Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yarn Along

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  Come and join us at Ginny's for this week's yarn along.  See you there
I have actually gotten quite a bit of knitting done the last week. Well it feels productive at least- the nice thing about hats!  I worked on larger projects for so long that it was nice to finish up some smaller projects quickly. I finished another Thorpe hat for my neighbor's son.  I used Cascade 128 and it makes a fantastic hat.  I almost decided to keep the hat for myself but then I figured I could get a different colorway that matched my coat better- it's an easiest enough knit that whipping up a new one won't be difficult.  I also finished up a newborn fae folk hat for the same neighbor's new bundle of joy expected in April.  I planned to knit a little white hat for Christmas but then she found out that it was a boy so a little blue hat seemed in order.  I also have a pair of newborn socks made from the same yarn made this summer that I am going to include in the gift.  That makes 6 hats for 6 kids in time for Christmas- whew!

I also got a new basket for my bedroom/bath that I had intended to use for storing towels and the like on top of the toilet but then it turned out to be to big to fit nicely on the toilet so I converted it to a knitting basket for my bedroom. I often knit in the living room or bedroom and it will be nice to have some place to corral my things- my husband will appreciate it at least! I started on a FASC shawl for myself so it is already getting good use. I made a FASC for my friend earlier this fall and fell in love with it so I decided I needed to make one for myself.  I think I liked the midwinter colorway better than this one- regency- but it is too soon to tell.  They are very different to say the least. I do think this yarn makes an excellent shawl though.  I am using Knit Picks Chroma Worsted and it is just delicious.  It is just the kind of yarn that you want to wrap yourself in! I hadn't ever used a single ply yarn before and I'm liking it. James likes it too- I had to rescue my skein from his hugging.

All in all we had a lovely Christmas- very lazy and quiet.  We pretty much hunkered down at home and just spent our time together.  My mom came over and spent Christmas eve and morning with us before heading out to my brother's homes. We opened family presents on Christmas Eve and Santa presents on Christmas morning oer Frank's family traditions.  I think it works pretty well especially since the boys are young and even though we really didn't go overboard on presents, it can be overwhelming if they open everything at once.  This way they get to open and have time to enjoy each present as they go. Xander even made us a few presents at school and stamped the wrapping paper himself.  One of the presents he made was this ornament.  It's silly but I completely love it.

This was the first year we made the transition to all fabric gift bags as opposed to wrapping paper (well except for stockings- I used up the leftover wrapping paper from last year for the stockings).  I did learn some lessons about wrapping in fabric with toddlers.  I took all of the toys out of their wrapping and packages and just wrapped the toys themselves.  That was a huge frustration reliever for me anyway because the presents came out of the bag and were immediately ready to be played with; plus it seriously eliminated trash on Christmas day itself. I didn't sew any ribbons on the bags because 1. lack of time and 2. because I had done this with some of the birthday bags I made and found that depending on what I was wrapping the ribbons weren't always in a good position. So this time I just tied the bags closed with ribbons but it made it difficult for toddlers to open by themselves- really they needed to be cut open.  Plus using disposable ribbons kinda negated part of the purpose of switching to fabric bags so.... next year I plan on using yarn scraps and or putting drawstrings on the bags or sewing some cloth ribbons on.  The question is which should I do? In any case I know I need to tie the bags closed in bows or in some way that is easy for little fingers to untie. All in all though boys are young enough that they don't know the difference between fabric and paper and I am seriously enthused about never having to purchase wrapping paper again! Now I can just focus on using up all the stuff I have saved up over the years.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Signs of the Season

Christmas is really a wonderful time.  There are so many fun and good things about the season that make it special.  One of my favorite things about advent is our nativity.  We have a very beautiful, elaborate nativity from Fontanini that has been a gift over the years from my mother. We have been reading the Story of the Nativity by Anna Milbourne so when we set up all the figurines we talked about each character and how they played a role in the story of Jesus' birth.  I like the fact that this book talks about how the birth of Jesus was the first Christmas because it is a nice segway into talking about the real meaning of Christmas instead of focusing on the Santa and gift giving.

Although speaking og gifts, we spent the day today working on gifts for Xander's teachers and daycare providers.  This peppermint bark is one of my all time favorites and I look forward to it every Christmas. I don't think anyone else enjoys it as much as I do but I only make it once a year at Christmas so it is special to me.  How can you go wrong with chocolate and peppermint combined in multiple layers? Every year I have to go on the great hunt to find just the right white and dark chocolates.  It's really amazing to me how many things call themselves white chocolate but don't even have cocoa butter in them.  We also did chocolate dipped pretzels and I used the candy melts- yucko! You have to add oil to them to thin out the chocolate because if you add anything else - like cream- it turns into a hard lumpy mess (ask me how I know...).  Anything that involves chocolate and vegetable oil and doesn't involve baking is just gross in my opinion.

And of course we have the ever present Christmas cookies decorated liberally by the boys.  We had to have several long discussions about not eating all of the cookies and how it isn't very nice to lick the knife you are icing other people's cookies with, but despite a few setbacks, the boys did decorate most of the cookies themselves. I got some of those sugar decorations and they had a lot of fun sticking those on every cookie they could get their little hands on. Cookie stickers as Xander called them. We'll have to make another batch for Santa on Saturday as these will all be eaten or given away before then!

And since this is a yarn along post there must be some knitting! I finally finished this milo for James. I started it a long time ago- not sure when because somehow I managed to erase my project start date- and it hit the back burner for awhile but it was always intended to be a Christmas present to match this one I made for Xander. Now they both need to be blocked and wrapped and I will have 2 more presents for under the tree.  I like the giant cable on this one better than the aran braid I did on Xander's.  Really this yarn is a solid but the variegation is enough that the aran braid is kind of lost in it.  It will look better I am sure once it is blocked. Besides who cares what it looks like, it is Malabrigo Rios and it is heavenly soft (and washable!!!!), now I just have to get them wrapped. We made the switch to all fabric gifts bags this year and despite the fact that I bought the fabric back in March I was sewing bags last week.  I need to sew a few more tomorrow morning and then wrap these sweaters and stockings and we are all set! Which is a really good thing because Frank busted up his knee playing basketball this morning and is on crutches for the time being! He'll be spending most of the holiday on the couch icing his knee...poor guy!

Come yarn along with us over at Ginny's Place.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yarn Along

So since I haven't yarned along in a couple of weeks (haven't blogged at all as a matter of fact...) I have a bit of work to show off. I'm currently working on this hat. I'm using some Knit Picks Comfy Bulky that I got in a swap this summer.  It is a cotton yarn so kinda of a weird choice for a winter hat I know but it is so soft and cozy it makes up for it. I have a hat made out of this same yarn and it is my favorite hat ever.

I've actually just finished reading this book, the second in the series. I tried reading it before and thought it was boring but it made a whole lot more sense once I had read the first book first- fancy that! This book is along the lines of Joy Luck Club only the group comes together through knitting.  I enjoyed both the books but I wouldn't read them again... but I plan on getting the third and reading that one.  Next up some more fluffy fiction- Naked Heat by Richard Castle- mostly because I love the show.

I've been working on some Christmas knitting.  I was trying not to get in over my head and I think I have managed to do that.  I should be done with everything in time.  I made this shawl for my brother-in-law's girlfriend and I completely love how it came out.  It calls for a worsted weight yarn but Tracie lives in Texas so that seemed a bit heavy to me for such a warm climate (yes I know it gets cold in Texas too...) so something a little lighter seemed more in line to me. I had some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in my stash so I decided to use that.  Initially I had planned on doing the shawl in white with the green border but since I only had 1 skein of each color I thought that I would do some green, then white, and finish off with the green but once I got started with the green I really liked how it was going so i just stuck with the green until the end. It will be a great color on Tracie too where the white wouldn't be as nice a color for her I don't think. Anyway b/c the baby cashmerino is a sort weight obviously the shawl is a bit smaller than my previous FASC but it is so light and fluffy and just soft. The small size also lends itself really nicely to being a scarf or a prayer shawl.

Then for my mother-in-law I made a Betula Ring- apparently I am on a Carina Spencer binge!  I love her patterns though.  They are well written and easy to follow and the look great!  I had a little bit of a hard time joining this one neatly- the alpaca kinda pulled a little in the beginning and I never was able to get it tightened back up to my liking but I am probably the only one who would notice. I thought this would be good for my MIL because it is a little more on the sophisticated side and white goes with anything.  I used Cascade baby Alpaca Chunky for this and it is super soft! I bought this skein on a whim last summer because it was so soft I just couldn't resist it and it was on sale! I'm glad I was able to find a project that will do it justice.

The Carina Spencer binge continues with hats for my next door neighbor's three little girls.  I made each hat from the BOGO hat duo and a Fae folk hat. You can read about the details here, here, and here. The ff hat will also have a crocheted flower added but I don't have it done yet.  I ended up using the leftover white Debbie Bliss Cashmerino for the trim and the ties so I need to give the leftovers of that to Frank so he can make me a flower.  Looking at them as a trio I probably should have done the ribbing on the kitty hat in white as well but it has plenty of white with the flower. I love the fact that this hat looks completely like nothing specfial laid out but when you put it on a kiddo it is super cute.  I managed to get the beanie on Xander for split second- enough time to tell that it should fit it's intended recepient and to realize that the flower is so huge it needs to be tacked at the top so is sin't all floppy. The Fae Folk as always is a favorite becasue it fits so nicely and just looks so sweet.  I swear though this skein of yarn is neverending- I still have a ton left.  It is by far and away not my favorite yarn but it was free so... I will probably use up the rest making charity hats for work. The problem being of course that we alwasy have tons of girl hats and not enough hats for boys...but I don't think this yarn is good for much else really. At least it is washable. 

And last but certainly not least is my Origami Shrug which I did finish and very, very thankfully had enough time to block before the wedding.  This turned into a completely different, and way better garment after I blocked it out so I'm glad I finished it with some time to spare. I'm sorry for the terrible pictures but I had a heck of a time trying to get some decent pictures of it.  It does look prettier on the model in the book than on me but I think she is about 10 times samller than me so... The color did come out very nicely with plenty of sparkle and once blocked the lace was beautiful and flowy. I sued the elastic thread with the ribbing- the stuff that you actually knit into the garment and although it helped the ribbing really did strecth out.  Given the way this garment is supposed to work it didn't really matter but I might take some additional beading elastic to the waist section to try to give a little more drape and flow over my bum.  The most important thing though was that my bum was covered! and that despite my dress being sleeveless I was plenty warm and didn't feel like I was showing off my flabby arms.  So basically it covered in all the right spots! The wedding was so short I didn't get to wear it all that long and I didn't want to wear it outside since it was raining but I think I will be able to wear it a lot in the future for special occasions.  It looked great with my dress (and no I don't have any pics of me in the dress- see what happens when you leave Frank in charge of the camera- he leaves it at the hotel...) and it was very comfy too.
Please come and see all the other awesome knitters and crocheters out there at Ginny's Blog.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Xander WCV & the dentist

Xander has his 6 month follow-up today.  His pedi has been seeing him every six months instead of yearly given all the issues he has had with his ears and growth.  Today he weighed in at 31.2 lbs and 36.5 in, which puts him in the 20th percentile for weight and the 5th percentile for height.  Poor guy has apparently inherited my height! But he is keeping his weight up and on the growth curve and might even be tad chubby for his height but both the pedi and I agree he looks pretty healthy overall. He got a clean bill of health on his ears today and here's hoping we can just keep that up. We are going to avoid oral antibiotics as long as possible because the reality is they don't seem to work all that well and given that he already has MRSA we don't want him to become more antibiotic resistant. So when he gets his next ear infection we are going to try irrigation first.  We'll see how he tolerates that!  Maybe he just won't get any more infections.... I can dream right?

After Xander's dr visit we went to the dentist which went amazingly well.  Both boys were very cooperative and let the dentist look at and clean all their teeth. They did both sit on my lap to do it rather than on their own in the chair but there was no screaming or fussing and it was over and done with very quickly.  Xander has all his expected baby teeth now and James is just beginning to cut his 2 year molars- maybe that's why his fist has been living in his mouth these days. James' teeth are pretty crowded but it looks like he should have enough room for all the baby teeth. When he turns 6 or 7 she said we can do a panoramic x-ray to see if he is going to have enough room for all his adult teeth but that she expects he will have some issues with crowding.  Maybe it would be a good thing if he followed his dad's footsteps and was missing a few adult teeth!  It's pretty sad when at 2 your dentist is telling you to start saving for orthodontic work later on. For now the flossing fight continues.  I did find that despite the cost the flossers designed for kids really do work and James will floss his own teeth with them.

I am a toddler and my name is uncooperative...

I have been trying to get a word of the week video since we came back from MO and have mostly been unsuccessful.  The second I turn the camera on them the boys just want to look at the video screen.  These were the best of many attempts... 
This is Xander saying "That is totally awesome" which has become one of his favorite words recently. The other day I caught him singing a little ditty which consisted entirely of the word awesome! Then this morning at church we were helping in the food pantry and he saw the big industrial range and he said, "Holy Gosh that's a big stove!."  For a minute we though he say Holy G*d and were a bit mortified but he clarified by repeating it several time, very loudly!
James most recently has been obsessed with babies and puppies- hence the puppy shirt.  We went to a Christmas party at a neighbor's yesterday and he spent the entire time enraptured by their new puppy.  The poor dog... luckily she has a 2 yr old owner so she is used to the lovin of a toddler.


We're still alive...

I somehow managed to take an unintentional vacation from blogland and every time I have sat down to write a post something has come up!  Now I don't know where to start.  Suffice it to say a trip to Missouri, excessive amounts of babies been born at work leading to long shifts, a trip to the ER (yes everyone is fine and this time it wasn't one of my kids....), lots of Christmas crafts and knitting, a new computer and various sundry and other things have interfered with my ability to write.  But this week is a new beginning and if it weren't 1am already you'd be seeing more now.  As is you will have to wait till after we go and visit the doctor, the dentist, go grocery shopping, buy daddy's Christmas present and go to zumba (and that is just the agenda for today!).

By the way I did finish my shawl in time for the wedding and yes I do have pictures (although not from the wedding) and you will see them this week!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yarn Along with mystery project reveal

Here I am yarning along again with the crew over at Ginny's Small Things

I made really good progress on this shrug this week. Actually I am almost done!  I can't believe it.  I really thought that it was never going to be done and although these last few inches are going more slowly than I would like the end is in sight.  I might actually get to wear to the wedding this Saturday! 2 more inches of jersey to go and then the binding off and kitchenering the ends together begins.  I can't wait to see what the lace is going to look like all blocked out.  I may not get much sleep tonight but at least the shrug will be done!

A few weeks ago I showed you a hint of a mystery project.  Well that project made its way to it's new home and now I can share it here. This is a shawl from the Faraway, So Close pattern by Carina Spencer.  I completely love this pattern. Actually I pretty much love all her patterns but this one is so easy to knit and yet it look so complicated and beautiful.  I think I could knit this over and over and never get bored with it.  The yarn is Knit Picks Chroma worsted and it was a perfect choice for this project. It is seriously soft and cozy- perfect for a shawl- and the colorway just worked out awesome! Somehow the variegation just came out in perfect stripes and the colors blended so wonderfully.  If I hadn't had a very special friend that this was intended for I totally would have kept it for myself. I did buy some more chroma to make one for myself though!

I finished Beautiful Unbroken this week and honestly I have to say I didn't really like it. The author is a nurse but also a poet so while I enjoyed her stories I found the book itself to be rather ponderous. The writing is beautiful but she uses a lot of words to say simple things and while that isn't a bad thing I just found it to be too much for my tastes.  She has some interesting things to say about travel nursing, being a hippie, and about working in NYC during the early days of the AIDS epidemic and I guess there would be more story to this than there actually was. I also read a quick and fun book by Julie Garwood this week called The Ideal Man, which was a very quick and fun, lighthearted read. I guess I am in the place right now where I have very limited time to read with work and the kids etc that when I do get a chance to read I want it to be quick and easy and not use up too much brain power.  Time to read some more fluff and then I will be ready for the intellectual reading again. With Christmas coming I have a whole book of stories of the advent to read with the boys so I am looking forward to that.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thrilled or terrified....

I took my boys to the airport tonight- all of my boys- and put them on a plane to the "big farm" also known as Grandma's and Grandpa's. Hence no word of the week this week since I no longer have kids or a camera. Now I can't decide whether I am thrilled or completely terrified to have the house to myself for the next 5 days. In some ways I am looking forward to the quiet and the reality is that most of my time will be spent working, which is why I am not also at the big farm, but still... I haven't had this much time to myself since before I got married. I'm a little afraid of the quiet and yet the idea of being able to sleep when I want, eat when I want, pee by myself, and take a long hot shower or bath without interruptions definitely has it perks. My time so far since they have left has been spent cleaning and knitting.  The cleaning part is great because now there is nobody to mess it up the second I finish and it's pretty nice to be able to knit for as long as I want.  Now the question is how will I feel about all this solitude in a week.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Yarn Along

Yarning along with Ginny and the crew at Small Things again this week.
Origami Shrug with a BOGO hat
Work on the Origami Shrug continues, I finally finished the lace repeats (4 rounds and 10 inches of lace) and have moved onto the ribbing.  I had some serious dunce-like moments in trying to figure out how to do the decrease round.  It's amazing how the lack of a single comma in the pattern could confuse me this much!  I'm thinking that goal of finishing by next Saturday is quickly slipping from my fingers but I'll keep plugging. The upcoming jersey section should move much more quickly than the lace, right?  It's only 6 inches of jersey in rounds of 400 stitches..... after 3 inches of ribbing.  I'm in trouble!

Mom, why the heck are you making me wear this girly hat?!?
My troubles are not helped by my knitting ADD, which led me to make this little pink hat instead of working on the shrug.  I decided to make a trio of matchy hats for my next door neighbor's girls for Christmas and this is the first one from Carina Spencer's BOGO hat duo.  I made the hat and Frank crocheted the flower for me.  I coerced him into crocheting 2 more flowers for me so I have those ready for the next 2 hats.  I also need to make a hat for Xander's bus driver who is due to have a little baby girl next week!  Hopefully I can whip out a little newborn hat quickly and still squeeze in some knitting time for the shrug. I'm really in trouble.... I think I need to consider a new outfit to wear to the wedding next Saturday.

I just started reading Beautiful Unbroken: One Nurses's Life by Mary Jane Nealon.  I've only just started so I don't have much to say yet. I always like reading about other people's experiences and it especially interesting to read about others experiences in the same profession so I am excited. I picked up way too many books at the library this week so I may have to renew at least 2 of them.

Happy Knitting and Reading everyone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A simple photo...

Xander hasn't been the most cooperative for picture taking since he turned the terrible three so today I am blessed by a photograph. For the first time in months Xander actually looked at me and smiled for the camera! My baby is getting so big...

See what others are feeling blessed  by here at Gretchen's Blog.

The Versatile Blogger :)

Hey so you see that big banner at the top here... one of my fellow bloggers awarded me with the Versatile Blogger award! That someone is Molly Bee and you can visit here blog here.  You should go and check out her really impressive artwork.  Thank you so much Molly Bee!

The deal is that by accepting the award I must:
1. Thank the blogger who presented it to me and link back to their page.
2. Share 7 things about myself.
3. Pass this award to 15 newly discovered blogs.

So #1 is already taken care of now I have to find 7 interesting things to tell you all about myself.  Hopefully I don't bore you all to tears....
1. For years and years and years my mother tried to teach me how to knit.  She has always been a fantastic knitter and tried to pass her love of knitting onto me but somehow I could never manage to finish even a simple garter stitch scarf.  Then after my first child was born we were using cloth diapers and he was such a super soaker that nothing was keeping him dry at nighttime.  I wanted to try wool soakers thinking that would help keep him dry but also help his skin breathe because he was getting terrible rashes. The problem being that purchased wool soakers were more expensive than I could afford. I figured I was crafty so I could just make some.  Thanks to Pimp my Longies a new obsession was born!
2.The last 4.5 years is the longest I have lived in one place in my entire life. Seriously.  I have moved a LOT!  Until I was almost 30 I have felt a strong sense of wanderlust- In the US I have lived in Illinois, Maryland, Maine, and New Hampshire. Abroad I have lived in Ireland, Belgium, France, Russia, and Senegal. We have worked on building a life on our little farm here but the good old wanderlust still strikes sometimes.
3.  I met my husband at the West African Invitational Softball Tournament in Dakar, Senegal when we were both Peace Corps Volunteers.
4. I am a really terrible housekeeper.  The nice thing about a blog is that I can pick and chose which photos/videos you see of my house but don't look too closely in the background of any of them because you will probably see an enormous mess! I'd rather be knitting or doing just about anything than cleaning.
5. We live on a farm.  I didn't really think this was a big secret but I am amazed at how many people in the "real" world don't seem to know this. So just to set the record straight we have cows, sheep, ducks, chickens, geese, pigs, and a couple dogs to boot.  And if anyone has any good advice at how to keep the fox away from my chickens I will gladly accept it!
6. I have 2 major addictions in life: knitting and coke zero.
7. Xander likes me because I give him "hot dogs with ketchup and ice cream." I wish I were three!

And for the third and final part, some of my old favorites and newly discovered blogs.

1. He Sows and She Sews (Knitting, Homeschooling, Parenting, Frugal Living)
2. Small Things (Knitting, Reading, Homeschooling, Catholic Faith, Photography)
3. Patch O' Dirt Farm (Knitting, Rural living, Catholic Faith)
4. Soule Mama (Knitting, Homeschooling, Rural Living)
5. Living the Scripture (Knitting, Catholic Living)
6. A Knitter's Notebook (Knitting)
7. Plain and Joyful Living (Fiber arts, Rural Living)
8. Fishsticks and Fries (Sewing, Tutorials, Wonderful Patterns)
9.  Our Field of Little Flowers (Knitting, Homeschooling, Catholic Living)
10. Three Little Knitted Frogs (Knitting, Mom to BOYS)
11. All Twisted Up (Sewing, Parenting, Cloth Diapering, Gardening)
12. Frontier Dreams (Knitting, Natural Living, Photography)
13. UK lass in US (Sewing, Crafting)
14. Pimp My Longies (an oldie by a goodie- this is where I found my first knitting project)
15. Confessions of a Yarn Addict (Knitting, Mom to Boys- previous versatile blogger but I had to include her again b/c I love her tag line "I like Yarn. Sue me." Ditto!)

Apparently I like to read knitting blogs....