Friday, January 30, 2009

Bragging moment

The eldest DD debuted in her first singing solo at her school assembly.

I'm so very proud of my little pumpkin! I would never have had the gumption to do such a thing at her age. She performed beautifully and looked like she was really enjoying herself. She sang solo and then again in a duet with her friend (in green).

Over the Christmas break, she told me there was a part to practice, but we only worked on the words a little. Though I asked about it, she didn't tell me it was a singing part and that she had to audition. I was floored when she told me that she had auditioned and won the solo. She's been practicing at home for the past several weeks. She's been able to practice with all of Himself's music gear, so she was comfortable using the microphone.

She's not shy, but she also isn't an attention hound (unlike, say, the youngest DD). Last year she had the lead part in a play, and had a blast in that role as well. Looks like maybe I should enroll her in a children's theatre or something.

In a feeble attempt at fiber news I'll add that I cashed in my b-day gift card for a fine fleece and custom knits. (non-cataloger librarian musings - do you capitalize the words in the title if they are not capitalized on the book? My gut says "no", but it isn't really my specialty.) The books are lovely, and I look forward to drooling on them reading them slowly.

Also, I have moved a few rows into the cable pattern on the front of the aran sweater. If I can just keep up the momentum on this thing, I might finish it in time for Himself to wear it once or twice. Or not.

Now, I'm off for a small bit of reading (maybe) before heading off for the second performance. They run assemblies twice at the school, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This is sort of nice since the morning and afternoon kindergarten kids will all get to see the program.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stitches, stitches and more stitches!

I'll only post pics of the sort you want to see. I promise!

Stitches #1 -

Last week on Tuesday, we woke to a very, very frosty morning. Lots of fog and frost, actually. While we were waiting for the school bus, DD#2 decided to walk on a wooden plank that had been placed for riding bikes up and over a (very frozen) pile of dirt. I warned her that it was slippery. I asked her not to do it. I repeated myself many times. Did she listen? Did she stop?

Not so much. She had her hands stuffed in her pockets, so when she fell, she went face first. On the board. With nothing to break her fall. I was pretty sure she'd smashed her nose and mouth, but when I checked her mouth, there was no blood. But then, seconds later as the bus rounded the corner, I noticed blood under her chin. My reptile brain told me that a chin wound would almost certainly require stitches, so I didn't bother to look further. I, rather off-handedly, shooed the elder child onto the bus and guided the still stunned younger back to the house.

Himself is not very good with medical emergencies. By "not very good" I do mean completly bloody useless 9 times out of 10. (Mind you, when I broke my leg and was in shock, *I* was the one telling him what to do and where to drive.) So when I asked him to take care of her while I got ready to go to the hospital, he turned around in circles for a bit shouting "what do I do?" He eventually heard the bit about a wet washcloth for her chin. I gathered her things for school, including a fresh shirt, some knitting (hey, the bag was already there & ready to go) and stuffed the now crying and very upset child into the van. I also noticed that Himself had given her a very *hot* washcloth for her chin. *sigh*

We spent a lovely 3.5 hours in the ER, she got 6 stitches, but was very, very brave. I didn't do any knitting, though, as there was nothing to occupy her if I was counting stitches. Just for fun, she was in the same bed I had when I brok my leg. Yeah, she was interested in that bit of news for about 10 seconds. She wanted to go to school, and it was the day she was *supposed* to test for the Highly Capable program. She missed the tests, but they were to be rescheduled. I don't really know if that happened or not, and I sort-of don't care right now. She got 3 stitches out on Monday (this week) and the rest will come out on Friday.

Stitches #2 -

So here is my progress on the Jack's Aran Sweater from Men in Knits. This is the sweater on the cover and I'm doing this for Himself. I started this over the Summer, but I just couldn't seem to get anywhere. I'm using Bernat Alpaca Natural Blends in Wheat, the photo seems a bit on the red/orange side, oh well.

I knit the first 4 inches of cable and ripped it out due to issues with the photocopy of the cable pattern. I would like to blame my copier, but I can't be certain where the blame falls. I *should* have double checked to be sure all of the details copied properly, but I didn't. So, after fiddling with that bit I set it aside after I got 4-6 inches of the correct cable pattern done. The yarn also sheds like crazy and that was annoying me, too. Anyway, I picked it up again around Christmas time, when we were all snowed in, and decided the gauge was off, so I ripped *all* the cables out, switched to a smaller needle and went again. After about 4 inches of cable I re-measured and realized - are you ready for this? - I had used the gauge information *for the wrong pattern* and it - deep breath - was correct the first time.

Nice, huh? So I ripped the 4 inches of cable out *again* and started over with the needle I used the first time around. See? This is where being trapped with your family in your house *could* prove to be a bit challenging (for them). I think I managed it well, I just kept working away like it was all part of my big plan until I got 4 inches of correct gauge, correct pattern cable done. The next day, I started up again and made quite a bit of progress (I think by now I'd mastered the cable pattern, so it was going *much* faster) - until I dropped some stitches. On a cable row.

I picked them up as best I could, and kept going. After about 2 more inches, though, I could see that it was not anything close to correct. It was *very* obvious. So I had to *rip back* to a non-cable row beyond the one that was messed up. I counted, I held my breath, I put in a life line, I took a quick breath and held it again, then I ripped. And ripped. And ripped. *sigh* Close to 4 inches (yes, again) to get to a place I felt comfortable was a non-pattern row. Then, keeping my mental fingers crossed for luck, I put all the stitches back on and started knitting again.

Blessing from above must have beamed down upon me because it looks like I got it fixed. I finished the back off on Tuesday (this week) as Himself was having a minor surgery. I may have knit a bit too far after binding off the middle, but that is easily ripped. I had a hard time measuring accurately at the medical clinic. I figured it was fine to go a bit over and rip back later. I'm currently about 3 rows away from starting the cables on the front section (which will pretty much mirror the back, except at the neckline). The sleeves are attached and then knit down, so I won't really be able to knit them both together, which is what I had hoped to do. Both sleeves have a *simple* cable down them, so no cheating in how they're constructed. Unless I decide to skip the cable, but I probably won't.

This thing goes pretty fast. When you're not constantly ripping it back, that is.

Stitches #3 -

Himself had a mole removed at the end of Thanksgiving and the tests came back showing that it was a melanoma. I've been in a terrible mental panic, but he is cool as a cucumber. The earliest we could follow up on it was the first week of January, then the surgery was scheduled for this week (Tuesday). The surgery was to take an additional 1 cm of skin all around the area, checking for signs of any remaining tumor, and then to test that skin sample for any cancer not visible. The doctor said that the area looked great and he didn't see anything, but of course we have to wait on the labs. Those will be back next week.

I feel better, though, after talking to the surgeon. Or maybe the knitting soothed me, I don't know, but I'm much more calm now. There will also be a visit to a dermatologist, I assume to check for any additional areas in need of testing. It makes me wonder if I should go get checked too, I did spend a number of (fruitless) years pursuing a tan, way back when. I'll get Himself sorted out first, though.

This surgery left my man with 18 big stitches, right between his shoulder blades. It is an awkward spot, to say the least. Every movement with his arms pulls it a bit. He is restricted from lifting anything over 5 pounds for the next week, but that is it. He's already back at his trombone playing, though, so it can't bother him too much.

He was a terrible grump leading up to the surgery. I wanted to ask the nurses if they could give him some "happy juice" just so I wouldn't mind being there, but I didn't. He was much nicer after the surgery. *Heh.* Everything was delayed, as so often happens, so pretty much my whole day was spent there. At least I had knitting to keep me company.

Stitches #4-

Lastly, I cast on something new. The Fish Hat, from Knitty. I'll probably end up doing two of these (at least). See, I'm dying to cast on a new sweater, but I'm trying really hard to avoid doing that until this sweater is done! So, in a fit of start-itis, I jumped on this hat when my eldest said "Oooo! I want one of those!"

Here you can see the lips/mouth are done, and I'm getting started on the body. This is knit in some Cascade 220 in red, a very deep blue-ish purple (violet?), a heathered grey and an off -white. This is a lovely, mindless knit for later at night when my brain has shut down.

It isn't terribly portable, what with the multiple balls of yarn to fiddle with, but it is fun. We'll see if the younger wants one too, but I imagine so. Hers will, of course, be pink.

I'm hoping the hats are done at about the same time as the sweater. Then I can cast on a new sweater without guilt. Maybe. I really need to knit the yougest a sweater of her own, and the eldest has outgrown hers and... I'm sure I'll be ready for smaller projects before the sweaters are done. Right now, I'm cold and knitting sweaters makes me think warm thoughts.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday, Floody Friday

So, here's the view coming into my housing area. This isn't where I live, I'm at 350 ft elevation, this is down in the beautiful valley below. Normally, this view includes the Snohomish river, a railroad line, a river road (which we normally take to go to Snohomish - the city), and many fields belonging to various farmer-folk.

As you can see, those farm-folk (and other rural non-farming neighbors) are feeling a bit damp these days. All of that blessed snow we got last month is melting in the warmer and very rainy weather we've been having. I'm sorry for all the power lines in the photos, but the top of the ridge (and road) is the path for power lines, and there just isn't another accessible spot for photos (or, apparently, power lines).

This photo appears to show a house bordering the river with a bluff on the far side. Actually that isn't the side with the river, though there might be a tributary over there in regular times. All that area is normally fields and pastures for tons of cattle & crops. (It all sort of depends on which farm I got here.)

This shot has a long dark line on the bottom-side of halfway (does that even make sense?) That line is the train track, I have no idea if they are running right now, but I wouldn't think so. The bottom of the picture is fields (below the rails), the bit above the rails is where the river *should* be, and a thin strip of houses & farms, then more water.

Somewhere in this stretch of houses is the farm where we go for pumpkins every year. They have a barn that is marked with lines showing the heights of flood waters over the years. I'm wondering if this year will be a record year for them. I've never understood why these folks take the risk, but I am grateful for fruits of their labor and risk.

I felt a bit like a ghoul taking all these photos of someone elses' disaster, but it is an amazing thing to see. I hope they all survive the flood financially, I'm certain they are all physically safe, though I do worry about the livestock. I have no idea how they manage them in flood situations. This isn't the first flood I've seen in the past 8 years in this house, but I do think it might be the worst.

On a craftier note, in an effort to lighten the mood, I spent Wednesday and Thursday helping out in the girls' classes, as usual. I've also continued to run errands every single day, to try to get everything all caught up. I still have Christmas pressies to mail out. I was unable to mail these before Christmas because I had ordered them for pick up at the store, which I couldn't get to because of the snow. So, now they're sitting in my living room demanding attention. I'm being quite rude by continuing to ignore them. I just can't stand the thought of dragging out more wrapping paper. How pathetic is that?!

I managed a few hours of sewing time yesterday, which was nice. But I've got a badly written pattern (are there well-written ones anymore?) and found I'd made a pretty big error. I think I've got a fix for it, so I won't have to re-cut and re-sew that part of the shirt (for my oldest). Sigh. Anyway, today is the first day I'm not going anywhere (other than going out to take the pictures. And get a Twix Mocha. Yum!). I'm having the worst time deciding if I should do more sewing, dedicate some serious time to the socks I'm working on (did I mention the new sock KAL?), or do some spinning. Decisions, decisions. There's always laundry. heh. I've just been on the run all week, I'd like a break today, but I feel like I'm running in circles.

The shirt is a surprise for DD1, so I don't like to work on it when she's home, but then I never get any time to just sit and knit like crazy on the socks. I need that time. But I'd like to do some spinning, too. I'm sure I'll decide what to do about 5 minutes before the kids get home. LOL

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year!

Better late than never, right?

I finally managed to find some time for knitting again. Frustrated that my first attempts at Evangeline resulted in mitts that were too small for adults & the yarn was too itchy for my sensitive-skinned eldest, I had to try again.

I succeeded with the next pair of Evangelines, these knit up in Cascade 220 in a red/black colorway. I dropped down to US size 6 needles and knit both at the same time on two circs. Sadly, I could only find one set of my Options needles in this size, though I know I have two sets. I used one set of Options and one bamboo. I finished these on the eve of the 31st (I know how to spend my New Year's Eve!) and immediately cast on for another pair for the youngest. These were finished on Jan 4th and are also in Cascade 220, in a pink/purple/yellow/blue colorway.

I have confirmed that I knit too tightly when cabling. The bamboo needles were very difficult to use, the yarn was awfully "sticky" compared to the metal Options. Odd that it bothered me so, I almost always prefer wooden needles, but I decided it was just that my stitches were so darned tight. Some of the cables (particular rows in the pattern) were much harder to do than the others because of my strangle-hold on the stitches. The pattern is lovely, though, all difficulties are of my own making. I'd like to make some more fingerless gloves, but I think I'll take a little break first.

School started up again on the 5th, though it was a late start due to more snow (4 inches), and both girls were happy to have their new mitts to help fight off the cold. Obviously, they are fashion items far more than warmers, but they do help. The weather has warmed up enough that there isn't any freezing day or night, but that little bit of snow made me more than a little unhappy. I needed to get out to run errands, but had to wait to get the girls to school first. (They really slow me down!) As a result, I was hardly at home all day yesterday. When I did get home, I spent three hours in the kitchen making enchiladas for our dinner and for our the Theophany feast at our church today.

I've never made enchiladas for a large group, and never a day in advance, so I was a bit concerned about how they would turn out. I think they were a little dry, but not too bad. Next time I'll add additional sauce to them if I have to keep them overnight. They were still yummy and gone very quickly.

It was a cold and blustery day for Theophany. We usually have a Divine Liturgy followed by a Blessing of the Waters at a local stream. After the third blessing, a cross is thrown into the water and a hardy young lad rushes into the (very cold) water to retrieve it and then he receives an extra blessing. It was fun, if cold & rainy, and then we feasted. I was much more interested in the Key Lime Pie and cheesecake than the enchiladas, but it was all tasty! I think I'm storing up as Lent is just around the corner (it is early this year).

Now I'm off to feed the kidlets and get to work on some socks. I joined the Bleeping Sock Games KAL (Ravelry) and I'm working on the first sock pattern. On tiny needles (US 0). sigh You know, because the sweater and the shawl aren't enough knitting for me. sheesh! This KAL's theme is video games.

I seem to be suffering from a severe case of Startitis, but I must stick to the socks or else they will never get done. Oh well, maybe tomorrow I can stay home (no more errands!) and get something done. Plus, tomorrow is my b-day and I've asked for Bar-B-Q for my dinner, so, no cooking.

swoon I'm fairly certain I could eat my weight in BBQ ribs.