All fall down!

I was going to post earlier as I have been doing, during the perhaps two hours a week when I usually answer to no one, but I was called home for a sick kid and had to defer. When I came home, I found two sick kids, with different kinds of sick, but neither sick enough to actually have the starch taken out of them. That makes a busy and noisy afternoon. My boys are 4 years apart and the small one is just becoming old enough for them to quarrel. It’s the worst. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it when we decided we wanted another kid. There were four in my family. One must develop some kind of brain damage in adulthood that leads to thinking, “My kids will be nothing like we were when we were kids!”

Knitting:

Nothing especially interesting this week. I’m halfway through the second Phalangees mitt, so I’ll be glad to get those off to my friend Kim in the coming week. Went up a needle size on these, so they’re more stretchy. I tend to underestimate how tightly I knit, especially with something like mosaic colorwork.

After this, I’m going to get back to my Gwendolyn and my Hue Shift afghan until my sister decides what kind of shawl she’d like for her wedding. I have some gorgeous Sweet Georgia CashSilk Lace for that. I’m so thrilled for my sister, and happy to be able to contribute to her wedding clothes. She’s making her dress, and since it’s outdoors in spring in New Hampshire, she was concerned that the weather might turn on her. Always wise, especially since the site is on a hill.

Anticipation:

Alana Dakos announced on her podcast this month that Botanical Knits will be released soon, and I’m really looking forward to it. I loved her leafy designs in Coastal Knits, and the photography is just amazing for all of her projects. I ought to be able to set myself up with at least a sweater and a pair of socks from that collection, but it’s really the kind of thing where you want to make it all and only time constraints lead to picking and choosing.

This time of year always feels like the dead zone between all the big releases of the fall and Christmas season, and the sparser offerings for spring and summer. But it’s when I have the most time to knit, so I end up tapping my foot for the new Knitty and the new Twist, and all the rest. It’s too bad Stitches West is out of my reach right now. This would be a better time of year for me to go to a show. Stitches East always falls just when my teaching semester is at its most hectic. Perhaps next year.

I catch myself thinking I ought to learn to spin, even though I have no room for a wheel or the inevitable additional stash that comes with another skill. Last year at NH Sheep & Wool, I saw someone plying and explained to my older boy what she was doing and why, and she asked me if I spun. When I said no, she asked why. I don’t have a reason why. I don’t because I don’t. But it’s lurking there, waiting for me to have the time and/or the inclination.

Reading:

Back to Miss Silver. Wentworth’s characters are so finely drawn, it’s a pleasure to get to know them. I wouldn’t say she entirely succeeds in avoiding type, but she discourages the reader from making obvious conclusions most of the time. People are also believably discomfited in the presence of criminal enterprise, which is one factor missing from more recent mysteries I’ve read.

After this, I need to re-read Robert B. Parker’s The Judas Goat so I can teach it in expository writing, but that will be fun. I always enjoy the early books in the Spenser series. At that point, he clearly had the pleasure of learning and revealing more about the characters he was creating. Plus, it has Hawk. He makes literally anything better.

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Labors of love

I have everything done on the Rav Games mitts except the thumbs and finish work, but when I sat down to work on them last night, the wool was sticking to my sticky, sweaty fingers and I decided to browse online for new work clothes instead. Every few years, my boredom with my work clothes reaches its zenith and I think back on how frumpy I looked last year and how this year I’d like to look …not… like that, and I embark on a desperate, often fruitless search for clothes that will make that happen. This year has the added fun of a tiny, tiny budget, mostly made up of long-held Christmas money and aluminum can refunds and whatever they’re paying for plasma, plus whatever I think I could possibly knit out of my stash in the next month or so.

If I recall, I spent a lot of Augusts this way in high school, too. On one occasion, a truly unfortunate outfit was the result. It’s best not to be too specific, but I went to high school when Debbie Gibson was popular, if that paints an appropriately horrifying picture for you.

I’ve been holding on to my Caeles yarn for a few months, and since there are no sleeves, perhaps I could maybe do that. I also finally got around to winding another ball of natural Cascade 220 for my baby’s long-neglected Hudsons Bay blanket, because in weather like this, exactly what you want is to have a worsted wool blanket on your lap, yes/yes?

Other doings around here have been unexciting. Summer is winding down. I’m still volunteering at the historical society, but have managed to score a sitting-down job while other people are moving our archives to the new building. I’m hoping to get a look at our textile collections soon. There were several yarn companies in town once. My older boy has been going to municipal day camp for five weeks, and that ends tomorrow. Last night was the show: 101 Dalmatians. I bet you can guess what role he played. It felt like such a quintessentially parental moment that I spent most of it grinning like a fool and taking pictures. He goes back to school in three weeks, and we’re going to try to squeeze in some beach time before then. The baby turns 2 on Sept. 7, so we’ll have a cake on Labor Day weekend for him. I fail at birthdays, for the most part, but at least he’s too young to notice. I wonder if he’d like a nice woolen blanket…

Makers are knitters too.

A scientist friend shared this article from Slate about Maker Faire on her Facebook, and I really loved the concept, but wondered why it had to be only about robots and other mainstream science activities. The exact same thesis as applied to knitters, crocheters, embroiderers, quilters, sewists, and a host of other crafters would fall flat–in fact, has fallen flat, since all of the aforementioned that I know are good evangelists for their work, but it’s always dismissed on the basis of being too much sitting still for active children. Please. Last I checked, there’s an awful lot of sitting still and thinkwork involved in building a working robot, so that isn’t why. And if you want to argue that it isn’t just sitting still because it’s tinkering, you can certainly tinker and socialize with sticks and string. Okay, it’s not everybody’s tinkering, but still. Neither is robotics.

The article is absolutely right that making is an authentic experience and should be done in schools. That place has a former metal shop?! That is a problem. I get itchy when the kind of making is restricted to a narrow view of what is worth making. Authentic experience comes from a lot of different kinds of creative manual activities. You know what I’d love? A room like that with equipment for a lot of different kinds of creative making, and kids can go in for an hour or more every day and choose what they want to do.

We’re on the second month of Cabinet of Curiosities, and it’s getting so interesting (and making me more interested in embroidering than I’ve been in a couple of years). I’m not much of a designer, but it’s exciting to think of picking out my own motifs to put on the outside of my casket. The instructor demonstrated the concept of establishing a pictorial narrative with Star Wars characters! A lot of people are talking about doing more than one casket. I’m not sure I have that many lifetimes left.

Marching brooms, pls.

I finished the second BSJ the day after the twins were born (Congratulations, family! Send me pictures of squishy babies in sweaters! Uh…you know…after I send you the sweaters…!), and since then–five days now–the two sweaters have been folded neatly on my nightstand, right on top of a historiography book I have been meaning to read for nearly a year. They need buttons. I think about putting on buttons, decide it sounds boring, do something more interesting, and then wonder why they still need buttons.

To make matters worse, I have taken up an even more boring project, plain socks for my boys, that has languished for months because a) boring; and b) the one I finished for the baby turned out to be too small already. Sheesh, kid. No gratitude. So my plan now is to finish the bigger pair for the baby and do an even bigger pair for my big boy. I don’t know why they weren’t done when I took them out of the project bag. It seems like they should have been, since I spent so much time thinking about how boring they were to work on.

It’s nice to have boys, though, isn’t it? You can foist the ugliest yarn on them and they think it’s awesome.

Unrelated: these convertible gloves, which I did not knit, are made to fit no human hands. Honestly, I have some pretty meaty paws for a woman, and I don’t recall that I ordered these in a “large.” They led indirectly to my getting back into knitting. So disappointing. Maybe not if you look like Orlok, but for the rest of us? Who could wear these? I put them on out of desperation this morning when I got into my car, and it was a mistake. Plus, they aren’t even made of wool, so the simplest winter tasks turn them horrid and waterlogged in no time. I am ashamed to have bought them.

I’m so mad at myself for having the same goal for a year (knit myself some nice sweaters to wear to work) and now it’s cold and I have to go back to teaching and I have zero (0) new sweaters to wear. I wasn’t even thinking they were boring! Maybe that’s the problem. They surely would have gotten done.

That’s one…

I have informed my friend that she can have one baby, but she has to hold the other one in for a while longer.

(Aren’t the small-boy undies in the upper corner a nice touch? I like to give new mothers a preview of coming attractions.)

Being here now is working out for me for the time being. I’ve decided that until I just can’t stand it anymore, or until I have to prep for teaching in a couple of weeks, I’ll finish up around the house at 8 and spend the evenings knitting. I constantly battle between loving the sense of satisfaction of finishing many things, and hating the feeling of letdown every time a project ends.

It has finally turned very cold here, though there is still no snow. I do away with a little of the Christmas debris every day. My husband likes to keep the tree until Epiphany, so we’re still living with that, against my protests that it’s time to let go, pack up, vacuum, and return to normal. For today, I’m willing to let it go. It’s far too cold to be up in the attic. Oh, Christmas. Too chaotic, too noisy, over far too soon.

Christmas Countdown: 45…wait, no…40…Days

I’ve gone and done it again: overcommitted myself to knitting for the Christmas season.

Cabled Snapdragon for someone!

The problem is that it worked out pretty well for me last year, and I had a newborn and a thesis to work on. So with one in school and one sleeping through the night, and the thesis off to my department for what I hope is the last round, I thought, I should be able to accomplish even more this year.

Slip-stitch something for a family memeber

In fact, I thought, still obviously in the grip of some delirium, I should be able to make just about everything for everyone, which will be much cheaper than shopping, and also more personal!

Note to self: do not leave amigurumi book lying around where kids can find it.

Mess o'kraken tentacles, which will become a toy for my older son. Probably remarkably true to life in this phase of construction.

I need to go and listen again to that Radiolab about thinking things through all the way to the end.

Still haven't decided the fate of these yet.

(I positively adore Radiolab. My sister tried to get me into it for ages and I blew it off, and she was completely right. I should listen to her. So should you. You can download them from iTunes for free, or from Radiolab.org.)

And the delusion here is not only that I can make that many things in time for Christmas, but that it will be cheaper to do so than shopping would be. I can hear the echoing guffaws and snorks of knitters everywhere, including those who own my local yarn emporia. They know me.

The real kicker is that I started this post in advance of the 45th knitting day before Christmas, hoping to post it on the 10th. Naturally…

Friday

I’ve been wanting to knit, but I spend a lot of my time with the world’s cutest baby on my lap, and a lot of my energy is directed toward not accepting his help with my current projects. He thinks his brother’s socks would look better with more runs and less structural cohesion. Though he is very adorable and charming, I cannot agree. He has decided to eat his thumb in protest.

I’ll have to ask my mother how she knitted around four babies. No wonder she didn’t tackle sweaters. Or things with DPNs. So far, we haven’t had to make any trips to the emergency room, but that’s more related to luck than to my ability to think things through.

I have two things happening right now: a pair of plain ribbed socks for the four-year-old, in some of my most obnoxious self-striping yarn, and a pair of Becky Herrick’s Kingdom gloves in green Cascade Heritage that probably won’t do as much for the cable patterning as a light color would have, but will still show them off nicely (btw, that project is my current icon and header photo). She was right, by the way–these are not really hard. I think this is the first time I’ve worked cables in the round, but it definitely seems faster when you don’t have to work wrong sides, and gloves are a good place for intricate cables because even on tiny needles, you only have to work about 40 rows. I really love cables. You get a lot of impact without changing colors.

I was looking at some more fussy sock patterns on Knitty and thinking about how the photography always makes me want to go to there–when it’s very unlikely that “there” actually exists. Aren’t knitting bloggers aren’t going on about their messy homes and chaotic lives? I’m no different. The four-year old is strewing crumbs and toys everywhere, and the baby is a flailer and has kicked me in the chest a half-dozen times and given me a fat lip already today. I’m surrounded by laundry because it’s Friday, and can only look longingly at the pretty new snow outside and think of posing serenely in the landscape wearing a gorgeous sweater of my own design. If I ever manage to churn out anything, I’m going to have it shot with a backdrop of my messy life.