Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A few projects in the works

I haven't posted in awhile, so I thought I'd do a quick update.

The first sleeve on the cardigan turned out pretty well! It might be about 2-4 stitches tighter than ideal, but I refuse to frog for that. DH is cool with it, too. So I've started the slow, boring process of making the second sleeve the same way. Since I've BTDT, I figure this can be my "take with" project until I finish. It only took a few days of concentrated knitting to finish the first sleeve, so I'm entering the home stretch! readingwhileknitting recommended a few books, including Knitting In Plain English and while reading that, I found a way that COULD have fixed the button band... she recommends doing a double-width button band, with an every-other-row slip one stitch halfway through it. This makes a nice "fold line" and you can then fold over the band and stitch it, making it actually lay flat and have substance!!! I have to say that this cardigan has been the best learning experience. If I really wanted to (and I don't!), I could rip the whole thing out and make a truly awesome cardigan! :) Maybe next year...

Tomorrow is the day Sockapaloooza starts, so I'll soon be knitting socks! (Don't know the specifications of those yet, so I can't start. I am hoping to try out the Magic Loop both-at-once method, however.

Yesterday, on one of my weekly (at least) pilgrimmages to Target, I found that all of their hats, gloves/mittens, scarves, etc. were 75% off. For some reason, my kids' school seems to eat hats, gloves/mittens and scarves and it pains me too much to knit them, only to have them disappear. So I bought T. two cool hats--one the jester type and one that has a mohawk-kinda stripe of bright yellow fur on a black fleece hat--and got C. a magic scarf for $2 (I'd previously knit a magic scarf and it didn't hang right and it also cost a heck of a lot more than $2 in materials--more like $20...). I kept myself from buying more. So this morning, C. tells me that she's lost her hat (which is actually MY hat, but I only wear earmuffs now). I am amazed to find that she has ZERO backup hats. So today she's wearing one of T's old, snagged, simple hats. I am still debating whether to drive to another Target to check out THEIR stash, or to whip up a knit one for her. (It's been close to a year since SHE has lost anything, and she rarely loses hats. Besides, I have enough stash to afford to knit several hats for "free"). I did some browsing and came across this pattern for a really cute ear flap hat and I might give it a try... It's something different with the pattern (or I might wimp out and do simple stripes instead).

I do still have to get to Ruhamas today, as my Yarn Club membership expires today and I want to stock up on needles at 20% off. They came out with the coolest business card that I got last time I was there. It opens to a mini needle inventory, broken up into straight (different lengths), circular (different lengths) and dpn's. Evil store! I now feel the need to fill in all my blank spaces!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

And here we go again...

I was pretty happy with the way the cardigan was turning out. (One sleeve is nearly completed!) So last night I had G. try it on. The top of the sleeve (top of the shoulder) as well as the armpit area seemed to balloon out! He said it was just fine, but I knew better. If I'm putting a year's worth of work into this thing, he's gonna wear it! I did some mathematical calculations and I *think* I can make it work better. I'll be decreasing the fullest part of the sleeve by 16 stitches and I'll work the decreases down the sleeve every 7 rows instead of every 4. That should give me the right length AND trim down the size of the sleeve.

Of course, you DO know the end result of all this, right? I think I am cutting out enough stitches that I would have had enough yarn to do the whole cardigan all in one color.

I wanna cry...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


OMG... I just did something that I'm both extremely excited and insanely nervous about. Thanks to readingwhileknitting's continual pushing of knitting blogs (lol), I stumbled across a blog the day before it started Sockapaloooza III ! And I just joined... The general idea is that you knit a pair of socks for someone else (randomly selected) and you receive a pair knit just for you. You post updates on the socks on your blog and everyone watches and wonders if those are the socks they'll get and then in three months, everyone mails them! It should be really cool and I hope I'm up to the task!

Monday, January 23, 2006

The tale of the cardigan

We have a wonderful LYS in town, called Ruhama's. When my friends and I first launched our Scarf business, ScarvesByFriends, one of the first things I did was become a member of Ruhama's Yarn Club (which, for $100, entitled me to 20% off yarn and knitting supplies, sans patterns and sales, for two years). I was given advance notice of their twice-a-year HUGE clearance sales and allowed to shop on a "Members Only" evening. The first time I went to one of these, I was overwhelmed and, since I had no specific pattern in mind, I believe I left empty-handed, despite the wondrous temptations. So I was prepared for the second one last spring. I decided that I needed to make something for my husband. Since he is a professor, and spends many "office hours" in his office, I thought a nice, simple cardigan would be great for him to keep on the back of his chair for chilly mornings and so on.

I searched the web (since I never pay for patterns!) and found a cool website that generates patterns for sweaters, based on your measurements (KnittingFool). It also gives you an estimation of yarn needed, based on which size needle you want to use (I chose 8) and the type of yarn you should get. I printed it all out and headed to Ruhama's, fully armed!

I found, among other things, a TON of closeout wool yarn (Jamieson's Soft Shetland, color: Wilkinson) at about $2 a skein! I chose a wonderful tweedy color that's mainly a grayish purple with some green specks and specks of a few other colors. I dutifully bought what the yardage generator suggested, plus one extra skein--just in case!

It took me until this last fall to actually start the cardigan. But I still had the pattern, and I got going. After finishing the back (one HUGE piece of knitting), I found myself wishing I'd decided to do a pattern instead of straight stockinette stitch. I knit the first half of the front and that went well. I started the second half of the front and the buttonholes gave me some conniptions. I finally decided that I was satisfied, since I realized that once the cardigan is buttoned, no one would see the buttonholes!

So I started on the sleeves... About three-quarters of the way through the first sleeve, I realized that I, most likely, would not have enough yarn to complete this cardigan. My first reaction was to call Ruhama's and ask if they had any of the yarn left. No dice. Thinking that maybe the salesperson just didn't know what I was talking about, I physically went into the store (always bad as I find something else I need). Nope! So I did a web search and found that the reason Ruhama's had this beautiful yarn marked down so much is because the color was discontinued! One place on the web had it, but charged $6.50 a skein, plus shipping, effectively doubling the cost of this cardigan. It just didn't make sense to me.

Deciding I needed a break, I sewed the front and back pieces together (it looked like a vest), had G. try it on (it fit pretty well!), and took some time off to knit some doll clothes for Christmas gifts. (If you're looking for cute patterns, the American Girl one I used is at: MajorKnitter and the Barbie/Bratz ones I used are at: LionBrand Poncho and LionBrand dress )

After a little rest, I dutifully headed back to Ruhama's, wishfully thinking that, if Wilkinson was discontinued, then maybe it was replaced with a color remarkably similar, but differently-named. (nope...) I ended up getting two skeins of Jamieson's soft shetland, color Cedar (which is a tweedy green with some purple flecks in it). The woman at Ruhama's tried to tell me to make skinny stripes of the purple and green through the entire sleeve, but I decided to put just one bold stripe on each arm of the green.

Because I was three-quarters of the way through that first sleeve before I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to knit the whole sweater, I decided to finish that sleeve just in case it didn't work out well, since I'd be frogging that sleeve anyway and would hate to rip it, knit a new sleeve with the green, and then have to frog the green sleeve, too...

I finished the sleeve this weekend. Big surprise: it doesn't fit. I have no idea how I'd attach it to the *&%# sweater "vest" as there's so much knit material that it would have to be gathered before attaching it, thus making it all girly-looking.

I vowed to never knit a cardigan (or sweater) again. Heck, I may not even knit this cardigan!

But I knew where to go with questions. My trusty knitting friend, ReadingWhileKnitting, offered me suggestions and encouraged me to try something that I threw out there: picking up stitches around the armhole, and knitting the sleeve from the shoulder down. (Brilliant idea! if it doesn't work, I won't have knit the whole freaking sleeve before I know that it won't work out. I can also make it the correct length sleeve for my husband...)

So that brings us to the present day. I "proudly" present my current masterpiece/nightmare--still a work-in-progress.

The cardigan, sans arms :)

One of the WRONG sleeves:

And the sleeve, in progress, with the green stripe:

If you want to see any of them in greater detail, click on the pictures...the yarn really IS very cool! :)

Friday, January 20, 2006

Everything's moved over...

Woo Hoo!

I'm officially a "blogger" and no longer a "xanga"... Just moved all my posts from Xanga over. If you're looking for a site to start a blog, I'm pretty happy here! It's a lot more customizable (without costing money) IMHO.

I found a few good bargains today.
Red and green 18 gallon totes for $2.44 each. I got two!
Red glitter shoes (ala Dorothy from Wizard of Oz) for M. $3.24 (she just outgrew her size 7 dress shoes)
Black footless tights for M (0.98)
Women's size S fleece jacket in green for C. ($8.48)
Some cool tops for DH (won't explain in case he reads this) $3.24 ea.

At the grocery store, I won't explain all that I bought :) but I saved $51.71 on a bill of $89.24 (that's after savings). Not my best, but not bad.

January 19, 2006

Happy (belated) birthday to me...

OK, so it's a day late, but yesterday was INSANELY busy, so I couldn't write.
This is going to be a greedy, materialistic, all-about-me post! (hee hee...) I can do that sometimes, right?
First my presents:

I got a beginning pilates DVD (for when I can't get to Curves), a down throw (the green thing) cuz I'm always cold, a magnetic knife holder (see right) and a set of All-Clad stainless pans!!! (woo hoo!). The set has a 10" frypan, a 2 qt. saucier with lid, a 3 qt. saute pan w/ lid, a 6 qt. stock pot w/ lid and a 13" x 20" nonstick grillpan (with two bright red oven mitts). :) I am SO excited to get rid of my annoying non-stick Pampered Chef pans... ugh! Oh, about the magnetic knife holder. I'd gotten one for Christmas and all my "regular" knives fit on one, but I wanted one for my steak knives to free up even more counter space. So I got a second one! This is what the inside of my cabinet door looks like now.
And I got beautiful handmade cards from my kids. M's has a picture of her friend on it, T's says "Happy Birthday from Rachel Ray" and C's has a version of the birthday song with "yum-o" inserted in various places.

OK, since I'm rambling about myself endlessly today, I might as well talk about my plans for "the rest of my life". It has come to my attention that my baby will be in school before too long and that I'd always thought I'd return to the work force when my kids were in school. I'm still not really sure what I want to be "when I grow up", but I will say that, for the first time in ten years, the thought of working a semi-regular job doesn't scare the crap out of me. So it must be time to at least consider what I'll do when I go back to work. Furthermore, C's orthodontic bill (and we have two other kids!) and our wish/need for a second bathroom have made me realize it's not just a possibility, but a probability!

So what to do? One of my online friends shared her thoughts on become a Physician's Assistant (PA). A lifetime ago, when I was still a pre-Physical Therapy major, I'd thought about becoming a PA if I didn't get into the PT program. Well, I didn't get into the PT program, but I became a high school Science teacher instead! So I looked into PA programs. The only one that isn't too far away (I'm not leaving my family!) is at a private college, is 3 years (including summers), and is REALLY grueling (my SIL went there). Don't know if that's possible as I would like to continue my relationship with my family! Another thing I considered (at various stages, including when I decided I wanted to be a lactation consultant) was a Nurse-Practitioner program. Of course, you need to be a nurse before you can be an NP, so I'd have to get a nursing degree. BUT that could be done at the State University that's a stone's throw from here. Not sure if I'd want to be a nurse, though... There is great flexibility and huge demand... That program requires a bunch of prerequisite classes (all of which I've taken--things like Stats, Anat & Phys, Microbiology, etc.) but it requires that they be taken no more than 5 years before beginning the program. (damn!) So I might look into the possibility of taking a few of those classes if they'd also count for my continuing ed. classes for teaching certification. I figure I could sub or teach parttime while taking some classes and if I found that I still liked teaching, I'd stick with that, and if not, then go the nursing route.

That's just my current thinking. Of course it could change at any moment.

Enough about me. Time to head to the library for story time!

January 17, 2006

Catching up on lots of stuff, but nothing major...

It's been awhile, and yet not much is going on. So why am I so insanely busy?

First of all, it's finals week, so that means I've been tutoring like crazy this week. Past years I've limited myself to tutoring two students, and have often added a third second semester if I'm not meeting with one of them regularly. Well, it seems that my name is getting out there (which is a Good Thing (tm)), but right now I am tutoring FOUR kids regularly (two in Intensive Chem. and two in both Algebra and Biology) and one in Chemistry on an as-needed basis. Since the kids are older, this hasn't been too bad... essentially two nights a week (two hours each time) plus every three weeks an additional hour. But now we've got finals. Between what I HAVE done and will be doing this week, from Saturday to Thursday, I'll have probably put in 12 hours this week. I know, I know... twelve hours isn't very much for a WEEK's worth of work, but when you're used to working four hours a week, that's a lot! LOL Add in Girl Scouts, doctor/dentist appointments, DH going out of town, etc...

OK, let's talk about some fun stuff first. C. tried out for the local High School's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. They needed 30 kids in grades 3-5 for the children's choir. 45 kids tried out and C. MADE IT!!! Talk about excited! :) I wish I had a picture of her when she got the phonecall telling her she was in. Unfortunately, two of her very best friends did NOT get it. It's so tough to be 10 years old and excited about something, but not really able to share all the excitement for fear of hurting your friends' feelings... But she did find out that at least two of her close friends made it.

In other good C. news, her soccer team won on Saturday! In the combined outdoor and indoor season, I think this may only be the second win. (Their first win was to a team who didn't have enough players to field a team, so C. played for them to help out until they had enough girls show up) I should really take a pic of C. in her soccer outfit, too. Bad mommy!

Now the "bad" C. news... We went to the orthodontist yesterday. We've always known that braces were in her future, but hadn't focused much on it. When she had her dental checkup on January 5th, our dentist said to see and ortho right away! Since our dental insurance covers 50% of orthodontics and has a lifetime maximum of $1200 and C. doesn't need major work, I was thinking this would cost us between $1000 and $1500, spread out over 2-3 years. Well, instead it's going to be $4700 (of which our insurance will cover the $1200) over 20 months. OMG... And we were just talking about how nice it was to have our Xmas money from our parents and our tax refund money without any major home project to use it on. Now I remember why we stopped at three kids :)

Starlene was asking about my handmade knitting needles, so here's a picture of some needles I've made. If anyone wants directions for making them, let me know!

Oh, and I finished that golf club cover. Picking up the ribbing stitches worked just fine! Here's a pic:

I guess that's it. One thing I DO want to do is finish by uploading a picture of my other two kids. I feel awful that my blog is filled with M. pics, but she's the one who is home while I'm posting!

January 12, 2006

And she remains the petite-y sweetie!

We had M's 3 YO well-child check today. She's healthy as can be! I am continually amazed at how we could have three kids and one of them was average (50th %ile), one off the charts (big) and now one off the charts (small).

Comparing the three kids' stats, we have:
Age Three Stats
Kid Height Weight
M 35" 29 lb.
T 38 1/2 " 41 1/2 lb.
C 37" 31 lb.

(I do want to add in that T weighed over M's current weight--that is, 29 lb., 3 oz.--when he was 15 months old!)

She's so much fun... And so very, very three-years-old! I was talking with a friend who also has a daughter M's age, who is the third kid. I'm amazed at how much "older" stuff M knows because of having older sibs. She's going to be the kid that her classmate's moms won't let their daughter play with! Her current favorite musical group is Green Day. Luckily she doesn't know ALL the lyrics yet...

January 9, 2006

M's Birthday Party
Whew! Survived M's birthday party! That's not really fair... It was a very fun time. With everyone being sick, we haven't "entertained" for a long time.
My SIL called on Saturday and invited us to their house for supper that night (45 min. drive) and we went. :) We had a great time, but it seriously cut into my cooking and cleaning time! So I came home Saturday and baked the cake (half chocolate; half white) and made the meatballs. Then I went to bed. Sunday was a flurry of running to the store(s), cooking and cleaning. G did the majority of the cleaning (except the kitchen and bathroom) while C and I decorated the cake... wait! here's a picture of it:

Her party had a farm theme.
Food-wise, here's what we had:
big bowl of cheetos
pretzels and cheese spread
bagels and spinach dip
tortilla chips with fiesta party dip and guacamole

Italian saladveggie tray w/ dip
Italian breadLight wheat bread
Spaghetti w/ red sauce (some with meatballs; some without)
Baked macaroni and cheese
Pesto cavatappi pasta
And of course birthday cake with ice cream for dessert.

Here's a picture of the birthday girl, wearing her new dress--which matches her Bitty Baby (baby Molly)'s outfit.

She got some cool gifts!
*new jammies and a flower child outfit
*Dora the Explorer magna-doodle
*Cranium Cariboo game
*Barrel of Monkeys
*soccer uniform for Jump-Jump (her Build-a-Bear frog)
*Backpack from Dora
*two Dora books
*painting set

Now blowing out her candle:

C and her friends had so much fun doing farm-themed games (I'm not sure what all they did, but they made stick ponies and played "hot piggie" and did some farm animal beanbag toss thing).

Oh, and I have to share something that blew my mind... M was playing with her new Dora magna doodle thing and she drew this blob-like thing and asked me to guess what it was. I guessed a mountain, Boots the monkey, etc. Finally, she said "no, it's a PIG! Here, I'll write 'pig'" and she wrote a "p". I said "i" and she wrote "i" and then I said "g" and she wrote a backwards "G"! I was shocked! And then immediately crushed that she did it on a *magnadoodle* so I couldn't save it... C's 10 YO friend said "take a picture of it!" so I did. And now I'll share it:

OK, enough bragging. Here's some more cute pics from the party:

M took that last one herself! :)

January 6, 2006

Target Christmas 90% off!!!!!
OMG, my head's still spinning.
Let me start by saying that today is M's 3rd birthday. My BABY is now three... I have no more babies and will have no more babies. I have a big girl. Pictures of the 3YO below, but I wanted to say that, in honor of her third birthday, I *only* hit three Target stores (I was home by 10:30 and she often sleeps that late, so I didn't miss much of her birthday). While the three year old plays a game of Uno Attack! with her daddy, I'll post my finds.
First the picture:

Everything was 90% off, so I'll include only the sale prices
Funky champagne flutes (4) with multicolor dots on them 1,79
Mini red & green lights, sets of 100 6 at 0.18 ea.
Mini solid white lights, sets of 100 3 at 0.18
Spiral tree made of rope lights (wanted one forever!) 1.99
wine-colored poinsetta (velvet) thank you cards 0.29
Soft-side travel cooler with 4 travel games 2.00
Deluxe trunk organizer 1.00
Travel cooler/warmer that plugs into cigarette lighter 3.00
Lip smackers 3 packs 3 at 0.39 ea.
Choxie cube 0.50
Choxie cookies 0.80
Choxie sampler of chocolates 1.20
Choxie peppermint cremes 1.20
Choxie espresso truffle 0.50
Assorted Xmas wrap in rolls (batman, starwars, etc.) 5 at 0.29 ea.
Roll of gift tag labels 0.19
Bag of gift bows (60) 0.29
Funky cordial glass set (4 glasses--I'll use for desserts) 1.29
Xmas return address labels 0.19
Twisted Whiskers day by day calendar 0.79
Rainbow colored wine glasses (set of 4) 1.99
Creme Brulee set (torch w/ 4 ramekins) 1.99
Charlie Brown Xmas t-shirt, size L 0.99
Homer Simpson Xmas t-shirt, size M 0.99
Xmas martini beverage napkins 3 at 0.19 ea.
M&M lip smackers set of 3 0.49
Full-size flannel sheet set (Sleddin' hill) 1.99 (my favorite buy of the day!)
Cherry candy canes 0.19
Raspberry candy canes 0.19
Cell phone/MP3 player holder for car 0.50
Oreo (2) mug and cookie gift set 0.99
Tiny ornament set of 50 (C's mini tree) 0.99
Grand total (drum roll please....) of $34.94
AND I had my Target gift cards from our credit card company, so nothing out of pocket!
Alright, to finish up, here's a few pics of the birthday girl:

Off to play with my three year old! Probably more to post after the celebrations!

January 2, 2006

How exciting--Grocery Shopping Day!
Target hasn't gone 90% yet (I keep checking the MyCoupons boards) so I'll have to pacify myself by grocery shopping :)
Today I spent $64.42 and saved $46.95 using coupons and in-store specials, etc. If I hadn't gotten crazy about organic dairy products (a friend of mine who used to work in microbiology explained how dairy is the WORST when it comes to dangers of buying non-organic), It'd be even cheaper, but a few bucks a week is nothing to protect my family.
Big deals of the day:
*Chicken breasts, thin-cut chicken breasts, chicken tenderloins, regularly $4.99 a lb. on sale for $1.99/pd! I bought 5 lbs..
*97% lean ground beef at $2.39/lb
*Xmas and New Year's stuff 75% off (I bought napkins, plates, solid black tablecloths and a plain white serving tray at $0.40 each)
*Flintstones gummy vitamins (my kids love these) $1 off in-store coupon plus $1 off manufacturer's coupon=$4.49
*Duracell 4 pk. of C-cells on sale for $4.29 plus $0.75 coupon
*Entertainment book $5 off $50 purchase
I got one more certificate for the Bag of Dreams thing, bringing me to 15 total, which will earn me a $35 gift certificate next week! wooo hooo!

January 1, 2006

First of the Year: Resolve to actually write in the blog...
Alright, here we go...
I feel better physically than I have in three weeks (after 3 days of antibiotics for a secondary sinus infection after a dreadful cold), so of course Target called...
This was the second day of 75% off Christmas clearance, so I really didn't get too much. Stuff (at the Northridge Target) was pretty picked over. Everyone must know about the "hidden deals" because the only thing I found was a box of Pepperidge Farm gingerbread people... Well, here's everything I got and the 75% off price:
Simpsons Xmas Boxers (Mistle D'oh!) 1.99
2 more boxes of 100 mini multi lights for the tree 0.47 ea
page a day Sudoko calendar 1.99
several more farm-themed things for Mira's party bags 0.25 ea.
The Gingerbread cookies 1.37
1 roll of solid green wrapping paper for b-days 0.74
TOTAL: $8.40 on the pharmacy gift card :)

I just wish I knew when it was going 90% off... I refuse to buy gift wrap or labels or bows unless it's 90%! :)

This week's Michael's ad had a 50% off coupon, but only good Sunday and Monday, so Cara and I had to stop there. I bought a skein of bright pink wool yarn (Paton's Classic) for $2.49, thinking I'll stock up and eventually have enough to knit a felt purse/bag. This is the one I really want to make: http://www.angelhairyarn.com/freepattern901.html but I'm open to suggestions for a better beginner bag...

While I'm on the topic of knitting, I might as well share pics of my latest projects. I was feeling so crappy before Xmas that I didn't get to make scarves for the kids' teachers. So I emailed them and asked if they would like a scarf or something else hand-knit and that I'd happily work on it over break. C's teacher said that she had once sat on a plane near a woman who was knitting socks and she was fascinated by it and has wanted hand-knit socks since.

I'm actually pretty happy with the way they turned out. Look at how closely the patterns matched up (the yellow heel; starting and ending with blue...)
My only complaint is that the yarn I used is NOT sock-weight yarn and so they're pretty bulky. Someday I'll splurge on REAL sock yarn from the LYS and try it with smaller knitting needles.
I used Moda Dea Sassy Stripes Lucky and this pattern:http://www.modadea.com/patterns/LM0131.htm
I did the upper part with size 5's and from the heel down with size 4's so it was a bit tighter knit.

The other thing I'm working on is a golf club cover for this Goliath golf club that DH got for Xmas (it's too big for his regular covers to fit). Unfortunately, I started it while in the midst of some sickness and/or med-induced space place, so I forgot to do straight ribbing before switching to the spiral ribbing... I'm hoping I can go back and pick up stitches at the bottom and add on the straight ribbing at the end. I'm using this pattern: http://www.sarahpeasley.com/freepatterns/spiralribgolfclubcovers.pdfers.pdf