Friday, December 25, 2009

Just Wasn't That Ham's Day

This Christmas was an interesting one. At 5 in the morning my eyes popped open when I realized I had no pan to cook the ham in. The only pan that would work for was currently housing one of three large batches of cookies from the day before.

Later that became a smaller problem beside finding a ham that would work for this year (ideally one that had not been in the freezer for at least twice the recommended time). All the stores were closed. ALL of them and in a last ditch effort I called my mom. (Cliche, yes; effective, certainly.) She just happened to have a ham, thawed, and ready in her refrigerator. So, after I showered I loaded up Bobby and we made great time across town, given that it was early-ish on Christmas morning and most people were in their homes instead of on the road. Then we got back home and around noon the ham went in the oven. I was so on top of this!

Then, I was eating a late lunch of tomato soup (I am addicted to the stuff right now) when it ocurred to me that I had no bread sticks or rolls or anything of that sort. I had potatoes and corn, so starch was definitely covered, but it's a bit of a requirement to have bread of some sort. So, once again I called my mom (it worked the first time!) and it worked this time as well. So now I owe her a ham and a thing of breadsticks. They made it over and when all the sisters arrived from their house-sitting jobs, and the boys in the family started waking up from their afternoon naps, we finally got dinner on the table about 4:00. Which is exactly one hour later than that ham should have been coming out of the oven at the latest.

It was covered in aluminum foil, and so it wasn't until I had it out, and we were ready to cut it and put it on a serving plate that I pulled back the foil to reveal a cross between a ham and a big chunk of bacon on a bone. One of my sisters just laughed and left the kitchen. "Maybe, it's just the glaze that's crispy," Bob said in his ever-optimisitc way.

"I didn't put the glaze on the ham." I responded before we both laughed about it and just cut it into chunks. My sister said she wouldn't tell anyone, but it was kind of hard to miss the crispy, crispy edges, and the darker than normal color of the meat. My other sister said, "At least we know we won't get food poisoning!" But then my dad pointed out that it was already fully-cooked, I was technically just supposed to be reheating it.

In the end it turned out alright. Bobby even ate some (which is crazy), and we had fun opening presents and stockings later. This just wasn't the year for a smooth-sailing Christmas. But we still had fun and despite all of the potential for disaster, it went quite well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve and quiet and peaceful. Bobby is going to bed, we had a great time with the first family we are seeing, and we're ready and looking forward to tomorrow. Today was quiet (perhaps even a tad lonely) when Bob took Bobby with him on his "covert operations," and left me at the house to get things finished. They were gone for most of the day, but seemed in very good spirits when they returned.

I finished Bobby's stocking. So now there's a place for his new socks to go. (I think it's wonderful and funny to put socks in a Christmas stocking.) Yes one is a bit bigger than the other. He tried them on as I went and that one was done first...

He mastered both of the puzzles he received that are marked for ages 3 and up. Bob and I noticed that almost everything we thought he would dig was supposedly too old for him. Now, I'm going to ignore most of those.

Tonight we're going to finish wrapping a few presents, and I'm going to relax with my feet in warm water and knit on the hard-and-oh-so-fun socks I'm loving!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Simple Things

Bob said something profound to me tonight: "I'm not saying life is black and white, but I think sometimes we invent new colors."

I obviously get a bit wrapped up in the whole Christmas season. I love the music, the lights, the time, the weather, the excuse to knit, the giving of gifts, the paper, the stockings, the wreaths, all of it. It glows and glitters in my little fantasy world of what Christmas looks like. When I was single, living at home, making way more money than I had any business making at a theoretically part-time job I was able to buy numerous gifts and stocking stuffers for family and friends. I loved having whole stacks of presents all wrapped up ready to hand out; I felt like the more I gave, the more they knew I liked them.

Then things changed, certainly for the better, but the income dropped as the expenses grew, and it took a while for me to feel like I was really giving something with meaning. Plus, there was (in my mind) an expectation of what I should be giving, based on what I had given in the past. Crafting has helped that in many ways, because when you give something you've made you're not only giving your money and thought, you're giving time and effort.

But, there's that whole time thing that is now a little short. (I think that there is nothing like a child to show you that you are a lazy bum, "What was I doing with all my time before Bobby came along?) And, I just don't have the time to make the thing I could in years past. I think if I planned better, if I worked on things year-round, it might work out, but given the number of people I know in the same boat each year, I just don't think that's a realistic expectation. And, I've decided there are some things I'm just not going to worry about anymore. At least, I'm going to try not to; we'll see how it goes.

So, tomorrow, I'm going to make Bobby a stocking. He needs one, we and others have things to put in it. And I'm going to finish an IOU present from last Christmas (I should have taken that as an indicator that things were not going to go well this year, if I still had something left from last year, but I chose to ignore it). I'm going to spend some time with family, I'm going to make caramel popcorn, and I'm going to enjoy the next couple of days. Then, I'm going to knit simple stockinette sweaters for Bob and Bobby.

They may not be fancy, they may not be fast, they may not be glitzy and show off my amazing new cabling abilities, but they will serve to remind me that I need to enjoy the simple things. That life is already complicated enough and that simplicity is often beautiful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Counting Down

I had a to-do list. It was broken down into days and those were broken down into while Bobby was awake and while Bobby was asleep times. Yeah. I made that list while I was pretty rested, done with grades early, no big plans for the four weekdays before Christmas and a manageably small list of things to finish. Then I went and changed part of it. I wanted Bobby's vest to be moved up on the list, we spent a bunch of Saturday out and about, and then on Saturday night I ended up sobbing on the couch after throwing his vest (sans ribbing) into the middle of the living room floor in despair. My eyes were crossing while I picked up the stitches from the provisional cast-on and I knew there was no way I'd get it done in time. I had moved up the deadline and, well, it killed me. (I think that's where they get their name...)

I have moved on with the list, but despaired again when I realized that there's a knitter out there that took 5 months to knit the pair of socks I planned on knitting in 3 days. I started on Sunday morning and am on the foot now. I don't think it will take me 5 months; I do think that the recipient may get one sock and an IOU. That seems to be in vogue these days.

Today I managed to finish what I think is the last of my Christmas shopping, though I never really feel secure about it until the gift is wrapped and under the tree (and, Bobby makes that a bit hazardous). And tomorrow we don't have (that I know of) any plans. So I'm hoping to finish the sock and get at least one sewing present done. Ideally I'll get two sewing presents done, but I don't want to pressure myself too much.

Bobby's vest is now a New Year's vest. And, after Christmas, then I'm going to knit all of the other things I've been thinking about while I get through the things I need to finish. Sweaters for the two men in my life and then one for the little girl coming our way!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh So Close

I have one assignment left to grade. It's the final for my writing class and I only have one page of the objective portion and then their short essays and I'm done. I'll be free from grading for two whole weeks. I am so excited that we have almost a full week before Christmas. We'll be able to rest, enjoy time with friends and family, and get stuff done!

I scaled back my Christmas gift making endeavors a great deal this year, and though I have a lot to do in a little bit of time, I'm hopeful that with good planning and efficient use of time I'll be able to get them all finished a few days before Christmas and still be able to enjoy the time! I need to knit while we're out and about in the car, do the sewing at night after Bobby is in bed, and get a few hours during the day for the quilting portions of a few projects. I have it all organized and easily accessible so I theoretically won't spend a bunch of time getting things out and ready (or finding them).

I think it will work.

I may even be able to add in one or two more... maybe.

As long as I don't start a lacy, pink sweater...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lacy Little Knits

My little girl will be swathed in pink and lace knitting during her first few days. I thoroughly enjoy the blues and browns and greens and tans and bright oranges and reds that Bobby digs and that are available for the little boys out there. I'm also not into forcing gender preferences on people. Some boys like pink and some girls don't. And, if there is any color that is a lightening rod for the gender debates it's pink. If she hates pink as she grows older so be it; that's cool.

But I like pink. And so while she has no say (that is recognizably English and not easily explained by hunger) she will wear pink. Because she is a girl and when they first are out and about all babies look the same, but no one ever thinks a baby in pink is a boy. Babies in brown, yellow, green, and even soft baby blue might be girls or boys; but with pink there is no doubt.

I have pink yarn: Wool, 50% wool/50% alpaca, and 70% wool/30% silk (apparently a discontinued color in this yarn, lucky me!). With these yarns I am planning many things:
  • a pair of pants
  • a striped bonnet (this one says Jane Austen to me) or hat (this would match the sweater below and doesn't have the tie which worries me a bit)
  • a lacy sweater I'm thinking either this one or this one
  • in addition to the obligatory (and oh-so-sweet) Zimmermann February Sweater (I was a little sad when I couldn't figure out a way to rationalize this for Bobby)
  • a kimono style sweater (really wish I had known about those when Bobby was little).
  • a little pair of booties, because you have to knit babies booties (and these, on the right side of the page, are adorable)
  • She'll probably also need one of these little dresses at some point

While looking at these I came across a few things that I'm sure Bobby will need as well. (Emphasis on need for both of these lists)
As I was looking I realized that there are a lot more things out there to knit for little girls than there are for boys. It's interesting and too bad, really. But at least he'll have his bright socks (alright there's only one right now, but the other will be along shortly, I'm sure). And he seems pretty content with those.

So, long lists short: we're having a baby girl; her name is Virginia (though not legally, something about being born first...); she looked beautiful today (though rather skeletal, grainy, and black and white); and we'll get the fuller scoop in the prenatal appointment tomorrow. She's theoretically coming in mid-May and her name will be long because we have a few female names to get in there (she'll have a couple middle names) and who knows (given my husband's family's disproportionate male to female ratio) if we'll ever get another chance!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things I Learned Recently

1. Edgar Allan Poe may have had a chimney, because while Bobby and I were napping there definitely came some rapping and tapping in our house. There was a bird (I'm certain of it" in our chimney. I never knew that could happen and it totally freaked me out.

2. I need to vacuum under Bobby's crib more, because it builds character he likes to push things underneath it and then shimmy under it to retrieve them. The dust bunnies might eat him if I don't take care of that. Now that I think about it, they may have already eaten his pig and sheep puzzle pieces.

3. I should give more tests. The quiet time while students take them is grading-time gold. The key here is to make the test easy to understand so they don't have too many questions and easy to grade, otherwise it defeats the purpose. (It also helps if one stack of grading is just make-up work.)

4. I always thought that I was just a messy person when it came to closets and clothes, but all I've really needed was an amazing closet organization system. Ever since ours was put in I've been putting clothes away and there was even one morning when I picked up a pair of Bob's socks, instead of the other way around (we need to give the folks that know Bob pretty well a moment to recover, here...). Weirdest moment of my day so far (it was 5 in the morning so not too much competition, but funny enough for me to tell him about it in the car on the way to work). Only the crazy cost is stopping me from even thinking about the craft room possibilities here.

5. I need a regular yarn budget, even if it's $20/month. Then at least I'd have a limit and a release-valve. The alternative is no yarn for a month and then a $232 yarn binge. (In my defense I ended up with at least $400 worth of yarn so it was all a good deal. And most of it is for knitting for other people, so do I get points there?)

6. I like to knit and it's likely going to take over creep into the living room. Going with the earlier organization lesson I found a basket to put my current projects in, instead of on the couches and tables. The basket may need to be bigger.

Those are the recent lessons and realizations; I'm sure more will be coming.

Tomorrow (well, I suppose now it's today) Bobby and I both have ultrasounds. His is for his kidney, just to make sure it's chugging along as it should. Mine is for the baby, make sure s/he is growing as s/he should and to find out whether we're having a she or a he! Hopefully anyway. It's probably the only time a parent hopes their child is at least a little into exposing themselves.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Change Is Hard

I think I have figured out (to a point) my sudden rash of new projects and sleepless nights. Things are changing around here. We've bought a house and are still trying to settle in, Bobby is getting older and more able to communicate, I'm pregnant (and if that's not its whole own bundle of change than I don't know what is), and our friends are leaving the country (not just the state, mind you, no, a whole other continent).

Knitting is, for the most part, predictable. I know that if I use these needles and that yarn, knit so many stitches a certain number of times I'll get a sock, or a vest, or a sweater. I can see what is happening and when things don't happen the way I expect or want them to I can see where I went wrong; I can fix it. I get an almost infinite number of do-overs. I can control knitting, or at least I can control it more than I can life. (And yarn, unlike that chicken in my refrigerator, doesn't have an expiration date.)

In life we don't get do-overs, we don't get to try something 4 different ways to see what we like. Instead, we get to make choices and live with the ways it turns out, for good or bad. We cast-on and do our best, hope for the best. And then, we have to hope for the best through all the unexpected changes.

We may start with wool, and suddenly we discover alpaca sliding through our fingers (wouldn't that be nice!). Then the chunky yarn goes to a sport weight and now it's a variegated sock yarn. Then we discover, much to our dismay that someone has changed our needle size. Life is navigating and negotiating all of those changes. Figuring out what to do with this unexpected combination. We're just chugging along trying to make it work and, on good days, trying to make it work well.

Sometimes you can look down at what you've done and it's nice. The finished fabric hangs together beautifully. Other times you have to shake you head and acknowledge that those were the places you were learning (and that it, apparently, took a long time to get it figured out).

Sometimes you have people around you that can lean over and say, "Maybe if you relax a bit your knitting will stay more even. I've had to knit with those needles; trust me, I know." Other times you just sit and stare at it, completely lost.

I'm sure I'll look back on this part later and see what was going on, that before I could get set-up for the beautiful cabling that's coming up I had to change my yarn weight, color, fiber, and needles. But this transition time, this is the part I don't understand. And not understanding, that makes it hard.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Don't Teach Rocket Science

I had a really funny conversation with a parent today when I was asked, very seriously, and for good reason, whether or not I teach rocket science. The answer to that, is certainly, "no." And my internal response is, "What do you teach in rocket science?"

I think it's an actual science elective, whether it's at my school or Bob's, I'm not sure. But I am positive I've laughed about it with Bob. I mean, come on, how is it not funny?

While it sometimes feels that way, but really isn't, rocket science, I do seem to knit a lot lately. I think I've been bitten by the holiday knitting bug. I've been working on my striped scarf whenever I'm in the car or need easy knitting and I do like it though I wish I had picked skeins that had more differences than similarities. Oh well, and there's more at the store. I saw it and touched it, and only Bobby being fussy meant I left without any. The other option was too irresponsible and would have meant major damage to the budget. Here is where I was before errands tonight. Now I'm almost done with the first two skeins.

And, Bobby loves the new socks I'm knitting him. He keeps asking to try it on, which while it takes away from actual time to knit them, is awfully cute of him. I'm thinking I'll be done with the heel of the first one tonight and then be able to finish it tomorrow. He does have two cute feet that need socks. He helped Bob take this picture of them to prove it. Again, colorwork, I love you.

I'm also hoping to start a new pair of socks that I cannot explain further for reasons of gift-giving privacy (meaning I want them to be a surprise if they're finished and not a disappointment if they're not). I will say this though, they're about as close to rocket science as I care to get.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Where to Begin

Our friends are leaving. I am in denial. Instead of talking about how much they mean to me or how much I will miss them both, I am going to talk about knitting and Bobby. Things that are staying here for the time being.

I have finished the bottom half of Bobby's new vest. It is long enough for decency, short enough to avert laughter. I am going to start the front and back after consulting with my knitting guru. In the meantime I am working on one of those noro striped scarves. Always thought they were pretty, always thought other knitters were crazy for buying that stiff, itchy yarn. Then an event involving a sale, unexpected cash, weak self-control, new shipments, and peer pressure resulted in 4 skeins of it finding its way to my house.

I started it yesterday and was first struck by how the yarn, while stiff in the skein, is quite nice in the knitting. And that the scarf is also equally soft. I had planned to pass it on to someone in a box, wrapped for Christmas. Now, it will probably end up wrapped around my neck instead. The stripes feed that incessant one more (or in this case two more) row syndrome. And the colors are quite nice. Quite nice indeed. I am a little disappointed in one spot where the two skeins match a bit and so you lose the striping, but live and learn. And, buy it more, and knit another one. I'm thinking that perhaps some entrelac, or diagonal something-er-other is called for. I'd like to do more with this yarn. Who knew?

And, Bobby's favorite socks are the ones I knit him for Sock Summit. Seriously he wouldn't wear any others today, so I plan to put some hot glue, or puffy paint on the bottom so he can wear them safely around the house. I'm also thinking he could use a new pair for Christmas, so he has more options. I have plenty of leftover yarn for it. Benefits of small feet, I suppose.

He had a fever today (maybe that's why he wanted his really nice, comfy socks). I stayed home with him and am going to do the same tomorrow. Hopefully then we'll know why he has a fever. That's the worrisome part for me. He's not coughing (except when he ate too much pizza too fast, I really didn't feel like cooking) and doesn't have a runny nose except when he's very upset and crying. He's just fussy and hot. The pediatrician wasn't sure, and said to watch him for a couple of days. Poor boy is usually so happy it's terrible to see him sick.

I've started being able to feel the new little one move. Not all the time, though if Bobby set any sort of trend, that time is coming. It's so nice to know s/he is still kicking around in there between prenatal visits when we hear the heart beat.

That's it for now. Hopefully in a few days I'll be able to say that he's all better, that the scarf and vest are done, and that through a strange series of events that left everyone happy, the capital of Spain moved to Alaska.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Revising the Vest

So I swatched in color work and the width is just about right on. The length, however, is not. I'm pretty sure that the shirtdress went out in the 80's and is now only acceptable (according to marketers, that is, I'm not really sold on them) on super-skinny high school girls. So, with that in mind, the vest back that I have knit which, when held to his his back, unblocked and without edging of any sort reached below his cute little toosh, I knew I had problem.

Bobby is wonderfully helpful and held it at his shoulders while I counted rows and figured out where, really, I'll start the armholes and how long it should be. It will change the design, and so I'm holding on to the original pattern and the back that's already knit, but rework the stitch patterns to fit into the smaller size. After all, Christmas comes around every year and little children eventually get bigger. How great would it be, this time next year to discover a half finished vest with the yarn and pattern for the rest? Pretty great, I think. I'm going to ignore the possibilities of changing tastes and opinions from myself or the little recipient.

So, I've got a new bottom pattern worked out. I'm also going to knit it in the round from the bottom to the armholes. Then I'll only have to seam the shoulders. All of that was okayed by a wonderful knitter I know. I had thought about it, but I always worry I don't know enough and that there is some deep, secret reason the things are knit flat and then seamed. But she mentioned it without prompting of any kind. And she knits. A lot. So, I'm pretty confident it'll work out! I'm hoping to finish bottom half of this vest by the end of the weekend. It has less rows, doesn't require me to purl (which I do more slowly when I'm stranding) and (by virtue of not needing to purl) lets me see the right side the whole time so I'm hoping to avoid the couple of color mistakes I made that had to be taken out and redone. I still think it's going to be great, if different from how it started.

Last night, though, because I have misplaced the needles I need, I spun while Bob and I watched TV. It was fun, but the fiber had a good bit of vegetable matter in it and several long guard hairs. When I had finished it my pants were covered with little bits of grossness. And, the finished single doesn't look so hot. It's kind of, I don't know, dirty. So, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it. We'll see. It's too bad. The gray that I spun with first is gorgeous. I hate to not use that.

In Bobby news: his appetite has gotten so much better. I think that hearing from the dietician that he needed to eat more spurred some sort of change in him. He'll suddenly do more than pick at his food. And, in his efforts to perpetually make me a liar and trick me into thinking I understand him in any way, he started eating meat after that visit where I explained the various kinds of meat we had tried and that he point blank refused. Now he'll eat pepperoni while I'm making pizza (though not after it's on the pizza), he'll have breakfast sausage, taco meat, chicken strips, beef from stew and (much to my chagrin) bites of McDonald's quarter pounder with cheese. He also likes snacking on pecans and dried cranberries, he drinks milk like crazy. And, he'll actually ask for food now, instead of us trying to foist it on him. He's suddenly decided that anything and everything is open to him food-wise. It's great. I'm hoping that at our next visit he'll actually be on the growth curve. I don't care if it's down on the 5th percentile, I just want him on the chart. Even brushing the bottom line will make me happy.

I just don't want him to pork out too much before this vest is done.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Vest Progress

I have finished the knitting on the back of Bobby's vest. It's a bit bigger than I had thought it would be. My gauge swatch and actual gauge disagreed, but only a little. So, I think he'll end up with an attached I-cord around the bottom so it's not tunic length. I'm going to weave in ends and block it tomorrow before heading onto the front. We'll see how big it is then...