Friday, June 22, 2007

"Green" Post and a Brief Note on Family News

I'll start off with the family news. I've mentioned that the kids and I are going to spend 3 weeks in west Michigan starting next Thursday. That will be our vacation trip. My husband and I had planned to save our big Montana trip until next summer when he could take several weeks off. Unfortunately, his mother has been fighting cancer again since 2004, the first time was in the late '90's, it was breast cancer. As of this week, her liver is 70% cancerous and they are running out of treatment options. She will be running through those options today with the doctor and we'll know more soon. While I was planning on spending some time in Montana in August to help out and give them a break, everyone is now dropping everything to get out there sooner and stay longer. It looks like I'll be there from late July to late August, Martin will fly in for a week in early August. Mama's parents are going earlier than planned and they will get to see the baby for the first time as well. I really don't know much more, what the next step is or how much time. We've all been really hopeful for recovery, but this is the first big road block we've come to. All your thoughts and prayers are welcome, even after all these years with cancer it's a shock to think it might win.

What does it mean to this space? Well, I certainly like sharing and documenting my own knitting and sewing, but it may be less frequent or I may have much to share. Now that the baby and I are home from hospitals and doctors offices, I thought I'd have more time for this outlet, but now I won't be home much over the next few months, and we may be moving across town in September. I'll do what I can, maybe set up camp in Montana and devote some of this space to our time with Mama. She's a master quilter, she made part of the quilt shown in the photo below.* So, let's get on with this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Yes, the baby is now home and appointment free for a few months! She has healed enough that her vision is protected and we can put surgeries and steroids out of our minds for a while. I can now use cloth diapers, something that hasn't been ideal for our situation until now. We have to use a cash card for the laundry, so we may not be saving much money in the end but my husband and I find it worth while for the amount of diapers we'll be keeping out of the landfills. I know there's been a lot of buzz words in the green categories lately, and it's nice to finally get so much main stream attention. It's nothing new to us, but we can always do more.

I'm incorporating this idea into my son's summer schooling, doing more earth and health friendly within our family will be an on-going process. To start, we're looking at the diapers. My son likes math, we can compare costs, amounts of waste, etc of the disposables and cloth. These diapers and the covers came from Cotton Babies. We are also cutting down on as much plastics as we can, especially disposable plastic. I found these Earthwise reusable bags at Giant grocery store for 99 cents a piece to cut out plastic grocery bags from our lives. We've been checking out Low Impact Living, checked out books from the library like It's Easy Being Green, and Mother Earth News, among others. More about our changes later, as well as plastic waste and health risks.

We have also done more about food and health (I have high cholesterol and had gestational diabetes and am now pre-diabetic), cut out nearly all red meat, continue with more whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables. I try to cut out as much artificial dye as possible, it makes my son more hyper than any sugar or caffeine ever could, and who knows what else it could be bad for.

We've been using Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for a few years now, but it's been brought to our attention again with the findings on sunscreen safety. We went back through the site and checked our personal products, tossed a few and printed out lists of healthier ones. I ordered Badger SPF 30 sunblock as it's rated one of the best on the Skin Deep site. I also picked up some Dr. Bronner's soap at the local health food store. These are just a very few of the things we're concentrating on, just a glimpse, but maybe someone will take even one of these ideas and put it to their own use. That would make me happy.

As for knitting, it does fit in here a bit. I'm trying to steer clear of synthetic fibers, especially acrylic. That's really not too hard as most of my stash is wool and cotton. Right now, while I was working on the blue raglan cardigan I think I'll put it aside until September so I can work on socks for Summer of Socks 2007 and I have a very little baby sweater in the very early stages meant for another baby girl. I'll get some photos soon, and I'll be packing the suitcase with sock yarn. Probably more than I'll be able to get to, and I'll probably acquire some more on my trip.

*Most of the quilt blocks were made in the 1930's by Mama's great-grandmother. Mama put them together, added a few more blocks with vintage reproductions and hand quilted it for our wedding present.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Knitting Plans and a Plate

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

One last thing from my yard sale sweep on Saturday, I forgot it in the back of the wagon. My husband tucked it into the "HELP!" box of tools, jumper cables and first aid kit so it wouldn't get broken on the way home and I only spotted it while loading groceries in the trunk (the dash board message system calls it a boot, my German VW is apparently a Brit). I'm not sure what it's original use was, or if it had another piece to it, but I'll call it a small plate, it's about 4" to 5" across.

I've managed to get more knitting done on the raglan cardigan, I'm almost finished with the increases. I'm enjoying such easy knitting, I usually take on more complicated projects but while my little bear is still so little this blog may be seeing more plain knitting. While my summer knitting plans included socks for Summer of Socks 2007, there is a very wee little baby girl at church who would be darling in a very wee little sweater. I'm thinking another raglan cardigan with picot edging and a few eyelet holes. I've ordered Elann's Devon in Dusty Plum for it. While I was ordering, I also picked out another ball of Devon in Dream Blue to go with my leftover brown Devon from the Snakes and Ladders gansey. Then I also ordered the Sock It To Me discount kit, there's not many left if you want this 70% off "standard price" (I forget how much Elann had one skein selling for, but I figure this is a great deal anyway). Lastly, I added Lara in Tiffany Rose for something for Anne.

Other knitting sites I've been perusing latetly, The Shetland Museum's Fair Isle pages for inspiration on the fair isle vest I will one day knit for my dad. I've been ogling Cinemaknits' log cabin squares, so far I've managed not to be bitten by this bug, but her blocks have me wondering how long it will take me to acquire enough Noro if I do it one ball at a time.

snc playtime 2741

This bright ball of cotton (Sugar n Cream Playtime #2741) is destined to become another Little Tent Dishcloth for me, though I think I will use another pattern for my mother's cloth. I'm being ambitious, I don't know when I will get all this knitting done!

This looks amazing! I am sorry to have missed our local market this weekend, we were too pooped after the library and yard sales. I've been thinking about the Diagonal Ribbed socks, pattern at Knitting Daily and All Tangled Up's WIP here, with my CTH in bark. There is more sock yarn in my stash, but I won't even go into it now.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday Morning in Photos

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I finished the quilted car strap covers last night and ironed on the velcro.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The little sprout tries them on for size. Works beautifully.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

We hit up yard sales and the P'ville library, took a scenic route where everything is so green.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I'm discovering the joys of knitting in the car. Everyone is strapped in and not needing me. My hands are free for once!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Here are just a few of the great book finds we scored at the yard sales, lots of 1940's Golden Books re-prints in good condition, one of the Master and Commander series, and Weird and Wonderful Weaponry. The last one was too good to pass up. Many more in our hoard are not shown.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

An owl mug for my mother who collects owls of all sorts.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I think this is my favorite find today, nesting geese measuring cups.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Spring Into Summer Dishcloth Swap!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wow! Look at all the great stuff my secret pal Carol from Spring Into Summer Dishcloth Swap spoiled me with! What an awesome swap pal! She made me two cloths in blue and natural, sent 3 balls of yarn in blue/brown/natural colors, a great dishcloth pattern book, oatmeal and peppermint soaps from Nature 2 Nature (also brown and blue packaging - I see a theme here!), a blackberry sage wax tart, Le Marche Spice Rooibos tea, and Green and Black's Organic Maya Gold dark chocolate. Wow! I've already ripped open the chocolate and devoured sampled a piece. Wonderful! Thanks so much!

Women in Art

I saw this clip at artist Helle Jorgensen's blog, Gooseflesh, which is an amazing site in itself, but if you stop by there, you must check out The Institute for Figuring and her contributions to the hyperbolic crochet coral reef. After all my going on about plastics and the great garbage patch (more on that later), I am amazed to see the artwork made from and inspired by this mess.

Pardon for those who have seen this entry on my Livejournal, I feel it worth duplicating here since this space is dedicated mainly to my knitting and quilting which I feel are a many faceted medium of practicality, art form, and connection to other women and their creativity and spirit. Not that men don't or can't fit this definition, but for me, I feel a woman's bond within these crafts. I always make room for exceptions, though.

Take 2

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

This yarn is getting new life as a new sweater. One that *will* fit. The pattern is an old standby, an Ann Norling many-sizes-many-gauges-many-variations on a top-down raglan. It's fast, it's easy. I'm not up for anything challenging now, though I wish I were. While I love my family and my work at home I feel caught up in it and a little worn out. Laundry, dishes, diapers, nursing. Repeat.

We'll get up early tomorrow to hit some yard sales before the good stuff is gone, and hop over to the Purcellville library since the Leesburg library has closed for expansion and the temp site won't open until the fall. Maybe drop by the farmers market as well, if we aren't all cranky by that point. Getting out will do me some good, and maybe I'll find something spectacular at a yard sale.

Tonight I'm slacking in the cooking department, we'll finish off last night's chicken pot pie. It was quite good, I was planning chicken stew but I had buttermilk left over and thought the stew could go nicely in a buttermilk crust. I had some ripe peaches and blackberries, and a cobbler came together nicely as well. Sometimes things just work out nicely like that, other times I don't have a clue what to do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Aw, Shucks

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Well, I had that spiffy little blue cabled cardigan for Anne completed only to find it didn't fit. At all. So, rip rip rip. I was so mad yesterday when I had finished and it was, well, funky, that I couldn't bear to rip it out then (I had even woven in the ends and grafted under the arms!). I had to put it in a drawer so I couldn't even see it until I cooled down, that's how ticked I was. But today is a new day and pulling apart the sweater was actually fun. I have a ball winder, but no swift. No swift? No problem! The computer chair was perfect, and all too amusing to spin around and around. No wonder my boy likes doing it until I'm driven mad.

The yarn has soaked and is drying with weights to get all the kinks out. I love how it looks like Ramen noodles when you pull it out, but I won't knit it back up like that. I'll wind it up tomorrow and try another pattern. Something simple, with a lot of stockinette - I could never work on the sweater long enough because my attention had to be else where, so something I can pick up and work half a round or row and put down without losing my place will be more practical and industrious.

trekking xxl 126
lang jawoll 67

I am holding off on my sock knitting until next week for the start of Summer of Socks 2007. I was ready to dive into the Trekking #126 I've been eagerly waiting to work with - it's like Brach's coconut candies - especially after last night's fiasco. I can wait. I can. Really. Ok, maybe I can't wait but most likely I'll be too busy with work and baby to even pull it out of my stash until next week! I've seen several lovely versions of the coconut candies socks, and I most like the chocolate brown heels and toes, which I have a skein of Lang Jawoll 67 for. For more Neapolitan socks, check out
these, this one, another here, the brown heeled pair here, and one more example here. I guess this yarn color was discontinued but by the power of knitting bloggers and plenty of readers who loved what they saw and clamored for more, Trekking is making #126 again. I bought mine just before it was more widely distributed again, but I paid the list price and not what some people pay for Alice Starmore books.

A week from today and my son is done with 2nd grade. The next week the kids and I are off to Michigan. My parents are in Holland (MI) and that is where I grew up and spent 20 some years, and my son spent his first 4 years. This will be Anne's first visit there outside the womb. I was there twice while I was pregnant with her.

Until then, it's school as usual for my boy, work as usual for my husband, and housework as usual for me. We eat dinner together, then I usually take Jonah and Anne to the pool, then we end the night with stories. Martin and I take turns reading and even the cats and baby sit to listen. We had been going through Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series, though we got stuck on We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea where the plot kind of plodded along and it was too painful for all to force even half a chapter a night. We are now reading the first of the Harry Potter series, and that has definitely grabbed the boy's attention back.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


strap covers
close up

The car seat straps are brushing too hard against Anne's neck and I can't find any strap covers in stores around here. I guess making my own is more fun and much prettier, plus thrifty while using up old fabric and batting scraps. Some of the quilting has been fiddly, but I could have done it a different way. The next strap cover's print doesn't have the pattern part I disliked on this one. Also, cabled cardigan is almost done. I need to finish the shawl collar, and stop by the fabric store for buttons and some mesh fabric. More on that later!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

One day the housework will all be done and I will not be tired (ha!)

There's still not much knitting going on right now, I'm trying to finish the last few rows of the cabled cardigan but it's a slow haul when I can only get one or two rows in at a time. Instead of showing off a WIP that essentially looks the same as the last time I posted it, I'll put up a photo of muffins and a pre-blog cabled scarf. (See, I've made *something* lately.) The muffins were very good, follow the link and see where I ganked the idea from, there is a link to the recipe in this blog post. I used frozen raspberries since I already had them in the freezer. The scarf is Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Raven (I believe), knit on size 2 or 3 needles and it nearly killed my hands. I made it a few years back, I was more stubborn (ahem, stupid) then.

More on the Ballard Locks, my husband and I were watching a bit of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch last night, and they're shooting the breeze at the Lockspot Cafe next to the Ballard Locks. Huh. Small world.

Other things I've been poking around on the net for lately, gooseflesh's coral garden, I love it and I really need to learn to crochet. I'm sure it's easy but over 10 years stuck with a knitter's brain and my hands won't make a new muscle memory very easily. I throw my yarn, too, which is comfortable for me but a pain when trying to switch to left handed anything.

I've always wanted a cabled cardigan for myself and I have such a hard time finding *the right one* to make even though I know I could make more. Could this be it?

Also, I've been dealing with my stupid feelings again, especially a long underlying feeling of discontentment. I don't know why I feel this way, so I'm trying to dig into that and clear it out. I think it happens when I'm going through an anxious cycle, like I am now with the baby and her medical conditions and running to every doctor at Children's Hospital (tomorrow is neurosurgery). Things are getting better and with some great improvements on her own part, we may get to leave things alone for now. So, I'm relearning to relax. And it's hard. Trying to remember to breathe and enjoy life. I found this account of small pleasantnesses in yarnstorm's blog very comforting. I'm having to remind myself to make a cup of coffee or tea, to sit down with a book or knitting when the baby naps. Lately, I've been so exhausted that I just sleep whenever she does as well, or alternately, rush around frantically getting chores and housework done. I'm learning to relax if there's dishes in the sink or pureed prune stains on everything. Prune stains aren't on my list of Big Concerns. For more on one of my Big Concerns, take the time to read this article.