Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bad Penny (badly photographed...sorry)

Bad Penny in my bathroom


Voila!
As promised here is a picture of what I've been working on all summer. Yeah, it took me all summer long to knit this. And yeah, the pics kinda suck because I took them on my phone, at night, in my bathroom. I really was going to try to take some really nice pics. I was going to stage it all up and maybe figure out how to work the timer on the "good" camera. Well... I was gonna do a lot of things. But I'm finally starting to realize that if I wait for the perfect opportunity, or if I wait until I have time to do it perfectly, it just doesn't happen at all. So this is what you get.

Bad Penny

Above is a close-up of the stitch definition. This is my first top-down raglan sweater and I'm particularly stoked with the way these things knit up. I love the little pattern created by working in the round and increasing twice in one place in the same place every other row and how that eventually makes the front, back, and two arms for a sweater. That is just the freakin' coolest thing ever.

Front Bad Penny

Here's a pic of me, braless, no make-up, in sweatpants. (But we're just going with it. Remember the important thing here is that I actually finally posted the pics. We're not judging. Right? And to be fair, this is how I look probably about 80% of the time anyway.)
I have no idea why I decided to make the sweater this short. The pattern itself is a bit short, but not quite this short I don't think. I just really have no explanation for this. I'm not a belly-showing kind of girl. Never have been, even before I had a child. Even when it was the "cool" thing to do and "everyone" did it. Even when I took dance classes every day and had pretty nice abs. I just don't understand. Anyway, when I wear it in public I wear a camisole underneath.

Side View Bad Penny

Here's the side view. Still with no bra and sweatpants. (This is character building. That's what this is.)

The pattern is Bad Penny from knitty.com.
I didn't do the cute little lace design thingy in the bottom ribbed section. I just didn't have the patience for knitting from a chart, but I may someday make this sweater again and I will make it longer and I might even do the lacey thing because I do think it's cute.

I used two different yarns because I ran out of one and it's discontinued. So the ribbing and a small portion of the bottom of the sweater are totally different colors, but I'm pretty pleased to see how well they worked together. (The one that's not discontinued is Katia Degrade.) Both were dk weight cotton so I went down to a size 5US needle for the body and a size 3US for the ribbing and knitted the pattern in the largest size to make up for the difference in gauge.

The Katia is a really nice yarn with a velvety feel and is surprisingly light weight for a 100% cotton yarn and BONUS: it washes and dries in the dryer beautifully.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yes, I have been knitting... among other things.

Once again, I'm falling behind on my blogging. The funny thing is, I've actually been doing stuff. I knitted a super cute short-sleeved cotton summer sweater, and I'm working on a long-sleeved winter sweater. I just haven't had time to actually take pictures and post anything about them. I promise. Soon!

What I've been doing is fighting a low-grade, constant, panic attack.
I've been having GI issues for awhile now and I finally went to a doctor and they have been poking and prodding at me for the last couple of weeks.

Here's what I've learned about this:

1. Even though I was really scared of having a tube camera shoved down my throat, endoscopy procedures are no big deal. The anesthesiologist gave me something called twilight anesthesia which means you are awake for the procedure, but you have absolutely no memory of it. So if you ever have to do this, don't sweat it.

2. Colonoscopy procedures are torture from hell. Not the actual procedure, because of that handy twilight thingy, but the prep for it. Whoever came up with that should work for the government. If they gave those they suspected of terrorism that Golightly stuff, I'm absolutely positive they would reveal all manner of sins to make it stop.
When I read the directions and it said, "Drink 8 oz every 15 minutes until entire contents have been taken." I thought to myself. "Okay, I can do that. No big deal." But by about the 3rd serving of this stuff I was like, "Oh dear, I don't know if I can do this..." I mean we're talking a gallon of liquid people. And once the stuff starts taking effect... Well, let's just say that I have spent few nights in my life in that kind of discomfort/agony.

I wont go into anymore detail here. I don't want to scare off my 2 blog followers. The results that came after the colonoscopy? They found a rather large polyp that has been making my life miserable for some time now. They think it might possibly be cancer (! Yes I am a little terrified about this) and/or Crohn's disease. So now I have a 2 week wait to see just how much more misery awaits me. Tomorrow I have a CT scan that I get to drink a big helping of Barium for.

Bottoms up!

PS- We also moved Mr Boy into a Big Boy Bed and so far that has been going fairly well! YAY! Next hurdle is potty training...


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Dog Days...

07-26-06-dog-days

This last Sunday, on the 22nd to be precise, I happened to look out the window at the trees that sit just outside our fence in front of the lake and noticed that some of the leaves are already starting to turn, then breathed a small sigh of relief.

The Dog Days are over.

For those of you who don't know, the Dog Days, according to Wikipedia, are the hottest, most sultry days in the northern hemisphere that usually fall between early July and early September. In other words, the most suckiest, crappiest, part of summer.

Personally I have little use for summer once the 4th of July is over. If it were within my power to somehow skip it by putting myself into some sort of self-induced coma or hibernation I would do it without hesitation.

Wiki says: The phrase Dog Days comes from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, in close proximity with the sun was responsible for the mind-numbing, hot ass, weather. They were popularly believed to be an "evil time when the seas boiled, wine turned sour, Quinto raged in anger, dogs grew mad, and all creatures became languid, causing to man burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies."

Yep... sounds about right to me. And they didn't even mention the swarming, biting insects that descend and prosper with a maniacal frenzy right around this time. As if things weren't bad enough already.
For me, the Dog Days have always been the absolute most craptastic time of year. If anything bad is going to happen, it's bound to happen during the Dog Days. If I look back over my life I can't help but notice that all the worst break-ups, arguments with best friends, job losses, money failures, what have you, almost always fall in this magical time of late summer, just before Fall comes. Or maybe it's not that bad things happen more often, but that when bad things happen during this time of year it seems so much harder to deal with. And even if nothing especially bad happens this is always the time of year when life becomes more about survival, just getting through every single day when I barely have the energy or the will to get out of bed and walk the short distance to the couch where I can spend the day watching movies and eating Totinos Pizza.

I've learned to be careful during the Dog Days. I've learned not to expect too much from myself or anyone else. I tread lightly, or not at all. I don't try to do anything too challenging, or thought-provoking. I don't try to improve myself. "Just get through it, just get through it," is my mantra during the Dog Days.

In Ancient Rome the dog days exended from July 24 through August 24. The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the date as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11. The Book of Common Prayer lists the "Dog Daies" as beginning on July 6 and ending August 17. For me it doesn't begin or end on any specific day, but I feel it in my bones when it comes, and I feel it in my soul when it's over. It's like that involuntary sigh that you heave after a loud noise finally ends, or the way your muscles relax when a nagging pain finally ceases. It doesn't always come with that first day after the long summer when you walk outside and you feel that shift in the air from humid heat to cool crisp.

This year it's still hot as hell outside, but with that first sight of turning leaves I can tell that the Dog Days are finally over.
I can feel it.
*sigh*



dog_blog_courtesy_CartoonBank

Monday, August 9, 2010

Kombucha update

I am proud to say that I have, several times now, successfully brewed my own Kombucha tea. At first I really was worried that I would end up growing some sort of lethal flesh eating fungus or mold, but so far everything has gone smoothly and I've ended up with some beautiful bottles of my very own Kombucha.


1st Batch of Kombucha!

Aren't they gorgeous! I'm so in love.
So for anyone out there who is scared of the home-brewed 'booch, I say go for it. My body is oh so much happier when I have my everyday fix.

Eventually I plan to do some experimentation with different kinds of tea and juices and stuff. For now I usually just add about 1/4 cup of grape juice in each bottle and let it sit and ferment on the counter for 2 days before putting it all in the fridge. I think it's common to do 4 days for that 2nd fermentation, but I'm too scared that the bottle might explode in my kitchen so I just do 2 days which creates plenty of fizz for me.

Kombucha 003


Kombucha 009Kombucha 006
And I can't help but mention that I actually like my home-brewed KT better than any of the store bought kind I've ever had.

For those of you who "hate" Kombucha, I have to say that I would feel the same way if I had only ever tasted some of the stuff they sell in the stores. (Some of it really does taste like feet.) Now that some brands are showing back up in stores again, I've experimented a little just out of curiosity and so far, I haven't come across anything that makes me want to stop brewing my own.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Summer the Kombucha Went Away...

Whatever else happens this summer, hurricanes, oil spills, Lindsay Lohan's ass finally ending up in jail, for me the summer of 2010 will always be the Summer the Kombucha Went Away.

For awhile now I've had pretty chronic stomach/bowel issues. Yes, I've been to the doctor and after a myriad of disturbing and embarrassing tests, all they could tell me was that I was "fine" and they didn't really know what was going on, but they gave me some antacids that actually made me feel worse. I wont go into the number of things I've tried to make myself feel better, but I will say that the ONLY thing that made me feel significantly and almost instantly better was Kombucha.

What is Kombucha, you ask? Well in short, it's a fermented tea that no one knows exactly where it came from or who started making it or how long it's been around or how they discovered it. If you google Kombucha you're likely to find way more information than you ever wanted about it, but if you want a quick succinct overview here is Wikipedia's definition.

I had seen it around the health store and heard little things about how great it was supposed to be here and there, but I honestly didn't pay much attention and put it in the same category as Goji berries or Acai berries, or whatever new thing they are saying cures everything magically this year until they find out that really it doesn't do much of anything, or maybe it might even kill you. Then one particularly bad weekend for the tummy had me wandering around the healthfood section of a store looking for anything that just might make me feel better, or at least a little bit less like wishing I were dead. I found myself in front of a cooler filled with GTs Synergy Kombucha. My friend who I happened to be staying with that weekend had mentioned awhile back that I should try the stuff (what she actually said was that she "really REALLY wanted me to try it!") but I had poopooed the idea thinking that it was just one more thing that wouldn't work and might possibly make me feel worse. But that particular weekend I thought, "what the hell..." and picked up a bottle to try it.
...aaand I've been semi-addicted ever since. Now one thing I've noticed about Kombucha is that people either psychotically love it, or they hate it with the fire of 1000 suns. There is no in between, there is no "meh..." Well, put me down in the column marked "psychotic love/addicted." I lurve this stuff. I want to marry it. (You get the picture.)

And even though I started drinking it because it made me feel better and at the time I didn't really even care about the taste that much, in fact after that first drink I would have said, "Hey, not as bad as I thought it would be..." if anyone had asked me. Now I just freakin' crave it...

So of course they've banned it from every store in America.

Now, I'm not going to get myself started on why they've taken it off the shelves. It's apparently a labeling issue that has something to do with the minute amounts of alcohol that the fermenting of the tea produces being maybe, possibly less minute than they originally thought. Still not enough to really even give anyone a buzz, mind you, but more than what they thought... Maybe!
(I have various conspiracy theories about what's really going on here, but I wont go into that right now.)

The whole point of this post is that after literally going through all the stages of grief, I finally went ahead and brewed some Kombucha on my own and it was crazy easy!

First I had to grow my own culture or SCOBY as it's called. I used half a bottle of the store bought GTs Citrus that I had been rationing out, and I said a little prayer to the Kombucha Gods and/or Goddesses and followed the directions on this page for making a SCOBY. Actually I didn't follow the directions exactly. I actually used only half a bottle instead of the whole bottle, and my bottle was a flavored Kombucha instead of the original, and I used about 3 tablespoons of sugar instead of 1/4 cup. But it still worked out just fine. Here's a pic of my little SCOBY while it was growing.

Kombucha SCOBY!

I know it looks kinda gross, but I love it and am so proud of it. Just like I would be my own child. I don't care if it's ugly. It's mine.

Now I'm almost finished with my first full on batch and I'm so excited because soon I get to have Kombucha again!!

I'll post later about how it goes...

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Haekelbeutel!

This is what I made out of those mystery squares!


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It's called Inga's Haekelbeutel which my German sister-in-law tells me means "bag" or was it "crocheted bag?" Well, anyway, that's what the pattern is called. It's free and super easy if you want to make one of your own. It's basically a bunch of squares sewn together in a clever way. The pattern calls for 16 squares, but I only did 12 because I didn't want the bag to be so huge and because I didn't feel like making anymore squares. I also used a square pattern from this book instead of the one on the pattern because I wanted something a little different. You can use any darn kind of square you want as long as they're all the same size.

I gifted this bag to my mom for Mother's Day, but eventually I plan to make one for myself that's lined with fabric as soon as I learn to use and stop being afraid of my sewing machine.


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I used mercerized cotton scrap yarn for this bag, but I think it would be really cool in linen or hemp also. I still have SO MUCH of this yarn left!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Back on the Chain Gang...

I've been working on something easy and fun.
Here's a picture:


Crochet squares

So I'm back to crochet and really enjoying it.
I always forget how fast crochet goes!
This yarn is mostly Omega Sinfonia from my stash with a few other random stash yarns worked in, but Sinfonia is one of my favorite mercerized cotton yarns. It's inexpensive, but the fabric it produces is so elegant. I love working with cotton because the stitches come out so crisp and defined so that you can really appreciate the beauty of each stitch. Love the colors too!


More crochet squares...
The pattern is from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks. The square is # 19 Lacy Cross, which is beautiful and also super easy.
These squares are going to be made into something hopefully beautiful and serviceable.
More to come...

Friday, April 16, 2010

What have I been doing...?

Well at the beginning of this blog I swore I would write about anything I wanted to write about, not just knitting and crocheting. Still somehow it turned into a blog only about knitting and crocheting.

Well, I haven't been doing a whole lot of either lately.

It happens, that fallow time that all creative people reach every now and then when inspiration and motivation waver and there just doesn't seem to be the energy and spark there to start something new.

Or finish up something old.
I have a hat that I need to finish. A Christmas gift (yes, from last Christmas) that I need to finish and send on it's way. All I have to do is sew up the seam.
Meh. Just don't feel like it it.
Not today.

I have various other projects that I've been mulling over starting...
Meh.
Not yet.

Lately, I've just been being. As much as I can. I've been cutting my hair and painting my nails and playing with my son and taking little mini-vacations to see family and friends.

Just being.

It's kind of nice.

Pretty weeds




I wanted to pick these but didn't

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why did this take so long?

LMKG Placket-Neck Sweater



So a friend of mine sent me an invitation to her little girl's 1st birthday party one day. It was sent a good 3 weeks before the actual party which should give me plenty of time, even with a rather rambunctious 2 year old on my hands, to make a simple baby sweater. Right? Suuuuure.....

Well let me just tell you right now, that's not how it happened. And the thing is, I still can't really explain why. I was so sure this would be a quick and easy project. So Sure. I read up about it on Ravelry, and almost universally the word on the street was that this baby could be worked up in a matter of days. Certainly 3 weeks should be plenty of time.

And how long did it actually take me? Well, I lost count, but I'd say it was a little over a month. Now there were some factors contributing to this.
1. Out of town husband for 2 weeks which means no one to relieve me and give me some knitting time.
2. Never really have knitted a baby sweater before. But how hard can it be? It's just a small sweater for God's sake.
3. Had to start over once because it was turning out way bigger than I expected according to what I thought was a "good enough" gauge estimation.

Still this was supposed to be easy, and it was NOT.

The pattern is from the book Last Minute Knitted Gifts, (yet another reason why I thought it wouldn't take too long), but it's also available for free on-line. Maybe someone else will have better luck with it. Though I should say that it did turn out just as cute as it was supposed to turn out, it was just way more trouble than I wanted it to be.

I used Lion Brand Cotton Ease, which is a good substitute yarn, but it's a bit thicker than the recommended yarn. It's also a little harder to work with than wool would have been. The sleeves, which were done in the round, then attached to the body ended up being a bit of a stretch, also there were huge gaps to be sewn up under the arms aside from the kitchener attachment method in the pattern (which by the way, I totally ignored and did a three needle bind off instead). In retrospect, if I ever attempt this pattern again, I think I'll just go ahead and do the sleeves back and forth and seam them up the inside of the arm. Which will be just as much trouble as all the kitchener and sewing up gaps nonsense ended up being when I followed the pattern as written.

I also omitted putting buttons or beads on because I didn't feel like doing button holes by the time I got to that section and I didn't have any beads that would fit through the seed stitch without being too small or too big.

All I can say is... thank God, it's over.

Just in time for the warm weather.


Placket-Neck Sweater outside

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Happy Birthday!

2 Years of Ian and Yarn


Two years ago today I had a teensy baby boy and my knit/crochet life changed forever!
I can't believe it has been two years!
I can't believe it has been two years and I've made so few things for my own kid! Bad needlecrafter Mommy! Well all I can say is that during this two years almost every person I have ever met had a baby and I felt compelled to knit or crochet something for almost all of them.
(We wont mention the things I started and still haven't finished.)
Anyway
Today is about Ian.
Happy Birthday, sweet boy.
Mommy promises to knit you some more stuff.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Emergency Hats!

So lately my knitting has been all about hats, because if you haven't heard, it is cold. I mean like, seriously cold here in Houston these days. Well, actually today it's kind of nice. It's around 41 according to Yahoo weather anyway, but even the fact that I am calling 41 "kind of nice" should tell you just how cold it has been. Because usually 41 means that I stay inside and don't go out unless I have to. But after three (or was it four) staight days of highs of 35 or so and that was for about 2 hours during the warmest part of the day just before the sun sets, 41 at 9a.m. sounds pretty durn good. Now I know, I know, for those of you living in Antarctica or Fargo or Germany or hell, even Kansas, you're thinking, "Hell! That's not cold! Yesterday we had a high of -25 now that's cold!" But here in Houston, it just never really gets that cold. It hardly even freezes. Our green stuff stays green pretty much all year round , true it's kind of a sad brownish green in the winter, but it's green, and if it dips down below 32 we all get a little excited and start sanding down overpasses and covering pipes and whatnot. You want to call us weenies and make fun of us for it, well, all right. But come talk to me next time you have one of your sweltering heat waves of 90 degrees, cause 90 is a cool summer day in Houston.

I guess the point I'm making is that it's all pretty relative. And the other point I'm making is that I did not have one decent hat to see me through. I've said before that I don't have such good luck with the hats. I just have a hard time making one that fits my tiny pinhead and looks good and doesn't itch my forehead like the dickens. And after a few misguided and ridiculous attempts in my early knitting career, I finally pretty much gave up on hats altogether. I did manage to make one, just one, that I actually like and wear somewhat regularly, but it's cotton and it's only good for regular Houston winters. I've blogged about it here. But mostly, I just go without because hell, we live in Houston. I mean no one ever really needs a hat in Houston, right? Wrong.
I needed a hat.
The boy needed a hat.
A warm hat.

Voila! A warm hat!

Simple Pleasures Hat



Simple Pleasures Hat

The pattern is Simple Pleasures by Purlsoho and it is aptly named. It was an extremely simple and pleasurable knit, well, except for the 6 inches of ribbing. I'm not particularly fond of ribbing, but let me tell you, it is worth it because once you fold that double strand of ribbed knitted wool and it covers your ears, it is wonderfully, blissfully warm! I used Koigu instead of whatever the pattern calls for because that's what I had already in my stash. For the fuzzy part I used Anny Blatt's Fine Kid instead of Kidsilk Haze because, once again, that is what I had in my stash. Both yarns worked beautifully as substitutes. And the Kid mixed with the Koigu makes a beautiful and also very warm material. I would love to have an entire sweater out of that stuff.

Maybe someday.

Close up of Emergency hat

The coolest thing about the pattern, in my opinion, is that it can be knit entirely on one size 6, 16" circular needle. Yes, my friends, one needle, no double points! Yes, the last couple of rows are a little tight, but as the pattern says, it can be done and I did it! Technically speaking, I was supposed to change to a bigger needle once I finished the ribbing, but I didn't because I didn't have a bigger 16" circular needle and I was not going to brave the frigid cold to go buy one. Nevertheless, it all worked out wonderfully in the end. I used a size 6 instead of the size 8 and 9 that the pattern calls for because, as I said, that's what I had, but also I have a strangely small head and I hate a too big hat. That sucker needs to be snug to keep out all the cold and wind. And the 2 by 2 rib has plenty of stretch.

The end result is pretty cute, too! If I do say so myself.




Simple Pleasures Hat



The boy also got an emergency hat:
Simple Hat by Debbie Bliss. The pattern can be found in her book, Baby Knits for Beginners. (From which I long ago checked out of the library and photocopied the patterns I liked.) This is the second one of these hats I've made for the boy. The first one fit him from the time he was tiny and actually still fits, but only stretched to it's limits and the yarn I used wasn't that warm. So I made him the next one using some stashed Lion Brand Wool Ease that I happened to have and I upped the needle size from a 4 to a 6 which made it perfect for his toddler head. I also left off the little nubby end this time. He's a toddler now. He should have the dignity of a nubless hat.

Non fuzzy pic of Ian's Emergency hat


Though I don't use Wool Ease anymore because it pills too badly and starts looking like something your grandmother might drag out of the attic to show you how cute and tiny you once were after about 2 washes, I really like the way this hat turned out. The variegated navy/forest mixed with the solid blue looks much better than I thought it would. Though honestly I didn't really care. I just wanted to use up some stashed yarn and have a warm hat for the boy.

Ian's Emergency Hat


He actually likes and wears his hat which is more than I hoped for!