Saturday, December 22, 2012

Making lemonade

I got a wild hair this holiday season and decided I needed to have a dining room again (more on that later). In the midst of the rearranging and decorating, I had a need for something to cover a paint splotch on the wall. I tested a shade of green on the wall a few years back, and hated it, then never got around to repainting. I don't want to repaint now, so I decided to find something to cover that spot.

While thinking about that, I went stash diving for a Christmas project and went through the same process I've gone through for the last year: open closet, move ugly dusty mirror, pull out yarn bin, dig, put yarn bin back, replace ugly dusty mir... Oh. Huh. I wonder if there's a way to make this mirror not ugly? Maybe if we put a design on the mirror, refinish the could be pretty, maybe?

U. G. L. Y. You ain't got no alibi, you UGLY.

I looked up glass etching and found this page, looked at some pre-made stencils online, and thought that I could totally make my own. I asked GF what he thought might work, and he suggested leaves. I pulled out my sketch pad and started drawing some ideas. Once I was happy with what I had drawn, I was off the Michaels for contact paper, an Exacto knife, and some etching cream. I dismantled the mirror (with some help) and cleaned it with a mixture of rubbing alcohol, dish soap, and water (awesome glass cleaner).

 The cool thing about the contact paper is that it was clear, so I could trace my drawings onto it. I cut a piece the size of the mirror, and - using my drawings as stencils - figured out the layout. Then I cut out the stencil and stuck a solid piece of contact paper over the cut outs to stabilize the design. Then I peeled the backing off the cut outs and placed them on the mirror.

 Next, I peeled the solid pieces of contact paper off the front of the stencil and applied the cream. I crossed my fingers, spun around three times, and cleaned the kitchen while I waited. When the proper amount of time had passed, I washed the mirror off in the sink (no easy feat, that), and cleaned it again with the glass cleaner.

Last, the frame needed some help. Originally, I was thinking it could just be refinished and made about the same color. But then I went a little crazy and decided I wanted the frame to be green. Off to Lowes for some nice green wood stain, then back home to hand the refinishing off the my spouse. I'm told there was a lot of sanding and pre-treating and sanding and staining and sanding and varnishing and sanding... I know there was much dust and smell involved.

This morning, we put the whole thing back together with hanging hardware and put it on the wall. I'm ridiculously pleased with the end result.

Monday, August 20, 2012


"Do you want company on Tuesday?" This from GF as I am buried under bits and bobs of fabric, focused on the task at hand. I don't understand - why would I want company? What's happening on Tuesday?

"When you drop him off." Oh, right. Nicky's first day of school. I'd sort of kind of forgotten.

We've decided, both to enable me to focus on looking for gainful employment and to encourage socialization, that Nicky needs to go to preschool. He'll be going two days a week. He'll eat breakfast there, play there, have lunch and nap there, play some more, and then come home. I'm sure he'll have a great time and love it there. I'm sure the break and the extra time on my hands will be beneficial to me. Still? Not that happy about it.
There's a mistake on this blanket - can you spot it? It made me mad enough to redo a block, then I made the same mistake again and GF said "Your mouth says No but your hands say Yes."
So I spent the weekend making a quilt. One with things on it that he likes. He needs a blanket for naptime, I say to myself, and everything I bring in for him has to be labeled. I can't label the blanket I knit for him, I argue with myself, and so I will label a quilt block.

Then GF points out that he'll probably do better with the blanket from his bed, the knit one he's been using for the last year and a half, and I'm forced to admit he's probably right.

The quilt looks good on his bed here, don't you think?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

So begins the fall knitting...

...or the episode in which Nicky gets a hat.

Someone has decided this week that naps are an unnecessary inconvenience in the schedule, and so has chosen to skip them. As a result, someone has not been in the best of moods (I'm not talking about myself, but I'm not doing so hot either). In desperation, I suggested yesterday afternoon that maybe we could go to the knitting store and pick out yarn for a hat (Turn a Square by Jared Flood). This suggestion was greeted with a most positive reaction, so off we went.

When greeted with a wall full of yarns of many many colors, he grabbed one skein of bright green, pulled it out, put it on his head, and said "Nicky wear it!" I didn't like his choice, and so tried to dissuade him (shame on me). There are some much more sedate blues and greys over here? Maybe you'd like this maroon? He stared at me for a beat, maybe two, put the skein he had in a strangle hold back on his head and said, more assertively and while glaring at me, "Nicky wear THIS one." Damn. Since the pattern calls for two yarns, I found something I hoped would go with the green he picked, bought the lot, and went home (but, sadly, not before he unleashed his destructive power on the shop, yanking down samples and pulling yarn from the middle of a display so the whole thing tumbled down).

After an evening spent in the usual way (cooking, cleaning, laundry), I settled down to cast on the hat. Knowing he would likely remember the whole experience in the morning and want his hat, I was determined to finish it before I went to sleep. I was close, and got up early this morning and finished it. So here's my little dude, modeling his hat, knit with yarn he picked. He'd better not get used to overnight turnover...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's a TRIANGLE, b*tches!

At Squam, I met some incredibly entertaining people. My roommate mentioned that sometimes she just likes to knit triangles. Not shawls, not necessarily bandanas. Just triangles. For some reason, this became the theme of the weekend, "What are you knitting?" "A triangle." Soon there were plans for various projects being renamed to variations of this post's title. I can not explain why this was funny, maybe we were high from all the fresh air?

On Wednesday, sitting at my LYS, with three balls of Plymouth Covington in my bag and no idea what to make with them, I was looking through the KnitScene Accessories magazine and found the Aristida Shawl (rav link). I figured, what the hey, and cast on. I never even looked to see if I'd have enough yarn, or if I was working in the right weight yarn. Turns out the original is knit with fingering weight, while I used aran. Ah well. I like it anyway.

Of more import was my realization that I might not have enough yarn. I started with the first color, then began with the second for the second chart repeat. The last row of the sage was scary, as I was not convinced there was enough. I assumed I would have no problem with the third color because I was knitting four fewer rows with it. I failed to account for the increased length of each successive row, and ran out with 3.5 rows and the bind-off left to go. Damn. Tinking back, I tried to use the second color for a row, and ran out with 3.25 rows and the bind-off left to go. Double damn. Tinking back again, knowing there was no way I'd manage 4 rows and bind-off with the first color, I did one more row and bound off. I find that I'm okay with that. I'm also okay with the lack of fringe and bobbles.

I hereby dedicate this project and post to the ladies of Ardenwood 2012. May the triangle be with you. Happy knitting. :-)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

On Squam

I've been trying to figure out what to say about Squam that wouldn't sound trite or ridiculous. The only thing I can think to say that accurately describes the experience for me is: Squam was life-changing. As background: I've never done anything like this before. I've never driven that far before on my own, to a place I've never been. I never went to camp as a child. I've never gone anywhere for multiple days, entirely on my own. I've only ever "camped" once, and I seem to recall telling GF where he could stick his tent after one (admittedly rainy) night in the woods. So this was a NEW THING. A brave thing, for me. This went beyond "out of my comfort zone" - it blew my comfort zone clear to itty bitty bits.
NYC Skyline

The drive was pretty awesome. I listened to music I wanted to hear, without any need to keep the volume low to protect baby ears. Prince figured heavily. I took a few moments to appreciate my surroundings. I stopped at Stew Leonard's, on the repeated ravings of a friend, and am glad I did (Ps: Rachie, next time you go, please return with a six pack of the Shirley Temple soda? kthnxbye). I paused for lunch and watched the world go by. I knew I'd get there in plenty of time, so I wasn't in a hurry at all. Before I knew it, I was in New Hampshire!

Isn't it PERFECT? Exactly every shade of green!

The setting was soothing, and the staff at RDC did everything to make our stay as comfortable as possible (ticks and bears notwithstanding). My cabin-mates were warm and welcoming, funny and fearless, and exactly my kind of people. We brought more alcoholic provisions than anyone was ever going to actually drink, but there was enough for everyone. Mother Nature was both accommodating and irritating, switching between perfectly lovely and rain. Happily, the forest caught the worst of the rain, for those of us too lazy to go out for the evening events called to stay in and knit. I got to sit on the dock and chill, and I got to go to the Patternworks brick and mortar store and buy some KOIGU souvenir yarn.

My instructors were enlightening and entertaining. I took a sock class with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and learned a great deal more about sock construction and body proportions than I anticipated. I also took two brain-bending classes with Franklin Habit. This experience elevated knitting from just something I like to do to an intellectual exercise, and I want to do all the things at once now (even more than before). I also had the opportunity to chat with a few other instructors and hear about other attendee experiences, which makes me want to go again and take other classes.

Thinking back, I am filled with satisfaction that I did this great and awesome thing that I never would have done before. Next time, though, I think I'll bring my boys. I missed them enough to leave all this loveliness early and headed home Saturday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Holy Lace Knitting, Batman!

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here...

...And I find myself falling into the abyss of lace knitting. On the first of March, I cast on Oceanspray by Galia Lael in a very lovely blue yarn I bought from an indie dyer last year. I got about 30 rows in before I went to sleep (they start very short). I got up the next morning and went about my day, looking forward to knitting it during my Thursday afternoon at my LYS.

When I got to the LYS, they had a basket of lovely dove gray lace weight from Dream In Color and a truly wonderful corresponding pattern, Vostok (rav link - you can also see it on their Facebook page). As you can see (below), I didn't even try to resist. I became obsessed. I was single minded. Were there other projects in my bag? Non, only Vostok.

A little over two weeks later, I had a pile of wet cat vomit (also known as soaked but unblocked lace). An hour, a lot of grumbling, a small hissy fit directed at my husband, a trip to the store for more pins, and an additional hour and a half later, I had this. I am very pleased with it. I am also wholly unattached to it. Having gained the blessing of the designer, it will be auctioned during my LYS's anniversary weekend and will hopefully help raise money for Canine Partners for Life.

Yes, I really did pin each one of those stupid little points. Why do you ask?

Having accomplished that task, did I return to my poor Oceanspray? Or the socks sitting on the kitchen table? Of course not. Instead, I opted to start working on another lace project. We'll call it Stealth Shawl for MOM* (SSFM for short). While happily working away on SSFM at the LYS on Friday afternoon, I was asked my opinion on a pattern being considered for a class in the future. Well, I read it over and then realized that the only way I could really truly speak to its appropriateness was to knit it. So I dug into my stash** and found some lovely green yarn (Jawoll Magic) and cast on. Tuesday afternoon, I was binding off, which I'm told is ridiculous and seems to make me a freak. ::shrug:: So here's the Haruni, by Emily Ross. Finished just in time to go into a box and make someone a very happy birthday girl. :-)***

* Yeah, not very stealthy when I mention it here, huh? Except she has NO IDEA which pattern I'm using. HAH! Bet you can't even remember the yarn you picked, can you?
** Can't fool you - I got some yarn, but then realized it was too colorful and only dug into my stash at midnight on Friday because yarn stores are not open at midnight on Fridays
*** No, I'm not done with the lace knitting. I'm currently searching for my new challenge, while finishing the SSFM. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Finger Painting FAIL

This morning, I tried to introduce the boy to the joys of art via finger painting. I started by telling him we were going to do something new and fun, "YEAH!" I brought him into the kitchen, set him up in his booster seat, taped paper to the table, and squirted the paint (which he was certain was lotion) onto a little plate. We named each color as they came out, red, blue, green, and yellow. Then, I showed him what he needed to do to make marks on the paper, namely putting his finger into the paint and smearing it around.

He gave me a look that seemed to say Woman, have you LOST your ever-lovin' mind? Ain't no way I'm sticking my hand in that! As a toddler with limited vocabulary, he chose the most succinct way of getting his message across: "Messy." I explained that yes, it was messy, but that we could clean him up when he was all done and it would be fine. He informed me, again in the most succinct way possible that he wasn't interested: "Down."

Positive that he just needed a little urging (I should have known better - this was the child who had to be coaxed into smashing his own cake at his birthday party and even then only managed a vague half-hearted, single-handed squishing), I took his fingers and put them in the paint, and then on the paper. Okay, maybe this isn't so bad, Momma...I'll give it a shot for a minute. "Yeah!" He got a tiny bit of paint and smeared it on the bottom corner, then he got a little more and rubbed it farther up. Alright. I tried it. I don't like it. Can I go play with something else now? "All done."

Not one to admit defeat easily, I tried mashing his hand into the paint colors and then making handprints on the paper. He indulged me for a moment. Okay, I let you have your fun. Now clean my damn hands off and let me go do something else. "Messy. All done!"

Okay bud. All done.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A sweater my needles

I was sitting at the table in my LYS one day in January, minding my own business, happily knitting away on a sock or hat (I don't remember). I was content. I was at peace. The UPS driver pulled up. Oh look, I thought, a shipment. How nice. I went back to my knitting. I heard the box get opened, and saw the owner walking over with her arms full of bags of yarn. I don't need anymore yarn. I continued knitting. She put the yarn on the table and opened the bags. "Hey guys - new stuff. Don't take anything yet because I haven't logged it and priced it, but feel free to look." So I looked.

I shouldn't have. I really shouldn't have. I should have looked away, kept knitting, run screaming...something. But I looked. And I wanted. It was called "Scrumptious" and, as expected, it absolutely was. It was a beautiful silk/merino blend with sheen and only lightly spun (not plied), so it was crazy soft and just...lovely. That's okay, you don't know what you'd make with it anyway, so there's just no need to buy it. The owner returned, with more stuff in her arms. "Hey - here are some patterns to go with that yarn. There's a booklet and some loose patterns." So I looked again. Damn.

The pattern is called "Trilo" (rav link), and I knit it in Scrumptious in Cherry.

See how yummy that yarn is? You can almost feel how soft it is...
Of course, now it's too warm to wear it...ah well. It'll still be there in the fall.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Belated Birthday Wishes...part 2

The story behind this project is even more ridiculous than the last one. I began and finished this project in OCTOBER. When I saw the yarn, I initially thought of my mother, but as I got going on the project, I knew it had to belong to my friend G (Sorry Mom). I'm sure she'll love it, but she still hasn't seen it. Should she decide to check my blog (Hi G!), she'll see pictures before she has it in her greedy little hands. Why? Because I haven't mailed it out yet. I hate the post office. Like, really hate it. I'm sitting here, delaying a trip to the post office and grocery store, blogging. It's a ridiculous way to be. What's that you say? Pretty pictures, please? Okie dokie. The project was called Momijigari (rav link), and the yarn was Dream in Color's Dream Club installment for October.

And here's a nice close up... See those fall colors??

As a side note: those lovely flowers? A gift to myself for a 3 week weight loss run that culminated in 5 pounds lost. Healthier, much more happy making, and longer lasting than a candy bar.

Off to the danged post office now...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Belated Birthday Wishes, part 1

I promised you pretty pictures, and so here's one for you:

I used the Khotan pattern (Rav link), by Hunter Hammersen, from the book Silk Road Socks. I used Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere. These belong to my friend J, for her birthday...which mighta sorta been in November. They got finished in January (Christmas knitting, GAH), and I gave them to her when she came over for MY birthday.

In my defense, I originally planned on making her something else (this, to be exact, with this yarn and yarn leftover from The Shrug), and it didn't go well. I tried and tried to get gauge and failed miserably. When the needles I was knitting with were 5 sizes larger than the pattern called for, I gave up and changed plans. That was a week before her birthday. So, for her birthday, she got a card that told her to look over at me so I could show her the gift in progress.

The funny thing with these socks is their color. You can't really tell in the picture, but one of them is actually more brownish than the other one. I was knitting from both ends of the skein, and I guess this is one of the quirks of handpainted yarns... This bothered me when I was knitting them, but not enough to stop knitting one and wait until I could knit them from the same end. Besides, I told myself, they're for J. She'll love them anyway because they're pretty and CASHMERE.

Turns out, she does. Happy birthday, J, and I'm sure glad you understand me.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A love letter

Because today seems like the day for it.

From the moment I met you, something was different. In our very first conversation, you called me beautiful. I think, for the first time in my life, I actually believed it. For some reason, before I even saw your face or you saw mine, it was like you knew me. And what you knew you found beautiful. That still makes me smile, as does the memory of that first 8 hour phone call. When we were finally face to face, something just clicked. I didn't know it yet (I think I was afraid to believe it), but you certainly did. We were for each other and there was nothing to be done about it. And so went the first decade or so of our lives together.

These past two years have been a true eye-opener for me. I always knew you were a great husband, and I was sure you'd be a wonderful father, but that conviction was a hazy shade of the reality. Watching you with our little boy is one of the great pleasures of my life. Sometimes I go upstairs "to hide" just so I can listen to you boys play without my involvement. I see so much of you in him, and I hope that continues to be true.

Our road hasn't always been smooth. There have been distances, both physical and emotional, that could have separated us. We have been stronger than any distance. Always, underneath everything, has been a sureness that we are meant. So we carry on and love, because that's what we do.

You bring me joy, and laughter, and peace. You make me smile when I need to, and you let me cry when I have to. You help me find amusement in things that would otherwise make me crazy. You stay grounded when I'm flying off the walls, and you lift me up when I'm down. Thank you for that.

When I was young, I hoped that I would have the kind of love that would stand the test of life. The kind of love that balanced the people wrapped up in it. The kind of love that lifts others by example. I know that I have that with you. No, it isn't always easy; but, what truly great things come easily? And when I look at you across the top of our son's head, or wake up next to you, or hold your hand, or hear your voice on the phone across miles and miles, or see a text on my phone, I light up, inside and out.

I love you (and all that other stuff),
Your Kitten

Nearly perfect.

This Valentine's Day I got to spend all alone with my precious little dude.

It was a happy day.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In shock

Today marks the passing of a true musical great. I am simply stunned and I'm honestly having trouble processing this information. A lot of people are posting that they aren't surprised and that she was done a long time's my response.

I don't care.

As a young black female growing up in the South in the 1980's, Ms. Houston went beyond pop star status to me. Idol isn't a proper description, either. Simply put, she represented everything I hoped I could grow to have. She showed me it was possible. She gave me dreams to strive toward. She was beautiful and talented and smart (or so it seemed) and LOVED. I hoped that one day I would be able to find that kind of acceptance. I grew up isolated from a portion of the black community available to me because I was "too smart" and spoke "too proper" (read: white). Watching her handle that same very vocal faction with grace and poise was inspiring.

Yes, her life became a sad and tragic cautionary tale. Her Prince Charming became her worst nightmare and she became her own worst enemy. This only served, to me, to show she was human. I always believed she would eventually dig out of the well she'd fallen into.

Now she won't. And I'm feeling pretty torn up about that.

RIP, Ms. Houston. I hope you have peace now. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Radio Silence

I've been a bit quiet. I could tell you that I've been busy, that I have a tiny terror on my hands who has no respect for my need to sit at the computer for an extended any period of time; that I have a husband who likes to see me from time to time; that I feel compelled to make sure the house gets clean and the dogs get fed and that we have food...and while this is all largely true, it is not a proper explanation. To be honest, I just haven't felt like writing a blog post. I haven't felt that I have anything interesting to say, and I find my laptop hot and heavy and uncomfortable to have in my lap.

I'll try to do better. I make no promises - I'm lazy and truth be told I'd almost always rather knit. But I will try. Because there are a few of you out there (hi MOM) who actually do check back to see what I write, and I feel I owe it to you to periodically say something.

That's all I have for today, and it's almost time for my art class. GF got me a drawing class for my birthday, and I'm overjoyed about it. I'll sit down and write a proper post soon. With pictures! I've made some very pretty things.

In the meantime, much love, my dear friends (hi MOM). Hope life is treating you well in my absence.