knitting round-up

03.2017_emmett with knitting

On a bit of a whim, I decided to felt the two pairs of mittens I’ve finished this winter, because both pairs are a little big. The first pair was a learning experience because I didn’t use a smaller size needle for the cuffs, and the second pair was made of alpaca mill ends that I thought might look more “finished” if they were felted. Both are cozy, but just a little bit floppy and ungainly for comfort.

The first pair turned out, but the alpaca mill ends didn’t fare so well. Some of the yarn weight was very inconsistent, going from bulky to super-fine, and unfortunately the super-fine bits just didn’t hold up in the felting process.

Grr!!!! But live and learn.

 

03.2017_felted mitten

the ones that survived the felting

I’m currently trying out a pair of worsted-weight socks with a pattern by Susan B. Anderson. This has been my “knitting at gymnastics” project for awhile now (I get my best knitting done at Miss L’s 1.5 hour gymnastics class). I didn’t really gauge it so the first one came off the needles baggy, with sort of elephantine ankles, but I think that will be okay for winter – I can wear a pair under them and have them be sort of slipper-type socks. The pattern is a little confusing because it’s modified from her sock-yarn pattern and you have to keep flipping back and forth between the two patterns because she is prone to say things like “continue in original pattern”. But we shall see. I’m using a very inexpensive craft store yarn which is satisfyingly glossy and soft.After these, I’m starting up another pair of traditional woolen handknits because during my power outage, I wore my old Jaywalkers for three straight days and never had cold feet once. Emergency Socks are good to have.

Upon seeing my pink hat, knitted for the Women’s March in January, Miss L promptly wanted one of her own. I was a little reluctant to knit her a pink one, because it’s been so politicized, so I made her one in pale grey and lined it with a bit of leftover flannel I had.

03.2017_lily flat hat 3

03.2017_lily flat hat 1

I’m no seamstress but I figured people rarely look inside hats so my sloppy stitching job would be safely hidden. 

Miss L is a Girl Scout and part of our annual responsibility is hocking cookies for a couple of hours at a grocery store booth. This usually consists of the Scouts horsing around, rapidly becoming unfocused, complaining that they are hungry / tired / have to go to the bathroom / insert random grievance here while the moms scramble to keep them from freaking out and sell the cookies at the same time. However, when a dignified older lady wearing her Sunday best stopped to purchase a box of Thin Mints, I noticed her shawl and asked if it was handknit. It was, she said beaming, and we discussed how handknits are immediately discernible to a fellow knitter. Quite precious. Her pattern was the Papillon. I’m not a shawl wearer but if I were, I’d be queuing that.

Otherwise, I’m watching Outlander for the knits and the scenery. Jamie is acceptable but the actress who plays Claire is too arch and fragile and prickly. She always seems inexplicably mad at either Jamie or Frank and this is annoying. But her wristwarmers and cowl? To die for.

03.2017_floppy socks and outlander

And here you get a gratuitous picture of the exceptionally floppy worsted weight sock AND a screenshot of Jamie from Outlander in the background, brandishing a sword manfully.

 

mostly about knitting

12-2016_knit-hat-fail

I’ve been knitting a lot. I’ve been lulled by the soothing simplicity of mindless log cabin garter stitch, but also finished up a pair of somewhat ungainly-looking, but hopefully warm, wool mittens. I tend to get most of my knitting done at Lily’s gymnastics classes. The waiting rooms sport old pleather chairs, the type found in a Coney Island, and are overcrowded with waiting parents and squalling siblings. I pop in my earphones, turn on a podcast or an audio book, and knit away.

Unfortunately, the last class tended to be less productive than usual. I had two projects in my Moomin knitting bag that I’d hoped to make good progress on. One was an easy, slouchy garter hat in a simple pattern, and the other was a tea mug cozy. However, the pattern on the cozy was written in a confusing way and I am still not sure how you start something in the round, turn it inside out, and then stop knitting in the round and just switch to rows. I made a stab at it by switching over to straight needles but it got hopelessly muddled and had to be ripped back. Then I tried to finish the hat, but the decrease rounds neglected to add the helpful tip to switch from a circular needle to dpn’s. I knew this, from doing several baby hats back in the day, but ultimately I couldn’t decrease enough to keep a large hole from forming in the top of the hat and that had to be ripped back as well. Very frustrating. However, at least on the hat I know what I’ve done wrong. I don’t have real intentions for these projects, anyway – the tea cup cozy was going to be a gift, but it was just a supplement to the real gift, and the hat was just to fill up our hall closet’s hat and glove bins. Lily tends to play fast and loose with hats and mittens and it’s always good to have spares. So the next hat will be started soon, in a smaller size, and a nicer color, I think.

I’m overcommitted between now and Christmas and am not feeling good about it. I have one last work trip to hurdle, with three days in Mexico City next week. Last night I led a Girl Scout meeting to show the girls how to earn their Inventor badges – I have no idea how I got roped into this or why I am did it. I think I felt immense gratitude at our Scout leaders for always doing such cool things with the girls and I really wanted to Give Something Back. I honestly don’t know how teachers do it. I felt like I was yelling at the top of my voice during the whole meeting and had to jettison my “lesson plan” when the whole thing went belly-up. I handed out “Inventor Notebooks” and pencils and let the girls fly with their own invention ideas. There were several ideas for spy-cams – mostly to make sure siblings were not impeding on their personal space or private thoughts – but my favorite was a belt invented to keep boys away. The intrepid young Scout drew a round circle (the belt, probably) with several arms extending from it to “push” the offending boys away. The other girls regarded it solemnly and then one said, somewhat dreamily, “And then someday you’ll want to take the belt OFF” at which pointed I shrieked with somewhat hysterical nervous laughter and asked one of the other children to discuss their great idea to take off snowpants more easily!! Crisis narrowly averted but I can’t help but think some parents saw those Inventor Notebooks come home last night with cookie forms and wondered what the hell we were teaching their kids.
Similarly, I offered to “help out” at Lily’s class holiday party and ended up becoming one of the two party parents. The other parent works midnights. I envisioned being one of a party crew, baking a few treats, being present to help with an activity, but this is not how it’s turning out. So far, we have no other parent volunteers and no one has offered to bring any treats at all. This seems generally really lame to me but I’m also a little jealous of the nameless, faceless masses who don’t have to wake up at 4 AM fretting about such things and feeling the weight of a whole classroom’s holiday expectations on their shoulders.

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obligatory pic of my handsome boy sarge

self-care, post thanksgiving edition

11-2016_emmett

emmett digs self-care, too.

So the last two days have essentially been spent on the couch with my knitting and Netflix. Sarge and I took a pretty amazing multiple-hour nap yesterday and I managed to unload the dishwasher this morning while the coffee was brewing…progress.

I know you’re reading this wondering if I’m sick, because this level of sloth can maybe only be justified by some sort of illness. And the answer is no, I’m perfectly healthy. This is just my way of recovering from what was (to me) a very busy week. This, dear readers, is my kind of self-care.

I hosted Thanksgiving at my house for the first time since being single, which meant that, starting Sunday, the entire house had to be cleaned (except for under the beds. And of course, the first thing Jax had to do was pull the bed out to plug his phone charger in. SIGH) There was shopping to do and  I’d never roasted a turkey myself, or hosted a holiday gathering on my own. So I attacked it with planning and organization. I had to make a spreadsheet of all of the dishes and their cook times so I knew when to start each thing and what needed to be prepared in advance. I assembled a portfolio of the recipes and thankfully everything turned out pretty well, I think. My SIL made the gravy and oversaw the potatoes and brought the desserts, which helped tremendously, as gravy is not my thing. Of course I didn’t get any pictures. But it was really meaningful to me to be able to have Miss L and her beloved cousin, my brother and sister-in-law, and Jax & Izzy at my house, and have us eat and share the holiday together.

Then, bright and early on Black Friday, Miss L went to her dad’s house, and my childhood bestie Kat arrived as – wait for it – we’d signed up for a HALF MARATHON. And not just any half marathon – a TRAIL half marathon. Now ask me how much training I did for aforementioned half marathon. Goose egg, that’s right.

It was Kat’s first half and she was really excited about it, and although I knew that I was not prepared in any way, shape, or form for a half, I couldn’t bring myself to drop back to a shorter distance or bail on her. The weather was cold, but not frigid, and the trail surface was exceptionally wet and treacherous. Friends, running a trail is different than road running. You are constantly confronted with slippery spots, switchbacks, elevation changes, and terrain issues. There’s no putting in your headphones and going on autopilot. There were slick bridge spots and boulders, and huge mud pits that just had to be run through. The distance ended up being longer than a traditional half, as the course had to re-route past bridges that were out.

I got through the first half on track for a slow but decent finish time, and had a brief but fierce internal debate with myself. My body felt beat to shreds, and I couldn’t imagine how Kat was doing, somewhere behind me. There were aid stations every few miles, but if she got into trouble, I wasn’t sure if there would be anyone around to help her. So I reasoned that time was unimportant for this race, and, somewhat hoping that she would decide to finish early and let us head back to the finish, I  waited at the halfway point for her. I perched at the top of a wooded hill, out of the wind but feeling my warm muscles cooling and clenching in the cold, and chatted with two of the course marshals. They were blown away that someone would choose to do their first half on a trail! When her little winter hat came bobbing up the rise, I knew she was struggling. I told her that we could always cut it short and head the mile back to the finish line, but the marshal told her that she was killing it and her face was determined. NO, she said. Let’s finish it.

So we set out on the second loop. It was a rough six miles, and although we weren’t last to finish, I think we were pretty close. There was a lot of walking. But Kat showed true grit and endurance and honestly, I was really proud of both of us.

11-2016_half2

Nothing ever looked as good as that finish line.

So that’s why I’ve spent the last two days on the sofa. I finished watching The Crown on Netflix and, cowls all finished, am Log Cabin-ing until my next project comes to me.

11-2016_log-cabin

If you celebrated, I hope your Thanksgivings were happy and filled with family. If not, I hope you had a greater-than-usual Thursday and are practicing self-care wherever you are, too.

 

autumnal things

10-2016_fall

Life has been a whirlwind of fall activities and general busyness, mixed in with angry cats still peeing on things, flu shots, hating Donald Trump, and wishing the weather were different. You know, the usual. The weather, at least, has finally started to cooperate, with rain and gloom (YASSSS!)  but it was unseasonably warm for several days and Miss L’s first pumpkin melted into slime on the porch. Luckily, one of our fall activities is our annual orchard trip with my brother and family tomorrow, so hopefully we can pick up another.

Other fall activities have included Girl Scout Core Camp (which I live tweeted – link in my sidebar), the book fair at school (I ran the cash register for a shift and realized how much happier I would be if I could get paid what I earn at Widget Central to do that as my real job), and preparing for Trunk or Treat next week. I’d planned on making all of Finn’s decorations out of crepe paper and construction paper and posterboard but who am I kidding. I can barely remember to take out the trash and I have a rotted pumpkin on my porch. I spent $20 on some preprinted cutouts on Amazon and Bob’s your uncle – done.

10-2016_path

After my recent running ennui, I am starting to get back into the rhythm of heading out for a few miles every couple of days or so. No pressure. No watch. Tricking myself into liking it again.

10-2016_5k

the 5k that should have been a half. you can’t see him, but my dad is over on the left in that triumphant finish line pic, just out of the frame.

I’m also knitting a lot. My mom’s cowl is almost done and I actually knitted up a cute little Christmas tree decoration out of forest green alpaca. It was still on the needles waiting for bind-off when Sarge, one of the angry peeing cats mentioned above, rummaged in my knitting bag one day. He found it on it’s very attractive wooden needle and dragged it out of the bag, around the house until the needle fell out, the stitches unraveled, and he drowned what was left of it in his water dish. That was discouraging – not gonna lie.
He and his brother Emmett went to the vet last week for a checkup and a refill of their prescription. This was a traumatic experience for all of us. Getting two angry cats to the vet is no joke. They each had to have blood drawn…Emmett did fine, and then they took Sarge back. Miss L and I waited in the examining room without much concern. Sarge is pretty laid-back and during his last vet visit, he charmed all of the nurses. I assured them that he would be easy. After about five minutes, however, we heard a blood-curdling yowl that echoed through the entire cinder block office. Sarge came back with a walleyed nurse, gave us all a dirty look, sat down on the floor, licked his butt, and shook his paw until his pink bandage flew off. We got home, got everyone settled in their separate rooms, and the pharmacy called to advise me cheerfully that the chicken liver flavored feline Prozac is back ordered indefinitely. That’s just great, I thought. So for awhile longer, we live in chaos. The bright side of this is that I found a great recipe for stain removal on Pinterest.

So that’s the update. I hope things are well in your neck of the woods.

10-2016_hunter-supermoon

october hunter’s supermoon as seen from gs camp and as photographed on my crap iphone camera.