Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Coming of the Elves

Last night, while three little boys were asleep (one in his crib, thank goodness), three little folks arrived in our house (never mind that they look as though they're going to take flying leaps off the cornices).
Meet the Holly Brothers:

This is Harold Holly. The oldest of the three, he made his first appearance in 1998 when Zee was wee (tee hee).

And then there's Howard:

A spunky guy, he arrived in 2000 and watches out for the Sniffer. If you know the Sniffer, you know he has an air for the dramatic -- as evidenced by good old Howard here, who incidentally is wearing green -- the Sniffer's all-time favorite color.

And this year, we have a new addition that we have dubbed Henry:

My guess is that Santa sent him to play elf to L'il I ... who, after all, needs his own set of eyeballs that report to the Big Guy. I'll be sure to dress the babe in his red-striped PJs on Christmas Eve!
If you're interested in the legend of the Elves at Arunah (and beyond), check out last year's post that explains it all. There really is quite a bit of history to it, at least in my family.

Zee was a bit skeptical and L'il I ambivalent, but the Sniffer was positively ENCHANTED this morning when he realized the guys had arrived and that our elf family had expanded. He insisted that I take these pictures so he can put them in frames and hang them on the tree. Gotta love that kid.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tis the Season

This is the time of year when we knit bloggers really can't post pictures of our work for fear of giving away the surprise. So some of us are mighty lucky to have cute babies to tide us over.

This past weekend, L'il I had his first bit of rice cereal. He's four months old so he's on the early end of the range for introducing complementary foods to a breastfed baby, but he's been showing a lot of signs he's ready, so we took the plunge. As you can see, he was not disappointed in the process of eating:

Most of the time wee ones just don't know what to do with their tongues when they're eating ... which is why they end up wearing most of it. By the end of the session, however, he seemed to have it pretty much figured out:

It was a big night at Chez Spinneas. The night before was equally big, as Zee advanced to receive his orange belt in karate:

The Sniffer, on the other hand, took a much more passive approach to his weekend, and snuggled most of the time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Can't Believe I Knit the Whole Thing

Last night, after two false finishes, I cast this off:

Here, in its drying state, is what I am calling the "Santa Fe Beret." It's a broken-rib, fair isle beret knit on #3 needles in Berrocco Ultra Alpaca Light -- my own highly modified version of Veronik Avery's Beret Gaufre. The top will be completed later this week with three small knit chile peppers attached to the i-cord bit. It's the holiday gift that I am (so far) most proud of and will hopefully be adored by the recipient.

Want a few close-ups?

This was definitely a stretch for me ... I've been exploring a lot in terms of colorwork this holiday season, but fair isle in a ribbed pattern is, quite frankly, a bitch. But this is the project where you just sit back and stare at it and deem is mahhhhvelous..... I'm very happy with it.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Yes, I am Alive and Knitting

Most people tried to post every day in November. Me, I managed to not post at all. But it wasn't for lack of knitting.

There were market bags:

Storm Trooper hats:

Two House Hats (a la Charmed Knits)
and a beret (more are coming):

I expect rapid progress on smallish projects in time for the holidays. In the meantime, I apologize for the hiatus and leave you with the obligatory shot of L'il I, who is upset about the Ravens' loss on Monday Night Football:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween: A Day in Pictures

First Grader on parade:

A Brother Oblivious:

Fourth Grader Haunting the Schoolyard:

Pumpkins carved and lighted:

Ready for Tricks and Treats!


Now on another note, I've been sending festive photos of L'il I all week. In case you missed any of them, there were three. Here they are, in order, from Monday through Wednesday:

Monday, October 29, 2007

This One's for Theresa

OK. As I said a few months ago, I feel like Theresa and I should be old friends after our parallel pregnancies this summer. And so, when I read her most recent post (or rather, Z's post), I set out this weekend to get this picture for her:

You see, her baby was sending smiley vibes to T's father, who had heart surgery. L'il I just started smiling about a week ago, but he's hard to catch on film (those flash bulbs are rough). I figured those folks having an icky Monday morning might also appreciate the toothless wonder that is a three-month-old's grin. L'il I was 12 weeks old yesterday!

P.S.: Notice that I've added a Flickr link in the left navigation. If you click it, you should be able to go over and view a collection of photos, including travel shots, knitting projects and more from the photo shoot yesterday.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Can't Believe It Either.

A finished pair of Southwestern Socks!
Southwestern Socks
I finished these last night while I was watching Alien.

And, if you were wondering how yesterday's Magic Market Bag stretches under pressure, here it is filled with a dozen pieces of fruit.

Market Bag Stretched

And for those those of you who stop by only for baby and child updates, here's today's sleeping babe:

Sleeping Babe

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Behold: Fiber Arts

My apologies for the spotty blogging lately. It hasn't been for lack of content, but rather, lack of sleep, free time and original ideas.

You see, a few weeks ago I was going to write about nursing and what it means to be a nursing mother and how much time it takes and how good "nursing knitting" projects are hard to come by. But then Theresa published an eloquent post and I didn't think I could add anything to her already-perfect post. You see, she and I were pregnant together and had similarly complicated pregnancies and I like to think of her as my kindred spirit over in the Windy City. She's having a rough spot right now, so pop over and send her good thoughts.

And then I was going to write about how I felt about the blog, why I started it, etc., and then others started writing about the same theme. So I didn't do that, either.

But all the while, something miraculous was happening here at Chez Spinneas. You see, I was actually KNITTING.

I'm on the final stretch of the Southwestern Sock.

I cannot begin to tell you how much I love Fleece Artist sock yarn. It is a stash staple.

There has even been a little spinning.

Now neither of these projects are conducive to nursing, but I may have found some good projects. Firstly, a brioche rib scarf out of some ages-old homespun. Merino/tencel/silk blend spun on my Ashford knitted up with size 6 needles. It's coming along nicely.

And the ultimate nursing knitting: The Magic Market Bag -- a delightful pattern from Aran Auntie (who is also Auntie Nanny at my house). MMBs are addictive knits that spring forth from teeny, humble balls of Cascade Fixation. You size them by choosing what size needle you want to use. I've completed three so far and the fourth is nearly done. I've been playing a bit with handle size (if you go verbatim with the handle it's designed to stretch into a shoulder bag -- the version on the far right below has a shorter handle and is more of a "hang off your wrist" tote). The one in the middle is done verbatim, and the one on the left is in progress (translation: I haven't made major mods yet, but may be tempted once I get to the handle, which should be during our next nursing session). Here are three in their "natural" state, completed in "medium" size:
And here's one stuffed with balls of yarn to show the magic of the bag. This doesn't really even touch how much stretch this bag has. I deem it quite suitable for stash enhancement expeditions.

Now I'm going to make a plug here for the pattern. If you are looking for good nursing knitting, fast holiday knits or a speedy yarn-store tote, this pattern is for you. She's distributing it through Lovely Yarns in Baltimore, but hopefully it will arrive in other local yarn stores or on the web soon.
If you can't wait for it, shoot me an email and I'll connect you to the source :)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A Reptile Among Us

We had a very busy weekend. Chaos on Friday, which we won't discuss other than to say it involved major traffic glitches, a child-care plan gone awry (don't worry, it had to do with coordinating a pick-up ... no one got hurt or anything) and an overnight campout that was delayed due to all of these combined factors. After all, it sucks to pitch a tent in the dark, which is what might have happened had they actually gotten on the road at a reasonable hour. As it was, it turned out to be colder than a witch's bosom in a brass brassiere, so it was good.
And we got to take the "official" two-month photo of L'il I (we're taking pictures on the 12th of every month so we can watch him as he grows...)

Saturday was Yarn Sniffer's birthday. They were supposed to wake up in the woods, but instead, hubby woke up under the weather. But what about the Cub Scout campout? Well ... Den Leader Mommy (who was not supposed to go to camp because of nursing the babe) turned the overnighter into a day camp instead. Zee and the Sniffer got to do all kinds of neat things (while I spent most of the day trying to find five minutes to sneak away to pump...):

Most of all, though, the Sniffer enjoyed telling everyone it was his birthday!

And then today, Spike made his weekend complete. Perhaps he should now be known as the Dragon Sniffer?

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Life is a Busy Place to Be

I've been quite derilict in posting lately. Last week was a real winner. Not only was it absolutely insanely busy, but it also marked my return to the office -- for two days. I can hardly wait to see how ridiculous this week is when I go back for three days.

Last weekend started with a visit from my in-laws, who came in from South Carolina. My mother in law's brother is very sick with leukemia, so keep him in your prayers. She got to play with L'il I, who slept the WHOLE time:

Sunday gave way to toothpain, and last Monday, you guessed it -- root canal. Not a terribly horrible procedure this time around, but little did I know what would await me later in the week... That same day, Knitting Auntie of Aran Fame came for a visit with my cousin and her son -- born the weekend of MS&W. We took pictures with each other's babes (If you know me, and look at the right side of my face, you can tell that I had something done to my mouth... note minor swelling).

On Wednesday, I did not work and was instead planning to spend a nice leisurely day with L'il I. Instead, we went back to see the dentist. You see, the infection in my head had me looking like John McCain and when I smiled, it looked like I had had a stroke (whole right side was swollen and when I smiled, my lips could hardly move). Believe it or not, I had to have my gum lanced and drained. Damn mouth of mine. Doesn't do anything right ...

Thursday, I went back to work again. Had a great day. I can't tell you how nice it is to know that L'il I is with Auntie while I'm at work. It's relaxing and only mildly upsetting -- but that's primarily due to the fact that I personally think the U.S. sucks on maternity leave and it's times like these that I want to move to Europe.

Friday was filled with a lot of running around to get ready for baby's baptism yesterday which, thankfully, went off without a hitch. Loads of time with family and friends, and a blissful, sleeping baby in church. He was awake for the afterparty -- in fact, he was a bit overtired by the time we got home, but he did manage to zonk out for me for most of the night last night.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ode to an Arachnid

"She never moved again. Next day, as the Ferris wheel was being taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and the entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon deserted. The sheds and buildings were empty and forlorn. The infield was littered with bottles and trash. Nobody, of the hundreds of people that had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important role of all. No one was with her when she died."

--Charlotte's Web (E.B. White)

For weeks, the bulk of the spinning around my house has been performed by a very large, particularly scary-looking spider that took up residence on our side porch. Each night at dusk, our Spider would come down from the eave and spin its web -- a large, beautiful web with lots of radii and tight concentric circles. It was absolutely fascinating to watch Spider spin -- and my husband, big boys and I would watch intently as it built a brand new web each night. With rhythmic grace, Spider would drop to the rail and start by anchoring the opus on whatever it could -- railing, flower-basket holder, flowerpot hook -- and then have at the middle. Spider started from the outside, making large, sweeping circles and going swiftly but carefully counter-clockwise into the center, before making its stakeout in the dead center waiting for dinner.

Earlier this week, I asked my husband to go outside and capture this miracle. Video didn't do it justice, particularly because of the darkness of the sky and of the Spider. But this photo pretty much says it all.

Sure, there were lots of jokes about sitting on our porch at night ... if you picked the chair nearest to the Spider, you were Little Miss Muffet ... on some nights we expected to see "Humble" written in the web (I can't tell you how big the web was -- our neighbors could see if from 75 yards in the sunrise) ... but more than anything else there was a sense of reverence ... of pure, unadulterated awe at this creature and what it did. Every single night.

If you took coffee on our porch in the morning, you could watch Spider head up to bed, and revel in the total beauty of a spider's web in the dewy, morning light.

Until yesterday. You see, the mercury dropped and we had our first taste of autumn. It was one of those delicious days when you pull out the blue jeans and handknit socks and revel in the coziness without realizing that outside, in nature, the Circle of Life is taking a devilish turn.

Yesterday, while I was cleaning house, scrubbing floors and tending to L'il I and my boys were racing around outside with friends, we were oblivious to what was happening to our sleeping friend. I should have stopped for a visit.

Last night, I headed to our porch to visit with Spider -- a few quiet moments with a kindred spirit. But Spider wasn't hard at work. Spider was still in its daytime position -- curled up under the eave in a ball. There was no web to greet me -- just a few willowy leftover anchor lines wafting in the night breeze. This morning, Spider is unmoved.

I fear the world has lost a truly remarkable spinner and I am sad.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Cow DID Jump Over the Moon

I know this, because last night he dragged me behind him. You see, I forgot how road trips warp little person schedules.

A day in pictures. First stop, Grandaddy's House:

L'il I got to snuggle with my dad ...

and the Yarn Sniffer raided his army gear and played "army guy" with his brother.

Next stop, Grammy's Office.

We took a side trip to see my stepfather at his bank, and saw lots of old friends who were meeting at the church. Proud Grammy loved showing off the littlest.

Then, we were off to my aunt and uncle's house. Clearly, little boys need a farm ...

with barn cats to play with ....

and horses to ride...

fences to hang on ...

ducks to chase ...

and cows to race (what you don't see in this photo are my children in the training yard running in circles -- this is Ernestine the Cow running alongside them on the outside of the fence ...

And snuggles and cuddles for the littlest -- who couldn't partake of the big kid fun (though he watched carefully!)

A nearly two-hour car trip. Tons of physical activity for the big boys, who slept like rocks once they settled down. But the little one? All that car sleeping led to this at 2 a.m.: