Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

It sure looks like a finished object, doesn't it?

Sadly, it is not - I have a gazillion ends to weave in - probably my least favourite thing about knitting. Even more so than seaming pieces together.

Here is a finished hat:

Both of these hats, and one to-be-determined are intended for Hats for Alex. I am really glad I saw this on Pam's blog - I was looking for someone else to make hats for now that Dulaan is no longer accepting this stuff.

And the other UFO currently in play? Willow's Polkadot sweater that I had started to knit for Willow as a school sweater... before I found out that this is not one of the pre-approved colourways. Colourways, hell - only solids and only a handful of them at that.

And lastly - something precious out of Willow's mouth this morning. She has a toy piano (courtesy of my friend Carrie) that plays the odd muzak selection if you hit the right buttons. So this morning she is hitting random songs and apparently finds one she likes. "Mom!" She calls out - "It's like church music." and she has this absolute serene look on her face. The song? "Let It Be" by the Beatles.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy First Day of Kindergarten, Willow!

Oh my goodness - how did this happen?!!?!? There she is, decked out in her within-the-dress-code finery after her first day of Kindergarten. I'm not sure what this teacher is in for - the class consists of 13 boys and 8 girls, and of those 13 boys, 6 of them have names that are only a letter or two off each other. I am not sure why they didn't switch some of these kids out with one of the other Kindergarten classes to even things out a bit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

Wait a second...

That's a finished object! I finished sewing on the rosy-pink buttons last night and I am so proud to say that I finished Willow's school cardigan *five* whole days before she started school!

The Particulars:

Yarn: 2.5 skeins of Forest Green Lion Brand Wool-Ease
Size: 6
Pattern: Child's Top-Down cardigan by Mary Rich Godwin I" wasn't a fan of the pattern, but to each his own)
Needles: Size 8 Knitpicks Options Circulars and Susan Bates DPNs
Duration: About three weeks.

And this was the picture after we took the cardigan shots...

Mommy does not have patience with kids who can't stand still for 10 seconds... She got over it - this interlude lasted a nano-second. Child, thy name is mercurial.

And for another exercise in frustration, the ball of yarn I unwound last night:

Yeah, the one that Had 7 friggin' knots in it! It is one of those 615 yard behemoths from JoAnn's - I was going to start a baby afghan for my sister but scrapped that idea when I started coming away with multiple balls. I am glad I decided to re-wind this instead of just knitting from the middle.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Reading Habits of the Average Adult

Wow. It's nearly 11pm here and I only came in the computer room because I noticed Andrew had left the computer on and I needed to turn it off. I did one more check of MSNBC News to check on Hurricane Dean's progress and I saw this news article on adult reading habits instead.

What the hell?!!? One in four adults read no books last year? I'm not sure whether to feel more outraged or disturbed about this. I read four books last week - three fiction and one non-fiction. At any given time I have about 20 books out of the library - admittedly, some of them are for Willow, but I read those, too (and I'm not counting them in my four of last week). Oh my. People, no one said you had to read behemoths like Watership Down or Moby Dick or War and Peace, although kudos to you if you do.

I realize that the people who read this blog are probably not one of these one in four, but it saddens me that there are people who just don't get excited by books. On Monday morning I was running errands on my lunch break and I caught a conversation on my local NPR station about Jane Austen (see hour 2 on 8/20/07) that had me clamouring to re-read Persuasion, my all-time favourite Jane Austen novel.

So... what about you? What are you clamouring to read? Come on, give me some suggestions for my ever-expanding 'to read' list.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Eating Healthy

I do try. Obviously I am not overweight for no good reason. Certainly there are things that play into it - hypothyroidism, family genetics, living the sedentary lifestyle of a desk surfer... but my love of not-great-for-me food also plays a part. Chocolate? Yum! Caramels? Even better! Cheese... oh my, well you had me salivating at the beginning of that fricative. And I know that good-for-you food can taste wonderful - it just takes a bit more work.

May I present my dinner from tonight?

Taking a page from Bezzie's not-lettuce salad idea, here is my salad:

(Forgive the blurry photo - I must have taken about 10 and all of them were blurry). Yellow 'Lemon Boy' tomatoes from my garden, basil (also from my garden), light feta cheese, and a little salt and pepper.

And the main course:

Thai Chicken Pasta with Peanut sauce. This is so easy and so filling - whole wheat thin spaghetti, julienned carrots, shredded broiled chicken breast, green onions, and spicy peanut sauce.

On the weekend I bought myself a DietMinder Journal from Barnes and Noble. I have used this journal in the past to jostle myself back on track before and I am pleased with how it works. You would be surprised what is in your food - how many fresh vegetables and fruits have a noticeable amount of sodium in them. I am also using The Complete Food Counter book and Nutrition Data's website to help me fill stuff in.

So, just in case you wanted to know... tonight's dinner, including the cup of skim milk I drank along with my meal, came to 671 calories, 15g of fat, 96g carbs, 45g protein, and 13g of fiber. I am such a geek when it comes to detail...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Quiet Weekend

Sorry, nothing big to report or show. It has actually been a lovely weekend - it is raining right now, but the temperatures have been in the high 60s to low 70s and I love it! Of course it won't last, but I am enjoying it while it is around.

Last night Andrew and I watched Blood and Chocolate and I have to say I wasn't terribly impressed. Normally I like these supernatural creature kind of movie but I was really meh about this one. To start with, I was crestfallen that Hugh Dancy had an American accent in the movie (what on earth was he thinking?) and secondly, I had absolutely no empathy (or any feeling, for that matter) for the female lead in the movie. Oh well - chalk it up as a loss. I did finish the sleeves on Willow's cardigan during the movie.

Speaking of the cardigan, I am having a frustrating time of finding buttons for the sweater. I figure in the end I will probably need 8 - 10 buttons, and I would like them to be a rosy pink to provide some contrast with the dark green of the sweater. Did I find any at JoAnns? Of course not. Or, rather, I did find some. Several somes - but none of them had enough of any one colour for the sweater. There is a more upscale fabric store in the neighbourhood I will try to go to tomorrow so that I can finish the sweater.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

You know, I may actually get this sucker finished before she starts school...

I was further along yesterday morning than I am now, however. You may remember that one of my gripes with this pattern is that it doesn't tell you how many stitches you should have at critical junctures. I had finished the sleeves as the pattern called for, but my skinny-minny daughter could hardly get her wrists through the cuffs! So, I went about a third of the way up the sleeve, ran a pink yarn through the stitches, and ripped them out to that point. I started re-knitting the right sleeve last night and am almost finished. The pattern calls to switch from the size 8 the body/sleeves are knit with to a size 4 for the cuffs. I now have 6 more stitches on the sleeve than I did before and I am just going to continue with the size 8s to to the ribbing on the cuff.

And as for my more horticultural works-in-progress, see the big tomatoes behind Willow? Those are 'Lemon Boy' tomatoes - to be yellow when ripe.

Here is the plant (rescued from the compost heap) that yesterday's cherry tomatoes came from. As you can see, there looks like we will have many more in coming days :)

Yeah... I know I need to weed the bottom of that pot.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tomatoes and Field Trips

Woo hoo! Look what I grew!

I hope these turn out life-size on the blog - they are cherry tomatoes. I'm not really conducting an urban vegetable experiment like Bezzie, but I do have a few pots of tomatoes and peppers in my backyard. There is a garden spot already blocked out in the backyard, but we didn't get started early enough to use it. These tomatoes came from a plant that my mother-in-law rescued from her compost pile - it just started growing and she scooped it into a small pot for me. Does that count as a recycled plant? Bezzie, how cheap-ass is that?!!?

If today is Tuesday, it must be field trip day... Today me, about 5 other adults and thirty-some-odd four and five-year olds tromped off to Plumpton Park Zoo over the Maryland border. It was okay - but having seen some of the bigger zoos in the area this was more like a zoo in someone's backyard. What did impress me was the amount of rose quartz on the property. They must have found it on site and dug it up because it was everywhere - garden edges, fences, big chunks in animal habitats - everywhere.

Here's a pic of Willow on the bus:

And I found fiber-bearing animals...

The llama:

The buffalo:

And the sheep:

And, while not a fiber-bearing animal, I had to take a picture of this for Cristi - let's see if she notices. Happy Belated Birthday, Cristi!

Now this next picture confuses me - can anyone tell me what it is?

If you have ever seen asparagus growing, this is sort of what it looks like - but these stumps (?) are about 2 - 3" in diameter and 8 - 12 inches tall. They were quite creepy, but I am curious what they are.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

WiP It Wednesday

Look, Ma! Her eyes are open!

This is the top-down cardigan sweater I am knitting Willow to conform to her school's new uniform standards. I am under no illusion that I will be finished the sweater by the time she starts Kindergarten in two weeks - but then again, it will be a good 2 months before she probably will need to wear it.

The temperature today people? 95'F/36'C in the afternoon with a humidity factor of 107'F/42'C. I *hate* summer.

Anyway, I am not terribly keen on this pattern. It is not well-written (many line mistakes in different areas), they don't give how many stitches you should have at crucial areas of the sweater, and I have had to fudge things as I have gone along. I don't think I will be knitting anything from this book again. I know my Mom loves doing top-down patterns, so this book may be coming her way (and she can feel her way through it). I much prefer raglan sweaters worked from the bottom up.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Heavenly Hibiscus

Isn't that gorgeous? This bloom is another one of my father-in-law's babies. The plant itself is very interesting - some flowers are entirely pink like the inside of this flower, and some are light orange and pink. Whichever way they bloom, they are beautiful. I even like the dark crisp leaves of the hibiscus plant.

I was going to title this post "Too Damn Hot" but decided I wasn't into looking up the rest of the Cole Porter lyrics to make the post flow. But it is too hot. It was about 95'F today and we haven't had any rain in over a week. There is pollen flying everywhere and I am miserable. The skin around my eyes are all irritated - I look like an albino raccoon (or at least what I figure an albino raccoon might look like). We need rain to dampen down all this pollen and get rid of the haze - but those thunderstorms are awfully elusive right now.

Willow and I headed out to Stitches With Style this afternoon so I could find another cardigan pattern to knit her a sweater for school. I ended up coming home with the "Wonderful Wallaby" pattern - which is very whimsically written - sort of like a storybook. One drawback is that there isn't even one complete drawing or photograph of the finished sweater in the book - but I know I can find photos galore at Ravelry. I also came home with a cabled cardigan pattern, 4 skeins of Plymouth Encore in a medium blue, and the new Interweave Knits Fall 07 magazine. There are quite a few patterns in there I would like to make - especially the Placed Cable Aran. I'm very pleased to see how many of the patterns are in my size as well.

Okay, off to take some more allergy medicine...

Friday, August 03, 2007

With Many Apologies to My Upstream SP9

This lovely package arrived Tuesday from my equally-as-lovely upstream Knitty SP9, and I meant to blog about earlier than this, but I have been laid low by allergies :( My nose is raw, my eyes and palate itchy, and my allergy medicine is doing precious little other than make me sleep. But! I have lovely balls of roving to show off!

SP9 (whose name is Shannon but that doesn't help me so much in the sneakiness part) said she had read in my Knitty questionnaire that I had bought a drop spindle at MDSW and thought she would 'enable' me a bit more. This is probably the push I needed to actually start using the drop spindle! The three coloured balls in the back are ones that she dyed herself, and in the front there are three 1-ounce balls of (from L-R) Australian Merino, Ashland Bay Corriedale Cross, and Falklan 56 Wool Top. I opened the package at my SnB Tuesday night and my friends all had a chance to fondle the balls. I especially love how soft the merino is!

Here is a close up of the large ball in the back - it is a mix of blue, purple, rhubarb-red, and charcoal grey:

This photo turned out a bit brighter than intended, but it is a lovely peachy-orange colour:

Thank you, SP9! I promise I will try to put it to good use!

And now, a gratuitous Willow fluff shot:

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

And I Am Still Recovering From This:

Actually, Willow's birthday happened while we were in Canada, so she had to wait until we returned to have her kids birthday party with her friends. We held it at the YMCA pool - for a very reasonable fee you get to use their pool for an hour and they set up a classroom for you to use for another hour for food/cake/presents. Why did we do this? My friend Carrie warned me last year - never, EVER, hold a kids birthday in your house. You don't want them wandering about, you don't want to clean up after them - so why do it.

Here is Willow (with her soon to be patented squinty-drugged look) and her friend Julia (who seems to have no problem keeping her eyes open for the camera) in front of the Tinkerbell birthday cake. It was very yummy - yellow cake with lemon curd in the middle! (Yeah... if I am paying for the cake I want a say in what kind of cake it is - I don't care whose birthday it is...)

The little Tinkerbell figurine comes off the stand and becomes a keychain after the cake is done with. Which will be a while. There is still a 1/3 of a cake in the fridge...

Probably the present she has had the most use out of so far are her 'jewels' courtesy of Asami, Gara and Ray. Here she is looking all royal (...sigh... Must face the commoners now...):

Beyond that, I'm just exhausted and allergy-ridden at the moment. I've been spending a lot of time out in my in-laws' garden and last night I managed to break out in hives. I think it might have been because of picking all the tomatoes - but I have done that before and not had hives, so who knows. Two benadryl allergy tabs and I had the best sleep I've had since we returned to the US!

I started a new project out of Willow's school uniform necessity. It's a forest green neck-down cardigan from the poorest written pattern I have ever tried to knit. Seriously - three times now I have counted through the lines and found places where they have mis-labeled purl rows as knit rows. I'm going to go as far as the point where you divide off the stitches to create the sleeves and see what I have produced. If it still looks like a sweater despite the bad pattern, I'll continue with it.

Oh, and I finished the last Harry Potter book - Mollywobbles' fight scene totally did it for me. I won't go into an in-depth review because so many others already have. Right now I am in the second book of J. Gregory Keyes' 'Age of Unreason' trilogy, A Calculus of Angels. This series is fantastic - I don't know how I managed to miss it when it came out in the mid-90s. Oh yeah... I was in Japan. Still - if you can get a hold of them (Newton's Cannon is the first and Empire of Unreason is the last book), do so. I also started (and finished) Janet Evanovich's Lean Mean Thirteen on Monday night - a giggly good time - but she was with the wrong guy for my liking. The next book I will read after the Age of Unreason trilogy is Elizabeth Bear's New Amsterdam; I saw it in the new books section at my local library and it intrigued me.

Oh - and I received my first Knitty SP9 package yesterday - pics will be up tomorrow!