Sunday, February 14, 2010

Olympic effort

This is one full repeat of the Aram pattern. I discovered that the chart is used for three sweaters in this book, and that they seem to have missed the exact directions for Aram, because the chart as written is the pattern for Raam. Aram in size 12 should start at chart F (on the right), work over section G, and section F (on the left), then back the other direction. There should not be a double-seed stitch section. To find the right place to start (if you're knitting this in a larger size), divide the total cast on number by 2, start at section F (on the far left), and count (working toward the right) till you find the start point. For Dante's sweater, I started at section F (on left), and counted across 58 stitches because I have a total of 116. The chart is worked twice, once working from right to left, then left to right.
I'll finish this off, and when I start the front, I'll work it according to my new directions because I really want this sweater to look like the sample does. Isn't that the point of knitting a sweater?? My hands are cramping a bit, but it's turning out beautiful and I really hope he can keep it clean. I might make this again in a smaller size for Alex (might...) and if I do, I'll know what I need to do differently and I'll certainly use the Comfort so I can toss it in a washer.

Well, back to the Olympic coverage!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Unemployment, delayed anniversary celebrations, and Ravelympics

Okay, first let me say that tonight I'm going out with my husband (a week late) to finally do something for our anniversary. We're likely going to watch Wolf Man, and continue our long-running tradition of watching a horror/suspense/thriller movie for our anniversary, lol. Very romantic. This means that I'll be missing the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, which Aaron could care less about, but I enjoy.

Second, I spent almost four hours last night swatching for my Ravelympics sweater. What I discovered is that I needed to go down a needle size...twice...and that Ultra Alpaca will not show the cables to their greatest advantage. Why would I bother to knit a sweater covered in cables if they'll hardly show? Why did I wind every single skein? I can't return them now. Thankfully, I have six skeins of Cascade 220 in off-white that will work better for this sweater. The cables will pop beautifully, and the color is more traditional as far as Aran sweaters go. On the other hand, the sweater is off-white. Dante is a 12-year old boy. Off. White. So in about a week, the sleeves will be soiled beyond repair and this yarn is not machine washable. I thought about knitting a plain raglan sweater for him with the gray/green Ultra Alpaca (which wouldn't show dirt if you dropped it in the dirt), but he likes this pattern. I weighed the options, and asked Aaron's opinion. To my surprise, he told me to knit the Aram sweater with my off-white yarn, and trust Dante "not to get it dirty"... So I guess I'll be over-dying it blue or black after it gets stained up.

Lastly, I've been trying to reach the Rhode Island dept of Unemployment for the better part of a week now. I tried to report in (per usual) and was told that I had to call and speak to someone in the call center first. That was Monday. The last time that I had to speak to the call center it took three days to reach them. That was months ago. It's worse now. They were closed Wednesday and Thursday, so even though it's been three actual days of calling, today is the worst day so far. Please believe me when I tell you that this is not an exaggeration...I have called them over 450 times today and only got through once, only to be told that "due to high call volume, we cannot take your call at this time", but not before I was made to listed to all the prompts and jump through all the hoops. I know exactly how many times, because my cell phone tells me how many times I've called a number. Tomorrow the center will be closed. Sunday I should be reporting my unemployment for a second time since being told that I have to talk to someone. I will definitely have to talk to someone now...because if you fail to report for a week, you can't until after you talk to someone. So now I'm stuck in this limbo for reasons unknown to me and I'm just ticked off about it. I know that more people are on unemployment in this state than ever before, but calling and hanging up, and calling back, for days upon days (only to be placed on hold for 90+ minutes once I finally get into the que) is just UNACCEPTABLE, especially when I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing and I'm just arbitrarily told to speak to someone before they'll pay me. I have a small savings put aside (but it's meant to pay for my car insurance for 6 months). I'll be paid by the shop tomorrow, and I'll be paying bills with that. I guess we'll be okay for a little bit, hopefully for as long as it takes me to get through.

Oh, and here's a long overdue photo of my mom's socks that I finished last month. They're waiting for another pair to be finished, and then to be mailed out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shop Sample #1

This is the Knitting Pure & Simple pattern #9730 knit in Queensland Rustic Wool in color #28 (green). I knit this in size 2-4 with five balls on US 10 (6mm) and US 7 (4.5mm) circular needles. I actually used about 4.5 balls. As you can see, this pattern runs big. Alex is 3 1/2, and tall for his age (typically wearing size 4 clothes) and this is big on him too. I think if you wanted to go down a needle size you would still do well, or you could knit it just as written at the suggested gauge, and know that your child will be able to wear it for a while.

The yarn is nice to work with, washed up pretty soft, didn't pool in any strange ways, and it machine washable. I chose green to knit this pattern in, because the photo shows the sweater on a girl, and I wanted to show that it works for boys too. I might actually make one of these for Alex because it was very simple (great tv knitting) and he seems to like wearing it (at least for the photos, lol).

We're all hunkered down here waiting for the snow that hasn't come yet. Aaron had to go to school, but Dante's school was canceled. I got out today before it picked up, hit the bank, the post office and my rental office in 30 minutes! It helps when other people stay home. I have school work to do today, and I'll be making soup with a recipe from Bees Knees (which I love). Last night I made veggie broth for this soup from a simple recipe that Natalie told me about, involving some carrots, celery, onion and garlic, a bay leaf or two, and a crock pot. I added a few mushrooms and some time leaves to it, set the pot for 10 hours, and woke up at about 6am to stock. I have about 3 quarts for the price of 3 cups! Now that I know how to do this...I'll be doing it more often. Who would ever have thought to use a crock pot for stock?.. (obviously someone did, because there's a recipe...but I think you get it.)

I'm getting ready for the Ravelympics which start on Friday and I'll be knitting a sweater for Dante. I had to pull out of Team Twilight, as I'm captain of two other teams and I don't have a lot of time. I'll be knitting Aram from Berroco's leaflet #284 family comfort in Berroco's Ultra Alpaca in Lichen heather #6299 (dye lot 801). I have five balls all wound up and ready to go. I never knit a sweater for The Boy, and I believe I promised him one, a long time ago. He's approved this sweater and yarn combo, and this will be my first Aran-ish sweater so it's certainly a challenge. I also have to try to get this in while still finding time for school work, and work-work. I guess if it was easy, it wouldn't be an Olympic inspired event :)

Currently, I'm knitting the Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby Sweater from my newest book The Knitters Almanac in Ultra Alpaca Fine (a beautiful heathered-tan) for a friend who will not be named here as they sometimes read this. I'm using sock weight yarn with 3mm needles to scale this down small enough to fit a newborn (according to advice from the EZ group on Ravelry). I bought some Cascade 220 superwash paints (#9867) in a worsted weight (the most beautiful shade of pink with some lilac, very baby) for a baby surprise jacket, but I decided to go with the FBS because of the delicate lace. This sweater will need to go on the back burner starting Friday, if I don't finish it before then.

The kids are well again so we should all be at church on Sunday. I've missed the last two weeks with Alex, but his cough seems to be gone, and he's starting to sleep again so I think he's over it. He seems to like the bed, even though he hates sleep. Eddie likes it too, and Aaron's caught him asleep on Alex's bed a hand full of times. At least someone likes it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The last baby...all gone now.

Yesterday, I decided after spending this last week fighting with Alex to keep him from climbing out of his crib, that it was time to bite the bullet and buy him a bed. It seemed like a good use of his Christmas money. So the way I figured it, he's going to get out of the bed one way or another, and at least this way he won't break his neck trying to get out. He hates to sleep and his cold meds are interfering with his sleep so it's been a hell of a week over here. I'm beat and I think I might be coming down with this cold. Any, back to the story.

So I go to Walmart intent on buying a guard rail for his crib (which breaks down into a toddler bed) when I see that they have toddler beds there and they're only 20.00 more than the guard rail. It just seemed like the thing to do. Then we looked all over for a Thomas the Tank Engine bedroom set but there wasn't one in his size. Luckily, they did have a Cars one and he loves that movie so it was a good compromise. This bed fits his crib mattress so he still has sheets to fit, and his blankets fit. He just needs top sheets. As you can see, he climbed right in and got comfortable, and even though he hates to go to bed he was pretty excited about his new bed and actually stayed in it. He woke up twice in the night but never tried to climb out. I'm amazed.

In preparation for this, I bought a 4' wire shelf for my stuff (that needs a power drill to put it up but no where did it say that on the outside of the packaging, because that would have made sense). I took everything that could be harmful or played with and stuffed it in my closet on the shelf until I can get the other one up. I made sure the outlets were plugged up, and I put the baby gate up in the door way in case he tried to wander out while I'm asleep. I also bought a set of hook & eye latches for the door. I plan to put a set on the inside and outside so that I can keep him from getting out of the room and falling down the stairs until I can get a more permanent gate up there like the one I have at the bottom (it screws into the wall). I can't keep him in bed, so the best I can do is make my room as safe as possible and try to keep him from falling down the stairs.

I'm just not ready for all this. It's my 6th wedding anniversary today and I spent the morning in the dentist office with Alex getting a filling replaced in his front tooth. My husband has school all day. I'm tired from lack of sleep this week. Alex is bouncing off the walls after taking the last dose of the prednisone (thank goodness!). I have a ton of homework and no energy to read. And to top it all off, I finally faced reality and tossed out all of my pants from before I got pregnant with Alex. All my nice clothes. Fashionable jeans in dark denim, skinny jeans, cropped pants, khakis, plaid pants from Jones New York that I got at a deep discount, slacks from New York and Co., my best little red dresses. I had a beautiful wardrobe, all in size 6. Now, I'm wearing larges, 12's, sweats most days. It was a bit much to deal with. And add to it all, the fact that Alex is no longer in a crib. He's not a baby anymore and Aaron and I both wish he still needed to be in a crib because it's sad that our last baby isn't a baby anymore. Next year is preschool, and how did that even happen? Dante will be 13, and one year away from high school. Alex will be 4, and one year away from elementary school. I will be 33 and one year from a Bachelors in Psychology. Aaron will be 36, and will have his A+ certification and an Associates in Web Design, and I sure hope that those will be enough to help him find work because it's tough out there.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

odd occurrences

There have been some odd occurrences around here as of late. Alex's meds seem to be interfering with his sleep and he's waking up in the middle of the night and staying up for the rest of the night, all while climbing out of his crib to grab something to keep himself entertained instead of just closing his eyes like he's supposed to. Even spanking him (because really, it's dangerous to climb out of the crib like that) doesn't have any affect and he just does it again half an hour later. I'm not getting much sleep around here. The nurse said that his prednisone can have that type of side affect, and there's nothing we can really do about it. Even the children's Benadryl (for his nose) isn't enough to counteract it.

My little blog has suddenly found itself the target of spam commenting. It doesn't happen very often and no one has seen it because I have to approve all comments before they hit. I generally allow all comments to be posted (all real comments), even if they're critical or unflattering because everyone has a right to their opinions and I'm not about sensorship here, as long as everyone plays nice. Anyway, I've found adds for things that turned out to be porn0graphic in nature (spelled incorrectly with intent, to avoid being pulled up on any google searches), and some that were a link to an Asian site (or I assume so because the type was all Asian characters). I just found it a bit strange that my little blog has hit the radar of spammers. I thought that only big blogs that people actually read got things like that, lol. Maybe there are more visitors that I realize...

Another strange thing...? I logged onto Ravelry today to find a message from someone that another designer has put up a pattern for sale that is scary-close to my Bella's New Moon Vest. I took a look at it, and there isn't much that separates that vest from mine. The colorwork is awfully close, and most of the motifs are the same, or only very slightly changed. Her pattern is an actual pattern with directions for knitting different sizes, and her blog shows that her vest was knitted, finished, and blocked by Jan 7th...which doesn't seem like it would be enough time for her to have used my chart and notes because I put mine up on Jan 1st. At least that's what I'm going to say to myself because I don't want to think that someone took my work, wrote it out into a pattern, did not credit me at all, and is going to make a profit from it. It seems more like she was inspired by the same film, and the same vest, which really is the more likely scenario. Everyone was going crazy over Kristen Stewart's vest from New Moon so the chances that I was the only person to do something about it are slim. But still, it doesn't stop this news from taking some of the shine off of my accomplishment, and it sort of eliminates the point of my next idea for that chart...I had plans to write a formal pattern. That was the driving force behind my newest purchase from Knit Picks (my yarn for the vest, and three reference books). I guess I'll just have to knit the vest for myself, and decide after that because this latest pattern (called eighteen) doesn't have that elusive center panel from Kristen's vest (you know...the one that we can't get a good clear picture of), and mine does.

On the subject of fair isle vests... my ivy league has a large hole in the shoulder. This would be due to my ignorance of pretty much all things fair isle. I was flipping through my new book from Alice Starmore (which is amazing, by the way) and I saw that I was supposed to sew the edges of the steek. Nobody told me that! I assumed that the sticky yarn that held all the strands in place when I cut into them, would just go on holding things in place while I wore the vest. Now I have to figure out a way to repair it, but not before I can really read through the book to make sure I'm doing it right.

One last odd thing (but odd in a good way). I finished both of my projects yesterday with about six hours to spare! I worked really hard, studying most nights until 11pm to try to finish them and if you had asked me on Sunday, I would have told you that there was no way I could finish them...maybe I might have pulled off one. But I made it, and I think that they're good and I hope that I get a good grade on these because I really busted my hump on them both. To celebrate, I'm going to go eat breakfast and start this weeks reading.