Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The April Book List

1.  Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt:  Gillian and I are in the very exciting place where her school reading list is starting to overlap considerably with my great love of children's literature.  In fact, she studied Tuck Everlasting during the second trimester of EEE (our gifted program) in a focused literature minor that was built on that book alone.  So when she was done with the class, I borrowed the book!  I wish I could say that I loved it....but honestly I didn't enjoy it all that much.  I do understand thematically why it has the type of acclaim it does, but I really felt like it didn't come close to the brilliance of the many, many children's books on my bookshelves.  It was quick and easy...and ultimately forgettable. 

2.  The Sisters Brothers, Patrick deWitt:  A Books On The Nightstand recommendation!  This book is what I would describe as a comedic Western about a pair of brothers who are famous outlaws.  I absolutely loved reading it!  deWitt managed to perfectly capture the voice of the younger brother, who narrates, to the point that I could 'hear' him speak.  The situations the brothers get in range from typical Western to so outlandish you just have to laugh, and the arc of the narrative tracks a perfect path.  It's not a deep book by any means, but if you want some fun that's more than just fluff, this is the book for you!

3.  Call The Midwife, Jennifer Worth:  I became entranced with the PBS series based on Jennifer Worth's memoirs at the end of the last season, and so when it started back up again a month or so ago it became appointment tv for me.  After a little behind the scenes snippet about the real life friendships being portrayed, I decided to track down the memoirs. I am so very glad I did.  Worth writes with a personal, engaging touch....and the subject is clearly dear to her heart, and written of with deep compassion.  Many of the stories are directly represented in the tv series (sometimes with minor changes, sometimes with larger changes so that the social issue can be more fully explored).  I highly recommend Worth's books. 

4.  Shadows of the Workhouse, Jennifer Worth:  The second book.  It's a tad different because Worth goes into greater detail of the lives of a specific few she knew who had direct experience with the old British Workhouse system. 

5.  Farewell to the East End, Jennifer Worth:  A return to the shorter stores of the first book, but with additional chapters that explore the social issues behind the individual tales.  Worth also tells what happens to her friends after their midwifery days come to an end.

6.  The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald:  Ahem.  I'd never read it.  Whoops.  With the movie coming out soon (and for as much as I"m not a movie person, I do love Baz Luhrmann) I thought I should fix that.  Fortunately, Heather Ordover of Craftlit did a 'Just the benefits' version of her show as a subscriber benefit.  I downloaded the audio from my library, and used her show to help dig in.  Now I can go see the movie with my dignity intact. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Blessings

 
We shall keep this very simple this week....
 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Comfort Knitting

 Basic Socks - a la Ann Budd
Opal Memory, color 2494
Knit Picks Harmony DPN's - 2.0 mm
Oct 7, 2012 - April 17, 2013
(Truth:  I cast on and did about 14 rows of the first sock back in October. 
I did the rest in less than a week!)
The last few weeks have been amazingly stressful as I've transitioned from being a SAHM of 10 years into a working mom.  I knew it would be....I'm not someone who's been blessed with a career or even many jobs which have been all that enjoyable or fulfilling.  The fact that I've gone back as a sub...well, let's just say that has certain challenges inherent in the position.  I've not had much left over for my creative life (or, sadly, my family) over the last few weeks. 
 
Thus, comfort knitting.
 
Basic socks in a color so luscious that it fills my heart with gladness.  (And my, oh my....you've no idea just how much I adore this color!)
 
Just what the doctor ordered.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Blessings!

  1. Surviving my first substitute teaching assignment with sanity and dignity intact.
  2. Even enjoying it!
  3. Having three great jobs lined up for this coming week.
  4. Neighbors who are willing to watch the girls for a bit in the morning and help them get on the bus...so that Sean and I can both work, but don't have to pay an arm and a leg for child care.
  5. Beautiful, beautiful weather
  6. Having been able to pay off all of our medical bills this week.
  7. New yoga pants...on sale!
  8. A growing puppy
  9. Speaking of the puppy....accident free days....promising a soon-to-be-fully-housetrained future!
  10. Patrick chocolate.  Have I said that before?
  11. Great kids.
  12. Discovering that I'm a great pre-teen Mom. (There have been stages that I've not been so good at...but it's good because Sean and I usually switch back and forth so they're all covered!)
  13. Getting that first official sermon under my belt.
  14. With a small, and very forgiving congregation.  Love you all!
  15. Handknit socks.  It's almost time to put them away for the year....but my oh my are the wonderful!
  16. The fact that my eldest child has blessedly normal feet, which are easy to buy shoes for!
  17. Zappos for my own hard to fit feet.
  18. Our hammock
  19. A new electric skillet
  20. Bacon
  21. Sean....just because...and always and forever.
  22. Good teachers...who've once again come to our rescue this week.
  23. http://choosekind.tumblr.com/
  24. That perfect professional outfit...which I may wear every single day to a bunch of different schools, but which makes me feel beautiful.
  25. Special time with my honorary niece and her angelic big sister.
  26. A very, very special gift.
  27. Houseplants!
  28. Books...lots and lots of books.
  29. Good pots and pans which are easy to clean.  Ridiculous thing to be happy about, but when you've had the opposite for as long as we did...
  30. Walks with the girls and the dog!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Saving Sean's Socks

 Do you remember these?
 
They are Sean's beloved Space Invaders socks.....which I knit for him way back in 2007.
 After five years of love and wear - and one reknit of the toes - the bottoms looked like this.
 The heels were going.
 And the bottoms of both were completely shot.
 So I did what any good knitter would do....I took a sharp pair of scissors to the socks and cut the feet off, saving the good tops.
 After carefully frogging the legs back so that both were even, I put all of the stitches on needles and set it aside to wait until I had time to reknit the feet.
 Which I'm in the process of doing this week! 
Selfish knitting be darned....the husband needs his socks back!
 Instead of doing the original black stockinette feet with green toes and heels, I decided to do an entirely black foot with ribbing on the top for a better/more snug fit. 
 
I actually took this last sock pic a couple of days ago....and I should finish the second sock tomorrow.
Just in time for my husband to wear his socks to his Geekway event!
 
Happy husband!

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Bit Of A Pickle

My husband walked in on me as I was working on repairing a pair of his handknit socks.  "Weren't you supposed to be knitting for yourself this year?" he asked.
 
Why yes....yes I was.
 
However, there is a bit of a hitch with my plan for selfish knitting....You see, I'm actually losing weight right now at a slow but steady pace.  (Thank you very much allergy diet!  Perhaps more on that at a later date.)  As much as I am simply dying to start working on my wardrobe, I am a bit hesitant to put hours of work into something that may not fit for very long, thus wasting valuable time and resources.  I'm also not at all interested - having been there, done that - in knitting things in a smaller size that I may or may not be able to eventually wear because that's just too risky and heartbreaking.
 
So honestly, what's a girl to do? 
 
As I ponder that question (and please do feel free to share your opinions....I'm totally open right now to hearing what you have to say!) I thought I would share with you some of my favorite patterns.  Today I present five of my favorite cardigans.  Eve's Ribs is probably my favorite as it is very similar to a beloved store bought cardi which is on it's last legs.  Later this week I may present some pullovers and short sleeve/summer knits.
 
Without further ado.....
 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Blessings

As you know, every so once in a while I get a bee in my bonnet to add a regular feature to the blog.  Some of them work better than others, and it's always a fun experiment.  I've had the sort of day that's run a wide variety of emotions - from pure contentment to the sort of rage that makes you shake from your tippie toes to the crown of your head.  In reflecting on all of that, I realized that the choice I want to make is to focus on the good....and thus, my Sunday Blessings feature was born.
  1. Spring weather
  2. and open windows
  3. Church
  4. Good friends with whom I can complain loudly about all manners of things - thus getting it off my chest so that I don't say anything later that I would come to regret.
  5. A silly five month old puppy who already weighs 40 lbs. 
  6. and the love he clearly shares with his two girls.
  7. A new flower bed next to the playhouse.
  8. Naps
  9. Excellent advice from trusted friends about the job I'm about to embark upon.
  10. Not being afraid (mostly) of the changes ahead.
  11. The opportunity to use that new job to explore future possibilities.
  12. Along with the sense (at long last) that I have possibilities that I might enjoy.
  13. Having the absolute perfect first day at work scheduled!
  14. My allergy drops.
  15. My status as honorary "Aunt Kristin", which gives me license to snag a gorgeous baby and take care of her all through church.
  16. The gaggle of little girls who gathered around that gorgeous baby...a garden of lovely flowers. 
  17. Period dramas on PBS
  18. Fitting into a gorgeous pair of grey wool slacks for the first time in years....and feeling amazing in them.
  19. Which means that I don't have to go spend money right away on a work wardrobe...which is a relief as we have other, more important things we need to do with my paycheck!
  20. Houseplants.
  21. Yarn and beads....beauty and potential.
  22. Peaceful rain
  23. Being able to repair my husband's favorite pair of socks.
  24. Patric dark chocolate
  25. Playful dogs...which are hilarious!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh How He Grows

 Feb. 4
 April 4
 Feb. 4
April 4

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Art Comes In Many Forms

I felt that my girls' work deserved a public forum, and so...drumroll, please....
 
EGG ART!
 


We can thank my parents for this craziness!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What Losing Looks Like

 Honey Baby
by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot
Malabrigo Yarn Lace - 2.25 skeins
US 3, 3.25 mm needle - Addi Turbo circs
March 7 - April 2, 2013
Mods:  I left off the edging because I just wasn't up to a 4 row repeat and I wanted to be done so that I could move on.  Instead, I bound off with a crochet chain....attaching with single crochet to groups of four stitches.
 
Notes:  I will never buy Malabrigo Lace again.  It's buttery soft, and oh so perfect for a baby.  But.  The first skein I used had more than 10 imperfections that I had to correct, it felts if you look at it wrong (thus making corrections impossible) and it's not going to hold up for much use.  It's a shame....the colors are amazing.
 
And yes, this was my race project with the sweet baby. 
 
Which I'm so very happy I lost!  Baby has been home for more than two weeks now and is as healthy and happy as can be.  She's a joy!
 

 (I added this picture so that you could see the color...it's very acurate.)

 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Grumpy


Dear Aeolian Shawl,

I think it's time that you and I broke up.

It's not you, it's me.  Or rather it is you...but it's how I am with you.  Maybe it is you.  Maybe it was always you.  No, it was probably me. 

Sigh.....let me start at the beginning. 

I fell in love with you the instant I saw you all the way back in 2009.  You were EXACTLY the sort of knitting I love best...a gorgeous shawl, intricate lace, Estonian stitches, even beads!....absolute perfection.  I knew you had to be mine.  I knew I had to knit you.  Love, love, love.  Rarely have I fallen so hard or so fast....or remained devoted for so long. 

So I did what any good knitter would do...I began to look for the perfect materials.

The beads were easy.  I already had a pack of a gorgeous size 8/0 matte bronze bead, so all I had to do was pick up another 4,000 or so so that I had enough to fulfill your promise.  Easy.

The trouble began with the search for the yarn.  I had in my mind's eye an olive green to play against the bronze....yes, a perfect olive green. 

If only it were as easy to find as it was to envision. 

I spent forever searching for my olive green laceweight.  I think you know...having been with me for so long...of my frustrations for finding laceweight yarns.  I've never had a local store stoke the types of laceweight I enjoy...much less laceweight in my earthy colors.  I looked online, but that's always risky.  Fortunately, I was willing to be patient. 

I thought I had found the perfect match when I discovered an alpaca laceweight in just the right green, with oh so subtle streaks of red, yellow and blue in desert tones throughout.  Four skeins...a bargain price...a sale!...I was ready! 

Then, before I was able to start working on you....sigh....the agony of an alpaca allergy.  That yarn, sadly, lives in a plastic bag in my closet...one of the only two alpaca yarns I was unable to sell.  It's very sad, unfulfilled potential and lost promises. 

Back to the drawing board. 

You know what I went through.  You know how often I've tried to apply the yarns I had to your gorgeous pattern and/or marry it with the beads.  I was stubborn.  I refused to give up on my green...and then I refused to give up on my beads...and I refused to buy something new...and I refused to settle for less than perfect. 

I thought I had finally figured it out. 

You see, two summers ago I picked up two skeins of The Sanguine Griffen's laceweight in a beautiful dusty purple with pink undertones.  Imagine my delight when it looked gorgeous against the beads.  I cast on back before the Christmas gift knitting began, and then set it aside as a future gift to myself.

Of course, I ignored the warning signs back then. 

But after messing with it for two hours again this morning, I have to admit that it's just not working.  The yarn is composed of many wee plys...which are prone to shredding when adding the beads.  Neither one of my beading tools work with it for one reason or another, and with some 5,000 beads to add I can't bear the thought of placing them one at a time with a crochet hook.  I just can't go on.

So I think it's time to let go of you and go look for something else to create.  There are other patterns in the world, after all, which are just as lovely as you. 

You will always have a special place in my heart.

Sincerely,

Your Grumpy Knitter