Tuesday, September 28

Here is Klaralund so far (color #37). Excuse the junk on the living room floor, LOL. I have priorities (knitting!). I'm going on a one-night business trip on Thursday,and I'm going to finish it on the plane, I hope. I've even printed out the new list of permitted carryon items, which includes knitting needles, just in case the bag inspectors try to take them from me, grin.

A closer look at the sleeves. I got pretty OCD about matching the stripes in the extended garter stitch section. I think three balls of yarn were involved. It came out pretty close, and I'm happy with it. I think that will be the part where symmetry will be most visible. So much for the free-spirit who will just let the stripes fall where they may. It is pretty far from the way I see myself, I have to admit. If I hadn't been in a knit along, though, this stripe-matching business never would have occurred to me. It was just from seeing other bloggers photos and hearing people talk about their approach to matching vs. randomness that got me thinking about what I wanted. I didn't match the middle of the sleeves at all, as you can see, and I'm only doing the most cursory selection and placement in the front/back. I'm fine with seaming non-matching stripes. I mean, the seams are one of the least visible parts of the sweater.

The big fat hairy slippers. These were so huge and floppy, but not for long....

While you wait for the fuzzy feet to full, I give you...La Fashionista! She has reached the choosing it herself stage. I do have to say, though, that there are days lately when I say "that's some outfit Eleanor picked out for herself" and then Rhys says "uh, I picked that out--what's wrong with it?" And I say..."uh, nothing honey." But what a smile, huh? I love that 2-year-old glory. They're just so...THEM, you know?

Fuzzy Feet are Felted! Well, technically fulled, but whatever. Only problem: they're too small. I started out hand-felting them in the tub with a potato masher. It was going, but it was going slowly, so I threw them in the wash with a pair of jeans and a mini-football. I have a front-loader, and everything I've read says that front-loaders take forever to felt (usually 3 passes at least), so I figured, let them go through one cycle without checking, then check the second time around (or go back to hand-felting to get the right size). Took 'em out, and they're a perfect size seven (SIL is a 9.5). WHOOPS! So they'll be keeping my friend Aileen's feet warm. I think she's the only person I know who has size 7 feet. If it turns out you know me and YOU have size 7 feet, you'd better comment now because she wasn't properly enthusiastic when I mentioned it to her (and really, I didn't get all "I SUPPOSE I'll give them to you..."). So if I don't get proper appreciation, well, small-footed friends better step up! :) But I'll be making more of these. They're spectacularly quick and quite easy. Plus with the little addi circs, for some reason, it's easier to knit while nursing.

Monday, September 27

Let's Start AGAIN!

More on Completion (or lack thereof)
(Please note that this post contains almost NO knitting content, but instead contains a long rambling rant about what the hell I'm going to do with my life, so feel free to just scroll on by. Photos of WIPs and FO slippers are on the way, I I promise.)

So this incomplete project metaphor for my professional life is really sticking with me. I went back to researching my fiber-related business idea (well, one of them) last night. It would be a big investment--I think it would involve purchasing a mini-mill (which my MBA training reminds me would put a cap on my growth potential and probably reduce my desirability as an acquisition target, though I'm not sure of that), a loan, and, dread concept: employees. Aside from the un-dream-jobbyness of having to manage a manufacturing staff, like everything else I have investigated for my next life, it just seems like...a drag. Taking the GRE sounds like a drag. Going to nursing school sounds like a drag. Every "next move" has some big hitch to it that makes me feel totally unmotivated and generally annoyed at the concept.

And what a PITA whiny louse do I sound like, huh? Beautiful family; easy and remunerative career already in place (so what if it's boring and I'm stuck in a weird under/overqualified place right now); a creative outlet through hobbies. I have everything I've ever wanted. And honestly, I'm not really unhappy. I just feel like I have a responsibility to do something. And I'm not even sure what.

It's such a cliche. The type A woman can't get pregnant so she puts her entire life into having a baby. Then she gets pregnant and her life is adrift. I was so sick of hearing that one from the "after infertility" stuff (what little there is) that I wasn't interested. Seriously, I was not sitting here with my new babies wondering "what's next?" For my babies' first year (really for their first two years) I wanted to be earth-mother-SAHM-AP-cloth-diapering-LLL MAMA! And I was, to a degree. But it took me about that long to find out that because I WOH 3 days a week, despite the great lengths to which I went to minimize separation from my babies and the fact that it was if not a fiscal necessity (arguable, but it certainly was to a great extent), a relationship necessity, I would always be scorned by LLL and a certain contingent of AP types. When my son started biting at 10 months (yes, it may well have been the day care exposure to other biting toddlers), after trying every blessed AP approach, I resorted to time-outs (well, time-ins, but time in the corner) at 16 months. Not proud of it: desperate. I realized that although I was lucky to have boobs that complied with the whole nursing twins thing and although I am going to be a crunch-mama with devoted twin nurslings who are soon-to-be-preschoolers and no sign of weaning in sight, I was not going to EVER fit in at LLL or in the AP world. I thought my WOH, since it was part-time and as balanced with my family's needs as it could be, was a detail of my uniqueness as a LLL mom or an AP mom. But after going to an LLL conference and just paying a little more attention, I realize that I'm just never going to be welcome in that world. And I don't know if I'm cut out for it anyway. Yeah, I'm totally there with doing WHATEVER is needed to make my kids a priority, but I think that prioritization goes beyond a few years of time off at home, and heck, it just didn't make sense for me, at this moment in my life, to take time off. If I had been able to "schedule" my childbearing a bit more, maybe. But I'm not bitter. Some days I am nearly in tears with longing to be home with them full-time. Some days I am so grateful and relieved I did not take that route. Some days I think my kids are better off with their loving, incredible, wonderful teachers three days a week. Some days I walk out after dropping them off and it takes everything I have in me to keep from turning around and RUNNING back in to get them. I think about how cool it would be to do this playgroup or that gymnastics class or that music program but honestly, I can barely find the money for those things now, how would I afford them with no second income? Who ARE these people with the late-model minivans and the full schedule of music together and a Y membership and only one parental income? How did I not get the memo on this?

The one thing I've done a good job of lately is to keep my options open. No addition on the house because it keeps our expenses low in case my income decreases or goes away completely. No committing to one course or other because, what, we might want another baby (haven't even gotten into that particular little spin). Doesn't matter, because really, no time to pursue any of this crap until next Fall when the income will go bye-bye and I will need to do SOMETHING and not spend a year figuring out what that SOMETHING is. Taking the first freelance job offered by my current employer, even though the timing is awful for me (starts this year, while my current project is in its most intense phase), so I can be sure to have some money coming in next year.

When I'm "tied down" to a job, my mind is rife with entrepreneurial ideas, but when it comes to the point where I actually have the opportunity to do something new, I'm paralyzed by an irrational fear of...what...poverty, failure, my own laziness?

The fact is that my kids are still tiny. I'm at a point where I don't want to take on anything huge. Part of me wants to start a cool new company, do something bold, make a lot of money, make a mark. But most of me knows that this is NOT the season for that. The rational thing to do: grad school or some low-key consulting. Or both. Probably both because last time I checked grad school doesn't pay at all unless you work like a dog as a TA, and then not well.

Guess it's time to suck it up and sign up for the GRE, and get the application materials, and make a few lunch dates with people who I should network with about this. It's ironic, because the project I'm finishing up this year is about the SAT, and the hypotheses are rather critical of the idea of such tests. The idea of taking a prep course or something is pretty hilarious right now. But I have some pretty hard data that shows it helps, LOL, at least for high school students.

Thanks for listening to my ramble. I feel much better. Back to Klara. I'm done with both sleeves and I'm a few inches into my first body piece. Trying SO hard not to cast on for a baby Einstein sweater for my friends' new baby girl. Must....finish....Klara...FIRST!

Friday, September 24

Inching Toward Completion

I have been making some progress, though I haven't really completed anything. I have just decided that the Diagonal Progression sweater is finished since I have been wearing it everywhere. It remains lumpily unblocked and an inside view shows lots of ends, but any ends visible from the outside are woven in. You know, I have known about spit-splicing for a long time, but it never worked well for me until I read a description of it recently that said you should rub your hands together UNTIL THEY FEEL HOT. (For those who don't know what I'm talking about, spit-splicing is when you spit (yes spit) into your hand, fray two ends of yarn, put the ends together in the little drop of spit, and the RUB the yarn together in between your hands, until they feel hot. It essentially felts two pieces of yarn together and creates an invisible join. Of course it only works with fibers that will felt!) Now that I know how much and how long to felt the yarn together, spit-splicing is working great for me and I hope to have very little end-weaving in my future. But clearly I had not learned this lesson when I made the diagonal sweater. Oy, a lot of ends!

Klara is coming along, but I have to admit that my mind is straying. I have moments when I sit there and think to myself "I want to make THIS!.....And THIS!....And what about THAT project I've been thinking about for months!" I could blame it on spending so much time with 2.5-year-olds, but honestly I've always been like this. It's not that I'm bored with what I'm doing, it's just there's so much excitement out there--I don't want to miss a thing. Sounds a lot like my career search, huh? I just don't want to look back and wonder what the heck I did with my life someday. At least I'll have some cool sweaters to show for it.

So I finished knitting the fuzzy feet last night and secured most of the ends. Thanks to Sara for pointing out that since I'm felting these I don't need to weave the ends! I did just secure them so that the stitches didn't grow, etc., but I didn't even bother trying to find a tapestry needle, just did it with my fingers, so that was easy. I just need to kitchener, secure a few more ends, and it's off to the soap suds!

I think this pair, my trial run, if they come out well, will go to my SIL. She was just diagnosed with breast cancer and had a lumpectomy on Tuesday. The surgery went well and they got it all, so her prognosis is excellent. It's tough, though, as this makes every woman in DP's family except for DP and one of her cousins, who had a benign lump last year. Oddly, they don't have the gene for BC, at least not the one that they know about. The good side of this is that every single one of them has survived, some for more than 20 years, and even with the relatively crude treatments they had back in the 70's and early 80's. SIL is doing great--she's a real bright-side kind of person (not that I know anything about that, LOL), and she's obviously going to kick this cancer thing into submission. Or remission. Probably both. All that Tae Kwon Do should come in handy. But a nice pair of felted slippers might help keep her feet warm while she's kicking.

Also on Tuesday, we put Sheba down. I can't quite bring myself to post a picture of her in her prime yet, but I will do it soon. She was such a wonderful dog. She had a ton of personality, and she was a faithful protector and official boss of the animal contingent for 10 years in our family. And just gorgeous, with long light-brown fur with a dark-brown brindle. She knew how beautiful she was and always enjoyed being admired. I used to work downtown and she would come to work with me. I would walk down the street with her, and people I'd never seen before would say "Hi Sheba!" She'd wag her tail at them and prance along. There was a certain pizza place with outside tables that someone once fed her at when we were walking by. For about a year after that, she always thought the people at that table would (or should) give her food. She was my girl, and I miss her.

But you know, her death was actually kind of lovely. Before the vet arrived, we gave her all her favorite snacks, including most of a lamb chop left over from the last night's dinner. When the vet arrived, we petted her, and sang to her while they prepared the injection and did it. She never seemed afraid or anxious, and didn't even seem to feel the needle. She died with her head in my lap, while Rhys and I sang one of "her" songs (we made up lots of silly songs for her over the years). A pretty nice way to go.

Scout seems to be doing okay, and the carpet is being cleaned today. I miss her, but it was time, and she hasn't been her old self for a long time now. I realize that I've already grieved the young, perky, fun Sheba, and now it's saying goodbye to the old Sheba who was not doing well. That feels a bit easier, though it's still hard.

Anyway, that's it from here. Still insanely busy at work, and going to scenic Milwaukee next week for a one-night business trip (focus group). I did NOT make my deadline this week, but was offered an extension that I couldn't pass up, so I took it. Now I have two more weeks to be Much Too Busy. Ah well.

Monday, September 20

Our Lady of the Unfinished Objects

Below are pictures of most of my UFOs that I have recently worked on. I have way too much stuff going on right now, what else is new in my life, huh? You'll also see a photo of Henry telling me to make felted clogs too--I have evidence that my child is enabling my addiction! (Blaming others--not a good sign.) Luckily I have resisted so far, and I think I actually WILL finish the fuzzy feet before starting those.

Along this vein, I am signing up for a finishing class at Webs that starts next week. My plan is to go to the class with a completely knitted but unsewn Haiku so that I can practice and get help. I don't think the class will help me be less of a nutcase about starting projects and knitting monogamously (duh--don't start another one, don't need a class for that one), but I've never been strong on finishing, and have never liked it, and have never really learned it all the right way (I taught myself to knit from a book). So I think this course will be good.

The finishing course is part of a new Master Knitter Certification Program Webs is offering (not to be confused with TKGA's Master Knitter Certification). I think it's good--I'm not overly impressed with the TKGA program--not that it's bad, but I am not dying for strangers to critique a bunch of swatches, when I think that construction, design, creativity, and understanding of the craft as a whole are much more important to ones development as a knitter, or at least to mine. The first three courses at Webs are about color knitting, an overview of different cultural knitting traditions, and finishing. Much more up my alley. However, I don't know about you, but the description of the program at Webs left much to be desired. No information about what's in the curriculum beyond the first three courses, not even how many classes you must take. I emailed the instructor, and hopefully I'll find out more. I *might* do it. We'll see. I don't really need to take something new on, but this sounds like a lot of fun.

Thinking about this does sort of point up the big conflict in my life right now. I am considering going back to graduate school for an Ed.D. I found out I don't need to go back and get another master's (I have an MBA), and it's absolutely obvious to me that it's the logical next step in my career. The grant I'm currently working on is like a ready-made dissertation, with tons of primary research data and someone else has already paid for it all! But you know, I'm almost completely unmotivated to do it, and the idea of taking the damn GRE (again! I took it in my senior year of college, then I took the GMAT to get into B-school, and to take it AGAIN?) makes me almost physically ill. I have tons more energy to investigate the curriculum of the ever-lovin' KNITTING program than I do to do the same for the Ed.D. program. And I can't decide if this is a sign that I'm just not ready for this and I need to slow down, or if it's a sign that I'm spinning my wheels (which I have been doing for a while, professionally; going through IF and then having twins will do that to a gal) and need to just DO something to move myself forward.

It makes me wonder if I shouldn't just move away from higher ed research and try to do something professionally in the world of knitting and fiber. Not anything arty or crafty--my income requirements are too high for that, I couldn't support my yarn habit on knitting alone--but for example doing marketing research for yarn companies or starting a yarn business (I have a kind of cool idea for a line of yarn, I think). Still don't know what the right thing to do. I've been "sitting with it" for a while, and I'm not getting any flashes of insight. So what do you, dear reader, some of whom are total strangers, think I should do with my life?

Here is Klaralund so far. I'm about 1/2" away from the end of the first sleeve. I cast on for a 38, but I changed it to a 40. There is only a 2 stitch difference in the sleeve, so I just increased one stitch at each end of the sleeve somewhere just above the elbow. I actually did it on the row after joining the second ball of yarn so I wouldn't have to count rows on the other sleeve...laziness is the mother of invention, apparently. This is colorway #37 in Noro Silk Garden. I'm really enjoying it. I've never knit with Noro before, and it's a lot of fun to knit. I knit from the inside of a center-pull ball, and it's kind of cool to be surprised about what's coming next. Of course, all the time I'm thinking about how I can do this with my own yarn. I'd LOVE to try to dye some white brown sheep yarn in a similar way, but I think I'd need a swift the size of a Volkswagen and an enormous dye studio to do it. It would actually be pretty easy to do if I dye roving (because the dyed areas stretch out when you spin them), but I'm not sure I want to spin a bunch of yarn just to felt it. But it would save me from sewing in those ends, huh?

Henry is not helping my project diet. He instructed me specifically to make the clogs. The blue ones. I will comply as soon as I have the fuzzy feet finished. I promise.

My stash of partial skeins of brown sheep worsted. I can make a lot of holiday slippers with this. I have a similar amount of lamb's pride bulky for clogs. I'll try that pattern next to see which one I like better.

I was really psyched to make these slippers in stripes. I have a ton of partial skeins of brown sheep yarn, so it's a no-brainer. Except LOOK at all those ends to weave in. I know, it's not that bad, but ugh.

Fuzzy Feet. Here are the fuzzy feet I started this week (like I didn't already have enough WIPs). They are really quick to knit. I think felting them is going to be fun. I am going to do it by hand, I think with a potato masher and a dishpan in the tub, unless I discover a washboard in our basement. Given the mess down there it's not impossible.

Here are the Haiku sleeves. I took a break from Klaralund tonight to spin what I HOPE will be the last bit of yarn for Haiku. I've already underestimated twice. Garter stitch really takes up a lot of yarn. Had to choose a garter stitch project for my first handspun kid sweater. And I'm making another (Einstein) for Henry! Sheesh.

Here's Henry posing for the camera with Sheba. Sheba has been with Rhys and me for 10 years. She is being put down on Tuesday. We know it's time, but of course, we're heartbroken. Three cheers for the b-b-d (big-brown-dog, Sheba's nickname). And yes, that's a diaper Sheba is wearing. It has been a long road, and we will miss her dearly.

Wednesday, September 15

Stalking the Mailman

Ooh, ooh! Here it is. The goods to start Klaralund. My daughter has taken to yelling "SCORE!" like an Italian sports announcer from the back of the car. But that's what I said when Joe (that's Joe the mailman, one of many on my block) handed me the box. It's not like we were all standing there waiting by the mailbox. Okay, that's exactly what it was like, but whatever.

I have swatched and got it in one on #8 needles, so I'm off to the races. I cast on while standing in a playground saying "please let Henry have a turn...do you need help with that?....that slide is really fast, let me catch you at the bottom..." etc. (Unfortunately, the playground at our CSA is a bunch of broken toys with no safety features--I'm really anything but a hoverer when it comes to playgrounds.) Then the last few stitches were cast on while waiting in stop and go traffic--turned out I had a state trooper behind me. WHOOPS! Anyway, I'll definitely count again before I start knitting.

I am about 70% of the way through my first striped Fuzzy Feet--I should have taken a pic of that too. I'm going to try to finish that up before I knit any more on Klaralund. Really I am. :) Of course, then it's just second sock syndrome and there's nothing good about that. Oh yeah, and I have to work on the surveymonkey tonight.

We've had a barfing/pooping thing here at the house last night and this morning. Henry and I were up going through every clean item of clothing for much of the night. He was very tired this morning, but once he could get some advil down (he couldn't even stomach milky for a while there--this is serious!), he perked right up and we were able to run some errands. We actually had a rather nice afternoon, including an utterly civilized dinner at the deli at Whole Foods. It is odd, though, that my kids act like other people's kids (calm, compliant, and to bed with little fuss) only when they're running a fever. I am not sure what to think about that. I think my solution will be to not think about it too much.


Here is the diagonal progression sweater. Due to some no-doubt psychologically fascinating block, it only looks finished. There are still a handful of ends to weave in, plus I need to block it because the fit is a little lumpy and I know it can look better. I did wear it out to the store to buy low-carb ice cream though. At least I seem to be doing relatively well sticking to one of my diets.

Monday, September 13

I have a bunch of photos of the Haiku debacle, which I have not yet explored in gory detail here, but maybe I'll save it until I can show a finished product. I am spinning a little bit more--I ran out with about 4 rows to go on the sleeves, argh. So anyway, here's a nice beach shot. That's DP on the left, and her childhood friend Lizzie on the right. The cute ones in the middle are Henry and Eleanor, in case you hadn't guessed.
Well, here is the Lendrum. It took me a little while to get used to it after using a Louet for my class, but I like it a lot now.

Sunday, September 12

I just can't stay on a diet

I've just started a very lenient--I can't even call it low-carb--really more like "less white flour and sugar fewer times a day" diet. It seems to be making a huge difference in my energy level, and energy level has been a big issue for me lately. I'm trying to get over a thrush incident (no, I'm not desperately ill, just bfing; it makes you more susceptible), and white sugar and flour apparently feeds the stuff. Unsweetened yogurt, here I come! Bon appetit! Hopefully the energy bonus will keep me honest. I will miss peanut butter m&ms.

But I didn't want to blog about a food diet. I'm blogging about my yarn and project diet. I was supposed to be finishing up my current projects, with Solstice knitting and spinning Zeus (the shetland for an Aran cardi) taking up the whole fall.

Then I saw this. Klaralund. I don't normally buy expensive yarns like Noro. I go to the back of Webs, in the warehouse, and I find amazing bargains on unknown yarns of great quality, but little renown. I don't spend nearly $10 a ball for 50g of fancy-schmancy yarn that everyone on the net is scrambling over. Well, I didn't. Now I have. I just spent more than I have in a LOOOONG time for yarn for a sweater--$97 for 11 balls of Noro Silk Garden (which, btw, is a great deal). But living a mile from Webs makes you a bit grumpy about paying more than $50 for a sweater's worth of yarn. But this one is just so gorgeous, and it's right up my alley.

So I'm almost, almost, ALLLLMOST done with Haiku. I'm talking 10 rows on the sleeves and then I have to sew it up. Diagonal progression--still sewing. Self-striping socks--toe decreases and grafting. Then there are the bigger projects--Zeus and the soy silk shawl (which I dread, I must admit). But Klaralund is just going to have to skip the line. Sorry. I figure I have until Wednesday before the yarn arrives. I can finish Haiku by then, right? And this one will knit quickly, so I can still make a nice collection of booties for Solstice.

Tell me it's okay, will ya? And dj, do I need a meeting?

What's done is done.

Thursday, September 9

Whoa, September!

Well, hello! We got back from vacation and it was like a tornado hit. Everything just started up full-force. I can't remember if I mentioned that I foolishly agreed to do a freelance project, over and above my current job, for another department at the college where I work. So I have been slaving away over a hot computer at every free moment. No pretty pictures of knitting FOs and spinning in progress for you, no, no, no! I could take cute little snapshots of massaged databases and mail-merged documents shoehorned into one page of letterhead by playing very fast and loose with the margins. I could even show you an online survey (at our friend surveymonkey, and yes, I got attitude immediately when I asked IT to create a "front" for it that would make it look like it was on our server) if it wouldn't be unprofessional. But somehow those don't have the same kind of appeal as nice warm fuzzy yarn and sweaters. I can't imagine why.

Back when I was still on vacation (remember back then?), I did make some progress on sewing up the diagonal progression sweater. I was thinking about that sweater, that was knit while I was going through the darkest days of IVF (numbers 3 and 4, and the part where I was bleeding and pregnant). I spent a lot of time in waiting rooms at the Brigham (motto: "Like doing IVF at the DMV") desperately, obsessively, even angrily, knitting away. I remember feeling like most of my life was so futile. All I seemed to do was deal with medications, drive 2 hours each way to have 10-minute ultrasound appointments, and cry. I had been doing IVF for nearly a year and it just felt like this insane treadmill of heroic measures that never went anywhere. Knitting was the only place I ever made PROGRESS. Sure, it was slow, and yeah, sometimes I had to frog (though I'm rather creative about finding ways to fix problems without extensive frogging), but if I kept at it, head down, brow furrowed, something happened. I remember how badly I needed to feel like my efforts made some mark on the world, however small and slow.

So there's something symbolic about sewing this sweater. I have another IVF-waiting-room sweater that I seamed right away, and which I wear all the time. It's probably my favorite of all the sweaters I've made. But this one has been languishing. Sure, it's mostly because I lost the pattern, LOL, but in a way I feel like I was waiting to put this part away. I know I won't put it away completely, but when I have finally sewn the last (damn) seam stitch (did I mention I hate seaming?), I think it will symbolize letting go of some of that pain.

But it will have to wait a little bit longer. As Sara says, until I have this surveymonkey off my back.

Tuesday, September 7

In Memoriam

Thank you to everyone who lit candles for Louie. Here is the update his mother posted on our playgroup:

Louis Daniel Jezowski passed away this afternoon (Friday 9/3) at 4:10pm CST. He was surrounded by his family and was in his momma and daddy's arms when he left
us. He went peacefully and in no pain.
I just saw pictures of a walk Louie took with his mom, dad, and sister after they removed the tubes. It looks like they had a wonderful time in the sunshine. It should have been a beginning, not an ending.

Words fail me to say anything more. This family is in my thoughts, and we are grieving with them.