Friday, January 29, 2010

Biting off more than I can chew...a normal state of being.

I've got this huge paper due, and tons of reading, but I'm exhausted from last night and I really need a nap so I'm not capable of really doing any critical thinking at the moment. I spent 45 minutes writing and re-writing my post because what I wanted to say just wouldn't come out in an way that made any real sense (and thank goodness for spell check because I'm past the ability to spell too). I can't get the ideas for my paper to come together but I have the barest of bare-bones down for that. It's a place to start I guess. I'm trying to do the reading for my Child Development class now, but I can only afford to read the small section relating to my discussion board question right now (rather than the assigned 60+ pages), and I can't do even that without frequent breaks or I'll start to nod off. That's not going to work when Alex is up. I'm counting the hour and 30 minutes until his bedtime when I can take a nap. Then I'll try again.

My fatigue showed itself again today in my knitting. I had to rip back the entire two days worth of knitting on the shop sample because I had added increases where there were no increases, and the whole thing was a mess. There was no fixing was all the way back to the first four rows. I'll wait until after my nap to try again, and maybe it will be quiet enough in the shop tomorrow so that I can work on it there.

I registered for next term's classes and I finally reached some electives so this was completely up to me. I thought I'd gone in and selected the courses I wanted to take earlier, but they were all gone. So I worked with the adviser and ended up selecting:
  • Educational Development of School-Age Students Mondays 8:00 PM, and
  • Abnormal Psychology Thursdays 9:00 PM
The Abnormal Psych is a 6 unit course rather than a 5 unit course so it's going to be harder. I'm not scheduled to take a 6 unit course until next school year, but it's one of the only classes I was interested in that did not have prerequisites that I have not already met. The other classes are geared toward people who want to be teachers (which applied to me when I started school, but not anymore). I really want to get in the courses that relate more to special needs, and development. I think it's time for me to revisit O*Net and see if there is a specific job title for what I want to do with this degree, assuming that I use it...I'm leaning towards knitting for a living (stop laughing...people do it!), lol. So it looks like next term is not going to be any easier than this term but at least there's no math or biology.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yarn shops and sick babies

I've been working some extra hours at Bella this week, covering for a girl who's taken a little time off. It's really fun to work the early afternoon shift. It's quiet enough that I can get some restocking/reshelving done, but busy enough that I'm not bored. We get a nice little busy streak in the afternoon from about 12:30-2:00 and then Naomi comes in and I get to catch her up on the events of the day, and head out the door. I've restocked (and reorganized) the Berroco Ultra Alpaca, Comfort DK, Lamb's Pride bulky, and Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby in the last week. It looks so much nicer and Naomi is pretty pleased with how it looks on the shelves. I love that I can just go in and say "I really don't like how this looks on the shelves, or where this sample is" and I can just move things around. I'm going to be helping a bit with the magazines too, and I'm currently working on a sample for the shop in Queensland Rustic Wool. I like this yarn and I think I might knit a sweater for myself from this when I finish.

In the mean time, I've ordered the Knit Picks Palette that I need for my Bella's New Moon Vest, plus a copy of the newly reprinted Alice Starmore's Fair Isle book, and a copy of EZ's Knitter's Almanac and Knitting In The Round. I think that these books might be just the thing to help me get over my hump and allow me to be able to design patterns of my own. I know what I want to do, I just need the resources to do it. I managed to work up a water bottle cover for my new Dunkin Donuts bottle (that they sold me, telling me it was fine for hot liquids but it's's a metal water bottle for Pete's sake) so I could hold it without burning my hands and keep my drink hot. Well, I was shocked to find that a water bottle cozy is actually functional! It kept my drink nice and hot for about three hours. Three. Hours. I knit it with half a skein of Noro Kureon on 4mm needles, and wrote out a pattern for anyone who might want to keep cold drinks cold (it does that too...Mountain Dew stayed cold for seven hours) or hot drinks hot, and do it with style. The Kureon sells for under 20.00 (if I remember correctly) and I think I have enough left over to make a second one for my Nalgen water bottle. That's not bad at all. This week I have a huge amount of school work but once that's finished I'll see about getting a pattern written out. I might take it to the shop and you can get it there when you pick up the Kureon...I'll let you know.

Speaking of school work, I thought I'd get to do quite a bit of that today and I even skipped knitting group to be sure I could, but Alex got sick during my class and I had to go up and tend to him. I don't know if he ate something that didn't agree with him, but we had to clean him up and put him back to bed. Then about an hour later he was crying again and I went up to get him. His tummy hurt and I had to bring him downstairs with me on the couch to keep an eye on him. He did better, and started to nod off a bit but kept trying to wake himself up so eventually I got him to agree to go back to bed. That, and fielding related phone calls ate up all my study time so tomorrow I really have to hit the school work. I have a five-page paper due on early philosophers who influenced early scientist, who then in turn influenced modern psychology. I also have a 900 page paper on why a fictional couple should choose the more expensive daycare for their infant, which offers a more nurturing and developmentally stimulating environment, rather than the less expensive one which does not. That one seems like a no brainer, but the five-pager is going to take some doing. And then there's the two discussion questions for each class and the four responses to classmates for each class, and the reading, and the seminars, and now I'm taking the advice of my good buddy Rachel, and only reading the relevant material. I just don't have that kind of time with Alex, and Dante, and a husband, and work, and church, and 13 students to attempt to mentor... I think you get the picture here. Sometime this week, sleep's going to be an issue too (as in, lack of sleep will put it's foot in my rear and I'll crash). Oh, the glamorous life of a college student.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Yarn, Yarn, and more Yarn!

Today, I bought yarn. Lots of yarn. I bought two skeins of Handpainted Cascade 220 in a beautiful sunny yellow for a friend's baby-to-be's Baby Surprise Jacket, and Red Cascade 220 for mitten tops to go with the hand warmers I plan to knit in Mountain Colors Bearfoot (Ruby River of course), to go with the hat I knit, to go with the scarf I know. I bought two balls of Frog Tree Alpaca for socks for my mom (one in red and one in a beautiful berry/purple). I bought three skeins of Ultra Alpaca Fine for a sweater in my Ravelry que. I bought a skein of Marisol Hacho for new mittens for Alex, to replace the ones he has now which will not fit by next week (in the same color...shade 305- yellow, green, brown. If you've ever seen his mittens, you know the ones). I brought home five balls of Queensland Rustic Wool in green for a shop sample that I'm going to knit. Somewhere in the next few months (not including the Ravelympics) I'll be trying to knit all of these things up because I really want every one of them. I think they'll need to be knit in the order of importance, which means that Alex's mittens will need to be first, even though I started my mom's new socks first. Good news is that I finished the yellow socks that were to be my Grandmother's but are now my mom's, and I'll be blocking them and getting a decent photo soon (I hope).

This is really a run-by-posting because I have yarn screaming at me, and I must obey. I have to teach the Sunbeams tomorrow (pray for me), and I have sharing time next week, and I have quite a lot of school work in both classes next week, and I'm almost four weeks into a 10 week term and haven't been able to find time to give more than a passing glance at my final project requirements, and I think I might burst into flame any minute... I'll be in the corner with wool.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Blog for Choice Day 2010

In honor of Dr. George Tiller, who often wore a button that simply read, "Trust Women," this year's Blog for Choice question is: What does Trust Women mean to you?

For me it’s simple. My religious beliefs tell me that my Heavenly Father sent me here to make choices, and that they weren’t all going to be easy ones. I understand that I knew going in what I would be asked to do in this life, and that I was promised the free will to make decisions for myself, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to assist me. This knowledge tells me that my Heavenly Father trusts his children…a great number of which are women…and that if he trust women to make the right choices then my government should too. The choices that I make are between God, and myself and His opinion is the only one that really matters. He is the one I have to be able to look in the eye come judgment day. I know that ending life is not the right choice for me personally, but I want the choice. How can I come to this world and make the decisions that can lead me back to the presence of my Heavenly Father if the choices are taken away from me? So for me the answer is simple. I’m pro-choice, and my choice is life. Now, lets trust other women to make the choices that are best for them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Springtime in Philadelphia

First, I'm really excited to show our brand new microwave. As many of you know, we've been dealing with our old one that needed to be replaced for well over a year, and it was finally time thanks to the living expense check I received from my school. Now I can heat things without a power failure every time I go to use the microwave.

Now, moving on. Yesterday I didn't knit a thing but I did do some finishing on a project that I'm pretty excited about. I finished my Springtime in Philadelphia tam and I took some halfway decent photos for the blog. Keep in mind that I didn't have time to get all made up or to do anything with my hair...and just try to look only at the hat, lol. It took less than one skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, and I blocked it on one of my dinner plates last night after a good soak in the bathroom sink (this yarn bleeds a lot, so never knit it with white unless you want that white yarn to turn pink). I could have used a bigger plate and it would have been even slouchier, but I think that it's going to work out fine. I really enjoyed knitting this and never once thought about working on another project while I had it on the needles. As a matter of fact, I really was looking forward to getting back to it after I finished the sock for my first round of Sock Wars.

Speaking of Sock of yesterday's mail I am still alive. We'll have to see what happens when today's mail runs. Now! I'm off to do some school work...assuming I can keep my attention focused for more than five minutes at a time. Oh, and before I forget, Alex pooped in the potty yesterday and then proclaimed "Now I can have Spencer." So I had Aaron pick it up when he was getting the microwave and Alex found him when he woke up this morning. Everything that isn't Thomas related has been forgotten for the time being.

Update: so I opened my back door to take something out...and it was there. My socks of death. I'm dead folks. You are reading the words of a knitting zombie. I got a beautiful pair of red socks, two bars of chocolate to lessen the blow, a post card from Madison, WI and a project bag from The Sow's Ear, my assassin's favorite local yarn shop. Not bad for being dead :) Now I'm on a mission to knit a new pair of alpaca socks for my mom.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weapons of Minimal Destruction

I present to you "Ribbons of Valor" knit in a limited edition yarn: Sheep Shop Yarn Co.'s Skinny Feet. I have no idea what color this is because it never had a tag on it, but the color is acid green/navy blue. The yarn turns into a really soft sock after it's washed, but I didn't have time to fully soak it and wash them so I steam-blocked them on my sock blockers to give them a shape, and tossed them into a box with the leftovers (minus the knife). I drove them to the post office today and sent them by 2-3 day mail with delivery confirmation. Now I just have to check my own mail every day and hope that I don't receive socks of my own. If I live long enough, my target "Dore" has to mail her socks to me in what ever state of completion they happen to be, and I finish them and kill off her target with them.

I've lived long enough to get a pair finished and kill off at least one target. It took four days of being up till 2-3am and constant knitting. I started another pattern that ended up being too big and I had to abandon them after five hours of knitting. I hated the pattern within a few rows but I couldn't risk losing that kind of knitting time until I had a valid reason. Thankfully, many of the other sock warriors on Ravelry also had issues with this pattern and had to start over. I did enough damage to my hands by the time I realized that I had to start over that it really didn't matter that I'd changed patterns. I've already had to ice my left wrist and elbow twice now and I'm looking forward to no knitting at all until I get Dore's socks back in the mail. I need the break and I have dishes and school work and dinners that need to be made. I also have a shop sample to knit soon. If I don't have the other socks in the next few days, I'll start on the sample to exercise some other muscles in my hand and forearms till I have to start on socks again. So...look for some actual posting for the next few days until the next battle breaks out.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Belated celebration, and Sock War

So, it turns out that I recently wrote my 100th blog post and forgot all about it. I have a talent for just skipping right over significant milestones with barely a passing glance. Case in point? I hardly blinked with I turned 30. I barely registered my five year anniversary at my old job. The only reason I noticed it at all was that I got to go to their website to choose a gift (a pretty little ring that I don't even wear anymore...). Now I look back and see that in just under two weeks, I'll be celebrating my two year anniversary on Ravelry (Jan 25th) so I should probably come up with some cool way to celebrate that. I'll have to see what I can do, considering I've got so much work to do, and today at 8pm EST war will be declared in the sock knitting universe. I'll get my selection of patterns to choose from, and I'll be off and running.

I almost have a finished object to show you, but I'm in the process of casting it off right now and I really need to be reading the work so that I can reply to the discussion posts in class before 8pm tonight. I really want to be all set to just knit socks, but it doesn't look like that's going to be the way it works out. But as soon as it's off the needles and blocked, I'll be sporting the Springtime in Philadelphia tam which matches my winter scarf exactly (because it's Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Ruby River...the same colorway as my scarf). I have one skein left and I plan to knit a pair of hand warmers with some matching mitten tops from the true-red Cascade 220 in the shop. But all this will have to wait until after "I kill or be killed" in Sock Wars.

Speaking of plans for after The War is over, looks like I'll have the pleasure of test knitting a new pattern from Wrypunster! She's designed a really cute vest called "as yet unnamed" (and you know that's my garment of choice lately) and has put out the call for test knitters. It should be ready in about two weeks, and I'll be ready by then I'm sure.

Dante and I made dinner yesterday, and it was outstanding! I highly recommend the Rachel Ray 30 Minute Meals for Kids book. Rachel's two for two so far. The recipes aren't very complicated but pack tons of flavor. I helped him with this one because it came from the 14-16 year old section. We had the Tomato, Basil, and Pesto Pasta dish. More than half of it was gone by the time dinner was over. Check it out if you want a new list of easy, tasty meals.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meatloaf [shaped like] Muffins (from Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals for kids

Tonight, I was a busy busy lady and I didn't have time to cook dinner. My friend came for her fill and Alex had to be put down, and I did two loads of laundry, and Aaron was at school, and...well, you get the idea. So today Dante and I broke out the cook book that he got for Christmas and he chose two meals that he would be interested in having for dinner this week. One was for Meatloaf Muffins (which he chose because I was planning to make meatloaf anyway), and the other is Quesadilla Pizzas. I chose the Tomato, Basil and Cheese Baked Pasta for a meatless option. Dante went into the kitchen (where the knives, oven, and garbage disposal all live...) and got to work. He cut onions and bell pepper, cracked eggs, preheated an oven, measured sauces, weighed out the correct amount of ground beef with my crack (I mean yarn/food) scale, and mixed the meatloaf mix all up for the first time. Aaron had to help him because I was busy doing nails...which means that he did most of it on his own with me supervising from the dining room...and Heather went in to help him finish it up after we finished and I had to get into my class. These non-audio seminars are tough and it didn't help at all when my smoke detectors kept going off because my oven was set to 450. It looked like the backstage of a fashion show the way we were all running around in different directions trying to get it all taken care of, without waking Alex up. But the end result of Dante's 3 hours of work (for a 30 minute meal, lol) was that he had little meatloaves that were shaped like muffins, and tasted amazing from what I'm told. My friend Heather, who doesn't eat much of anything broke down and tried one, and decided that it was so good she had a second! How's that for The Boy's first meal. Tomorrow they'll have leftovers while I'm at work and then Wednesday we'll have to start right after school because of YM's, but we'll have the pasta so I can try one of these Rachel Ray recipes too.

Alex still isn't sleeping all night, but the melatonin is helping him get right to sleep. He just isn't staying asleep all night. The two loads of laundry that I did today were all his clothes, mostly p.j.'s and sweat pants for him to sleep comfortably in, and my Raggedy Ann and Andy quilt that my mom made for me when I was 3 so that I could put him to bed with it. He needs more warm blankets for his crib, and actually he could use a new matress because the one I bought last year (with the 5 year life) didn't make it. It's wasn't Alex proof and he's already worn it down to springs. I showed him the quilt and told him it was Mamma's blanket, to which he curled up in it and said "it's Alex's blanket..." with a big smile. I think he'll sleep good tonight as I put his pill in his pudding (guaranteeing that he got the whole dose) and he's got a freshly washed Curious George, knit blankie, his Thomas blanket sleepers, and a new-to-him warm blanket.

The start of Sock Wars is on Friday, and Monday I received my dosier with the details of my target. She has size 8 shoes, but didn't know what her foot size was so I went online to research it. Turns out that a size 8 shoe equals a 9 2/3" foot. I lucked out here because I'm used to knitting for my size 10 feet so this may go a tad faster. She also likes green, and it turns out that I actually have five different skeins of green sock yarn...who knew?! So yesterday was spent knitting short swatches in the round with each of them to check for gauge (8 sts per inch) and to see how the colors will play out so that I can pick a good one right off to go with the pattern I choose. This should help me avoid the urge to restart the pattern multiple times because I don't like the way it looks with the yarn I chose. What ever I go with, I'm married to that because I don't have the luxury of being picky...I'm trying to kill someone with these sock and not die in the process! I feel about as ready as I'm going to get.

One good thing about all this preparation was that I found my STR in Pond Scum and I remembered my original plans for it. I was going to design a pattern for my Ghostbusters group called Slimer and I chose the stitch pattern that I wanted to use but it lost something when I tried to convert it to an "in the round" pattern. That stumped me for a few years, to tell you the truth but I've knit so many new things since then that during conversation about it today, it just came to me. So I'll be working it out so that this sock will be knit flat with an after though heel and then seamed. Now I just need to work out the chart, knit the sock, and see if I can get a test knitter. If this works out, I'll be uploading it to Ravelry. This is going to have to wait till Sock Wars V is over, of course but I'm looking forward to it. And then, there's the Ravelympics to contend with...

I signed up a team (or two) on Ravelry and any interested parties are welcome to join! There's Team Bella Yarns (pretty self explanatory) where you have the in person support of the staff and an actual live shop to come in and find a project and the perfect yarn (preferably on Tuesday or Saturdays when I'm there to spy) or you can just join up from where ever you are if you want to. Then there's my other love, Team Squint Squad which is the Bones Fans group's team. I'm co-captain on both teams and I'll be happy to answer any question I can, and pass on the addiction :) So far, the Squint Squad is the most active team and one of the talented moderators for the group (Shewhoknits) designed a project placeholder-photo for the team that's really brilliant! She also get's credit for the name of the team. Come on over and join up, and knit something with us through the length of the games.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Ze Ivy League Vest...she iz done.

Updated: My husband came home and I got a great photo of my finished Ivy League Vest! He was actually impressed! I forgot I was wearing it and he looked at me and asked if it was the same vest I was just talking about cutting...and how fast I finished it...and volunteered that it was looked really good. Finally!!

I didn't even pass out when it came time to cut the steeks! It was way easier than I thought it would be and the ribbing on the neck and harms went much smoother that I thought they would. It's super warm and comfortable, and I got it finished up much faster than I could have done on my own thanks to a super smart suggestion from a co-worker from the yarn shop...instead of weaving in the thousands of ends...just french braid them down! Who knew! It took a few quick minutes and I was done. This confirms that I will be knitting this vest again in the New Moon version for the Ravelympics. Now, I just have to find something short that I can knit on between now and the start of Sock Wars (8pm EST next Friday). I'm thinking a beret...

School started again yesterday and I logged right in to see what I'll be working with this term. I've got quite a lot on my plate with two final projects (both papers) and two Honor's Components to go with those projects. I've read over them both and I think that they should be the sort that I can go in every week and address the final project based on what I learned that week, so hopefully I can outline it as the class goes along. I also received my student assignments for my mentoring project this term. I was assigned to 13 new students, all of whom I need to contact by email at least weekly and share some sort of tips and insights on how to be successful here at Kaplan. Only two have responded to my email so far, so I'm not sure how many I'll be actively mentoring but I'm sure going to be busy for the next 10 weeks. I have some reading to do for next week, and I have class tonight so I probably should go get to it, but I really need a nap first. That'll have to wait until after Aaron comes home from school and then it will be dinner time for the boys followed quickly by bed time for Alex and by then I'll probably be over the need for a nap and then I'll be awake until after midnight again... Oh well.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm a big girl now

I've been shocked by how well received the chart and pattern recipe for Bella's New Moon Vest has been! Since I posted it on the first, it's been "faved" 177 times and is in 53 ques. I guess I forgot how many other knitters love seeing knitted garments in movies, and want them for themselves. So today I spent a large amount of my afternoon adjusting the chart, searching Knit Picks for the closest colors, and looking for vest patterns that match the shape of Kristen Stewart's vest the closest...all so that I could improve the PDF. (If I ever figure out where to upload a PDF so that I can just add a link to it directly on Ravelry, I'll be a happy woman.) I went into the chart and changed the background color to brown, and added symbols to the chart so that some of the charts with similar colors can be differentiated. I wanted the charts to be more black & white printer friendly for people like myself who can't print in color very often. I also added a list of materials, and I listed some basic instructions regarding how to use the charts with a vest pattern to achieve a close reproduction of the original vest. There was one photo that showed a single panel of what looked like chocolate brown diamonds with on a lavender background, just under the bust. I found a photo of Kristen standing up facing the camera, but it's blurry so I did the best I could with that chart. It looks like that's the only place where the lavender panel is used in the vest. I also used that photo to find the start of the pattern, and I've corrected the charts to match up better to the original vest.

Now, I finished the body of my Ivy League vest tonight, and tomorrow I'll be taking a crack at seeming the shoulders and weaving in the millions of ends before I suck up the nerve to steek the vest. I also have to finish reading the first chapter for my Child and Adolescent Psychology class, and I hope to have time tomorrow afternoon while I'm working alone for the first time. I'm a big girl now, and hopefully I don't screw it up too badly...but I can call the owners if I need to and they expect me to so I won't feel too bad about it. Come visit if you're in the area... Save me from weaving in an unbelievable amount of ends, and getting to buried in homework.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bella's New Moon Vest

Happy New Year!

Well, these photos aren't perfect, but I finally worked out a chart for Bella's New Moon Vest. Just pick out your favorite fair isle vest pattern, and sub in the chart. I think the background color is actually chocolate brown, but it looked black at the time so that's what I used for this chart. I was thinking that it would be great worked in Palette from Knit Picks, and I thought that the Corrie Fair Isle Vest from Knit Picks as it comes in a range of sizing including tall, and it's knit in Palette.

The chart includes a red box around each section that shows where the pattern repeat is for that section. Bella's vest is worked in a corrugated ribbing for about three inches before the pattern starts, at least that's what I've worked out from the photos I can see. I do see that there is a large stripe section that I can't get a good look at, and I've only seen it in one photo so naturally this vest is not an exact copy, but the closest I've seen anywhere else. If I can get a good look at the other chart, I'll adjust my chart and let you all know about the update.

I have to say, I was really surprised at how fast this chart worked up, and how well received it was on Ravelry. Right now (not even 12 hours after I put it up) the pattern has 39 fans and is in 5 ques. I'm really excited about it, and I hope that I'll have some time to work this up into a more formal pattern and knit one up for myself.

Pattern is now available through Ravelry for download.