Saturday, May 31, 2008

Papa vs. Mama

Every once in a while, parents get a peek into the mind of a child. Oh, what a treat!! They have the most unique, fun ideas. :-) Yesterday, as we (Grandma, me and the children) were driving somewhere, Grandma and I were able to listen in on a very interesting conversation............. (approximate conversation due to time elapsed since then, and memory issues due to being Mama)

YS(younger son) has stuffed a thin straw into a crack in his carseat, and none of the children are able to get it out. They are discussing their options:
ES(elder son): "we could get some thin pincher things and stick them in and grab it and pull it out"
DD(dear daughter): "It would be best to take the car seat apart and put it back together"
ES: "What? Why? You can't break it!"
YS: "My staw!!"
DD: "You take the car seat out and turn it upside-down, then find the straw and pull it out!"
ES: "You can't take the seat apart, it doesn't come apart."
YS: "It stuck!!"
DD: "Well, Papa can saw it apart, and Mama can sew it back together!!"

At this point the conversation came to an end b/c Mama accidentally burst into laughter. :-D Isn't it cool how our children see us! Papa is good at taking things apart, and apparently, Mama can sew anything. I think they got that idea b/c they watched Mama stitching Papa's back support seat together last week. I really don't sew very much--knitting is more my style. :)

Speaking of which, I was able to borrow a digital camera this weekend, and have had much fun uploading a lot of my stash and WIP's onto Ravelry--- And here are some of them.
This one is my very first homespun. With a drop spindle. It was done at least 5 months ago, and I haven't picked up the spindle since. I want to! I am just so busy knitting, I have no time to spin!! When I use up a lot of my yarn, I think then I will spin more.

This little project is some socks. 2-at a time, on dpns. The ultimate in double knitting to my mind. However, I also think it takes me longer b/c of the amount of concentration needed. So when I have the right needle sizes, I prefer to work 2-at-a time in the Magic Loop method. Speaking of which, I am currently working on my first glove design in the Magic Loop method. I am very pleased with how it is turning out (the second time--the first needing immediate frogging!). When complete and test knit, it will be available at the Unique Sheep (see knitting resources).



This is the current status of my Celtic Icon sweater. It is missing the right sleeve and the sides of the hood. But what I have is all seamed up! B/c I dislike seaming so much, I thought I would seam as I finished each piece rather than save it all for the end. It turned out well. And I must say, I think it is the best seaming job I've ever done! I think I have finally conquered the intricacies of the mattress stitch! ;) B/c it's acrylic, I can't really block out the individual pieces anyway-and I am pleased with how it is turning out. It is a bit snugger than I wanted, but I think it will fit okay. Especially this fall.......I hope. :-) Of course, I may get to wear it sooner than that if I finish it quickly. The weather has been so odd here! So much cooler and wetter than usually for the end of May. We're still wearing sweaters in the morning and jeans all day instead of shorts. Not the usual! I'm glad. The heat bothers me; I 'd rather it stayed cooler. :-D


Monday, May 26, 2008

Frugal living--Menus

Knittingmama, thank you for the comment! I am more than happy to send you my actual menu if you want (you'd just have to give me your email address)--but it might not help you a whole lot that way, as we probably cook very differently. :) So I thought I would just give you the basic idea of what I did.I originally got this idea from a lady who said she sat down with her husband and they planned out what their family would eat every day all day for 3 weeks--breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner, all of it. Mine is not that extensive. I think it might save even more money done that way--but I like a little bit of choice in snacks etc. (I think laziness plays into it too *wink*)
Basically, I sat down, wrote out a list of the meals I cooked on a regular basis. Then I wrote them into a 3 week calendar. Then I looked through my cookbooks to find things to fill in the blank spaces (there where quite a few!!). To save money and effort, I initially tried to have a "beef week", "chicken/pork week" and "ham week". That way, I could use the leftovers. For example: on "ham week": Monday, we have beef & rice casserole for lunch (quick, easy, and rarely has leftovers), and a ham for dinner (with vegtables of course!). Before I serve the ham(a $15-$20 uncooked shank or butt portion cooked all day in the crockpot), I cut all the meat off the bone and put the majority of it in a Tupperware in the fridge for later meals. On Tuesday, we eat some easy beef meals (too much of one meat gets old very fast!). On Wednesday, we eat 2 meals that use up portions of the saved ham: ham&pasta salad, and a ham stir-fry. On Thursday, we eat leftovers for lunch, and scalloped mac&ham for dinner. On Friday we have ham chowder for lunch and a beef-based meal for dinner. Saturday and Sunday are my "days off" of cooking--we eat up the rest of the leftovers and some processed foods like fish sticks. I usually still have leftover ham from the week as well. I do something similar for the other weeks. If it's "beef week" make a roast on Monday, and use the leftovers for things like soup and sandwiches. $15-$20 seems like a lot for a ham or roast, but when you figure I use it for at least 5 meals for 5 people, that comes out to less than a dollar per person per meal. Not bad! :-)
Hope this is helpful to you!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Swatches, Swatches, Swatches!!!

I hate swatching. Which seems a bit odd, as I like designing, and designing requires a multitude of swatching. But I do. I always avoid it when I can, but that is rare, and getting rarer. It took me 4+ years to learn how to do it right! I still wonder if I do it right. I never used to wash and block my swatches. I do mean never. But I have learned (the hard way) that in designing, swatches MUST be washed and blocked. So now I wash and block my design swatches (if I intend to submit them somewhere. If it's just for family----maybe, but not likely). But I still don't wash and block if I'm following someone else's pattern. I know that's bad, but I like to think I'm conserving yarn that way.

All of that said, I have been swatching like crazy this week- to the neglect of all my WIP's. I have done maybe 6-8" on the 1st sleeve of the Celtic Icon. I should be done with it by now. I cast on one sock that I am thinking might be for me (we'll see)--I want to do it with the double knitting on dpns b/c it's one of those self-patterning yarns and I won't be putting in any texture. But I'm also doing it toe-up, so have to start them one at a time. (sorry, side-tracking again)

I have been swatching b/c a couple of different magazines/companies have sent out calls for submissions. I have sent out 3, and have 2 more I am swatching this weekend, as well as finishing a swatch for a design that I am working on for the Unique Sheep. It seems silly that 3 swatches have taken me most of the week, but one of them was a very large and difficult one that took me 3 days. Admittedly, that was not consistent knitting. I've not actually had a lot of knitting time lately.

It's been a busy week. One good thing that has happened this week is that I've lost a few pounds! I have finally reached my pre-pregnancy weight from my 2-yr-old's conception/birth. I am very happy about that! But would still like to lose a few more (not unusual, I know). That of course takes away from my knitting--but I figure it's a good trade. :-D

One cute story from this week:
At the grocery store, the kids and I saw a man stocking eggs. ES said (very excited!) "I saw chocolate eggs!!! He was putting away CHOCOLATE eggs!!" He had never seen brown eggs before. It was very cute. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Hot Weekend

Wow, the heat came yesterday. The weathermen originally predicted 96degrees, but at 6pm it was 88. I don't know what it topped at. It didn't cool a whole lot last night so today is set to be a hot one too. DH managed to get the air conditioner set up in our bedroom at 9:30 last night. He would have done it earlier, but with the Skatechurch LateNighter, and then he got a work call, it was a busy evening. The kids are thrilled with the heat. We pulled the wading pool out yesterday and had some of their friends over for a little "pool party". I let them play in the sun a bit longer than I should have without sunscreen (bad mama!!); but they just tanned nicely. Especially ES--he has such a golden skin tone! Burns are rare for him. It was really a good time! For me too, since all my kids friends are little, their moms have to come, so I get some adult conversation. Oh, it is so nice!!

I was talking to one of my friends yesterday about the cost of living these days. It is just crazy the way prices are going up! Mainly I'm talking about gas and groceries, but everything is expensive now it seems. Mostly because of gas prices, I guess. Anyway, we were talking about how to save money on food right now. A few months ago, I set up a 3 week menu, listing what we would have for lunch and dinner each day for 3 weeks. I did it as an experiment, thinking that it would be nice not to have to figure out what to cook every day. Well, it works great! But not just because I'm not stressing about what to cook. It is a big money saver too! I think that if I scheduled it even more--wrote out snacks and such too, it would help even more; but as it is, it's saving me at least $100 per month! And in this economy, that is a huge help! I think I could fix it up even better, utilizing some meals where we have leftovers, to use those leftovers in the next day's meals, etc. I will have to work on it. If anyone is interested in it, I would be willing to post it up here too, to give you ideas.

Yesterday I also was able to finish a pair of socks. Okay, so I grafted the toe of the second one this morning--but I finished them! I did 2 at a time on one long circular needle. It's called Magic Loop, and I am totally hooked. I've done 2 at a time on dpns, and it takes so much concentration, that I feel like it is going frightfully slow. Also, I couldn't figure out how to do cables and lace that way. With Magic Loop, it's no problem, b/c the socks are separate, but on the same needle. These worked up in 9 days--and they are adult male size, with an extra long leg for wearing with boots. Admittedly, it was USsize 5 needles-when most socks are worked on sizes under 4, so it was a faster knit b/c of that too. I'm not going to post pictures because not only do I not have a digital camera, but I am considering submitting this pattern somewhere, and it is not possible to submit patterns that have been shown. So, sorry. Just know that I am happy with them and may show them someday. :)

So now I have started working on the Moebius Cowl by Cat Bordhi. I'm afraid that the longest circular cable I have is 40" and she says 47" is the shortest that should be used. I'm beginning to understand why. I am really intrigued by this "magical" method of knitting, and I very much want to work with it. I may have to get a longer cable for my interchangeables! (Another excuse to buy knitting supplies!!) I think I may put this down until I am able to work it correctly. I have lots of other projects, so it won't be a big deal. I really need to finish the Celtic Icon anyway--or at least the sleeve I started--before casting on something else. (ha ha :-D)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Night of Knitting

Last night, I got to go to Twisted and see Fiona Ellis. She gave an excellent lecture and left lots of time for questions and discussion. She brought some of her sweaters with her. It was so fun to see professionally made hand knits and learn some more about construction and design inspiration. I even got to show her my Celtic Icon sweater that I am making from her book. That was cool! To talk to the actual designer of the pattern and learn how to make it better! :-D I purchased her knitting journal, as my old one is getting a bit full. She signed it, too. :-D

It was really an exciting evening. Fiona encouraged me to continue to design and to contact more companies to sell my designs. I left feeling quite inspired (which seems to have been the purpose of the lecture :-D)--as DH can attest to, as I came home and talked to him about it for a good long while.

So at the moment, I am working on one sleeve of the Celtic Icon sweater, another set of wedding present washcloths, and a pair of socks I am designing. I am learning the Magic Loop method with these socks. I think I like it. I am working one at a time right now, but I think I will try to do both at once later today. I've done 2 at a time with the "double knitting" method (one sock inside the other on dpns), and I like it, but I just feel so slow doing it that way. I want to be able to work 2 socks at once quickly, with a minimum of focus; and I'm not inclined to the two circular method as I don't want to have to buy 2 circular needles. I have single circs, and dpns, so I figure I don't need to spend more money on duplicate circs. :-)

I know I haven't said a lot about the kids recently, but be assured that they are doing well; and keeping their mama very very busy. I pulled the model horses down from the closet earlier this week, and that seems to be occupying a very large chunk of their time. It is amazing to me how much DD loves animals. I wish we weren't so allergic--I think if we weren't, we would have a menagerie in our home (if we could afford it!). I know I would want sheep (can you guess why?) and the kids want dogs and cats, horses and goats. And just about every other animal they see that looks slightly safe and cuddly. Oh well. That's a good excuse to go to Grandpa and Grandma's, right? :-)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Finally!!

Well, here it is at last!! 2 free washcloth patterns. I could not have done it without my Brother-in-law. Thank goodness for technically savvy relatives!! As soon as I get the pictures developed, I will show you the finished product. :-)


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Techical difficulties

So I promised I would post the pattern for the wedding present washcloths. I have been trying to do so for the last 3 days. I am a chart person--and this being a small project, I didn't write out the instructions, I just charted the entire cloth. It looks great---but I can't get the chart to load into the blog. It just isn't working! I am so not with the technical stuff. I'm not a computer geek--I'm a knitter!! It's different.

I have completed the washcloths- both of the set. I am going to keep trying to learn how to get the chart up here, but in the meantime, if you want the pattern, you'll have to contact me. I have the comments on moderation, so nothing gets posted unless I approve it. You can put your email address in the comments, I will get it- delete the comment and email you the Excel charts for the wedding present washcloths. Your email stays private, and you get the free pattern. Good all round?? Or you can wait the umpteen months it will take me to teach this "old dog new tricks" and get it posted on my blog. I have to learn to do this, I will want to post other things in the future.

Now that we're done with all that.....
I am frantically working on the Celtic Icon sweater by Fiona Ellis. It's on US size 4 needles, so I am forcing myself to finish by working on one section, then doing an "instant gratification" project, then working on the size 4 needles again. It is working pretty well. I actually begin to understand why designers design sweaters with seams. On such little needles, it would be really hard to make myself stick to a seamless knit!! This way, it's easy to justify setting it aside for a bit and actually completing a project on big needles. And let me tell you, after a section of a sweater on size 4's, size 8's seem huge!! Anyway, Fiona is going to be in town this Friday, and I talked DH into letting me go to Twisted with a friend. I am very excited!! But I confess, I hope I'm not still working on the Left Front of her sweater by then! I have a baby shower I need to have something for in 10 days, and I have to get clicking on that--as soon as I finish this left front!! :-D

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saturday

I love Saturdays when my DH is not on call. It's so relaxing. Even though the kids still get up really early (DD was up at 5:30 this morning!!), I don't feel like I have to rush to get things done so we can do schoolwork and whatever else has to be done before lunch. The hardest part of Saturday morning is keeping the kids quiet while their Papa sleeps in.
They did really well this morning staying quiet. It was pretty cute. DD sat in the corner and read books to her little brothers for over half an hour! So sweet! Of course, that was after............ ES (elder son) has a Lego car. He loves it. He changes it up and gets much delight showing off his new improvements. This morning, he discovered a new use for the "lights" of the car. It took me a bit to comprehend what he was doing. He learned that he could "shoot" the lights across the room quite effectively-----from his nose. Now, we've all heard the stories about the kids that get things stuck in their nose/ears and have to go to the Dr. So far, my kids seem to be pretty good about not putting things in those locations. Of course, it would have to be my imaginative ES that would come up with this game.
This being the same son that actually did put something else in his nose 2 years ago: He thought it would be fun to put a slice of olive in his nose to save it for later. But he put it in too far. I finally got him to blow hard enough to get it out. And naturally, I threw it away. He was so incredibly offended!! When I finally got him to calm down enough to tell me the problem, I learned he was only upset b/c I didn't let him eat the olive when it came out!!! I think it was traumatic enough he hasn't tried to put things in his nose again until today. I don't think the threat of going to the Dr. to take things out of his nose is as effective as it used to be.

As far as my knitting goes, I am in the process of finishing my Dad's Christmas present for this year. Then I will concentrate on the left front of the Celtic Icon sweater I am slowly working on---as well as the wedding present dishcloths (which I will post the pattern here for free when they are complete). I have to get busy with my knitting; I have baby and wedding showers coming up in a couple weeks and nothing for them. I need a boy baby gift, 2 unknown gender baby gifts, and at least 3 wedding gifts. But I am committed to not having more than 3 projects OTN at once. So I must go knit now. :-D

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Daisy Spring Dress





Here is the dress my daughter wanted. It turned out quite nicely. I used one skein of Berrocco Cotton Twist (I've been searching for a use for that one skein!!) and 2 1/2 skeins of TLC acrylic. It has a textured daisy on the front:
I'm pleased with how it turned out; and the best part is that so is she! She actually wears it! You knitters know that the danger for knitting for your kids is that however excited they might be about picking out the yarn and seeing you knit it up--they may decide to never wear the finished product. Not this time! She wouldn't take it off the first day. Hooray! That is success. :-)
This pattern is an original Lobug Design, and is for sale for $4. (If you want it, just put your email addy in the comments, I'll contact you.)

It's been a wild week. I've been cleaning my house like crazy. I think I have spring fever; I'm cleaning and organizing most everything--including storage space! I just could not sit down on Monday. I'm a bit more normal now, but it was wild. Last night, there were some people coming over for Bible study, so I really felt like I had to get my house in order, and my kids prepared. I got everything ready, and warmed dinner up again so I could finally sit down and eat. My mind was in space I think. I discovered that Brussel Sprouts are a good microwave cleaner. Yeah, if you nuke them without something over them, they explode all over the microwave and you have to clean the entire thing!

I have some light green cotton/acrylic sock yarn I want to knit up-- but I am having a hard time with a design for it. I want to design my own, rather than follow a pattern. I haven't done a lot with sock design, and I want to get into it. So I'd like some reader participation here---what kind of sock design would you like to see?? Lace, cabling, texture...........???? what? Give me some feedback here!! I'll post the pattern for free here when they are finished. What would you like to knit on socks, given the chance??