Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hoodie Baby Blanket and some gorgeous new wool

The Hoodie Baby Blanket for my new little nephew is done, except for weaving in ends and blocking.  Here's the progress shot from yesterday afternoon when I'd picked up all of the stitches for the edging (and let's please not discuss just how long it took me to pick up evenly...I would loose respect for my own knitting skills if I actually stopped to think about it too hard.)

Recently got in the mail from The Loopy Ewe:

I've been wanting to try Lorna's Laces roving for almost as long as I've been spinning, but somehow never got around to buying any.  When I was "window shopping" at The Loopy Ewe the other day, I saw this stuff in the Seaside colorway, and decided that was the moment.  I had to have it.

It seems expensive -- $30 for one bump of fiber -- but the bump happens to be 10 ounces, so it's really quite a reasonable price.  And the colors!  Oh, the colors.  This is something that I could just buy more and more of, just to look at it in my wool room.  And I don't stash, just for the sake of stash.

Daisy learned to stand this week (finally)!

And then the very next day, she was standing on top of things like this:

(The fort was built entirely by the boys, on their own.  They were very proud of themselves.)

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Popcorn all over the kitchen floor

Yesterday we ate dinner early, so by the time the children were done watching a few videos and playing together, they were ready for a snack before bed.  We popped up a big bowl of popcorn, got out the roasted peanuts, and sat in the middle of the kitchen floor with books Sparky had picked out for us -- of course the all-time favorite, Make Way For Ducklings, and then a few others.

It's kind of funny how a spontaneous thing like that can become the very best part of a day.  Everyone happy, content.  My legs started to go numb from the hard floor, but it was totally worth the peaceful togetherness of the moment.

This week I read my new favorite book, Rockabye: From Wild to Child ($10.85 on, by Rebecca Woolf (of online zine's Straight From The Bottle and her personal blog Girl's Gone Child).

It's the most hilarious, blatantly honest, raw, moving look at motherhood that I've ever encountered.  There are a myriad of parenting books out there, but this one touched me the way none else have.  I actually cried and laughed out loud throughout, and I cannot say that about many books -- fiction and non-fiction alike.

What I appreciate most about this book is Rebecca's insistance on the fact that it's possible, and indeed desireable, to remain your own, individual self, even after becoming a Mommy.  As a mother I've struggled many times with the issue of feeling swallowed whole by the new identity given to me by being Sparky's Mother.  Max's Mother.  Daisy's Mother.  Motherhood is such a Title -- how can there be  any room left over for the Me I've always been?

Reading this book was like getting to know a new friend who could relate to so many of the things that I've gone through in the past 5 years, and who could give me the reassurance that I don't have to be afraid of the things I think, or the way that I think, but I can just express who I am, and be a mother in the way that is best for me, and for our little family.

I'm not sure if Greg will appreciate it as much as I did, but I'm mailing it off to him just the same.  This is going to become my new go-to book for New Mom gifts.

I've started a Hoodie Baby Blanket for my sister's baby (due in July), but since at the moment it's just about a foot of stockinette, I thought you could probably manage without the progress pic.  =)  What perfect late-night movie knitting though!
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Meet Rose (and some handspun!)

When Greg and I were dating and engaged, most of the time our relationship was long-distance. One day I found this cute, innocent little Precious Moments pig, so I bought it, scented it with my perfume, and sent it off in the mail to him. At the risk of this story getting even more saccharine-sweet, I named it Rose, so that it could be like a little part of me (those of you who know my maiden name will get the reference.)

Later on when we got married, Greg unpacked little Rose in our new house, and it seemed that she must have gone out at some point and got a few well placed pieces of jewelery.

Last week, Rose took a second journey. The boys and I decided to send her off to Iraq to keep Greg company and participate in photographic adventures so that the boys can feel a sense of familiar in the different things that Greg will be showing them. (Idea thanks to my mother-in-law.)

Sparky and Max are looking forward to seeing where Rose turns up next!

The fiber that I was prepping the other day turned into this:

After all of the doll's hair-like super fine Tencel blend I'd been working on, I was totally in the mood for something much squashier, fatter, and faster.

Strawberries & Champagne, 4oz, 200 yds worsted/bulky two-ply. 60% Merino, 40% Bamboo, handpainted by Rachel. Here's her Etsy: KnitMommy.

I stripped the roving into four pieces lengthwise. Rachel had dyed it in a repeating pattern, and I decided that I wanted the repeats to be a little on the short side, and also that I wanted the colors to do whatever they were going to do -- marled, matching, whatever.

I love this yarn. It has a sheen from the bamboo, with the super-softness of Merino. And the dying job was wonderful too!

I'm thinking of a Foliage hat -- since that hat is already worked in a little bit of an open pattern, it would make sense to knit it out of a slightly less-warm fiber blend. The perfect fall hat, I think. I was thinking mittens, but I'm not sure how well it would stand up to the abuse that my mittens would take. The bamboo was not very slippery in the drafting though (not anywhere near as slippery as the Tencel), so I think that it will hold up pretty well to whatever I do with it...we'll see.

At the moment, I am just going to enjoy the hank for what it is. I have been reading some other spinning blogs lately, and came across someone (can't remember who or I'd link) showing off an entire shelf of their handspun, and I thought -- hey! I want a shelf! This goes against everything I usually do -- regular readers will have noticed my compulsion to not waste a single shred of fiber. Fiber must be spun with project in mind, and knit into said project post-haste! Yarn stash (although I've got a fair amount) has the tendency to make me nervous. My fiber stash, on the other hand, is a comforting cushion of possibility. I've got a bunch though, and I think that I'm going to turn some of it into a shelf of handspun. Just for a little bit. (Let's see if this actually happens.)

Some cute Daisy pics:

Yesterday I went to get her from her playpen (where she naps during the day). Apparently, I must have left my shorts slung over the side of the crib when I changed last night, because she had dressed herself in them by the time I got to her.

Head through waist-band, arm through leg-hole.

I couldn't stop laughing!
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Friday, May 16, 2008

All the stationary I could want, and more

Once again, it's been a while, but with all of the beautiful weather we've been enjoying lately, I'm guessing you haven't been at your computer too much either.

First off, before I forget again, here is the link for the best maple products you will ever have in your life. (Someone is going to argue with me. Go ahead. I'll still hold my opinion.) =) Anyway, click on the "maple spreads", and you'll find the best thing that's ever happened to bread...well, I also dip pretzels in it, put it on crackers, smear it on a thick slice of get the idea. My husband actually just eats it with a spoon. (There is actually no dairy in it at all -- it's just maple sap cooked until it's a creamy consistancy, all deliciously thick and spreadable.)

There's also maple jelly in this category, which is probably good (although not as rich and concentrated as the cream), and maple mustard which, while it seems to sell well, is not my favorite (I go for a more full-bodied, grainy mustard, and the base of this one is a simple yellow one). Anyway, get the cream. It's so worth it.

Their syrup is the best we've ever tasted as well (and we've tried it against several other brands, so I'm not just throwing out an untested statement here) -- my favorite is the Medium, which is sweet with floral notes, yet still has the dark flavor of maple around the edges.

In my last post, I mentioned going to a Gartenschau with Rachel, her children and Jillian. There were so many pictures...I don't know, I just didn't want to take the time to post them all individually. Here is a collage of all, and you can click through to the Flickr set if you want to experience the pictures at full size:

I was especially happy with this shot. I stood in one spot on a bridge and took about 4 pictures, then photo-stitched them together in Photoshop. I love Photoshop, 'cause it makes me look smart.

I mean really, it's not like it's the most awesome shot in the world. It's just that it used to be 4, and that just feels like a tiny bit of magic to me.

Moving on -- when I was younger, I wrote "real" letters to all of my friends, all of the time. My stationary was my prized collection, and I only used it sparingly, preferring note-paper most of the time, since I never had much money and couldn't afford to splurge.

I splurged a tiny bit just recently:

(The adorable cupcake set is from DogboneArt, and the hand-screened stationary is from BeansRiceRevolt)

Then I got this package. I am such a sucker for presentation, and seriously, any seller who can make me feel like it's been gift-wrapped just especially for me has my undying faithfulness. (I realized that it probably makes their overhead more expensive, and that not every seller will do this, and that not doing this does not diminish their seller-ness in anyway, but still, I appreciate the effort wholeheartedly.)

Included was a bonus notecard (the yellow with circles), and then I opened the little wrapped box to reveal my set of personalized note-cards.

I've never had any personalized stationary before, and this is just so heart-meltingly sweet! My total favorite. It was a good price too -- $25 for 25 note-cards. SilhouetteBlue, I will shop with you forever!

I also ordered a set from Snew, but I'm afraid that you're just going to have to go there yourself and see what she has up for sale. I prefer not to share every single little bit of my new purchases, and if you visit the shop, you may see what I mean. Not that I feel bad about what I bought -- on the contrary I think that my husband will think it's hilarious, but...well, nevermind, just visit the shop at your own risk, if you feel so inclined.

On the knitting front...well, there really hasn't been that much knitting recently. I've continued in the strange mood I've been in, and even read a few novels that I checked out from the library last week (that shocked even me, because I haven't done any serious reading in about 3 years!).

Just for the heck of it, I gathered together my currently "in rotation" knits (actually, "hanging out on my dining room table" knits), and took a shot of the neglected group:

(Central Park Hoodie needs both pieces ripped back below the armholes because I knit every part of it about an inch two long for my size, the Loksins needs it's toe kitchnered and the second sock cast on, and the Cozy V-Neck Ribbed Sweater needs it's arm ripped out entirely because it feels like it's going to cut my circulation off.)

After all of my library reading was through though, I felt re-inspired by the half-finished project on my wheel, and finished the neglected laceweight Aspen singles:

I managed to squeeze 1,050 yards of laceweight singles out of 4 oz of merino-tencel blend (Spunky Club September 2007)

I pre-drafted the roving at full-strength, meaning that I did not split it lengthwise at all, because I wanted to have super-long color runs in the finished product. I intend to knit a shawl out of this, and, while I was spinning it finely, I wanted to maintain the beauty and strength of the individual colors in my final knitted item (which also led me to my singles decision, rather than plying it at all).

Shown here with a quarter for scale (a quarter is the tiniest bit bigger than a euro coin)

I'll probably cast on for this right before my trip back home in a few weeks. So now I need ideas! What shawl pattern should this be knitted into?

Freshly drafted and ready to hit the wheel:

Strawberries and Champaign Merino/bamboo from HaveYouAnyWool.
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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Birthday party!

These past two weeks have been something of a blur. I know that a lot has happened, it's just that I've felt like I've needed more sleep (probably has something to do with the mice that have moved into my ceiling -- the damn things are as loud as grown adults up there), and I've felt like I'm barely hanging onto things in some ways, so finding the extra energy to blog....well, it just hasn't been there, I guess. Also, at the moment the only form of communication I have with Greg is by handwritten letters (internet and phone are out of the question for the most part at the moment, even though he's now moved to Iraq where he was supposed be all set up with technology), so by the time I'm done living a day and then writing about it to him, I just can't find it in me to blog about it as well.

Anyway, enough with that. What have I been doing exactly?

Well, for one, I had a birthday on April 24th, and turned the ripe old age of 28. I never thought that 28 would feel so much like 20, but it really does. I wonder if I'll ever feel "my age"? (Holy crap, do I actually have THREE KIDS? Is that even possible?!)

The day after my birthday was my monthly spinning day that I host at my house, so I turned it into a little birthday party for Daisy and I:

Our friends were super generous:

The candy, Duets sock yarn and Tempted Merino/Silk roving are from Jillian.

From Rachel, as well as the two red/pink roving braids in the photo above (one of them is Merino/Bamboo!!), which are from her Etsy shop. (She specializes in semi-solid sock yarns and roving -- seriously go check her out!)

Crocheted by Hilary -- so adorable! (Click on her link for more details about the pattern.)

Dina brought flowers and a beautiful little wooden book, but both were in use at the time of the photo (well, the flowers were on my countertop, but you know what I mean).

Thank you ladies! We had a very fun time, even though it felt really strange to have a birthday party for myself after so many years (I think the last time I had one I was 16!)

A few days later, we went to a "Gartenschau" or Garden Show with Jillian, Rachel and her children, but since I got tons of great pictures, I'll have to save that for another post.

I finished the Hemlock Ring Blanket, and it's quietly waiting to be blocked:

Chris at Briar Rose Fibers sent me two massive hanks of her yarn (an entire sweaters worth in just two!!), because she "wanted to do something special for a military family". She dyed these in a semi-solid mix of purples and blues (more purple than the picture here shows), and I love love love it!

I have never had a sweater's worth of handpainted yarn, so it will be fun to discover what project goes best with this. (For those who are interested, this is her "Charity" yarn, which is a worsted weight Corriedale, and it looks like it'll be both soft and tough -- perfect!)

Thank you Chris!!

I'll leave you with two pictures of Daisy's newest favorite thing -- boxes!

She pushes them around, occasionally stopping to get in. Looks uncomfortable to me, but she loves it!

(She was pushing the buttons to her little yellow/purple "radio", and then dancing to the music.)

Oh, and about the socks that I knit for my mom for Mother's Day...I sent them without photographing. I know, I never do that. There was nothing super interesting/special about them anyway, except for the fact that they're for my mom and she'll love them to pieces (literally!), but I never do that! I photograph even the things that I will never blog about! My gosh, where's my head lately?!
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