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

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Flashers Everywhere

Remember back in the - what was it? - seventies when people would streak through a stadium? Or how about those perverts that flash people from the bushes in public parks? Well, I've recently been flashed. Several times. And, the kids were with me. Now, before you get all freaked out (especially you, Mom), it may not be what you're thinking (And, I don't know where you could get any strange ideas out of this paragraph. I certainly haven't led you to any weird conclusions, have I?). I was flashed, alright, but not by some freak hiding behind a tree. Nope. I was flashed by a man in his car - several different times, and sometimes it wasn't even the same man. All of them were pretty much driving the same kind of car, though. Suspicious? Not really. It, apparently, goes along with the territory of owning a somewhat rare car. Not that we've got some vintage automobile that costs millions or anything like that. It's just that you don't see that many Land Rover Discovery's on the road. There are quite a few Freelanders around here, but not many like ours. So, when other Discovery drivers see each other on the road, they flash their lights. Funny, really. I knew Jeep Wrangler owners sometimes did a thing like that, but I had no idea it was the same with Discovery owners. Hey! I'm part of an elite club. Woohoo! That's a first.

Anyway, in honor of me getting flashed (because you can't say it's something that happens every day to everyone), I thought I'd flash a few of my current projects at their current stage of completion as well as a few new members of both my yarn and fabric stash. Ready? Here we go (close your eyes if you feel like flashing people is a bit inappropriate)...

First, we have the yarn that Louise brought back from the US for me. She was ordering some fun stuff from Webs and asked if I needed anything. Sure (like I hole in the head), as a matter of fact, I did. The blue, red and yellow skeins are Cascade 220 and are designated for a Superman hat for Lambchop #2 (probably for around Christmas). The eggplanty yarn is O'Wool organic yarn (for a hat for me). I was hoping it'd be softer than it is, but it's nice, anyway. About the same texture as the 220, actually. Then, there's proof of a little splurge in this picture, too. I absolutely love Rowan Kid Silk Haze. I was given some once during a Secret Pal exchange and have been plotting to acquire some ever since. My real dream would be to actually be able to make an entire sweater of this stuff (pjs maybe???), because it's so soft. In the end, though, the pocket book won out, and I only bought two balls. One for a scarf for me and another for a scarf for a friend. It's all I could justify buying.

Now, I'll show you some material I've got plans to sew really soon (incidentally, Blogger randomly decided to rotate this picture clockwise). Lambchop #1 is growing like a weed these days, and has no pants or long sleeve shirts that fit anymore. We've got some boys pants in her size that were given to us, but darn it, if she ain't too girly for that. She won't even try them on. I don't think I'd be able to convince her that many of the cool girls like to wear men's jeans. At this age, it's worthless, I think. Oh well. At least they won't have holes in them when Lambchop #2 gets around to that size.

So, the bright pink corduroy will be some cute bell-bottomy pants. Then, the white fabric with pink flowers will be a shirt to match. I had some other light pink corduroy fabric she turned down. Didn't like the size of the cords - "too thick", says her highness. She didn't like some striped denim I had, either. Once again, thickish stripes. The girl know what she likes. I'm not going to complain, though, because I like the striped denim, and there's enough for a straight skirt for me. Okay, back to the picture: the dark blue denim in this picture will be jeans for her and the light blue fabric with flowers will be another shirt.

Next, we have a picture of Lambchop #2's current sweater. As you can see from the picture on the right, I've made some decent progress. I've finished the body up to the arm pits (classy wording, I know), which is why it's now waiting around on a string for me to do the sleeves. I chose a scallopy edge stitch pattern for the bottom of the body and sleeves. I think it'll look really cute once it's blocked.

The photo on the left shows you something I'm really disappointed in. I don't have any dpns in the proper needle size for this project, so I'm using two circular needles. That's a really fiddly little task with thin mohair yarn, but I'm making due. Problem is, though, and it's pretty obvious: I get huge gaps in between needles. I'm going to try to tighten up around that spot, but it's not easy to do with this yarn. If all else fails, I'll act like it's a dropped stitch and pick it up all the way up to the top to tighten things up. It'll make an extra stitch on each side, and I don't think it'll be a big deal, really. It's in the part of the pattern stitch where it's just stockinette for a few stitches, anyway, so it won't be very obvious, I don't think. Anyway, wish me luck on fixing that, because I don't plan on ripping this mohair stuff back to do it again. As it was, I had to cast on three times, because mohair isn't easy to work on two large cirular needles.

And, now we'll talk about some more knitting. Aren't you just loving the fact that my supposed knitting blog actually looks like a knitting blog these days? You know why that is? It's because, aside from reading and watching tv, knitting is the one thing I've mastered doing while breastfeeding. I don't even jab her in the head with the needles (much!).

This shot is of the alpaca vesty thing I'm making. This is the stuff that I dyed with Kool Aid a while back. You may remember seeing it a couple of months ago. It was a lot smaller then. I haven't worked on it in a few weeks, but the front is almost entirely done. It's a pretty quick knit, even if it is fingering weight yarn. Very soft and cozy. I don't know why I don't work on it more often, because I can't wait to wear this yarn.

And, last but not least, because I'm feeling guilty about having forgotten to take a before shot of the Durrow sweater's collar before I ripped and reknit, I've taken a close-up of the new collar. It may not look very professional, but it's fine for my purposes. It's pretty much what I was intending to do, at least. The decreases you see here made it so that the collar curves upward at the point where the shoulders meet the front and the back. I think it makes it pucker just slightly (because I decreased so fast), but I think a good blocking would help. I'm sure it would have been less obvious if I'd decreased more gradually, but there were really quite a few stitches needing to be gotten rid of in a short distance. Anyway it's done, and I'm very happy about that.

And, in case you're wondering, that first picture up there is just for fun. I'm very aware that a baby in the middle of all this knitting and sewing chatter makes little sense. But, I like to have a picture up top to grab the reader's attention, and who's going to complain about a baby popping up in random places?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

This Is Your Brain...

I just uploaded several pictures, and now I don't know what I wanted to say. I guess that'll give you an indication of what a weekend alone with three small children will do to you. They could do birth control ads with that in mind. Take out a cast iron skillet. Show a whole egg. You know the lines, "This is your brain." Crack the egg and throw it in to fry up... "this is your brain after children." The thing about drugs, though (and I'm not condoning their use or anything), is that apparently you get some amount of enjoyment from them, and it usually takes more than a weekend of them to totally fry your brain. It could be argued that a weekend alone with three children may not have such a good outcome. I am still intact, though, and hubbie will be home tomorrow morning, so I shouldn't complain.

Now let's try to figure out what I was thinking when I uploaded these pictures, shall we? The main purpose was to show you the finished Durrow sweater. I redid the neck, as I mentioned wanting to do. Unfortunately, despite having received a request in my comments to take a before shot, as well, I forgot. I wanted to get the sweater totally finished before my husband ran off (leaving me to fend for myself in this jungle) to a trade show in Northeastern France somewhere. I thought he might need it. Sad thing is, I didn't think to do it till the night before he left. I was in such a hurry, I forgot to take the before picture. I did, however, think to take a few shots before he caught his train out of here.

I really couldn't decide which one I liked best. Most of them were blurry (it was an early morning photo shoot, okay?), but a few were cute. There's one of the whole family minus the baby and the photographer (up top). They look very sweet and happy, the girl with her hair still nicely combed before heading off to school (she looks much more like the tomboy she is when I pick her up at the end of the day) and the boys with their recent military-esque dos. You don't see the sweater much in that one, though, so I threw in the cute one with the just the two boys.

Here, at least you see the cables on the arm a bit better. And, you can see that my job on the neck didn't turn out too badly, even if it's not a close-up. I kind of would have prefered ripping back to the point where the raglan decreases turned into shoulder decreases. That would have been a lot more work and would have made this into a raglan sweater, but Muttonchop really loves the shoulders like they are. That's his favorite style of shoulder. As you can see, he's not a tiny fellow, and he finds those most comfortable. Wanting to please the man, I just ripped the neck and picked up fewer stitches than suggested in the pattern and then did decreases at each side of each shoulder section on every round until I liked the length of the neck. That got the tightness I was after, and it doesn't look too bad.

The last shot of the sweater is just so you can all see why I married this man. He comes from a family of pretty serious intellectual types. I like the intellectual side of him, but what I love is the fact that, hiding beneath the stacks of books and his high-fallootin' college degree is a really goofy farmer. The man loves his tractor and tools, which he comes by honestly, since his dad's the same way. Cracking jokes, however, isn't exactly what his family does when they're hanging out together. My family is hardly what you'd call intellectual, though, I'd like to think we're a reasonably intellegent bunch of people. We may have our quirks and dysfunctions, but if nothing else, we laugh together. And, I like the fact that Muttonchop, despite his apparently serious exterior can ham it up with the best of them. This photo is my proof of that. Well, either that, or he's looking off in the distance at the train he's about to miss because of my desire to take a few pictures for the blog. Oh, the things this poor man must endure!

And, lastly is the gratuitous baby picture. What mother could resist throwing a photo of this sweet face up on the blog every chanc she gets? "Not I," said the fly. "Not me," said the bee - yeah, I could use a day just to myself to try to find any of those brain cells that were only misplaced and not completely lost.

Ooh, and before I forget: a few notes about my last post. First, I was so happy you were all so interested in the mystery object. I saw that picture on the packaging and just knew I had to share it with you all. A few extra tidbits of information on that thing: My husband's first question was whether it was a Scandanavian product. It apparently fits right in with what the French think of their culture. I read later on the bottom of the "horn" that it's made in Norway. Nice call, Muttonchop. Then, I've got a phrase to translate for you, because Disentangled mentioned in the comments that the model at least seems to be enjoying herself. And, indeed, the packaging carries a phrase in large red lettering that states, "Nasal cleansing is refreshing and enjoyable." Yep, you called it, Disentangled. Refreshing? It's like lemonade on a sweltering summer afternoon, is it? I also really love the brand name. "Rhino Horn." They are talking about rhino as in nasal passages, etc. but what about Rhino, as in rhinoceros? You think the pun was intended?

And one last little thing I wanted to share. You may remember I used the words "sex toy" several times in that last post. I kind of figured it'd get me some funny traffic on my site through weird Google searches. Not even one. I'm almost disappointed. Where were all the pervs? Probably molesting their Thanksgiving turkeys, I suppose. While checking my stats to see about any lude keyword searches, though, I stumbled across a very interesting question. Someone arrived at my site by Googling "Why spray paint on a sheep?" Yes. Why, indeed? Excellent question.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Swatches and Sex Toys (That'll Bring the Pervs)

Here's your warning: this is going to be a longish post full of pictures. I'll make all attempts at being concise, but well, you may have noticed by now that I can be a bit long-winded.

First, as promised, is the photo of the little pink square I made for the Warming Kaitlyn blanket. At first glance, I thought she was probably around Lambchop #1's age, but it turns out she's closer to Lambchop #2's age. Her family seems to be taking her illness in stride and doing the best they can with what they've got. Warming her with a blanket made entirely of her favorite color seems like a worthy endeavor to me. It really didn't take long, either. So, if you've got a favorite stitch pattern or some new one you'd love to try out, why not try it out for Kaitlyn? Just hop on over there and volunteer.

Now, for those who want specs on this pattern, yarn, etc. It's made with Knit Picks Merino Style in Petal (can you tell I've got way too much of that color?). I knit the square on 3.75mm needles (I've decided this yarn may pill a bit less if knit at a tighter gauge than recommended by the manufacturer). The pattern is one of my favorite from the Barbara Walker book (the red one - that's the second, I believe). It's called something like Ladders and Cables. I love the whimsy of it. It reminds me of candies twisted into their wrappers. Perfect for a little girl, I think.

Next up is a swatch I did in some Anny Blatt Fine Kid (mohair with some lambswool, I believe). I realized the other day that Lambchop #1 really needs a new sweater. As kids are known to do, she has outgrown many of her clothes (it's a shame I couldn't justify sending her to school in knitted pants). I wanted a quick knit, but I don't have any chunky gauge wool in my stash. I can't wear the stuff, because, well... chunky yarn = chunky girl, and who needs any extra chunk after having a baby? It's hard to justify paying for chunky wool, too, since you get so little yardage from it. So, I pulled out this mohair. I figured I could make an airy little sweater for her. She prefered this color over the pale green I had, as well, so I swatched and am now on my way to a sweater, as you can see in the next shot.

Since I was going for quick and easy, I decided to knit this in the round (no seaming!). It'll be a raglan pull-over. Simple, but with a bit of interest, since I've done the bottom edge in a scallopy little design. You don't get the full benefit of the pattern down there, because of the openness caused by knitting this yarn on such large needles (10.5mm), but the scalloped edge is what I was most interested in. It'll just be a bonus if you can see the yarnovers at all. The sleeves will have this same edge to them, so it'll be a dainty little sweater, I hope.

This next photo is one of the baby shawl in progress. I really wish I had gotten a nice shot of it all stretched out after blocking that center square. That surely would have helped when I asked you for suggestions on where to go next the other day. Incidentally, just so you know, the designer in me won out over my lazy side. I've found a nice border that gives just the effect I was looking for to add as a buffer zone between the main square and what I think will be a ruffled edge. I've got plenty of this yarn, so I may as well go all out. So what if she'll be using it at her wedding instead of as a baby shawl. She'll get it some day.

Now. Onto the good stuff. All around the knitblogs, people celebrate? "WTF Wednesdays". For those of you not familiar with this, WTF is short for What The Ffff... ummmm.. (in the interest of maintaining a PG-13 rating) Fudge?. The participants just chat on Wednesdays about something or someone who made them think "What the.... ummmm... fudge?" I don't usually participate, and I know this isn't even Wednesday, but I've got one to share that just can't be let to slip by. So, without further ado, I present this:

Anybody care to wager a guess? Nope, not Aladdin's Lamp. Some kind of a bong? No sirree, Bob. Not a feminine hygiene product, either, though you're getting warmer.... Noooo. Most definitely not a sex toy (oops, that PG-13 rating's about to go out the window). Come one, you can figure it out. Why, yes. That's it exactly. Though not a sex toy, it is indeed intended to make you sexier. Because you've tried to get HIS attention in so many ways. Doing those sweet little nose snorts didn't do it, and no amount of belching or farting seemed to be the key. But, baby, you let him see you doing this:

Well, I think it's safe to say he'll be yours forever. Yep. Wrapped around your little finger. I kid you not. This is just the kind of thing that turns men on.

Seriously, though. Can you imagine this woman on a blind date?
Him: So, what do you do for a living?
Her: I'm a model.
Him: Really? Would I have seen you in anything?
Her: Maybe... do you have allergies?

Perhaps she dates this guy. Because that's a match made in heaven, if I ever saw one. And, by the way, I'm thinking either one of these objects could be the ideal Christmas gift for anyone on your list. Oh, and in case you're wondering why on earth I would have one of those little nose cleaning devices, I'll just say that it works wonders on ridding you of sinus infections and leave it at that. And, sadly, I think I'm going to leave you with this image. It was either start with it or end with it, and who wants this thing at the top of their page?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Let's Talk Charity...

We're nearing Christmas time, in case you didn't notice. I'm nowhere near prepared, but I'm taking it all in stride. Instead of worrying about knitting/buying gifts for my loved ones, I've decided to knit for those I don't know. You see charity knitting all over the web. I've never done it, myself, though, because I don't know of any knitting charities in France, and it seemed a little excessive to ship something all the way to the US (if you know of any knitting charities in France, by the way, please let me know). Today, however, I stumbled across a little post (don't ask me where, because I can't remember) about a little girl named Kaitlyn who is ill. She looks to be about the age of Lambchop #1, but it's hard to say with the hair loss apparently caused by chemo. Just seeing a photo of her smiling touched me, and I decided right then to participate in knitting a blanket for her. And, I did. As asked, I knitted a 5"X5" square in pink yarn that can be sewn together with a plethora of other pink swatches to make a pretty blanket in Kaitlyn's favorite color. It didn't take me long at all, and I used one of my favorite stitch patterns from one of Barbara Walker's books.

Today was the perfect day for this project, I think. I've got the beginnings of a sinus infection that I'm determined to fight off. It's got me a bit cold and shivery, for now, though. Tomorrow, I'll try to block my square and show you what I made (as well as give you more info on Kaitlyn's blanket with links, etc.). For now, I'm just going to wrap myself in the warmth that radiates from knitting something for someone else who needs to be warmed much more than I do.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Kodak Moments

There are many moments in life where you wish you had a camera, or at least you wish you had thought to use the camera you do have. Thanks to camera/cell phones and the digital age, in general, it seems very few "Kodak Moments" slip past bloggers these days. I, being without a cell phone, though, have missed many a great shot. Like the other day when Lambchop #2 asked for a small triangle of sheep cheese only to stick it to the fridge like a magnet. Daddy, having been taught never to waste food, was livid. But, how can a father scold his son when Mommy is laughing so hard she has tears in her eyes (don't worry, I had the good sense to cover my face with my hands and laugh silently, so for all Lambchop knew, I was crying because of his naughtiness)?

This past week, I have tried to consider the loved ones in our lives that are far away and can't witness all the silly things our kids do - plus, these kinds of stories just make for really great blog chitchat. Who needs to force themselves to come up with material with my kids around? This stuff writes itself. So, without further ado, I present to you a few of the most noteworthy moments of this past week.

First off, I couldn't resist showing our newest sweety sound asleep. Precious, don't you think?

The next two pictures need a little explanation. First, the "boots". Next door at my father-in-law's house, there is a large room packed full of boxes and other items needing to be stored. Most of the boxes contain our belongings that don't fit well into our tiny temporary home. There are lots of kids' toys that I got tired of tripping over, as well as an assortment of Christmas decorations. Okay, that pretty much sets the background up for us. So, I'm cooking dinner while the two older Lambchops are visiting their grandfather nextdoor. They come busting in through the kitchen door, while Lambchop #1 is saying, "Don't look at me. Don't look at me." Well, you know what people do when you say that. Basically, she doesn't want me to look, because she doesn't want me to stop her from smuggling in the armful of baby toys she has brought over for her new sister. Very sweet, so I don't say anything. Then, I look down at her feet, and all I can think to do is grab the camera. She's wearing Christmas stockings as boots.

Next up is the bath scene. Same evening. I've filled the bath with bubbles in order to coax them in for a good scrubbing. The kids are in and having fun when the phone rings. I answer it and then hear, "It's snowing. It's snowing." coming from the bathroom. I enter to find bubbles everywhere. As you can see, (while scolding them) I thought to grab the camera. Do you think that asking them to say cheese pretty much cancels out my scolding them? Yeah, I would think so, too, but at least we'll have this picture to laugh at when the kids are out of the house.

Another missed Kodak Moment was the finishing and blocking of that center square of the baby shawl. It looks lovely, and it really grew A LOT. I meant to take a quick shot of it, but since it was finished blocking after dark, and I picked up stitches before going to bed last night, it's really not much to look at now. It's 35 inches square, which is sufficiently large for a baby, but I'm a little stuck now. I'm wondering what I should do next. At first I was planning to do two separate borders around this center square, but now I'm starting to consider just making a ruffled edge. Or maybe I'll do a little border section and then a ruffled edge. Any suggestions. What do you think would be best? I just can't quite decide. The lazy side of me says to do the ruffles and get it over with. The designer side says a nice buffer zone would be good between that main square and the ruffles. What do you think?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Who Knew? (a.k.a. You're Doing It Wrong)

So, I've been knitting for about 4 1/2 to 5 years now, and I had a knitting ephiphany today. I went over to Louise's house this morning to pick up some yarn she got me while in the US a couple weeks ago and just chit-chat in general. We had a lovely time talking shop. I rarely get the opportunity to knit with anyone else, so it was a real treat (even if I only got about a row and a half knit).

She's a Continental knitter like I am, and long ago, the first time I went to her house, I noticed she knitted differently than I do (or, at least, I thought I noticed that). It was subtle, though, so I couldn't quite figure out what gave me that impression. Fast forward a couple of years to today... I showed her a sock whose mate I needed to finish. She liked the yarn's colorway, but upon closer inspection, she noticed my stitches were twisted. She pointed this out to me, and I told her I was well aware of this, and, by the way, isn't that what everyone gets when they knit in the round?? Apparently not. This is where the "Who knew?" part of this post title comes in. Yeah, did I mention that I have been knitting for almost 5 years now? And, do I need to tell you that sock wasn't my first experience knitting in the round? Since I have never really had the pleasure of knitting in another Continental knitter's presence (busy lives mean that Louise and I, though we live in villages 10 minutes from each other, don't see each other often), I had no idea knitting in the round shouldn't twist your stitches. Let me reiterate: who knew?

I've had people tell me I knit funny before (notably my mother-in-law), but since they were all holding the yarn in their right hands and wrapping it, I figured that me holding it in my left and picking was what they saw as strange. Maybe it was more than that, after all. As it turns out, I was "doing it wrong." Or, at least, I wasn't doing it the way the book I originally learned from would have had me knit. I did a little research this evening, and I learned that, in fact, I am a "Combined Knitter." Whaddaya know? I even studied one of my books really closely tonight to see what I was doing differently, and realized I can knit the way those books want me to, but why on earth would I want to? It feels so fiddly. And, hey, added bonus! Apparently, combination knitting is not so rough on the wrists. I'm all for that. I'll be knitting well into old age (am I jinxing myself here??), laughing at all you sorry "normal" knitters rubbing your aching wrists.

Knowing that I recently read in IK that Annie Modesitt is a combined knitter, I flew on over to her site for information on knitting "properly" in the round. I'll have to give that one a try. This information couldn't come at a better time, too, because it'd be nice to use my new-found knowledge when knitting the Deep V Argyle Vest I'm planning to start soon. The only problem is that I'll have to knit yet another swatch just to make sure this change in the way I knit a stitch (not twisting them) doesn't drastically change my gauge (though, I suspect it could at least a little). As for my twisted socks, though, I'll be knitting the second sock of the two pairs I've got started twisted like their mates.

So, what's the moral to this story? I'm not really sure if there is one, aside from restating what we already knew: I'm weird (and it even shows when I knit).

In other, less epiphanical (is that a word??) news, I have FINALLY finished the center square of that baby shawl I began so long ago. I looks like maybe Lambchop #3 has a chance of using this thing in her lifetime, after all. I'm thinking I may actually block it before attempting to pick up stitches around the edges for the next section. For some reason, it seems to me that it may be easier to pick them up after blocking. And, besides, I'm just really anxious to see this thing blocking, so I'm willing to cheat a little and block a section even if the whole thing's not yet done.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dear Mr. Insurance Adjuster

"Yes, Mr. Insurance Adjuster, Sir. I know it sounds strange, but a gang of dwarves graffitied our new home.... they even threatened my husband at knife-point. He was truly frightened for his... uh... knees. It was awful *sniff, sniff*. A very traumatising experience. I think the only way to erase the pain would be for you to pay for us to professionally erase the bright orange stains from our home." They'd believe that, right? Or, do you think they'd come out, take a quick look at the damage, shake their head and tsk, tsk to their partner and walk back to their car saying, "Yep, it's a crying shame what a toddler can do with a can of spray paint." The sad thing is, though my story would be more entertaining, they'd be right.

And, in case you didn't believe me about his destructive ways, I took pictures (the wet spots are my futile attempts at graffiti removal, a job I'm not trained for). You thought I was exaggerating before, didn't you? I wasn't, and I hear they're opening up a slot for him at the juvenile detention center - you know, their way of nipping the whole graffiti problem in the bud. I swear, we'll try to reform him before it gets to that, though. And no need to call social services. Despite what you might expect, he wasn't beaten.

Now onto the good news...

I have, as promised, some pictures of Lambchop #3's new hat. She was so cute, I couldn't decide which one I liked best, so I'm posting several (Blogger willing, of course). From the smile on her face, I'd say she likes the hat, wouldn't you? These are the first smile shots I've been able to get. I love baby smiles.

The hat pattern is my own. I like it. It was pretty easy. I just cast on 80 stitches and knit in the round (with Knit Picks Merino Style on 3.5 mm needles) for a few inches. Then, I started in with little bitty cables. Then, I decreased evenly so as to have a five-point star at the top (a variation of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitting Without Tears' formula). And, voilà: warm baby head.

And, lastly a sneak peak of my newest project. I've swatched for Eunny Jang's Deep V Argyle Vest. Very cute pattern, and I've heard the instructions are great. That's actually why I'm doing it. I wanted to learn some things about color knitting and steeking and all that, and this is the very first color work pattern that has really caught my eye. I don't even know if I'll be able to wear the thing after I'm done knitting it. I don't even care, which is a little funny. I figure I'll knit it in the size I usually am after finishing up breastfeeding a baby and hope it'll look good on me then. If not, I've got a friend I think it'd fit and look great on.

As it is for now, I really have enjoyed just knitting the swatch(es). I had to knit two, and I changed needles more than once in the first. The smaller, second swatch was when I finally got the right gauge, which is why I quit after knitting two inches. I'm going to need some yarn to knit the vest with, right? The pattern recommends knitting on 3.5 mm needles. I finally got gauge with 4.5 mm needles. Crazy. I'm just happy I seemed to have gotten row gauge, too. I didn't want to have to calculate. Math. Ewww. Icky.

Doing the swatches helped me learn more than which needle size to go with, though. I also realized I should not knit this while watching tv or with small children in the vicinity (unless they are sleeping or otherwise knocked out cold, like say after having provoked the wrath of God by tagging a local church with spray paint). I should also use stitch markers to place at every tenth stitch, and a magnifying glass would come in handy for reading the chart. All these lessons were learned when I realized how easy it was for me to make a mistake in this pattern (there is one in each swatch). If I can't knit more than two inches following this argyle pattern, I'm in serious trouble. So, maybe it should be renamed the Deep Concentration Argyle Vest... at least around my house.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Zoom! Zoom!

Anybody else remember that commercial where they just sing zoom over and over again in their jingle? I don't even remember what they're advertising. But that jingle could be my theme song these days. And, that first picture there is the perfect image for it.

Things are just really busy around here. Taking care of three small kids is no walk in the park - unless you're taking the kids for a walk in the park, in which case it's a stressful walk in the park as they dart left and right out of your line of sight. They are cuties, though - despite the fact that Lambchop #1 is annoying the heck out of me, begging to play her computer games. What can I say? My turn!

In case you're wondering what that first picture is of, I'll just come right out and tell you. No time for beating around the bush today. Every year, there's a Rally car race that passes in front of our little dirt road. For several hours on that day, we are trapped at home or away from home, as that's the sole access route to our property. This year, the kids talked their daddy into taking them to see the fast cars slide around the curve in front of our mailbox. He even tried to take pictures. He got a few of the road completely carless. Then, he got some headlights straight on. Not very interesting. I really like this one though - most likely because it suits my life so well these days. The race didn't last very long, though. Apparently there was an accident or some other security issue, so it was canceled. The problem with this particular race is that its reputation has diminished over the years, and now only amateurs who lack the proper safety features on their cars participate. A real pro's car could handle almost anything, but I don't think these cars could. So, it's probably for the best that it was canceled.

Now, I'll quickly share a bit of our fall harvest with you. It's kind of strange. We've still got some veggies coming in. We never had time to get rid of the almost-dead summer plants and plant winter stuff. Wish we had, but the rains last month revived the tomatoes, onions and zucchini, and bizarrely mild temperatures had tons of flowers out there. So, I had a decent little haul the other day. Hooray for global warming, huh? Very odd. We have had a few fall goodies, too, as you can see in this other picture. I think these are Hubbard winter squash, but I'm not certain about that. Some of the plants they came from were planted using seeds from a store-bought pumpkin, but they look like smaller versions of the squash I'm getting from my Hubbard plants. These have to be some of the tastiest things I've ever had. I cut them in half and bake them in the oven till their outer skin is soft. Then, they can just spooned right out. Mixed with some salt and cream, they make a delicious puree. They have a very sweet flavor that reminds many people of chestnuts. And, they're sweetness makes them wonderful for sweet pumpkin pies (and, I've made a really tasty savory one, too).

And, one last photo for you before I give up the computer to Lambchop #1...

This is a very nice work-in-progress - not mine, but definitely worth showing off. It's the bathroom in the new house. Our favorite, very handy Muttonchop has been slowly laying that wood down there. He laid the floor a while back, but the other night I walked in to find he'd gone up the side of the bath already. This is exactly what I had asked for, but I hadn't expected to love the look of it THIS much. Feels like a sauna. I think bathrooms are often very cold looking with all their blues and greens. Those colors can be pretty, and they work well with the water theme of a bathroom, but I've decided I want a warmer feel for the room I get nekked in. Know what I mean?

Knitting pictures should come soon. I started swatching for something new, despite the hubster's objection to me not fixing the neck of his sweater first. Doesn't the man know a certain amount of detachment is necessary to rip part of a finish work?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Got To Love the Little Ones

Don't you love how newborns can poop enormously explosive poops in their diapers while looking innocently around them like nothing's happening? "What? I didn't hear anything."

That's about all I have time to share right now. I have lots to say and plenty of pictures to show but very little time to post these days. Soon, I'll have fun things like pictures of a smiling Lambchop #3 wearing the new hat I made her (the first smile I was able to capture with the camera!). So, just keep in mind that patience is a virtue (something I'm having trouble remembering as I type this post, because I'm having to slam my finger down on the A key that Lambchop #2 broke last week).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Heavy Sigh

I finally finished the Durrow sweater, and he does look quite nice in it. The heavy sigh in the post title could be relief at a job well-done. Of course, it could also be due to the fact that I'm not 100% satisfied with the collar. I'm not usually one to rip and redo things. In my knitting I try to conquer the obsessive need for perfection. I worked so hard on this knit, though, that I want it just right. That, and the fact that it's not for me probably makes it more important that I get it just the way I envisioned it. I guess since I'm not constantly looking at myself while wearing a knitted garment, I can handle a few mistakes here and there or a slightly imperfect fit.

I have to sit and look at my husband wearing my work, though, and if it's not the way I wanted, it bugs me (A bit like the window blinds being askew - yeah, I can handle a pile of dirty dishes in the sink but the blinds have to be perfect. Go figure.). So, I'll be undoing the collar a bit and finding a solution for making it a little tighter. For some reason, it turned out a bit loose. I'm sure it's related to the fact that, despite my stitch gauge being fine, my row gauge was off. Don't ask me how that could have made a difference in the tightness of the collar, but that's probably the problem. I'm thinking I'll just continue into a turtle neckish thing (crew neck, I guess), doing a few decreases to tighten it as it goes up. I'm sure I can handle the relatively simple math that would be involved in that endeavor. So, once again, I've got no knitting to show you. Oh well, the good news is that redoing a little collar isn't like ripping and reknitting a whole sleeve. It should be relatively quick.

And, before I go, I want to thank you all for the comments on my last post. You're all so sweet. The best thing about it is that now I know that if I ever want comments, all I need to do is act all pathetic and needy. Nothing like a little sympathy (or perhaps it was guilt??) to bring out the comments. I swear that's not what I was going for, but I do appreciate the comments. I especially enjoyed seeing some newer commenters who apparently read my blog despite me having been unaware of it. I liked seeing this, because I always like to go read the blogs of those people who read mine. Since I'm pretty isolated from other knitters and a little too busy with the three lambchops to seek out or form a knitting group around here, I use the net and blogging as a way to feel that sense of community and a shared passion. I like reading about the things people knit and seeing the pictures of the finished project. What I like even more, though, is being able to interact with another knitter, which you don't always get from reading the more "popular" blogs that receive a million comments each time they post. My blog obviously doesn't inspire that amount of commenting, and I'm okay with that. Instead, I like to use the comments as a way to get to know the people who read my blog (and likely have some things in common with me). So, comment away. It just might get you a new reader on your own blog.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

So... What's Up?

What's up with you? Did I just say that already?

You ever meet up with an old friend or boyfriend or something and stare blankly at each other trying to figure out what to say? You know how it is, you've exchanged the usual pleasantries about you're family, work, etc. Then, you're lost. You realize that you don't know this person, and it's a little like attempting to share intimate details of your life with the girl at the cash register when you're stocking up on tampons. The only difference is that you've got a past together, but that does nothing to make your current meeting any more interesting.

That's a bit how I feel about blogging this week. Not many people comment anymore (not that there were tons of comments before), which leads me to believe I've been a bit uninteresting lately. Might have something to do with the fact that I call this a knitting blog but there's rarely any knitting content, anymore. Woops. What's up with that? I have actually been knitting - a lot, really. And, I've been fantasizing about new projects (even buying yarn for them), which all makes for great chit chat for a knitblog. Problem is none of it seems to be at a stage that's interesting enough for pictures, so it just goes unmentioned.

And, is there really anything of interest in my everyday life to tell you about? Do you really want to hear about how my washing machine is wigging out on me, and I was already a little behind on laundry? Or, how our pal Lambchop #2 pulled several keys off my keyboard and typing this post is a huge pain, because I practically have to bang on the "a" to get it to work? Or, how I just burned lunch while simultaneousy typing this post and feeding Lambchop #3? You probably wouldn't come back after reading all those complaints. Oops! You just did. What does that do to our relationship? Are we going to have to have THE TALK? "You're a really nice blogger, but [insert long, uncomfortable pause here] you know, I just don't deserve a blogger like you in my bloglines subscriptions..."

Can you believe I just made a whole post out of how I have nothing to post about? That takes real talent. Maybe you shouldn't delete me from your bloglines subscriptions just yet. I'm bound to come up with something interesting soon. Like how I'm halfway finished sewing together the Durrow sweater. And, how I've just bought some really pretty yarn for a fun fair isle knit (that I'm really excited about, since I've never done any real fair isle to speak of). And, I may even throw in a cute baby picture or two. So, stick with me here. I promise some fun soon enough.

In the meantime, allow me to recommend a movie to you. I inadvertantly watched it last night (you're wondering how you inadvertantly watch a movie - it's easy when you've got a million channels... hubby does that last channel sweep before heading off to bed... he leaves it on something pretty intriguing while you finish "one more row."). Anyway, it was a cute little Argentine movie called "Historias Minimas". Reminds me a lot of "The Straight Story". Same almost snail-like pace with intriguing characters whose lives cross in funny and unexpected ways. The little details are the best part, because they reveal wonderfully intimate details about the characters and their motivations. Definitely worth a rental if you can find it.