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Posts from the ‘Knitting’ Category

Sock Talk

Progress continues apace on the February Fitted Pullover (the pattern is wonderfully compelling to knit) but not enough to warrant another post. To keep you knitting hounds at bay, I’d like to show you my on-the-go project:

Pomatomus (Rav link), knit in Maple Tree Sock Yarn, colorway “Bootcamp”.

I am, at heart, an extremely practical person. Almost to a fault. I can shut off my emotions and coolly analyze a situation with cutting logic faster than you can say “that hurt my feelings”, and for 5 years I wondered what the hell was the point of handknit socks that incorporated anything but stockinette or ribbing. I had a short-lived dalliance with the Jaywalker pattern, while not exactly practical, it did transform many ugly variegated yarns into an ordered structure that is pleasing to the eye. And making ugly yarns usable is, in its way, practical.

Theoretically I understand that there are many knitters that enjoy knitting patterns for the sake of the knitting, the technical challenge, or the art of the finished project. Me? I am all about the finished project, and its usefulness. It may be a feat of knitting, but what’s the point if I don’t want to wear it?

Anyway. I was like that with socks, until one day, I wasn’t. I have a drawer full of beautiful sock yarn (um, Sundara much?) and stockinette anklets just aren’t going to cut it. This sock yarn is meant for patterns that do it justice.

But, that means if I’m going to wear these socks outside of my living room, I need shoes that will make it possible. I simply won’t wear handknit socks with my Merrill sneakers.

And so, I made a deal with myself. If I knit 5 pairs of worthwhile socks, I will buy myself a pair of shoes to showcase them.

Worthwhile is defined as follows:

1) They must fit perfectly. (I WILL perfect the art of negative ease.)
2) They must be visually attractive (cool patterns, no pooling)
3) They must not itch, not even a tiny bit. (Mohair, I’m looking at you.)

In the meantime, I’m enjoying window shopping for shoes. Suggestions are welcome :)

Random, Kind of

1) Although it’s been well over a week, it would be remiss of me to just pick up blogging and completely ignore the elephant in the blogosphere, Rhinebeck. It was, as you either experienced or have read, wonderful, in a crowded, chaotic sort of way. For me in particular, the old friends, new friends, parties, dinner, late night gabbing, gorgeous yarn buying, etc. was seasoned with a certain elusive spice known to some as “Hey-Someone-Else-Is-Watching-My-Kid!”, others know it simply as “Freedom!”.

It was heady indeed.

2) Old sweaters, new sweaters. I am steadily churning out sleeves, a task that pre-baby I found to be tedious and annoying, but now find manageable and satisfying.

See sleeve #2 on gathered pullover, and completed sleeve #1 on February Fitted Pullover:

Finding yarn for the February Fitted Pullover was my main objective at Rhinebeck, and she did not disappoint. What you see above is Barneswallow Farm’s Blue Faced Leicester in the “Portsmouth” colorway. Everything about the yarn is lovely, from its sheen to its soft sturdiness. I was also thrilled to find a commercially spun yarn in BFL rather than the albeit great, but ubiquitous, merino.

3) A few weeks ago, EJ and I trekked to Franklin Mill in search of fabric for a quilt project. With the gracious and expert help of the woman I assume to be the owner, I bought some fabric that is destined to be our new bedspread:

The colors are not quite what I had in mind going in, but they feel right. I don’t think it’s any surprise why:

Ahem.

4) I love where we live. This month has been one glorious showcase of the area, nature’s final gift before we descend into 8 months of bitter cold and bleakness. Even the tail end of the fall scenery has been beautiful.

That is all.

A Glimpse

I’ve been trying to compose a post in my head all week, but I haven’t been able to get it together this week. My head is full of the crazy. Don’t believe me? Here’s a quick glimpse:

…groceries-what-do-we-need-for-this-weekend-next-week-what-does-he-have-in-his-mouth!!-ohcraphepoopedagain-if-i-just-finish-this-sleeve-nope-that-won’t-work-ohcrapdinner-whatarewehavingfordinner-look-at-the-new-kitchenaid!-i-bet-i-can-make-cookies-in-time-for-dessert!-SNOW?!?!?!?!?!?-laundryneedstobefolded-domain-expired-you-have-to-be-kidding-me-sigh-it’sbathtime!-bedtime!-georgeleaveit!-ejwhat’sinyourmouth-cmonshowmama-will-never-get-that-sweater-finished-maybe-owls-instead-laundrystillnotfolded!-39buttons-ugh-what-are-you-chewing-on-ewwthat’s-not-food-icky,yuck,icky-GeorgeLEAVEIT!…

I will spare you a long drawn-out prose version of it.

1 sleep until Rhinebeck.

A Glorious Morning

I’ve never been so delighted by a gloomy day. It’s the perfect drizzly and dreary autumn morning, with the wind shaking leftover rain out of the trees, and adding another coat of leaves to the ground. I am sitting here watching glowing, silver-lined clouds blowing across the sky like (forgive the clumsy metaphor simile) a herd of ghost buffalo gliding across a slate blue prairie. (clumsy, but reasonably accurate) It’s deliciously eerie.

It is particularly wonderful because EJ and I have no need to leave the house. (We were going to make an inaugural appearance at our town library’s baby/toddler storytime hour, but there’s no reason that can’t wait until next week.)(Remind me to tell you about our town library sometime.)

Today is the sort of day to curl up in your favorite sweater, sip a cup of tea, and knit.

And in honor of that, I’d like to share with you a few things that make me warm and fuzzy.

Firstly. This is a picture of the fireplace in our family room, and the first fire we ever blazed in it (a few weeks ago). Truly, our family room is the glory of this house, and this is just one of the reasons why:

Secondly. Baby sweaters, specifically this one that I knit for Baby Sam:

There is something about seeing a little one all bundled up in handknit wool that makes me immeasurably happy. Also making me immeasurably happy? That I was able to give it to him in person a few weeks ago, when EJ and I trekked out to Rochester to hang with the girls for a long weekend.

He took a shining to Melanie. And thank god for that, because Melanie’s willing arms let me do things like: eat, use the bathroom, and load the car.

Thirdly. EJ:

He has transformed these past few weeks from a crawler to a stander (the look ma, no hands! kind of stander), from a silent baby to a babbler (he prefers his babbling in the strain of high pitched squeal, which is kind of hilarious coming out of his extremely durable and bulky boy-ness), and from a non-sleeper to a some-sleeper (I now get, on occasion, 5 HOUR STRETCHES of sleep. It has been, quite frankly, freaking awesome.)

This windfall of sleep has allowed me to rediscover just how much I enjoy him.

I am smitten.

Coffee and Cozy

I started drinking coffee when I was 14, and I remember the first cup of coffee I ever had with surprising clarity, especially considering that it was at about 4:30am on a Saturday.

Like a lot things in my life, it was my father who introduced me to coffee. Incidentally, it was also his influence that created the circumstances in which I needed the coffee in the first place.

It all goes back to freshman year in high school, at my small and poor Catholic high school in rural Pennsylvania. It was the sort of school where half the teachers didn’t have proper certification, there were only 4 girls’ sports the entire year but football reigned supreme, and sadly the one black kid who started freshman year with us left mid-year because the environment wasn’t exactly welcoming. (Sounds awesome, yes? It was an hour away, and it was still a better alternative than the heroin riddled public high school where I lived in Maryland.)

But, there were a few great teachers and one who stood out from all the rest. She ran an outstanding and challenging Social Studies program, including International Relations and Contemporary History honors classes for upperclassmen. She taught 1 of the 4 AP classes offered by the school. She ran a state- and national-championship winning forensics program. (That’s debate and speech, not crime scene stuff, for those of you scratching your heads right now.) She was also a single woman who adopted 2 black children from St. Lucia in the 70s, in rural PA. The woman has conviction AND guts. For the past 7 years, in her retirement, she’s been doing AIDS education in Zimbabwe. For reals. She still sends her former students clippings of news articles she thinks we should be aware of.

And I had her for freshman year Western Civilization. Evidently, a week into classes, she called my father and told him she wanted me on the debate team. He broached the subject to me and I said no way in hell, characteristic of any 14-year-old girl conscious of her burgeoning social life at a new school.

He said, oh really? You can’t play field hockey if you don’t at least try debate. (Your move Mr. Bond.)

I was indignant, but I considered his terms. It was a threat, but a fairly reasonable one. At the thought of losing my one social outlet (see above: lived super far away from classmates) I quickly caved.

And that’s how I found myself leaving the house at 4:30 on one dark Saturday in November when I was 14, heading for a weekend long competition at UPenn. My father handed me the steaming cup of coffee in a regular old mug, told me I was going to need it, and then taught me how to hold it in the car so it didn’t spill.

Almost every time I brew coffee at home, I think of it. The dim light in the kitchen, and the steam rising from the mug. Of all the times I’ve balanced coffee in the car with one hand, steering the car and shifting gears with the other. Of the ways that being on the debate team shaped my life. On how my father is almost always right. (Yup, that’s an ‘almost’ Dad.)

These days, I brew a LOT of coffee. Check out my new cozy (Raveled here), so that when baby wrangling gets in the way of drinking it fresh, I don’t necessarily have to nuke it. It adds a nice touch to my so-hard-to-get-up mornings.

And one of the reason my mornings are so-hard-to-get-up, for my father:

Mojolicious

Oh knitting. You and I are having a second fifth another honeymoon, a rebirth of our love. Sometimes you just need to take a little time alone together to rekindle the spark, and I’m sure glad we did.

I remember all the reasons that I love you. Mostly it’s the wonderful purpose and distraction you offer from the slog of daily life, like a hot and secret affair you light up the corners of my mind during the dingy tasks of diaper changing or dish washing, both seemingly endless, yet you are my reward to finish the cleaning, the folding, the chores… you are waiting for me in the quiet moments of the day, offering the promise of something beautiful all to myself.

Let me introduce you to my first Rhinebeck sweater (not for my first Rhinebeck, just the first time I’ve ever been able to knit a sweater for it).

Knit from the gorgeous and luxurious Sundara Sport Merino, in the limited edition colorway Bold Intentions:

She is raveled here.

Sabbatical

I have often privately wondered why the hell it is that I don’t ever get around to all the knitting, patterns, spinning, projects etc etc etc that I would like to…

And then I’m like, oh yeah, we’ve moved 5 times in the last 5 years. Technically I’ve moved 12 times in the last 9 years (since college) but 1) I started knitting 5 years ago and 2) before that all I owned were my clothes, a mattress and some books. Moving wasn’t so hard.

Anyway. The last 5 years. We all know that moving sucks. It sucks up money, it sucks up energy, and it sucks up months of time. The time to look for an apartment, the time spent packing, the time spent actually moving, and then the time spent rooting around boxes looking for your utensils and that one shirt you know was in the closet before but…

Not to mention all the yarn. I have no idea where most of my knitting needles are right now (I set aside my harmony set for use during the moving time – in this case, most of the summer and probably most of the fall). My formidable stash is in numerous tupperware bins scattered through the house in strange and illogical places. The Rowan yarn bin is in the kitchen hutch. My untouched full fleece is next to EJ’s crib, still in the package from the mill. A bag full of Amy Boogie Spunky Eclectic fiber (a very large bag as I have an understandable weakness for Spunky Eclectic fiber) in the laundry area.

That’s in addition to the forest of boxes in the living room (read: the staging area) containing clothes and dishes and all the things we actually need to live. The kitchen can’t be set up until I scrub down all the cabinets and tear out all the old icky contact paper and re- line the shelves with non-stick foam matting. And so on.

By the way, this is by no means a complaint. We just bought a beautiful house on a gorgeous piece of land, in a picturesque town in New England, 10 minutes from my parents. The view from my window as I type this is tranquil and a lush, calm green. The air is clear and quiet, our well water is pristine. I’m thrilled to be working on a home that doesn’t have a lease looming in 12 months, signaling another move.

But.

(There’s always a big but, right?)

I have to get my house in order, literally and figuratively, before I can return to the blog. I’m not giving it the attention you all deserve (I love your comments, I never get to respond), and I’d rather spend the little computer time I have reading your blogs than feeling guilty about the comments I haven’t responded to, and clicking ‘Mark All Read’ on my Google Reader, with nary a chance to glimpse what you’ve all been up to.

So, this is a long way of saying, so long, for now. I’ll be back when I have something to write about other than ‘oh my god I’m so tired, baby not sleeping, so many boxes, so many boxes, so many boxes’.

xoxoxo

Jackie

Crazypants

This morning I lost my shit. Full on crazy ass lunacy, the stereotypical sleep deprived mother with a baby hysterics. I believe at one point in my unhinged rant I compared it to Sleep Deprivation Torture Tactics akin to those used at Guantanamo Bay. (I had no basis for this comparison. I have no idea if Sleep Deprivation was Waterboarding’s inhumane companion. I’ve barely been following the news this past year. I was feeling the crazy, and anything might have come out of my mouth.)

All I know is that after being woken up every 15 – 30 minutes between midnight and 6am for the past 3 weeks, and then needing to be awake to supervise a very mobile baby in a non-childproofed area all day long (after 17 months straight with only one full night’s sleep)… well I’d probably confess to treason if you promised me a full night’s sleep. You can decide how serious I am when I say that.

In the past few hours I’ve regained some perspective, the light morning nap I shared with EJ helped (as did the Dunkie’s Iced Coffee Eric delivers gloriously each morning).

I know we’ve hit the 8 month sleep regression, and I know it will pass.

I know that we’re in the midst of buying a house (we’re scheduled to close Friday, and being halfway in NYC, halfway at my parents house, and trying to arrange for financing, insurance, movers, cleaners etc. adds a tasty frosting to my sleep deprived cake.

(EJ pushed the dog crate aside and was sticking his finger in the light socket while I was leaving a message for our insurance guy this morning. I’m sure he’ll be amused when he hears it. I, obviously, was not.)

But I also know that I’m too tired to knit, and that’s saying something. On Sunday I knit most of a Bella’s Mitten, but I am too tired to decipher the pattern instructions on how to decrease at the mitten tip (I know, right?!?!?!?! Forget pattern instructions, I should be able to wing it if I wanted to, but instead I stare blankly and drool.)

And that means for damn sure I’m too tired to try to take a picture of the unfinished mitt, upload it, and link it. I’m sorry, but I have to brush my teeth, shower, and eat lunch first. Soon. Really. I will upload a picture of EJ instead (sorry, sorry sorry, they’re all I have already uploaded, courtesy of 365 project).

He can no longer be contained. He’s crawling everywhere, lightning fast, pulling himself up and climbing over everything.

And now he’s awake. See you on the other side.

ETA: I will count my blessings. EJ might not sleep, but hot damn, he’s a good eater. I just fed him peas and rice, and while he let me know in no uncertain terms that he does NOT like peas, every time that spoon came near his mouth, he opened up wide. The entire bowl was finished in under 2 minutes. Plus he’s adorable, happy and loving. You know, which is nice.

Edward (sigh)

I would like to blame my recent silence on the fact that we have one leg in NYC, one leg in MA, and our little family of 3 (4! says George) has been camping out in my parents’ spare bedroom, with all the attendant chaos that brings. House buying (we close in 2 weeks!), beach-going (good news: EJ didn’t burn; bad news: I did, badly), losing important cords, like those that charge camera batteries, and those that upload pictures.

Those are totally legitimate reasons.

But really, it’s because I got wholly and completely sucked into the Twilight books and movie. Last person on the entire planet, I know, but although I CAN knit while reading, I don’t really like to. Which puts a damper on the knitting when I get full-fledged sucked into a book series that I can’t stop reading, and re-reading.

Now that I’ve burned through them (several times) I’m feeling recharged for the knitting. Okay, also cause I got to hang out with (some of) my knittahs Sunday night, who I have missed desperately during my two years in NYC.

Knitting to come shortly, as soon as the camera battery charges and I can take some pictures. For now, you’ll have to settle for some of this:

EJ’s first trip in a shopping cart, holding on for dear life.

Veni, Vidi, Stiki

Gentle readers, I feel the need to tell you that I am now a Grown Up. There’s no mistaking it, and for better or worse, there is no turning back. I am a parent, I am 30, and I willingly put scissors to my knitting. All are pretty scary prospects, and none of them can be undone once done (although I’m guessing many, many people have tried).

(Also, I act like turning 30 was a choice. It was a choice only in that the alternative was dying, or stopping time, lengths I was not willing or able to go to to avoid my thirties.)

But I digress, as usual.

People, I cut my knitting.

As in, let me spend weeks knitting this sweater and hope to hell I don’t mess it all up when I decide to cut down the middle, all because I was too freaking lazy to knit back and forth.

(Non-knitters, all you need to know is that when you cut knitting, it unravels. Unless you do it in a very specific, precise, way. It’s scary as hell.)

It seems to have worked so far, but I’ll feel better once the buttonbands are in, after blocking and it’s ready to wear.

In the meantime, I’m using this sweater as a means to divert my attention from the fact that we’re leaving NYC, and soon. EJ and I are gearing up to make Holden our home base for the summer, while we look for a house.

There is much I am looking forward to (the town pool! Friday night tennis! a forever home!!!) and much I know I won’t miss here (dirty air! oven-baked sidewalks! crazy homeless people trying to touch EJ!!!) but I am wondering what will be the things that I find myself missing months or years from now. Once the dust settles, and the excitement of finding a house wears down, we get through our first set of holidays, our first year with a backyard…

What do I take completely for granted now, that I don’t even realize I’ll miss?

Being constantly surrounded by people, friendly people at that? I probably have 3 – 4 conversations with random strangers a day. The city noise that filters through our windows? I hear dogs and people, cars and construction… but the real treat comes when a random musician will play in a nearby apartment. At any given time we might hear a piano concerto, some jazz trumpet, or the low tones of a cello echoing through the courtyard our apartment faces.

It’s the trumpet that makes me really feel like I’m living in the city. There’s something magical about it, sultry golden tones on evenings warm enough to have the windows open.

It’s wonderful.

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