Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Chicken Naming Contest Prize

Dear Blog Reader,

You may have just won $1,000,000...

...or, if the contest organizer is cheap, which is, indeed, the case, you will receive the gifts pictured here.

The contest is nearly over, and to tempt those who still haven't put in a suggestion for the chickens' names, I wanted to let you see what the loot will be. They are: a bag of herbes de provence - very yummy - two different, very nice smelling 100% vegetable soaps and a tin of mint candies (all made in France).

So, if you've yet to participate in my contest, click here to do so. Oh, and just a reminder: the contest ends tonight. In the interest of allowing my US readers to play along, I'll wait until tomorrow morning (French time) to decide and reveal the winner.

Got Milk?

Got Milk?
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
A bit more dainty eating for you. This was not staged, by the way. She really did get milk all over her face just drinking it from a cup. This is her playing mad. The next shot I got of her was one with a huge smile. She said, "I'm being mad." What a little drama queen (this is no doubt just practice for a later temper tantrum)! Pretty convincing, don't you think? Is there a career for her on the big screen? Make Mommy and Daddy rich - err, I mean proud, baby!

How to Raise Dainty Little Boys

Dainty Eater
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
We've worked very hard with Lambchop #2 since birth to be sure that he will eat properly. It's been difficult at times, but the constant mealtime practice drills seem to be paying off. We usually only insist that he raise his pinky finger when sipping his afternoon tea, but he seems to have carried the habit over to other, less refined foods, as well.

Okay, all that is a bunch of bull. He's actually lucky if Mommy remembers to wipe his face and hands when he's finished eating. I just thought it was hilarious to see him holding out his pinky to eat a slice of pizza.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Cable Baby Blanket

Cable Baby Blanket
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Well, as promised there is a small amount of knitting content on the site today. This is the progress I've made on the baby blanket. I've used 4 of the 10 balls of yarn, so far. So, it's 40% finished (don't you love the complicated math I can handle).

It's not really that bad to knit. I can get a good rhythm on it and finish off a ball of yarn in a few hours. I really should just sit down with it and get it over with, but, I'm so fickle with my projects these days. I'll just keep working away at it bit by bit. There's no huge rush, anyway. It's meant to be used as a crib blanket, because of its size, and the baby is still in a bassinette. I should have it done by the time she switches to a crib, don't you think?

Another project I started on (yes, a-nother one) is an attempt at crochet, which I apparently suck at. I kept seeing the raffia I bought for the garden. Extremely cheap stuff. Something like 3 euros for 500 grams. And, of course, all I can think of it knitting. So, I tried knitting a hat for my daughter (let's call her Lambchop #1 from now on, hmm?). It didn't look very nice - at least not in stockinette stitch.

So, I've tried crochet. It's not bad, but not what I hoped for either. I think maybe you're not suppose to learn to crochet on raffia. Too stiff. I may try knitting again, but with a different stitch pattern. Something with a woven look, maybe. We'll see. No pictures of that, though, till I perfect it.

When You Care Enough to Give the Very Best...

Give a crate full of rotten strawberries. Because, although they don't know it yet, it's what every housewife needs.

One of the guys who works for us from time to time always brings us goodies. Often, it's fruits and veggies that he gets from other places he works at. Sometimes, it's even yummy home-cooked Moroccan meals (we've already established that I love Moroccan food). This time it was the ever-popular, enormous crate of rotting strawberries. Mmm. I mean, who can resist that kind of temptation? In his defense, they were covered with a non-transparent plastic film, so maybe he didn't know.

Anyway, I sat them outside with the intention of getting rid of them later in the day. Didn't even have to. Who knew that this sort of thing is a delicacy in the chicken world? Look, the blacks and reds even share plates when it comes to rotten strawberry feasts.

So, I've got a new catch-phrase for everyone. It's a bit long, so bear with me...

Happy as a flock of chickens in a tub of rotten strawberries.

It's got a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Our "Backyard"

Our "Backyard"
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Why do I live in Southern France? Well, aside from the fact that I met the nicest, most handsome and definitely the sexiest man in the universe, and he happened to be from here... this picture pretty much tells you what's great about this place. This is actually our backyard. That hill is visible from our bedroom window. And, it's a beautiful, sunny, Spring day here. All is right with the world. Wouldn't you agree?

Freaky Woman Ruins the Mood

Sorry for the lack of blogging last night. I know, you've come to expect better of me. I have a really good excuse, though. A friend of mine and I had a little brawl with another mommy at the kids' park yesterday. Fists flew. It was a bloody mess, and what with the black eye and the broken arm, I had trouble typing.

Okay, it wasn't actually a brawl. More an argument, really. It's definitely opened my eyes to how intolerant people can be, though. And, to be honest, I think I would have prefered to stay ignorant on that matter. So, you've seen a picture of me here on my site. I'm pretty plain and "normal" looking. Well, a friend of mine from the kids' playgroup is pretty much the opposite of that. She dresses punk, has several tattoos (none of which were visible yesterday), countless peircings (all visible, unless there are some in intimate dark places I don't need to know about), a half-shaved head with bleach-blond hair, Dr. Martens, camouflage pants. The works, pretty much. And, she's a cool lady. Very sweet. A good mommy, if a bit overprotective (but then aren't tons of first-time mommies like that). Just a good person, in general. I see the funky looks she gets from some people when we go to the park with her or some other place. She doesn't really notice it anymore, she's dressed this way for so long. For the most part, it just makes me chuckle, but yesterday I got a little taste for how far it can go.

There was almost no one left at the park. Just us, our three kids, three other kids and two parents were in the enclosed kids park area. My daughter and my friend's daughter were happily playing with a little boy about half-way between their ages (mine's a tall-for-her-age 3 1/2-year-old, hers is a tiny, born-prematurely 2 1/2-year-old). Mine can be a bit possessive of her friends and family, and at some point, she and the little boy both wanted to hold hands with my friend's daughter. This escalated into a full on pulling matching (each with an arm). Upon seeing this, I yelled at my daughter and she let go, but the boy didn't. Apparently, the excitement was too much for him, and his affection got even more violent. I jumped up to stop what was going on, and looked around to see where his parents were. Nobody moved. Amazed, I asked a man nearby if he was his son. Nope. I get there, and still no parent is in sight, so I scold him. Seeing he's in trouble, he lets go, but in doing so, he shoves her hard, apparently trying to rid himself of the evidence. I could see in his eyes that he wasn't a mean kid. And, I learned later from my daughter that they just both wanted to hold her hand. At this point, my friend is next to me, asking why he pushed her daughter, and I'm right there beside her telling him we don't push, and we don't pull on people's arms like that. Same goes for my kid, and then, we finally hear a mother yelling, half-running our way. She's only at the gate of the enclosed kids' park at this point. Apparently, she was too busy chatting with her buddies 200 yards away to watch her child. So, I guide the boy in her directing, telling him he needs to go see his mommy, that I'm sure she's got something to say to him.

To my surprise, she snatches him up, and instead of scolding him, she viciously gets up in my punk friend's face, telling her she's got no right to scold her child. My friend's response is to ask if she's just supposed to let the boy rip her kid in half. I threw in that if the lady had been there... Then, the woman starts yelling some more that my friend has no right to be scolding her kid (when I did most of the scolding). This went back and forth for a couple minutes, with us pointing out that I asked around to see where the kid's parents were, and that all she has to do is actually watch her kid at the park. Not to mention that no one got physically rough with her kid at any time. I mean, at school, is the teacher allowed to scold her kid? Finally, everyone huffed off fuming, and we packed up and got out of there - the whole experience ruined by this nutty woman.

What shocked me most about the whole situation (even more than the fact that the lady wasn't watching her kid but was such a great mommy that she wouldn't allow anyone else to set him straight when he was naughty) was that the lady barely even looked at me. She had her entire being and all of her anger directed at my friend. Another friend later pointed out that she would probably have done the same thing with any mommy, but I don't think so. She was freaked out by my sweet, calm, completely non-violent punk friend being around her son. So, the whole thing left me with a bad taste in my mouth and a nasty stomach ache all evening (anger and I don't go well together). It just ruined my mood for blogging.

I've never given punks much thought. I never really wondered why they might dress the way they do, except the possible, "well, they probably had problems with their parents when they were younger." And, knowing more and more about my friend, there is definitely some of that in there, but after last night, I've come to the conclusion that it's more than just bad parenting that brings people to participate in a counter-culture movement like the punk one. It now seems completely logical and reasonable that if faced with enough crazy women like the one last night, one would want to distinguish themselves from the rest of society. Dressing punk, it seems, is my friend's way of separating herself from the jerks she's met and will meet. Her way of saying she's not part of their world, even. Her style of dress puts up an automatic barrier that only more open-minded (and thus worthy of anyone's time) people can break through. The rest of the intolerant idiots show their true colors immediately, and she never has to waste her time figuring out if their worthwhile companions. Not a bad plan, really, now that I get it.

Okay, that's my "Can't we all just get along?" rant for today. There will be some knitting content later. I made lots of progress on the cable baby blanket yesterday (What a great sight, huh? Plain Jane thirty-year-old granny knitting away next to thirty-something punk at the park. Fun.), so there will be pictures.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

What I Read

So, I've been passed a book meme by Anmiryam. I have yet to get around to answering, and this morning I took the time to sit down and write down my responses. Here they are:

1. Total Number of Books in Your House:
3,452. Yeah, right. You know I spent all yesterday evening counting them, because I've got nothing better to do with my time. Does anyone seriously know the answer to this question? Well, I guess someone out there is organized (read: anal retentive/obsessive-compulsive) enough to have every book they own catalogued library style with the dewey decimal numbers on the spines and everything. That would not be me. We're lucky if the books don't get juice spilled on them or sticky from the kids' suckers. It's a sad affair to be a book in our house these days. Let's just say that between my husband's books, my books and those we've got for the kids, we could probably fill a small room (I can't really say with certainty, though, since a good portion of them are still in storage).

2. The Last Book You Bought Was:
The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. Don't you just love that title? If I were Andrew Dice Clay, this would be the point in the routine where I'd flick open my lighter, slick back my hair and say, "And I gave her $20." Did the author honestly think no one would make this connection. I guess she expected her readers to be more mature than a bunch of twelve-year-old boys. But, come on, in today's world? Not likely.

3. What Was The Last Book You Read Before Reading This:
Well, that's pretty easy, since I zoomed through The Virgin Blue. It's a pretty good book, but it left me a little unsatisfied at the end. I can't exactly even explain why, except to say that I thought it was wound up too quickly. Some authors do that. It's almost like they spent too much time with the book and had to rush through the ending to meet an editor's deadline. It also had a reincarnation/otherworldly quality that I had trouble suspending my disbelief for. Some books do a better job of convincing you that this ghostly part of the storyline could be real. I did like the book, though. What I thought was really great about it was the way the author captures the feeling of being an American in France. She does an excellent job with that. So, if you ever wondered what that might feel like, you'll want to read this book. What actually attracted me to this book, though had nothing to do with any of that. I am fascinated by the effect of strict religions on women, and this book deals with that, although, after reading it, less so than I would have liked.

That's the last book I finished before receiving this meme, though I've been working my way through a few more. When I met my husband, I read only one book at a time, but his habit of reading several at once rubbed off on me. I seem to have one in each room of the house these days. So, right now, I've got four going. There's The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, which is a very interesting story about Chinese peasants.

Then, there's Brodie's Report by Jorge Luis Borges, which is a collection of short stories. He's one of my husband's favorite authors. Actually, come to think of it, this book was a gift from him. I kind of wish he had found it in Spanish, but I'm happy enough to read it in English. His work has a general feel of revolution to it. Sometimes, it can be a bit violent, but the stories are always intriguing.

Then, I've got Two Moons by Thomas Mallon. This one I picked up along with about 10 other books at a benefit sale for 13 euros total. You know I was pleased. It's pretty good so far. It's a nice mix of science (astronomy) and fiction drama. It's set a century or two ago (I can't specifically remember how long) which gives it an interesting switch from the usual.

The last of my current book selection is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk I'll bet you'll never guess why I would want this one on my personal bookshelf. Yeah, well, I do have a 3 1/2-year-old, so maybe you can guess. Of course, you know I'm hoping this book will have all the necessary parenting secrets to head off the rough teenage years before they hit. I'm getting a headstart (well, actually, some days, I feel like we've hit the teen years already). It seems good so far, but I'm only halfway through the endlessly long first chapter. I think the authors' suggestions are making a difference in my interactions with my daughter, though. I can't remember the last screaming match we had, and I'll take that as a good sign.

4) Write down 5 (or 6) books you often read, or that mean a lot to you.
This one's hard, because I have a really good memory for the things I read (not photographic for sure, and it's worse for things I hear and people I meet). This means that I'm not very interested in rereading books until a very long time has passed. That said, though, I really do like The Silverstein books for kids. I don't have them anymore, but I'd love to. They hold a special place in my heart. Then, I will always love Ramona Quimby Age 8. I don't remember many books from that time in my life, but that one I loved. And, another I can think of that I'd read over again is The Scarlet Letter. As I said before, I am fascinated by strict religions and the effect they have on women, so anything along those lines is interesting to me. I've read a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, too, and though I don't remember the story well, it had the same theme. I think he was obsessed by it. This was the result of being raised by Quakers, I believe. And, one of my favorite pop-fiction things to read is anything by Kathy Reichs. She is a forensic anthropologist (studies dead bodies for signs of who they are and how they died), and she writes fiction using her expertise. Way better writer than Patricia Cornwell, in my opinion, but along the same lines. It may disturb you to know that I was interested in taking up this profession, and possibly might have if it hadn't been for the fact that studying for it would have meant making a move to another state after recently settling in to a new one. Wow! Can you imagine, that would have meant that I'd be up to my elbows in bones instead of yarn. Nah, I rather like the yarn idea better.

Now, because I can count, I realize that I only named 4 things I'd read over, but if you consider that Kathy Reichs and Silverstein have several books each, it's really way over the number the question asks for.

5) Who are you going to pass the stick to (three people) and why?

Oh boy. That's a hard one. I think I'll pass this on to Louise to see if she actually reads anything in French. I'm sure it was disappointing to see that I don't, but so far, things I've read in French just don't do it for me. I do remember loving Guy de Maupassant when I was in high school, though, so maybe I should try something of his in French.

Then, I'll pass this on to General Ginger, because she always has fun knitting artwork and news references. That's made me wonder what kind of books she reads.

The last person I'll pass this on to is my sister-in-law, Jenifer. She just got her own little blog (well, to share with a friend, actually), and you know you've "arrived" as a blogger when you've been passed a meme, so I'll throw this her way. I was also wondering the other day what kinds of things she reads, so this will give me (and maybe a bunch of other people she doesn't even know) a chance to find out.

Recycled Dress Shirt Rug

Recycled Dress Shirt Rug
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
I haven't sewn anything together, as you can see by the huge gaps, but here is a picture to give you an idea of what my rug is beginning to look like. If you take a close look, you'll see that the most inner part of the coil is orange. I happened to have a cotton tank that shrank up too small in the wash (and that my mother-in-law's cleaning lady discolored slightly), so I've thrown it in for some more color. The next color is that tomatoe red that I dye some white shirts. And, of course, the obvious one is the blue on the outside. That fabric was a softer polyester/cotton blend stuff that was soooo much easier cut and knit than the 100% cotton.

A thought I had last night is that this could easily be done with old sheets, or with cheapy sale sheets or those from a second-hand store. Plain white ones would give you the chance to really play with the colors by dyeing them. That could be fun, but I've got plenty to do for now with these shirts. And, just to give you an idea of how far a shirt will go as yarn, the blue and the red sections are not even half of the body of two different shirts. I'm finding this to be fun, and I think the finished rug is going to look great in our new house. Can't wait!

Felting Sample: After

After - Felted Sample
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Here is the same swatch after about a half hour in the washing machine. This yarn actually felts pretty nicely. It didn't felt evenly, because the middle section is a thicker fabric than the rest. I don't really like that part very well. Good experiment to do while designing the bag I want in my head, though. Now, I at least know what I don't want. I have an interesting idea for the handle that would involve the use of both colors. That's why I've done this swatch. I also now know that this yarn will shrink about 25-30% in my machine in about a 1/2 hour. Good info to have.

Felting Sample: Before

Before - Felting Sample
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Here is a little swatch I knitted up to see how the Knit Picks 100% (Peruvian?) wool would felt. I'm thinking of making a two-tone felted bag with these two colors. What do you think? Maybe not too cheery, but I like it.

I knitted this swatch with size 11 needles. The middle section here is to see how the two colors blend. It looks better unfelted, as you'll see in the next picture.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Excuse the Mess...

I'm doing a little site reconstruction here, and I'm really bad with html (very hit and miss). So, please excuse the header for now. I'll get the margins right later. There's just this one part I can't quite get to go right. When I preview it in Blogger, it looks fine, but when I look at the page, it's not. So, back to the drawing board (or keyboard, I guess) to fix it. If you're not seeing your changes, it means you need to empty your broswer's cache. The cache is something your browser builds up to memorize previously visited pages so that they load faster the next time to go there. If you want to see new set up on a page, you have to empty the cache to do it.

Anyway, wish me luck with this little glitch.

A Little Knitting Humor

This "music video" was recently posted to the Knit List. It's funny for those who knit and those who live with knitters, I think. I thought I'd pass it on, in case someone is interested.

Click here to see it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Wine Bottling Machine

Wine Bottling Machine
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Here you get a little better look at the machine. This is the inside of the semi trailer. They don't take any of the machinery out of the truck. They just plug it into our outlet, and it's ready to go. Okay, well, I'm sure there's a lot more preparation to it than that, but since I'm totally uninvolved, that's what it seems like to me.

By the way, in case you didn't already know this, my husband is a winemaker. That's why I'm showing you pictures of wine being bottled. They bottled today and will do it again tomorrow, and I wanted to take some nice pictures of the process for the website he's building for the company. And, hey, why not show them off on my blog while we're at it, right? I'm sure some of you like to see some non-knitting pictures from time to time. Or am I wrong about that?

Wine Bottling

Wine Bottling
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Just for fun, and totally non-knitting related, is a shot of the wine being bottled today. A semi pulls up here, and inside the trailer, there is a set up to bottle the wine. Pretty cool. This allows small wine producers to have the control of bottling their own wine on their own premises without having to be able to afford the machinery needed to do the job.

Doesn't this remind you of Laverne and Shirley? They were bottling beer, but that's what I think about when I see this machine. This is the close-up shot. I like the angle and the picture in general. I'll post a different one that's not so close up. You can see the machine a bit better in that one.

The Hustle and Bustle of Country Life

So, this evening, I was driving down the narrow, windy, tree-lined road that leads to playgroup (poor me). Ours was the only car in sight, when along came a troop of our favorite little mascot - yep, sheep. Now, normally, this might be annoying to people needing to get somewhere in a hurry, but not us. The kids and I sat for the few minutes the sheep took to cross the road talking about what we were witnessing (a great activity for toddlers). They were freshly sheered with their new Spring do and casually jingled their way across the road, stopping at various spots along the way to taste this weed and that blade of grass. I say jingled, but it may be better to describe the noise of their bells as a gong. Kind of like cow bells. Not all of them have bells, though, so it's not obnoxious. They made a nice music together. Most of the sheep we saw were white, but there were two black ones, one of them a lamb. There was also a goat nibbling on thorny blackberry bushes (just the leaves, since there will be no berries till August - ouch!).

It was one of those moments that you wish you had your digital camera on you. But, with two small kids and the playgroups we frequent, it just isn't wise to carry one on me at all times. I have to say, it's one of the many reasons I love living out here in the middle of nowhere (really not that far out by American standards, but lost by French standards).

Well, I see I've been tagged by Anmiryam for a meme (what that stands for I really don't know, but it's basically a questionnaire to find out info about me - this one is about books). I'll get to that in another post later. I've got to think a bit about my answers.

And, don't forget to check out the little Chicken Naming Contest (No, the winner doesn't have to "Do the funky chicken" - there are actual prizes). Rules are here.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Recycled Dress Shirt Rug

Recycled Dress Shirt Rug
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Well, here we are children... I know, I know, here we are with what? Good question. That strip is going to be a rug at some point (hopefully by August, when the Not Yarn Along is over).

This strip comes from one of the white shirts I dyed red (oh, and I found a once-white-now-red-sock hiding in the washer, too).

Anyway, I just wanted to show you the beginnings of my recycled dress shirt project for the Not Yarn Along, which I still need to get a button for. They have them, I just haven't gotten around to putting one up. Something to do. Any bets on how long that will take me?

So, what do you think? If you're interested in doing something like this, let me just tell you now that the t-shirt as yarn idea would be easier to cut and easier to knit. It's just that I had more dress shirts to shred at the moment than t-shirts. Got to use the material you've got, right?

The best thing about this project is that I really like the idea that on a daily basis, we'll be able to step all over my husband's former life as an "office professional" (we'll leave the company unnamed). I love the symbolism of it.

Some Contest Rules

Silly me. I overlooked a rather important detail about the contest: When will it end? I know that all both of you participants are hanging on the edges of your swivel chairs in anticipation. So, to let you have a calmer competition, I'll mention the Judgement Day. I think I'll give this a week. So, when did I put that up on the site? I'm so disorganized. What am I thinking having contests? I think it was Saturday, so a week from then will be a good end date. Anyway, if I didn't start it Saturday, it'll end on whatever day that's a week after the start date. That will give all of my other 2 visitors the chance to participate too.

If you have absolutely no clue what contest I'm talking about, look at my previous post just below. It's a real live chance to win something!

Oh, and I'm happy Yarn Girl came back and put in another answer. I was going to morph her first answer into team names if she hadn't done so. Actually, the Thelma and Louises and the Betty and Wilmas wouldn't be that bad. I haven't chosen yet, though, so people still have their chances.

And, just one more little detail: you can post as many suggestions per person as desired. I, just today, thought of a better name for my blog, months after naming it, so I know a lightbulb can smack you over the head at any moment. That's fair. I'll take the one I like best.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Girls: A Friendly Little Contest

Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
So, here we are in the racially segregated south (of France). Seriously, look closely at the chickens. There are three black and three red, and they are separated by that patch of green like they're ready for a street brawl. *Dim lights; fade in music from West Side Story.* I think the black one up front has a switchblade stuck up under her right wing. Seriously, though, they are frequently separated by color like this. I wonder if one group talks $%@& about the other. Can't we all just get along?!

Anyway, now to why we're really here. The contest. So, these are the new girls. We're hoping to keep them all around for a while (not let them get consumed by predatory animals like the last group). In the spirit of growing attached to them, therefor forcing us to become better caretakers, I think we should name them (something we never did with the last bunch). So, the contest is this...

If you can think of a good name for each of the chickens or a name for the group of them (maybe the two groups separately, now that we see how they are - Crips and Bloods, you say?), please contribute your ideas in the comment section below. I'll send some nice French goodies to the person who comes up with the most fun names (non-knitters are welcome to play along, since the goodies won't be knitting related).

Have fun with it!

The Obsessive Blogger

You know you're an obsessive blogger when...

You check your own site at least 20 times a day to see if counter has changed yet.

You can't fall asleep at night thinking about what you'll write next (every, even insignificant, detail of your day is scanned for possible topics).

Your children start to have jealousy toward the computer just as they would toward any new baby in the family.

You contemplate making anonymous comments to your own posts.

You dream not in black and white or in color, but in html.

You have calluses on the tips of your fingers from typing too much.

Your children start to lovingly refer to the tv as "Mommy".

The term "clean laundry" comes to refer to those garments having only been laying on the top of the hamper for a day or two (as opposed to those you have to dig for).

The floor around your computer desk is covered with food and drink stains from frequent mealtimes spent there.

You keep your digital camera in your pocket just in case you come across anything you want to blog about while out and around town.

If more than 3 of the above situations apply to you...

Everything is going to be okay. Just slowly put the mouse down, place your hands behind your head and step away from the computer.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

How To Know You Been Online Too Long...

Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Yeah, this is what happens when the kids start to have to fend for themselves (I told you, like the chickens and garden veggies - what survives survives). He may not be able to crawl into his own crib yet, but he certainly can get into the doll's bed.

Dyed Dress Shirt and Striped Sweater Sleeve

Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Here we have the beginnings of that Dress Shirt Rug I've been telling you about. This was a white shirt that I've dyed red. I think it turned out great. The color in the picture looks a bit pinker than the tomatoe red the shirts turned out to be. You can see I've started to make "yarn" out of it. It's a bit time consuming, but fine for tv watching.

Next to it is the first finished sleeve for my husband's striped sweater. I'm going to start on the body next, I think. I liked the idea of starting into it slowly. A fully finished sleeve gives me the confidence I need to dig in to the body. Since I forgot to mention this before... the yarn used is Knit Picks Alpaca/Silk/Merino yarn. The actual name escapes me at the moment, but it's great yarn. Knits nicely with a great drape and a cool sheen from the silk.

Oh, and a little tip for those who want to try dyeing in their own machine - especially those of you who have washers that empty out into your bathroom sink (or is it just me?). Be sure that you do not leave a nice, new shirt hanging over the edge of the sink after being spot-treated. It really does defeat the purpose of having whipped it off immediately to clean the basalmic vinegar off of it. Guess I'll have to buy another dye to fix that mess! Royal blue, you say? Good thinking!

Other than that mishap, I highly recommend dyeing clothes this way. It's great fun. Red is especially exciting. More so if you have a frontloader and like gorey movies. I don't really like them much, but watching the dye start to splatter the glass door of my washing machine reminded me of the scene of some crime in a suspense film. You know, that splatter part just before a scene transition. When things really got going, it looked a little like I was washing the clothes worn to commit such a crime, though, I guess they usually burn them.

Proof I Don't Have Tunnel Vision

Just to prove to you that I have a little, albeit pathetic, life beyond knitting, I'll give you some farming news. We live on a somewhat vast piece of countryside property here in Southern France. A portion of it is taken up with my husband's vineyards. Then, a really large part of it is just wild with some walking trails. Ain't it romantic? Yeah, whatever. Anyway, moving along to my real point... that leaves plenty of room for farming type endeavors. So, we've unsuccessfully raised chickens in the past. One by one, they mysteriously vanished. (lost the last of the original 5 just a couple weeks ago). So, rather than give up - because we like having fresh eggs - my mother-in-law brought in a new set. There are six this time. Maybe she thinks that extra one will make us better caretakers??? Who knows. Anyway, we still keep telling ourselves that we need to get around to building them a little fenced-in park to keep them safe. But, will that keep cats and other mischievous animals out? Don't know. For now, we just have to be sure to remember to lock them in at night (or lock other things out, to be more specific).

And, to make things even more rural, I did some planting last night. My trusty little lunar calendar (it works, even if I don't get obsessive with it) told me yesterday was the perfect day to plant fruit plants (anything with seeds inside the part you eat), so I dutifully spent the evening planting a large variety of tomatoes, some melons, eggplant, and zucchini. So, we're off and running (well, loping, at least) toward a very yummy summer.

The chickens, by the way, are already laying eggs for us, even though they're a bit small, since they're still young. We have two kinds of chickens: red and black. This is fun, because it actually gives us two colors of eggs. The regular brown ones you see a lot here in France (and that are tastier than the freakish white ones you get in the US) and some really pretty ones the color of red brick. They actually match our new home quite nicely.

All of this, I must tell you is pretty much organic. Actually, even better. Because we're so lazy with all this farming stuff, it's almost wild. We figure whatever survives survives. Is that why the chickens didn't last well?? Okay, I don't really mean it to sound so extreme in the case of the chickens. What I mean is that we give them water, but otherwise they fend for themselves. No, that doesn't sound right either. What I really mean is that there is plenty of stuff on the ground for just the six of them to roam around and feed off of. So, we let them be free range chickens and serve themselves. Seems to work out nicely for everyone involved (especially the fox or whatever got the last bunch - Oh, I don't mean that).

We have pretty much the same tactic for raising plants as for the chickens. We water them - well, at least we do when it occurs to us. That's where we get to the "what survives survives" part. We had some great tomatoes and hot peppers two years ago (we didn't get around to a garden the year our son was born), along with the okra, cucumbers and squash that did really well. And, they were all almost wild, really. That's my kind of gardening! Leaves more time for knitting, right?

Oh, and to top it all off, I actually did some real cooking and some baking. I made one of my favorite Moroccan dishes: chicken stew with preserved lemons and olives. Very yummy. Actually, I've never met a Moroccan dish I didn't like. Then, I made some chocolate chip scones from the world's most fattening scone recipe, that is oh, so tasty. Delish!

A Little Htmling

Well, I've done a little (very minimal, really) work on my site. I've been pretty lax about that since putting my site together and fancying it up from the plain old skin Blogger gave me. I've been meaning to add some more blogs to my blogroll, because I actually use that as a navigation point, myself. So, if you look to the right over in the side bar, you'll see that my list of stash enrichment sites has grown ever so slightly, as has the good 'ole blog roll (ooh, ooh, we're rhyming here!). Those sites are in no particular order at all. I was too lazy to alphabetize, and I won't tell you which are my favorites. I just browse them when I feel like being jealous of others knitters' progress (not to mention the comments they receive). And, just for fun, I've added a new section for online knitting magazines. I get the feeling I've left something out. I feel like there is something else I read for pattern goodies and other fun, but I can't think of what it is. Oh well, it'll come to me. And, there's a new radio-type site there with knitting content. I haven't gotten the chance to really get to know it well, but I want to get back there, so I've put it up on my site (plus, since they're new, they could probably use any bit of advertising they can get). Oh, yeah, Interweave Knits' online page is the other one I was thinking about. I'll have to add that in.

I've still got to get some buttons put up. I think there's one for the Not Yarn Along. I'll have to go snatch it later and get it up there. And, I guess it's too late to put the Secret Pals 4 one up. I think I actually downloaded it to my computer but never got around to putting it on my site. Oops. So, have fun roaming the new bits and pieces if you are up to it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Mohair No Mo' Hair in the Face Scarf

Keeps that which is wild tame...

This picture is for you Bohemian Mama, though, I'm not all that proud of it. My sweet little daughter is modeling for us, since I can't very well take a picture of the back of my own head (and it does look better on her, anyway). You really can't see much of the lace detail. Trust me when I tell you it's better that way. A close-up I took of it shows just how horrible I was doing with the yarnovers with this mohair. This is definitely an acquired art. I've since improved with the feather and fan shawl I'm working on (not to mention the fact that the yarnovers are easier to see with the other yarn.

I tried blocking this thing twice, and it just won't keep it's form. I'm wondering if the small amount of nylon in the yarn is causing this. It's either that or the fact that it gets pulled taut over my head at night, causing the blocking to get stretched out (does this happen??). Either way, it doesn't really matter that much to me, because I only wear it for bed. It's comfy, lightweight, and it does the trick. I highly recommend turning any shawl into a head scarf - most especially those that are proving to be a real monkey on the back of your knitting needles.


Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Nope, try again. This time, think floor coverings. Yes, you've got it now. What else could it have been after all? It's going to be a rug. Still don't get it. I'll help the less imaginative among you along.

These are some old dress shirts of my husband's that are unwearable for various reasons. I've been thinking about the idea of knitting a rug for the new house, and the Not Yarn Along that just popped up has given me the motivation to start. The Not Yarn Along, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it, is an opportunity for those knitting unusual non-yarn items into something useful or totally impractical. You can check it out here.

So, my not-yarn of choice is old dress shirts. I'm just going to cut them up into long strips with my pinking shears. If I were Amish, I'd sew the edges together to make a nice, clean yarn, but, well, I'm not, and I've got two small kids, so pinking shears.

The two boxes you see on the top of the pile are fabric dyes you use by just throwing the stuff in the washing machine with the clothes. I want a bit more color than the whites and light blues you see here (though, if I'd gotten a better picture, you'd see one of the more obnoxious colorful shirts I was telling you my husband had, too). So, I've got some red dye and some yellow. I'm excited. I just need to sit down with the scissors and go at it (I'll dye before cutting, though). I'm thinking this could have a therapeutic aspect to it. Fun!

Silly American...

Silly American...
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Tennis shoes are for the "old country". Yep, nothing makes you stick out like a sore American in France more than a comfortably clunky pair of tennis shoes - especially when worn with Chino-style pants. Don't get me wrong, now. They'll wear tennis shoes here - just not practical ones. The girls, especially, go for those tennis shoe-style shoes that are more like leather dress shoes than anything you'd ever want to run in. I do have a pair, and I wear them most, but since the kids make sure that only half of most any pairs in the house is available at any given time, I went out in these. Gasp! That's right, I actually went out in these. And, I'll be wearing my shorts this summer, as well (most girls don't wear shorts here, either)! Just call me a rebel.

Secret Pal, Where Are You?

Well, Secret Pals 4 is winding to a close, and I've been really happy about the response my Pal has had to the goodies I sent her. They seemed to all really hit the spot. My trip to the US allowed me to send her a combination of French and American gifts, which was fun for her, since she's in Australia.

I, unfortunately, have had less luck. The Pal who was going to send me something seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. She had sent me an email just before I left for the US, telling me a package was ready. Investigations conducted by the very kind organizer of this exchange show that it seems to have gotten lost in the mail and was apparently returned to her. I double-checked with her to see if she had an incorrect address on it, but I have yet to receive a response. I have since figured out who my Secret Pal is, and I visit her blog from time to time, only to see that it has not been updated for at least two weeks now. So, I really am wondering if something has happened to her. I hope not. That wouldn't be good. She seems like an interesting person (not that uninteresting ones deserve some kind of mischief). Anyway, so that just means I'll have to treat myself to some kind of mailed-goodies. I need some new circular needles and perhaps some dpns in small sizes to knit some socks. So, we'll just have to see what the online shops in England have to offer, won't we?

Thank You, Ladies

I'm feeling so loved and appreciated today - and you know we girls need that from time to time. Why am I feeling this way? Well, if you'll notice, I received two very kind comments yesterday. Not to offend any lurkers around here, because I often read and run myself, but we bloggers do love a good comment. I browse the comments of other knitting blogs, mouth agape at the idea of getting more than two at once. Can you imagine? There are actually people out there that must get hundreds per day to wade through. I'll settle for a small fraction of that.

Anyway, I just thought I'd thank the two ladies that felt drawn to my little sweater arm so much that they wanted to say something about it. I, too, like these stripes. And, so does my husband, by the way. As Anmiryam pointed out, that can be a rare trait in a man (all those colors). My response to her is that I think it's a European vs American thing. There are shirts hanging in my husband's closet that I, as an American woman, would never have picked out for a man to wear. And, my ex (a Spaniard) would always shock me with his choice of vividly colored button-downs. But, then, they always looked great on him, so maybe men who go colorless just need to get over it and see how great they might look.

I finished the entire arm, and the colors do look great on him, by the way. They go really well with his skin tone. so that makes me even happier. I'll try to get a nice picture of the finished sleeve a bit later. My next trick, I have realized, should be to make sure the body matches up to the sleeves in the stripe pattern. They will meet at the chest, you know, and since the body up to the the armpits is shorter than the arms, I'll have to calculate for that. It wouldn't be an issue if I were doing this top-down, but I wanted to try a bottom-up construction, so it'll take a bit more thought - nothing so hard as to make me hemorrhage, though.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Life Savers Fruit Candy Twist Sweater

Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Hoooo! That's a mouthful. This is my newest baby. After months of guiltlessly wearing and enjoying the sweater I intended to be my husband's (but enduring endless comments about it anyway), I have buckled under the weight of it all and cast on for a sweater for him - in the correct size this time (Thank you Elizabeth Zimmerman). This is the sleeve, in case you're wondering.

I decided not to use a pattern for a specific sweater, because I was afraid of messing it up just like I did last time. That whole small, medium, large thing seems to throw me for a loop. Instead, I whipped out my trusty copy of Knitting Without Tears (a relatively new but fabulous addition to my ever-growing selection of knitting books), and I'm using The Knitting Goddess' formula for making a bottom-up raglan in the round.

What you see is the result of me playing around with the idea of doing a Fair Isle sweater, not liking the look of it with so many colors and going for stripes instead. It's coming along nicely, I think.

If you look closely, you can see that I've done a funny rotation with the colors so that they each get equal space on the sweater (that way no one color dominates). There are four colors. When I finish a set of the four, the first color used drops off the bottom and rolls up to be the top one on the next set. I'm thinking this look could be really cool with just the arms being striped and the body being made of a solid color (my choice would be black), but I have equal numbers of the four colors you see here, and no black, so we'll have to save that for another sweater. I'm really curious to see what the stripes will look like knit in the round like this. The arms and body will meet at the chest, and then the stripes will loop all the way around his shoulders. Not the usual look for a striped sweater, but we'll see how it looks.

Silky Stripes Tank Top

Silky Stripes Tank Top
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Well, I finally gave up on waiting for my dear, sweet, but very busy husband to fix my drying rack, and I've resorted to laying this out on the bed. I've got to change the sheets, anyway, so who cares if they get wet.

I designed this one myself, as I think I told you before when I actually finished it, and it fits nicely, though it proves to me that I've still got some "baby fat" to lose. My husband thinks it's sexy, though (those were his words, I swear - oh, and yes, he did see it on me, not the bed), so at least we know he's still blinded by love after all these years together. I'm just excited to have a nice tank top to wear once it gets warm enough. As I told you before, this fabric is wonderful to wear. It's so soft, it's almost like a second skin. I highly recommend knitting some silk if you get the chance.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Glorified Hair Net

Remember the Kiri scarf that I started a while back that you haven't heard about in a really long time? Well, it stayed at about the same spot for several months until today, when PRESTO-CHANGO, it magically became a head-scarf. It happened to be just the right size for the job, and, if you'll remember, I had said I needed something to keep my hair out of my face while sleeping. So, taking another look at it, I realized I could add a couple of "tails" on each side and have myself a fancy-schmancy head scarf. The knitting took maybe twenty minutes, and I washed and blocked it. It proves to me that I have really improved in my lace knitting since starting this thing, though, because I was able to at least pick out where the mistakes were, whereas before it all looked like a cobweb with no rhyme or reason.

Anyway, if you can think back that far, you'll recall that I was knitting it in a very bright blue mohair. This stuff is so lightweight, it turned out to be the perfect yarn for a head-scarf. I hardly even know I'm wearing it... so, this is what it's like to wear a hair net. I now understand the attraction. That's not to say it's all that pretty when on my head, but it's comfy, and what more to do you really want for around the house?

Pictures will come later...

Thursday, April 14, 2005

If You Really Care About Your Friends...

...copy and paste my entire website, from the most interesting to the most mundane detail, into a mass email and forward it to all of them, asking them to forward it to all of their friends. Because, that's how to best show you really care. I mean, someone else's greeting-card-corny words are always better than your own, right?

Do you get the idea that I am tired of those sob-story chain letter emails? I have some really well-intentioned, caring friends that send me some really stupid crap from time to time (that's not to say that I don't like a good joke, on occasion). It almost always ends the same way. Though most of these things no longer threaten you with contracting leprecy, thus causing you to lose several limbs, turning you into a hideous monster, they still make you feel guilty if you don't pass them on. Somehow, they want you to believe that if you don't send their special email on to others, then you are truly not a good friend - in fact, you're a heartless, thoughtless pig. They all claim to have a meaningful message that is worth sending on to any and everyone you know, when in fact it's little more than common sense "wisdom" wrapped in flowery (sometimes irritating) language.

So, the next time you want to show those close to you that you care, write a real email (or better yet, even send a letter or card via the post office), with real words from the real you. Tell them about your life these days. Ask them about theirs. If you don't feel you have the time to write an individual letter to every friend you have, write a mass email to all of them. They're certain to appreciate it far more than the silly words of some anonymous, B-level writer, who tells the world of a non-existent woman who lost her entire family in an freak microwave accident just after having a huge argument with all of them (she is, of course, struck numb with guilt at not having sent on that last chain mail). I'm certain that by sending your own thoughts, not only will your friends be pleased at not having to, yet again, hit the delete key, but you are likely to bring yourself even closer to them with only slightly more effort than it takes to click forward and send to irritate the world with yet another chain letter.

For the sake of my sanity (and that of my delete key hitting finger), please think about it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Basketball Baby Booties

Well, here we have it. Another finished project. I'm just rolling in them lately, huh? Well, not really. The blanket the booties are sitting on is proof of that. I slipped it in the shot, though, to show you that I am making progress. I think I'm in the middle of the 4th ball of yarn (out of ten), so we're getting there. It'll be okay if I take my time, because the sweet, little Olga got plenty of knitted goodies from her grandma, as well (she mostly only knits kids' stuff for her many grandkids). She made some adorable little sweaters, some socks that were unfortunately too small (luckily my booties fit perfectly, but I had a real live bootie to cheat from) and a tiny little blanket that will do for this tiny stage she's in. My blanket is more intended to end up as a bed blanket than something to take along in the stroller. It's 65 X 100 cm, so it'll be a nice crib blanket when she's out of her bassinette.

Anyway, the good news is that everyone loved my basketball baby booties. They're certainly original, and that pink is a color Olga's mommy is fond of, so we did well on that one. Our quick trip to see her was a good one, and actually all our gifts, both for baby and mommy, worked out well (I'm a firm believer that the woman doing all the hard work deserves a little something, too).

It really is quite hard to buy gifts for a second child, because you don't know what things the first child already had, and you don't want to just buy clothes when there have already been several kids in the family to get hand-me-downs from. So, I was pleased to learn that she didn't have many socks or booties that fit and the other gifts I chose were needed as well.


Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
I know what you're asking yourself. What is this, and what on earth is it doing in a knitting blog? Well, I'll tell you, but first, you have to sit through an explanation of where I found it...

The other day - it was a gorgeous day - I had the brilliant idea of taking a family hike on our property. My husband is pretty much always game for this kind of hike, as it allows him to survey the far off bits and pieces of our property (like the electric fence intended to keep wild boar out of the vineyards that some hikers had so kindly disconnnected for us - no respect!).

So, while enjoying the scent of wild rosemary and thyme (which I snatched a bit of for dinner), I happened upon this yellow blob on a rock, which I recognized from a book we have. I had to snap a picture for you. Now to the "what is it?" To the inexperienced observer it would be a bit of yellow lichen, while to those really in the know, it's 100%, all-natural yarn dye. And we're swimming in it out here! If only I had the time and energy to harvest about 40 kilos of it, we could have ourselves some stunning yellow yarn. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how they used to do it. I've seen a picture of the color it gives, and it really is beautiful.

New to the Collection

Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Here are my newest stash members. I got the Phildar Clapotis (in front) last week when I went to get the rest of the yarn needed to finish my silk tank. It's 100% nylon and knit up nicely into a bath puff, though I'm curious as to how they will wash. The fabric is the stuff they use to make the booties used by doctors while in surgery. I left a pink bath puff with my sister-in-law to try on her new baby, because was so soft (she's a cutie, by the way - we really know how to make children well in this family!).

The mysterious hairy stuff in the back is some mix of mohair and wool that the sales lady was unable to tell me much about. I found it at the Saturday morning outdoor market for dirt cheap (800g for 16 euros). I'm not even certain that I like it, but I was so fascinated by the colors and textures that I had to see how they would knit up. I'll let you know when I decide what to do with it.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Creative Assembly

Well, I've finished the second bootie. So, there is now a full pair. Yippee! I had to resort to a bit of creative sewing and blocking, though since, apparently, I was all tense when knitting the first one and REALLY relaxed while knitting the second. My gauge was totally different, and the second one turned out larger than the first, with the same number of rows. Oops. Anyway, no big deal. I just resewed the second one, adjusting to make it smaller, and when I blocked, I stretched the first to be the same size as the other. Luckily, the Alpaca I used is very forgiving. They look cute, and I'll post a picture soon, though when you've seen one, you've seen them all. Well, maybe they look cuter as a pair. I did opt not to add the converse circle on the sides, after all. I started to do it, and it wasn't working out very well. Then, my husband and I both agreed that they didn't need it.

I'll post pictures of them and some other things I promised to show you a little later today.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Your Very Own Attic Ant Farm

Haven't you always wanted your very own attic ant farm? Complete with holes from which an entire colony of ants may constantly stream into your living room? This allows for hours of family fun watching the weaker of the species plunge to their deaths on the floor below (Or could it be their version of suicide? Interesting question to ponder.). Haven't you been yearning for just this kind of entertainment? Nah, me neither. But, though the pile of dead ants scattered across the linoleum only means yet another mess to clean up, there is an up side. After you finish hoovering up the dead ones, and you find their hiding place, you get the unusually satisfying pleasure of suctioning up the lives ones, too. Sadistic, I know, and we don't really even want to think about what they do once inside the vacuum bag, but after the particularly hellish day I've had child-wise, I received a devilish thrill from watching their little legs loosen one by one from the wall and ceiling. I felt a sense of triumph in seeing them disappear from sight and imagining them propelled through the metal hose into the dark depths of the vacuum bag, never to be seen again (or at least not until they regain their senses and tunnel their way back out the hose). Since you can only go so far in punishing your children (calling the Terminator out for a visit is definitely out of the question: "Be good or I'll be back."), and you can't very well go kicking the dog, a bit of insect torture can be soothing and therapeutic. And, besides, that ought to teach the little critters to invade my home!

Seriously, though, if anyone knows of a good ant repellent that is not likely to kill or otherwise harm my children (and that I can get into the ceiling, I'd be much obliged.

Finished Object Fiesta

Everybody say woop woop! Can I get a hoooo hoooo! It's time to paaaartay! That's right, there's an FO in the house. A real one, too, not one of those rinky dinky bath puffs (though I am thoroughly enjoying that thing). So, get out the streamers - better yet, let's knit up some garland (has anyone tried that for the Christmas tree, by the way?) and celebrate. I have several fun things to tell you about (and show you, when I get around to it), though only one of them is a finished object.

I went to the yarn shop nearest my house the other day (beautiful day for a drive to this lakefront village, by the way - even let the kids play at the lakeside park while I worked on the cable baby blanket). I needed to go there - I swear I really did need to this time. I'm not just rationalizing. Remember the silk tank top I was working on? Well, as seems to be becoming my usual practice, I misjudged the amount of yarn needed. It's so hard to know this kind of thing in the store on the fly. So, as I neared the end of my silk stash, I realized I would not have enough to finish the piece. There had been exactly one ball of yarn left in that color, which I opted out of purchasing, in the interest of staying only slightly over budget that day. So, before leaving for my trip to the US, I called and had them hold that precious last ball for me. I finally got around to getting it this week. Excited about the aspect of being less than a ball away from a real finished piece - my first tank top to boot, I dug right in that evening. Of course, upon seeing me elbow deep in silk, my husband sarcastically inquired about the status of the still missing baby bootie. Party pooper! But, I finished the tank top anyway. Who cares what he thinks anyway? And, then I modeled it for him, and not only did he think it looked nice, he even said it was sexy (look at me and my goofy grin). Well, maybe we do care what he thinks, after all.

Let me tell you here that if you have never knit a silk anything, do it. It was a tiny bit on the expensive side, which is why I only made a tank top, but it feels so luxurious to wear. It's not quite like wearing other silk things I've worn, either. Maybe it's because I made most of it in ribbing, so it sticks to me in places, but it almost feels like a second skin (except, I think it's softer than any skin I have).

Then, of course, while at the yarn shop, I browsed - how could I not? There wasn't anything that truly interested me that much, which is for the best, since I don't have room for any new stash. I did buy two balls of some 100% nylon tape that reminds me of crepe paper, though. It is called Clapotis (like the famous scarf on Knitty) for the wavy aspect it has. My intention is to make another few bath puffs for other members of the family, since I've found mine to be so yummy. The crepe texture made me think it should be perfect for a fast drying bath puff. My daughter chose pink, and I got some blue for my husband. I'll take pictures of this yarn, as well as the tank when I can.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Sockus Absentius

For those who have never knit a sock, a glove or any other object most often made in pairs, you may not be aware of a well-known condition which can be referred to as Sockus Absentius, more commonly called Second Sock Syndrome. It afflicts many well-intentioned knitters to some degree or other, but it mostly manifests itself in the following manner: one sock is energetically finished and proudly presented to the world on the knitter's blog, while the second sock never surfaces. Why is this? Simply put, it never gets knitted. Oftentimes it never even gets started. So, the first sock, though perhaps not enduring a completely lonely existence (for there are other half-made pairs to accompany it) gets tossed in a drawer, never to find its mate. It's a sad plight, no doubt about it, but a common one. Why does it occur, though? And, what measures can be taken to alleviate, or even irradicate the problem?

Annie Moore-Headshrinker, world-renowned psychologist, explains that the issue is deeply rooted in a desire (in fact, often a compulsive need) to try new tasks, feel new textures, and learn new skills, resulting in a never-ending list of newly embarked upon projects. Unfortunately, unlike with the sweater, the scarf or other garments not knit in pairs, once the first sock is finished, the gratification of a finished object has been attained, and no further knitting on that project is desired. Thus, the first sock is forever left to pine away for its soulmate. Some even meet with the sad fate of later being unravelled (commonly known as "being frogged") only to be reincarnated into yet another pairless sock. Fortunately, however, recent research by innovative knitters has led to the invention of several ingenius knitting methods that solve this problem by ensuring that both socks are finished at the same time. The two most well-known of these are the Magic Loop and the Two Socks, Two Circs methods, which are very similar in approach and in results. Essentially, the lone sock dilemma is eliminated by knitting both socks simultaneously. Even more interesting is the fact that, since the same row of each sock is knitted at the same time, the socks are identical when finished. All sock-knitters can attest to the fact that this is, indeed, quite desirable, because many a pair of hand-knitted socks, are definitely not truly matching. The only visible problem with the idea of knitting two socks at one time is the fact that if a mistake in size or design is made, there are now two to frog, instead of the one that would usually need to be unravelled. Perhaps it is worth the risk, though, to actually have a finished pair of hand-knitted socks to wear.

So, my question is now this: Why the hell haven't I joined the numerous knitters who've forever put their Second Sock Syndrome woes behind them by learning one of these methods? It comes down to being cheap. Really. How pathetic is that? I just haven't been able to convince myself that I should spend the money to get that second circular needle I'd need to knit two socks at once (forget the cost of the yarn now tied up in just one sock, never to be used in any practical way). I really should just bite the bullet, though, because now I'm faced with knitting the second baby bootie for my new niece, and I don't have the slightest desire to do it. As a result, I've dived back into the cable baby blanket I had started and never finished. I've calculated that if I work approximately 5 hours a day on it, I should have it finished by the weekend. And, since the prospect of ignoring all housework, cooking and other obligations, as well as neglecting my two children is entirely acceptable to me, I will attempt to finish the blanket before doing the logical thing of just finishing the second bootie and taking the five minutes needed to wrap them up. Alright, we can all see I won't be finishing that blanket by the weekend, and I'll have to work up the courage to dig into that second bootie, but can anyone who has tried any of these two-sock knitting methods convince me to just go ahead and splurge on the second circular needed to attempt to actually someday have a full pair of socks? Your convincing would be much appreciated!

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Brand New Life

I know from the sound of that post title, you're thinking I've turned over a new leaf somehow, and you're going to have to sit through an explanation of it. Nope. Not true. You may relax and wipe the sweat off your brow. I'm just writing to tell the world that we have a brand new niece who was born this morning. She weighed in at a breathtaking 4.4 kilos (9.68 lbs), giving me a whole new respect for my sister-in-law. I can't say she didn't even break a sweat, since I wasn't there, but apparently, the baby came right out with minimum trouble (as compared to her first child who took the better part of a painfully long day to wiggle on out). I tend to make them significantly smaller, though, so I am now in awe of this woman. Don't take that to mean that I envy her, because I guarantee you I wouldn't have wanted to lug that thing around for 9 months. I'm just amazed she wasn't on bedrest or in a wheelchair toward the end - we're talking 9 1/2 lbs here!

So, welcome to this earth, little Olga (that's her name - not something random I picked out).

And, all of this means one thing to me, of course: got to get to knitting. I must finish those baby booties by this weekend when we go visit. Yikes!