Monday, December 31, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Cutting Room Friday

I can't really call this post Sewing Room Friday, since I brought all the fabric and supplies for my costume and DD#2's new dress up to my dining room today. But it is sewing progress of a sort and worthy of posting.

Bubba is a little carbon copy of myself (in personality, not looks). She loves to make stuff and has a very creative point of view. Give her a snippet of fabric and some glue and she'll fashion a butterfly or doll costume out of it. When we were out hunting for red velvet for a Santa costume I needed to recreate, she found this netting with embroidered flowers and bought a yard of it with her own money. She's been anxiously awaiting the chance to have me help her cut it out and learn to sew it into a dress.

Since I had to get moving on my costume for Beauty and the Beast, it only made sense for me to cut out both my costume and her dress at the same time. Cutting out patterns is my least favorite part of sewing, so I do as much as I can while I'm in the mood.

I'm not quite done cutting out my costume pieces. Due to my rather full-figured, short (or stumpy) figure, I will need to do some re-drafting of the vest pattern for the costume. I cut out a trial vest from scrap fabric to monkey with before working with the real stuff.

I also have the muslin for the petticoat and vest lining in the wash. Of all the fabrics purchased, it is the most likely to shrink significantly if I need to clean my costume during the production. And I probably will. From all accounts, the choreography will be pretty strenuous and since we have 10 performances and 2 dress rehearsals, I suspect that the costume may get a bit gamey. Although grime may be in character, a foul stench may be carrying the whole role-playing thing a bit too far.

I have no issues with being anachronistic in that sense - nor will my fellow actors, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Socks, socks and more socks

In evaluating my goals and aspirations for 2008, I decided what I really want to do is knit socks - lots and lots of socks. So here is my first official resolution for 2008 - knit socks, socks and more socks.

In one sense, it is a "resolution" because it will help bring down my sock yarn stash, which really has gotten a little out of hand. And with all the yummy sock yarns that are out there that I still haven't played with, stash reduction will give me more chances to experiment with new kinds of yarn.

In another sense, this is a resolution that focuses on taking care of me. Having four kids and a hubby in need of serious and significant support and encouragement, it is far too easy for me to fall into a "poor me" attitude. By focusing on some fun knitting, I'll be ministering to my own wishes for awhile. And end up with some delightful new socks, too.

So, towards that end, I took some time today to wind up six pairs of sock yarn cakes. I started with the Dream in Color Smooshy yarn I picked up at Knit Wits a few weeks ago (the burgandy, brown and greenish cakes). Then I wound up two skeins of black Lang Jawoll I had in my stash. Last but not least were one skein of Trekking XXL (the grey/white cakes) and Fortissima Socka (the brown multi cakes). I have enough yarn caked up to make six pairs of socks.

Of course, Harley had to check out the whirling dervish (aka swift) and decided to hang out with the new yarn cakes.

Now, if I could get him to stop attacking my circular needles while I'm knitting . . .

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Knitting Final Tally

Well, all my deadlines were met but not without significant effort on my part - and some "heavenly" intervention.

We departed for family gatherings in Iowa on Sunday. Unbeknown to us, there was some "weather issues" going on. We checked the forecast in the morning but it did not prepare us for what we encountered when we finally embarked on the annual southern migration.

As soon as we got on US Highway 35W, traffic slowed to a crawl. And for good reason. There was a sheet of ice on the highway. Add high winds and some light snow beginning to fall, causing near white-out conditions, and you had the worst winter driving conditions imaginable. As we inched our way south, we counted the spin-outs and ditch-divers. In the 3 hours it took us to reach the southern border of Minnesota, we counted 22 vehicles in distress.

Of course, this wouldn't be my blog if there weren't a silver lining to report. Although the normally 4.5 hour trip took us over 6 hours, it gave me more time to finish the last of the Christmas washcloths and scrubbies. When we finally pulled into my parents' home, everything was finished and wrapped up for gift giving.

The total tally for hand-knit gifts this year is:

  • 20 washcloths
  • 16 scrubbies
  • One pair of leg warmers for Dancing Diva
  • Cigar gloves for Hockeyman
  • Sleeveless hoodie vest with matching doll hoodie for Bubba
  • Sleeveless hoodie vest with matching doll hoodie for Peeps
  • Socks for Dancing Diva's BFF

The large stealth project originally planned for my mom was frogged and postponed until her birthday. The "no dye lot" yarn I purchased for the project should have had dye lots because the shades differed enough that it was working up looking like it had dirty stripes in it. It wasn't until I was 4 skeins into the body of it that I noticed the dingy looking color changes. I need to replace the yarn I selected with ONE SHADE of yarn before I pick it up again.

With the end of the holiday season approaching, I'm sincerely looking forward to some selfish knitting. There are two sweaters in my UFO pile just begging for some attention and I've bought some more yarn for yet another sweater for myself that is just calling out for me to go ahead and cast on. Then there is the 3 skeins of Dream in Color Sock yarn that I recently bought clamoring for petting and dreaming and sock pattern hunting. Then there is the ballet shrug that Dancing Diva has asked for that's been flitting around in my head.

My New Year's Resolution every year has been to finish 3 UFO's before starting something new. I think this year will be different. Perhaps I should switch it around to casting on 3 new projects before finishing any UFO's. What do you think?

(Harley: "Man, you gotta look out for Daddy. You try and take a nap and he turns you into a mouse pad. What a twisted sense of humor that man has!")

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

It has been a very merry Christmas in our household and we pray that all our friends have been as blessed this year.

I hope to begin regular posting soon.

(Koda: "I'm so glad Mommy and Daddy are home. But do you think they noticed the mess we made while they were gone? I told you we shouldn't have a party!" Harley: "What mess?")

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hockey Embarrassment???

Well, the boys won the tournament they competed in this weekend. But it was an incredibly uncomfortable experience for everyone concerned.

This was a small "B" level 4-team round-robin tournament. That means there were 4 teams and each team played the other teams. Since this was a points tournament, there were no brackets or "championship game" involved. Once all four teams had completed their games, points were tallied and the team with the most points won.

In our first game, we were outrageously dominant. The final score was 18-0, with over 70 shots on goal when it ended. After the first period, the boys laid back and the coaches required at least 5 passes before shooting on net and the other team still couldn't seem to muster any defense. It was hard as a parent to watch one team so easily out-play another team. I stopped cheering after the first 5 minutes of the game because we were already up by 4 and it was clear that it was going to be a massive blow-out.

We had hopes that the second game would be more challenging, since that team had dominated their first opponent, with a 7-1 win and more than 50 shots on goal. Unfortunately, it was not hard to out-play this team either. We won, 7-1. This team had a better and faster defensive line and the goalie was not easily shaken but we still out-shot the other team 5 to 1. We took a double minor penalty and the other team was able to score in the 5 on 3 but that was the only offense they could muster. A later 5 on 3 penalty kill was successful and the coaches instituted yet another 5-pass requirement and the boys laid back to keep this game a bit easier on the opponent.

I didn't attend the final game, since a little cold I was fighting managed to make its usual migration to my chest. However, it was another tough game to win, with a 15-0 final score and a 6-1 shots-on-goal ratio. Another two periods of the 5-pass rule and half-speed skating couldn't keep this game's score any lower.

I snapped a few photos of the first game and managed to capture this one of Hockeyman sliding into the net. From his posture, it looks like he's just hanging out with the goalie. In a true sportsmanlike fashion, one of the opposing players checked to see if HM was okay and gave him a friendly pat on the back after this collision.

IMHO, that was the highlight of the weekend! You gotta love a player who is big enough to care about another player, even when their team is being beat up on the scoreboard. Kudos to him! And a big cheer for all three teams we played. There was little rancor or ugliness to speak of and they managed to hold their heads high to the end.

Well done, men, well done!

Friday, December 14, 2007

1,000 words-worth?

Eureka! Friends at last.

We have a hockey tournament this weekend, so I'll have to try and catch up on everyone's blogs next week. Have a great weekend - I know I will!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Quick Christmas Update

It's a busy day in the neighborhood, so this will be a very brief post.

The gift knitting frenzy is upon me, even though I vowed not to get caught up in the madness this year. Fortunately, I have re-evaluated my priorities and cut back my expectations. As a result, the twitch in my eye has settled down and I am looking far less scary and frenetic.

First, one more FO. The hooded vest for Peeps is complete. I am still planning to make the matching doll's vest but since I already know it will be a very quick knit, I have taken a short break to work on gifts for Hockeyman and Dancing Diva.

Recently, Hockeyman requested some fingerless gloves for use during Airsoft Club. I remembered the Knucks pattern from Knitty, so I went online to get the pattern. Then I found Cigar. It seemed even better for winter shooting practice. It has been a quick knit. I cast on yesterday morning and finished the first one early this morning. I'm already past the brown section of the second glove, so I'm sure this will be off the needles sometime tomorrow. I'm using the leftover yarn from his balaclava, so he'll have a nicely coordinated Airsoft set.

Dancing Diva has requested some leg warmers for dance. They are close to done but I need to move them up to a larger needle for the last section and the needles are being used for Cigar. I promise a photo and description in my next post.

Finally, in the kitten world, Harley and Koda are slowly getting better at being together. When they play, Koda still vocalizes quite a bit but we're certain that it's just a habit and it will be the way she plays for now. The only issue that is plaguing us is that Harley wants to play all night and Koda's vocal performance awakens and alarms various members of the family throughout the night, leaving everyone (but the cats) bleary-eyed and weary during the day.

If only we could play all night and sleep all day - then all would be well in Casa de la Gatos.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Spiralling out of control!

Hockey and dance schedules are both heating up at the same time, on top of all the crazy holiday stuff that's going on. Therefore, I may be posting a bit less than usual. However, here is another gift FO for your viewing enjoyment.

These are an adaptation of the Red Dwarf pattern from Turtlegirl. I needed to change the gauge up a bit to suit the Lorna's Lace sock yarn but I'm very pleased with how they turned out.

These socks are destined to be worn by Dancing Diva's BFF, also a dancer whose feet are always in need of some pampering.

BTW, a "hi-de-ho, neighbor", goes out to Guinfer! It was so nice meeting you last night at Puck's hockey game. Hope we can meet up again soon.

Well, off to a dance performance with Dancing Diva. Ta-ta and fa la la la la!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blast all this holiday knitting . . .

The new issue of Knitty is up and I'm fighting a major case of impending startitis.

Somebody help me!

(DH sent this cartoon to me today! Guffaw!)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

FO for Christmas

As promised, here is a quick snapshot of some gifts for Bubba (DD#2). She loves purple and this heathered worsted weight acrylic from TLC is the perfect shade of lavender to suit her purple passion but still look great with jeans. I found the pattern at e-Patterns. It is a book you can download directly from their site. I have to admit that there were several glaring errors in their pattern and were it not such a simple sweater shape and I hadn't been such an experienced knitter, I would have found this pattern very frustrating. However, several of the designs were charming and I've been trying to encourage the girls to play with their American Girl dolls a little more before they outgrow playing with dolls completely. The doll patterns alone made the price of the book well worth it to me, even if I do have to do some editing and pattern revamping.

Peeps' sweater is well advanced and should be finished before the end of the week. The doll sweater only took about 4 hours of knitting, so that should fly off the needles in the near future as well. If only all my Christmas gift knitting could go so quickly.

Dancing Diva managed to snap this photo during Bubba's "recess" yesterday. Her favorite bear was obliging enough to model it for us, although I think he objected a bit to squeezing his big head through the neckline.

In hockey news, the boys lost their last two district games 2-3. It's been a disappointing hockey week but my philosophy is better to lose early in the season than late. They are battling hard but the bounces seem to be going against them at the moment.

On the cat battlefront, we've had a couple of snuggle sessions between the cats but only after we've thoroughly worn Harley out before letting him in with Koda. She continues to object strenuously to Harley's rather rough overtures to play but she's getting a little less vocal as time goes on. What is humorous, though, is she will get incredibly playful herself, after watching the Wild Thing play for awhile. Not playful with him but with his toys. It's suddenly like having two kittens in the house.

"See, Mommy, I can be cute, too!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

Better late than never???

I'm a little late with my Sewing Room Friday pics. I was very active in the sewing room this morning . . . at 3:30 am! I had one of those mornings where Koda decided she needed an early breakfast and awakened me far earlier than I wanted to get up. Unfortunately, my brain started functioning and the backlog of costume work that I have in the sewing room forced me to arise long before the sun.

First item of business was a new pair of pants for Santa! A friend who has played Santa every year for 20 years brought me a worn out pair of pants and asked if I could make him a new pair. The hardest part was finding a red velvet that matched but I managed to find something that was very close in color. I don't have a photo because the costume has already been delivered. However, I do have the a pic of the fabrics and pattern for my Beauty and the Beast costume. As soon as I finish the dance costume alterations for the performance company dancers at the studio, I'll be cutting out and piecing my own costume.

On the knitting front, stealth knitting continues at a snail's pace, in spite of the obsessive compulsive drive that pushes me to knit early and late and whenever I can in between. I have two more gifts completed but at least 6 more in the queue. If I get a chance to sneak a photo of one of the stealth gifts (maybe while kids are playing in the snow we're supposed to get tomorrow), I'll post it.

In the meantime, here is a cute kitten snapshot from tonight. Koda is slowly getting a little more tolerant of Harley's proximity but there are still little cat spats going on around here, especially when Harley gets aggressively playful. I suspect this little guy is going to be ruling the roost completely before long. He's not the least intimidated by all of Koda's vocal demonstrations and has taken to ambushing her whenever he gets the urge. Poor Koda.

In hockey new, the boys managed to win the consolation championship at the Blaine tournament, winning their final two games with relative ease (4-3 and 4-1). They also played a district game against Apple Valley last night and won 3-2. They continue to play well, in spite of a shake up in the line up. One of our players was moved up to the A team because the A team lost multiple players to local JV and Varsity high school teams. It was a bit of a controversy because the high school try-outs happen so late after the Bantam rosters have been set and it causes a real problem to start shifting around players after pictures have been taken and we're already 2 months into practices and games. However, as a result of the shake up, Hockeyman has been moved up to wing and he's very excited to be playing forward again.

Maybe he is a bit too excited. While he did get the game puck for his good play last night, he also managed to break both of his sticks before the end of the first period last night!

Guess what HM is got as an early birthday present?!?

Friday, November 23, 2007

New WIP, Old Story and Hockey news

The large size of my stealth projects made it necessary for me to continue to have a small, portable project this weekend. After all, there are just some things that shouldn't be carried around a crowded hockey center during a major tournament. My large knitting bag would have been a safety hazard as I tried to weave my way through the crowds at the Schwans Super Rink.

Since I am so heartily sick of washcloths and scrubbies, I decided that the advent of the festive holiday season entitled me to start another pair of socks. So out came the hand dyed sock yarn from Shepherd's Harvest and I'm off and running with a toe-up version of Sleepwalker Socks from Dream In Color Yarn. I am totally loving how the yarn is flashing in this pattern. The lacy leaf pattern is a bit lost in all that color but I sometimes like the hidden surprise of a stealthy pattern like this. I can't wait to see how the yarn works on the heel but for now, it's just gorgeous!

In kitten related news, we are slowly acclimating Koda to the presence of Harley. I devised a new strategy - Koda has a new cozy bed tucked up on top of the kitchen cabinets. When we're going to release the wee beastie, we simply lift Koda to the top of the refrigerator. From there, she has the option of coming down to his level or jumping on top of the cabinet. So far, she has opted to move to higher ground and kept a close eye on Harley without getting all hissy and growly.
However, the look in her eye reveals the true nature of her feelings all too well.

From her vantage point, this is her view of The Wild Thing. He just doesn't sit still long enough or a decent photo, the little speedster.

As for a hockey update, the hockey team won 2-0 against the Colorado team Wednesday night. It was a surprising victory, considering this team is a club team and is well known in this area as a very competitive and tough team. In our favor though, was travel fatigue, since the CO boys were getting on a plane at 3 am that morning and most had not slept much the night before. We enjoyed a pizza party afterward with the Colorado parents and players. It was a great time of camaraderie and good sportsmanship.

Today, however, the boys went up against the top-ranked Bantam B-1 team in the state. They managed to pull off a 0-0 tie at the end of overtime. By this point, our team had been overwhelmingly out-played and out-shot. Only the incredible defensive play of our team and a flawless game by our goalie kept us in it at all. It was a valiant effort by our goaltender but the shooting skills of the other team was too much for a very exhausted goalie and we lost the game in the final shoot out, 0-2.

In one sense, it was a heart breaker. To lose one in a shoot out is always a let down. In another, it makes me incredibly proud of and hopeful for our team. If we can do this well against the #1 team in the state this early in the season, we have the potential to measure up to any team we meet. It was an awesome opportunity to size up a team we won't meet in district play this year, and early enough to start working on our own game strategies for a possible play-off game at state against them.

Woot! Go Hawks!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Frenzy continues . . .

I tried a new scrubbie pattern and so far, I'm lovin' it. Aren't they cute. These little beauties are a very quick pattern. I can make at least 2 an hour. What is more, they are inexpensive to produce. I picked up some nylon scrub pads at a local grocery store, 6 for a dollar. You can't beat the price and I am definitely keeping a few of these for myself.

To add to the frenzy, Joann's Fabrics and Crafts had nylon netting on sale for 40% off today and I stocked up with way more than I'll probably be able to use this year (or next) but I'm nothing if not a planner and preparer for those emergency situations where a gift must be made but all the stores are closed and I'm snowed in for at least a month . . .

As for Harley, life with Koda continues to be contentious. Not because of Harley. He has reacted in a playful, submissive manner every time Koda crosses his path. Not a single hiss or growl has passed his sweet little kitty lips. Koda, on the other hand, is convinced that Harley is a dem*n from H*ll who must be exorcised and destroyed with much loud vocal pyrotechnics and hysterical hissing. However, small progress has been made, evidenced by the fact that Koda no longer hisses at any of us who smell of kitten and she has consented to play with toys he has smeared his boyish scent all over.

I guess we must be thankful for small steps for now. In the meantime, here's a little "oooh, ahhh" photo for you all. That be Dancing Diva's arms which hath soothed the wee savage beastie into a deep and restful slumber. She has a gift with animals, that girl.

On a hockey note, the boys were handed their first loss of the season. It was a heart-breaker overtime loss . . . to EP, of all teams (no gloating, Guinifer). Hockeyman had played on a team with 3 of the players on the EP team in the off season, so it was kind of strange seeing them in the opponents colors.

We have a scrimmage against a Colorado team this afternoon and tournament play all weekend, so more hockey updates to come.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Washcloth Wasteland

I'm whiling away the hours in the washcloth wasteland. Making washcloths has begun to dominate my dreams and fill my waking hours with frantic calculations to see if I can make enough of these little items for everyone on my list.

When I first started, the washcloths seemed to be flying off the needles. What a great, mindless project to fill those hours of waiting at hockey and dance and during school hours. Alas, the honeymoon has ended and I'm quickly tiring of knitting endless washcloths. (I'm having a flashback to the Great Slipper Storm of 2006, when 13 pairs of felted slippers were made and gifted ugggh!)

In an effort to break the monotony, I have designed a scrubbie pattern to tuck into some of the gift packets, in lieu of the handmade soaps (purchased from a friend) that a few lucky loved ones will be receiving.

Last summer I purchased a couple crocheted scrubbies at a Farmer's Market in Iowa. I totally fell in love with these handy little items and wanted to find a pattern for knitted ones. A little research on the web and I found a plethora of crocheted patterns for scrubbies. However, since there was a decided scarcity of knitted patterns and being the creative chick I am, I improvised.

They are not the most glamorous looking items, being a bit lopsided and wonky looking but they'll soon get battered and worn, being used as they were designed to be used. Hopefully, my technique will improve as I make more of them and they'll turn out a bit more aesthetically pleasing.

The scrub pad side is made from nylon netting. I bought 1 yard of the coarsest netting I could find and cut it into 1.5 inch strips, which were tied together. I cast on 18 stitches on size 6 knitting needles and knit in garter stitch until I felt it was the right length for a scrubbie, approximately 4 inches long, and bound off. So far, I've gotten three scrubbies out of the yard and there are more strips left, perhaps enough for one or two more scrubbies.

The yarn side was 22 stitches cast on and knit in the Trinity Stitch pattern until it was the same size as the scrub pad side. The knobby texture of the stitch pattern adds a little scrubbing power of it's own and adds a little bulk to the scrub pad. Then the two sides are crocheted, wrong sides together, with a single crochet edging.

I may make a few of the crocheted versions, just to see if they're any quicker. So stay tuned for more reports from Washcloth Wasteland.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Harley update

Life with a kitten continues to be an adventure. Harley is still quarantined to the basement bathroom. He came to us with a few minor medical issues. He was adopted from a wonderful rescue shelter but the number of cats there made it nearly impossible for them to treat his problems effectively. Now that we have him home, he won't be re-exposed to all the bugs and critters that were affecting him. His respiratory condition is responding to antibiotics (thanks for being so observant, Holly - you were right on the nose in diagnosing his problem - pun intended) and the ear mites and worms are being treated appropriately as well. His energy level is steadily increasing, which I take as a good sign of his ongoing recovery.

Koda is not at all resigned to sharing her kingdom with an interloper. First she was very disturbed at having to be dosed with some preventative medications to protect her from Harley's crud. Then she totally freaked when she first saw Harley. So far, they've only seen each other through glass and her reactions was surprisingly hostile. But her reaction to Rocky was the same and she came around after a week or so. We have the space and time to be patient, after all. They look so much alike, you'd think she was his mother and I'm hoping that's the attitude she'll finally take.

In knitting news, Christmas gift knitting is progressing rapidly. The Wash Cloth 2007 marathon is whipping along at record pace, with six done so far. I also found some information on making scrubbers with nylon netting and I'm busy experimenting with making those as well.

The large stealth project is on hold until we are on the road to a family gathering this Thanksgiving. It is the ideal project for working on in the car because it is at the mindless/boring stage and I can chat with DH and listen to talk radio while working on it. Between the 3 hour trip Thursday and the commuting to and from the hockey tournament next weekend, I should make tremendous progress on it.

Beyond that, not much that is blog worthy around here. Just bonding with kitties and repetitive, boring knitting projects. But who can resist such a cute face?

I suspect many of you will be returning just for Harley updates. And who would blame you.

All together now, "Awwwwww!"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sewing Room Friday - progress but not mine!

I mentioned that Dancing Diva had done some cleaning whilst working on the clandestine 2007 Birthday Surprise. Believe it or not, this room is much, much cleaner than it was before. I have some yarn in a basket that needs to find a home and there are many things DD didn't know what to do with that I need to put away. But some progress is better than none.

None of the sewing clutter is mine this time around but since I have to alter DD's costume this weekend for her performance over Thanksgiving, next week should show some evidence of using my own sewing room.

And who knows, maybe I'll even sew on the long-neglected quilt this weekend. In between taking care of Harley, that is.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Birthday surprise part deux

As further proof of the long range planning that went into Birthday Surprise 2007, here are some photos of projects made by Dancing Diva. DD was so helpful and pleasant, offering to clean the sewing studio this past week, that I should have had a clue that come clandestine gift making was going on. She managed to whip these items up during her "cleaning" sessions and my frequent absences to Hockeyman's games. The amazing thing is that she did get a remarkable amount of cleaning done, too. Enough to fool me into thinking that's all that was taking place.

The lovely mushroom shaped item is a pet bed, albeit a bit large for Harley yet but it will hopefully be large enough for both cats, once they finally meet and become friends.

The three wool felt toys were also whipped up by the deceptively docile Dancing Diva. Needless to say, Harley LOVES the mouse with the long tail. He's spent several hours playing with that toy alone - and it doesn't even have any catnip in it. I suspect that Harley is going to be a wee bit spoiled in the coming months with additional toys WITH CATNIP to come.

On the knitting front, I've finished the first part of my costume for Beauty and the Beast. I pulled out the tried-and-true Flower Basket shawl pattern from IK. I have to apologize for the poor picture quality. I even pulled the whole blocking pad outside to try and get some daylight shots but it was too windy to move it further than the covered patio. It tried to sail away once while trying to maneuver it into place even in that sheltered spot.

Once the shawl is completely dry, I promise to take a much better photo.

As for any new photographic evidence of kittenly capers . . . well, Harley isn't cooperating with me. He ends up a flashing blur in most photos - or with his hind foot in the air and his head down for a spot of cleaning (you know - ewww) - or with a vampirish gaping maw. He has a remarkable awareness of when the flash is going to go off and manages to contort himself into the most horrible positions. Those of you who get such awesome photos of cats, tell me how you do it.

Look at the camera and say, "cheese," Harley - PULEEEEESE!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My birthday present came early this year.

In an effort to really surprise me this year, my family conspired to bring home an adorable new addition to our clan. While I was at Awana tonight, DH picked up our newest family member.

Meet Harley!
He is a rough and tumble 12 week old tabby. On first acquaintance, he is a bit jumpy and very feisty. We need to quarantine him for a short time, until he has had a full check up and some more immunizations but we'll hopefully be introducing him to his big sister, Koda (aka Fluffy Knitting Companion) in the next week or so.

While the family had made a list of appropriate names for me to choose from (Gretsky, Zamboni, Java and Mocha were top contenders), he just seemed to be wild enough to fit the Harley moniker. While I loved Gretsky, how would you shorten it? He just can't live up to "The Great One." At least, not yet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

'Tis the Season

With the gift giving season fast approaching, I've abandoned socks as my travel knitting project of choice to focus on wash cloths. After all, it is none too early to do a little preemptive present preparation.

Why do I use the term "preemptive?" Because every year someone unexpectedly walks up to me with a gift in hand. This always leads to the "blush, stammer and lame excuse" syndrome. "Oh my, how sweet. Ummmm, I have a gift for you, too. But it's not with me . . . yeah, that's it, it's at . . . umm, home." (Unless you're at home, then your "not with me" excuse is not just lame but really, really, really lame.)

In order to avoid that rather painful experience (especially since I'm a dreadfully poor liar), I try to have a few extra items prewrapped and ready to go before the season begins. Then when the surprise gift appears - voila - I can state with perfect honesty that I do have a gift already prepared. If I'm especially on top of things, I keep a few of these little packages, with blank note cards in a box in the car, so when those gifts appear at church or the dance studio, I'm prepared.

These are the ubiquitous Ball Band Pattern from Mason Dixon Knitting in Peaches & Cream cotton. If this yarn looks familiar, it is. I bought monstrous quantities of these colors on sale for a project and then scrapped the original idea. I've been making bibs, burp cloths, toys, hats, water bottle holders and wash cloths out of it for a year now, just trying to use up my stash. Oy, what a lot of yarn I've gone through/have yet to go through. Let this be a lesson to everyone in sale yarn buying moderation.

Oh, and for those of you stealth gifters who get a twisted kick out of catching unsuspecting recipients unawares . . . just try to surprise me with an unexpected gift. You won't catch me napping this year. Mwahahaha!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Another Sewing Room Friday + a Friday FO

Another Friday, another sewing room update. As you can see, some sewing has happened in this oft neglected room - just not the kind I'd really like to be doing.

Here is evidence that a certain 14 yo boy has invaded my sanctuary. Being an airsoft enthusiast, Hockeyman has decided that he needs a Gilly suit to aid in his stealthy pursuits. HM learned to sew early on, taking a quilting class when he was 9. He was enthusiastic but only because there was machinery with dangerous, sharp, pokey things attached. Once he mastered the machine operation, he was done with quilting forever. Now, though, necessity compels him to dust off his rusty sewing skills and create again.

(On a side note, HM just found out I was blogging about his sewing prowess and he's trembling at the thought that one of his friends might find out that he crafting - so shhhhh, it's a secret.)

On my Big Board, there are subtle signs that I, too, have been at work in the room. You'll notice the empty seam ripper package and the cut out dress tags (but only if you look very closely). Yes, it is the costume alteration season. I had an emergency call this week to alter 3 dance costumes for a performance on Wednesday night. The safety pins are my way of pinning dance costumes during a fitting. The are far less accurate than straight pins but when you're dealing with skin-tight spandex costumes, straight pins are a liability. Besides the prick factor, you also have the problem of potential blood stains and pins that tend pop out of the seams when you try to remove the costume from the dancer. In addition, I had a quick pointe shoe ribbon sewing session as well. All in a day's work for a dancer mom, I guess.

Unfortunately, my quilt sits neglected in the corner, just waiting for a little stray attention to wander its way. Some day, my love, some day!

On the knitterly side, another FO has arrived. Nautie joined my gift pile yesterday. Not that this gift was a high priority. After all, the baby this little guy is going to won't be arriving until late spring. But I've got that restless feeling about knitting again. I'm flitting from project to project like a butterfly. I don't understand why I'm so resistant to focusing on one project and finishing it (especially Christmas gifts) but that is just my nature. I've come to the conclusion that there is too much stress in my life to put undue pressure and guilt on myself about the one passion that is supposed to bring me joy. So if I get some Christmas stuff done, great. If not, store gift cards are quick and easy to procure and rarely refused.

Right? Tell me I'm right, okay! Hello???

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Drive by posting

It's another hurried day in the neighborhood, so just a quick post to reveal another pair of socks.

There was so much Dream in Color Smooshy left over, I decided to see if I could get a pair of anklets out of it. Needing a portable project for dance/hockey/waiting rooms, I cast on Saturday morning and finished by Monday night.

I have to admit that I don't like my picot hem at the top. I'm going to wash and block these to see if they tighten up. Would someone please tell me what I keep doing wrong? They are always so loose and flippy-downy. Uggggh!

Unfortunately, there may not be many FO photos in the near future. I'm busy at work on a large stealth project for the holidays, so much of what I'll be working on will be on the down low. Knitting on publishable works might just be more sporadic, thus decreasing the frequency of FO's. But ya'll love me enough to stick by me, right?

In the meantime, for a little pattern enabling . . .
my new copy of Interweave Knits just arrived. They've done it again. At least 4 projects on my wannado list.

The Tilting Cable Socks may be cast on yet tonight!!! After all, I still need that portable project, right?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Hockey Socks '07 Success

The Hockey Socks '07 were a rousing success at tonights scrimmage. The boys won decisively (8-0) and Hockeyman got 2 of the goals. Because we were down 4 players (deer hunting opener and a school trip to DC), the coaches move HM up to left wing and he scored the 2nd and 4th goals of the game. After that, the other team doubled up on him a bit, giving some of the other players a chance to score.

In knitting news, I had so much Smooshy left over, I cast on for some anklets. We'll see if I have enough to finish them or not. I just started the heel flap and it looks good - real good!

Well, DH needs to do his stats thing on the computer. So I'd better sign off for now.

Go, Bantams!

Wet Carpets, Insomnia and Other Snafus

In our house, my DH is the one who gets the Fall Housecleaning Frenzy. We have a very unusual family dynamic in the sense that DH and DancingDiva are both neatniks and Hockeyman and I are natural born slobs. Bubba and Peeps are too young to have revealed their genetic pre-disposition fully yet, but I suspect that Bubba will end up on the slob side of the equation and Peeps is showing strong indications of being on the neatnik side.

As a result of this usually well-balanced and offsetting cleanliness factor situation, there were a few fireworks in the household when DH brought home a carpet cleaner Friday night and announced that he'd be cleaning the carpets Saturday. Of course, he'd been talking about the possibility for a month but something always interfered and it was put off.

Now in my husband's very orderly and well-disciplined mind, the scenario should have been that the entire house was clean, all clutter was picked up and put away and the carpets were already vacuumed, so that he could simply move furniture and run the carpet cleaner. Eventually, he came to the conclusion that no matter how hard we tried, the pre-cleaned stage would never be reached. After all, 5 of us are here all day, every day and little obstacles to housecleaning exist, like schooling 4 children, cooking and eating 3 meals a day, mountains of laundry that are generated by a family of six. There is a limit to both my time and my energy and no matter how hard I work in one area of the house, another is getting trashed anyway. So the carpet cleaner came home, ready or not.

So, this is how it played out. DH cleaned and vacuumed the office, which is his domain is already kept in a very orderly manner, unless I happen to get get in there and mess things up. Then he started cleaning the carpets while DancingDiva cleaned and prepped the dining room, which is an easy room as well because it is rarely used and wasn't that messy anyway. Meanwhile, Bubba and Peeps scamper to pick up toys and other clutter in the remaining 2 carpeted rooms on the main level and transfer them to their respective designated spots.

While all this frantic activity is going on, I'm off shopping and picking up Hockeyman, who spent a rare overnight visit with a friend. When we get home and finish putting away groceries, the chaos ensues. DH, who is already exhausted and sore and exceedingly disappointed with how long it is actually taking to get the carpets cleaned in each room, asks HM to start helping - strenuously. HM, who didn't get much sleep at the sleepover and is starving (as usual), objects - strenuously.

FIREWORKS commence.

Now, I'm not making excuses for HM. His blatant defiance and disrespect were not to be tolerated. But I also had a sneaking sympathy with him. Cleaning is not easy for us, ever. And when we are tired and hungry and cranky, cleaning is the last thing on earth we want to have anything to do with.

What does Mom do? She starts cooking lunch. Sometimes a meal can soothe a tense situation. Raise the blood sugar and spend some quality time around the dinner table - that should have been a peace-making solution.

Nope - I underestimated how driven DH was and how over-tired HM was. DH didn't even stop to eat lunch, since the cleaner was rented and time costs money. HM had his grump on and gobbled his food and slammed off to move furniture from the next room on the list.

Then he and I head upstairs to finish cleaning our rooms. We spend all afternoon prepping the rooms for cleaning, with occasional breaks to fire another verbal volley and holler at one another. What the neighbors must have thought, to hear all the stomping, hollering and door slamming, in between the noise of the carpet cleaning machine. Oy!

The irony was that it took at least an hour to run the carpet cleaner in each room, longer in rooms where there is more traffic and stains. The house really didn't need to be fully prepared before we started because we had adequate time to clean ahead of the cleaner. By the end of the day, every room with carpet was picked up and vacuumed and we still ran out of time before the carpet cleaner needed to be returned. Both HM's and the little girls' rooms carpets didn't get cleaned because we had to return the machine. All those fireworks, hollerin' matches, slamming of doors and house-rattlin' stomps were pointless.

After some time at the hockey rink, sitting in the cold, DH calmed down from his frenzied cleaning state and made peace with HM. He also apologized to me for a few thoughtless comments made in the heat of the moment. So by the time bedtime rolled around, peace was restored, relationships were mended and life returned to normal.

Except all the carpets are wet, furniture is strewn throughout the house, where ever it would fit in non-carpeted areas and a fog of moisture is on every outside window.

And I can't sleep. Guess all that hollering and stamping around got my adrenaline up and now I'm wide awake in the wee sma' hours of the morning.

On a brighter note, the Hockey Socks '07 are off the needles and ready for today's hockey scrimmage. I'm especially happy with this pair of socks, since I managed to get the fit perfect and the stitch used adds the right amount of snugness without being inelastic.

I feel like I'm a broken record when I constantly state that this is yet another Widdershins remake but, honestly, when you get an awesome gusset and heel flap like this, why mess with a good thing. While I agree that everyone's feet are a bit different and what works for me might not work for someone else, this pattern is the ideal pattern for me. Having a high instep makes short-row heels too shallow for my feet. So, I'll just stick to my favorite sock pattern and if you get tired of hearing me sing the praises of the toe-up heel-flapped Widdershins formula . . .

Well, I guess I can always resort to FIREWORKS!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sewing Room Friday - errrrr, hmmm?

Uhh, guess the well-laid plans of this particular mouse/man didn't get carried out. No sewing time, no cleaning time, no progress whatsoever to report for Sewing Room Friday. Picture deja vu?

Maybe next week . . .

In the meantime, knitting news: Lucky Hockey Socks '07 are nearing completion. A few hours of work and these babies will be on my feet for the next scrimmage on Sunday.

There is also an itchy, twitchy feelin' in the tips of my fingers. The sweater mojo may be on the loose, as I've developed a strong hankerin' to get a couple of these sweaters a goin' again. Don't know which one, yet, but as soon as LHS '07 are off the needles, I'll let the sweaters do the courtin' and tell me which one gets to jump to the head of the line. Or maybe I'll just play the field and fiddle around with all three. Whatever . . . I'm just glad to have that sweater mojo back in my life. (I'm feeling a little bit country today - hear the twang?)

I missed ya', darlin' mojo.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hockey Tradition

There is something to be said for tradition. Ever since the 2002/2003 season for the Minnesota Wild, when they made it to the post season playoffs, I've been knitting socks. Not just any old socks but special "lucky" hockey socks. The beginning of the hockey season is always the signal to start a new pair of socks.

So, even though there are countless WIPs/UFOs hanging around my knitting stash, the need to finish the first official hockey socks of the season has forced me to; 1) break my official yarn fast to buy some Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in Visual Purple; 2) somehow get my sock mojo flowing.

This as yet unnamed pattern is another Widdershins remix by moi, using a lacy crossover stitch pattern from a stitch dictionary I have hanging around the house.

In hockey news, Hockeyman has served out the end of his suspension and played in his first hockey scrimmage last week. The team has 3 wins/0 losses so far. So hopes are high for a very successful season.

Just think how well things will go when I've finished the "lucky" hockey socks. At least as far as keeping my feet warm at the rink.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Alas, another brief encounter

We're off and running for another fun filled evening of kids' events but a quick post to show that some knitting is getting done around here.

The finished balaclava for Hockeyman was a rousing hit. I started the project with some leftover Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. It was clear early on it would not be enough. Unfortunately, they didn't have the same yarn in stock but a quick label check resulted in three classic camo shades of Classic Yarns Cashsoft DK, which had the almost identical fiber content. The ribbing around the face is a bit loose but the cap has not been washed and blocked yet, so I'm hoping a little soap and agitation will tighten that up nicely.

The leftovers are slated for some fingerless gloves for HM. And as you can see by the bareness of the trees in the background, these winter wear items are not going to be ready any too soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feather & Fan

Busy day ahead but I had to make a quick post to answer a question about the newest sweater on the needles.

I chose a very simple Feather and Fan lace pattern and am making a simple sheath type sweater. The swatch turned out quite lovely and I'm hoping that once the sweater is off the somewhat short needle, the lace will block out and make a stunning holiday sweater.

This is a 16 stitch repeat. I am knitting this in the round, so if you choose to knit flat, I've noted the need to purl on the even rounds.

After casting on number of stitches needed and working 4 rows of garter stitch:

Round 1: *Yo, K1, Yo, K1, Yo, SSK, SSK, (Slip 2 stitches together knitwise, K1, P2sso), K2tog, K2tog, Yo, K1, Yo, K1, Yo, K1.* Repeat between *.
Round 2: Knit (Purl for flat knitting)
Round 3: Knit
Round 4: Knit (Purl for flat knitting)

That's all there is to the lace pattern. I'll keep you posted on this sweaters ability to keep the mojo home at nights.