesaver. Literally.

The travails of last week are, however, of last week. There will be more to follow, I'm sure, but for now, let's get on to the triumphs, shall we?

I finished my first adult-sized handspun sweater!!

Pattern: Sprout -- Growing Roots by Amy King Needles: Size 8 KnitPicks Classic Options (circulars) Yarn: My handspun (from Spunky Club Falkland hanpainted Pie For Everyone, 8 oz, and natural dark BFL, approx 10 oz) I spun a little over 1100 yards altogether, and I did not use up all of my yarn. There's at least enough for a hat and mittens for Daisy if not a matching stripy sweater for her (although I'd have to spin up more brown). but for now I'm just going to stash the extra bits away until next winter season.
Notes: I was charmed by this pattern. The clever short-rows at the top back (giving the front a gentle scoop-neck), the little cables surrounded by delicate eyelets, the raglan construction -- what's not to love?
Mods: I knit the sleeves bracelet length, and opted for the eyelet increases in the raglan.

I used three colors of yarn: Pure Falkland (the pink striping stuff), pure dark brownish grey BFL, and a marled mix of both (used on either side of each wide pink or brown stripe to create a blending effect).

I reknit the arms about 3 times each until I was happy with length and fitted-ness (I discovered that I needed to give myself little-to-no ease as it tapered to the ribbed cuff), and also worked the button bands several times.

At first there was just trouble getting the stitches all picked up evenly, but then after I'd gotten it all straightened out, blocked, and buttons sewn on (which coordinated perfectly with the sweater!), I discovered that the button's I'd chosen were too heavy and made the band flop over at the top. Also, this yarn is both bouncy and drapey, and within the first hour of wearing it the other day, the buttonholes were all stretched out, and especially gaping around the bustline. No good.

I think that I'm going to install a two-way zipper. Today I wore it just like this to my Stitch 'n Bitch, and it bothered me that it kept flopping open and sort of off my shoulders. I'll probably secure it with a pin in the center until I get the zipper thing worked out. (It's possible that it's a tad too big under the arms, but no matter -- I'm not ripping it back.)

Anyway, enough of pointing out the faults. I love this sweater for what it is: my very first adult sized spin-to-knit garment.

P.S. I cannot get over how much blocking smoothed everything out. I mean, it's not like it's the first time or anything, but it's really a miracle every single time. I'm not the most consistant, smooth knitter. But the fabric of this sweater! Even though it's handspun! Amazing! (My sweater blocking "technique" consists entirely in soaking the sweater in a warm Eucalan wash, squishing it out rolled up in towel after towel until almost dry, then gently stretching and patting it into place on a dry towel on the dining room table -- no pins needed.) It's really incredible what good a little water can do.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sunshine is good for the soul

Being employed as an officer in the US Military is just a good job until that person is deployed.

I wasn't going to post about this because of security concerns, etc, but I'm not sure how I can get through more than a year without sharing about it here with you all.  In many ways I use the blog to work through things; getting everything out on the screen often helps me see things more clearly or at least be able to deal with them.  At the same time, I don't really want to talk about it, because I feel like paltry words can't effectively communicate the pain of it all.  I can't think of a phrase that won't diminish the reality of this time in our lives, and I would never ask for pity or sympathy.  This is our life.  This is his job.

My husband is my best friend.  The idea of life without him is ludicrous.

Greg deployed to Iraq a few days ago.  I won't see him again for over a year.

Somehow I'm still breathing, still living, still parenting and caring for my little ones.

When the sun shines, we will play.

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