Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Two knitting updates

Maybe three...

I'll begin with the saddest one...
Frequent readers will remember my l-o-n-g story-telling of making the socks for my Sockapaloooza pal (the story is here). Here's a photo of what I mailed out:

Since my pal lives overseas, I mailed them out the end of April. Well, it's now eight weeks since I mailed them and my pal has not received them... I think I have to accept the fact that the package I mailed has disappeared... Seriously, I want to cry when I think about it.

So my sock sister asked me if I would be willing to be my own sock savior (one who knits for the sockapalooozers who didn't receive socks) and I said that I would... Unfortunately, I have no more dye-able yarn, and all my sock yarn on-hand has colors that my pal requested her socks NOT have, so I decided to use a partial-wool, worsted weight, shade-of-brown yarn to make my pal socks thick enough that they COULD be worn as slippers, but still thin enough to fit inside a slightly large shoe. I hope that's okay... I can't afford any more sock yarn right now... Anyway, I got started on my "savior socks" and I think they're looking pretty okay :) Not as good as the originals, but I hope my pal will like them. Here's shots of the top (patterned) and bottom (plain). It's a pattern I'm making up as I go along, taking elements from all the socks I've knit thus far.

I have finished two more ball-band washcloths from Mason-Dixon Knitting, knit as opposites. I think I will try to do several sets of these to have on hand for when I need "hostess gifts"... instead of flowers or coffee (my usuals), how about a pair of handknit warshcloths? :)

Finally, I finished the baby kimono (also from MDK), but have to get the ribbons and make a matching hat before I post any pics.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Well, opening weekend went off without a hitch! Okay, mostly without a hitch... G. went on opening night and he said the sound was terrible. By the time I went on Saturday (with my mom), they must have figured it out, because I thought it was wonderful! G's comment, however, was that the one problem with the whole production is that there's not enough C.! Can't agree more. The kids are only on for two numbers in the two hour production. LOTS of downtime...

It has been a really different experience from "Joseph", but overall a very positive one, I think. It's so cute to see the kids interact with the adult performers and the level of adoration.

Here's a shot of C. in her schoolgirl outfit:

And one side of the stage when they're singing "Santa Evita" (C is second from the left):

And finally, I'd promised my friend (who sent this Hanna outfit) that I'd share a picture of M. wearing her new summer Hannas:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My sweet geek daughter :)

Just kidding...
I think she looks adorable in her brand-new head gear!

AND I have had a lot of time sitting around (orthodontist's office; Evita rehearsal) so I have been knitting a lot. I'll post pics of other stuff later, but I started socks with my Dye-O-Rama yarn. I am SO excited by it:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Summer Plans

Suzee asked what our summer plans are, so here goes:

Mother's Helper for 2 hours a week (Tuesday afternoons) for three little boys--aged 5, 3 and 1
Orchestra for 3 weeks
Tennis for 3 weeks
Library helper (with preschool story time and arts)
Middle School Book Club at the library
Mother-Daughter Book Club
One week of Girl Scout Camp (Legends & Lore)

Guitar lessons
Tennis for 3 weeks
College for Kids: Abracadabra Math & Magic for a week
College for Kids: GeoCaching for 2 weeks

Gymnastics for 3 weeks
Library Story Time (weekly)
Zoo giraffe class

Teaching 2x a week
Golf every 2 weeks
Misc. committee work and prep stuff

Getting kids places
Reading for my two book clubs

And we have weekly playgroup that we may or may not attend regularly, plus we hope to hit the pool several times, play some tennis, bike ride, see some cheap summer movies, and we go to the library weekly (the kids have three summer reading programs--through our library, Build-a-Bear and Barnes & Noble)... it'll be busy!

What about everyone else?

Friday, June 09, 2006

End-of-the-year Mama brags

Today was the kids' last day of school, so I officially have a middle-schooler (gasp!) and a third grader. I was lucky enough to attend some of the end-of-the-year celebrations this week since G. is on his mid-term break from teaching (he starts summer school Monday). This Monday I went roller-skating with T's class. Thursday I helped at C's fifth grade party and then ran over to help with T's second grade party. This morning was a fifth grade breakfast with the teachers and the fifth graders got to view the Memory CD that I helped compile. After that, the fifth graders did the "Walk of Fame" through the school while all their former teachers and all the younger students clapped and cheered. Then they went to the final assembly of the 2005-06 school year--the Awards assembly.

C. got awards for Battle of the Books (second place team), Art Docents, President's Award for Educational Excellence, lots of music (vocal and orchestral) participation awards, and Physical Best health fitness standards. In addition, she got classroom awards (from her teacher) for being the Best Mathematician, the Best Helper and the Computer Expert! I was thrilled with her report card, as she (for the first time) maintained her grades for the last quarter! She got straight A's except for language arts (her ongoing struggle with her spelling and handwriting issues). I am most impressed (and amazed) that she got an A in phy. ed!

The awards are almost exclusively for fifth graders, so T. didn't get any, but he was chosen to represent his class in the "students vs. teachers" kickball game. I guess he even scored a run! I am also very pleased with his report card. He got all "E"s in academic subjects and he had very positive comments from his teachers, too. A month ago, he was finally able to move up in math class (we'd started the process a month before THAT) and he did a great job keeping up and he will start right away next year in fourth grade math. His teacher sent home GOBS of work from the year and I hadn't realized how entertaining of a writer he is until I had a chance to read some of his work. I'm including my favorite piece that came home--something he wrote in December.

T. loved lindor mints more than anything in the universe. He loved it more than chocolate, and especially more than blackwidows. Everyone called him MintyT. When C. asked, "What will you have for lunch today?" T. always replied, "a lindor mint sandwich!" One morning T. woke up looked down and he'd almost melted! H
e didn't want to go to school because he was afraid that someone would take a bite out of him, and then he would be nothing but a sphere of chocolate with a bite out of it. Instead of walking to school, he had to roll to school. In the hall, G. almost took a bite out of him. Then T. thought "Okay, I need to be more careful." Then it was time for writing. T. thought "Oh, darn it, I can't write if I'm round." Soon it was the end of the day. When he got home, he made a wish. It was that he was a human again. The next morning, his wish came true. Then he lived happily again.

And while I'm bragging, I'll include a picture of M. on her two-wheeled bike (with training wheels!): She is doing an amazing job pedaling, turning, stopping and getting going from a stopped position. However, I learned that she doesn't fully understand hills (or slopes) yet when I was taking an adorable picture and tossed down the camera just in time to catch her from going into the road:

The knitting sensation that's sweeping the nation...

I fought it for awhile. I just couldn't see what all the fuss could be about a simple knitting book. But I got it, and it's fun and it's ADDICTING! Look--it's a warshcloth:

I love, love, loved this pattern! It's just mindless enough that I could see it being my "take along and knit when you're paying attention to something else" while being interesting enough that I won't immediately get bored with it. It was relatively easy to memorize/learn the pattern, too. I actually quit the pattern one repeat ahead of time because I thought it was getting too big... I like my "warshcloths" smaller, so next time I'd do one less "brick" across (so I guess 39 stitches instead of 45) and do only the pattern and four repeats, followed by the row of knit and row of purl.

And now I'm thinking about casting on to make the baby kimono. I have a nice red cotton here...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dyeing variegated yarn with Wilton's

My pal let me know that she received her yarn yesterday, so I can post the stories of its birth.

The first yarn that I attempted (and actually completed) was an orange, brown and green self-striping yarn, detailed in a post I wrote yesterday.

As mentioned, I wasn't thrilled with how tangled it got and how many times I had to re-skein it (and the felting that occurred) so I decided to make a second skein a different way.

I chose colors that I thought might look neat together (all the shades of blue/purple in my Wilton's kit). I washed the yarn (again using Knit Picks' dye-your-own sock yarn) with dish detergent and then soaked it in cool water with vinegar. I prepared three mason jars with the dye (royal blue, sky blue and violet) mixed with vinegar. Then I dunked portions of the skein in each:

I microwaved the whole mass (putting the jars into a pyrex casserole dish to catch overflow first) for five minutes and let it sit until it was room temperature (actually, this one sat overnight). I then rinsed it until the water ran clear and laid it out to dry.

When it was dry, I skeined it with the niddy noddy:

And then made my own labels to send it to my sock pal, along with the self-striping one:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dyeing Self-Striping Yarn with a Warping Board

I had my DH make Scout's Ghetto Warping Board for me as a Mother's Day gift.

I couldn't wait to try my hand at self-striping yarn! However, I found that there were very few tutorials online for using a warping board and really none that showed how to use it the way Scout does. So I emailed/pestered Scout a bit and then came up with this:

(For this skein, I only wanted three colors, so I put only 6 pegs into the top 3 sets of holes. You use the outer holes to wrap and the inner holes to dry, as the yarn shrinks somewhat when wet.)

Something to keep in mind is that this method of warping/wrapping will produce a repeating pattern that jogs back. That is, if you use green, red, yellow for your colors, it will not do green, red, yellow, green, red, yellow stripes, but will do green, red, yellow, red, green, red, yellow...)

Start with a slip knot on the upper left peg.

Each wrap from left to right constitutes one knit row, so you need to wrap multiple times on the same set of pegs in order to have longer stripes. I chose a 3-2-2 wrap pattern (3x around the top pegs, 2x each pass through the middle pegs, 2 times around the bottom) so that I would have more brown than orange, and the most green, though it would be smaller stripes--just repeated more often.

When wrapping/warping, the most important thing to be careful of, is to avoid making full loops around any peg (too difficult to remove it from the peg, tie it off, then return it to the peg). If at all possible, you want to create big, loose loops, but in order to get the yarn at the top to wrap in the correct direction, you need to make a big figure 8 shape on the top and bottom pegs. Here's a rough sketch of wrapping on the way down: and then (in red) the wrapping on the way up:

When it is all wrapped, it looks a bit like this:

The next thing you want to do is tie off the loops at each end with polyester yarn like this:

And then it's time to dye! First I soaked the yarn in water with vinegar (the next batch I did, I washed it with dish detergent first and the color took better!):

I covered my stovetop with three big sheets of saran wrap and laid out the yarn, after I'd wrung as much water out as I could:

I mixed up the dye (using Wilton's food paste--next time I'd make it even more concentrated):

I dribbled the dye onto the sections of yarn, using lots of paper towel to sop up the stuff that ran off. Then I wrapped the saran wrap around the sections :

and put the saran-wrapped sections back into a pyrex bowl and put it in the microwave for 6 minutes:

I took it out of the microwave and let it cool to room temperature (about 4-5 hours) and then I rinsed it:

and put it back onto the warping board to dry (unfortunately, I'd wrapped it so tightly that I couldn't get it to fit over all three sets of pegs! oops...):
And when it was dry I niddy-noddied it (It's the lower skein):

Some comments:
The only issues were when I was trying to put the yarn into a useable skein. It turned into a tangled, pilling, awful mess! I had to un-niddy-noddy it and put it into a ball first, then niddy-noddy, then that didn't work well, so I had to re-ball and re-NN it. ugh! So...
Next time I'll try to cross the yarns a lot less when wrapping
Next time, even if I'm only using 3 colors, I'll use all 6 sets of pegs, so there's less yarn on each
Next time I will be careful not to wrap so tightly (the pegs were folding in)
Next time I'll wash the yarn with dish detergent
Next time I'll mix the dye more concentrated

Monday, June 05, 2006

PancakeBaby gifts...

My dear friend Pancake Goddess is expecting sweet baby boy #4 very soon. I saw it as a good excuse to knit some tiny things.

I had asked if she needed any wool soakers, since I loved making those when my M. was still in cloth diapers. She told me that she didn't have any small sizes, so I created this one, altering the patter from Fern & Fairie to make it completely knit on circulars and with no grafting!!! (Ask if you want me to type in the alterations...) I knit it in natural Fisherman's wool:

and then dyed it with Wilton's leaf green. Finally, I embroidered some (lame-looking) bugs on the front and back:

Pancake Goddess laughs at me for my love of knitting socks, so I really thought her new baby should have a pair of baby socks (NOT booties--these are socks!):

And shortly after I'd completed the soaker, Pancake Goddess mentioned a pattern she'd found for a newborn soaker sack type thing. Essentially, it's a soaker that is open at the bottom like those newborn gowns so you can just lift it up for diaper changes. We both agreed that $10 for a pattern to knit a tube didn't make sense, so I improvised and made a soaker tube out of the Fisherman's natural, then dyed it with a mix of Wilton blue shades. Pancake goddess will have to tell me how it works, cuz I totally improvised on the waist size and length...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Nothing but pictures!

Lest you all think I've been doing nothing for the last two weeks, I will tell you that nothing could be farther from the truth. It has been CRAZY in that "end of the school year" fashion. And I have been working on two projects, which I cannot/will not post pictures of or details about quite yet. Still, I've been feeling like a slacker, so here's a post full of photos and brief explanations...

First, some pictures from our Mother's Day trip to the zoo (just the kids and I so G. could finish his correcting). We saw all the traditional animals, but these birds, running "wild" were more entertaining!

Then a picture of my handmade Mother's Day gifts from C. and T. C. made me a "chain" of paper (origami) cranes and beads. T. made me a candle from an old wine bottle, some yarn, dry macaroni and crayons.
The next two are from two performances that C. had in school. The first shows her with her dear friend M2 playing a duet at the "solo and ensemble concert". It's called "Lonely Ballroom" and C. and M2 wrote it themselves! Their orchestra instructor seemed very pleased and we parents were sure proud :) The second picture is from the First Annual Spring Sing at their school. C. and her friend V. were strolling musicians while the parents were waiting for the concert to begin. Unfortunately, five minutes into the concert it started to storm and the whole outdoor concert was postponed by two days. C. is wearing Chuck Taylors intentionally--the fifth graders learned to dance the merengue (girls WITH boys!) and were told to wear sneakers so they didn't get hurt!Over Memorial Day weekend, we had T's birthday party. He had five classmates over and we went to The Mineshaft--a restaurant with a huge game room, then home for cake and a sleepover. He had a fantastic time, but is still catching up on sleep...

Here's one of T. with the snake he had painted on his face at Family Fun Night (the school's end-of-the-year cookout, games, fun thing):
And last (but not least) is a picture of M. doing dot-to-dots--her latest passion: