Monday, December 31, 2007

knitted goodness given

Now that the holidays are over, I can share with the world all the knitted mystery gifts I made! First up: knithulhu for Hubby, which Magic Baby adores. I'd like to point out this is the kid who is afraid of every doll and stuffed animal he's ever encountered. Except this green, tentacled thing. Personally, I think it's because he knows good knitting when he sees it. (It's made from an online pattern with Patons Merino Wool.)

Next up, a Blue Hills hat, also for Hubby, which he requested and will wear for work (he does construction). (The pattern is from knitty and the yarn is Knitpicks Wool of the Andes hand-dyed black/grey variegated.)

I also made three (yes, three) of brooklyntweed's Hemlock Ring blankets. Two (one for my mom and the other for one of my grandmothers) are hand-dyed Wool of the Andes from Knitpicks. The third (which I actually knit first) is a wonderfully soft angora/wool blend. I bought a ton of this yarn when a lys was closing a few months ago, and my original intention was to knit all three blankets with it. Then I started knitting and remembered I'm allergic to rabbits. Yeah, so that's why the other two were made with a different yarn. That's also why the angora one, while very soft, is also very very small. (As in, when I blocked it, it fit on a towel.) I got to a point where I just could not knit with it anymore. I tried wearing a mask and everything. I've heard of people who are allergic to wool using rubber gloves when they knit, but I just couldn't bring myself to do that. Thus, the grandmother who received the angora foot warmer/decorative couch thingey (as I called it) also got some scratch lottery tickets. (She is not allergic to rabbits, by the way.) Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the (tiny) angora Hemlock Ring, but here are some pics of the Wool of the Andes ones.

For my dad, I made a felted book cover from an original pattern. I have to actually sew it into a cover still, but for that I need his book, so here's a shot of it blocked but not yet covering a book. (This was made with Paton's Merino wool, too. The picture is a hawk. Don't ask. It's a Dungeons & Dragons thing, and trust me, you don't want to know.)

Also finished in time for Christmas was Magic Baby's Little Star Sweater by Zoe Mellor from the book Adorable Knits for Tots: 25 Stylish Designs for Babies and Toddlers. (The yarn is Lion Brand's Cotton-Ease.) I cut it close on this one, but it was done in time and he looked really cute in it. See?

I really like her patterns. In fact, one of the next things I'll be knitting is a version of her Pirate Sweater modified to fit my seven-year-old. I bought the yarn for it at Webs this week... but for details of that trip, you'll have to wait until my next post!

Lastly, I'd like to share my Mini Weasley Sweater Ornaments from Alison Hansel's book Charmed Knits: Projects for Fans of Harry Potter. I made one for each of my kids, and on Christmas Eve, I hung them on their stockings. Big Sister came downstairs Christmas morning, saw the ornaments, turned to me and yelled, "Look what Santa made us! SANTA KNITS!!" Who knew the guy had so much free time?

(Although you can't really tell from the pictures, both are the same maroon and gold colors any true Gryffindor would wear.)

Knitting-related goodies were not only given, but also received. I promise to give more information on that (as well as what I bought at Webs) the next time I post. Until then, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

improve your vocabulary, save the world

Well, the holiday is over and it was wonderful. I don't really have time for a full recap right now, but I wanted to post this site I found. I'm up to 9000 grains of rice so far.

(Okay, apparently I can put the picture link up, but I can't center it. Sorry.) The site's addictive, fun, educational- and it helps the United Nations. What's not to love?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

playing catch-up

Wow, has it been over a week already? And what has kept me away so long, you may wonder. My reply: Lots of little things. Here's a quick synopsis.

First was Hubby's birthday, complete with cake from Big Sister...and sprinkles-in-the-yogurt-concoction from Magic Baby. (Happy 35th, hon!)
Next up, a trip to The Price is Right Live at Foxwoods Casino
with my mom, brand-new sister-in-law, Aunt D, Aunt A, Aunt R and cousin.

Oh, and Grandma and I were there, too!
(This show was way too much fun, btw. We got to see them spin the big wheel,

and play all the classic games,
even Plinko! And while none of us were called to "come on down," the potential was there- and it was pretty dern exciting.) And the show was hosted by Roger Lodge, who I love on Blind Date. Naturally, I had to meet him, and I really wanted a picture of him holding my knitting, but my mom (not a knitter), took my bag and ran. So, here's a pic of me, Rog, and my s-i-l sans knitting...and a pic of my mom with the sweater I was working on before the show. (I was smart and only brought that project, thus forcing myself to weave in all the crappy ends. Looks like it'll be done for Christmas!)
Then, as if that wasn't enough to do in one week, we also went to Edaville Railroad, where I learned that not only does Mary spin, but apparently Mrs. Claus knits! Yay, fiber arts!
Edaville was great. Freakin' freezing (I swear I almost lost a toe), but a lot of fun. If you've never been, Edaville is a Christmas-themed amusement park. The kids (of all ages) got a big kick out of going on carnival rides in the snow (yeah, it was snowing).
And Magic Baby went on his first ride all by himself.

I found out while he was on it that the ride is over fifty years old, at which point I was tempted to yell "Get my son off that death trap, you masochistic bastard!" but common sense took hold (the ride was, like, two feet off the ground and moved about 8 seconds per hour... and this is the kid in line to be the next Evel Knievel, so I suppose he could handle the Spinning Turtles) and he enjoyed himself immensely. Also, because it was a weeknight, and you know, snowing the place was way less crowded than normal. This means no lines, no waiting, and if you overlook the frostbite, a great time all around! The employees were super nice, too, which is always good when you're wet and cold and your kids really want to ride the Sizzler one more time. Plus they have an incredible train ride through the park. This place is definitely worth checking out.Then, (yeah, 'cause we're not done), we went to Big Sister's school play.
She was the cutest Baby Bear everand Daddy was a bad influence as usual, riling up Magic Baby before the big performance.
So, that was my week. Last night Santa came to my parents' house (we do the holiday early, since Big Sister spends Christmas at her mom's), and he's due here any minute, so I'd better get off to bed; I don't want the big guy catching me awake! I'll be sure and post any cool gifts received (or given) over the next few days.
Happy holidays to all!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

snow day

Four kids plus nine to twelve inches of snow equals

So glad Jen went back to work.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

holiday happenings

Here in New England, the holiday season is not complete without a trip to LaSalette Shrine. Not ones to defy tradition, the family and I went on Thursday. Regardless of your religious affiliation, or even your degree of religious belief, this place is pretty cool. Mainly because it has lights.

Lots and lots
and lots and lots

and lots and lots of lights.

Seriously, these pictures don't even do it justice. There are over 400,000 lights at this place. It's amazing to see. It's also amazingly crowded. Not to mention amazingly cold. (Somehow this place is always at least ten degrees colder than the rest of New England. I don't know why; it's probably some weird religious phenomenon, like stigmata.) This year, we managed to avoid the crowds by going on a weeknight. (Why we never though of that before is beyond me.) There was no one there, which was great. We were not able to avoid the extreme cold, however, although some well-placed handknits certainly helped ward off the chill.

Anyway, I've gone to LaSalette almost every year since I was born and this year they had a new little display.

Why yes, that is Mary spinning, with who I assume to be Jesus lending a hand (or two). This tableau, as I mentioned, is brand-new. The fact that it was added to the Shrine the very year I start looking into spinning and possibly getting a spinning wheel of my own is not lost on me. In fact, I consider it a sign, if not from above, at least from somewhere, that good people spin and if I want to be good, I need a spinning wheel. See, Hubby, it's a religious thing.

"How did the kids enjoy the trip?" you wonder. Funny you should ask. See, Magic Baby loves the Christmas lights in our neighborhood. In fact, he asks to go see them every night. And he makes us drive out of our way to see "More lights," so I was pretty convinced he would adore LaSalette. In anticipation of his extreme excitement upon seeing this place for the first time, I made sure I had my camera ready when we pulled into the parking lot. As a result, I was fortunate enough to capture this shot

of him completely unfazed by the hundreds of thousands of lights around him. "He's just overwhelmed," I thought. And then, as we got out of the car, he uttered his first words since seeing the amazing luminary display. And do you know what he said?

He said...


Yeah, apparently the Senior Center van was way more appealing than the huge display of lights. As we continued our trip, he showed some moments of enthusiasm when he saw the lights

but really, nothing equalled the initial thrill of the bus.

And, damn, was it cold. Next year I'm thinking of just taking him to the local nursing home. I hear they have this thing called heat.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

me on a soapbox

There's currently tons of research suggesting that teaching babies sign language could help them develop better speech and communication skills, and possibly even raise their IQs. I'd like to offer another reason why teaching your baby to sign is a good idea: They're darn cute when they do it.

Sign language or disco fever- you decide

As you can see from the video, Magic Baby learned the sign for 'popcorn' this week. I've been signing to him his entire life, and while I can't guarantee this will boost his IQ, I will say that it has helped him communicate earlier that I think he would have had he not been taught to sign. He started signing before he could talk, with 'bed,' 'milk,' 'eat,' and 'out.' He now knows more signs than I can count- and at least as many words. His ability to sign has helped us avoid many misunderstandings and conflicts since he has been able to tell us what he wants, even before he could speak. Now that his speech is improving, we could probably stop signing to him but I think continuing to expose him to another language is a good idea. I've always wanted him to learn sign in order to appreciate and understand the language and hopefully keep using it throughout his life; I never intended him to only use it for a few months. This, I think, is where I differ from many other parents. The way I see it, if I was teaching him, say Spanish, I wouldn't suddenly stop using it with him just because he now has a decent grip on English. This is the age at which people are best able to learn a second language and I'd like sign to be his. Plus, since I'm a sign language student, signing with him gives me a great opportunity to practice. And did you see how adorable he is when he does it?

So there you have my rationale for teaching my son to sign: it helps him communicate, it will hopefully give him an appreciation of another language and it's cute. Really, really cute.

Friday, November 30, 2007

i did it!

Thirty posts in thirty days. Not bad for a beginner! Yay, NaBloPoMo!

In the knitting department, I have some FOs to report. My three Wine Cozies are pretty much done. (Finally.)

(They're three different colors, cream, red and cranberry. Not that you can tell that from the pictures. Sorry.)

I'm going to duplicate stitch the recipients' initials on the front, but I don't want to post pictures of that in case they read my blog. In other knitting-related news, Jen and I went dye-happy again today.

That's eight skeins of wool drying in my kitchen. I hope to knit them up into two Hemlock Rings, which I'm giving as Christmas gifts. Earlier today I was rechecking my list of holiday gifts left to knit, and I realized it might all actually be doable this year. Really, other than the two Hemlock Rings (which admittedly are pretty substantial), I've only got a few minor projects. Not that I should say anything, lest I anger the knitting goddess, but I think I'm doing all right this year. Of course, there are still 25 days left 'til Christmas. This means there's plenty of time to knit, yes... but there's also plenty of time for things to go wrong. Only time will tell I guess; I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

my first dye job

I have officially taken my knitting obsession to a whole new level. Tonight, after Magic Baby was asleep, I headed over to Jen's house for a yarn dyeing party! (Yeah, we're cool like that.) Here's how it went.
We started with
Knit Picks Bare - Peruvian Highland Wool yarn.

Which we placed in a large pot of boiling water, vinegar and Jacquard Acid Dye.

After half an hour or so, we drained and spun the yarn.

Then we wrung it out and hung it to dry, and viola! What once was undyed yarn is now black. How cool is that?

We dyed some yarn orange, too, but we didn't take any pictures except this one:

Yeah, Jen might want to wear gloves next time... and you know there will be a next time, because as I said, we're cool like that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

you can't be serious

So without getting too into my love life, let's just say that when I met my now husband, I was dating his best friend. Yeah, I know that sounds uber-trashy, but it really wasn't, I swear. My ex dumped me way before Hubby and I ever got together, and besides he turned out to be kind of a loser. (My ex-boyfriend, not my husband.) Anyway, to compound that weirdness- my husband's father used to date my ex-boyfriend's mother. (God, we sound really freaky and, like, inbred when I think about it.) This means that both my ex and his mom came to my father-in-law's wake last year. (So, yeah, seeing them there was awkward.) And then today, Hubby gets an email from... my ex. Apparently he just wanted to say "Hi." Am I the only one who finds this odd? I mean, they stopped being friends before Hubby and I even started dating, so they haven't really spoken in seven or eight years, and now my ex emails to say "How's it going?" I don't know. I'm kind of weirded out by this. It's not like I should care if they talk or hang out or whatever; I put up with my husband's ex (Big Sister's mom) on a regular basis, so this should be no big deal. If anything, my husband should be freaked out about spending time with my ex, right? And yet, it doesn't seem to phase him. I suppose I should be grateful that they're both acting all mature and stuff. I mean, I know we're adults here, but honestly, I don't really want to see him. (Again, I'm talking about my ex, not Hubby.) Especially in a hanging out-type of situation. Obviously, if I wanted to hang out with him, I would have made more of an effort to keep dating him. Or I'd have tried to do the whole "staying friends" thing. Or at the very least, I'd have stalked him. And I know I should just tell Hubby that I don't want them being friends, but that seems so high school to me. "You can't be his friend because he dumped me and now I don't want to be his friend and I don't want you to be his friend either. And also, Sally says to tell you that she heard Tommy say that Laura thinks you're cute." Plus, I've always told him that I didn't want to stand in the way of their friendship. (At the time, I thought this was very mature of me; I never actually thought he'd take me up on it.) And Hubby's the kind of guy that if I told him all this, he'd never talk to my ex again. But then I know I'd feel guilty, like, forever. I'm big on holding onto guilt.
So, basically, I'm not sure what to do. It would have been so much easier if he'd never emailed. I guess I'll just wait and see what happens down the line. Let me tell you, though, if Hubby ever has a shindig and invites both my ex and his, there's no way I'm going. I'll just lock myself in my room in my frilly party dress, throw myself on the bed and scream "I'm not coming out and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME." How's that for mature?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

that kind of day

This is what my house looks like.This is what my refrigerator looks like.

This is what I look like.

At least the knitting is coming along nicely.

(Ha! You'll have to wait until tomorrow for pictures of that!)

Unfortunately, while the other photos were found on the internet, the one of my house is actually a picture of my house. Nice one, Magic Baby.

Monday, November 26, 2007

wine bottle cozies

I've been following Knitty's Wine Bottle Cozy pattern diligently for what seems like six years now, and I still haven't finished. True, I'm knitting three of them at once (I know if I did them one at a time I'd never be able to bring myself to cast on the second, let alone the third), but they really seem to be taking an inordinate amount of time. We're talking hours and hours of stockinette. Yeah. I think what makes this even worse is that I thought I was done two days ago. The pattern says to do a 3X3 rib for 3 inches then (and I've cut and pasted this part) "Work in St st until work measures 8 inches" so I did. I then did the funky (read: pain in the arse) ridge row and all the decreases. Three times, because I'm knitting three cozies, remember? Then I looked at it. Really looked at it. And thought, "There is no way in hell this is going to fit a freakin' wine bottle." At this point (something like 2 a.m., because I was so close to finishing I couldn't sleep) I realized there is an error in the pattern. It should read "Work in St st for 8 inches." Because 8 inches total is way too small for a wine bottle, but 8 inches plus the three inches of ribbing? Perfect. Anyway, I had to frog all that hard work- all the way back to before the stupid ridge, and since then I have been wearing my little fingers out on stockinette. See?
At this point, I think I'm nearly done (hopefully for real this time), and I'm determined to finish the 8 inches before I go to sleep. No ridge row tonight, though. This pattern has already proven that I do idiotic things when I knit tired. I mean, really, I totally should have realized that 8 inches was ridiculously small for a wine bottle. It's all this Christmas knitting. It messes with my head.