Mar 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - The Ten Last Books You Have Read.

I've had a lot more time to read lately. Much of it is devoted to satisfying the demands of Miss M who loves a good story. This one is her current favorite. She brings it with her to preschool regularly so that she can share it with her friends. It's got a surprise ending that has the kids in stitches every time.

I've also been reading a lot for my own enjoyment lately. I usually prefer mysteries and thrillers but I've been branching out a bit lately. It's a direct result of my heavy use of Goodreads. I love that I can keep track of the books I want to read and those I already did. I also like seeing what my friends are reading. It gives me ideas and helps me develop my queue.

Here is a list of some books that I've read recently. I wish I could say that I loved them all. 
  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green - Both of my teen girls read and loved this one. The morning after I finished it they expectantly asked how I liked it and "did I cry?". I did like it but I didn't cry. It's very good but I doubt that it'll stay with me in any lasting way. It was a good story well-told but not unique.
  2. The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly - I love Michael Connelly. I've heard him speak and I always enjoy his stories.This is the second Mickey Haller book and it didn't disappoint at all. The characters are well crafted and interesting and the story comes together well. 
  3. Criminal by Karin Slaughter - Ms Slaughter is another author I love. I owe all of the enjoyment I've gotten reading her books to the National Book Festival. Ever year I check the list of authors scheduled to appear and often I'll check out someone listed who is new to me before seeing them at the festival. She writes pretty intense thrillers with great characters that develop over the series but here's a little hint - don't get too attached. She really isn't kind to her characters. 
  4. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby - Four people go up to the top of a building on New Years Eve to kill themselves and don't. Then they spend the rest of the book annoying each other while they try prevent each other from trying again. I didn't like any of them and I didn't really care if they jumped. 
  5. two boys kissing, David Levithan - This was an amazingly affecting book. It was beautiful and lyrical and thought provoking. It tells the story of one day in the lives of  young, gay, men in a way that is hopeful and sad and angry and reverent.  This one will stay with me for a long time.
  6. Six Years, Harlan Coben - This author is fairly new to me but I like him. It's about lost love, stuff that doesn't add up and a hero who just can't let go. It was a little implausible in places but it was highly entertaining and sometimes that's all you need.
  7. Gone Missing, Linda Castillo - This is one in a series of books set in an Amish community. The Sheriff is former Amish and a woman which sent up a lot of interesting situations and relationships. I can't say how accurate these books are as a representation of the Amish but they feel true and it adds a welcome twist on the genre. 
  8. Night Film, Marisha Pessl - I hated this book. A lot. I had heard good things and it sounded like my kind of book. It certainly sounded like a neat concept. Unfortunately it was not an enjoyable or interesting read at all. For me it was a slog and took up precious time that I could've spent reading something much better. 
  9. Lost Light, Michael Connelly - No surprise that MC appears twice on my list. His books are always winners for me. 
  10. The Woman Upstairs, Claire Messud - This was an odd book. It's about a woman who has sublimated her own desires and now she is living a life that is fine but unexciting. She has a nice job, nice friends, and a nice life but she feels insignificant and wonders what could have been. She gets involved with the family of a student and it changes her. The best way that I can describe my feeling about this book is uncomfortable.  

Mar 21, 2014

ECF - Last Ice of the Season Edition

I'm really hoping that the title is true and that the next time I see ice on the trees around my house isn't until November or December.

It looks pretty but it's been a very long winter and I'd like it to stop now. Please?

Mar 20, 2014

More New Socks For Me

Last week I talked about a photo shoot for two pairs of socks.  This is the second pair.

This is the Through the Loops Mystery Sock for this year. A two color sock is so hard to plan for just because there are so many great possibilities for color combinations. I love choosing colors and seeing how they mix. In the end I settled with a pair of colors that was far less risky than many others. The dark blue id Malabrigo in Shery and the minty green is Spud & Chloe in Glow Worm. It wasn't terribly risky but I like it.

Knowing that this pattern would involve 2 colors I was a little apprehensive, hoping that there wouldn't be extensive color work or - even worse - intarsia. But a funny thing happened while I was working on these socks. I found myself wishing that the second color was involved just a little bit more. Wow!

In the end I'm really happy with thee socks. The fussy cast on and the stripey toes are fun and add a little spark to the design. Now I have a year to finish the 2012 socks and perhaps a few more pairs before the next mystery sock next year.

Mar 18, 2014

The Toddler Effect

Most of us start each new year with the intent to do all of the stuff that we meant to do but didn't in the previous year. We'll pull some awesome prank for April Fools Day. We'll host a fabulous barbecue and not for get to put out the smores at the end. We'll send out our holiday cards on time. We will remember ALL of the family birthdays. More often than not it goes wrong somewhere along the way and we make the same promises again the next year. If you'd like to break the cycle I have a suggestion.  Add a small person to the mix - a toddler or preschooler perhaps.

People constantly ask me about the changes that Miss M has brought to our lives. Usually this is followed by these words - "I could never do it." But I have to say that aside from the obvious changes - changing diapers, worrying about babysitters, and cleaning crayon off the walls, etc - there is one that is more basic. You have another chance and a new reason to do all of those things that you put off before.

So this year as the Jewish holiday of Purim approached, instead of saying that we really should make hamantashen - we did it. Hamantashen are cookies that are filled with fruit, nuts, chocolate, or whatever else you like and shaped like a three cornered hat. Usually you give them to friends and family as gifts. They are yummy.

I'm not sure why we never get around to making them most years. We're probably too busy with other stuff.  But this year we made up for it with 3 batches. I made a test batch with one dough and then I used another dough to make some with the girl scouts and more with my family. Most of them are long gone.

And that's not the only thing that we did for Purim this year rather than just thinking about it. We dressed up. Purim is a holiday that is celebrated loudly with treats and fun and costume. For this reason it's usully described as the Jewish version of Halloween. It' really not but I see where the impression comes from. Costumes and treats. And this year we did both.

What made this year different?  Why did we get dressed up? Right now we've got a preschooler in the house who is obsessed with Minions and princesses and her joy and excitement is infectious.  What you see here in the form of Princess M and her Minions is the toddler effect.

Mar 12, 2014

First Things First

It should come as no surprise that today, the day after I told you all about our little sock photo shoot, I'm sharing a pair of recently completed socks.

These are the Through the Loops Mystery Socks from 2013. I really love doing the mystery socks, I just have a problem finishing them. I start off strong but somewhere along the way life happens and suddenly I'm behind. And once I'm behind and there's no feeling of urgency it's way too easy to put a project down in for a minute.... that stretches into a year or so.

So when I saw the information posted for this years mystery sock I felt like I really ought to finish one of the previous mystery socks first. In the interest of full disclosure I should admit that the 2012 mystery socks are still languishing too. But at least I got these done and I did so before I started the new one. 

As with so many things, now that I'm finished with these socks I find myself wondering what took me so long. I really love them. The pattern in the front and in the back are lovely.

There's another reason why I wish that I'd finished these a year ago and not put them in time out.  My tension when I started them and when I finished them is not the same. It's not your imagination or a trick of photography - one sock is a bit shorter than the other.

Fortunately I have daughters who will take hand knit socks any way they can get them. 

Mar 11, 2014

A Sock Model is Born

Yesterday the sun was shining and the air was fresh and, most importantly, one of my daughters was available for a little photo shoot. So I grabbed my camera and two pairs of finished socks and we went out to take a few pictures.

Miss M came with us. Initially she was happy riding around on her tricycle and playing with her ball. But then she noticed what Stink and I were doing and that there was a CAMERA involved.  Woohoo! A CAMERA! And just like that - her shoes and socks were off.

Then I had 2 girls getting silly outside in my hand knit socks. Of course they fit one of them better than the other but that will change. Most importantly, I got a few nice pictures and we laughed a lot.

Mar 7, 2014

ECF -Spotting Signs of Spring Edition

Look what we saw today at the library.

Mar 6, 2014

Quick Post for a Quick Hat

"What are you looking at?"

"My hat? Oh, it's just something my mom made for me.  No big deal. I lost my old hat so she made a new one."

"I just asked for a hat and she showed me a few patterns. I chose Slouchy('s no Slouch) by Lea Kobayashi.  My mom tends to get a little crazy with cables and all that stuff but I just want something to keep my head warm."

"My mom made it super fast because she had the yarn sitting in her stash. She's not even sure what it was. But the bead is new and I think it's cool. It's not as good as the skull bead that she was going to use but it's nice anyway."

Mar 4, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Thoughts On This Year's Oscar Show

Do you love movies?  I do but I'm usually very picky about what I see. I read all the reviews and write ups and I try to pick good ones because when you're spending that much yo want it to count. Admittedly, I don't always pick winners. Some might even say that I have a knack for picking very odd movies. But during Oscar season none of that really matters because my movie going decision is simple - see all the Best Picture nominees. I've never accomplished it until this year. Sometimes having a little extra time on your hands is a good thing.

Having seen all of the nominated shows (and then some) made watching the Oscars this year even more fun. Possessing a semi-informed opinion, rather than I like actor X and hope he wins, is nice for a change. Overall I felt that most of the movies were pretty good. Philomena was probably my favorite followed closely by Dallas Buyers Club. They were both important and absorbing stories told very well, as was 12 Years a Slave. Her was an interesting story but there was something so soothing about it that I kept feeling myself drift off to sleep. Nebraska was just odd - the kind of movie that I usually pick because it got great reviews and was quirky.  Movies like that are the reason that I don't get to select what we see very often. To me, Gravity was your standard disaster movie but with amazing visuals. Captain Phillips was the last one I saw and the only one I didn't see in the theater and it was much better than I expected. The Wolf of Wall Street really needed a good editor to point out that it was not necessary to show every single over the top thing that Jordan Belfort did. Similarly American Hustle needed a little focus because it seemed like it was all over the place. All good movies and I'm glad I saw them. And then there was the Oscar Show...

  1. It was too long - Isn't the point of it to see who gets the awards?  If most people tune out or fall asleep before you get to most of the top awards then you've failed. Period.
  2. Ellen is a great host - This may seem at odds with #1 but I really did enjoy watching her. The pizza thing and the twitter thing were funny.  Just pick up the pace a little.
  3. The dresses were gorgeous - I adored the sculpted column dresses on Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence.
  4. Where were the crazy and the hideous dresses - every year there are outrageous head-scratchers. The more outlandish and ugly they are, the more fun it is.  Did everyone suddenly get classy?
  5. Pink was fab - I loved her during the Wizard of Oz tribute. She is awesome.
  6. John Travolta - Read much? I don't think it's possible for him to have botched Idina Menzel's name an more than he did. Phonetically speaking it's not really that difficult to read. Unusual - yes. Difficult - no.
  7. The men of Dallas Buyers Club - so happy that Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey won. They really were outstanding.
  8. Jennifer Lawrence - she just makes me smile.
  9. That epic selfie - It was so funny seeing all of those huge stars jamming together to try to get in the shot. It was just like something my kids would do. Or my siblings and I. Silliness is universal.
  10. Based on a true story - it's interesting to me that 2/3rds of this years Best Picture nominees were based on true stories. Are there really no new ideas? Is the truth really stranger than fiction? Maybe history is just and endless treasure chest. So much the better.

Mar 3, 2014

There and Back and In Between

This past weekend I was a chaperon on a school trip to New York City. We were there to see Cinderella on Broadway but we had time before and after to wander around the city a bit. In addition to Stinkette, I was chaperoning a group of Juniors from the same school.  They were such nice kids and made my girl feel like a part of their group.

The kids wanted to go to Bryant Park so that was the first stop.  We saw a cool, semi-frozen fountain there. But it was really cold so we looked for an indoor activity. That's how we decided to check out the New York Public Library. Can you believe that I'd never been inside before? Not when I was going to school in the city. Not during any of the numerous visits to the city. Never.

It was wonderful. We looked at exhibits and enjoyed the architecture. It really is a must see.

Can you imagine studying in a room like this?

I should also mention the show we saw since it was the purpose of the trip. This was a drama department trip so, in addition to the acting and the singing, the kids were all excited by the staging and technical stuff. It was all good but the biggest wow was the on-stage costume changes.  They were so impressive. Some we could figure out but others had us scratching our heads.

Feb 26, 2014

Persistence Pays

I've stepped away from knitting and picked it up again a few times over the past few years. This time I've been more focused, concentrating on finishing the things that have languished and fulfilling obligations. This project falls in the second category.

Stinkerbelle asked for new fingerless gloves ages ago. I can no longer recall when but she's been telling people that I was going to make them and talking about the pattern we settled on. Mostly she's been waitinf patiently because other stuff was more pressing or - lets be honest - exciting.

But, as I mentioned, I've been trying to fulfill promises lately so I unearthed the yarn and pattern from my stash and cast on. I can't say that it was my favorite project.  This pattern looks cool but the large spaces of color necessitate some long floats. I really dislike long floats. They prevent my from developing a flow.

The results speak for themselves. They look great. The main color is a variegated purple/blue/gray and the contrast is navy blue. Those are totally Daria's colors.  So the skulls and colors really work for her and she loves them. I did tell her to take good care of them though, because if it took her this long to get these made it could be a really long time until I made a new pair.

Feb 25, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - I Feel...

It's kind of a roller coaster ride around here lately. There are warm days like we had over the weekend where I go around in flip flops and no jacket and they're followed by days like today where I wake up to snow and an urge to bundle up. I can have a day full of joy and laughter with my girls that is followed up with a reminder that my life is not all that it could or should be. So talking about how I feel is kind of a mixed bag.

Here it is, the good and the bad because these days the two are intertwined. These days I feel...

  1. Excited - this weekend my daughter and I shopped for a prom dress and we found one. It was much easier than we expected and, most importantly, she is thrilled with her choice.
  2. Joyful - when I watch Miss M learning and growing it fills me with joy. This is good because she is challenging me in ways my older daughters never did.  Crayons on the windows and walls - check. 
  3. Frustrated - I'm still jobless and it's been much longer than I ever imagined. I never had trouble like this before but this economy is different. Then again, I'm also older than I was.
  4. Old - I have aches and pains that are new and really unpleasant. But the clearest sign are the reading glasses that are my constant companion.
  5. Hopeful - at my core I am an optimist and I feel like something better is just around the corner.  It has to be.
  6. Accomplished - After a really long knitting drought I've finally picked up my needles again and it's so nice. Even better, I've finished a lot of projects - old and new - and they've turned out well.
  7. Satisfied - I've read some really good books lately. There have been a few stinkers too but most of them I've enjoyed. It also feels good to be doing something that is occasionally thought provoking.
  8. Lethargic - It would be more accurate to say that I feel out of shape. I know that I need to just get out there and raise my activity level and I've started a few times. It turns out that I'm better at stating than continuing.
  9. Proud - My girls are surpassing all of my hopes and dreams and expectations and it's such a great thing.
  10. Apprehensive - sometimes it feels like things are moving just a little bit too fast and I wish I could slow it all down a bit. 

Feb 20, 2014

Challenges in Knitting And Beyond

I really love the idea of an Olympic Challenge. Aside from being a fabulous excuse to sit and watch the actual Games it's nice to challenge yourself.  Maybe the level of difficulty doesn't quite rise to the level of the giant slalom or skeleton (yikes!) or figure skating but a well chosen project that goes a bit beyond what you've done before can be every bit as daunting.

This year I decided to knit a sweater for Miss M as my challenge. It turns out that choosing the pattern was the most difficult part of this knit. It was complicated because I wanted to knit a rainbow and I ordered a set of rainbow yarn that I then tried to match to a pattern. Should the rainbow be at the yoke? Should it be everything but the yoke? Colorwork? You can see the problem.

After weeks of sifting and sorting patterns on Ravelry I finally found Lillian Lucy by Ann Molvik. The simple body was perfectly suited for a rainbow and I loved the sweet ruffles at the cuffs, neck, and bottom. In this case the rainbow was not just bright, it was practically neon, so I tried to balance it with soft grey for the ruffled bits.

This was such an easy knit.  Once I figured out how many inches each stripe ought to be I flew through the knitting on the body. Then came the sleeves and not only did I have to figure out how wide each stripe should be - I had to make sure I had enough of each color.  Because I was so nervous about it I weighed each remaining ball of yarn and kept doing so as I knit the sleeves. In the end I had plenty of each color.

I really love this sweater. It all came together so smoothly that I finished in one week flat. That includes the blocking, the installation of the zipper, and the covering of the inside of the zipper with pretty ribbon. It's a new personal best for me.  I guess I'll have to reach higher next time.

Feb 18, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Thoughts on the 2014 Winter Olympics

Have you been watching the Olympics?  It's been a constant backdrop here and I've been knitting very productively through most of it. There is something about watching all of the athletes competing for their countries that is inspiring. It's especially so in the team sports and there is nothing better than hearing our anthem and seeing our flag waving as they stand atop the podium.

Anyway, I have a few thoughts on this year's games.

  1. Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir - I would never have chosen then to do commentary but they are brilliant. It's not just that I don't mind their commentary - I welcome it. They are definitely adding to my enjoyment of the skating. When they explain stuff it just makes sense and they do so in a way that's accessible and colorful. And then there are their coordinated outfits which are colorful too. I'd love to see more of them next time.
  2. Ice Skating - it's such a treat to watch the skaters in their sparkly, feathery, and sometimes quite weird costumes skating. They are so graceful and they make it look so easy. I can almost forget for a minute what I look like on the ice which is the opposite of graceful.
  3. Good Sportsmanship - as the parent of a child who plays competitive sports this is a big deal to me. It stinks when players on other teams are nasty or, even worse, their coaches are. We've seen great examples during these games of athletes being gracious in their defeat. Look at Shaun White who shocked us all when he didn't medal but he behaved in a way that still made us proud.
  4. The Pageantry of the Opening Ceremonies - every 2 years the games are held someplace new and the host city/country gets to show off a bit and tell us a little about themselves. It's always interesting but this year it didn't quite do it for me.  It was grand but it was also a bit off.  You know what I mean - Right? 
  5. The Parade of Countries - this is always my favorite part of the opening ceremonies. It's fun to see the athletes in their matching outfits. They always seem so energized and happy to be there.  This year you could see so many of them with their smart phones out taking pictures of the crowd and taking selfies. It all seems so innocent.
  6. Sochi, Russia - Like most of the world, I knew nothing about this place before the Olympics. Sadly what I'm taking away from these games is that it was a really poor choice for the Winter games. The summer games might have been great there but holding the Winter games in a place where jackets aren't necessary and the ice and snow don't come naturally seems foolhardy and wasteful.
  7. The Extremeness of the sports - I really don't know how else to put it.  When you see the acrobatics of the skiers and snowboarders doing those flips and twists as they race downhill it is amazing.
  8. The US Team Sweaters - Ugh, just ugh. They just seem so corny, like the most obvious interpretation of the American spirit. Don't tell me that we couldn't do any better than that.
  9. The Colorful, Patterned, Walls and Backgrounds at the Venues - I really like them. There is a patchwork quality to them that makes me smile.
  10. USA Hockey - Go team.  Our men's and women's teams are killing it over there. I can't wait to watch them in the medal games.  It's strange because I'm not big on watching sports on TV usually but the Olympics are different.  

Feb 11, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Things that are Red

I'm sitting in my house writing this as I watch the figure skating and wondering why more skaters don't wear red.  An old friend of mine loved it and called it a power color and I'd have to agree. Red is not a color for the timid.  It says "Here I am!" There is nothing restful or boring about red. It's alive!

So where to start this list of fabulous things that are red? How about a little wool?

1. Red yarn - maybe a little something like this.

2. Barns - I love driving along rural roads and seeing a dilapidated barn out in the middle of a field. It's weirdly charming.

3. Strawberries - just the thought of strawberries makes me smile and think of summer.

4. Red skies at sunset - I really love when the red streaks color the evening sky.

5. Cars - I had a red car once and I loved it. Now my daughter has one but I hope it doesn't inspire her the way it inspired me... to go fast.

6. Crayons - as long as they're being used on paper - not my walls.

7. Apples - I especially love apple pie.

8. Nail polish - I love a nice deep red on my toes.

9.  Cranberries - I love cranberry sauce at the holidays but I love dried cranberries year round. Dried cranberries on a salad are my favorite.

10. My daughter's hair - Stinkerbelle's hair has been red since birth and I love it. This is a bit of a throwback shot and I think her hair is on fire in it.

Feb 10, 2014

Inspired by the Olympic Spirit

Look, it's a rare Monday post. I usually can't get it together enough to post on a Monday but today I'm feeling kind of inspired. Getting a good start on a project will do that for you and Friday night, as I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games I started my own challenge. This time I'm trying to make a new rainbow sweater for Miss M from start to finish during the course of the games.

I knit through ski jumping and snowboarding and lots of figure skating and before I knew it the body and one of the sleeves were done. I'm working on the second sleeve now before I join it all together and move on to the yoke of the sweater. It's a really good thing that this sweater is moving fast because Miss M can't wait to wear it.

It's rather surprising that the Olympics inspired all of this productivity because I'm not really a huge sports fan.  It's true that I love to watch Stinkette play softball but I'm not big on other sports - especially on tv. But the Olympics inspires a similar sense of pride to that which you get watching your child play. I get so drawn in to hoping that our athletes win because they're out there giving they're best shot for all of us. When they win - we all win.  Go USA!

Feb 6, 2014

The Rainbow

Some yarn arrived recently. It's exciting for me, just as any new yarn arrival would be. But for Miss M it's irresistible. She really wants to touch it, feel it, smell it...taste it. She just can't stay away. And when she heard that it's destined to become a sweater for her, the excitement became even more intense. I've got to keep it tightly locked down or it might become part of her collection of stuff.

Happily, I've only got one more day to protect this stuff because tomorrow night, during the opening ceremonies I'll be starting a sweater featuring this lovely rainbow. So I have about 24 hours to make a key decision. I don't think that I have enough rainbow yarn for the whole sweater so I've got a dove grey to compliment it. But how?

Do I use the rainbow up at the shoulders?

Do I make the yoke grey and the balance a rainbow?

If it helps any, I think that I'll be making Olearia by Georgie Hallam. I think that the details at the top might be obscured by the rainbow and enhanced by the grey. But I could be wrong. Either way, Miss M will wear it happily.

Feb 5, 2014

Tis the Season For Cowls

Any day that begins with knitting success of any kind has to be good, and so it is. This morning I opened my email to find that I won a copy of the new Through The Loops pattern, Reynard and I can't wait to start it. But I have so many projects lined up that it'll have to wait a little while. It's good to have something to look forward to.

It's been a period of self doubt and angst but, among other things, my knitting is one of the strongest threads that pulling me through. I feel inspired and determined to make things happen. Among the things that are happening is a return to old, unfinished projects like this cowl that I started last January and abandoned as the weather turned warm and the impulse to wrap ourselves in wool faded.

Here's my daughter peeking out from the double-wrapped cowl. Can you tell how much she loves it? She should since it was knit at her request from a pattern that we chose together.

Here's a close-up of the texture.  I'm not sure how well you can see it but this pattern is constructed to that it's the same inside and out. That'll make it much easier to wear since it's huge and needs to be double wrapped. If it twists there is no wrong side.

And of course there is the yarn too.  I started initially with a variegated Malabrigo but it was too busy and you couldn't see the pattern at all. I switched to Shepherd's Wool in raspberry. It's a marled yarn so it's got a little more depth than a flat solid.

I think she likes it. On to the next UFO.

Jan 29, 2014

Zipped Up!

Hey there!

A little over a week ago I finally finished a baby gift that I started in 2012. Fortunately I know myself pretty well and I chose to make a size 2-3 so it out to fit my cousin's now 2 year old son just fine. I really hope so because I love this sweater. It's a Sirdar pattern that I've loved since the first time I saw it.

There are so many things I adore about it. There are big, basic things like the softness and color of the yarn. It's KP Swish in Delft Heather.  There is something about a heathered yarn that is so soft and inviting and this one is no exception.  It's got a lovely depth to it.

But there are little details about this sweater that thrill the knitter in me beyond reason. One of the last bits of finishing was the ribbed edging that was knit on after I assembled the sweater. I had to pick up over 250 stitches to do it and it came out well but I had no idea how well until I was binding it off. That's when I noticed how perfectly the ribbing matched up with the center cable that continues from the back hem right up and over the head.

And then there's the zipper. I'd never installed a zipper in any of my knits before and I do not sew at all.  I really avoid it as much as possible. But I really felt like this sweater demanded a zipper so I read countless online tutorials and then I sat down with pins and thread and meticulously sewed in the zipper.  I love it! It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I'm so proud that it lays flat and doesn't pucker.

Last but not least there is the grosgrain ribbon that I found to make the inside of the zipper pretty. I scoured the internet and a few stores looking for just the right one but I think it was worth it. What little kid doesn't love airplanes?

Jan 28, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Things You Like About Winter

It is cold here today.  Really, really cold. We haven't had this many days in the teens and below in ages - if ever. But here's a little secret.  I kind of like the extreme cold.  In small doses it's refreshing and exhilarating. I can say this because I don't have to be out there in it much at all. It's only a few steps from my front door to my car and not much more to wherever I need to go. If I had to be outside waiting for a bus or walking long distances it'd be a different story.

But I'm not sure that I'd say the extreme cold would be one of my favorite things about the winter. I do like some things about the winter and here's a list.

  1. Seeing handknits in use - My girls love to bundle themselves up in handknits.  I love seeing them wearing the hats, gloves, scarves, and cowls that I've made for them.
  2. Inspiration for more hamdknits - cold weather makes me want to create more wonderful wooliness to keep my girls warm.
  3. Snow - I know many people who hate snow but I love it. I love watching it fall. I love walking in it. I love just about everything about it.
  4. Hot Chocolate - I don't do it often but there is nothing quite like a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter day.
  5. Snow Days - just not too many of them. Too much unscheduled time gets a little crazy.
  6. Rosy cheeks - I just love seeing my girls with rosy cheeks. The glow of good health and all that.
  7. The winter light - I can't really explain it but there is something about the light.  It's crisp and unfiltered.
  8. Cooking hearty meals - chili, and all the hearty, meaty stuff that makes us feel nostalgic. It feels so good and it makes the house smell great too.
  9. Blankets - I love curling up on the couch with one of my girls under piles of blankets to watch a show or read a book.
  10. Reading - It's the perfect activity for a cold winter day.   

Jan 24, 2014

Jan 23, 2014

A Hat!

I have a backlog of finished objects that I need to post. Currently the list is about 5-6 but it's growing. This is what happens when you return to knitting and attack all those UFO's that have been cast aside well past the halfway mark. It's good for blogging.

But this isn't one of those long neglected projects.  This is a little hat that I whipped off for Miss M in about a day. The yarn is probably an aran but it wasn't marked and I think that I used a size 3 or 4 needle which made for a nice dense fabric. It'll keep the wind out well. It also makes it hold it's shape really well. I love the way it stands up.

And here is the hat in action yesterday. 

Jan 22, 2014

Jan 16, 2014

Knitting it All at Once

Part of getting back to blogging is getting back to the subject of the blog - actual knitting content. I have a long list of works in progress and stuff I promised to make and I'm making great progress on all of it so far. Now, it's rather difficult to knit and blog at the same time so there's work to be done on balancing it all but knitting and finishing stuff is a start.

One of the things that I have nearly finished is this little sweater. It's seamed and blocked and now I've got to install that zipper. It's going to be a first for me but I've loved the idea of a zipper for this sweater so I really hope that it comes out ok.  More on this when it's done.

Being so close to finishing the sweater allowed me to cast on for a pair of fingerless gloves that Stinkette has wanted for ages. It's stranded knitting which really isn't my favorite. I never seem to get the floats right. But my girl is so excited to see these growing on my needles that I can't help but push forward. I've completed 2 more repeats since I took this picture.

And then there's this.  It's the Through The Loops Mystery Sock for 2014 that I started yesterday. I really love the picot edge and the colors of the yarn as well but that's where it ends.  The gorgeous green yarn that I got for the main color is a single ply and I don't know if it'll stand up to use as socks. I should've noticed this when I bought it but I was blinded by the pretty.  I've always been a sucker for a nice green.

The other problem is the needles. I felt the need to make a switch from my usual KP Options so I got Karbonz for this project and the joins are just awful. I don't know if it's just the set I have or the needle size. Something is not good at all.

Changes are coming for this project but I'm not she what they are yet.

Jan 7, 2014

Ten on Tuesday - 10 Favorite Moments From 2013

I've got to be honest, 2013 wasn't a very good year for me. There were life changes that left me feeling a little lost and worried. But, even in a year with dramatic lows there are amazing highs that put it all in perspective. It was a year that so much went so right and my girls had much to be happy about. Here are a few high notes from 2013.

  1. I got to spend one last amazing day with my grandfather.  Of course I didn't know it was the last one at the time, but it was amazing.
  2. DQ finally earned her Gold award which is the highest award in Girl Scouts. It was a long and arduous undertaking but the end result was worth it. 
  3. Our trip to Amish Country to spend time with my sister and brother and their families.  It was such fun and the countryside up there is beautiful. We got a gorgeous quilt. The only regret is that DQ couldn't come but that's just something that I've got to get used to.
  4. Stinkette's softball team changed affiliation and she finally got to wear a Firebird uniform.  Not only that, the team started winning more often.  Let's hope that it's the start of something wonderful.
  5. The fall trip that DQ and I took through New England to visit colleges.  The school tours were informative and, as an added bonus, we got to see Carole and Dale.  Yay!  We finished the trip in Rhinebeck with my sister. We had such a good time.
  6. The Halloween party my girls had. We had never held one before but I had the time so... why not. I had so much fun making all of the treats for it like the Day of the Dead cookies below.
  7. Then there was the cast party that we hosted after the run of Little Shop of Horrors ended. At it's peak there were about 70-80 drama kids in the house. The best moment was when they all crammed into my living room to sing "I'll Make a Man Out of You" while watching Mulan.  I was so happy to be able to help the kids celebrate a great show.
  8. Thanksgiving in NY.  It was so nice to see family and friends. 
  9. DQ's friends threw her a surprise party at our house to celebrate her 18th birthday.  She never saw it coming.  It was so good to see how much her friends love her.
  10. Our first trip as a family of 5 - St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The vacation that almost didn't happen was everything that I could've hoped for and more.  It was magical. 

Jan 3, 2014

ECF - St Thomas Edition

It's Eye Candy Friday and normally I'd just post a picture or two and call it good but this one demands a wee bit of comment because it's full of pictures from our recent family vacation to St Thomas. We hadn't gone on a real family vacation in quite a while and this was the very first one as a family of 5. It was glorious!

Mostly, this vacation was about family time so there was a lot of hanging out on the beach.

But we did get a little adventurous. Bruce and Stinkette went parasailing.

DQ and I went scuba diving

Even Miss M got to go on a paddle boat.

And we all enjoyed many gorgeous sunsets... with a little island rum.

It was fabulous but it was over way too soon.  Time to start planning the next one.

Jan 1, 2014

New Year - New Start

The last time I posted here was July 2, 2013 and life was very different. My blog abandonment wasn't intentional. Like so many things, it just sort of happened.  I took pictures on July 4th, during my college trip with DQ, during softball, and so many other times. I mentally composed posts and some of them were damn good. But I never posted a thing.

But things change and change again. Yesterday I returned from one of the best vacations that I've had in years.  It was relaxing, and fun, and filled me with a sense of renewal and inspiration. Right before we left I read several good books and I even finished a few knitting projects.  So now, exactly 7 years after I first started this blog, I'm returning to it. I don't even know if there's anyone left out there to read it. If there are then welcome back.

Consider this blog open for business.