Saturday, October 29, 2011

Donning Mittens for Halloween

I've been listening to the squirrels in the trees in my backyard for most of the summer, and September too.  I've spent a bit of time in my backyard over the past 9-ish years, and I've never heard or noticed them quite like this before.  Every time we open the back door, there's usually two or three (sometimes five!) running along our back fence or skipping along in the grass.  They've been going beserk out there, running up and down and shaking the trees.  They're feverishly storing acorns for the season, and I think I understand their need for speed now.  Dude, it's gonna be an early winter!  Make that a really early one.....first snowfall was the other night and we still have autumn leaves on the trees.

Early snow is nothing new in New England, though usually that happens more often in the Northen parts.  But  they're predicting our first Nor'Easter, bringing down 6-10 inches of snow overnight and into tomorrow.  Now THAT is a little bit ridiculous.  I don't think the kids' Halloween costumes will fit a winter coat underneath!  Yesterday morning I was breaking ice off my front stairs before work, my car doors were frozen shut and we were doing a mad scramble for hats and mittens.  Sean's hat that I made for him last year of course doesn't fit, but he's thrilled with wearing it.  Funny how that works, huh?  Last year he would cry and rip it off in the car, throwing it to the floor.  Will's old hats suit him just fine, and I do have yarn in the house to make them new hats and mittens.  (Of course I stash is legendary!)  I was just hoping that I could hold off and put them in their Christmas stockings.  Perhaps not....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spooky Jack!

This is Jack.

Jack is something that I knitted for the Halloween Swap with my knitting group.  He was a lot of fun to make, and quite easy.  Felting him wasn't quite so easy at first, I will never attempt felting by hand again!  It's washing machines all the way.

After felting, I used a balloon to make Jack hold his shape while he dried.  It was kind of like papier mache.  remember papier mache?  Good times.

Once he was dry, it was time to pop the balloon, and carve the face.  I drew it on with a black Sharpie, which I intended to cut out completely while "carving" with some small scissors.  I didn't get it all, so Jack looks like he has a bit of burn marks around his eyes and nose.  In other words, close to an authentic Jack O'Lantern!

Insert a battery-operated votive and Voila!  My family thinks that he's one of the coolest things I've ever knitted!

Monday, October 24, 2011

In Which I Make a Decision.

Dude, this sweater is breaking my heart. 

I pulled Ditto out last Wednesday to work on, and got about one row into it.  Then I couldn't help but notice that I was doing the stitches wrong for the reverse ribbing.  And now my yoke has a bunch of holes in it because of mistaken yarn-overs.  Gahhhhhhhhh......

At first I thought....I have less than two weeks to my goal of wearing it at the New England Fiber Festival.  Just motor through and wear it anyway.  Call it a lesson learned in paying attention.  But I just can't do that.  I will always look at the sweater and say "this isn't right."  And eventually, it will be banished to the back of the closet, never to see the light of day because I didn't take the time to do it right.  I don't want to be that girl.  I want something that I can be proud of, something that I can say "Yeah, I made that.  It IS pretty, isn't it!"  Not "Yeah....I made that.  I could've done better." 

So.  I've decided.  The sweater hibernates.  I will come back to it after a bit of Christmas and swap knitting.  And I WILL come back to it.  It's so close to done, even with ripping back the yoke, that it would simply be a shame for it to be doomed to a life on needles instead of worn with my favorite jeans and a purple camisole.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This is why I do it.

I went outside to get the mail today, and something was waiting for me:  A thank you note from Knit for Boston.
It said thank you for the adorable items, and how cute they were, and also included a Knit for Boston button for my knitting  bag.

This is why I knit items for charity....I know that I made a dozen kids in the Boston area have warm hands on a chilly day.  Three adults have warm heads, and two more have scarves, to keep them warm in the New England cold.  It makes me feel SO GOOD to do this, to take a skill that I possess and turn it into something that helps others.  It started as a fun little project, a "bet" to see how many things I could make with scrap yarn from other projects.  And the joy that it has given me has been overwhelming.  I already have three Ziploc gallon bags with scraps from this year's projects to start another personal mitten drive in 2012.  How many pairs will I make?  One can only wait and see.

Right now I'm back on baby hats for Stitches from the Heart.  I have about fourteen, and a couple little baby blankets too.  Those will be mailed out around Christmastime.

I get asked a lot, "Wow, how do you do it?"  It's simple, really.  In between every project listed on my Ravelry page, I did a pair of mittens, or a baby hat.  (Or two, or three.  They don't take very long.)  even the baby hats are from scraps for the most part.  Though my friend Patrick scored a big bag of yarn on Freecycle the other week and brought it in on a Wednesday night to share.  I came home with my own smaller bag, dropping it on the table.  Brian gawked at the big bag and I said "um....yeah.  Patrick said to tell you that he's sorry."  So I am all set for yarn for baby hats for....the next year!

So in closing, I do it because it makes me happy, to give back.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Will's Five!

I simply cannot believe my older boy is FIVE YEARS OLD today. Really, I blink and this is what I see.  

Everyone tells you that it goes by fast, and it does!  You don't think it does until it happens to you.  Because before you know it, their first birthday is here.

And then they start developing their own traits, and fashion sense too.  And they love to model things that you've knitted.

Will, you're a terrific kid.  Your Dad and I love you so much, for so many reasons.  You're sweet and caring, and you are a wonderful big brother.

You're silly, you love to laugh and your sense of humor is impeccable.  And you've already perfected the art of a drive-by mugging for the camera.

You are happy-go-lucky, and are happy to show Sean the ropes.

You love to cook, and spend time with your Dad.  And you're a good sport too, with putting on stuff that Mom makes you put on.  Even though you just don't want to.

You have a wild side, and a wild imagination!  You have lots of ideas, and are quite creative.

And most of all, you have so much love inside you.  You love your whole family, and even though you are a big ol' five year old that "shouldn't have to go to school because you already know everything, you still want Mom and Dad to "snuggle you" and enjoy things like lullabies.

Happy Birthday, my darling.  We love you so, very very much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Famous Mind-Numbing Pepsi Disaster

At knitting tonight, I was able to move past the pain, and tell this story.

Two Saturdays ago, my family was coming over to celebrate my parent's birthdays.  (their birthdays are close together in September) We had a simple dinner planned with two desserts and presents to cap it off.  My parents arrived first.  (which is not surprising, because my brother and sister-in-law are often late.  The baby coming next month probably will make them later, and that is totally cool)

Whenever my parents come over, I make sure to have some Pepsi on hand for my father.  I know that it's what he likes to drink, I am a good hostess, and I aim to please.  In typical fashion, my dad discovers the Pepsi in the fridge and immediately pours himself a glass.  He joins my mom and I in the living room, where I am showing off something knitty I'm sure.  Soon after, we are joined by the Big Kid.

Big Kid, fooling around and looking for attention, starts spinning around with his stuffed animal.  Then, without any rhyme or reason, he launches the stuffed animal towards my father.  He misses him, but he certainly did not miss the full glass of Pepsi!  It's Murphy's Law, people.  He couldn't hit the glass of Pepsi if he was trying but nailed it when he wasn't.  The glass tips over, spilling its contents all over my living room, and the glass careens to the floor.

At first, I'm calm.  I haven't seen it yet.  All I think that I'm in for is scrubbing Pepsi stickiness out of a rug.

Oh, hell no.  It is much, much worse than that.  To my horror, I discover that the glass is not on the floor.  It is in my canvas knitting bag.  IN MY KNITTING BAG.  ALONG WITH THE PEPSI THAT WAS IN THE GLASS.    Pepsi.  On my works-in-progress.

It was kind of like the moment in the horror movie when the woman discovers the severed head in her freezer.  I went hysterical.  No, scratch that, it's just not strong enough.  I went completely bats*%t crazy!  I start screeching and sobbing simultaneously, freaking out, thinking about what's in that bag.    A half-finished baby blanket for my Oldest Friend.  A cowl for a swap project.  Various hats.  And Ditto.  Oh my.  Ditto!  I have worked on that sweater since May.  I can NOT get those hours back.  I dump the bag onto the dining room table and start throwing the items to survey the damage.  All it takes is seeing Pepsi all over the baby blanket and it's just more than I can take.  It's overwhelmingly heartbreaking, and that's when I locked myself in the bathroom, crying.

My mom, who is a knitter, knocks on the bathroom door and asks to come in.  She asks if the blanket is made of acrylic and I said yes.  She says that she is going to tie the entire thing, on the needles and all, in a pillowcase and put it in the washer.  She leaves to start the task.  Brian comes to the door.  He has surveyed the sweater (which, like everything but the blanket, was miraculously wrapped in plastic bags) and surprise!  Not a drop of Pepsi.  I start crying all over again.  I said, "Can you do me a favor?"  He says "Get you some eye makeup remover?"  "Yeah."  That man, he knows me so well.

At this point in the story, someone in the knitting group says "Oh My God!  I just want to cry for you!  And your husband, what a great guy. He really knew how to handle the situation and calm you down.  And your mom....she rocks!  I wouldn't have thought of that!"  Well, yes.  Mom indeed does rock.  Not only did the Pepsi come out of the blanket, she and my dad wound up all the unused yarn that went a little haywire in the dryer while we were eating.  And kudos to my brother, who when I came out of the bathroom, was washing my dining room table from the Pepsi residue that I had spread during my panic.  He had been coming up my stairs with Kim when he heard me burst into tears and had no idea what was going on.  And Hubby?  He rocks too.  Every day.  But......he rocked a little less when he brought me nail polish remover to take off my eye makeup.  Good think I noticed, huh?  Talk about adding insult to injury!

All's well that ends well, and I have the best family in the world!  As for Will, he got a timeout and a long talk about throwing stuffed animals in the house.  I'm betting he won't do THAT again anytime soon. As far as Pepsi....we can still have it in the house.  Just far, far away from all this knitting.  :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Newsflash: Mom's Still Funny!

Know what one of my favorite things about having a toddler is?  The fact that they are so easy to amuse!  I had kind of forgotten about that, until tonight when Sean and I were playing and he was pretending to push me around the room.  A couple of backwards steps and a big Woooaaahhh!!!!  gets the biggest giggles.  And man, that laughter is contagious.  Or quoting Bart Simpson....that kills, too.  Sean will barely touch my arm and I say "OW!  Quit it."  Multiply times 100 and Sean's laughing to hard he's trying to catch his breath!

I don't remember how long this stage lasts.   But I intend to ham it up, make a complete fool of myself just to keep him laughing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunny October Weekends Are Good For.....

1.  Knocking down greenhouses.  My brother had an old, crappy greenhouse on his property that his house insurance company was not particularly fond of.  So Brian, armed with tools and a desire to break some stuff (who doesn't love demo work??) headed to RI to take that sucker down.  From what I'm told, it didn't take much.

2.  Golf tournaments.  Sunday was the company golf tournament, organized by Hubby!  Again, I'm told it was a great success, with several golfers, a good lunch and great door prizes.

3.  Slips and slides.  First Sean fell in the family room, taking out the toy bins with him.  He was fine, just stunned a bit.  Then I tripped over the dog, as I was climbing the stairs into the house.  Will examined my boo-boo knee and said "Yup.  Just what I suspected.  DOG."

4.  Knitting, and yarn shopping too.  To take advantage of this delightful, beauty of a day, we headed west to Northampton, so I could get some supplies for the birthday swap.  I had so much fun doing this last year that I decided to do it this year too.  And for 2012, I am also going to help moderate the birthday swap group on Ravelry.  Anyway, back to knitting and yarn right now.....I brought home some fingering-weight for a swap item.  And then of course I picked something for me, some red fingering weight to make a scarf for myself to go with my new black coat.  And Will begged to pick out some yarn to make him a hat, so he chose kiwi green and white, requesting stripes or polka-dots.  Stripes I can do.  Polka dots, well.....that might be a challenge.  I did want to do some colorwork though, other than stripes.  So perhaps this might be the first?  We'll see.

On the needles right now--halloween swap, baby blanket for Oldest Friend, and Ditto.  Still, Ditto.  I have about 1.5 inches left of this weird ribbing, and then I can bind it off.  Then comes the button bands, but those look quick  I am at that point where I am just so tired of looking at it, and I want it done!  I really want to wear it to the New England Fiber Fest next month, so I guess I'd better get crackin'.  Also, I finished the last Christmas gift for people outside of my house.  I don't count blocking it as something that needs to be done in order to cross it off the list, that can come later.

5.  Sean discovering crayons and how much he likes them.  He likes them everywhere, on paper, on the dishwasher and especially on the kitchen wall under the table.  That one is going to be a b#*ch to clean!  We're already thinking re-paint the wall.

6.  Overall, unseasonably gorgeous weather!

Hope everyone had a good weekend, and Happy Birthday to my "little" brother!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Patience, Woman!

Mantra:  I will be patient for the Post office to deliver my swap package.  I will not check their website a hundred million times a day.  Nevermind shake my fist when there hasn't been an update since my Minnesotan Ravelry friend mailed it on September 26th.  (I won't find it somewhat amusing that I mailed my package to her the same day, and she received it two days later, either.)  

I will not grouch, whine, cry or mutter under my breath when it appears the damn box only made it to Des Moines, Iowa on the 28th and liked it so much there it decided to stay.  (Apparently Des Moines is a beguiling place)  Or  be tempted to to jump in my car and drive to Springfield MA when the little ticker on the website says that it got there FINALLY today.  I will not point out to my husband that geez, I could have driven to Minnesota and back in the time that it has taken.  

Why?  Because I am patient.  Yep.  Patient.  That's me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

"Just another Manic Monday...."

".......Wish it were Sundaayyyyy, 'cause that's my fun day.  I-don't-wanna-run-day"

The Bangles really knew what they were talking about.  This Monday is one of the best examples of that song.  Some random Monday stuff, comin' at ya:

1.  Will and I discovered that we have a mutual love of Muppets videos on Youtube, and this one featuring the Muppet Theme Song is currently our favorite.  Though he really loves the "Mahna-Mahna" one too.  He asked today about the Muppets not mixing with the Fraggles and was surprised to hear that the guy responsible for the Muppets also did the Fraggles, and Sesame Street too.  So we "mixed them together" and what do you get?  "The Frappets on Sesame Street."  Frappets!!!   Bwahahahahahahahahaha  (The Maggles just wasn't as funny.)

2.  It was better NOT to stay up for the rest of the Phillies game last night, as we went to bed at 11:30 and then they lost.  Most of the time about baseball I'm very "meh" about the whole thing.  But if Hubby's hometown is in, then I enjoy the playoffs in the background while I'm knitting.  AND there's only a few days til the beginning of hockey season!

3.  I made a preliminary call to get Will enrolled in a karate class.  It's a cutie "tots" class that says it will help with motor skills, coordination and listening skills.  Just waiting on a callback and a price for the boy's "first organized activity!"

That's the positive-ness that I can spread today.  Happy Monday to all! 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

To the Curb with ye!

Something about October makes me want to go through all of my stuff and get rid of some of it.  I don't know where it comes from.  But usually I start to itch with anticipation for throwing stuff away in the last week of September.  It's weird, I know.

Right now on the chopping block:  kids' toys.  WOW my kids have a lot of toys.  I half-heartedly started going through them a few weeks ago but right now I'm all about it.  I've sorted two boxes to donate to Savers, and put two big boxes of stuff away.  I plan on going through those boxes and putting some in the (finally vacuumed, hallelujah!) playroom, and some of them downstairs in the basement to be rotated later.

Next up:  toiletries and cosmetics.  I am quickly becoming the Queen of Lipgloss. And I don't use half of them.  So a little experiment perhaps, I try one every day.  And if I don't love it, it meets the trashcan.

We've known for a long time that we are outgrowing this house.  And based on the amount of crap that we have, we aren't exactly helping ourselves out any.  Since we're planning on putting this house on the market in less than two years, and if it actually sells quickly,  then this is that much more items that we will not have to pack and take with us.

Come to think of it, that's the beauty in simplicity right there.  Less stuff, less boxes to pack.  :)

Growth thru Sweaters

I made both of the boys sweaters in the last year, and yesterday morning Will begged to wear his to school.  (What a good boy, he's always loved this sweater and that makes me so happy.  Sean is Sean...right now he could care less.)

  It was slightly chilly, so I put both of them in their sweater that I had made.  Then, even though we were running late as usual, I realized that I had never gotten a photo of the boys together in their sweaters.  Well, we will just have to remedy that!

And then I realized.....Will's is a lot shorter on him since the Spring.  Uh-oh....this isn't going to fit him much longer, is it!!!  I panicked slightly.  Ok, a lot.  Must. Get. Crackin'. on. Sweaters!  These children-of-a-knitter will not be like the cobbler's children, going without shoes.  

I got five skeins of dark green acrylic in a de-stash event last May....I could make them matching sweaters!  I hate to say "acrylic" but at this age they're very tough on their clothes.  Acrylic is easy-care and not expensive.  I'll get them the good stuff later on in life.

P.S>  Yes, that's Joey's tail.  He is pretty adamant that he be in every photo that I take.  And no, I don't think he'd wear a sweater.  Though I'm not above trying!