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.