Sunday, April 29, 2012

Crafting Balance

I admit it I am a knitting snob. Sewing is really my first love but as the kids got bigger sewing got to be more and more difficult.  It's so much less portable and no matter how hard I tried to child proof the sewing room they always found something to get their sticky digits into. When they were babies they would play in their exersaucer or on the floor and I could sew happily away but toddler boys aren't so into that plan. Then there was my desire to use wool covers with my cloth diapers but I couldn't afford to buy them, hence a new obsession was born.

I never really thought much about crochet really.  As far as I knew all crochet was good for was making great afghans. As I am leaning more about yarn crafts I have found that despite my true love for knitting, crochet also has it place.  For example crochet flowers are WAY cooler than knitted flowers.  There are some really amazing crochet borders that you can do as well. For the most part I think I will leave the crocheting to Frank but I have been having him teaching me bit by bit to make things like flowers. I would also like to try to crochet some grocery bags so we'll see if I ever get around to that.

As for other fiber crafts one of my goals for this summer is try my hand at dyeing some yarn.  I'm very excited about this and have been reading up but it seems like summertime would be a better time to try because I can work outside and then the boys will be more occupied digging holes in the yard than getting dye all over them. And some day when I don't have many small sticky fingers about I would love to learn to spin but that is for far in the future I think.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

So every once in awhile I think about what I'd like to accomplish out of my knitting. It's pretty amazing to me to think that so much can be done with a string, 2 sticks, and a couple loops.  If you think about knitting is really just one stitch done frontwards and backwards. At this point I would consider myself to be an advanced beginner. I've mastered knitting and purling, short rows are my friends, easy lace and I get along, I enjoy doing cables, and I can handle most basic patterns. I've made hats, mittens, socks, sweaters, vest, shawls, scarfs, longies, and soakers. That being said there are so many more things that I would like to learn.  Top contenders for learning next include:

Magic Loop- I can't decide if it is worth it or not... I'm very comfortable with DPNs so is magic loop really any better?
Colorwork- must get over my phobia
Crochet- really I am a knitting snob but crochet flowers are really awesome...
Steeking- how brave am I really? but I really want to make this sweater.
Complicated lace patterns- including learning to read a chart efficiently

I think all of these goals are attainable but the first thing I want to work on is actually my technique. Right now I knit in this sort of modified English style which cause me to drop the needle when I am throwing the yarn.  I'd like to learn both Continental and your more standard English style so that I don't have to drop that needle to throw.  I think it will help me to knit faster because right now my biggest issue is that I am SUPER slow! So picking up the pace is my first priority, now I just have to sit down and practice, practice, practice.

On an entirely different note today we went to the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival in Vernon, CT. It is a small festival- easily half the size of NH's but it was fun. The boys enjoyed themselves, although not so much with the sheep or the wool part, their favorite parts were running through the labyrinth and playing a piles of sawdust. The festival is held at the Tolland Agricultural Center so they have demonstration gardens throughout the grounds. One of the gardens is a labyrinth made from daffodil and hyacinth bulbs -it took almost 1600 bulbs to create it. The boys had a wonderful time running through the bulbs. The pictures from this post are of the boys in the labyrinth. We won't be able to go to the NH festival this year because we will be out of town so we are exploring some of the other festivals close enough to drive to.  Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only other festivals this spring, hopefully in the fall we will be able to go to Vermont, New York, and the Massachusetts Fiber Festival. Our ability to go will depend a bit on when the baby decides to arrive.  I'm guessing VT might not be possible but Rhinebeck should be!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Knitting as meditation...

An Ode to Knitting

It starts with a string and 2 sticks.
The end of a long day,
my nerves are frayed,
my patience is gone,
I'm all touched out,
the kids are finally in bed.

click, clack, peace

I pick up my string and 2 sticks.
I settle on the couch,
no one demanding to be fed,
no one touching me,
no one crying,
no one yelling,

click, clack, peace

My string and sticks work in harmony.
loop. click. loop. clack.
My mind begins to wander.
I ponder the issues of my day,
one by one I let them go
My neck begins to relax.
I sink deeper into the couch.
My acrobat baby begins to make his nightly tumbling passes.

click, clack, peace

My string and sticks begin to slow.
loop..... click..... loop.....clack
My mind has let go.
My neck is relaxed.
My shoulders are relaxed.
I am one with the couch.
The acrobat stops kicking my bladder
and settles into gentle waves.
We are at peace together.

click, clack, sleep.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I'm a product knitter.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a project knitter not a process knitter.  I love knitting and I do it a lot but I am still pretty slow at it. So when that moment comes and your project is all finished I get such a warm, glowing, awesome feeling of accomplishment it is totally addictive! It is part of the reason I really enjoy knitting baby items- they are small so they knit up quickly. It is also the reason that I love knitting in the round (well including not having to do all that pesky purling)- no seaming! So I almost always knit with a purpose in mind and I usually knit only one or two things at a time.

That being said I also only tend to knit things that really catch my attention.  I know I am going to put a lot of work and effort into each project so I want to use good quality yarn that is going to last and I want it to be something that I am going to want to keep working on. So I might knit a wool sweater in June or I might knit something more appropriate to the season. It depends on who my intended recipient is, what size I am making and how long I anticipate it taking me to make. As I look through my project page I would have to say there is a heavy concentration of hats, scarfs, sweaters, and shawls so the fact that I live in a cold climate must be having a subconscious effect on my knitting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I have many inspirations when it comes to knitting.  It is hard to narrow it down honestly. I have to say that number one goes to my mom, who patiently year after year tried to teach me to knit without much success. I think it took me 5 years to finish a garter stitch scarf!  Some of those lessons must have stuck though because after I actually decided that I wanted to knit I was able to pick it up pretty quickly.  She has been my go-to person for help fixing my many mistakes and teaching me the joy of short rows as I stumbled through my first pairs of longies (that became shorties b/c I was too impatient to finish).  I am still in awe of her speed with the needles.  I swear the woman can knit an entire sweater in three hours.  Someday that will be me, right... Her particular passion is knitting socks and I think for the time being I am going to leave that to her.  I'll stick with the baby gear!

I have also found a lot of inspiration in blogs. I have always been a journaler so blogging has just been an extension of that.  What initially started as a way to keep my in-laws who live in MO updated on the kids and our life here has practically turned into a knitting and crafting blog. I still try to keep things updated on the farm and kids but as they get busier so do I.  Anyway, one of my favorite blogs is He Sows, She Sews. Gretchen is a mom, a knitter, and a wife to a farmer. So while our lives are very different somehow I felt like we had some common ground.  She is truly an inspiration in terms of her knitting and it's been really cool to follow her blog as she has become a honest to goodness published knitwear designer. She has some beautiful and fun patterns and I have enjoyed knitting them, especially the clara cowl seen here and here. I'm looking forward to knitting some buttercup soakers for the new baby.

Along the blogging lines Ginny from Small Things has also been an inspiration.  I love her Wednesday yarn alongs because not only do we get see what she has been working on, it's a glimpse into the knitting life of lots of different folks.  Ginny and I share a lot of the same faith and beliefs so I enjoy reading her musing and stories about her family life.  I am anxious to see what becomes of her bee-keeping adventures since it is something that we are also considering.  Her photography alone is worth stopping by to check out.  I wish I were as talented with a camera! 

Finally I have to mention one of my favorite knitting authors, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  Her Yarn Harlot books had me laughing hysterically out loud and trying to explain knitting jokes to my husband (not worth the bother by the way...).  Her blog is also pretty funny. It is so nice to find someone who is as passionate as I am about knitting and crafting and isn't afraid to poke some fun at ourselves!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yarn Along combo day

I'm yarning along again this week with Ginny and the crew at Small Things.  But this week for something new I am combining my yarn along post with a post for the Knitting Blog Week.  Plus I have some exciting news to share... As I am sure many of you have noticed if you've been reading my yarn along posts I have been knitting a lot of baby items these days.  And while yes it is true that I have many, many friends who are pregnant and getting hand knits for their babies some of those baby items have been knit for the newest addition to our family we are expecting in September!  Yes, despite my vows that I would never again be 8 months pregnant is August we are expecting our third little bean the day before James' birthday- here's hoping they don't have to share! So really I have been reading but I wasn't quite ready to share the pregnancy news yet so it was hard to share news about reading pregnancy books!  I've just started this book but I'm going to have to read it quickly since I got it through interlibrary loan.  So far I like what I am reading though. I would really like this to be a very healthy pregnancy that ends in a natural labor and delivery without induction so I am practicing mind over matter.   I also ant to try hypnobirthing this time around so I am exploring the ideas of meditation during pregnancy to aid in that.  Next on my list are some books about hypnobrithing and the mother-baby connections so we'll see how it goes.

As for my knitting I am making a Fae Folk Hat from Carina's Spencer pattern for a diva swap.  I've been much more interested in knitting than sewing these days so I am trading some knitting for some diapers.  Works for me!  This is for a little girl about the same age as James made with malabrigo merino worsted in dusty rose with natural trim.  I'm also going to make some fingerless mitts to go with the hat, but I seriously need to get my tushie in gear seeing as I am supposed to be sending these by April 30th!

And for today's photography challenge I have a photo of all my knitting for this baby so far- a rainbow of knitting for our rainbow baby. I know it isn't the greatest photo ever but it has special meaning to me!

Introducing the newest Baby Linnenbringer...

Baby #3 at 19weeks 1day

Monday, April 23, 2012

For the love of color....

I love color.  One of my favorite things is to feast my eyes on all the wonderful colors available in a yarn store. Jewel tones are my preferred palette but I have a complete obsession with variegated yarns.  Finding the perfect superwash variegated yarn was a huge challenge for me for many years until I realized that hand washing worked better for my hand knits anyway and I didn’t really mind washing the kids special knits. It was probably better for my pocketbook when I only bought superwash but whole new horizons have been opened to me since I have expanded my yarn bases.  I love Malabrigo and Manos del Uruguay yarns but I am now discovering the love of Mosaic Moon. I think my obsession with variegation started when I was a new knitter because the beauty of the yarn would hide the imperfections in my knitting! Now that I feel more confident in my abilities and have expanded my knitting repertoire I find myself heading more towards solids and semi-solids that will show off the knitting.
If I am color shopping for myself I tend to go for teals, red and purples.  Can you tell I am a winter? I had to place a personal shopping ban on teal yarns because I had so many it got a little ridiculous. When I first started knitting I would just buy a skein of yarn here and there if the color appealed to me but now I try to have a specific project in mind before I actually purchase yarn.  It helps to rein myself in and really there are only so many teal hats that one girl needs! My personal favorite yarns in my stash right now are a Blue Sky Alpaca Melange in Pomegranate and a Malabrigo in Abril. I think that color is a huge part of your finished garment.  As I have gotten better an more confident in my knitting and as I plan more projects out more in advance I think about the intended recipient and what color is going to work for them rather than the color of the sample.  That being said I find that I am drawn to patterns that have samples that catch my eye!

One good thing about being a mom to boys is that it has expanded my color palette!  If you can imagine my husband frowns on dressing the boys in pinks and purples. Blues wouldn’t be my first choice normally but my oldest son has the bluest eyes ever so it’s fun to find yarns to match his eyes. There is nothing better than pulling on a sweater I have made for him and having his eyes just light up.

Now for someone who loves color my greatest area of weakness is color work. It terrifies me, utterly and truly frightens me to death. I’m not sure why.  I know I possess the skills to carry at least a few strands of yarn together but I can’t seem to get over my phobia.  So for now at least I will go on being obsessed with variegated yarn and solid yarns done in cables and oohing and aaahing over other people’s gorgeous fair isle sweaters or even gently suggesting to my mother (who is a fantastic lifelong knitter) that this or that colorwork project would make a lovely birthday gift. Someday I will tackle something more difficult than stripes! Maybe it will be this sweater which has been living on my Raverly queue for a least a year but combines not only color work but my second biggest fear- steeking!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along with Ginny and co. again this week over at Small Things.  Come and join the fun...
I'm working on another pair of longies this week from the Wonderpants pattern. These are in a size small/medium. I ended up knitting these on a size 6 to get gauge- apparently I knit a tad loose... These are a boyish set of longies to go with the owlie milo I made last year- that way I have gifts ready for all those friends of mine who aren't finding out the gender of their babies. I really like how these are coming out although I do find the legs to be a tad wide for my tastes.  Next time I think I'll have to decrease the width a bit more but this pattern definitely has an interesting crotch gusset.  We'll have to see how it works out in real life.  I keep having this problem with pooling of my color in the crotch area though.  It doesn't seem to matter which pattern I knit I always get some nice pooling right in the wet zone! I used malabrigo worsted for these b/c it is so nice and soft. Rav details here.

Next up is a Fae Folk hat and some Ruru mitts also in malabrigo worsted for a Diva swap.  I'm doing some knitting and getting some new diapers in return since our stash is in serious need of refreshing.  Score!

I am doing some reading but nothing that is exciting or interesting enough to share.  We've mostly been reading a bunch of sheep books. I will hopefully have some fun reading to share next week though.  Along that same vein though I am planning on participating in the Knitting and Crocheting Blog Week next week. I was planning on working on the topics ahead of time but that hasn't happened yet so we'll see how many days I actually get my stuff together and post!  It's a personal challenge anyway.

Happy Knitting and Reading!

Monday, April 16, 2012


This morning I took the boys for their 6-month follow-up with audiology.  The visit went about as I had expected but not as I was hoping.  All in all it was not good news; we have no more tubes left...  Both boys have lost both of their PE tubes. Xander has a significant loss of hearing in his right ear while his left appears to be working normally. James seems to have bilateral, but less significant loss of hearing. The good news for James at least is that he was cooperative enough to do some bone conduction testing and his nerves all seem intact so there is good evidence that his hearing loss is conductive rather than sensorineural, which is better for his long term prognosis. So.. where do we go from here? Back to the ENT.

I'm very conflicted about this whole situation.  I know the ENT is going to recommend replacing their tubes.  So on the one hand I know that new tubes will fix the problem, at least temporarily, but on the other hand it is surgery...AGAIN... and the fix is only temporary. So here's where we have the tough job of weighing the risks vs benefits of surgery for our children yet again. The tubes have been beneficial.  When the boys have ear infections, which they still do very frequently even with tubes, they are less sick and have less pain. However, the tubes haven't helped the frequency of their infections. They have improved their hearing temporarily in between falling out, which has allowed both of them to develop more normal speech.  In fact they have now both been determined to be age appropriate.  And yet here we are again 9 months later with the thought of surgery looming. So while the logical part of my maternal brain is saying that obviously the tubes are a good idea because they will improve their hearing and prevent any future speech delays, the emotional side of me is cringing at the thought of sending Xander to the OR for 3rd time in 2 years. To be fair part of my emotional conflict is probably related to the fact that when James had his tubes placed last year the little boy that went before him had an episode of SVT in the PACU; so while I was sitting in the waiting room I am hearing them page the pediatrician and a code to the PACU thinking that it was my kid they were coding.

So now that I have hashed it out here and bored you all to tears we will have to wait till May 2nd when we see the ENT again.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along again with Ginny at Small Things this week. Come and join the fun...

I finished a project for myself!  I started this back in December and then for some unknown reason I put it down and stopped working on it for the last 3 months or so.  I decided after doing a bunch of baby knits that I needed something different to work on.  Since I didn't have that many things hanging out in my WIP pile I figured I would start with that and thus, this... This is made from Carina Spencer's Faraway, So Close pattern using KnitPicks Chroma worsted in the regency colorway. I was worried that the pink would be way too bright in the beginning but as the shawl got bigger the colors evened out a bit and actually it looks really nice.  This is the 3rd FASC that I have made and I really love this pattern.  It's so easy and yet the end result is really beautiful. Ravelry details here.

Of course I said I was going to take a break from baby knits but as soon as I was finished with my shawl I cast on a new pair of longies. I'm a sucker for instant gratification....

Not much going on reading wise this week.  I have been working a lot and running around a lot so it hasn't left much time for reading.  Plus I don't really have anything that I'm really looking forward to reading right now so.... I need to find something that appeals to me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

My little firemen...

Warm rainy days are so much fun b/c mommy let us play outside in our firemen coats and umbrellas!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

So I lied...

Frank and I were out with the sheep this afternoon trying to catch the newest little guy (well he isn't really so little anymore) in order to band his tail and we were admiring all the girls when I got a really good look at Midnight for the first time since shearing day. Looks like we will be adding at least one more lamb to the brood sometime soon!  I swear a week ago when we sheared she didn't look at all pregnant and now she looks like she could lamb at any any moment! I'm not surprised.  Bob managed to get all the other ewes pregnant but everyone else had already lambed and with Midnight being a yearling we thought maybe she just wasn't ready yet- HA! You'd think by now we'd have learned better! Now we just need to come up with names for all the keepers- any suggestions?

Current sheep count is at:
3 Rams (anyone looking for a Southdown Babydoll Ram?)
2 Wethers
9 Ewes
4 Winter lambs (4 ewes)
9 Spring lambs (5 ewes, 4 rams)
Total: 27

Of the ewe lambs we are looking to keep probably 8 out of 9- Yikes! Pretty soon we are going to have to call ourselves real sheep farmers.

Yarn Along

I'm yarning along with Ginny and the crew at Small Things again this week- come and join the fun!
So this week I finished my second pair of testers for Amy Little Lounger's Pattern in bulky weight yarn. I did the newborn size in malabrigo chunky again but this pair came out much better! It really helps when you read the pattern correctly! The first pair are perfectly serviceable but the rise is way too long to fit a normal size newborn. I always find that too big is better than too small so they can be used but the fit isn't going to be the best.  This time despite some frogging because initially I forgot to size up my needles when I finished the waistband I got the rise just right and amazingly they fit SO much better! Baby B graced us with his arrival Sunday morning at 5:40 am weighing in at 8lbs 9oz so he made a very nice model for me. These are some very green longies so I dug around on the Internet until I found someone willing to sell me some grass green giraffe fabric so that I can make a matching shirt.  It's going to be super cute!
I finished the last 2 books in the Hunger Games series this week- Catching Fire and Mockingjay. They were both good, full of action and adventure, but I do feel like Hunger Games is the best book of the three. Hunger Games ends in such a way that you want to know what is going to happen next. While the next 2 books deliver on that promise I think that the first book is the most thought provoking while the last 2 are great adventure books but aren't as morally challenging. Still I can see how they would make great movies!  I hope someday to be able to see the movies but at this point in our lives going to the theater is just not possible- we'll have to wait until they are available on Netflix!

Happy Knitting and Reading!