Friday, December 27, 2013

Finished Object Friday: Slytherin Baby Sweater

It really wasn't until I had uploaded the pic to Ravelry that I realized that my favorite color combination is a Hogwarts House color combo as well. How about that; I'm an even bigger geek than even I knew.

I made the 24 month size, but except for the usual raglan bagging under the arms it's an almost perfect fit for a little boy who's otherwise not quite grown into his 18 month clothes.  I think I probably should have made the sleeves and the body longer than the pattern called for, if only so he could wear it for a while longer, but I so wanted this to be done.

I have much more yarn leftover than I thought I would, which is exhilarating. It's so soft and scrumptious. I don't know yet what I'll use it for, but I foresee much Ravelry browsing in my future. 

Yarn Along: UFO Thursday Edition

Merry belated Christmas, one and all!  I hope your holiday was full of fun and family and festivities.  I had two very nice Christmases, one with each side of the family.  Silas got more gifts than he knew what do with - literally.  As soon as he opened a gift he wanted to play with it, and he couldn't be distracted by anything like opening another gift!

I am almost finished with his sweater - just a few more teensy little sleeve rounds to go, and I can start weaving in ends (yippee).  In the meantime, (and for the purposes of the Yarn Along) I have my dedicated Thursday UnFinished Object to work on.

Oh, John Anderson's Kilt Hose.  How much I've learned from your humble little webpage.  Toe-up construction, short-rows, Magic Loop, the Eye of the Partridge, traditional Highland dress guidelines . . .

The yarn is Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Oxford Gray, which is my grey standard.  When I'm contemplating making something grey, I picture it in this yarn.  The pattern suggests using a worsted weight yarn and size 3 needles, to create a stock sturdy enough to stand up by itself (and then soften with washing and wear).  It is producing a dense but still squishy fabric that should hold up to a lot of wear and washing - I've had pretty good luck with my first pair of Wool-Ease socks, though they're fuzzing and pilling something fierce these days.  They are warm and cozy, so although the little knitted bumps of the wrong side of the fabric against my feet are sometimes more irritating than massage-like after a full day of standing on them, they are still my go-to pair of socks for seriously cold days.

The book, Rilla of Ingleside, is a much-worn library discard copy - thank Heaven for free library discards!  I've read it once before, and I came back to it recently because I recalled it to have a lot of sock knitting in it.  I haven't reached that part yet.  So far the main character is still shallow and very fifteen, which annoyed me when I first read it and hasn't improved with time at all.  As I remember it's going to take almost all of the book before she becomes a sensible human being, but I suppose all teenagers take a long span to mellow into something presentable, even with WWI as a harrowing backdrop.  Besides the sock knitting I remember really liking this book for the perspective it gave on the Canadian homefront  - what the War looked like to the women trying to hold things together at home while their husbands, sons, brothers, and sweethearts fought so very far away.  And of course, it's L.M. Montgomery, so there's a wealth of beautiful scenery, quirky and endearing human characters, and plenty of warmth, humor, and piquant sadness, and a little poetry.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Belated FO Friday

I did actually start this post yesterday, but I was sick, expecting company today, and the baby was teething, so the post was full of vitriol and self-loathing.

I finished the stocking on Wednesday.

I'm not entirely pleased with it - I messed up the colorwork in several places and the floats are way too loose inside, and it's so colossally huge that I feel uncomfortable with the idea of filling it with gifts.  I don't want Silas to grow up with the expectation of Christmas being all about lots of presents, because it should be about one really big present 2000 years ago, and about love and family and goodwill towards men.  However, it was fun to make, and it's a really handsome decoration.  I suppose when we have another child someday I'll have to make another one, too, so it's just as well that I have oodles of yarn leftover.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Yarn Along

Week two of joining the Yarn Along!  There's actually wool content this time!

I started a sweater for Silas today, and we'll see if I can get it done in time for him to open it on Christmas Eve.  It's loosely based on the sweater kit I bought for my mother-in-law two Christmases ago (which was basically a Tulips baby sweater kit, but with the pattern swapped out for Diane Soucy's #214 Baby Pullover, because Beth's Yarn Basket had an example knitted up that was just so darling, and so very Ryan; I like dressing Silas as Ryan - it amuses me no end, and I love to see little boys dressed up as little men [little girls, however, should always be dressed as little girls]).

The yarn, in keeping with the Tulips idea, is Dream in Color Classy.  Instead of going with a kit of several colors, I'm sticking with a more basic two-color stripe pattern, so I bought whole skeins - one each of Shiny Moss green and Grey Tabby grey.  Green and grey is one of my favorite combinations, and Silas gravitated towards the colors as I was going through the Yarn Basket's DiC options.  That's my boy.  I've long been ogling Dream in Color's beautiful tonal yarns, and it turns out that they're not just pretty colorways - it's downright dreamy to work with, too, so soft and smooth and delicious.  It's a little more than I normally spend on two balls of yarn, but the yardage is generous and there's no price to be put on the joy of knitting a little sweater with heavenly yarn.

The book, The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan, was an impulsive pick-up from the library's free discards.  I haven't read the first book, The Lightning Thief, but Sea spends so much time recapping it that I probably will never need to.  The book is a decent piece of light fiction for tweens, but other than some of the fun mythological references, it doesn't really have enough to grab me as an adult.  I feel like it draws too much from Harry Potter, without having JK Rowling's storytelling mastery.  There are a lot of elements that I wish had been handled differently, like the characters' learning disabilities and sense of parental abandonment.  These are great topics for children's literature to deal with, but I don't feel like, "It's cool that I have dyslexia, because it's a sign that I'm a demigod!" or "Your dad's doing the best he can - he's a god with thousands of other children to deal with, too, you know," really address the problems in a way that will help children handle these issues themselves or in their peers.  Give me "A Wrinkle in Time" any day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Yarn Along

I wistfully follow Ginny Sheller's blog, "Small Things," admiring her peaceful voice, beautiful photography, and lovely family.  I stumbled across her on Ravelry, while doing a random search for projects including the name Silas, as a way of pointing out to my husband that Silas is a name skyrocketing in popularity.  The name is growing on me, as being attached to my son, but it's still not the name I would have picked for any reason ever except that Ryan wanted it so badly.  Anyway, I was fascinated by the little glimpses I caught in her project page, both of beautiful knitting and photography and wonderful literary names for her six (now seven!) children.  What really caught me by the heartstrings, unsurprisingly, is that she, too, has sons named Silas and Gabriel.

She has a weekly Yarn Along that beckons to me, as she posts a picture of a book and a knitting project that she's reading and working on, respectively, and the picture always hits me right in my coziest spot.  I've refrained from joining, because I feel the disparity in the comparison of her pretty, soft, woolen projects and my acrylic monstrosities.  This week, however, I'm joining in, late as always, self-consciousness be darned!

When I started the New Ancestral Christmas Stocking from Mason Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines, I knew it was big, but I don't think it was really impressed enough upon me just how big.  It's a lovely Christmas decoration, but as something that I'm supposed to fill with gifts, it makes me feel . . . daunted, to say the least.  What on earth am I ever going to put in this gargantuan sock?  We don't even have a fireplace!  What am I thinking?

Part of it is the longing I often felt for a Christmas stocking as a child.  Part of it is how much I like argyle.  Part of it is how darn inviting Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner make all of their patterns sound.  They have a gift for imparting their love of knitting in their writing, and it makes me want to have as much fun knitting log cabin afghans as they do.  Then I try it and discover that endless permutations of garter stitch make me ill.  Life is so unfair.

I'm very eager for this stocking to be over with.

Right now I'm reading Jane Eyre (or more accurately, re-re-re-re-reading it) on my Kindle, but I threw my hardcopy into the photo because I thought it would make the picture more dynamic.  Jane Eyre is just one of those books that I am always in the mood for.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


I know I've mentioned Craftlit here before, and undoubtedly my husband and my penpals are getting tired of my saying, "Heather says . . . Heather Ordover of Craftlit, I mean, you know that podcast that I'm always listening to . . ."  And I am always listening to it - it makes my commute bearable, it makes cleaning the kitchen bearable, it makes my breaks at work so much more interesting, though lately I have been taking a step down from my normal supercilious taciturnity and actually trying to take an interest in my coworker's small talk once or twice a week.  Heather says that Craftlit People are just better, by which she means friendlier, more open-hearted, more creative, more open-minded.  As I can't claim to be even adequate by those terms, I guess I'm not really a Craftlit Person, I'm just someone who hangs around the fringes and gleans what I can in sincere adoration.

The concept of the podcast is brilliant - when I re-earthed my iPod from its hiding place earlier this year, this was exactly the kind of podcast I started hunting for.  Heather Ordover serializes public domain audiobooks, and adds in some crafty chat and talks about her day and her experiences and interesting stuff on the web, usually related to knitting or some other craft, or to the book or classic literature in general.  She's an English teacher, so she also gives a little lesson of sorts with each episode, putting the book into context, explaining any archaic terms that occur, giving background on the author, and letting the listeners know what to look out for to get a deeper understanding of the text.  This is absolutely my cup of tea.

On a side note, another brilliant podcast with a similar setup is Forgotten Classics, which I will have to devote a separate entry to when I've had more time to listen to it.  Check it out!

Craftlit has a mascot named Cheddar, who is seriously in need of more attention.  I am smitten by this idea, and I don't know why he isn't all over the website's homepage.  He's so cute!  I'm working on one now, in between my son's Christmas stocking (which is turning out enormous . . . I'm going to have to figure out a way to fill it without creating an expectation of lots o' stuff, because that's not what Christmas is about, yo).  Here's the mousie's nose.

I'm actually 80% done with the body now, I just haven't been in a picture-taking mood of late.  Isn't that just an adorable nose, though?  It's all shaped with short-rows.  I'm using a little skein of local Iowa yarn (Morning Sun BF) that I bought at the 2013 Iowa Sheep and Wool festival, expressly for Cheddar.  I wanted him to be a natural mouse color.  When he's finished I want to design him a little weskit and set him up in a mouse-sized library, but one thing at a time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


There are many things that I love whole-heartedly.  Craftlit, my favorite podcast.  Anne of Green Gables, so dear to my heart (the books more than the movies, though I love them too).  Knitting.  The former offering me a chance to win the latter two combined?  YES PLEASE.

There's a book of knitting patterns based on our favorite redhead!

I want it.

I've peeked on Ravelry.  There are pretty patterns in here, my friends.  Like Anne's Sweater - I am always helpless in the face of green.  And Diana's Hat - I am smitten by the slouchiness.

If I don't get this for Christmas, I am buying it as soon as I have funds to do so.  And then I'm going to knit a Green Gables sweater and pretend that my raven tresses are thick red braids.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another photo dump for swap stuff

This was my first Odd Ducks Swap on Ravelry.  The theme was things starting with "W."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Hat time!

I finished the hat I was test knitting, and the pattern is now available - Cedar Shakes hat by Kate Boswick.  I finagled Ryan into taking some pictures with his good camera while I was at work on Sunday.

I'm not an expert on slouchy hat style, but it seems like it came out a little over-long, but Silas isn't complaining, and he got many a compliment on its debut at church.

I really can't express the fullness of the joy I find in dressing my son up like a little hipster.

He just needs some headphones and a little Starbucks cup, don't you think?

The pattern is absolutely mindless knitting - I memorized the repeat after executing it once and it was great TV knitting.  My appreciation for fingering weight projects continues to grow - I really like how it turned out in this yarn, and the self-striping worked really well with the stitch pattern.

I need more sock yarn!

Speaking of socks - I can finally show off my swap projects!  My letter was 'F,' and my swap partner loves shawls, so I was originally going to make her a fichu, or at least I was going to make a shawl pattern that started with F (Frederica, in fact), and call it a fichu, because really - close enough.  But then my partner said, "Please don't send me any shawls, I am making enough of my own," or something to that effect, so I had to reevaluate my choices.  I decided on fingerless gloves, and I had elaborate fair-isle plans with finches and the word 'flight' and so on, when someone asked the group, "What would you really like to receive?" and my partner said, "Socks, but you don't have to!"

Sure, I don't HAVE to . . .

Challenge accepted.

I waffled over many a sock pattern, and had many a false start, before I finally found the February Lady socks, which had the advantage of being the only pattern designed for the kind of tiny feet my partner ostensibly has, based on the measurements she provided.  I don't have small feet, not remotely, and it is difficult for me to scale down my expectations of how big a sock is.  My first attempt was much too tiny, so I ripped back, used larger needles, and I'm praying that they fit.  It is very challenging, not being able to try a sock in progress against the foot in question.  I knit three socks, and finally ended with a matching pair (after ripping back the toe on the second one to make it bigger . . .).

I dyed the yarn myself with Kool-Aid and a crockpot, and I took lots of pictures of that progress and detailed notes of the colors I used, and then Ryan threw my notes away.  In his defense, I wrote them in marker on an old church bulletin, so it probably didn't look very important.  The point is, I have no idea if I'm going to post the pictures now because I can't remember what I was going to say about them.

After I had gotten all my swap stuff together and cast a critical eye over it, I knew it needed something more.  I had been pushing "Ice Queen" up and down my queue for a while, uncertain if I could make it suit my needs, but I finally struck on the inspiration and the right color of yarn that I needed.

I had originally wanted to make it flame-orange with the same mix of red, orange, and yellow beads, for a fiery effect, but alas, there was no orange kidsilk haze to be had.  There was fuschia, but it left me cold.  My swap partner's winter jacket is cherry red, and while fuschia and cherry red probably look fine together, it wouldn't work with the beads.  Cherries, cherries, cherries.  Green stem?

Please excuse my terrible photography skills - I was using my phone.  I really liked the idea of the flame-colored mix of beads on the green, like a forest fire, but the end result was a bit more Christmas-y than I might have preferred.  Festive, though!  I'm not a cowl person myself, but I have to admit that this one was so light and easy to wear and pretty that I might make one for myself . . .  I'll have to get more yarn, though.  The pattern is supposed to take exactly one ball of Rowan's Kidsilk Haze, but I went up a needle size (because it was all I could find), and one ball was exactly enough to leave me screaming with frustration when it ended half a row before the bind-off.  I had to buy a whole 'nother ball of yarn just to finish that row, bind off, and and pick up the provisional cast-on and bind it off, too.  Another entire ball, just for two and half rows.  I don't know what I'm going to do with the rest of it, but obviously it won't be enough for another cowl.  It's such a gorgeous shade of green, I'm eager to use it.

Anyway, that about catches me up.  On my needles right now are the Changement shawlette for the mystery KAL the designer is hosting, and a hat for my mom for Chanukah (coming up way too fast this year, btw).  It's entrelac, a new technique for me.  Can't wait.

One last baby shot to carry you out!

I love autumn, don't you?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Catching up

Today is the last day of my vacation, which has mainly been spent playing Candy Crush.  Today, however, I did manage to get a couple loads of laundry in and pick up the trash that has been accumulating around the upstairs.  Accomplishments!  Of course, it's a tiny dent, imperceptible in the remaining mess, but I feel good about any amount of progress.

My swap package is in the mail, and good riddance to it.  I don't want to see another ball of mohair for a long time now.  I'm pointedly ignoring the one sitting on my desk.  It does not exist in my reality.

Angel sent me a picture of her baby girl wearing the dress I made for her, and also some random hat of Carlin's.

This is a fantastic picture of Gabriella, but not the greatest shot of the garment.  Babies don't make the best clothing models.  For instance, most of the pictures we tried to get of Silas wearing my last test knit looked like this:

So here's a picture of what the dress looks like in entirety.

Isn't it just darling?  It's called "Oriental Lily," but it makes me think of Guinevere.  So sweet.  And Angel was so happy to get something that wasn't pink.  She'd like some brown clothes for Gabby, but it's hard to find brown baby yarn, at least where I shop . . .

Thursday, October 24, 2013


This little guy is on the move.

As you can see, Autumn is here, the leaves are changing and blanketing our yards, and there's a chill in the air that has me bundling the baby up with extra care.

Those are hand-knitted fingerless gloves on that baby.  This is the first time he's worn them willingly, without fighting or pulling them off.  It's a nice feeling, clothing your child in something you've made.

Mmmm, wool.

They're the Sucky Thumb mitts pattern, done up using two strands of Berocco Sox held together.  It made for very nice little stripes.  It's not the softest yarn in the world, even after washing, but they're holding up well to several encounters with the concrete driveway.  Walking is hard.

I still have lots of the yarn left, so I'm using it to test-knit a hat for Cowtownknits on Ravelry.  Pictures to come later.  It's an in-between project, because mainly I'm still working on swap stuff.  That involves mohair and beads, and sometimes I need a break from that insanity.  Sometimes I just need a simple hat in simple wool, in a pattern that doesn't require six stitchmarkers and a row counter and four pages of instructions and a bag of beads and a crochet hook . . .

As the weather's been turning colder, I've been doing more cooking, which has also been easier on our bank accounts (for how little money we have, we have an absurd number of accounts to keep it in).  Soups, stews, and skillet meals are the order of the day.  Ryan brought home a bag of potatoes one day, a few weeks before the cold snap, actually.  I don't cook a lot with potatoes - too much prep/cooking time, as far as I'm concerned.  However, a bag of potatoes I had and since a few were rotten, I figured I'd better cook p as many as I could before the rest caught the bug.  On my next day off, I decided to make potato soup.  I budgeted my time with an eye towards Silas taking a nap before dinner.  The parents among my readership can well imagine how that went down.  Not only would he not take a nap, he would not self-entertain.  He wanted Mama.  Folks, there is no good way to hold a toddler and peel potatoes at the same time.  There isn't a good way to hold a toddler and wash potatoes at the same time.  I was at the end of my rope, and there was only one thing I could think of doing (well, two, but I couldn't wait for my mom to drive three hours to come babysit).

I took everything outside.

I filled an ice cream bucket with hot water, brought out my veggie wash spray, and sat on the bottom step of our front porch and scrubbed potatoes for all the neighbors to see.  After some trial and error, I discovered the only way to keep Silas out of the potato water bucket was to get him his own bucket, and he happily splashed in it next to me, gathering a thick coating of mud on his clothes and his rubber ducks.  I felt a nice connection to my ancestors, who quite likely also did a lot of prep work out of doors, to get out of smoky, dark kitchens and make the most of fresh air and light.

Now, our next-door neighbors have four children, and they were hosting some daycare children while the kids' normal provider was laid up with a broken hip, and it turns out that there is nothing more fascinating in the world to young children than someone doing something perfectly ordinary like washing and peeling potatoes in an un-ordinary setting like OUTSIDE.  Also, small children like babies.  So I quickly found myself faced with a semi-circle of children ranging in age from 3 to 9, all absolutely engrossed in what my son and I were doing.  Mr. Next-Door was pretty confused about the interest garnered by potatoes, but it's easy to forget that anything can be interesting if you've never seen it done a certain way before.  And EVERYTHING is more interesting if there's a baby involved.
This picture wouldn't be half so fun to look at if it were just my unraked yard, right?

Anyway, there's something about scrubbing and peeling potatoes that, even in the kitchen, makes me feel this close connection to all the women in my family, present and past.  How many generations of my family have made potato soup or latkes or stews with hearty chunks of potato?  I get the same feeling when I make bread from scratch, and of course when I'm knitting.  It's one of the things I love best about both activities - they're ancient, and they're ways to keep my family warm, either from the inside out with a good garlic potato soup, or from the outside in with a pair of fingerless gloves or a stocking cap.

Yeah, I occasionally knit for this guy, too.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I'm taking a break from laundry to bring you a blog entry!  In actuality, the previous dry load is all folded and put away, the wet load is in the dryer, and the new load is in the washer, so there's nothing laundry-wise to do for at least half an hour, but as very few people read this, actuality is of very little consequence.

Silas is napping - I'm trying to get him to take his morning nap earlier and earlier so that he won't sleep through lunch time at daycare.  At daycare they eat lunch at 11:30.  At home we eat lunch at 1:00.  This is causing some conflict.  Theoretically this should mean that I get Silas up earlier in the morning, but if I'm working a 2-11 shift, I can't wake up before 8 or I sleep through the drive home - and I'm the driver.  It's very distressing.

I'm hard at work at swap stuff (not really, I'm blogging).  Can't find my E-6000 glue . . .

Can someone explain to me how a darning needle can just up and walk away?  Maybe it's having lunch with my glue (at the daycare, where they keep the meal schedules of the elderly . . . )

Anyway, I meant to tell a bit more about my knitting field trip to Rose Tree.  Where to begin?  "It's a clear night in Ancient Greece . . ."

This winter I joined the library's winter reading program, and at one of the activities I was suddenly inspired to see if I could rustle up any knitters in the bunch.  So, while I was discoursing on a novel I had read, I managed to drop the term "yarn swap."  Sure enough, someone took the bait.  As we were leaving, a woman, Mikki, approached me and asked if I were a knitter.  Hallelujah!  I gave her my phone number and my Ravelry ID, and we exchanged a couple of messages on Rav, but for a while just went on our merry way.

A couple of months ago, I was out walking the baby (as you do), and as I was leaving the local crafters' boutique, I was utterly surprised by a building.

Now, buildings don't suddenly appear out of nowhere.  Especially buildings that are sandwiched neatly between the Daily Herald and the H&R Block.  I stood there staring at it for a long time, utterly unable to remember what had been there before, and wondering if perhaps it had always been a coffeehouse, and I was like unto the muggles, whose eyes always slide from the big book shop on one side to the record shop on the other, and never seem to notice the Leaky Cauldron.  My next thought was magical traveling music shop.  Of course it's always been there, but was it always there yesterday?  I swallowed my social anxiety, went inside, ordered an iced chai, and asked.  It turns out that Greene Bean Coffee, while a pillar of the community as a local business at the Farmer's Market and online, only set up shop two weeks prior to my stumbling across it.  So I'm not crazy, a muggle, or Corporal Nobbs, I'm just not getting out of the house enough.

The first thing I did when I got home was to  . . .  well, eat my Chinese takeaway meal.  THEN I did a brave thing (as far as my shyness rates it), and sent a message to Mikki, because in my mind, coffee shop = knitting group meeting place!  We met, we knitted, we chatted, we learned that certain patterns don't work well for knitting and talking at the same time, and it was all just delicious (coffee included).

Long story short (too late!), she knew other knitters, we met other times, and when I saw on FB that the RTFS was having a Click-Along, I sent out word of a potential field trip, we went, fun times were had by all, hats were knitted for a good cause, and Mikki generously gave forth from her stash some yarn that she was no longer using, and thus now I have Noro and beads and my eye on the Shipwreck Shawl, as soon as this swapping business is done.

Back to the laundry!