Monday, April 30, 2007

At Random

On my commute home this afternoon, I formulated a post in my head about comfort zones and sock knitting mojos, and a few of my favorite people in the world (outside my family, of course).

But then I got to daycare and was greeted with this face:

It's a big day in a kindergartener's life when you lose your first tooth.

He's been waiting for this for a long time ... but maybe his new green socks (yes folks, socks -- and there's more on that front when I get the originally planned post written up).

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's Coming Around the Corner...

That's right, folks. Maryland Sheep and Wool 2007 is coming up, and I hope to be there on Saturday and possibly Sunday as well. Gryphon is setting up a meet-up on Sunday, in case anyone has an interest (can't guarantee I'll be there).

I, like so many others I have read, have a bit of a problem when it comes to planning out the shopping for the festival. Last year it was obvious: spinning wheels, fiber, Koigu and a Bosworth spindle. This year, I already have one wheel (do not be deceived -- keep reading), more fiber than I can possibly spin -- including some from last year's festival haul, a solid on-line source of Koigu and two Bosworths. What could I possibly want to pick up at MDS$W? I've started a list:

-One of these. Don't try to talk me out of it; I've already called Dave to discuss and there's one with my name on it waiting on Saturday.

-Brooks Farm something. Four play, perhaps? I'd like to at least touch it and see what the big deal is.

-A yummy, multi-colored fiber batt that I can spin up for a fine fall/early winter scarf.

-More of those sock-needle elastic cappers that I bought at Stitches East last fall. I keep losing them.

And that's about it. Maybe a shawl pin if something catches my eye. A stuffed sheep for the wee one perhaps.

Surprising, no?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wrapping Things Up

Pssst! Come over -- I have some things to show you.

You see, this week I've been busy actually FINISHING things!

Here's Kiddie Miter Blankie #1, finished Sunday evening with a simple, single-crochet edge. I call it #1 because The Yarn Sniffer (TYS) has deemed it incredibly cuddly and would like one of his own.

And here's Basil the Wonder Blanket, with a shortened picot edging:

Picot close-up:

I'm doing a happy dance. I feel like I'm back on the Marathon to finish things. Press soon on the newer stuff!

(Bad personal photo courtesy of TYS)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Just a Quickie

This will be a short, pictureless post. Not because I didn't make any additional progress, but because the photos would. be. boring. With a capital B.

Mitered Blanket:
The baby blanket miters are complete. Finished up the last one yesterday with a flourish and the blanket was deemed a success by many parties in my house (the ones that have taken an interest, anyway -- Zee hasn't had an eye for this one). Now I only have to do the edging. Today at lunch I head out to the Big Box that Shall Not Be Named to look for some dark green and a size F crochet hook to finish this one up. Then there will be pictures.

Yes, Basil has not gone away. After the miters were done yesterday, I picked this up and slogged along a big on that incredibly tedious border. Only about two and a half rows to go before cast-off. Having been rather successful knitting without peeking on the miters, I've realized that I don't have to watch every single knit stitch go by and that multi-tasking (i.e. watching a movie with Hubby) is possible with only a small risk of a dropped stitch. So that's chugging along -- one more movie and I'll be ready to cast this off (finally) and call it a day.

I've dubbed this wool "Hydrox." The Hydrox cookie was the enduring predecessor to the Oreo, and the name resonated well with Knitting Auntie of Aran Fame when she popped in for a quick visit on Saturday. The first bobbin is now filled and the second is coming along. It looks exactly the same as the first bobbin, hence no pictures. Once I get the third filled and my first three-ply completed, I'll be happy to put it on display.

Assorted Little Projects:
I've been toting a little baby bib around with me that I managed to whip out a few rows on, but no real progress to be seen. I also played a bit with some burp-cloth appropriate stitch patterns but can't seem to find one I really like. Any ideas?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


This morning was a fibery one at Chez Spinneas.

Finished another miter and started another. Only one more full square to go and then on to the edging for the baby blanket:

And I have nearly filled the first bobbin of the Romeldale:

I've been thinking about this ... after all, this is what I'm spinning for Flair. I'll need about 800 yards or so of worsted-size yarn. I did a wraps-per-inch calculation on the spindle-spun this morning, and it's still a little thin. A three-ply ought to bring me up to worsted with this homespun. So, my plan is to fill three bobbins and ply them and see how much I can get yardage-wise. Then I'll have a solid idea of how much spinning I'll need to do.

Since I have such an obscene amount of this wool (The Yarn Sniffer saw it this morning and said, "Whoa, that's a huge stack of wool, mom") I don't think I'll have a problem meeting the quota. In fact, I may have enough to do some matching socks or perhaps a little hat to go with it. How cute would that be?

Friday, April 20, 2007

What a Whorl, What a Whorl ...

Today, I took one of those bloggy quizzes ... the Sesame Street Personality quiz. I am Bert, and that frightens me. If anyone cares to find out who they are, you can access the quiz here.

In any event, enough about muppets and on to more appropriate content. This will be a short post, because pictures are worth more than words.

I've been spinning:

This is peacock merino/tencel from Kendig Cottage, and it has taken me forever. This is four ounces, Navajo plied. I don't know when I'm going to tackle the other four, because another Romneydale fleece has touched my heart. Anyone remember Oreo from last year? Well, his/her cousin (I like to think) has resurfaced, and at February's spinner's group I purchased an obscene amount. I have enough of this lovely fleece to last me for some time. I have some on the bobbin already.

But I also decided to spindle some of it. Firstly, to get an idea of what thickness to go for (this is the wool I'm going to use for Flair) and partially to get back into the spin of it so I can teach a co-worker who is chomping at learning to spin.

I didn't do much, but this is an Andean plied two-ply bit of goodness. That's a dime for scale.

More progress from the weekend in a few days!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

On Coming Home

I was in Tampa from Wednesday through Sunday at a medical communicators conference. It was a fabulous trip (despite pregnancy fatigue and swollen feet), but it's always great to come home. However, coming home was not the most pleasant experience.

As everyone no doubt knows, the East Coast was hit with a Nor'easter this past weekend whose winds are still lingering. Florida was not exempt from the bad weather the storm brought along. To wit, here's a picture I took of the fountain in front of the hotel (one of the ones that the miter enjoyed on Friday afternoon) as my co-worker and I were waiting for our cab to go to the airport at 9 a.m. on Sunday:

No, it isn't "just a bad picture." That's rain, guys -- heavy, torrential rain, combined with wind and nastiness that had me worried that I wasn't going to make it out on time, if at all. This is the stuff the Weather Channel folks live for.

Fortunately, we got out -- but not until after we had spent a few extra hours at the airport with weather delays. The good news was that I had plenty of knitting to keep me occupied (my resolve gave out on Saturday afternoon and I took a cab to the store for more). I finished three miters while I was there, and started the sixth once I got home after two hours of bumping our way up the East Coast.

I figure the blankie only needs to be 3x3, so I'm nearly two-thirds done. I'm very happy with the way this is turning out. Not only is it one of the easiest and fastest things I've ever knit, but it's also soft and squishy and fun. I love the way the greens are working together and I adore the mix of varigated and solid. I really do see this as a "play on the floor" blanket or a snuggle-during-the-day under supervision blankie (after all this is cotton, which is not flame retardant). Not to mention that this has been a wonderful foray into the world of Peaches n' Creme cotton, which I've always avoided because of fiber snobbery. Thanks, Farmer Auntie, for showing me the error of my ways. I can say, though, that this is the ONLY yarn I'll buy at Wal-Mart.
So anyway, coming home is always a bit tricky -- re-entry with kids is never easy -- but for the most part it went smoothly (only the pregnancy fatigue made it difficult). Laundry was done, dishes were done, kids were happy. The Nor'Easter was hitting on Sunday, it was raining cats and dogs, our basement was flooded. But Sunday turned out great.
Yesterday, however, we were hit with the wind and it was touch and go for a while with the electricity (disclaimer: I live in a house that's fully electric -- electric furnace burner, electric water pump for the well, electric appliances). When the lights go out, we're screwed. And it was cold here yesterday. But, thanks to the folks at BGE, the power was only out for about eight hours or so, and most of it was while we were at work and school. To be safe, though, I packed an overnight bag when I got home (while we still had daylight to work with) and we were all ready to head to a hotel after dinner. Just before we left for the restaurant, though, the house came back to life and my husband and I breathed a big sigh of relief.
And then I had a wonderful dream about MDS&W last night. After all, it's only about three weeks away!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Out and About

So far I've resisted the urge to go to Wal-Mart in Tampa for more cotton. My resolve may go out the window after lunch today, though. I have one more day here, and I'm running out. I've been trying to pace myself. On a break yesterday, I took the miter out to show it the fountains at the hotel so that it wouldn't feel heartbroken that I wasn't going to hammer out a few more rows:

This yarn is the "shades of green" that I was originally doing in my standard burp cloth pattern. I ripped it out and started a big miter square to feed the fever and then I've now picked up stitches along the edge to add another and make a nice rectangle. Problem is, I'm enjoying it so much and I love the green so much that I think this one may morph into a blanket and the baby ombre may end up as a series of burp cloths (though they are actually the perfect size to have a bunch on the changing table to serve as "fountain covers" for the wee one, which gives me a reason to do some burp clothes and other layette items with the cone of baby ombre that I have). Since I did this miter with 75 stitches (36x36), I only need seven more skeins of this to work. Imagine ... a $10 handknit blanket!

In any event, I'm going to need me some more green. I may break down ... it would be nice for the little one to have a blanket that was started in Florida with some yarn from Florida. We'll see how things go this afternoon.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thoughts on Travel Knitting

I'm in Tampa on a business trip -- I'm here for my absolute favorite training seminar ever. I try to go to this every year ... and it's even better when it's in a locale that is warmer than home. I love to travel for my job. Sure, it's hard to get away from the family, but at the same time I always feel a little more connected when I get home. Plus, there's the fun of travel knitting.

I don't know what it is that makes travel knitting different than home knitting, but I seem to always make great progress when I'm on the road. Maybe it's the long plane ride (which, incidentally, this time caused my pregnant ankles to expand beyond belief) or the fact that there aren't home distractions, but I feel like I can crank. And crank I have ... to the point where pretty soon I'm going to be stuck with only the surplice jacket to knit on.

In addition to my swollen ankles (I'll remember to drink tons of water and walk alot on the flight back), I've also managed to catch the case of miter fever that's going around the knitting community these days. Wendy's doing a sweater in them, and Cara is doing a blanket. I expect this to enter pandemic proportions soon. It's probably a good thing that Stephanie is on a book tour or else she might start doing them too and then there would be a serious recession in pattern sales as everyone embraces this ever-so-simple knitting delight.

I decided to give them a try with a simple baby blanket of squares. I ran out of the cotton I brought with me on my trip (in this colorway, that is). These were done in a few short hours and are the basis for a new baby blanket made of these cute little squares.

I am strangely compelled to seek out the local Wal-Mart for more cotton ... but the fact is, I have a one-pound cone of this at home so I had better not. Of course there's always the option of mixing in matching solids, but ...

And in other news, the bib that was completed on my flight down to Tampa yesterday. All it needs is a button (and to have the ends woven in, of course). Ironically, this is made from Plymouth Fantasy cotton.

I did this before I became obsessed with the miters (that happened today on a conference break). I have two balls of Peaches & Creme left to last me through the rest of the conference before I'm left only with the surplice jacket and the remaining Plymouth. Tomorrow, I'll show you what I'm doing with it and I'll let you know if I gave in and sprung for a cab ride to Wal-Mart to get more.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

On Knitting Wee Things...

So after the collective sigh went out over Baltimore and places further away following my last post (thank you for all the wonderful comments-we are, indeed, very happy), I had some serious planning to do. What to knit for the wee one?

Fortunately, I had seen the March 26 post over on Rosie's Blog the week before the big reveal, so I had a plan. I just needed colors. In fact, I had planned neutral and picked up some ecru Peaches & Creme (GASP! This from the fiber snob...) and started the jacket, but it's really knitting up at too high a gauge. The cotton is too thick -- and while I know it will fit the babe someday, I want something that will work right away. So the cotton jacket was relegated to the knitting basket for future knitting (left it on the needles) and I started one in some green Dale Baby Ull with a trim of NatureSpun that I grabbed at Cloverhill this past weekend. I'll do an i-cord trim in the navy (though admittedly I fear that it will look too Izod) as well in lieu of buttons. I started working that up on Sunday on #3 needles and the size looks much better. Since it's a variation of the Baby Surprise Jacket, I expect to finish this rather quickly once I get moving on it. Bonus: It will complement the Basil blanket once I get the $^%&ing edging done (almost, I swear).

Why am I not plowing through it? Well, you see, I'm obsessed with burp cloths and bibs. Quick knits that I can churn out in a few days and enjoy. The bonus there is that the baby will need tons of these (or rather, our shoulders will) to supplement the flat cloth diapers that I love for this purpose. Not to mention that a few weeks ago I was seriously bitten by the Peaches & Creme bug after fondling Farmer Auntie's dishcloth-in-progress and realized that this may very well be the one yarn I buy at Wal-Mart. You really can't beat $1.50 for a burp cloth. I headed to Wal-Mart that week and picked up three cones -- one of the ecru, a yellow ombre and a "baby-color-mix of green, pink, blue, yellow and white. I'm stocked for a while and I'm starting to churn out the cloths. Not to totally send myself to the depths of the Big Box Yarn Section, I also picked up some more Plymouth cotton at Cloverhill and am amusing myself with a pretty blue bib.

Sorry there aren't any pictures with this post, but my camera is packed for a trip to Tampa later today and I just don't feel like pulling it out right now. I'm packed with the Baby Surplice, enough cotton for a bib or two and the remains of the green burp cloth I've been working on, so I'll take some pictures later and maybe add them into this post.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Verdict is In

So all day I sat, edgy as all get out, wondering and waiting. Waiting and wondering. Pondering my nails and wanting to chew them to bits. Reading e-mails that said, "Think Pink" and hearing "I just know its a girl ... that's what you want, right?"

It's enough to make anyone crazy.

And then the time came. I headed out to the doctor's office, not knowing if my husband was going to be able to leave work to join me. While I was waiting in the office for my name to be called, he rang to tell me he was on his way ... would they start right at 3:30? He might not get there in time.

They called my name, and I headed back for the sono, bladder ready to burst (a necessary evil for the procedure) and still waiting for my husband.

"Do you want to know what you're having?" she asked.

"Yes, but not until my husband gets here. He's on his way," I replied.

So she got started, in gender-neutral terms.

Brain? Check. (No hydrocephalus or anything odd.)

A kick on camera -- did you feel that? Of course not, placenta is in the front, over the belly, kinda like having a mattress in there for the kid to punch. Ah, that's why it seems like such a quiet baby (by no means is this child quiet, believe me, after seeing it on the screen.)

Femur? Check. (Good length; too short is not so good.)

Ooh -- there's a foot. Great shot. All five toes with all their bones.

Heart? Check. (With all the valves pumping as they should.)

Belly? Check. (Round and baby-like.)

Look -- there's some fingers ... baby holding hand over head. Very cute.

I'm in love. Swooning and watching with the greatest of fascinations that mommies feel on these moments. They're intimate, after all -- just you and the kid. Like a secret ... the baby's in there, but they're still all yours ... no one else can touch yet. But all the while I'm still waiting ... for that final piece of information.

Then my husband came in.

We went through the whole thing again. Brain. Femur. Heart. Belly. Fingers. Toes. Kicking the placenta-mattress. Quiet baby? Think again. This one's a tumbler.

"Can I tell you now? Please pretty please? It's been killing me -- I've known since I first put the paddle on you," she says.

Fifteen years and she hasn't been wrong yet. Deep breaths all around.

"Let's take a look between those legs, little one."

Now let me tell you, at this point, I've gotten myself so worked up I can't think straight. It's like the last play of a tie ballgame. Homerun or strikeout?

With a baby it's neither, I know, but after all this stress well ... it's hard not to feel that way. If you read my rambling post from earlier, I think my mental state through the day was pretty clear. Thank goodness I had some meetings that broke the strain and gave me other things to think about!

You see, years ago I resigned myself to having two boys. Realized that there probably wouldn't be a little girl in my life. My husband's family hasn't had a girl in something like 85 years. Got used to worms and mud. Came to understand that I'm really more of a "boy mom" anyway. And then I popped up pregnant ... and the swirl of folks talking about girls and pink got me all swept up. It was hard not to get hopeful and go back to that moment six years ago when they declared the Yarn Sniffer was a boy. And the time two years earlier when Zee was "discovered" and my best friend and I just said to each other, "What are we going to do with a BOY?"

I figured it out then, then re-figured again with the Sniffer.

It's a damn good thing.

'Cause this one's a boy, too.

Well ladies and gents, today's the day. The "big" ultrasound, the big reveal (if the kid "shows its stuff"). Announcement will be posted here later today (appt is at 3:30), but probably not until after dinner.

Am I nervous? You betcha. Are we "hoping" for one gender over the other? Sure we are. Will we be thrilled either way? Of course!

It's been an interesting few weeks over here at Chez Spinneas as I've come to realize just how nervous I am about finding out the gender of Baby 3. The Yarn Sniffer has already told people that he's getting a baby brother, even though I've told him over and over that we don't know YET but that we will soon ... Zee isn't saying much (says he's nervous over the whole baby thing). Hubby admitted last night that he's got fingers crossed for "something different" (as he put it). Everyone and their mother (and mine) keeps talking about a girl. What I worry about most is that if it's a boy there will be an anticlimax ... you know, no real celebration or splash. After all we've done it twice before.

At Cub Scouts last night, one mom of three boys and I had a nice long chat about how I'm feeling right now ... you know, this anticlimactic feeling ... resignation that I could end up "always the mother-in-law" to a girl and never the mom ... this "last chance" feeling that comes from knowing that this is the last baby and the last shot for a girl. But then, in true Girlfriend style, she leaned over and said (with a hint of glee) "You know, Wendy, the three-boy club is a great place to be too ... but all the members will line up to play with a little girl, too!"

Truth is, so many of the boys' friends have brothers -- it's a "two-boy club" so to speak -- that a girl would be shocking too.

But health, not gender, is what's most important. I want to see a healthy heart, brain, kidneys, etc., WAY more than I want to see the other parts. OK, I want to see the other parts too -- way more than I show it -- and if the kid doesn't make it easy, I could very easily go over the edge.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Knitting and Nailbiting

I can count on one hand (with fingers left over) the number of times in my life that I’ve actually had fingernails that were long enough and in reasonably good-enough condition to actually get a manicure. For decades I was a nailbiter, exacerbated by the fact that I have a milk allergy, which was just the excuse that those little appendages needed to break off in odd moments where no one in their right mind would have access to an emery board. That meant I simply had to bite off the offending area, which then caused stress that gripped me until I chewed the whole damn thing down to the nub. Damn weak fingernails. Tried everything – vitamin e, that “strong as nails” stuff, even had acrylic tips for a while after my wedding. But I tell you, there’s one sure fire way to get nails that work: Get knocked up. Works every time. (Remember I said I could count on one hand? One finger for each kid, folks. The acrylic tips from the wedding don’t count.)
Given the stress and strain of waiting until Thursday to find out what I’m having, it’s amazing that I haven’t chewed these nails off. I’m terribly impatient, and it’s killing me. My husband and I have even postponed our naming discussion until the big reveal. He says it will help us better focus the discussion and maximize time (he’s a techie, LOL) but I really think it’s to avoid stressing me out further. Like I said, it’s all I can do to not chew, chew and chew some more.

One thing for sure about these talons: I can’t let them go much longer though, or they’ll start to interfere with the needles.

Speaking of needles, I have a few things going.

First, there’s Basil the Wonder Blanket.

A few words about Basil. This is a Smith Island Pattern Factory opus, an absolutely dreamy baby blanket with a simple motif and has knit like a dream. Once the code was cracked, I was off with this and I’m now sitting on the edging. I’ve had it in my head that I would wait until we found out whether we’re having a boy or girl before starting said edging, tailoring it accordingly, but then it hit me that I absolutely LOVED this minty green. In fact, the nursery theme that I have in mind is primarily green. So in my haste to not only make something that matched but also work with what I already have, I opted for the green (which is one of my all-time favorite colors anyway) and started the contrast last night.

But I’ve reached my waterloo, I swear. This happened with Parthenope. It happened with the pi shawl way back when. Some edgings are just plain evil. They team up with the rest of the pattern to have you move along quickly and easily with yarn overs and lacy patterns that just go so fast you can’t believe it. And then you hit a speedbump and you’re right back to plain old knitting. Problem is, for some reason, that’s taking me a LONG time. Plain vanilla is screwing me up. It will happen though … I’m just impatient. And it’s taking all of my willpower at this point to keep going and not put Basil in the knitting basket with Parthenope (who is still two rows away from a bind-off).

Speaking of plain vanilla, I started a sock a few weeks ago (again, is it the plain vanilla that’s getting me and impeding progress?)

It certainly isn’t the yarn. This is Socks that Rock, people. It will happen, I know, but it’s a little frustrating. But, like most cases of Second Sock Syndrome (read the Harlot’s new book if you want specifics on the strains of this condition), it will pass with time.

I’m also moving furiously in the Land of the Knitted Burpcloth. I snagged some Plymouth mercerized cotton at the LYS the other day, and it seems one hank will make a decent sized shoulder cover. I have lunch plans to get more. Burpcloths seem to fit the bill for quick and easy knitting and all moms know you simply can’t get enough of those.

I’ve also been spinning.

Merino/tencel top from Vicki and Kendig Cottage. It's spinning thinner than it looks. I finished one bobbin a few weeks ago and Navajo-plied it … turned out great. But then I got to thinking … Geyl is on my list to start soon and I have a lovely green varigated Koigu for the main part … but this “Peacock” colorway might be perfect for the edging … so I’m going to do the other four ounces this thin and do a two-ply instead of the Navajo ply. I might have enough. I was going to use mill ends for this, but then this green Koigu jumped out at me and it seems perfect. There’s other Koigu in the stash that will work for the edging if the spinning doesn’t work out … and if it doesn’t, then someone will have a beautiful Peacock scarf this Christmas.

Then I’m on to another project … “Flair” by Wendy at Knit and Tonic. Problem is, I’m planning on spinning the yarn for that, too. At our January spinner’s group, I picked up about 20 ounces or so of a luscious Oreo-like yarn – you remember, that absolutely delightful wool that I spun with great zeal last fall. The pattern calls for about 750 yards of worsted, and I can do that. It’s a cute little swingcoat that will be perfect for those chilly fall days. I’m going to make the sleeves just a little longer than the prototype, though that’s my only foreseen modification to the pattern.

Two days until the reveal. And then comes the anticipation of waiting for MS&W (and the big yarn diet).

Will the nails survive?