Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30 updates

First of all, I want to apologize to those who comment. I've just had to turn on the moderating function. When I first started the blog, I had some spam comments and until today, word verification was enough to keep that out. But I just had five spam comments on an old post, so now, I'm moderating. I hate to do it, because I don't want to make it harder for my friends to comment, but the bad guys keep finding ways to thwart the new technology.

On to the fun stuff
For the past bunch of days it has been unseasonably warm here, but very cloudy and rainy. It was so dark yesterday that I had to use the flash for yesterday's pics which I took on my screen porch at noon! And I still had to work on them in Photoshop to brighten them up enough to use. Today, it is 30 degrees colder here, but the sun is shining. So, today's pictures required no flash but they still needed work in Photoshop to reduce the impact of the shadows. The sun is at such an angle, even at noon, that every little stitch in the knitting, of bit of fuzz in the polar fleece, casts a shadow.

So, what is this stuff? First, the world's fastest sewing FO: a neck gaiter for the Little Emperor. He seems quite sensitive to cold air on his face, especially in the morning on the way into school. I had a remnant of this Sponge Bob fleece, so I made a double layer tube neck gaiter for him.

Next, an item from Area 51.

This sweater has been languishing for about two years and there's a reason. After I finished the first sleeve and tried it on, I realized that the patterning on the sleeves will look very ill-proportioned. It looks fine laying flat, but on me, the heavy patterning comes down the arm too far and looks wrong when the arm is by my side. I need to take out that sleeve and redo with heavier patterning on the bottom half of the sleeve and narrower designs circing the top. When I realized that 2 years ago, I shoved it in a plastic bag and shelved it. The neckline will have a little placket with buttons, so that funny business you see there if you look closely is the steek. I think I have the energy to take this on again, so I'm moving it out of Area 51 and back into active WIP status. And I find it much more exciting a prospect than the three pairs of socks and slow-as-molasses pullover for Mr. SABLE.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's In My Knitting Bag?

It's been a while since I did What's In My Knitting Bag?, so here we go...
Socks, socks, and more socks...

A pair of pseudo-Fair Isle socks from yarn I bought from a couple years ago. This is nice yarn at a good price. I made Mr. SABLE some socks from it back when I first got it and they have held up quite well.

Part of one blue sock for Owen. I bought this yarn in NH last summer when I forgot to bring any knitting with me on vacation (GASP!). These have been languishing so long, they might drift into Area 51 if I'm not careful.

I thought I should give a try to the two socks on two circulars thing at least once in my life. I can now definitively say that I prefer double points and working one at a time. This two at a time thing feels very slow to me, and I lose more time every time I need to set up another segment, compared to my rate on double points. Chacque a son gout and all that. (Anyone who can tell me how to put the accents over the letters on a Mac?)

And lastly, this slip-stitch pullover which was rescued from Area 51 and is now back in active WIP status. This will be for Mr. SABLE, eventually, but it's a long-haul kind of project.

I have to say, I'm not terribly excited about any of these projects. They're all kind of bland and pedestrian as far as the knitting goes. I'm feeling the urge to start something more snazzy and compelling, but that just means these items will still be unfinished at this time next year. Better to plug along and get a few done.

I have finally finished the pattern-writing for the Foothills Pullover, in children's sizes from 2-16. You can buy the pattern here.

And last but not least, today is Mr. SABLE's birthday. It got off to a bumpy start with the Little Emperor demanding a band-aid at about 5 a.m. and then demanding to get up about 6. I've got a little leg of lamb to cook for dinner, so maybe that will help his morale a bit.

Oh, and you know how I wanted just one normal school week? I'm coming to think there is no such thing. Owen came home with a migraine at noon on Monday and managed to grace the inside of my car with vomit in the four blocks between school and home. And in a few short weeks, Christmas break will be upon us. God help us all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No Pictures Today

Well, we got through another Thanksgiving chez SABLE. I managed to get the table about half-cleared, which was good enough to eat off of. The meal came together pretty well and no one complained.

Yesterday morning I went for coffee with a friend while the world was out having a shopping frenzy. I prefer to not buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving, as my contribution to the Buy Nothing Day movement, but in fact, I went to a fabric store and bought some buttons for a sweater I needed to finish and some elastic to make a new bathing suit.

This morning I went to Last Saturday Knitting with Laura. She gave me a copy of her new pattern, which was nicely printed on heavy paper and we talked about prices and sources for printing quantities of patterns. I'm thinking of moving into wholesale sales of printed patterns, but have been trying to decide how much energy I have to follow through on another level of marketing.

Mr. SABLE cooked dinner tonight. He made a quiche, proving that real men not only eat quiche, they cook it, too! Real kids, however, still do not eat quiche. It was delicious and quite a thrill to eat a meal that I didn't cook, wasn't eaten out somewhere, and didn't come from a package in the freezer.

After dinner, I cut out the pieces for my new bathing suit. Long-time readers may be having deja-vu about this: yes, I did make a bathing suit before, but that one has gotten mighty thin in some crucial places. Yes, the bust and crotch are lined, but the seat is not. The Little Emperor would like to make a point of going swimming at the Y regularly again, and I realized that the other suit was dangerously sheer. The new one is exactly the same: I have enough of both fabric and lining from then to make another. The only thing I changed this time was adding a little length to the bandau bra lining, so that it'll cover and hold a little more effectively. Now, I really should go back down to my lair and sew it together, so that we can go swimming tomorrow afternoon. BTW, if you sew and have never made swimwear, give it a try! I was amazed how easy it was and it was a thrill to have a swimsuit that had enough fabric in every dimension! Being plus size and tall, it seems that my choices in purchased suits always involve sacrificing needed girth or needed length.

I'm looking forward to a regular school week coming up! Five whole days of quiet, kid-free work time. Bliss.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Coffee With Fathom

I spent the better part of today hanging out with Emily aka Fathom at Lakeside Fibers.

It was good to catch up a bit. Emily was the first person from online that I ever met in real life. Since then, I've gone on to fearlessly meet all sorts of other online folks, but it was kind of weird and kind of scary that first time. Now, I'm always happy when we're able to get together while she's in town.

Our Christmas cactus is a little confused about what season this is.

We had it out on our porch all summer and after it got indoors we realized it had set all these blooms. I had a hard time getting a good image this afternoon, but it has about 40 or 50 flowers like this one all over it.

Here are a couple of pictures I took at the Museum of Science and Industry last Friday.

Here you see the beginning of teen-age attitude. These guys were really delightful all day, but the moment the camera was pointed at them, the attitude goes up. This might be the last year for a while that Owen will be happy to do stuff with his mother, so I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

And here's a giant alien. I'm thinking of designating a large box in my lair as Area 51, where all the UFOs will go to wait for me to decide their fate. I can print a big copy of this picture and put it on the box to remind me what's inside!

I didn't take a lot of pics at MSI because I didn't think the camera I took was behaving very well. But now, having just gotten around to looking at the few pics I did take, I see it was doing better than I thought.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Day

What I've been knitting:

This is a sweater for the new backyard neighbor. I hope her parents are too busy to keep up with my blog, at least until after I finish it and give it to them!

My first attempted project for her didn't seem right, so went back to the tried and true Dale Baby Ull and little diamonds. I need to darn in ends and pick buttons.

I've also resurrected Scott's Tweedy Sweater from last year, and I've been working on socks. Scott's Tweedy Sweater should get back in the active line-up for a while. It's been dormant for about a year with no good reason. It's perfect knitting for doing with other stuff, like listening to the radio or music. Maybe that's why it got sidelined for so long: not interesting enough for the knitter, though it should be a favorite with Scott when it's done.

And now, for Bezzie, dead flowers on the butterfly bush:

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time flies and all that...

Sorry, no pictures today. I just realized I ought to post because it's been a week. Last week my kids had short school weeks because of parent/teacher conferences. This week, there's that holiday about eating coming up. What's a work-at-home mom to do? Besides not much work.

Friday I took Owen and one of his friends to Chicago to the Museum of Science and Industry and to the Lego store downtown. We had a pretty good time, although I felt like a lot of the exhibits at the MSI are looking a little tired and many were "down for maintenance", i.e. broken.

And now my window of opportunity for writing a post has been shattered by the invasion of my family, with screaming and yelling and crying.

I'll try again tomorrow. And maybe get a picture or two ready by then.

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Card My Parents Sent...

Here's the card I got from my folks today. Click on the image to see the inside. I have the best parents in the world.

Happy Birthday to Me...

So, today I turn 45 years old. Hard to believe.

The Little Emperor pretty much shook his illness off by Friday afternoon. Today, he's back in school, where I did my regular Monday morning volunteer stint. I came home from that and found a dozen red roses on the dining room table and Mr. SABLE had baked a cake. What a sweetie.

Last night I made a hat to go with the Dulaan sweater, which I finished yesterday afternoon. I think I'll do some matching mittens, too, since I'm on a roll.

Now I need some coffee before I reach my cut-off time. (wandering off toward the kitchen, empty mug in hand...)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Work Impeded by Sick Kid

We are on Day 2 of The Little Emperor staying home from school sick. Wednesday after school, he told me that he hadn't felt like eating at lunch. At bedtime I thought he felt a little warm. Thursday a.m. Mr SABLE took L.E's temperature and it was 99.9 in the armpit. That translates to about 100.9 oral temp. Temperatures tend to be lowest right after waking up, so that didn't bode well. He had a very low energy day yesterday, just lying on the couch watching episodes of Curious George I had taped from PBS. And wanting me near. Today, he seems somewhat better, but I'd rather he takes another low-energy day to rest. So, nothing that required continuous thought by me got done yesterday. And he still wants constant interaction, so another day where I can't string two complex thoughts together.

Knitting News
Last night, I did manage to get the neckline and one sleeve done on my Dulaan Pullover.

I think it'll pretty cute when it gets done. A good blocking will help some of the funny tension around the upper section, where I switched from back and forth to circular knitting and then the collar pick-up. I think I'll make a hat and mittens to coordinate.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More CASP2 Gifts!!!

I found a box leaning up against my door this afternoon. My CASP 2 pal sent one last package! She had been going through a pretty rough time over the summer and working insane hours. Here's the overview:

A book with paper airplanes to make and fly. (This is a good one for us. We had a previous copy, but all the good ones got used up and lost some time ago.)
A small blank book
Postcards of Oregon (gorgeous! I really need to visit there some time. It's a part of the country I've never seen in person.)
Caramel corn
Playing cards in a plastic case!
Two boxes of her fudge!!!

My husband gets brutal migraines from chocolate, so she included a safe box for him.
Thanks Monica! It's good to have a CASP who runs a fudge shop!!!

What didn't make it into the picture: the chocolate round things labeled Buzz, Buzz. Must be chocolate covered coffee beans. I think they jumped out onto the table before the photo op.

In Other News
It's a grim day in Wisconsin. Although we reelected our Democratic governor, Wisconsin passed a truly nasty amendment to the state constitution. I'm ashamed for my adopted state.

Knitting News
I did virtuously work on the Foothills pattern for several hours today. I got over the psychological hump of working through some tedious details and number crunching and now it's just a matter of tidying up and proof-reading.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day

I voted. I hope you will, too. Especially if you live in Wisconsin and you agree with me on the major referenda on our ballot this time. We have a lot of important stuff on the table right now. Get out there and vote. It matters.

In other news, here's a progress photo of the sweater I started at the Dulaan Knit-In on Saturday:

I'm going to repeat the same treatment at the bottoms of the sleeves as the bottom of the sweater body. Still need to decide whether or not to include the band on the upper arm to match the chest. And whether to do the neckband in plain yellow, one of the other colors, or stripes? Any opinions, let's hear 'em. This is all worsted weight 100% wool yarns from my stash. Very old yarns, like from the time when Red Heart made wool. I picked them up at thrift shops here and there for a song. The colors are pretty wild, but I think they work well enough and should keep a child in Mongolia a little warmer in a cold winter.

After I took the sweater picture, I went around the yard looking for things to photograph. Here's what I found: ornamental grass, milkweed, and old sunflowers.

Tomorrow I will chain myself to my computer chair and not stop working until I have substantially finished writing at least one of the patterns I have pending. I promise. I'd really rather go to my lair and cast on for something new. Who wouldn't?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What a Week!

(Caution: photo-heavy post)
I'm a little dismayed to see it's been a week since I posted. I guess I've been busy. I'm trying to gradually restore a bit of order to my chaotic house now that both kids are in school. I find I really avoid this, but when I buckle down and do just a little, it makes me feel better. With a houseful of slobs, though, I feel like it's one step forward, three steps back.

We got through Halloween with the usual crises and fits followed by over-consumption of candy. I'm glad that's over for another year.

I meant to post the close up picture of the stitch markers my CASP sent and kept forgetting. Anyway, here they are:


Yesterday I went to Franklin's Dulaan Knit In in Evanston. My friend Carol came with me, so I had good company for the drive. She crocheted two cute hats out of bulky yarn and I made a good start on a top-down raglan. Here are a bunch of pics:

My personal highlight of the day was when BonneMarie Burns told me she was a fan of my work! Who'd have thought?

A couple hours into it, Carol and I took a walk on the lake shore across the street from the knit in.

Here's a distant view of the Chicago skyline

And an artsy-fartsy pic of the beach

(This one gets bigger if you click on it.)

Today I spent the better part of the day excavating my bedroom. It's now cleaner and more organized than it has been in several years. I hope to purge enough useless clothing to make room for the clothes we actually wear to all get put away. Friday I took several years of back issues of The New Yorker and The Atlantic to the recycling bin. The cat had been using them as nesting material under my dresser. She would get in there about 2 a.m. and start rustling. Every time we thought she was ready to settle down, a new surge of rustling would start. But no more. I'm hoping that really cleaning my room will help with my allergies, which have been getting more and more obnoxious over the past 6 months or so.

I did spend some time on pattern writing, too, though I have a bunch more of that to do. This week. Really.