Thursday, December 31, 2009

last hurrah

I am signing off on 2009 with a first for me: the first time that I have floated one of my knitting patterns out on the Internet pond. I designed these easy quick fingerless mitts to match the Yarn Harlot's An Unoriginal Hat pattern. This project represents my last bit of gift giving for the holiday season. I finished them today, along with an Unoriginal Hat (with modifications to make it larger) for my dear friend, who is having us over for New Year's Eve.


If you make them, I hope it is an enjoyable experience! Please let me know any comments you may have on the pattern, good or bad.

Marta's Fingerless Mitts

Yarn: Alfresco Yarn (mahogany colorway) from Woolbearers in Mount Holly NJ. Any chunky yarn which gives you 3.5 stitches per inch on 10.5 needles will work. One skein is more than enough for both mitts. (One skein of the Alfresco was enough for the mitts and the hat.)

Supplies: Set of 5 size 10.5 DPNs
Tapestry needle


M1 by knitting into the back loop of the next stitch without removing the stitch from the needle, then knitting the stitch as normal.

C2F: Slip 2 to cable needle, hold in front, K2, K2 from cable needle
C2B: Slip 2 to cable needle, hold in back, K2, K2 from cable needle


CO 24 stitches and divide evenly between three DPNs.

Wrist ribbing: (K1 P1) repeat for 10 rows (can be knit on one size smaller needles to make ribbing tighter, then switch to 10.5 size for remainder of pattern).

Left mitt:
Row 1 (and next 4 rows): K2 P2 K4 P2 K14.
Row 6: Start cable pattern: K2 P2 C2F P2 K14.
Row 7: Start thumb gusset: K2 P2 K4 P2 K6 (K5 onto 5th DPN*) K1 M1 K1 M1 K1 (26 stitches total)
Row 8: K2 P2 K4 P2 K16
Row 9: K2 P2 K4 P2 K12 M1 K3 M1 K1 (28 stitches total)
Row 10: K2 P2 K4 P2 K18
Row 11: K2 P2 K4 P2 K12 M1 K5 M1 K1 (30 stitches total)
Row 12: Cable row: K2 P2 C2F P2 K20
Row 13: K2 P2 K4 P2 K12 M1 K7 M1 K1 (32 stitches total)
Row 14: K2 P2 K4 P2 K22
Row 15: K2 P2 K4 P2 K12 M1 K9 M1 K1 (34 stitches total)
Row 16: K2 P2 K4 P2 K24
Row 17: K2 P2 K4 P2 K12 M1 K9 M1 K1 (36 stitches total)
Row 18: Cable row: K2 P2 C2F P2 K26
Row 19: Bind off thumb gusset: K2 P2 K4 P2 K14 BO 11 loosely K1 (25 stitches total distributed over 3 needles again)
Row 20: K2 P2 K4 P2 K13 K2tog (24 stitches total)
Rows 21 & 22: K2 P2 K4 P2 K14
Rows 23 through 28: (K1 P1) repeat until end
BO loosely.

Right mitt:
Row 1 (and next 4 rows): K14 P2 K4 P2 K2
Row 6: Start cable pattern: K14 P2 C2B P2 K2
Row 7: Start thumb gusset: K1 M1 K1 M1 K1 (K5 onto 5th DPN*) K6 P2 K4 P2 K2 (26 stitches total)
Row 8: K16 P2 K4 P2 K2
Row 9: K1 M1 K3 M1 K12 P2 K4 P2 K2 (28 stitches total)
Row 10: K18 P2 K4 P2 K2
Row 11: K1 M1 K5 M1 K12 P2 K4 P2 K2 (30 stitches total)
Row 12: Cable row: K20 P2 C2B P2 K2
Row 13: K1 M1 K7 M1 K12 P2 K4 P2 K2 (32 stitches total)
Row 14: K22 P2 K4 P2 K2
Row 15: K1 M1 K9 M1 K12 P2 K4 P2 K2 (34 stitches total)
Row 16: K24 P2 K4 P2 K2
Row 17: K1 M1 K11 M1 K12 P2 K4 P2 K2 (36 stitches total)
Row 18: Cable row: K26 P2 C2B P2 K2
Row 19: Bind off thumb gusset: K1 BO 11 loosely K14 P2 K4 P2 K2 (25 stitches total distributed over 3 needles again)
Row 20: K2tog K13 P2 K4 P2 K2 (24 stitches total)
Rows 21 & 22: K14 P2 K4 P2 K2
Rows 23 through 28: (K1 P1) repeat until end
BO loosely.

*From this point until you bind off the thumb gusset, keep those 5 stitches on the extra DPN and knit the thumb gusset increases on a separate DPN.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

hero or villain?

Yesterday morning, I came down early, as usual; let out the dogs and fed them, as usual; made coffee, as usual; let Dusty back out again for his morning wander, as usual; and then headed out with my freshly-brewed coffee to work in my LSH's office, as usual.

About an hour later, my LSH came down and asked where Dusty was. He had heard gunshots (we have a hunting stand not too far from the back corner of our property) and was worried. I immediately went to the back door, fearing the worst, and was relieved to see that Dusty was standing by the back patio, with something in between his front paws.

I thought it was his drainpipe at first, but I realized the something was black and white and furry.

Then I thought he was wrestling with Midge the cat, but the something had too much white fur and wasn't really the right feline shape.

It took my brain a comparatively long time to realize that it was Oreo, Secondo's beloved rabbit, between his paws. Oreo wasn't supposed to be there. Oreo was supposed to be locked safely in his hutch.

My relief that Dusty was OK turned into horror as I realized that the rabbit probably was not. Apparently I screamed very loudly, so loudly that both older boys woke up and came running to see what was the matter. Their father scooted outside in his bathrobe and bare feet to grab the rabbit so they wouldn't witness the carnage. Dusty was thrilled to see him. He left the rabbit and retreated immediately to the porch as requested, with his tail wagging happily.

That's when my LSH realized that the rabbit was still alive. Oreo was limp, his ears were hanging down, his eyes were sunken, he was filthy and soaked to the bone, but his nose was twitching feebly. We raced him down to the basement and alternated rubbing him with dry and wet towels as we cradled him in our arms. Slowly he returned to the land of the living, but he was still very shocky. Amazingly, he had no injuries that we could see: not one bite mark, not one broken bone.


Secondo spent the rest of the day alternating between holding and rubbing Oreo and letting him recuperate in the relative quiet and warmth of the basement. Every time he brought him out of the cage, the rabbit seemed to get a little stronger, and eat a little more upon his return. His ears and paws finally warmed up and he was fully dry by last night. (He is still very very dirty but we are reluctant to stress him with a bath at this point.)

So now the debate rages: was Dusty the hero who shepherded the rabbit back to safety after his master accidentally left the hutch door open, and held him until we found him? Or was he the villain who chased the rabbit all over and "played" with him until he collapsed in terror?

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There were only two witnesses to the event, and neither one is saying a word.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

my secret weapon

Yesterday was day two of our three-day Christmas celebration. I had finished the gifts I needed for Christmas two days before they were due (although I have to cop to trying to dry out my brother's felted hat on a hot air register all day Christmas Eve). I forgot to take pictures of the gifts before I gave them, but here are two of the three being modeled by their lovely recipients:


On the left, Sweater Babe's Luscious Cabled Cowl in my own dyed yarn (50/50 wool/silk, bulky weight) in the Blueberry colorway. (I loved this pattern -- it was extremely well written, and I can't wait to knit something else by her.)

On the right, the 5th Avenue Infinity Scarf, in Jaggerspun Superlamb light worsted weight, Curry colorway, except I only cast on 201 stiches.

Photo credit to my father, who saved my ever-snapshot-forgetting heinie yet again.

On Christmas Day itself, I finished knitting my second Colonnade shawl, again in my own dyed yarn bulky weight (this time Old Spice and Grizzled Brown), and yet again I failed to take a picture. It wasn't needed until today but, being somewhat lacey in nature, I did need to wash and block it with sufficient time for it to dry before being gifted, so I had to get that done on Christmas night as well.

That left me yesterday morning with the following inventory, all of which were needed that afternoon as gifts:

  • two half-finished crocheted beret/tams; and
  • two cut out (but otherwise untouched) sets of flannel sleep pants.

By the time I got out of bed at 7:30 am, I had exactly 4.5 hours to finish all four projects.

As I frantically crocheted and sewed and washed and ironed, I reflected on why we crafters seem to be driven to set and then attempt to surmount seemingly impossible deadlines. The rest of my family were enjoying a leisurely morning perusing their Christmas gifts. I was racing against the clock, but I wasn't beating myself up with regrets and recriminations that I hadn't started earlier. I felt more like a climber must feel when challenged with a new mountain: it must be conquered because it is there, and although the experience will be arduous and probably fraught with a little stress now and then, at the end of the day it is still an enjoyable experience, provided you actually manage to pull it off.

I did get all the gifts done in time for me to take a shower before departing for the party, but didn't exactly have time for a complicated photo shoot. A pile of gifts on the ironing board was about all I could pull off but it is better than the nothing I usually manage.


On the left, two sleep sets with flannel pants and matching T-shirts from Cafe Press. I still can't get over how closely we managed to match the flannel patterns (which were purchased first) and the shirts.

On the right, two hats made out of Jaggerspun Superlamb in light worsted weight, colorways Plum and Cassis.

When hearing of such exploits, people often say "I don't know how you do it."

Well, here's my secret weapon:


Someone new to this blog asked him why he doesn't mind me calling him "Lazy Stupid Husband." I just wanted to set the record straight, that he is anything but. I couldn't have pulled Christmas off this year without his unfailing support, which included shopping, wrapping, cleaning, brittle making, appetizer baking... the list goes on and on and he never, not once, said "Why couldn't we just have bought a pajama set/cowl/hat instead?"

Just so we are all clear on this, he is my "Loving Supportive Husband" and this post is a small tribute and thank you to him, and all he does for me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

happy boxing day

My two favorite pictures from the festivities yesterday:



Hope you all had a very merry one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


On the antepenultimate (had to look it up, but what a nice mouthful of a word!) day before Christmas, the gifts required for joy:

Eight eighth grade teachers*;
Five paper/delivery/mailmen;
Four fifth grade teachers;
Three schoolbus drivers;
Two afterschool teachers;
And one secret santa gift for a boy.

In case you’re wondering about all those teacher gifts, we my LSH made several batches of cashew brittle. Here’s the recipe in case you need a few last minute gifts of your own!

2 C sugar
1 C light (but not Lite! there is a difference) Karo syrup
1/4 C water
3 T butter
1 lb peanuts or raw cashews
1/4 t salt if using raw unsalted cashews
2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Mix sugar, syrup and water; cook to 285 degrees over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in nuts and butter (and salt). Cook until 295 degrees stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda. Mix well; mixture will foam. Spread quickly on well-buttered marble slab to cool. (The last step is best accomplished with one person holding the hot pan and the other one scraping out the candy and spreading it.)


Pre- and post-breakup

* Yeah, yeah, I know. There's no need to drive myself crazy with gifts for teachers in eighth grade. Except I have two more coming up behind him, and each one is more ornery than the last. Never too early for the teacher bribing goodwill toward younger brothers to begin!

Monday, December 21, 2009

to play is to work, to work is to play

The boys -- including the dog but with the exception of my LSH -- were overjoyed with the 15 inches or so we got this weekend. They romped and played for hours upon end, until I came out to document the fun and discovered that Dusty's nether regions were now bedecked with snowberries.


The chunks of ice between his toes positively gave me the willies.


Though it didn't really seem to be bothering him all that much, the thought of it was bothering me and I decreed that he needed to come in and defrost for a while. We had to drag him in; it was the only way to get him to leave his post. He takes his boy-watching duties most seriously.


After a short time, he managed to gnaw/lick off the chunks between his front paws.


And once he was completely defrosted, he was back to doing what he loves the best: romping with his charges.
DSCN1914 DSCN1915
DSCN1912 DSCN1911

To his way of thinking, it's the perfect combination of work and play.

Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas shopping

For the past few days, I have been stuck in that holiday shopping black hole whereby I drive around various points in central NJ throwing money out the window as I go, and I come home with a few packages (not at all relative to the money I threw out, thanks to the older kids in the house: more expensive, less bulky gift requests) and consult my list, and I am still no further along than I was when I started that morning.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

I realized that today was probably the last day to shop online before incurring horrendous overnight shipping fees, so I broke out of the routine of the past few days to throw money at the computer instead. However, it feels like the sun has broken through and I have started to make some progress, as the list of purchased items is more done than undone. Hallelujah!

Now to get all these darn things wrapped. I can't even think about the crafting that needs to take place here on a somewhat emergent basis. The weather forecast for tomorrow may help with that. There's nothing like a good snowstorm to keep you inside with your head down working, unless of course you are outside shoveling snow. But that's what strapping boys are for.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

christmas concert

Tonight was the middle school Christmas concert. I have always felt that there is a special place in heaven reserved for middle school band directors. To take a bunch of hormonal pre-teens and give them brass instruments and woodwinds and percussion and try to coax something resembling music out of them... I can't imagine what would possess a person to find that to be an appealing job description, but I am very grateful for the souls who make a go of it and listen to that cacophony day in and day out with the hope that it will somehow improve. Lord knows that the ninety minutes I have to spend listening to them every six months is almost more than I can take.

Tonight, as the seventh grade band started into their first piece, Terzo perked up.

"Hey, I know this song! I love this song!"

Me: "Really? You've heard this song before?" (It was called "African Rhythms" or something like that, not "Jingle Bells" or another tune he might recognize.)

Him: "Yes! I hear this one all the time!"

Me (thinking somehow that the sound from the band room filters into his kindergarten class; they are all in the same K-8 school): "In your class? You hear it during school?"

Him: (after giving me his withering what-are-you-talking-about, you-silly-fool look, with a little shake of his head for emphasis) "No! I heard it last time! They play this song every time."

And upon reflection, I realized that he was right. If you close your eyes, you do just hear a kind of "blat blat screech boom whistle blat crash" sort of sound that is surprisingly similar from piece to piece and concert to concert.

As I said, my hat is off to those middle school band directors.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

christmas creature

Look! We grew our own Bumble.

IMG_4896 bumble

Unfortunately he is more like an Abominable Teenager right now as he has been without his cellphone for the last 36 hours, and thus unable to communicate with his own kind via text. I am hopeful that I won't have to go to the extreme length of removing his teeth to get him to reform his attitude but I must admit that the idea of pushing him over a cliff is mighty tempting.

Monday, December 14, 2009

christmas chaos

This was just one of those weekends.

Friday, I had training for a new program in LSH's office, helping Secondo do his Christmas shopping, a party for Secondo, a basketball game for Primo (in which Terzo went missing for a heart-stopping five minutes; I lost a good two years off my life right there) and a slumber party for Primo that I had completely forgotten about. The latter was not on our family calendar, and if it isn't on there, then all hope is lost as far as my remembering it goes. Of course he needed a birthday gift and do you think he asked me BEFORE I went shopping with Secondo? Ha ha. I was not-so-silently seething as I had to return to the exact same store I had been at just one short hour previously.

Saturday, we had to get our Christmas tree before the rain set in again on Sunday. Off we went with the dog in tow to our favorite little lot; got a gorgeous Canaan fir; came home to a surprise in our driveway: one of the old-time farmers had cut his leg with a chainsaw, and wanted to see if my LSH could stitch it up for him to save him the trip to the ER.

Now, having a doctor for a husband is a big advantage for us. Heck, he has even stitched up his own sons upon occasion. But on the other hand, there are many times that these little emergencies throw a wrench in the works, and this was one of them. The boys were due at another tree farm in less than an hour for a 4-H petting zoo fundraiser. But the cut was in a "good" place (back of the calf) and as minor as a chainsaw accident gets, so my LSH took pity on him and broke out the suture kits. The boys and I did our best to get the tree in the stand by ourselves but none of us really understands how the darn thing works (don't make fun of me, it is a highly complex tree stand which practically requires an engineering degree to operate, somewhat along the lines of the remote control system for our TV).

One hour and ten stitches later, the patient was on his way and I was flying out the door with boys in tow -- luckily, no animals were coming with us this time. We made it there a little late; we pulled Secondo out for his basketball game in the middle of the fundraiser; we got back at the house in time to shower, change, and go to a holiday party for Secondo's travel soccer team, of course a bit late. At one point the soccer team was running around outside in the dark, and one of them tripped over a low fence. He came in with blood running down his face and guess who came to the rescue? No chance of him stitching up this one, though, as one cut was on the boy's cheek and would require a plastic surgeon's touch. He was dispatched to the ER. My LSH and the boy's father had just finished discussing the chainsaw incident, too, and the father had remarked "don't these things always come in threes?"

Now that's just asking for a mighty karmic foot to come and boot you in the butt.

By Sunday morning Terzo was beside himself that the tree was standing naked in the living room with no decorations. He kept begging: "Just one little ornament? Or two? Can't we please start now?" Sorry, no time! We made it to church but it goes without saying that we were late and had to sneak in during one of the hymns. As I sat listening to the second lesson (we had missed the first) I noticed that the candles were very low, and idly wondered which Altar Guild team was in charge this weekend, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks:

MY TEAM WAS ON. And we had missed setting up for all three services. (You saw that one coming, right?)

At least I learned my lesson in other ways: a million and one pictures of tree choosing and decorating for 2009's photo album.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

christmas crackers

Things have been a bit rocky around here the past couple of days, and "Blue Christmas" is really speaking volumes to me at the moment. My wise friend has diagnosed me with a case of grief over the passage of time and childhood, and she is probably right about that. I would maybe feel a smidgen better if I didn't keep beating myself up over the fact that I did so much to hasten its passage. I am trying not to dwell. Unfortunately, I am an expert dweller, so not a lot of luck with that.

I have decided, though, that I need to try and be a bit more jolly instead of my usual grinchy self. I don't know why but the holiday season really sends me around the bend; ask anyone who knows me. This year is no exception and probably worse than normal given how crappy I feel about how we handled Terzo's questions. I am trying though. Trying to be jolly around him, trying to give him the time and attention and specialness that he is craving this time of year. We spent the last few days decorating the house and shopping for his gifts for others and generally getting ready for Christmas, including making crafts for the special people in his life. He seems to be doing OK. It's me that's completely cracked.

Monday, December 7, 2009

the talk

Around these parts, we had only one little person who still believed. One little person that genuinely had stars in his eyes when he talked about the magic of Christmas morning. My other boys have known for a while, of course, but they have manfully and expertly maintained the facade for their little brother. My enjoyment of his childhood wonder has been especially bittersweet this season, as I know that it will come to an end all too soon; the passage of time and company of school friends would see to that.

I have always been quite adamant that I did not want my children to find out on the playground. I thought it was a form of lying to them, if I left them vulnerable to kids making fun of them for their ignorance due to my pretense. As soon as they started to express doubts, we sat them down and explained it to them as gently as possible. We told them they were now members of a secret club, and they had a great responsibility not to tell other children. For both older boys, this had happened well before they started kindergarten.

Today, Terzo came home a little upset. His teacher had them leave out paper shoes for St. Nicholas, and they were filled with a couple pieces of candy when they came in this morning. A few children in the class were quite vocal in their protestations that it was not St. Nicholas, but the teacher, that had put the candy there. He started to discuss the issue over dinner; we changed the subject until we could talk to him about it later. After a brief discussion -- and afterwards, I felt that we probably should have talked about it longer so I could wring my hands over the decision for a more extended period of time, with most likely the same outcome -- we decided that, especially given the personality of one particular child in the class, it was probably best if we said something now. My heart felt as if it was being shredded apart as I watched him struggle to process the information, which was completely and totally news to him.

It became painfully obvious that we told him too soon.

He is the typical third child, babied beyond belief by all of us. We love his speech mannerisms so we don't correct him. (Not all are inconsequential: he cannot distinguish the difference between "thirty" and "forty", because he pronounces them the same, and as a result still cannot count to 100.) We have let him slide with his protestations that he can't get his own clothes in the morning, can't put his shoes on by himself, can't operate the TV. But at what point are we allowing him to enjoy his childhood, or allowing him to remain in baby mode so the rest of us can enjoy the experience vicariously for just a little bit longer? The line seems so much blurrier for this one than it was for the other two.


This is the card that he wrote, with great difficulty by himself (because yes, he still doesn't know all his letters) while I spelled the words for him. He wanted to write a letter to Santa so he can mail it tomorrow. He's clearly working this through on his own terms, while I try not to feel quite so terrible, awful, horrendously incompetent as a parent.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

ditch diggers

We have a ditch that runs along the front of our property for rainwater runoff to the creek in the next parcel. The township used to come along and dredge it out every so often but with the budget crunch that hasn't happened in a while. The ditch had gotten quite clogged with weeds and such, and really wasn't draining so well. Upon hearing that my LSH was thinking of hiring someone to clean it out, my boys asked to do the job for the same money he would have paid someone else. (That is, even assuming that we could get someone else, but they don't know that.)

They started the job at the beginning of October, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They dug, they hauled, they raked, and they managed to get the entire right side of the property dredged out and running perfectly. Of course, they considered it an incidental bonus that got completely filthy in the process.


Then they didn't do anything for two months. Until yesterday morning, that is, with icy cold drizzle falling and the temperature beginning a rapid slide south for the day. THAT'S when they decided that it was the perfect time to finish the job.

I protested; I recommended they wait a day; I begged them to reconsider but they were adamant. After making sure they were bundled up properly, I told them they had exactly one hour, and then I was pulling the plug on this venture or else I would probably end up taking care of kids with pneumonia. Here they are at the 45 minute mark (Terzo was out there as well in the beginning, but he caved after about 30 minutes; still, gotta give him credit for 30 minutes in that weather):


(Note Dusty watching over them. He has decided that one of his missions in life is keeping them safe and he takes it very seriously. He cannot bear if any of them are outside and he isn't; once he's out with them, he doesn't leave their sides.)

While they were out there, my LSH noticed Secondo's cell phone vibrating with messages. A friend from church, who is slightly older than Secondo, was frantically texting him. She had seen him as she was driving by with her mom, and she was dying to know what he had done that was so horrific that his parents had sent him out in the sleet to dig ditches as punishment. She couldn't fathom what would require such draconian punishment.

She certainly couldn't get her head around the fact that it had been his idea in the first place.

Friday, December 4, 2009

morning travels

I consider myself very fortunate that I don't have a long trip to work in the morning, although I do sometimes yearn for an hour or so of knitting time on a train. Non-existent knitting time aside, I just can't beat walking through my kitchen door to work in my pjs for a couple of hours, before getting boys out the door and onto various buses, and then back to work for a few more hours before all the boys tumble back in the door again.

I must confess, though, that I do take a tiny little jaunt every morning, without fail. I stop off at the Greet Ranch in Wyoming, which has been continuously ranched by the same family for one hundred years. A little hop, and I am collecting cattle in the snow (in early October!) or visiting an abandoned homestead (the isolation defies my ability to grasp it) or finding arrowheads or checking out ancient pictographs or watching english shepherd pups grow up.

Carol's photos and writing style are a wonderful documentation of her life, and I love the way every post takes me out of New Jersey and into Wyoming. So I was thrilled when she announced that she is offering a calendar for sale, featuring her photos. Now I can be transported all the time! Go order one now, if you don't have your 2010 calendar already, or even if you do. You get the benefit of beautifully unique pictures all year plus the satisfaction of supporting an honest-to-goodness American ranching family.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

tammed if I do

We all know from previous posts that I am not the most fashion-forward of people. In fact, I am pretty much fashion ignorant (and happy that way) and I tend to highly value my personal comfort and wallet's well-being over any particular trend.

(My first confession/apology of the day: My mother has provided a great role model in this regard and like any good daughter, I completely did not appreciate this fact while I was growing up. This is not to say that my mother is a frump; as anyone who knows her will attest, she is very stylish. But in my youth I could never understand why she put comfort first, or why she refused to buy into any particular brand name on her heinie or purse. I am only now able to appreciate the tremendous gift she gave me.)

I do recognize that I am somewhat in the minority on the whole "I pay no attention to fashion" thing, and so when I give gifts I do try to take what people are wearing in this century into account. Hence my knitting the 5th Avenue Infinity Scarf (which by the way, is done) for a very fashionable recipient. The scarf ended up using much less yarn than the pattern called for, so I decided to try and make a hat to match it. I knew what I wanted: one of those slouchy beret/tam sort of things that I see all the people on the cover of People wearing these days. I do recognize that is probably not where to look for fashion guidance. This is why I am a fashion loser, people.

I started out with this pattern, but an entirely different yarn and hook size (plus it took me a few attempts before it clicked that Australian and US crochet directions use the same terms for different stitches). I went merrily along and then realized that I was producing something that would be more suited for a rastafarian with a whole lot of dreads to store in it, and I still had a ways to go:


(Yes, I suffer from Forrest Gump Syndrome.)

So I ripped back, and got what I thought was a pretty good hat. Until my LSH started humming the Fat Albert theme song every time he saw me working on it.

IMG_4835 rud

So I ripped back again, and now even I realize that it is entirely too small, and my LSH's office manager told me that I had ruined it and it needed to go back to the way it was.

Argh! Back to the drawing board, and this is only ONE RECIPIENT. The backlog of gifts is starting to pile up. But at least I will have the perfect tam/slouchy beret, though probably one that the recipient wouldn't be caught dead wearing because it is so last season or just too darn ugly.

Which leads me to my second confession/apology of the day: I recently stated that my LSH's family did not read this blog on a regular basis. As I discovered during Thanksgiving weekend, that is a big fat lie. My LSH has demanded a public retraction and apology, so here it is, plus a big wave to everyone. I think that he would also like me to state for the record (although he did not specifically request it) that I did not in fact wear pants that I purchased from the thrift store to Thanksgiving dinner. Those particular pants were purchased off a clearance rack about four years ago. Just so we are all clear on that particular point.

Monday, November 30, 2009

a year in review

I did it... I finished phase one of my boy-gift project. The photo album for 2005 came out really, really well, if I do say so myself, and I am pleased to have at least one year done and organized. I highly recommend Picaboo. I had trouble ordering the album due to the very high traffic on their site today, and a live person who actually lives and works in this country very patiently and kindly walked me through various fixes until I was able to complete the order. With humor! And friendliness! And did I mention patience?

The high volume of traffic was due to the fact that they were running a "buy one, get one free" promotion. This applied no matter how many you purchased. I was so fired up about getting four albums for the price of two (as well as getting one year under my belt) that I decided that I would try to whip out another one before the offer expired at midnight tonight. After all, I had figured out the program at this point, right? And I knew how to work it that much more quickly, right? Never mind that I estimate it took me about 25 hours to complete the first one. I am nothing if not completely delusional about time.

I went to upload the photos from last year -- because I discovered that it is hard to work too far back, and I was resolved to start each year as soon as it was finished, due to this memory problem I am having that only seems to be getting worse by the day. I quickly discovered, however, we had taken very few photos in 2008.

In fact, entire months had elapsed with only a minimal amount of shots. Of those, many consisted of photo-journals shot by Terzo as he walked around the house. A representative sample (from one day alone, and this is just a sample of that particular set):

IMG_3116 IMG_3127 IMG_3085 IMG_3080 IMG_3074
IMG_3078 IMG_3076 IMG_3105 IMG_3096 IMG_3391

The vast remainder were, unfortunately, taken by me -- but only to document certain events for this here blog. Turns out blogging is really, really bad in this regard. As fascinating as random pictures of knitting, sandwiches and sheep may be, they don't really lend themselves to creating a quality photo album chock-full of cherished family memories.

Who you gonna call in such dire circumstances?

Your family, of course. Thank goodness for my parents and sister-in-law faithfully snapping away at every piano recital, birthday party and family get-together. Right now, they are the only thing standing between me and photo album disaster. Not to mention that whole "mother of the year" award thing, and we all know how doomed I am on that particular account.

Friday, November 27, 2009

tally ho

Today was a red letter (or perhaps I should say yellow vest) day for Primo. Today Harry and he rode in a proper foxhunt. Well, I supposed technically speaking Primo was the only one that rode as Harry was in charge of carrying him.

I say it was a yellow vest day for Primo because his riding instructor was most insistent that he be wearing a canary yellow vest today as part of the required formal riding dress. Unfortunately she sprang this requirement on me with less than one week's notice. (She started out by asking Primo what colors of sweater vests he had in his wardrobe, to which he replied in a very cold tone, "I don't wear sweater vests.")

Guess where I came up with a yellow vest? That's right, my favorite store. It wasn't quite the right color -- more of a lemon, actually -- but, by God, it was a yellow vest that fit the kid, and the fact that it only cost $3 made it all the more perfect.

Here he is, modelling the yellow vest:


What's that you say? You can't see the yellow vest under his jacket? He was pretty pleased about that fact, although he did end up appreciating the extra layer given the chilly, windy weather. He will never, ever admit that the darn thing actually came in handy, while we all had the satisfaction of knowing that he was quite proper, even if no one could tell.

It actually was a cool thing to watch, at least at the beginning as they set out with the hounds.



After the initial excitement, though, it was a whole bunch of hurry up and wait. Actually, it was a whole bunch of take cell phone calls from the trainer about where they may possibly appear in the next ten minutes while driving over muddy unpaved roads in a more or less futile search for a random glimpse of them.

To give you an idea, here is the closest we got. Even this sighting was quite fortunate. I have helpfully marked out Primo and a hound for you. The only reason we knew it was our son was because he was on the tallest horse. That, and the fact that his vest was lemon yellow instead of the canary yellow that every one else was wearing.


We finally threw in the towel and headed back to the hunt club's headquarters to wait. Two and half hours after the hunt started, we saw the hounds coming down the road, a bit less enthusiastic than at the beginning.


Primo wasn't far behind.


You may not be able to see it, but that tight little grin on his face means -- in the world of a fourteen year old boy -- that he had really good time and he can't wait to go out again. I've gotten quite proficient at these sorts of translations lately.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

happy turkey day

Best thanksgiving wishes to all. I hope you have many things about which to be thankful; I know I do.

Enjoy your turkey dinner!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

new obsession

I know it will come as a complete and total shock to my friends, family and readers, but I have a dirty little secret. (Well, apparently one of many, as yesterday's post demonstrated.) I am easily obsessed. Once I get ahold of a new one, whoa Nelly. All bets are off until I get it out of my system.

Today's obsession? This.

Every year, I try to make something for my kids for Christmas. Far from making my holidaze more stressful, I have found that it actually serves as a much-needed pressure valve and puts some meaning (for me) back into this overly-commercialized extravaganza. I usually sew or knit something simple. They have been highly appreciative of my simple efforts: think John Deere flannel sleep pants, Giants pillow shams, knit balaclavas. But this year, I am all out of handcrafted ideas.

Thank goodness I came up with another one today. I am going to make them photo albums using Picaboo. Right now our photos are either (1) in a box in the attic (pre-digital camera) or (2) in a folder on my computer (post-digital camera). My goal is to get them into photo albums, with a copy for each kid so they have their own when they (sob!!!!) leave home. I am so behind on photo albums that I calculate it will take me about 10 years to catch up, even if I do two years per Christmas.

Picaboo came highly recommended by a friend, who had used it to make a vacation album, and so far I agree with her. It is scrapbooking for people who can't be bothered with fancy paper, scissors and stickers. I can't seem to stop... I keep thinking "just one more set of pages"...

Sound familiar, knitters? In my defense, the Infinity Scarf is almost done. Now, if I can just tear myself away from the photo album to cast off.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ode to my favorite store

Thrift store, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways.

You provide me with five new (to me) pairs of pants in my size,
In brands that I like,
For $42.
And lo, though I will eventually get sheep poop and dog mud on each and every pair,
I will not overly mind.
For I can always return the tired, the stained, the holey to you,
And you will provide me with a wide selection of new (to me) pairs
While saving me from the horrors of the dressing room mirror,
And the mall parking lot.

Monday, November 23, 2009

let the holiday knitting commence

It's that time of year again... the time of year when thoughts turn to hand-crafted gifts for everyone on my list, maybe even two per person, because how can I give just the scarf when I know a hat pattern that would go perfectly with it? I am trying to maintain some level of sanity, but given the fact that I still have over a month until the big day (technically speaking) I am not doing so well.

First up: 5th Avenue Infinity Scarf, out of Jaggerspun Superlamb (a washable merino) in Curry.


I had to alter the pattern a bit, because 241 stitches is just a bit too long, especially for the petite recipient it is intended for. Once I cut back to 201 stitches and got the darn stitch pattern established, it is flying along. I am over halfway done. I had planned to finish it by tonight but that won't be happening. Let the holiday delusions begin while we are at it!