Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Randomly on Wednesday

1. The mittens were knit on the correct needles after all, so no reknits! Such a relief. Although they're still running slim, so I'm still a smidge anxious.

2. "Smidge" is apparently not a real word according to spellcheck, which I think is ridiculous because I hear it said all the time.

3. Apparently spellcheck isn't either, although spellchecker is. This sees illogical.

4. Munchkin can say "yes!" and also (this is important) he deigns to do so. For the longest time everything was "no," and then he would either say "no" or in order to say yes, he would repeat the option that he wanted. And now, finally, "yes." Definitively and with no room for negotiation, as is this dear child's wont. Music to this mommy's ears, I'm telling you.

5. We made a movie last weekend. We needed a little three minute movie to help fundraise for our adoption and a friend of ours is wise in the ways of iPads and movie editing, and so last Saturday she came over and we filmed it. It should be ready in another day or two, and I'll show it to you.

6. Oh, right. We're adopting.

7. We're in the process of adopting a special needs child from Hong Kong. There is (a smidge) more information on our fundraising page, youcaring,com/fennfamilyadoption, and I'll also be saying more on this blog as things develop. (If you'd like to donate, it's very easy and we'd be very grateful!)

8. There are three cats on my bed right now, all looking very casual, exactly as if they laid down by accident instead of making a beeline for the warmest spot in the house.

9. I have perused my Christmas spreadsheet (by which I of course mean examined, reexamined, and cross-checked) and it would appear that I have bought my last present! Huzzah. Even the boys' stockings (provided 'Stache doesn't consume all the candy canes). It's done. If 'Stache does eat the candy canes, then he will be responsible for replacing them. Which means I can:

10. Exhale ...

11. Exhaling is a truly beautiful thing. Try it. It's awesome.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

14 Days

14 days 'til Christmas.



The Christmas Knitting Season (so called because the Christmas Knitting Sewing Quilting And Crafting Season doesn't exactly roll trippingly off the tongue) officially begins after Thanksgiving, when I make knitting (/sewing/quilting/crafting) plans exactly as if the universe, my husband and my children are going to let me do nothing for the month of December except put meals on the table and knit (/sew/quilt/craft).

The beginning of the month is generally a light-hearted, carefree romp in the land of wool (/etc.). Of course I'm not knitting (/etc.) as much as I planned, but that's ok, because I have so much time left before Christmas. 

Right up until today, when reality steps in and settles down for a cup of tea and a chat.

The list is ... impressive. Maybe not as many items left as there have been in previous years, but the scope, the audacity of some of the items leave one a wee smidge breathless. In no particular order ...

1. The Sweater

Status: about 12" of the body is knit. An elaborate yoke involving 3 colors of yarn and snowflakes and stars is planned. Gulp.
Prospects: Middling. I am (*strong, bracing tone*) confident that I can get quite a bit more done on it, and this sweater is for a family member who will (hopefully) be understanding and happy to get a lovely, custom-designed sweater for, um, next Christmas.

2. The Quilt 

Shown here mid-quilting
Status: machine quilting is done. All it lacks is hand sewing on the binding and making and sewing on a label.
Prospects: Good. The hand sewing is simple and lends itself well to multi-tasking. On the other hand, it is 360 inches of hand sewing.

3. The Mittens

Status: unsure. I had a major size problem and I am not sure if these mittens just run small or if I knit the entire first mitten on the wrong size needles. So I could be 5/8s done or 1/8 done, I'm not sure which.
Prospects: Worrisome. The 5/8 vs 1/8 difference really is quite significant, and this present is due before Christmas. Stay tuned, I'm sensing more drama from these mittens on the horizon.

4. The Cross Stitch Ornament
(not pictured)
Status: 1/4 done. Gulp.
Prospects: Shaky but positive. This present is due after Christmas, so maybe it will be ok.

5. The Crafty Ornament 
(not pictured)
Status: This ornament has not been photographed because it has not been started yet.
Prospects: Flexible. This ornament has to meet certain parameters for an ornament exchange, and I really want to do something awesome. However, I could change the plan to something easier if the deadline looms unexpectedly.

6. The Other Quilt

Status: This is an on-going present, where each year I do a certain amount of work on it (This is what happens when you give your sister a quilt top and promise her you'll hand quilt it and then go and have 2 kids back-to-back.) I've done about 1/20 of the work I planned. You'll notice that the picture is of a wooden box, instead of a quilt. That's because it is difficult to cram back into the box for storage, so I didn't want to take it out to photograph it. This also might lend some insight on how I got so far behind on this gift.
Prospects: Grim. Very grim.

7. The Pajamas 

Status: Obviously still at the fabric stage. The brown flannel is supposed to be a pajama top for Twinkle and the blue print is for pajama pants for 'Stache.
Prospects: Waffling. I really want to finish Twinkle's top in particular, so he and Munchkin could have coordinating pajamas for Christmas morning. However, the world will continue to revolve if he doesn't. Red footies are always holiday-appropriate. The saving grace for both of these pajama projects might be that this year we'll be having 3 different Christmas mornings (his parents, my parents and our own), so I might shoot for finishing them in time for the last one (ours). On the other hand, with 3 different Christmas mornings, we're clearly going to be having a bustling Christmas season.

Which, if I'm honest, is exactly the way I like it. Cookies, stockings, parties, knitting (/etc.), family, hashbrown casserole, Christmas lights ... all with just a dollop of stress and anxiety to keep it real.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Finishing High

I really, really (really, really really) love finishing things. The laundry is a never-ending task, the dishes will be dirty again almost as soon as they're washed, meals must be prepared on a continual basis, but once a sweater is knitted, (with a few tragic exceptions) it stays knitted. It's a little thrill that I like to call a "finishing high." 'Stache tends to roll his eyes a bit when I say this, sort of like when I refer to knitting Fair Isle as being "so exciting!"

I finished a little Christmas cardigan twice recently. First I finished all the knitting, and then left it in the presents drawer for about six months.

I've never had a sweater that was put together this way, although it does make sense. You knit each of the pieces separately until you get to the collar, and then you join them together and knit the collar, so that the collar doesn't have any seams. 

Anyway, I finished the knitting and enjoyed finishing it. This, to me, is the perfect size for a fiddly cabled sweater: tiny, so you are still enjoying it by the time you're done. And then, when I got out the pieces and sewed them together and put on buttons, it was like I was finishing it all over again. 

Title: Baby Grandpa Sweater
Design: adapted heavily from Raglan Cables Set: Cardigan and Hat by Patons
Materials: almost all of 440 yards of Cascade 220 Superwash worsted, in 1946 silver gray
Finished: Dec 2014

I fiddled with the number of stitches so that I could use worsted weight yarn instead of the DK called for, and changed the neckline to be a crewneck instead of a V-neck. I also knit the button bands as part of the sweater fronts instead of knitting them separately and sewing them on. By the time I made all these changes, the main thing that was still the same was the stitch pattern, which I rather liked. 

I also finished another sweater recently, but that one has a rather more tragic past. 

I had knit the body, and one sleeve, and was working on the final sleeve when we went on a trip. I was particularly proud of this sweater, because it was made entirely of leftovers from another sweater. (This sweater is for Munchkin, and the original sweater was for my brother, who is over six feet tall.) Most of the time leftover sweaters are a never-ending cycle wherein one has yarn leftover, and so one buys another ball or two to make something with it, but then there's leftovers from that, so you buy more yarn ... But this one was going to work out perfectly, I was sure. 

And it did. Right up to the point where I left one of the sleeves in the hotel room. 

Unfortunately I didn't discover this until several days later, and when I called the hotel, the clerk was unable to find it. Also, a small dark sleeve is a bad thing to lose and a worse thing to ask a non-knitter to try to find. Very difficult to describe, sleeves. 

After a suitable period of mourning, I looked online for more yarn, but was unable to find the color I needed, so I ordered via sister express. My mother bought a skein from the original store, and after a while my sister Molly happened to be home for a visit and got the yarn from my mom and then came up at the tail end of a business trip for her and her husband's business, Youth Digital. (Check them out! They're pretty awesome, in my totally unbiased opinion.) 

And then, finally, the sleeve was knit again, and I sewed the pieces together. There's always a bit of a lag when you're knitting the final sleeve. However much you liked the pattern to start with, it's gotten a bit stale by the time you're knitting the last sleeve, and when the last sleeve is actually the third sleeve, it's gone past stale and right to dusty and unappetizing. 

But it's finished now, and a very cute little sweater it is too. 

Title: Candlestick, size 4 years
Materials: Berroco Vintage. I have lost the labels, so I can't identify the color beyond heather gray and navy.
Finished: November 2014

I followed the directions exactly except that I did 2x2 ribbing instead of knitted hems for the cuffs and neckline. Also I did 2 row stripes for the sleeve instead of the larger stripes in the pattern. I loved this pattern - it's such a great, classic sweater! 

There would be a picture of Munchkin modeling it, but it's for Christmas, so you'll have to wait! 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Brotherly Joy

Yesterday, Munchkin made wrapping paper. The very best kind of wrapping paper, which is made of brown paper bags and kid-friendly markers and toddler joy.

Granted, right here he doesn't look particularly joyful, but just wait. Making wrapping paper not only gives you a chance to indulge your artistic side but also to lord your marker-wielding skills over your younger and less dexterically-gifted brother and even to ... 

... color him red. How does it get better than that? Twinkle, by the way, was thrilled with his new warpaint, and immediately produced the other hand to be colored red as well.

In other news, apparently I am the mom who takes pictures of her kids coloring on each other, rather than the mom who prevents her kids from coloring on each other.