Tuesday, February 26, 2008

You know they're good socks when they give you flashbacks

First, the cute stuff. Free pattern: Capitan by Rosie G.. Yarn: Galway chunky 100% wool. Needles: 10's. I made three of these puppies. I saw them on Tiennie's blog and fell in love with this pattern. Lizzie thinks it's a keeper. The other two are going to her cousins. The pattern has this cute little tab across the brim with two big buttons on it, but being that a) I'm lazy; and b) I want INSTANT gratification; theses were made sans cute tab.

Yes, I do realize those don't quite match my shirt. But I like them anyway. This pair of socks has really got me thinking. Remembering. I haven't matched my socks to my outfits since the mid 80's and early 90's. I wouldn't just match my socks to the polo shirt I wore, with collar flipped up, of course. Oh no, I'd match TWO pairs of socks one folded "just so" on top of the other one so they both showed with my penny loafers and denim mini to the TWO polo shirts I wore on top of the other with the collars flipped up to show both in all their matchingness glory.

This little trip down memory lane took me to the day when orange became my personal superpower color. My aunt took me for the weekend. We'd had our colors done (very 80's, no?) and it turned out this bright, obnoxious orange color was my "personal best" shade. I thought I would barf. Then my aunt found a little shop in Prairie Village that sold clothes based on your colors, or seasons or whatever the heck it was. So, three hours later I was the proud owner of 5 new outfits, one of whom I detested. It was an obnoxiously bright orange cotton short sleeved cabled sweater with a white full cotton skirt with an orange print of some kind. It appeared to be a package deal, the orange monstrosity and the other cool clothes or nothing at all. So, the orange outfit came home with me.

I'd be reminded to pull it out for special events. I'd put it on grudgingly, but then it turned out that whenever I wore it, good things happened. I'd get an A in the presentation I had to do at school. I'd beat my arch-enemy/rival for the flute first chair challenge. I'd get asked out by whatever boy I dreamed was the coolest that week. Because I believed I was unstoppable in that damn sweater, I really was. I think I wore it to shreds. I think this is why my subconscious went insane and decided to order orange and green glasses a few months ago. Seriously? Who gets ORANGE glasses? I know, they look "coppery" on me in just the right light. They're still orange. I finally realized THAT's why I lost my mind that day. It was the sweater all over again. They must not have inherited the super powers as I was wearing them when I backed into the neighbor's car last month. Damn prius. Just wrote a check for $925 to get that fixed.

Then, when knitting with my dear friend Chery, she mentioned that she had some bright orange cascade 220 that just wasn't working out in the sweater she'd planned and did I think I'd want it? Oh yeah. Come to me orange yarn, come to me!

OK, so last flashback now, I promise. I remembered how I could stand on one foot and lift the other foot behind my head. I thought hey, how cute of a picture would it be to hold my foot up in front of my shirt? Yeah. Well, I'm a few months of 40 now, and it almost killed me to get my foot to my damn waist.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So the real world hasn't killed me yet...

Survived my first official day on the new job. Temporary job, but new job. Good people, good work, hope it lasts a while longer. What better way to reward myself than a trip to the local yarn shop? Oh, and a call to another yarn shop? HEY, that's what I do.

First, some progress on yet another pair of socks. I'm re-falling in love with my socks that rock sock club yarn from last year. Yes, this is the first skein that's actually been knit, I'm working on it. I have totally lost my freaking sock knitting ability. I've screwed up the last 3 socks I've made and then while knitting along on the 2nd sock, making sure to decrease to the same screwed-up number as I did on the first sock of the pair, somehow decided to start a heel flap. Not a problem, except I'd ALREADY TURNED THE DAMN HEEL on this sock about half an inch before. Don't you think I'd notice something like TWO HEELS on a sock? OK, I did notice, but it took me about 6 rows into the heel flap before thinking, hmmmmmm something doesn't seem quite right here. Nice knitting, dumbass.

Did you know they now give a burgandy tote when you buy $100 at Knit Wit? Wanna know how I know that? Like I said, rewarding myself. I picked up a cool pattern booklet, an amazingly adorable knitted sheep pattern, 5 skeins of heaven, 2 skeins of Cascade 220 in a light grey to do some colorwork on a few hats. Yes, COLORWORK. When discussing this new idea with the Jo's (Jo Minor and Jo Major), it turns out that when they last brought up the idea to me long ago I had a yelling hissy fit over the futility of me ever, ever, EVER knitting with more than one color at one time. I remembered it as more of a quiet reluctance, but ah well. I'm swatching and practicing and it hasn't killed me yet. Pictures soon.

The 5 skeins of heaven? Only the most amazingly cool stuff I picked up today. It looks a bit like natural silk and feels as close to heaven as I think cotton can ever aspire to. Artesanal yarns from Aslan Trends. 40% cotton, 30% alpaca and 30% polyamid. Each skein has 218 yards and works up at 4 stitches/inch on 8-10 US needles. Oh my holy hell. When I fondled the swatch, I HAD to have it. It doesn't look nearly as amazing as it is in person, just take my word for it. It will become some form of a lacy tank for summer.

OH and the call was to MisKnits for a cone of wool to make up a sweater. It's a lighter version of navy blue and it's going to have to let me know which of 4 sweaters it's wanting to become. Much swatching ahead. While there a few weeks ago as a reward for getting the job I picked up some reaaaaaaaaaaaly pretty sock yarn. Apparently I am the queen of rationalization....yarn reward for getting a job....yarn reward for going to the job....I'm afraid I see yarn reward for when the job is over coming as well. Trekking Hand Art in beautiful blues and deep dark colors. I think they'll become a pair of wedding socks for my hubby-to-be. I can't see him actually WEARING the wool socks on the boat in Abaco (Bahamas) but I figure they look like how he's described the colors of the ocean once you get out to the really deep parts. Looks like the wedding on the boat thing is getting closer to actually happening! We've narrowed it down to the end of April. Anyone else freaking out that it's only 2 months until I'd be wearing a bikini and TAKING PICTURES???? No? Well, I'm freaking out for the both of us. Not working-out-constantly-and-dieting freaking out, but still-eating-brownies-for-breakfast-occasionally and freaking out in my head. Maybe I'll just make sure everyone knows that pictures will be from the waist up. Or I could be in the water (with the sharks and lion fish and barracudas) the whole time. Giving up the brownies might be less painful.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Who needs chocolates and roses?

Jeff called and said he hoped I wasn't expecting a dinner out and flowers (I wasn't since we've got his boys and my two kids and NO ONE'S getting anything romantic with all that going on), because he's got a special Valentine's Day present for me....

OK, so this is a picture of another version of our new (very used and slightly smelly) 1998 Starcraft Venture. Ours is sitting in storage down in the Ozarks. Pictures of ours will come in the spring when this bad boy gets put on the road. See how the name is SOOOOOOOOOO much cooler than the actual object? I'm totally going to say "Make it SO, Number One" and "Engage!" every freaking time we leave town with this thing. (Yes, I'm a total Star Trek dork) Besides, I'm marrying a man who is, in fact, NATURE MAN and this piece of metal and canvas puts that one more layer between me and all that great outdoors crap. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for it. The last few times we went camping we survived horrid winds, floods and bug infestations. I can be a couple of steps ABOVE the dirt and creepy crawlies in this thing. I like the great outdoors, I just really, REALLY like coming back INSIDE from it as well.

In my mind I'll be Elizabeth Zimmermanningly knitting as we camp our way across the USA (or across parts of Kansas and Missouri anyway). Yes, I know she spent her camping jaunts with a piece of canvas and cooking on a fire on a rock. This is about as nature-girl as I get. Since we're getting closer to buying our land in the middle of tick-hell country, this will allow me to stay in something where the thousands of critters trying to eat me alive will have a little more obstacles to get through while we stay over on the weekends working on our land. I'd buy stock in a bug spray company soon, people. The sales are going to SKYROCKET.

I've totally lost my sock knitting ability. NOT ONLY did I knit one smooshy sock on 64 stitches in my normal pattern but then knit the 2nd one on 60 stitches and only realized this AFTER turning the heel, but I totally screwed up the sock I picked up to make myself feel better about the first screw up. Cripes! I knit socks as my "when the world is getting too hard and I need something to knit without thinking" projects. Now I can't even think my way through them? Nice. So, it's nothing any NORMAL knitter would worry about. Just us entirely-too-anal ones. Yes, I KNOW the smooshy pair are only one rib off (K3,P1) but it makes my brain bleed to see how big the size difference is. I'm going to frog the 2nd one and reknit it. Put it away for later, picked up the fun and bright and cheery STR yarn and cranked out a sock on 64 stitches in 3X1 rib, just like usual. Then apparently, I forgot that half of 64 is actually 32 stitches, knit the entire foot with 32 pattern 3X1 rib top and 36 stockinette stitches on the bottom. Then knit most of the toe as if I knew how to count, saw I somehow had 4 stitches more on the top than the bottom. Frogged it back to the starts of the decreases thinking surely I must have over-decreased on the top EVEN THOUGH the pretty line of decreases looked just right and KNIT IT AGAIN and ended up with 4 extra stitches. At least this time I figured it out while trying to get the stitches lined up back on the needles. I frogged back a little farther, reorganized the stitches so they're evenly placed around and knit up the toe. It looks just fine and fits loverly. I've even written down notes to tell me when to do the "pattern element" aka "screw-up-fixer" so the 2nd one matches the first.

I think I'm going to get going on a colorwork hat. Maybe something complicated will be easier than my usually easy stuff.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

PS--I avoided all barf, Joey got better very quickly and I even sat down next to Jeff's ex at one of the basketball games last weekend and explained that, shoot, with having to get a real job now I just won't be able to take care of her sick boys every time she needs to dump them and run let us spend extra quality time with them. Shoot. I think I was blunt enough that she got the picture. I have no problem with helping out, but it was getting a bit much.

You know what? I'm totally excited about my V-Day present. I'm gonna ROCK the camping out thing now.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Dodging the barf

First of all, the knitting news. I have been cranking along on my laced-front ribbed sweater. It's very pretty. I just noticed as I laid it out that I've very smartly made mirrored increases and decreases and all the like, but TOTALLY FUXXED UP the bind off shoulder edge on one of the fronts. damn. Ah well, I've already frogged this damn thing back 3 times to screw with the non-mirrored-looking neckline so what's one more time? At least it's just about 6 rows on not much stitches. I've got to make up the sleeves, put it all together and hold my breath to see if it actually fits. NOW I'm seeing why I'm such a fan of in-the-round knitting. You can try it on as you go. Ah well, if it's too small it'll go to my daughter.

You know those cutesy little games at baby showers where they ask you to give a piece of advice to the new mom-to-be? I used to say something stupid like take a nap when your baby naps. Yeah, from now on, I'm giving her a barf bucket with the following instructions...Keep this barf bucket within easy reach next to your bed at all times. Do not get comfortable thinking your children are in 2nd grade (or 5th grade) and can make it to the bathroom and take care of themselves. ALWAYS have a barf bucket ready to grab and run and thrust in front of a child's face in a matter of seconds. A small plastic trash can works best. BUT not to be used as a trash can, that slows down the whole getting-it-into position. Put TWO plastic grocery bags inside. Trust me, use both. You don't wanna be cleaning up anything that may soak through one bag. Then put in a couple of paper towels. DO THIS. I used to do this. I even kept a barf bucket handy until about a year ago but then got lazy. Let me tell you, the things that come out of children over the age of 8 stain a lot worse than things that come out of little babies.

SO, back to the barf dodging. Earlier in the week, Jeff's ex was leaving their oldest boy home from school with a "low fever" of around 102-103. I'd hate to see what a high fever is. I said, OK, bring him over. I quarantined him in an area with the tv remote and seven-up. He got picked up later that day and apparently barfed the night away. I cloroxed the crap out of the house and hoped for the best. Then had to go visit the new job's office and got the OTHER stepson dropped off also with "just a low fever" but he began barfing upon entering the house. Nice. I LITERALLY had to jump out of the way of flying nastiness in order to make it to the new job without wearing puke. Nothing like a nice, calm entry back into the business world, huh? Well, guess what? The little barfing bug is working its way through the family. Joey's school called and he's got the barfs too. Damn. At least my kids and I've gotten the flu shot each year, so when Jeff's boys bring it over (just like twice last year and once already this year) it hits my kids with usually just one night of ickiness instead of the 2-3 days of crap his boys get. I keep trying to point out to his ex that if they got the flu shots, they may not be getting this crap in the first place, let alone bringing it into my house. She just said, "OK, Thanks, Christine, got to get to work now, bye" when her youngest starting heaving the other morning THIRTY SECONDS after they opened the door. After coordinating with Jeff on caring for these sickies I pointed out that since I'm no longer going to be working from home, this kind of stuff needs to find another way of working itself out. Man, if you hear the words "my stomach..." don't wait for the rest of the "hurts", it'll be too late and you'll be out buying carpet cleaner. Trust me.

ICK! I'm off to re-wash my hands and frog the top of the right front piece of my sweater. And prepare more barf buckets.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Able to yell again

Well, last time we talked, I had lost my job, backed into the neighbor's car and set myself on fire. Good times. Since then things have settled down a bit. I lost my voice, got a temporary job that could maybe turn into something longer, got my voice back, lost my voice again and found out that something is munching away in my sock drawer.

I was so stressed out last week that I didn't even KNIT for three whole days. I don't think I've gone three days without knitting since back in 2004 when I learned how. It amazed me. Three days. Then I started thinking, wow, is that NORMAL? Do you guys knit that much? I don't mean all day, every day, but a little in the evenings or when waiting for kids at basketball practice and as a little break after the day at work is over? Do you guys have the local yarn shops saved on your cell phones too? Or is it just me?

I'm normally a pretty shiny, happy kind of a person. Life doesn't often get me down. But when stress gets too much for me, my body just kind of picks some strange thing to do and goes crazy with it. Bad divorce and sick baby? Hives from head to toe that WON'T GO AWAY, tons of allergy meds, steriods, and relaxation techniques. Crazy white-van-with-no-windows-driving Stalker Man? Hair fell out in clumps and put on 40 lbs in 2 months. Lose comfy job and have to go back to the real world? Throat closes the hell up. I couldn't hardly breathe. I finally was able to massage my muscles and give myself a talking to and relax things enough to breathe and swallow again, but my voice was gone. Whisper with an occasional croak. Whenever the heart rate got pumping and that freakout feeling came back I'd have to stop to rub my throat to be able to just breathe normally. Seriously freaked me out as this lasted for almost a week.

That's when I got the call back and had to do some negotiating for the temporary independent contractor gig. Yup, I sounded like a damn frog that was going through puberty. Long story short, I got the job. I've got funds coming in soon and I'll just see where this takes me. The BEST part is that I've got a little flexibility and can still be home in the afternoons with the kids most of the time. sweet. This will help me get through to the spring (hopefully) and then I'll figure out what to do for the summer and beyond.

I also survived a weekend with all four children with NO VOICE. I always knew I was a yelling mom. I don't yell often, but when I do, it's LOUD and it WORKS. I'm fine with that. The only problem is I yell a LOT more when we've got all four here. Sometimes this house is so freaking loud that a good HEY! is about all that will cut through the noise to get anyone's attention. I needed an air horn. Next time I freak out and can't talk I'm getting me an air horn.

The voice was just starting to come to a low whisper level when I took 3 of the 4 monsters out for a day at Shawnee Mission Park last Sunday. It was so beautiful outdoors, in the upper 40's and low 50's that it felt like summer after that week of temps in the teens. Jeff had taken his youngest boy to ski up near Weston, MO so it was just me and the rest of the gang. David (Jeff's oldest) asked if he and Joey could hike down from the playground to see the ice on the lake and I said "Yes, but make sure you look out for Joey." It was a good LONG way down to the lake. I went off to get our picnic lunch carried down from the truck and was setting it up in the shelter. Elizabeth yelled out, "MOM, I think you'd better come see this!" I go running over to the top of the hill and the two boys are in the MIDDLE OF THE FREAKING LAKE ON THE ICE! OH my holy hell. I had NO VOICE. (and apparently no mind working to tell me to have Elizabeth yell for me). I scream-whispered GET OFF THE ICE! NOW! GET OFF THE ICE! It was this freaky horror movie sound effect thing that echoed through the hills. The boys looked up and saw me and apparently the mom-eye works from afar as they boogied themselves to the edge of the ice again. When Elizabeth and I hiked down there (a big-ass brush and tree covered hill) I asked David what part of "look out for Joey" didn't he understand. He said, "What? We had sticks." Yes, they were tapping the ice with the sticks. Then came a lesson in what happens when little boys are in the middle of the ice over a 30 foot deep lake by themselves with only a stick and the temperatures are WARMING UP. We all promised that none of us would go out onto frozen ice without a grown up with them to help pull them out and get help should something happen. cripes almighty. I did let the kids slide around for about another half hour but made everyone stay within 10 feet of the shore. Voice was officially gone once again. I also learned that I need to be a bit more detailed than "look out for Joey" to include "don't place my boy in mortal danger please." kids. Yes, I've TOTALLY gone sliding around on a frozen lake with a few cousins and no parents involved when I was a kid too, but it's a whole lot different from the mom-side of things.

Also in the last week I've now found holes in FOUR of my knitted socks. Of course, it's one sock each from FOUR PAIR of socks. grrrrrrrrr.... Now, being a woman who takes care of her feet, I'm thinking it's not just a coincidence that each of these socks suddenly sprang new holes. damn damn damn. I've microwaved all my socks and am finding a new place to keep them to see if I can quit feeding the yarn munching bastards, whatever they may be.

I'm back to knitting and even decided it was safe to crank out on a sweater again and give the freaky sock knitting a break. Ok, I'm still knitting socks, just not with every moment of my time. I finished the back and half the right front on the ribbed lace-front sweater from that Lingerie Style book in cascade 220 heathery blue. I'm LOVING this yarn. It's turning out spot on for gauge, but sure looks long and skinny. really skinny. I keep stretching it out and holding it up to me and it seems to look ok, but damn this thing will be form-fitting. I made one of the larger sizes and it's still really skinny. Guess this is why I should be knitting it in the damn round so I could be trying it on. Yeah. I know. Good thing I'm a process knitter and love the getting-there and don't mind frogging big projects, huh? I'm interested to see how this one turns out.

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