Seasonal madness is upon me. I've been to the yarn store (and website), and yarn has been bought. Hats are suddenly planned for various random people, and all other projects are suddenly relegated to back-burner status: RPM socks, M.M.'s moose, Bernadette's sweater, Ming's mittens (ok so a lot of these were kind of back-burnered already. So sue me).

Behold, the hijackers:

And also:


RPMs stuck

The needle is stuck on the record of my RPM socks. I keep knitting half a round every two days or so, and at this breakneck pace I'll finish them by at least, I don't know next July. Harrumph.

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The first pair of socks I ever knit for myself have a big old hole in the sole. Speak not to me of darning.


Simply Gloating

I am down a pants size! I'm not telling from what to what, but it's very satisfying progress. Also, this means I don't need to buy new jeans because I can wear the ones I didn't fit in before. My current pairs are getting quite holey – not appropriate for the Montessori Mommie set, and I don't want M.M. to be an outcast because of my eccentricity quite yet.

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RPM socks

I love the short row heel, I really do. I love not making a heel flap, I love avoiding all those tedious decreases when the heel is done already, let's get on with it, and I love the way it looks when it's done.

I need help though. I can't make it work, I've knit the whole thing twice now and ripped it out with no clear idea how to fix the problems. To wit:

• the yarn overs: when beginning the right side rows - the pattern instructs me to bring the yarn between the needles to the front of the work, over the right needle to the back of the work, and then purl the next stitch. Purling doesn't seem right. It's awkward, and it's a knit row.

However, I do seem to get holes by not purling. Hmm.

• I can't make the counting come out right. I'm really concentrating, really. Really. And I'm not winding up with the right number of stitches at the end of the increases. Then there's the gaping hole when I start working in the round again.

I'm going to try again. But I'm feeling flummoxed.

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I finished the blanket! Ok, the ends are not woven in. It's not technically blocked. But it's all knitted! Pictures tomorrow, maybe.


wind and water blanket

wind and water blanket
Originally uploaded by mariamaroo
Behold, in progress. Nearly done. Except for all those @$(*% ends.
I'm not thinking about those.

Blanket Statement

Hehe, I'm such a Merry Punster. Oops, there I go again. My Pastaza blanket, one of the many things I haven't been blogging about, is nearly done. Like, about 3 more pattern repeats and weaving in of ends and that's it.

Not to be daunted by mere details, M.M. and I have been lounging under it already, needles and all.

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Long Time No See

Well, I've joined Ravelry. I put myself on the waiting list at some point over the summer and got my invitation today. I suspect it will end up being another thing (like this blog, and my other one) that sucks computer time, which I long listlessly to cut down anyway, and about which I feel guilty and inadequate. But all those organizational tools are completely irresistable.

My user name is mariamaroo. Say hi.



Moving On…

Tragic, really. By the time I finished M.M.'s second sock, only a week or two after the first one, she had outgrown them. She's been in the middle of a massive growth spurt, and I swear the first one fit when I finished it. I'm going to try blocking and stretching them out, I guess, but I think they're destined to be a giveaway. Sadly, Blogger is not showing me my preview, so I'm not sure whether these pictures are in the right order.

Now I'm working on a blanket. Wrong time of year. But I'm slow, it'll (I hope) be ready for wintertime, and the yarn was on sale at Webs. I'm using exactly the yarn and needles called for in the pattern, and I confess I haven't actually measured a swatch, but it's waaaay too loose, whatever the gauge is, or is supposed to be. Since taking this photo I've aquired a smaller needle - size 11 instead of 13 (why, please, why is there a size 10 1/2 needle but no size 12? What kind of crazy system is this??) – and cast on yet again (4th time for this project so far…) with a larger number of stitches to compensate for any width lost because of the smaller needle. I'm hopeful that I'll get closer to the fabric I was looking for with this substitution.

There is always the possibility that when I get into the patterned sections I'll discover that there was a reason for the big needles, that what is way too loose in garter stitch and for the first few rows of the pattern is tight and unmanageable on the smaller needle when the pattern is established… stay tuned for new developments.

Oh, and I got some really really beautiful STR in a colourway that I can't be bothered to go look at the name of remember at the moment. Once this blanket is well underway I'll be starting some RPM socks with that. I already can't wait.


Short-Row Heels

I finally got my act together and photographed some of the recent sock projects. Pink toe-up, check:

One and a half little kid socks in Claudia's Handpainted, check:

And a touching duet to finish off:

And coming up, we have the Opal Gems from MD S & W, destined possibly to be toys from World of Knitted Toys:

And Cascade Pastaza for a blanket from a pattern given me for Christmas (the card with the pattern is visible on the right). The color on the right is actually a plummy eggplanty purple, not the navyish royalish blue it appears. I'm going to use that purple for the darker stripes on the pattern and alternate the green (really more seafoamy) and blue, hopefully to produce a watery wavy oceanish effect that will also coordinate with my purple couch:


MD Sheep & Wool

I was determined to get to MD Sheep and Wool this year, now that I actually live in Maryland (and considering that I'm not sure how long that will last). So although I was on the fence about going as late as 9am this morning, I finally did get in gear and with a great burst of motivation get myself and M.M. as well as my cousin Laura and her mom Bernadette in the car and out to Howard County Fairgrounds.

The weather could not have been more perfect: chilly in the shade or when the breeze kicked up, perfectly warm in the sun, sunny and dry. First was FOOD. Lamb kebabs and burgers all around, and then straight to the sheepdog demo. M.M. loved watching the dogs control the sheep and watched the full half hour demonstration in rapt attention – and wanted more. I'll definitely have to seek out some local sheepdog trials and take her to see them. I was even a little choked up at the perfection of the dogs for the work and their intensity and obvious joy in their jobs.

The wander around the exhibition halls and vendors was eye-popping and a bit overwhelming, and frustrating because paying attention to M.M.'s whereabouts and safety didn't allow for much yarn shopping. It was still fun to stroll around and gaze at colors and textures and fleeces and wool paraphernalia. We did stop and watch some spinning for a while, and M.M. would actually have been happy to watch longer, but I was impatient. I am not allowed to get interested in spinning because I already don't have enough time to pursue my knitting jones habit hobby. Although I am going to start dyeing yarn this spring. (What slope? I see nothing slippery anywhere near me.)

I had vague but grand notions of shopping before I got there, but two things interfered: 1) it is impossible to shop in such an overstimulating environment while in charge of a 3 year old; 2) it is nearly impossible for me to shop in such an overstimulating environment, period. Three year old or no, I get overwhelmed and fall prey to Squashy Head Syndrome when faced with such an array of goods, not knowing what even better delight might be around the next corner, with all the people and excitement and noise everywhere. I sometimes wonder where on the autism spectrum I might be were I a child nowadays.

Despite these handicaps I was able to purchase a nice Lantern Moon needle roll, with pockets for both straights and circs and a nice zippered pocket and a big flap that folds over to keep everything from falling out. I also got some sock yarn. I had gone with the express desire for some solid sock yarn to use in some lacy sock patterns. All I've been using is beautiful variegated yarns, and I'm in the mood for something that shows the stitches a bit more. So I got some, Gems Opal, in a nice French Blue and another kind of seafoam-aquaey color. They're nice.

But I have this problem. Every time I buy sock yarn I get into some kind of weird fugue state and I forget to buy enough. I always buy one skein. I get so focused on the color (or something) and I think of it like software (or something): If I buy it, it's like I'm buying the color and I can make as many socks as I want. After all, once you buy the license to Word you can make as many documents as you want. It makes no sense and shows you, really, why I am such a sucky yarn shopper. So that's what I did. One skein each of blue and aqua. Enough to make probably one and a half socks of each color. Or three striped socks, but the whole point was to make solid colored socks.

I'm debating between ordering another skein of each color and taking my chances with the dye lots, and saving these for kid socks and ordering some entirely other solid sock yarn in the proper quantities for grown up socks (online I am a perfectly fine yarn shopper, thankyouverymuch). We'll see.

I have no batteries for my camera, so I have no photos of my purchases or of actual knitting. But what the heck, I'll throw this in:

M.M.'s ballet recital is coming up in a few weeks. They're doing Alice In Wonderland, and her class is playing oysters. Cute and somewhat baffling to us non-Disney-ites.


Seasonally Disfunctional

I still have no pictures of the pink striped toe-up socks. I just haven't managed to get them and the camera in operation at the same time. I have been wearing them, though, and they're nice and comfy. I loved doing the short row heel, and I like how it looks. I'm going to incorporate it into future socks, for sure. The cast off is not stretchy enough though. The first one is way too tight, almost impossible to get the sock over my heel (though it's comfortable enough when it's on). The second is a bit looser, but still completely unelastic (?) and a bit difficult.

Is there an elastic cast off technique that I don't know? I looked in my Knitter's Handbook and found nothing helpful.

I've since started on a pair of socks for M.M. (ridiculous really, since the weather is changing fast and the chances that she'll need these socks before she's too big for them are slim at best). They're in a nice bright purple/blue/pink colorway from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns (maybe 'Twilight'? Not sure anymore…). I started with too many stitches (68) and got about 3 or 4 inches down the leg before conceding to reality and ripped out. I've now started again with 60 and am hoping for the best. I've got a scant inch of ribbing and another of straight stockinette done so far and it looks more reasonable for a M.M.-sized calf, but I'm still a little nervous. Maybe I need to go down to 56? Or something? The nice thing is that reducing the number of stitches makes for faster progress on future iterations.

I also got a whole big freakin' bunch of yarn from Webs for a blanket (again, what the hell am I doing? Starting a blanket at the beginning of summer on the Eastern Shore? Certifiable, absolutely). I got a gifty box of blanket patterns on laminated cards for Christmas, and just happened to notice that one of them called for Cascade Pastaza. Which just happened to be on sale at Webs. And I guess I might have been in kind of a retail therapy mood or something, because next thing I knew I was ordering 12 skeins of the stuff. It's verrrrry nice, llama/wool, and if I actually get through the blanket, it oughta be lovely and cozy for cuddling on the couch. In, you know, like eight months.

I thought I'd be working on a tricky lace shawl this summer. Who knew it'd be utterly seasonally inappropriate items all around. And don't talk to me about my aunt's sweater. I'm not going to forget it.

Here is what my living room looked like the other day. You may extrapolate what you will about the rest of the house from this picture. This morning M.M. woke up and said "Mama today I want to get out all my toys again." Luckily the weather was finally beautiful enough to be outside all day picking flowers and mixing them up with mud, potting soil, sand from the driveway, and rocks and sticks to make "dessert".



I finished the pink socks today. Well, except for weaving in the ends. Maybe that's why I'm depressed tonight? Anticlimax? No new project exciting me on deck? I don't know.

Pictures when I have the emotional wherewithal to get out the camera. I guess.



I got an answer to one of these things that I actually like:

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Courtesy of Jes.


I seem to have inadvertently ordered another knitting book . I don't quite know how it happened. One minute it was in my shopping cart where I save books I like to ogle and dream about ordering some day, and the next minute I was getting an order confirmation email. It's not that I don't remember placing the order, but I was clearly in the throes of some late-night yarn intoxication and not entirely responsible for my actions.

I've been looking for a new project anyway. I am guiltily ignoring my aunt's sweater, which I really need to rip out and redo because I knit about 3 inches in the wrong direction (purled instead of knit) while sitting in a dark movie theatre. And there's the linen hand towel courtesy of Mason-Dixon Knitting that I started last summer and didn't finish. And the coordinating color of linen yarn for another one. Those suckers take forever.

And M.M.'s socks
And something out of that Noro Silk Garden that I ordered a while back.
And my friend Ming asked me to make finger covers to go inside her mittens because her fingertips were frostbitten when she was a kid and now are hard to keep warm. (I do have until next winter for those, but they have to be of a verrrry fine gauge and are going to take a long time).

But I've been fantasizing about a big delicate lacy shawl for kind of a long time…

Meanwhile, did I show you the pink sock I finished?

Sippy cup is to show scale, and the real color is between the two shown here. This was taken a couple of weeks ago before winter reasserted its icy grip.


(No) Proof of Toe-Up Sock

One is finished. I bound off too tightly and have to decide whether I'm going to take it out and fix it or let it be. I do have pictures, but it doesn't appear that Blogger is going to allow me to upload them (have I previously said "fie on Blogger!"?). I'm getting the famous eternal "Loading" window.

The second sock is on the needles. I'm hoping to be done with it in the next few days, and then I have a few knitting quandaries ahead. First, STR heavyweight in the Farmhouse colorway. I know what I want to make with it: RPM from Spring 2006 Knitty. But the pattern calls for STR mediumweight, and I don't know if I'm clever enough to translate. Seems stupid, I know…leave me alone.

Anyway, BMFA doesn't even have any mediumweight in stock, so no help there. Speaking of which, I have to agree with Sknitty about their web store setup. I love the yarn, and my limited customer service experiences with them have been great, and you know, I'm always up for supporting the small independant business, especially when they're oppressed by The Man, but I'd love it if they had a little bit easier system for viewing yarns and colors.


Signs of Spring

It's freaking me out: last year I lived in a place where spring is still a good month or so away. This year, we've got flowering trees all over town, daffodils are almost already gone by, and the leaves are getting bigger hourly. It's lovely, but totally disorienting.


Complete Satisfaction

Ok, so that might be a little strongly worded, but I am very happy with these:

it feels fabuloso to have them done and off the needles and looking (if I may say so myself) damn good. I wore them immediately for a day of hard tramping around our nation's capitol, and they did very well. Fit was great, comfort was good, and they didn't unravel. Hip hip hooray!

Now on to the next thing. We did some very bucolic outdoor yarn winding the next day so I could start on the new project, which is a sock kit I got for Christmas. It's in self-striping bright pink yarn that is very nice to work with, and it's a toe-up pattern, which I've never done before. The start was really a pain: I had to cast on 4 or 5 times because I had such a hard time getting the increases right when there were only a few stitches on the needles. I finally got it though and am now in the groove, just about ready to start the gusset increases. It's relatively thick yarn and big needles (size 5s after the previous pair was on 1s), so it feels like they're just flying off the needles.

Not sure what I'm going to do next. Summer's coming, so it doesn't seem appropriate to work on warm thick wintry hats and things, but nothing summery is springing to mind. I've been feeling a slight urge to tackle a bigger project for a change, so maybe I'll try a fall sweater for M.M. or something and see if I can finish it before next winter. I hate being such a slow knitter. The process is bigger for me than the product, but it's not everything. And it's hard to appreciate the process if it doesn't feel like I'm making any progress. (hehe)


Finally, the Hat

Well, Blogger has apparently repaired the photo upload feature. It's about time. Here's the hat, already on its way to North Carolina. The yarn is a deliciously soft and highly springy alpaca. It's very drapey, and I'm worried that it won't hold its shape enough as a hat, particularly with a cuff (brim?). But I tried it on and it seemed to work. I basically winged (wung?) the pattern, using the barest of guidelines for measurements and decreases from a cabled beanie hat pattern, origin unknown at this precise moment. I had a vision of a moss stitch cuff, and I just did four simple four-stitch wide ribs of knit against background of purls, and I think it came out quite nicely, thank you very much. It looks better on a head than it does all kind of wilted as in this picture.

I'm a little concerned that the moss stitch might be just a slight tad bit feminine for my brother, but he's not insecure so I think he can take it. And if he can't, he can pull it off. Get it?



Blogger is not allowing me to upload the photos of my finished hat! Fie on Blogger! Well rest assured, it is finished, it is lovely and soft and I believe it will fit the intended recipient. Unfortunately it's at least a month too late, as it was almost 80˚ today.


M.M. has mono (which doesn't stop her from looking super-cute), and while at the drugstore earlier this week to pick up a prescription for her, I bought a book to keep myself occupied while she sits on my lap and recovers (which is all she wants to do these days. It is the most boring book ever in the history of the world, and I really mean it!

I was so happy when I got a package from amazon today. Even if this book only lives up to its tepid reviews, it's such a relief to escape from the dreck of the other one that I'll probably love it.

My level of intellectualism has been steadily dropping ever since I gave birth. By the time she's in high school, I'll probably be at least as dull and plebeian as my parents were when I was 18.


Finished Mitts

I love them, I do. Cozy, cute, funky colors. I'm not totally crazy about the way the colors pooled, but I do like the finished product, and I've been loving wearing them.

M.M., too:


Creepy, Crawly, Little Mousie…

I came downstairs the other day, and put on my big bulky loose grey cardigan sweater. I love this sweater, even though it's fraying and completely shapeless. It has magical qualities of warmth and coziness. I think it's impossible to be cold while wearing it.

A couple of minutes after putting it on, I felt something gently poking my shoulder. And moving around. I could see my sweater moving around on my shoulder.

I shrieked, tore it off me, and leapt across the room away from it. There was a mouse in my sweater! It was small and brown and actually pretty cute, if it hadn't been in such a completely inappropriate place at 8 am when I already had a migraine, for God's sake. It was dragging one of its legs uselessly, and I felt bad because I didn't know whether I had injured it flinging my sweater off or whether one of the cats had done it bringing it into the house in the first place.

Speaking of which, the cats were pretty useless. I didn't actually want carnage in my living room first thing in the morning (any more carnage, I mean. I had already disposed of a disembodied, mutilated mole head we found on the carpet), but I did think they should have done something a bit more helpful than sniff curiously while I got the dustpan and chucked the poor thing outside.

M.M. was a bit freaked, from my shrieking and flailing and hurling knitted goods about the place. She cried some; I felt bad about that too.

[Incidently, I recently heard on the Grammar Girl podcast (yes, that's how dorky I am. Wanna make something of it?) that it is incorrect to say 'I felt badly'. Apparently the guilts I've gotten all these years over 'I feel bad' have been unwarranted. How embarrassing.]

Knit Mitt

Oh yeah, and there's a mitt completed. The quality of the photography is terrible, and I apologize for the cat hair on the cushion under the mitt, but here at least is proof that I knitted it. Sort of, at least. I realized after getting it all ready that this is not a picture of the completed mitt. This was taken before I did the thumb. Oh well, use your imagination again. The second one is underway, ribbing on the cuff finished and nascent thumb gusset materializing slowly.


Zero Waste

I want the world to be like these people want to make it.


Two experimental dishes tonight, on the whole a success. Spinach Kugel, which came out much too salty, but was good otherwise. I'm looking forward to trying again with less salt and maybe some cheddar cheese melted on top. The other was Sweet Potato Pancakes. They were good, if a bit too oniony for me.

I find that the older I get the less I need onions in my food. I can smell them for a long time after I cook with them – like, when I wake up in the morning even if I've showered the night before the onion smell is the first thing I'm aware of, and I notice it for at least a day or two on the kitchen surfaces, though I do clean thoroughly. It's not even that I don't like the smell, but it's too much when it's first thing in the morning, and constant. I've never talked about it with anyone else to know if this increased sensitivity is completely unheard of.

Fine Cabled Mitts

I've finished the first one, cast on and begun the ribbing for the second. I have such a rake of projects waiting in the wings, I'm starting to feel a little strung out (heh heh, get it?) about it: I have promised M.M. I'd FINALLY make the Siberian Husky puppy from World Of Knitted Toys. I made the Eskimo doll almost a year ago and am starting to feel totally guilty that I haven't followed through on that yet. I'd also like to make something for my nephew from that book. Then, there is Noro Silk Garden for a hat for me. And M.M. needs a hat. And I have some soft chunky yarn to make a quick hat for a present… haven't decided which of two people I'm going to give it to.

And all that is before I get back to my socks. I'm on the foot, just need to knit a few more inches before I start the toe decreases, but it's on hold because I decided it made more sense to work on seasonal stuff since I won't want to wear lacy socks until it gets a bit warmer anyway. Plus, my aunt asked me to work on a sweater she started a couple of years ago and hasn't had time or inclination to finish. She did the ribbing at the hem, and petered out on the stockinette of the body. I have no idea why I let myself get roped into it. It's going to be a long time before I get to it.

Tomorrow is another day for knitting.

How to Use the Wool Winder

1. For setting yarn guide up:
1) Hold the yarn guide by hand
2) Turn it clockwise
3) Thrust it in over a boss positioned at the reverse side of the base until clicking

2. For setting yarn winder on table:
1) Set the winder on table as shown in sketch, underlaying plastic clamp with rubber at the edge of table.
2) Fasten the winder with the clamp by turning wing nut to left

3. For fitting bobbin into bobbin holder
1) Fit bobbin in bobbin holder in a right position
2) Keeping bobbin holder by hand, turn bobbin to left by another hand as far as it goes

4. For winding yarns
1) Thread yarns through yarn guide and put the end of yarns into the ditch on top of the bobbin.
2) Holding the yarn by left hand to give a slight tension onto the yarn, move the nadle in the dirrection [sic] of arrow.

5. After winding yarns up
1) Take the wound ball out of bobbin after picking the first end of yarns up.
2) Alternatively take the wound ball with bobbin out of bobbin holder, detouching the bobbin by turning it to right.

6. How to use wound balls
1) For the wound ball taken out of bobbin, pick the first end of yarns up from core of the ball.
2) For those yarns like lace-yarns, summer fine-yarns and nep-yarns, take the ball with bobbin out of bobbin holder and take yarns from the outermost side of the ball to use.


News Roundup

One morning a couple of weeks ago – one of the first actually cold mornings we'd had this winter – M.M. decided she wanted to have a picnic outside before breakfast. So she got a blanket and a bowl with wheat thins (the organic kind with no sugar, obviously) and raisins, and took it all out to the farthest corner of the back yard and sat there by herself for a long time eating her pre-breakfast snack. She even came in to replenish her bowl a couple of times. Go figure. Anyway, the above photo is my pseudo-artistic documentation of her little outdoor adventure.

Since then, we've been to Massachusetts and back. I did replace my glasses, and I really like the new ones. The sunglasses clipon is much better than the old ones, but I'm very very unhappy to have had to shell out all that money to replace glasses that were themselves new less than a year ago. However, what's done is done. Move on. Accept reality. All that crap.

I'm having February Funks as Anne Margaret called them. It's cold, I'm tired, M.M. is getting over a cold and has been a cranky mucous factory all week, I need a haircut, and some exercise, and a social life, and a job…

But, we did get the woodstove going, so the kitchen is nice and cozy, and the laundry is clean, for the moment anyway. When we got back from Massachusetts the dining room and one living room wall had been painted. I had chosen the color before we left. I loved it on the chip when Melissa, the helpful and cheerful and talented painter, was here, but as soon as she left I got a scared sinking feeling in my belly that I had made a terrible mistake. I wanted it to be bright and cheerful, because these rooms don't get a lot of light, especially in summertime, and I was afraid of making it depressing and cold in here. So I chose a pastel yellow-green color to complement the dusty plum colored couch and the jewel tones in the funky curtains I got from Pier 1 about 6 years ago.

When we got home it was late, I was tired, and the paint looked horrible. I hated it. It looked like snot-green, pee-green, electric, intense, flourescent… I was sure it was horrible and I started trying to figure out how I was going to fix it. Now I'm happy to say that living with it for a few days, seeing it in different lights (boy does it change with the light, this color!), I'm coming to like it. It's definitely cheery and fun. Here it is on the walls. Please ignore the unholy mess that is my entire life house dining room.

Of course there's no hope of getting a true color in the photo. So use your imagination.


Mitten Dance

We had the misfortune to go for a walk yesterday during the ONE HALF HOUR of the day that there was a white out snow squall. M.M. was sobbing because she was so cold and the snow and wind were getting in her face, I was freezing and wet… I had taken my glasses off about halfway back because I couldn't see through the steam and snow on them. I thought I put them in my coat pocket, but they weren't there when we got home, so I conclude I must have missed my pocket and dropped them. I wanted to go back to look for them, but M.M. was so cold and wet and miserable that I couldn't take her back out. I couldn't bring my car in case I ran over them, nor could I get someone to come babysit for the same reason.

I tried to find them today, but no luck. It was really windy – really, really windy – last night, and even on our poky farm lane several cars and hunters' trucks (uck) had driven by, so the chances of my glasses surviving were not good. I can't find my old glasses either (though I haven't yet given up on that. I know I've seen them fairly recently), so I'm wearing my old OLD glasses, which are ugly, bent and uncomfortable, and not the right prescription. Oh well, what's another couple hundred bucks out of the pocket of a barely-employed single mom?


Ersatz Snow Day

It was only an inch or so, and it was pretty much a melted slushy mess by mid-afternoon, but by God this was the first snow we Berkshire girls have seen this year and we were gosh-darned gonna play in it. Having spent my childhood on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and my adulthood in the Berkshires, I don't have much snowman experience. By the time I got to the snowy climes I was not interested in freezing my fingers in pursuit of a Frosty replica. But I did my best for my child, and we produced this miniature little gal (according to M.M. it is very definitely a she). It was fun, really. But it's hard to imagine myself having the stamina for a big one, even if we got enough snow. One of my failings as a mother is a short attention span.

We treated the day like a snow day in other ways too. I made a big pot of chicken soup: not as good as last time, but my expectations were very high. It was still good, and it will probably be better tomorrow, too.

And I knitted and took pictures of yarn, some of which was delivered to my very doorstep this afternoon. Really, sometimes the 21st century is wonderful.

I finished the stripey mittens, wrapped them up, and put them in a big envelope in my cousin's mailbox as a surprise. I haven't heard from her about them yet, but I may have put them in there after they checked the mail this afternoon. I hope they're well received.
The colors aren't great here, they're richer and brighter than they appear. I love the subtle color changes.

And here's what's on deck, left to right: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock heavyweight in 'Farmhouse', which I believe I'm going to use for a nice pair of fingerless gloves for mysef. Some chunky alpaca I got to make a hat for my brother for Christmas that didn't make the time cut, but I'll whip it out now. And some Noro Silk Garden, can't remember the number, probably for a hat. Or something. Or for looking at for a long time.

All of this is on hold while I continue work on my Shetland Lace Rib socks, in progress for several months now. I am halfway done the second sock… (can we say Second Sock Syndrome?) and it's hard to stay focused. Maybe that attention span thing is not just a failing as a mother. Anyway, I'm going to fondle the new yarn and daydream about it at least for a little while while I try to get some more of this sock under my belt. I like the sock, I like the yarn, I want the finished product… it's just an attention span thing.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was all into the purply bluey tealy colors for yarn, that's all I bought. Now I seem to have any interest in (as evidenced by the photo above) is warm bright yellows, reds, oranges… I'm all about the sunset now.



Ta-da: M.M.'s mittens. Believe it or not, this image has not been Photoshopped at all. The mittens are sitting on a white folding chair and I used the flash, which effectively erased the chair and produced Mittens In Space:

Here they are in a more earthly setting. The colors in the space one are more accurate though. I don't know why in both these photos they look all messy and like there are ends and fuzzes sprouting off them. They're actually far tidier than these images would have you believe. Really, they are:

And here is the next pair, in progress. I'm not sure that I'm in love with the stripes, but they're fun enough, I guess:

Thanks for the comments, by the way. Blechy Blogger doesn't give me reply-tos for comments, so I can't acknowledge them privately, but I appreciate 'em anyway.


Is it possible for a child to survive on actually no vegetables at all? M.M. is now refusing to eat peas! I don't know what to do with someone who won't even touch the most benign, inoffensive vegetable ever. Malnutrition is around the corner, I fear. We went to the pediatrician yesterday for her (belated) 3 year old checkup (now called a 'well child visit' for some inscrutably euphemistic reason) and the nurse asked if she at a balanced diet, "meat, vegetables, and all". I kind of choked on my answer, because obviously I wasn't going to say no, but it was a little bit not true. The only saving grace is soup. She will consent once in a while to eating some soup, and even if she avoids actually putting anything vegetable-like in her mouth, I take comfort in the idea that the nutrients from the vegetables have been infused into the broth. Don't tell me it's not true. I like my little fantasy and being disabused won't help anything.

I still haven't gotten any pictures of the finished mittens, and I'd better get to it before they get lost or mangled or rubbed in the mud. I'm nearly done with the first of the new, striped mittens, cast on on the spur of the moment for my cousin. They're looking nice, I'm using a heathered light blue Cascade 220 in narrow, one-row stripes, and the same purply bluey greeny Miss Priss from the previous mittens in slightly wider, 2 row stripes. They remind me just slightly of those 1970s striped polo shirts, but not too much. I think I like them.

Still haven't gotten back to my sock. Don't know why. Mitten fever, I guess, and some psychological pathology about not knitting for myself, I'm sure. One of these days I'll get to them.


Catching Butterflies

This photo really doesn't have anything to do with anything, I just wanted to add some visual interest. I had insomnia last night (couldn't be the coffee ice cream at 10pm could it?) and didn't get to sleep til God-knows-when, so I have nothing much coherent to say.

We managed to have a relatively pleasant day today however. My 13 year old cousin who is also one of M.M.'s favorite people came over this morning for pancakes and stayed for a little while to play. We made orange play dough (so much fun to make). I made lots of progress on M.M.'s second mitten only to get to the top decreases and discover that I was missing 2 stitches (I told you I was tired). I suspect that when I did the thumb gusset I started it wider than I should have, thus incorporating stitches that should have stayed in the hand section.

Whatever the case, I frogged it back to the end of the cuff ribbing and am starting back from there. I thought I'd be finished it by early this evening and able to move on. Oh well.


No Spring Chicken

I tried to post yesterday, I really did. I had a whole post written and at the last minute before I published it, the electricity went out briefly, and it was lost, so I gave up entirely.

I took a dance class today, for the first time in about 3 years. I took a couple when M.M. was a new baby; I'd lay her on a blanket next to the mirror and she'd watch us pliéing and jetéing around the room. But of course that stage didn't last long and I haven't done any dancing since then. Meanwhile, my body has, um, gotten a lot more blobular, and I can really no longer blame it on baby weight, especially since I think I now weigh a fair bit more than I did back then after M.M. was just born. Sigh.

So I took this dance class, billed as 'adult ballet', today. It was actually me and a 12 year old and a 15 year old. And a teacher (sort of). It was just about exactly the right speed for me, which means that objectively it was a really easy class (and I'm sorry to say replete with technical errors). But great for me, today. And now, tonight I am kind of a mess. My lower back is really aching and various muscles throughout my body are shaky and sore. I'm lying on a hot pack and have been taking arnica all afternoon. I'm a bit nervous about how I'm going to feel tomorrow. I have high hopes of being able to keep taking this class and even of starting an at home workout routine. We'll see what happens. I don't want to put too much emphasis on it and set myself up for failure. But today was a good step.

Meanwhile, I have knit a mitten for M.M. and am working on a second. The Miss Priss yarn is lovely and she's excited about her mittens. I have no doubt that as soon as the second one is done she'll refuse to wear them, but never let it be said that I didn't knit her mittens with my own arthritic fingers.


Yarn Impulsivity

I'm posting purely to stick to my resolution of blogging everyday. I did of course miss yesterday, due to lack of sleep and surfeit of drama. Today was far calmer, but I am still in a fog and daze of sleep deprivation.

Exhibit A of fog and daze: I willy nilly started working on a new knitting project right in the middle of my socks. I couldn't wait another minute to wind the yarn and cast on for a pair of mittens for M.M. My logic was that the mittens would be a quick project and would hardly interrupt the socks. And that the yarn is just so darned pretty I couldn't help myself. And that it was kind of cold today for the first time this winter (!) and poor little M.M. needs some mittens.

I'm using some lovely blue, purple and kind of seafoamy green Miss Priss worsted yarn. It was pricey ($24 for one skein) but it's absolutely gorgeous and it was quite a big skein, so I'm hoping to get mittens, a hat, and possibly a scarf for M.M. out of it, and maybe even a hat for myself. By then I suppose I'll be sick of the colorway but for now it's lovely.

The problem with my impetuous start was that I don't have the right size needles. I need US 4 dpns, and of course I have 1s, 2s, 3s (several sets of 3s – I have no idea why so many), 5s, 7s… but no 4s. So I am brazenly swatching with 3s, on the bright hope (and with full awareness of the certainty of failure) that I'll get the right gauge. It's killing my fingers to use such small needles with this weight yarn, but I couldn't keep myself from knitting it. I will of course have to break down and find some 4s when I go out next, but I was hoping not to have to leave the house tomorrow, so it may wait until Friday.

The great thing about having a small child is that swatches can be used for doll blankets, so it feels like you're doing a project even when you're really just swatching.


Rainbow Socks

Yesterday I neglected to include one project in my successful knitting project gallery for the fall. I omitted M.M.'s rainbow socks because they were not a Christmas present, but I am rather proud of them. She chose the yarn (it can't be pretty if it's not rainbow). Believe it or not, the colors are fairly accurate in this photo. They're a little loose because I picked up too many stitches in the gussets in a frantic attempt to avoid the dreaded Gusset Hole Syndrome, and I did not decrease them fast enough.

Because of this, and because they are pretty thick, shoes don't really fit over them, though her snow boots do. Not that we've had any snow. Or frost. Or, really, even chilliness. In fact, it's been so warm the socks have been pretty much useless so far, but at least they're pretty and well constructed. See the cables? They're the Father and Son Socks from the fall issue of Interweave Knits, which is the same pattern as I used for the two pairs I made as presents. For M.M.'s rainbow socks, I did not use the yarn called for (Reynold's Whiskey) and instead used something I can't remember (I think it started with an A?), but something thicker. I made the smallest size, and ended up with socks approximately the size of M.M.'s foot.

I'm back at work on the Shetland Lace Rib Socks from Stitches of Violet, which I'd laid aside in the present frenzy. I finished the first one on my birthday, and despite having tried the thing on several times to test for length while knitting the foot, as soon as I finished the thing, there was somehow a dropped stitch and a run in the leg.

It was not there while I was knitting, it really wasn't! It was demoralizing. But I put aside thoughts of perfectionism, got out my crochet hook, and fixed it as best I could. It looks fine, I guess.

Anyway, I'm making slow progress on the second one.

Meanwhile, there are millions of projects swimming around in my head, vying to be next on the needles. I got a toe-up sock pattern and yarn for Christmas, so those are coming up (haven't done toe-up before). I have some nice worsted yarn with which to make mittens and maybe a hat for M.M. I'd really like to do a fancy, delicate lacy shawl thing, but I haven't gotten as far as choosing a pattern or yarn or anything, you know, concrete.

And here's just some cuteness:


Happy Birthday To Me

My internet seems to be back up and (fairly) reliable after nearly 3 months down. (I must remember to call Wild Blue and demand a credit for the time I was offline and they were jerking me around working hard to fix the problem.)

Meanwhile, we've had Hallowe'en, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday. So, um, plenty to catch up on I guess, if I ever get out of the sleep deprivation/vague depression fog I seem to be perpetually wading through these days. I'd like to follow Heather's example and post every day, but it may be a bit much to expect.

Anyway, here are some pictures for fun:
Cutting holly on Christmas Eve. A more picturesque experience could not have been had. And we were following Moxie's advice concerning kids and holidays: "Go outside, go outside, go outside!" Happily, it was warm (creepy, but nice) enough to blow off lots of steam outdoors.

Christmas children, who also could not have been more picturesque. Sure, this looks like a fiery disaster waiting to happen, but it was the magical season of Christmas, when no danger is too great to outweigh a great photo op.

And, I have knitting to share. Such knitting. For me, a bonanza of knitting. For cooler, speedier knitters I'm sure this would represent a slow week, but for me it's a miracle wrought by Netflix. I succesfully knit 3 Christmas presents, and only one of them was not ready on Christmas morning. I wrapped it as it was and finished it a few days later. Tragically, it seems that one of the three projects escaped the camera's lens (or maybe I was just too dopey to take it's picture), so we only have evidence of two of them. Here y'are:

The colors, of course, are woefully inaccurate. The fingerless mitts are a lovely dusky greenish hue, not the stern, wartime grey they appear, and the little socks for my nephew are a warm rusty gold, not poopy brown.