Monday, April 30, 2007

Knitting Highlights and Lowlights

Sort of done with Sausalito, sort of not really done. I've learned a tremendous amount knitting this sweater, so it's been well worth the trouble. But I have two objections to it.

First, doesn't it just look like a toddler sweater? Wide and short. When I look at the pattern drawings, it's fairly obvious that that's the plan, so maybe I just have a latent desire to dress like a two year old. It's actually a little better on, and it may improve more upon blocking.

I haven't blocked yet because of Problem the Second. Here is how the front edges look when flattened out (this is how they're supposed to look).

And here is how they look when just sittin'. I'm thinking I need to strengthen the crocheted edge somehow. I'm contemplating machine stitching a sturdy brown ribbon just inside, to both keep the edging out and to make the whole thing hang a little more neatly. So there's some fussing yet to do before I'm done.

And finally in Knitting World, here is the swatch pre-wash of the Nashua Cilantro cotton blend for The Purple Sweater. May I say, I adore knitting with this yarn. I know it is politically correcter to prefer the feel of all natural yarns, but I gotta say, this knits up like a dream. I'm hopeful it will not shrink and will meet gauge requirements and I'll be off and running. Because I'm thinking this will be fun. Yes, indeed.

'Twas a busy weekend. J-Man and Spouse-Man spent the night on the local aircraft carrier museum, reputed to be very very haunted by ghosts. Unfortunately, they ended up in a compartment by themselves, instead of the larger group compartment with other families, and that combined with all the ghosts stories meant not a lot of sleeping went on. Otherwise, it was great fun. Spouse served on the carrier Constellation in the early 1980's, so it was a trip down memory lane for him.

Teen Princess went to the state championships for Ultimate Frisbee. Her team did not place, but the school's A team won the championship, which was lots of fun. I was the idiot (I'm new at all day sporting events) who didn't put enough sunblock on, and will suffer for a few days.

And we had a freeway meltdown. If you haven't seen the photos, check 'em out.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not Blue

It's violet. I needed a little retail therapy today, and had an hour to kill just a block away from my new yarn hangout, and this violet cotton blend called out, in that way that yarn does, from across the store.

I'd vaguely looked over the yarn requirements for The Purple (Violet?) Sweater, and thought, in a vague sort of way, that this yarn might be vaguely about kind of what was called for.

The sweater is knit up on big needles for the yarn to make it lacier, so even now that I've got the pattern in front of me, it's hard to tell. As suggested by the very sensible Stefaneener, I shall swatch it up, and give it a nice wash and see what happens.

Sausalito awaits sleeve attachment and blockage. Oh, and a button. I almost forgot the button.

Friday, April 27, 2007

My Son, the Stud

We knew there would be shots. Yes, we did. But we didn't think it would be quite so difficult to get them.

Backstory: I was Anti-Vax Mom for years and years. (I didn't cut my hair or wear makeup either. I'll write about those days some time, but I won't show pictures.) Then I got into health care and reading epidemiology and decided that vaccines might not be the worst thing in the world and in fact might even be a good thing, and so got the TP up-to-date with shots before school started for her.

So about 3 months ago J-Man and I went in for his school shots - 9 months in advance of his starting school. Plenty of time to get a jump start on the many he'd have to have. He got worked up about the needles, but he knew he could handle it, and I promised no more than two at a visit, preferably one. Alas, the pedi's office could not find his chart on the day of our visit. So we were to come back. Long story short, it took all this time for the chart to be found.

We were on time today, and he was more than a little nervous, but he had strategies for how he would deal with the poke. Yes, he did, and he was even cracking a few jokes. But we had to wait and wait and wait and after a while it was clear the wait was getting on his nerves.

Finally the PA comes in to talk. Ahem. They've lost the chart again. But after a quick look at my face, they decided it might be worth finding it, and after about five minutes had it in hand. Then the medical records gal came in to talk about some chart issues. Then, check it out, there was a freakin' FIRE DRILL and the whole building was evacuated for 20 minutes. Then we had to stand in a long line to take the only elevator up because they couldn't find the key to open the stair door.
Still with me?

Then we get back in the room. Nine year old nursing students arrive. Why are you here?, they ask. Shots. Oh, you have his shot record, right? No, that's in his chart. Uh, there are no shot records here...?

Fortunately, unlike preteen nursing students, I have some actual experience with chart review, and point out the records. So. The pedi arrives.

A lengthy discussion of a shot schedule ensues. How many today? She and I agree we don't need to make a pincushion out of him - just one or two today. How many in a month?

J-Man has been silent as the grave for all of this. Three months worth of silence. Finally, unexpectedly, he speaks up:

Why don't I just have one shot, see how much it hurts, and if it's not too bad I'll just have all of them?

And dang if that isn't what he did. THREE pokes in the arm, all calm and cool with narrative about whether it was stinging or achy, three Bugs Bunny band aids. We have to go back for one more during the summer, and then it's just boosters at his annual visits.

He's totally my hero. He got whatever he wanted at the ice cream parlor afterward, naturally (double scoop mint chocolate chip, choco sprinkles and 3 cherries, one for each shot).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Some Knitting

Ashley and Amy were both kind enough to point out that I'm just looking at the wrong sewing blogs. And they're right! I will soon post a list of 10 or so very hip sewing blogs - some Ashley suggested, some I've come up with.

The list still doesn't hold a candle to the thousands of cool knitting sites, though...

Which may be why I was drawn back into the webby world of knitting this week. Or maybe it was just not getting home until 7 or 8 several nights, and being way too pooped to deal with the lighting and heat issues in the sewing studio.

I'd forgotten that I was only a sleeve away from finishing Sausalito, and as of yesterday I'm only half a sleeve away from finishing. Huzzah! Something to wear next fall. And in poking around some saved links, I found this lovely at Blue Alvarez Designs (called, appropriately, The Purple Sweater), which I think will be next up. Just right for our foggy summer mornings here.

This weekend is an Ultimate tourney in Santa Cruz, which should mean prime knitting time, too!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Knitting: Cool. Sewing: Not So Much

The Princess played 3 full sporting events this weekend, and the J-Man had his first hockey game. So why am *I* exhausted? Pooped. Can hardly keep my eyes open at 6:15pm (but I must stay awake until's a rule we have).

So instead of nodding off over the Bernina and the last couple of blocks, I am surfing. - kind of a weird, retro site, but some cute free crafty patterns. - who knew? I didn't. Some cute stuff, some fun ideas (I *swear* I'm going to try some form of silkscreen before the end of this year) but, as I feel sometimes while cruising, do people have too darn much time on their hands? One wonders. But I get excited about doppler radar...who am I to say? - the oldest, funkiest, least graphically interesting of all quilt sites. But a wealth of information if you're wanting to get into traditional quilting.

And then: - one of my favorite sites, of any type. Check OUT the cover socks. Seriously.

Hopping to Knitty today caused me to reflect, again, on the truest thing I know: knitting is infinitely more cool than sewing. Knitting is Steve McQueen to sewing's Angela Lansbury. Ever watch a sewing/quilting show on TV? Ever watch a knitting show? Yeah, the knitting show is in COLOR, with production values and no one has blue hair unless they meant to have blue hair.

And why is that? Why can't we sewers break out of our place mat/sensible blouse/lap quilt rut? Why don't we make more skull-themed baby clothing? We use vicious rolling blades, machines that threaten to put holes in our bodies, needles and scissors that keep us up-to-date with our tetanus shots. It's a dangerous sport. Why do we make sensible clothes and tidy quilts and toaster covers in mauve?

I'm too tired to posit a theory. But I welcome yours.

And I leave you with a photo of wild asters in my favorite meadow in all the world, which the doppler tells me is currently under several feet of snow.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Half the Fun in Twice the Time!

Did I say I wasn't letting the two-hour per block average deter me? Yes, I think I did. But man. I could easily do some serious whining about this.

At least I'm getting better at the pattern, messing up seams less. And I've listened to a LOT of NPR podcasts this week. Here's what I have to show for it (I'd forgotten what a lot of fabric paper piecing can waste).

In other news, I am so delighted by's newest feature, that I have to share.

If it's raining somewhere near you, go to and type in your zip code to look at your weather. Click on the "New Radar Map" tab, then click on the map that's generated to make it interactive. You can see the rain heading your way. In real time (well, five minute delay). Zoom in to see your STREET, zoom out to see if it's raining in ALASKA. Yeah, you can see if it's cloudy in Nepal. It's just...amazing. In fact, right this second, you folks in Dodge City, KS - best head inside. BIG downpour coming. (The big ones are in RED. Red!)

I remember when I was about 8, sitting on the arm of my great uncle Harold's armchair, while he showed me, absolutely delighted, a tiny electronic switch. Well, tiny...It was about the size of my adult-sized thumb. Now, not so tiny. But from his perspective, it was just amazing. Something previously unimaginable.

This is how I feel about live doppler radar on my computer screen. My children roll their eyes, but to me it's like magic. Who would have ever dreamed? Why, I can now have an excuse for not walking the dog! I can SHOW the children why they should take a jacket. I can phone relatives and discuss their weather with them. Whoa.

Hecka cool. Five stars. Check it out. And if you're under 40 and want to roll your eyes at me, look the other way, please.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Day in the Life

I'm wondering lately if this whole grad school thing is just nuts. In theory, it's doable. But in reality? I don't know. Reality takes up a lot of time.

I've been really really tired lately, battling a bug, or possibly anemic (blood test results pending), with insomnia thrown in a lot of nights for good measure. That's the backdrop for yesterday's tale.

Busy, busy day, after all said and done my face is washed and thoroughly moisturized by 9:00pm and I fall asleep reading.

At midnight there is a crash, a scurrying, tables being knocked over, something just short of the apocalypse. The dog is chasing something in our 15 x 12 foot bedroom, in the dark, and spouse and I are both in high adrenaline modes, not wearing enough clothing to combat an unseen enemy. I am in classic 50's movie pose, in bed with sheets pulled up to my chin, shrieking.

A rat is under our bed. A WILD rat, not a pet rat. A freakin' RAT. Under our bed.

There's a rat under our BED.

We have no idea, none, why. We had rats in the kitchen, once, when there was a sewer line break outside our house. We've had roof rats, very common in our town, but they stay in the attic until you make them go away. Why a rat would be in our second floor bedroom, we cannot fathom. The only possible way in was up the stairs. Why would any sane rat come up the stairs into a room where a dog was sleeping by the door?

But that wasn't the concern of the moment. What we needed was weaponry and a plan:

Two adults in minimal night clothing
A bucket
A mop
A broom
An open door to the second story deck
Instructions: "I'll push it, you shove it out the door."

Amazingly, against all odds, it worked instantly. I shoved the broom under the bed, spouse waved the mop, the bucket was unnecessary. We don't know, nor care, how the rat got off the deck. We are just grateful. We are glad we have a dog, too. He is the hero of the week.

But the fear rush did not help with the sleep issues, not one bit. And I have to wonder if these kinds of days/nights will go away once I enter school again. I'm thinking not.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

I ***MADE*** Something!

Determined to create something, anything, out of fabric, I went through my stash for about an hour last night. Turns out, (who knew?) I have boxes and boxes of hideous fabric. It's clear that a purge is necessary soon.

I did find a funny vintage (I'm thinking mid-1960's) farm print - it cried out for fussy cutting. And I knew I wanted to be doing something complex, and yet simple (something that presented a challenge for just half my brain, and let the other half doze?). I'm thinking: paper piecing.

Quilters either love it or hate it. I feel both. I love the neatness and coloring-in-the-lines feel, hate thinking backwards and messing up one seam out of 10 because I didn't catch enough fabric in the seam, or placed it where it will finally lie, not the opposite.

But this is a fun pattern:, and it's turning out nicely. The neutral is actually a little browner IRL, closer to the light tan in the print. And I have a very funky vintage that just happens to match up almost perfectly for a border and backing. Should be nice! I'm not letting the fact that each block is averaging 2 hours deter me. Not one bit.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself

Cal is not afraid of thunder, fireworks, bigger dogs, cows, or purt near anything you'd expect a dog to be frightened of. He is afraid of the kitchen (no idea) and - we've learned only today - smoke alarms.

Well, no. He's afraid of the first, and terror-stricken like nothing you've ever seen of the last. My spouse is replacing all the batteries in the smoke alarms, with just a quick beep on each, and the 55# dog is in my lap, shedding like there's no tomorrow, and shivering so hard as to make the ice in my tea rattle. This shot was of him when it all started, when we could call his emotion"anxious".

These charming quirks are why we have pets, right? It makes us feel needed. Or whatever.

So it's been a good long while, and I'm persuaded by those special people who love me (thanks, Sis!) to come back to the blogosphere.

My last post tells of a leetle trouble at work, a new blog and a dearth of crafting. Still no sewing or knitting at all, but I did get through the Terrible Awful No Good Very Bad work crisis (even won some accolades in the end) and am prepping to move on to a new and better job within the same hospital in about 6 weeks. The down side is that it's more hours, now 30 per week. Up side is that there will be more money in the bank, more autonomy and responsibility, and I get to keep track of data, which is my FAVORITE thing.

Got rid of the extra blog. I couldn't even keep up with one, could I, now?

I lived through the Graduate Record Examination, two weeks ago today. My scores were not exactly disappointing, but definitely not strong enough in the quantitative section to make getting in at UC Berkeley a lock. I'm still trying to decide what to do about that. I could change my desired program to one less quantitative than epidemiology, and probably get in easily. Or I could suck it up and apply for the one I want, hoping for the best. I could take the test again. Or I could light my hair on fire and run through the town square naked. Haven't decided yet.

We went to Disneyland on what turned out to be the most crowded weekend in forever, but still managed to have a great time doing things like being the oldest family ever to ride It's Tough to Be a Bug and having lunch with the princesses.

In KidWorld: Soccer and Ultimate are both in full force, roller hockey starts next week for the J-Man. He and I have 6 more weeks of being homeschoolers, and then the bittersweet day when we both graduate to the next phase of our lives happens, June 1. The kids are keeping tissues handy for me.

The Teen Princess is still enjoying school, getting A's, volunteering at my hospital in the thalassemia outreach program, and hanging out with nice kids. Her schedule for next year includes Honors English, which makes me happy, and French. She turns 15 next month, and is already asking absurd questions like, "Which car will be mine when I turn 16?"

The J-Man is looking forward to 6th grade at school with his sister next year, and truth be told, so am I, really. I will be happy to turn over teaching of punctuation and exponents and capitals to someone else, just so sad to lose the time I've had with my fabulous, fun kids these last 10 years.

In the garden are sweet peas aplenty, roses coming soon, and a fully re-planted bunch of pots on the deck waiting for heat to get blooming. I'm inspired by Ashley to get to quilting again, and since various plans for tomorrow have fallen through due to weather, it might just happen!

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