Friday, September 30, 2011

A More Normal Month - September Books

1.  The Man In The Rockefeller Suit, Mark Seal (library, audio) - Surprise, surprise!  A Books on the Nightstand recommendation!  This one is non-fiction, and I must say I was rather appaled with the events of this massive - and rather nutso - con.  Can't believe what people will do, can't believe what people will believe.  It got a bit old, though, as most of it was built on repititious fictional stories built by "Clark" for his various audiences.  Must have been fascinating to research!

2.  The Devil In The White City, Erik Larson (library,ebook) - felt like I should read it as everyone else has.  Not so enamoured.  I understand what Larson was trying to do with the juxtaposition of the World's Fair and the first serial killer...but I personally would have enjoyed it best as two separate books.  Again, Larson's storytelling style is not my favorite. 

3.  The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh (library, ebook) I'm grateful that I read this book (Books on the Nightstand recommendation again), and while I did check it out from the library I will be buying my own copy.  Diffenbaugh has created a very realistic story of a girl aging out of the foster care system...but she also brings in a healthy dose of hope.  Once upon a time I worked as a fundraiser for a group home, and while I was insulated from the actual horrors of the girls' lives I know enough to see the truth in this book.  I also must say that I admire Diffenbaugh for using the book to raise awareness of the difficulties kids face when they age out, and would recommend that you all look into The Camellia Network, the nonprofit she's created to help.  Besides all of that, it's a beautifully written book.

4.  Dreams of Joy, Lisa See (library, ebook)  Confession:  I didn't make it all the way through the book.  I didn't even make it through part.  Joy was my least favorite character in Shanghai Girls, and I found her downright detestable as a lead. 

5.  The Mask of Zorro, Johnston McCulley (Classic Tales Podcast) Another confession:  after several years of the Classic Tales, I'm getting rather tired of B.J. Harrison.  He's a phenomenal reader, but after a while his characters and voices are becoming tiresome and repetitive.  Nevertheless, it's a great book. 

6.  The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss (ebook) - Man oh man, am I ever enjoying this book!  I'm not done yet....but it is the first time in a very long time that I've found a new fantasy author to love.  I'll tell you more when I finish!

7.  Love Over Scotland, The World According to Bertie, Unbearable Lightness of Scones, Alexander McCall Smith (library, CD)  This concludes all of the current books in the 44 Scotland St. series.  Good lighthearted reading...BUT for a few things.  1.  My Bertie I was starting to notice serious inconsistencies.  (A room that was painted was back to original color, another character claims to not have received a gift when she did in the book before....)  Also, while I appreciate the serialization I have to admit that I'm growing tired of the fact that there's so little movement and resolution.  And I really can't stomach much more of Irene. 

8.  Bellwether, Connie Willis (audio, library)  I actually read this book years ago, but to be honest I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  It was even more fun in audio with a fantastic narrator.  Willis is - in my humble opinion - a genius.  I love the details in her book, and I love the way in which every single word is relevant and every single idea is connected to every other idea.  Extra bonus, there are sheep in this book!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Some Thoughts.

 It occurred to me yesterday that the difficulty of the lace I am working on is directly proportional to the amount of stress I am experiencing at any given time.
 Thus...with almost five weeks of illness in our home along with several other issues that I'm dealing with right Princess shawl is getting a LOT of attention.  It takes 30-45 min to complete a row, but I've managed almost 40 rows this week alone by carving out little bits of focused time when I can. 

 78 stitch pattern repeats?  yarn that is literally threadlike?  2.0 mm needles?  Yes please!  You would be surprised at how natural and easy it all feels when I allow myself to relax into the flow.
People always seem a bit shocked when I tell them that no, in fact I don't knit 'for fun.' 

I knit to help put order into life.  I knit to forget my troubles...even if just for a little while.  I knit to sooth myself with the combination of math and beauty.  I knit to release pressure so that I don't blow up in other areas of my life.  I knit to create, which counterbalances all of the negative.

The fact that it is intensely satisfying is a bonus.

And this particular project is more satisfying than most.

Monday, September 26, 2011

In Which We Are All Finally On The Mend...I Hope

My parents have lovely trees, and the color of this particular fir called to me during our last visit.

  • Both children are in school today!
  • That's not a guarantee that they are both finally well...but it's a definite step up over the last week.
  • The last month has been a lesson in "Man Plans, God Laughs." The type of flexibility this lesson requires is not something that comes naturally to me...but I'm trying. 
  • Probably I needed the lesson!
  • I also needed the 5 hours in Starbucks with a cup of tea and my knitting yesterday to decompress.  I'm still a bit wound, but feel considerably better.
  • So what is going on around here?
  • I took the Pixie to see The Lion King yesterday - and managed to completely traumatize her.  With tickets so expensive, I felt we couldn't leave just after opening credits, which is what she wanted to we stayed for the whole thing, and she hated it. 
  • I failed to take into account two things.  1.  My kids HATE 3D, mostly because of the uncomfortable glasses.  2.  In 3D the scary parts are considerably more intense...and they were scary enough before.  She's loved the movie at home...but it's a very different experience when you are in the safety of your own home and the visuals are contained by a much smaller screen.
  • Sigh.
  • Interestingly enough, I feel like I needed the movie's rather big life lessons.  I was stunned to realize exactly how much they fitted in with some work I'm doing right now on figuring out my own path.
  • The Princess went on her first-ever camping trip with her best friend this weekend.  Total win!  She loved every minute of it!
  • We're trying to arrange for her to spend as much time as possible with friends to balance out her academics.  She's awfully bright, but I don't want her entire life to be centered around school.
  • Mom and Dad have bought a new ram, which they are going to pick up sometime in the next couple of weeks.  He's a four-horned, lilac Jacob named Hercules, and I can't wait to share pictures with you because he is the craziest looking sheep I've ever seen.
  • My running days may be over, and so I'm looking for a new cardio activity to take over.  Why?  Well the foot that I (most likely) broke back in April of last year protested loudly after I ran last week.  I had been so excited because it was an awesome run, in which everything felt great!  But then I limped for three days. 
  • I love, love, love strength training.  Cardio...not so much.  That's why this feels like a highly annoying chore. 
  • Compounding the problem - my hands and feet tend to fall asleep on all cardio machines but the treadmill.  Ditto for my bike, which stinks because I would love to be able to do distance riding.  There isn't anything wrong with my circulatory's just bad luck of the draw. 
  • What to do...what to do... Ideas are welcome!
  • Actually, this might not be so much of a bad thing.  I'm working on being more gentle/kinder towards myself and let's face it - running is not a gentle/kind activity.
  • My craft habits seem to be changing...more on that tomorrow as it's going to affect the blog a bit.
  • MO peaches are done for the summer, and I am in mourning. 
  • I've been looking online at real estate - specifically property around here.  Is that odd? 
  • Reading is back to normal this month, thank God.  Last month was weird.
And that's about it for now.  Have a great week!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tree Of Life

 At long last!
 Tree Of Life
Pattern by Janelle Laidman
in The Enchanted Sole
 Malabrigo Sock - 1 skein Primavera, 1 skein Chocolate Amargo
Knit Picks 2.25 mm Harmony DPN's
August 2 - September 25, 2011

Mods:  I dumped the patterned heel in favor of a standard heel flap for a better fit.  Also did a checkerboard on sole for what looks and feels like a more stable fabric than the stripes on the top created.

Comments:  Apparently I am an abnormal knitter.  For most, the color carried on top on the backside will be the dominant color, but for me it's the opposite.  Thus the primavera stands out more than the chocolate.  In person, the gauge is too loosey-goosey for me, but that's just the way it is.  Malabrigo sock has a horrid reputation for wear, but I doubt these will get worn all that often anyway as the leg is a bit too long for my liking!  I do love, love, love the evidenced by the fact that this is the second time I've used this color combination for a project. 
While I was at it, I caught up on my mini-socks.  I've decided that for most colorwork socks, I'll do a simple sock like the one on the left (goes with Classic Kilim) with the body of the sock worked in the main color and cuff, heels and toes worked in the contrast.  Makes it quick and easy!

Now...I need to figure out what to do with my collection of mini-socks, which is now somewhere between 60 and 65....

Friday, September 23, 2011

In The Meantime....

How about some more fun farm pictures?!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Second Verse, Same As The First

Monday evening my wee Pixie spiked a fever, and has been home with me every since. We're fairly certain it's the same pneumonia that big sis has had as there is a near match in symptoms.

This makes almost a full three weeks of yuckiness in our house....and the problem has been compounded by a fair amount of ugly behavior by girls who are just so exhausted that they have no better way to respond to life right now.

As for me, I'm worn to the bone. Honestly, a case of mommy burn-out was kicking in before all of this started, and after three weeks of being stuck at home and/or canceling plans I'm getting a smidge cranky myself.

Poor kids, poor mama.

Here's hoping that life - and my girls - will soon be back to normal.

I do have some fun things to share...which I will do just as soon as the girls are both back to their normal, energetic selves.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Hot Off The Needles

It's supposed to have sleeves. I also don't know that I'll be able to pry it away from her to put buttons on it. She stood next to me as I bound off the sleeve stitches, snatched it away from me as the last end was tucked into place, and has been wearing it every since. Who am I to get in the way of true love?

February Princess (Sweater) Vest

Adjustments to make child size by me.

Addi Turbo, 24 inch US 6

June 1 - September 18, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My, How They've Grown

It's been a while since I shared some pictures of our sheepy friends. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quietly Resting

The quality of the pictures on my phone is dubious (very low pixels)...but I love being able to capture images like this one on the spur of a moment!

  • It's been a long couple of weeks, culminating in a diagnosis of pneumonia for my eldest last night in a pediatric Urgent Care.

  • She's not on death's door by any means, but she's exhausted all of the time, and feels weak and out of sorts....all of that with a persistent low-grade fever and a really bad cough and a crazy weight-loss for a little girl.

  • The knife's blade I found myself balanced on last night was the antibiotic question. She just completed her first-ever course of antibiotics for what we thought (and could have been) was a sinus infection. That's right...8 and a half years old when she had her first antibiotics. I firmly believe they are over-perscribed for things they don't help, and I think it's best to let the body heal itself most of the time. Anyway, without any way to tell whether or not the pneumonia is viral or bacterial the doc put her on a second round of antibiotics 'to be on the safe side.'

  • What to do....what to do....

  • She's taking the meds.

  • Normally, I'm very relaxed about my kids' illnesses. This is literally the first time I've EVER taken a child to the doctor for anything other than a routine check-up.

  • This one has been different, and from day one I've been worried. My gut says give her the meds this time, and so I am.

  • In the meantime, I'm keeping her home today and tomorrow to rest. I sent her to school last week, and now regret the decision given how exhausted she was in the evenings and the fact that this hasn't cleared up yet. (She stayed home the Thurs. and Fri. of the week before when this all started.)

  • And I will be honest....I am enjoying all of the one-on-one time with her.

  • I'm also enjoying the "Mommy, I need you" calls and the extra snuggles from my independent kid who normally is a daddy's girl.

  • I'm selfish that way.

  • So this is part of why the posts have been rather impersonal as of late.

Good news:

  • My youngest has happily adjusted to school at long last.

  • Just this morning she said, "Mom, I'm used to school now."

  • She plays school in her room all of the time, and reads to her Guinea Pig constantly.

  • I am greatly relieved, and VERY happy about this development!

I've only 30 minutes left until my extra kids get here, so I need to get moving.

Love to you all!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Herringbone Socks

Herringbone Rib Socks

Claudia Handpaint Sock, 2 skeins

Knit Picks Harmony DPN's - 2.5 mm

August 24 - Sept 11, 2011

The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the leg to four inches so that I would be able to finish both socks with enough left over for a wee matching sock and a couple of squares on the blanket. If you think you are getting two socks with 6-7 inch legs out of only two skeins (as the pattern indicates) you are delusional.

It's a good thing this pattern called for a thicker fingering weight yarn, because otherwise I would have had to rewrite it to accomadate a happier-for-me gauge. As is, I wouldn't at all want to work the Herringbone pattern (which I adore!) with a smaller needle, but the bottom of the foot is boarderline too lose.

Having said that, I love the fit, and I love these socks!

I have a bit left on the Tree Of Life socks, and then another pair to do this month (already cast on) and I'll be completely caught up for the sock project!

* The only downer about this entire project is that I don't at all trust Claudia yarns to be colorfast. Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while might recall that in the past I've had a horrendous time with Claudia sock yarns bleeding to nothing within just a wash or two...which is horribly dissapointing as the colors are so wonderful. This is why the wee sock and the squares were so importnat....I love the color so much that I want a record of it as I expect these socks to look like garbage after only a few wearings. Sigh.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It Is Time

Last night I began working on the feathered border of my Princess Shawl.

At almost 900 stitches, that first patterned row took almost an hour.

But it's a start!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Learning To Slow Down

This summer I discovered that I do truly enjoy embroidery. The lack of rules, the freedom in selecting stitches and's all a good foil to the often precise structure of my knitting.
And let's face it....much as I enjoy the knitting I also recognize the fact that I use it as a tool to focus some of my less-desirable personality traits in a positive manner so that they don't affect my family or muck with my life too much. (OCD anyone?)

Plus, there is just so much that I want to accomplish with my knitting that I find I speed through each project as quickly as I am able.

Embroidery is free of all of that.

And because it is free, it allows me to take a breath and slow down. I do a little bit here, and another little bit there, and then I can let the whole project just sit for a while.

It's a very good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My Knitting Basket

As the Princess is entering day six of a nasty sinus infection (and yes, I sent her to school today anyway...judge as you will), I find myself playing catch-up today. It's been a long week, and much has been neglected in favor of snuggles, pampering and sympathy.

We shall discuss later how much I've enjoyed most of this last week....she so rarely needs me....

Which is why I, quite naturally, thought that the best post for today would be a good, old-fashioned look into the knitting basket to see what I'm working on.

First up, my August socks. They will likely be finished in the next day or two, so I won't provide too many details yet.

I will, however, give you two pictures to show what lighting and a flash can do with color. The second picture is color-accurate with the flash, but the first (I think) is prettier. Go figure. Until I get a better camera....

The Green Woman would like you all to know that she thinks it's fabulous that you all chose to leave the first Tree of Life sock in her hand. After watching her caper about the house with it on her head for a week or so, I reclaimed it, tried it on again, and decided to make the second sock exactly as the first. I just want them done. They are going to be a bit loose in the foot...but that's more about the yarn selection than the pattern, and I will just live with it.

I have a wee start on September. I bought the yarn during our Loopy Ewe field trip, and laughed when I put it in the project bag. It's no wonder I liked those two colors together....I've used that combo before. More details to come!

I have about 3/4 of the body on a February Lady/child sized sweater. I don't know about you, but I find it hilarious that I'm once again altering an adult pattern - originally designed for a baby - back to a child-sized pattern.

There is also a small bag of yarn for mini-socks. Obsessed, doubt.

My long-suffering, desperately-needs-attention Tibetan Clouds shawl has been sitting so long that it's a wonder it didn't pick itself up and stomp off in disgust over my neglect.

(again- true color in second picture) It's beaded silk...I don't know what's wrong with me!

I've let the Princess shawl sit long enough, and am ready to start the feather chart. Yay! I'm quite excited about this!

As always, the scrapbook blanket is there and waiting. I have actually put quite a bit into it in the last couple of weeks, and have a feeling that with the recent drop in temperature I'm going to be spending more and more time with it.

So there you have it! Yes, there are fewer projects than usual, especially considering that at least two should be finished soon. However, I love each and every project right now...and as you shall see this week there is more going on here than just knitting!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Well Fudge.

No one said the crazy year of socks was going to be easy. In fact, that was the knit something that wasn't easy. However, when you are happily cruising along on a sock that you really like, only to realize that the two skeins you've had in your stash forever aren't enough to actually complete said pair of socks....well fudge.

We are barely two weeks into the school year, and already I have a sick kid. The Princess has been a bit off all week, and last night she finally spiked a fever. While it was technically not high enough to require her to stay home by school policy, I followed my gut and kept her home anyway. Good thing, because it's higher this evening. Even more worrisome, she has had a nasty headache this entire time that she can't seem to shake....well fudge.

Normally, staying home like this wouldn't be a problem...but I had already missed one and a half workouts this week because of my own headache issues and I'm barely back in the habit....well fudge.

The squirrels are digging up my hens and chicks every night. I wake to find them turned upside down in the pot or strewn about on the porch or table where my strawberry pot sits. I have wanted that strawberry pot full of hens and chicks for years, and thanks to the squirrel issue I don't think they are going to make it through....well fudge.

It's September, and the heat is back....well fudge.

Ah well, the beauty of the thing is that none of this matters in the long run. I'll figure out something to do with the socks this evening, my daughter will bounce back in a day or two, there isn't a rush on the gym and next week the temps are supposed to be in the 70's.

The squirrels, on the other hand....