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November 2004 Archives

November 1, 2004

The simple life

As I've gotten older, my life more cluttered, the idea of living simply has taken on an aura of charm that I my mind contemplates, savoring the vision of a simpler existence.

In the midst of our excess - being packrats, creative, and consumer-oriented - I think of Thoreau. His trip to the woods has magical overtones as it plays out in my head.

A storybook of Matthew's chronicles the building of his cabin as the epitome of minimalist thinking.

I think of starting small - with clothes. It sounds nice and straightforward to narrow to a closet with 10 or so shirts for a season. Enough, but not enough to clutter. Not so much that the closets and drawers are bursting at the hinges, clothes wrinkling as they fight for space.

It will never happen. Even for this short trip, we brought 45 pounds of stuff - not counting my carry-on. 45 pounds for me and the baby. I packed as lightly and minimalistically as possible, and we were still bulging at the seams.

I brought 6 long-sleeved shirts and 3 t-s. I am really sick of all 9 now, but living out of a suitcase wasn't all that bad.

In reality, I know 10 or so in the closet would never work.

But the idea still holds appeal.

At the same time, the idea doesn't at all translate to my world view when it comes to my love of books and the "supplies" related to all my creative endeavors.

I guess if I was living simply, I would have just packed my socks-in-progress and a backup skein just in case I finished the Fluted Bannisters. (Socks always feel like they take a lot of time to me.)

Instead, I brought two scarf novelty yarns, rainbow and red for Matthew's scarf, rainbow for the final rainbow hat, poncho yarn, LL angel for a long-overdue hat for Spencer, and the Fluted Bannister yarn. Add to that an assortment of needles ranging from 1's to 13's, and my knitting wasn't space-friendly or 'simple.'

Still, much of the yarn got put to use. Matthew's scarf is finished. The final Canadian rainbow hat is done. The purple Wendy scarf is nearing completion. The first Fluted B sock is ready for a heel. The poncho was started and frogged. The red micro chic was started numerous times and frogged. (I was having a gut reaction against garter.) The Lorna's Laces rainbow Angel was knit into a wonderful baby hat (that doesn't fit). All in all, it was a good assortment of yarns and projects that were easy to pick up and not gauge or size dependent (with exception of Spencer's hat).

The hat is a sad story, a tale of big heads, good intentions, and wonderful yarn...

A few months back, M. bought Lorna's Laces Angel for us both to make baby hats. She made hers right away, and Spencer has gotten good use out of it. I didn't ever make mine. Since the colorway of my Angel is rainbow, just like the hats I've recently made (okay, I am getting a bit tired of it!), it seemed a good time to make his - before he outgrew the 1-skein pattern from ImagiKnit.

The pattern calls for an 8. The shop owner told M. to work it on a 9. M. bought a really short circular 9, and I thought I'd grabbed it to bring it with me.

Before casting on, my mom and I examined the original purple Angel hat Megan had made. It is getting small, but the Angora has so much stretch to it, that it still fits around, just needs more height. Or so we decided.

I knew Megan had a small ball of yarn left after finishing the pattern, so I felt confident making it an inch or so taller, especially if I wasn't increasing the cast on number.

So, I cast on.

After casting on, I realized I was using a 10. The metal circular is stamped with a 6 (for mm), which my brain flipped and saw as a 9.

Not a huge deal. I decided casting on with the bigger needle might work in my favor in terms of fit. So I left it and switched over to 9 dpns.

The circumference did seem small as I was working, but I thought it must just be a perceptual thing with it on the needles. I knit on. I added an inch to the height, worried the whole time about running out. I finished all the decrease rows and had a bit left over. Instead of finishing it off, I knit a length of I-cord to knot at the base of the top. Very cute.

I waited patiently for the baby in my arms to wake so I could try it on.

He woke.

I began the one-arm wrestle to get the hat on.

It didn't fit.

The cast-on edge was too tight, and unlike the one M. made, mine wasn't stretchy.

I did try and give it some stretch though, and it broke.

Yep. To my horror, the cast-on edge broke.

angel hat

(You can see the broken thread hanging on the right bottom edge.)

I didn't have the heart to deal with it then other than to tie a knot to try and stay the break.

Given the circumstances and the stress of the last few weeks, I handled it pretty well. I did want to cry though! (Thank goodness my Charlotte didn't break when I fought with its cast-off edge during blocking.)

I'm thinking I'll just frog the hat, buy a second skein, and start anew.

Angel is wonderful to work with and feels so incredibly soft. You just want it next to your skin. But be forewarned - angel works best when treated gently!

Craftapalooza Pal

Awaiting me upon my return to blissfully foggy SF, was my final package from my secret pal 2.

This was a great package, and I think my pal should probably open a store. She made other things she sent me during the three months, but this final mailing was an amazing and inspiring display of creative talent and taste.



sp2
sp2sp2
sp2

She sent me...


  • A beautiful handmade tapestry notions bag. It's a semi-circle in shape (almost crescent-like), which makes it really unusual in and of itself. In addition, the tapestry fabric is great and carptetbag like, and the circular detailing on the bottom is a wonderful touch. All in all, it's a really cool sophisticated piece. A beautiful beaded zipper pull adds just the right balance of whimsy.
  • A great coordinating handmade cloth (refillable) journal lined in (I think) silk.
  • Handmade Coffee Caramel Vanilla soap that has to be smelled to be believed. It's awesome. (And she even made a label wrapper noting the name, ingredients, etc., for it. It all looks so professional!)
  • A pretty beaded necklace bookmark on a leather cord. (She does have a touch with beads, for sure! The bead drop on this is just lovely.) [When I opened the package, my brain saw necklace. A followup post from my pal said she uses hers as a bookmark. I had to laugh at myself. It is, indeed, bookmark and not neck length!]
  • And another postcard from Australia in which she, tada, reveals her identity!

My pal was Nicole of Craftapalooza.com. (Now the fact that her email address was secretpalapalooza seems like a Da Vinci-esque clue of sorts.)

She was just an awesome pal, and I was really lucky to have her! I spent some time this morning checking out her blog. You should, too!

(Her Sophie bag got stolen last week, which really sucks, so if you drop by, give her some cheer.)

November 2, 2004

Happy I'm Here

Well, I think they're happy I'm back...

I did bring out Matthew's scarf yesterday while unpacking and wrapped it around his neck. M. was oohing and aahing, but Matthew prompty burst into tears yelling "I not say I wanted a scarf!"

And that was that.

He's right. He didn't ask for it or agree to it when I was suggesting making it.

He's not even four.

Sigh.

But, again, he's not even four. So, I wasn't totally surprised.

I'd just hoped that he'd like it since he loves his hat so much.

Maybe he'll come around.

Halfway expecting his reaction, I had toyed with the idea of using up the remaining ball of rainbow yarn so that it'd be long enough for me or M. But I was afraid it might end up too long for him, and he wasn't there to measure it on.

There are ten rows of red at the bottom. I might just pull those out, finish up the ball, and then any of us could wear it.

After all, we all have hats to match now!

(Ummm, all except the baby, who was supposed to have the rainbow Angel hat.)

Courtly fun

Election results are running in the background, and while I wait and hope for some good news to come up on the red and blue colored electoral map they keep showing (it's still early here on the west coast), I figured I'd take a few minutes and direct some of you to some good Lego fun.

If you (or young ones you know) are familiar with the Lego "Knights" of Morcia (and Vladek, the bad night), you should spend some time poking around on the Lego site in the Knight's Kingdom section.

They've got a set of animated comics (Flash animation and sound; you read the storyline aloud yourself) that is quite well done. Five of the projected ten installments are available right now.

There are also a few games in which each knight faces a specific challenge as part of the quest they are on (see comics to find out more about the quest).

Finally, a special limited edition pseudo-knight is available at Target. It's the King of Morcia himself and is, supposedly, only going to be available at Target. It comes with a map of the kingdom.

Cool stuff, especially for those, like me, with a love of all things fantastical, heraldic, celtic, Arthurian, etc.

November 3, 2004

Unglued

Spencer seems to still be on east coast time, so he and I have been up since the crack of dawn watching post-election day coverage. Official word just came through that Kerry will concede.

My mind feels as if someone just dropped a heavy blanket of snow over it, leaving me with a strange and muffled feeling - doom, gloom, disgust, hopelessness, frustration... it's all mingled in there.

And silence.

My mind is in self-preservation mode. The blanket of snow isn't so bad when you shift the angle and see that I'm in a beautiful woods, sunlight peaking through a canopy of branches formed by closely clustered, leaf-bare trees. The wind is icy, noiseless in the snow-banked still. There is a sense of peace here.

False, I know.

I can't even fathom how "moral issues" could have become such a swing platform for Bush. The issues are so close, the prevailing attitudes so closed and unenlightened an untolerant that I can't even begin to blog all that arises in seeing these results and the implicit equation in importance and national threat drawn between terrorism and gay marriage in the minds of so many voters.

I am proud of my family. They live in a state that is historically Republican. They stand up for what they believe in even though they are the only ones in their offices and friendship circles in many cases. They support me, their sister and daughter, and my lifestyle, family, and partner of 12 years. My mother, still recuperating, even made sure someone drove her to the polls so she could vote (just so she could complain today, she said). I couldn't love them more.

I just got the baby back to sleep, and I've been out checking my daily blogs and was glad to see sadness or prayers or hope from last night on the blogs I was hitting. It felt reaffirming to see such unity and similarity of thought among us.

November 8, 2004

Better Days...

I've definitely had better days. It's a Monday. It's rainy and cold (which normally I like, but today seems apt for my melancholy mood). Spencer screamed in the car the whole way to and from Matthew's preschool. I got a rejection first thing this morning for an article I had submitted somewhere. I could go on, but the latter is probably the defining moment upon which my mood hinges today. I need to, as the Gilmore Girls say, "wallow" for a while, I guess. I wish I could just shake it off. But I can't. It's complicated. It's depressing. It's part of the writer's life, I know. I need a good place to whine, and my blog probably isn't it because... you probably don't care! You came here to read about knitting, after all.

Well, I've been home a week, and there's been a lot of settling in, but I haven't gotten a ton of knitting done. I have been working on my Fluted Bannister. I can't say I'm loving my sock. It's not the pattern. I think it's my yarn. In this, my second attempt at these socks, I'm using Opal. I know people rave about Opal, and I love the colors and patterns it comes in. But, well, I think it's sort of spongy.

I don't have a whole drawer full of finished socks to brag about like many devout sock knitters. But the first pair of socks I made for myself were in a fun Opal that M. had given me. For Christmas one year, she gave me the fiesta Opal, the pink Opal I'm using now, and tiger-striped Opal. I tried more than one pattern for those first socks because I remember thinking that everything I tried felt spongy. Then, I just thought it was a pattern issue.

Since I have the same reaction this time, I think maybe it's a yarn issue (for me).

Those first socks have worn well, I have to admit. And, maybe they don't feel so squishy to me now. So, maybe it's a they-need-to-be-washed issue. I just keep thinking of how many people rave about Opal, and I wonder if their socks feel the same way mine does.

I'm plunging ahead with these Fluted Bannisters, nevertheless, and I turned the heel last night on sock #1. The striping did work out nicely. The yellow stripe ended up in the heel turn, which is good. I was worried that it might end up on one side or other of the gusset.

November 9, 2004

Better Frame of Mind

Wallowing is over. Thanks to Sharon though for a note of encouragement and just "thereness."

(Glad to know someone is out there! I feel like I'm blogging in the ether these days.)

I crashed early-ish with the boys after a full afternoon shuffling between the ER (problem with M's foot surgery from last week) and preschool drop-off and pickup. But, having konked out early, I was wide awake around 1 - and thirsty enough to get up rather than just playing games on my Palm until I fell asleep again.

So, baby in tow, I was up again in the wee hours, just as we used to be when he was a newborn. Not too much has changed. He just fills much more of my lap now!

Once he was back asleep, I tackled my sock - and the gusset decreases - again. When I stopped later, the decreases were done, and I'd managed to slip it on my foot without waking him. I think I need to decrease a bit more - seems a little loose. But, that's okay.

fb sock

What I decided in the middle of the night was that the Opal isn't the problem. On the bottom of the foot where it's just stockinette, it's not squishy at all. So it really is more about how I respond to the way the ribbing works up. (The fiesta sock I mentioned also used a ribbing. I think that was something like Fisherman's Ladder.)

The feel is growing on me though. And I love how the striping is taking shape. As you can see from the picture, this colorway has narrow stripes interspersed widely apart in larger sections of the main color. The yellow worked out for the heel, and I got a stripe of each color in the gusset area, which is cool.

Socks really are sort of addictive. My mind often resists working on them, but once I start, I find it really repetitive and trancelike to keep zipping around the rows.

I especially like the heel turn and gusset. I think I rail a bit against the leg-work. I don't know why. That's probably the prettiest part of any sock. But something magical happens when I start the gusset decreases. Suddenly, the sock starts taking shape. It's no longer just an amorphous tube. So, I knit and knit and spiral along to the end of the decreases. And then it feels like the end of the sock is in sight. After all, the gusset decreasing really does take about half of the foot work.

While in KY, I had hoped to start working on a cardigan upon my return and get out of the accessories rut I've been in. But, the reality of the looming holidays has hit, so I'm trying to scope out what I'm actually going to make (for both Christmas and the school auction which comes in the new year). I see some serious list-making in my future. But, that's such a fun thing, I can't complain.

Sticking to the list is more my problem when it comes to knitting!

November 10, 2004

Odds and ends...



  • Check out Julie's completed Broad Ripple socks. Isn't that just the prettiest pair of socks you've ever seen! I've been tempted by Broad Ripple before, but this is the most compelling pair I've seen yet. (And I told her so.)

  • I've got lace on the brain and am constantly lurking on the Fiddlesticks Knitalong site.
    I think this Rippling Waters Scarf is very pretty, and the range of colorways for it is great.

  • In a recent KnitPicks catalog, there were kits for Lavish Lace projects. I kept hinting to M. about them, but she hadn't gotten the catalog yet. I was in KY, and my mom picked up the hint. But we aren't just buy off-the-shelf folks, so we went out looking for the yarn for the one I liked best. According to KnitPicks, it's Cherry Hill Tree's "Bobay Loop Mohair Boucle," and we had no luck finding it. But we did end up on a site sort of by accident and found Cherry Hill Tree's "Baby Loop Mohair Boucle." We're assuming it's a typo in the KnitPicks lineup.

    Fiddling around on the Fiddlesticks Knitalong ring's featured sites, I ended up here at Handpaint Heaven where they have kits for a number of projects from Lavish Lace. Wow, the possibilities make me ooh and ahh. But, I'll be good until Christmas. Maybe I can wrap up work on some things I have started and in my stash to clear my head for a day-after Christmas start on something wonderful for the new year.

    There are so many wonderful and lip-smacking colors from Cheryl Potter and Cherry Tree Hill Yarns. Wow.

  • Debbie Stroller's Stitch 'N Bitch Nation is out. You can scroll the wide range of projects here.

  • Interweave Knits is finally on the stands. It's one I have to admit I read cover to cover. I picked up an assortment of knitting magazines while in KY including UK-based Knitting, the new Creative Knitting, and the standby Easy Knitting, but I've been eagerly awaiting the new Interweave. I need to just renew my subscription. But, there's something about going out and buying it off the stands - an added thrill - and, yep, added cost.

  • Hey, Yarn Harlot just finished a baby-sized version of her Very Harlot Poncho. It's adorable. This is the poncho I started (four a four year old) while away and ripped back to try again on different needles since my chenille was looping. I'm going to start it again this week.

  • Check out this loop-de-loop ruffly thing at Plays With Yarn. I've been seeing that around this week - I think I was browing a Scarf Style knitalong, and it's hugely popular there. Cool.

  • Nicole at Craftapalooza finished a sweet bag in Noro's Blossom. I love the lining she's used here, too. That's a great touch.

  • For a final laugh, don't miss Sharon's clever recent Lord of the Rings spoof. Since Matthew always referred to Spencer as "my precious" in a very Gollums-sounding way after the baby was born, this had added resonance for me.

November 15, 2004

Another One?

What a strange day. I got to Matthew's preschool to drop him off, and proofs from his first "school pictures" were in. Well... not really proofs. The pictures were in, and you could buy what you wanted then and there which, yes, meant I spent an hour hemming and hawing and dialing and redialing M. about what to buy. Of course, I bought too much, but they were so cute. All three poses turned out great. No blinks. No squints. No funny mouth. Just beautiful boy.

Then, shortly after we came home, the young woman that cuts our hair came by with her partner. They're expecting their first baby in January, and we gave them the whole kit and kaboodle - from the swing to the bouncy seat to the changing table to the Idiot's Guide. The stuff would probably have gone to Good Will otherwise, and I know we didn't need any of it. We got good use out of everything for both boys. Still, it made me sad to see it all go, especially the bags of baby clothes. It makes it all so final. I know they're growing up. But somehow getting rid of the clothes really stands out as a marker, not only of their passing childhood but of my own passing phase as a mother of little ones. Spencer is my last. I know that. But still. It's hard to explain. It was just sad, and strange juxtaposed in time as it was to getting those first school photos.

So, knitting news...

poncho

Matthew asked me yesterday morning... "What are you making, Mama?"

"A poncho," I replied.

"For me?" He asked.

"No. For a little girl."

"Again?"

Ahhh. You know a project is going well when your preschooler notices that you've been starting the same thing over and over and over.

I restarted the failed little girl poncho on Thursday morning and worked on and off on it throughout the day only to find at the end of the day that it was every bit as hole-y the second time around as it had been the first time around even though I'd dropped to an 11 (from a 13) this time. And, it wasn't just a loose weave, in places, it was downright loopy. How frustrating.

M. looked at it, and she, too, thought it looked way too loopy and hole-y to really work.

Deciding that maybe I just don't like knitting with chenille anymore (too bad since I know there's a lot of it in the basement), I scrapped it again.

But, I didn't give up.

Instead, I went stash hunting and found some pale pink acrylic - it is a yarn that has quite a history in fact since it's the first yarn I bought when I was teaching myself to knit and thought I'd make M. a sweater while we were on vacation in Maine. Ahh. That sweater was not to be. And, these days, I don't do much with acrylic. But, it's a good match for the chenille.

So, I started again yesterday, and, it's working! Yeah. It's perfect. The worsted acrylic is working great as a runalong thread with the chenille, and the colors work great together. I'm just amazed. The resulting fabric is incredibly cushy, almost plush, not hole-y, and not loopy. It's like the two together just mesh. So, this might be a winner. Let's just hope the sizing is good!

November 18, 2004

Sock Talk

I have taken note of the Broadripple sock pattern before, particularly because there is a version available for Koigu. But, I just noticed yesterday that the original version of the pattern (at Knitty) was for Cascade Fixation. This sparked my interest because M., who has been pretty under-interested in my sock knitting (though she does think my Making Waves socks, which she refers to as the Ja Woll pair, is beautiful), recently revealed that she doesn't really want handknit socks because she doesn't like wool on her feet. After 12 years, you'd think I'd have heard that before, but I hadn't.

Since I have a few balls of Fixation in my very cluttered creative space, a step up from being in the basement stash, I have been contemplating these socks.

(Creative Space: pre-children idea. The space was originally a closet but now houses knitting, watercolor, sewing, scrapbooking, beading, dollmaking, and so on acoutrements. Unfortunately, it's packed to the roof and offers no room to actually sit at the desk and 'do' something creative.)

I was asking her this morning some generic 'fit' questions since I know the calf needs to be bigger, just at the very top, and the foot standard, which makes it complicated on some level. However, the Fixation has stretch, so that's a plus in its favor (as Rob notes in the pattern). Plus, she can get my socks on as a rule. Granted, my socks seem to always be too big for me, but that's a different issue! The Fluted Bannisters I'm making are just huge. I don't know what my trouble is. Luckily, I don't really mind or get all worked up about a saggy sock. I'm from the scrunch sock era.

So, she was trying on the finished FB sock, which gave me a chance to admire it 'on' someone. I said something about the heel being very pretty. (I used the same garter stitch edged eye of partridge as I did on the last sock.)

She looks up and says, "That's the peacock heel, right?"

What's a girl to do?

At any rate, I just turned the heel on sock number 2 this morning, so I'm in the homestretch. Spencer took an uncharacteristically long (meaning more than 45 minutes) nap in my lap this a.m. giving me time to do the 36 rows of heel flap, turn the heel, and pick up one side of the gussets. Life is sweet.

Of course, Sharon reminds us that nothing will happen if I don't make the deadline of November 30 for completing the socks as part of the Six Sox Knitalong. Still, the presence of a deadline at all is a good impetus for me. I like having the structure it imposes. Without it, I might never finish a pair of socks at all. Instead, I'd have all singles.

(I actually saw in the Flax catalog recently that they were selling socks in threes. A pair and a spare, I guess.)

November 22, 2004

You Tell Me

In the car, on the way home from school...

"Mama. I'm going to be four."

"That's right, you are going to be four. In February."

"I four right now?"

"No. Right now you're three."

"You tell me when I four, Mama. Okay?"

Yeah, like he's not going to notice the birthday party? This from the child who has already asked for so much for Christmas that he's now switched his tune from "I want that for Christmas" to "I want that for my birthday" (which comes after Christmas).

Too funny.

So, a great weekend. We started out on Friday afternoon at what has become a favorite mall chiefly because it has both a LEGO store (yahoo!) and a California Pizza Kitchen. Some shopping, LEGO-ing, pizza kitchening, and then we walk out to find that we're right in time for Santa, free jingle bells, and the lighting of the tree.

You never get too old for tree lightings. I got chills and a little teary eyed at the whoop of the crowd when the lights came on.

Our own tree didn't light so magically today, however. We've got a pre-lit tree that is several years old, and it may be on its last leg. Two sections didn't light today when we set it up. Bummer. We'll go tomorrow and see if we can find a replacement we like. Had we known, we'd have ordered something weeks ago. It's been so reliable, that it took us by surprise when it didn't come out of the basement and light right up as it has in the past.

On the knitting front, it was a productive weekend.

fb fb

I finished my Fluted Banister socks. I do have to say I'm glad they're done. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for the knitalong. (I haven't been reading the boards. I'll just check in Dec. 1 for the new pattern.) Until then, however, I'm working on a surprise sock for M. (She says she doesn't read my blog, so I guess I can talk about it here.)

As I mentioned last week, I'm using Rob's Broadripple pattern in Cascade Fixation. I tackled the sizing issue by creative use of needles. I cast on with a 5. Dropped to a 4 for the garter ripple section. And now I'm working the leg in the prescribed 3. Hopefully the fit will work. She only wants a 5 inch leg (versus the 7 the pattern suggests), so I did less garter ripple, too.

But, I have to say I'm loving this pattern. It works up just beautifully, it's easily memorized, and the Fixation looks great in this stitch. I'm really enthused by these. I'm close to done with the first leg, so hopefully pictures tomorrow.

I also finished the little girl poncho using the Very Harlot Poncho pattern. I'm really happy with how it turned out. If I do it again, I'll jump to a larger needle for the fur section. That area turned out a tad tighter than it should have and wants to roll a little. I think a larger needle would help balance things out. But, still, I think it turned out really pretty and cozy. If only you could reach out, touch your screen, and feel it, you'd know!

poncho


(Wow. I went out to grab the url for the poncho pattern and got swept up in the Yarn Harlot's most recent post. I'm feeling the urge to jump up and find my copy of Folk Socks. The baby asleep in my lap quells the urge a bit. Maybe I'll just log on to Amazon and order the Estonia book. Seriously. That's a compelling post. I was just thinking today that there are so many great socks that I wondered if I'd ever make a repeat pair.)

November 29, 2004

'tis the season

Thanksgiving was wonderful, and we had a really nice long weekend that really "felt" like a long weekend in a way I don't remember in a long time. Especially now that I'm not working as much, some days it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between weekdays and weekends, which brings with it a strange sense of disorientation since those can be determining factors that help us order our worlds and realities. But, this one was good.

I've been blogging in my head for days, but I realize nothing made it to my site since last week. See. It really was a good and restful time. Here are some highlights...

  • We went tree shopping (remember, we had problems unpacking our pre-lit this year). We've had this tree for several years, and we've talked about getting a new one. But we love this one. So, it took us off guard when the lights didn't go on. (Had we planned on buying a new tree this year, we'd have ordered one from QVC a few weeks back.) We spent time unwrapping one of the strands thinking we could just replace the three that were not working. Finding that a bigger challenge than it might be worth, we headed to the store. Unfortunately, they didn't have anything we liked. BUT, they did have the Lightkeeper PRO. Ironically, we had seen it on QVC a week or so ago and thought it brilliant. At that point, we didn't need it, but it made an impression in our brains, and boy were we thrilled to see it at our local Target and more than willing to give it a try. It worked! It's amazing. You pull out any bulb, plug the tool in, pump it a few times, and your lights come on. Just ingenious. Just the coolest. Just totally worth twenty bucks, for sure. With our new gadget, the tree was lit in a matter of seconds.

    Then we spent a nice evening with Matthew and M. doing most of the tree trimming while I Bjorned Spencer around and took some video footage of the decorating process. Matthew has always loved hanging the ornaments, and it's one of the sweetest times of the year for me. Next year, Spencer will be able to help. It's just amazing to me that only a year ago I was hugely pregnant and totally stressed out about getting ready to go to KY for the holidays because I was so afraid of delivering early. (I did deliver early, but not that early, and not in KY!) Now Spencer is 9 months old. Crawling. Standing all the time. Into everything. And just plain adorable. I feel the year from last to now has just spiralled so quickly and I haven't had time to keep up or take stock of where and who I am this year as opposed to last, and this year as opposed to next.

  • My Broadripple socks are almost complete. I'm hoping to finish the second sock today. (If I was knitting right now instead of blogging while Spencer is snoozing, I'd be done for sure.) I love how they've turned out.

    br sock

    I'm not 100% sure my attempts to deal with the sizing issues panned out. But, maybe. The top of the leg is really loose on me. The rest of the sock fits me fine, which worries me. But, in theory, that should still make it okay on her. It's the calf that's the issue. I'm hopeful. But, I have told her to keep in mind that "it's the thought that counts"! (Yeah, she knows about the socks. It's hard to keep them secret since we're together day in and day out. But, she's been good and hasn't looked. So, she's seen the colorway, but not the pattern.) They are certainly pretty - and much fun to knit.

  • It's sort of a tradition that we (my mom, M., and I) give each other something to "do" as part of our holiday giving. This year, however, I'm struggling with what to give them. I'm the only one that overtly asked for anything, so I'm trying to find a few skeins of something (with something specific and small in mind) that they'll each like. I think I'm narrowing in on something good for each at this point, but it sure does feel like it's been a time-sink! Doesn't seem like buying yarn would be that hard, does it! But, I think of how much stash they both have, and then the idea gets muddled. I ordered patterns for each, but I'm not necessarily getting yarns that go with anything specific in the books I selected. Crazy, huh. However, I sent that order on home to try and minimize what we ship from here (gotta love bill-to-ship-to). Ah, well. I think I'm close to finalizing my decisions.


  • We went and saw The Polar Express over the weekend. The first time we went, it sold out just as we stepped up to the window. So, we Fandangoed the next day and got seats - but still had to end up in the very front row. Wow. That's close. The movie was awesome though. Really magical and cool and classic in all the ways it should be. There's maybe a little too much scary train stuff, a little too much roller-coaster action, and maybe it is a little "dark" in places (as we'd been forewarned). But the North Pole makes up for it all. I hear the bells ringing. Do you?

  • On a whim, I picked up Skipping Christmas and The Christmas Train recently, thinking it would be fun to read something seasonal (now, and then the other on the plane ride home). I started Skipping the other day. Silly me. I'm reading along and trip over the last name the "Kranks." Isn't that in the title of a new movie, I wonder to myself and aloud. (It is.) I keep reading, sort of halfway wondering if the movie is related. I'm trying to think through what I've seen of the movie trailer since I don't think I've given it total attention any of the times it's been on. I finally notice late last night that the edition of the book I have says something about "now a major motion picture" on the front! Too funny.

  • M. has been busy making awesome quilted bags and backpacks for holiday gifts. I'll show you pictures soon. Our living room and dining room look like a craft store has taken up residence. Ahhh. That's how I remember our house looking most of the time before the boys!

  • I'm still waiting on a new journal from M. to kick off the holidays and help with my incessant list making. Maybe one for he new year at least.

November 30, 2004

Day #11

#11 of what, you're no doubt asking. #11 of our LEGO Advent Calendar. Yeah, I know. You're thinking, "how can it be day #11 when December hasn't even begun?" A very logical question, of course. But, we had to start early. We're leaving Dec 16 for the holidays, so we got an early start on our calendar. I wasn't sure Matthew was really ready for a one-a-day type calendar, especially with something he loves, like LEGOs. I was worried he'd really just want to go ahead and make them all at once. And, honestly, that would have been okay, too. But, he was ready. Every day, first thing out of bed, he runs in and says, "we have to do our calendar, Mama."

He grabs the box. Then he pauses. "What day is today?"

So, we're on day 11. And today was a nice red and white (appropriately) Santa on a green sled. Very cute. Luckily, I love LEGOs, so it's been fun each morning huddled with him (Spencer in my lap and trying to grab the bag from us) figuring out how to put together each new piece.

I am glad though that we're finally seeing some holiday things. We had a run of blue things... blue bird... blue snow-robot (we guess)... blue helicopter. When the fourth or fifth blue thing popped out, I was getting pretty frustrated and thinking something was amiss with our box. But, this week, we had a white and yellow angel, a red skier, and today's Santa. So, the holiday vibe is beginning to show.

Lots of fun.

In another life, maybe I could work for LEGO and design amazing kits and projects...

So, in this life, after LEGOs and in between helping with the online LEGO Knights games (current obsession), I knit, especially if I've managed to get Spencer to sleep.

Spencer is (finally) cutting teeth. We think he's been teething forever, but the first edge of one finally popped through yesterday. Though pediatricians deny it, our experience does show that babies often get colds that coincide with the teeth. True to form, he's got his fair share of snot and crankiness to aid the teething along.

Matthew got his first teeth at 3 1/2 months - early and a big ouch for a nursing mom. It's been strange waiting for Spencer's to arrive. When I was expecting, I wanted another baby "just like Matthew." I won't deny that. Everyone warned me that they'd likely be very different.

"My brother and I are so much alike," I'd say, secure in my sense that my boys would be very similar.

It's too early to tell personality and interest-wise how alike or different they are. Some things have been very similar... the need to be held almost constantly, for example (that's probably not genetic just an outgrowth of our parenting styles). But others have been different... Spencer started crawling last month. Matthew was a forearms scoocher. He'd go all around the house dragging himself forward on his forearms, the rest of his body firmly on the floor. Having mastered crawling, Spencer now stands all the time and anywhere he can. We don't remember Matthew doing that, at least not this early. Matthew never really liked baby food. Spencer finds it quite nice, as long as it doesn't interrupt with his regular nursing! The teeth are just another difference, and they reinforce the fact that the boys are different, are their own little people. I just hope they are similar in ways that count and in ways that will give them important grounds of friendship and companionship. I hope they grow to always love each other. It always scares me when I see siblings that just don't get along.

When Spencer and I got up early this morning, I sat in my chair sipping coffee (which we ship in from Maine) and realized I had nothing sitting there "ready" to be picked up and worked on. I finished the second Broadripple sock last night right before it was time to get Matthew settled down for the night. They turned out fabulous. But, this morning, my hands felt empty.

Not, of course, that I don't have a number of other things started and in sore need of some attention. But nothing was sitting there handy and full of holiday-gift urgency.

So, while he snoozed this morning, I worked on my needlepoint project. It's almost done, too. Getting it done will mean I'm really "done" with the major holiday things. I didn't overdo it this year with gift plans. (I'll be able to detail what I made post-Christmas. But, I'm proud to say I actually finished everything.)

I think I'm going to do a few small things hopefully before I leave. A lot of things are tempting me, but I want to make Spencer a hat out of a nice and soft red variegated I bought a while back. I'm also hoping to make myself Koigu Gauntlets like the ones I made M. Hers are so cool, and every time she puts them on, I think, "hey, I need a pair of those."

Plus, the next Six Sox pattern will be unveiled tomorrow.

If I could finish up the purple "Wendy" scarf I started (which you may recall I don't like but feel obligated to finish) and a cool green Fizz and ladder yarn scarf, it would be nice.

So, I have lots to do and should be set until we leave for the holidays. I'm tempted by another child's poncho, too, for the auction. But, we'll see how far I get on the other projects.

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