Monday, August 24, 2009


Looking back at this post, it's time to do a little scorekeeping and see where I am with 8 months of the year almost gone.

1 - Amelia, done
2 - Heather's striped sweater, done
3 - Samus, just needs zipper, 99% done
4 - Bristow, just needs reinforcing, 99% done
5 - Todd's blanket (I'm counting this under rule #6), done
6 - Fair Isle Vest, 65% done
7 - Former Bombshell Cotton top, 40% done
8 - Babette blanket, 50% done?
9 - Venezia Vest, yarn purchased, 0% done

At this point, I think getting all 12 items done before the end of the year is a stretch (unless the cleaning fairy shows up and Todd starts going to bed at 8pm...) but I'm pretty happy with the results of focusing my knitting time on a limited number of major projects and I could see myself continuing with the same strategy in 2010. Especially since Todd has such an impressive sweater wardrobe from my friends that I don't need to make him anything else for this winter!

Knitting (& crochet)

When I started a draft of this post, it was going to be about knitting in July. I suppose that ship has sailed. Maybe it is more accurate to just call it Summer Knitting (& Crochet). Or Knitting (& Crochet) in 2009, since this represents all of my projects from this year other than Amelia and Heather's sweater (which I apparently never blogged about - oops!). So for those of you not on ravelry and the ravelers who have too many friends to keep up with, here are some project updates with pictures.

1 - Two projects for Todd.
The hat was made during one of our April trips to Dayton. I knew by that point that his blanket wasn't going to be done before he arrived and I was feeling a wee bit of guilt given that there was a fair isle hat ready for Heather upon her arrival and nothing for Todd. A fair isle hat would be silly for a May baby, but cables seemed reasonable. Somewhere during my maternity leave he started filling out the hat really well.
And, his blanket. Other than a pair of mitts, this is my first big completed crochet project. I found the pattern for the center of the square online and added rows of double crochet around it to make each square bigger. There are aspects of the square construction that got better as I went, and I bet in a few years there will be aspects of this that make me cringe. But given how much Todd loves nibbling on this blanket and the fact that it is a perfect light-weight but still snuggly blanket for a summer baby, I have no regrets.

I put the squares together with a single crochet-chain one combination that was inspired by the patterns in "Blueprint Crochet". Much simpler than Robyn's work, but it avoids sewing or creating a heavy "bump" of crochet stitches at the seam.

I think I had 6 or 7 squares of the blanket done before Todd was born. The other squares, the crocheting together and the crocheted edge were finished on maternity leave when I let Todd sleep on me so he would nap for longer than 15-20 minutes at a stretch or when I didn't feel like starting a household task because I knew he'd wake up in 15-20 minutes. ;-) It was a great project for picking up and putting down, especially the long rows of double crochet.

2 - Sweater for Baby Evelyn

(The photos should be adjusted to be less-yellow. The lightest shade in the stripes is really a light robin's egg blue.)

I'm really happy with how this one turned out and was a little sad to give it away, although I've known E's mommy my whole life and was glad to make her something special. The genesis of it was the result of a stash dive and a glance through my ravelry queue. This sweater was one of the reasons I bought the book that it is in and although I'm not crazy with the way the patterns are written and I think the book could be greatly improved by more charts and fewer abbreviations, I'm a confident enough knitter to rewrite things in a way that makes sense to my brain...which is what I had to do with the lace edging.

The original pattern is knit in one color and includes a textured/lace pattern on the sleeves, which I didn't do since I felt that it wouldn't work well in 4 colors. The stripes were really just because I didn't have enough of any one color of purple for an entire sweater and once I imagined a solid color flower on a background of stripes I was dying to make it. Weaving in the ends was a pain, but worthwhile in my opinion for a striking result.

3 - 95% Sweaters

I've got two projects listed as being 95% completed on ravelry. Really, if listing them as 99.99% completed was an option I would. I don't have photos yet, just snippits.

This is the sleeve of Samus. Everything is done except for sewing in the zipper. I've got the zipper and ribbon to back it with. I just need to sit down with the sweater, the zipper, the ribbon and sew the darn thing in. It's even blocked and fits great on my post-pardem body. I'm sure the heat and humidity is 95% of the reason that I haven't sat down with this wool sweater yet to finish it.

Below is the lovely yarn that I've used to knit my Bristow. It's really even further along than Samus since it is technically wearable. It's ends are woven in and it even has buttons. The thing I've discovered is because it is a fitted cardigan, the button band and button holes need reinforcement. I own the bias tape to do the reinforcing, I just need to sit down and sew it in. Again, a wool-silk yarn is not compatible with the heat and humidity we've had lately. Although it is chilly enough in my office that I probably could be wearing it...4 - Fair Isle Vest
This project was started earlier this year with alpaca yarn I bought at the local Knitting Festival from the alpaca farmers themselves. It didn't take me long to determine that I didn't buy enough of the chocolate and tan yarns to complete the whole thing, so during a visit to my local yarn shop this spring I purchased one skein each of a light pink, cranberry and eggplant alpaca yarn to make the fair isle more colorful. The i-cord was monotonous but the fair isle is surprisingly good bus knitting.

5 - Babette (still)
I have been forcing myself to use my "me" time at home to work on weaving in ends on the squares for this blanket. I'm not letting myself finish the bigger squares until the ends on the small, finished squares are done because I know that if I have to go back and weave in ALL of the ends when the squares are done this blanket will NEVER get finished, no matter how pretty I think it will be.

It's been so long since I've done any actual crocheting on this project, I'm hopeful that my tension won't be totally different when I get back to making the squares again. I also don't know how I'm going to sew or crochet them together, but I do know that I don't want to start until they are all done and I can lay the whole thing out in a cat/baby/toddler-proof room!
6 - Cotton!
When things really got too hot and humid to have any wool or alpaca fibers touching my skin in any way I ripped out a cotton top I started last July and started over. This time I'm making the neckline V-neck and am adding more simple details with the purple yarn since I only have one skein of it. (I tried to make everything below the chest purple last time, and there is not enough yarn for that.) I'm using the formulas from Barbara Walker's "Knitting from the Top" (this book has been in my library for a while - why have I not read it before?!?!) and trying it on as I go. It's on a little bit of a hold since the humidity went back down and I'm finding a lot more interest in the fair isle than endless stockinette...but I want the end product and the sleeves should be fun, so I won't let this sit for too long. I also think this will be better camping knitting than just about anything else, so this should see more progress before it gets too cold to wear it. :-)
7 - Next in line...
And last but not least, I have this yarn waiting in the wings. It's going to be a v-neck, vest version of the Venezia Pullover by Eunny Jang. Can't wait to get started, but I'm holding myself back until I get a few more things finished. My limited time and persistant tiredness means that I just can't deal with too much multi-tasking in my knitting.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back to work, etc.

Comments and Observations:

1 - Pumping is MUCH less stressful when you're getting more milk than you need on a daily basis. It's a combination of having a stronger supply this time and Todd taking less at daycare than Heather did. I'm very thankful and I hope it lasts. I pumped almost as much as I need for all of tomorrow in today's first session. Of course, I hesitate to say that for fear that Todd will suddenly want a lot more at school...but given the way he's been cluster feeding with me I'm not too worried.

2 - We will not speak of Todd's sleeping habits for fear that the good will end. I'm still tired because I can't get to bed as early as I would like and his bedtime is still adjusting, but I'm not complaining. And as we approach 4 months all of my fingers and toes are crossed...

3 - My knitting mojo is back in full force. It's almost debilitating since my desire to knit far outpaces my available time. It's great to have bus knitting time back and to be getting caught up on podcasts, but I know that having lots of projects in the works right now would be too much for my overwhelmed brain. So I'm not casting on until I do some finishing, and the daydreaming about new projects is almost more than I can handle. I also don't want to stop knitting once I start. (Just one factor in not going to bed as early as I should - although knitting helps to calm my brain and fall asleep faster once I turn off the light, so that part is positive.)
I managed to upload some knitting photos this weekend. So those of you on ravelry can go check them out and my next post solely about knitting will probably have pictures. Probably.

4 - I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this weekend. I enjoyed it quite a bit, although I don't think it will be my favorite movie in the end. It's a little difficult to judge since I spent quite a bit of the movie mentally comparing it to the book. Once I get a few more viewings under my belt it will be a little easier to judge it as a movie in its own right. But overall, I think it got the general feeling and important points of the book right. I know that others were unhappy with the ending, but I wasn't. I found that in the book I needed a mental rest between the major death and the battle that follows, the kind of rest that one can't get while watching the movie. So I liked that the movie minimized the battle and allowed the end of the movie to be about mourning and preparing for the battles to come.

The only change in the movie that I noted that I didn't like was that Dumbledore and Harry never discussed what the other horcruxes might be or the importance of Voldemort picking objects that were his "trophies" or otherwise valuable to him. I think that's a critical piece that Dumbledore figures out and shares. I assume that we'll be shown how Harry figures that out on his own in the next movie, but that was the one missing scene that bothered me while watching the movie.

Now is not the time, but I am feeling the urge to re-read HP7 soon.

5 - I'm on Season 7 of The West Wing. I started rewatching the series soon after Todd was born and borrowed all but the first season from Mom and Dad. I finished with Season 5 when I returned to work and am making more progress during Todd's cluster feeding. Also, the oppressive heat and humidity this weekend helped because I didn't feel like doing anything...even when he wasn't nursing.

I've really enjoyed rewatching the series. There were a lot of small moments that I had forgotten and a lot of minor players rediscovered. I now know why John Locke looked familiar when we started watching lost (military advisor to President Bartlett in later seasons) and it was fascinating to see Sun's "boyfriend" and father play a North Korean pianist and his handler, respectively. I should have kept a running list of interesting actor sightings, but didn't think of it at the time. I had also forgotten before I started Season 7 that a CMU alum I "knew" was a member of the Santos campaign team. Those darn CMU alums are everywhere!

6 - I think the only thing to report about Heather is just how big she looks. There are moments when you just see little girl and there is absolutely no baby or toddler to be found. R captured one of those moments at the playground this weekend. I think part of it is how long and lean she's getting and part is just from all that she can do. It's really fabulous to watch.

Despite her older appearance, she's totally refusing to sit on the potty and is still clinging to the pacifier as a strong comfort object. (We had a little success with PT, but she's reverted to refusal since Todd started at daycare.) For right now we are reminding ourselves that she won't be using diapers and pacifiers forever and the transition of "sharing" daycare with Todd has definitely affected her, so we won't be forcing any changes right now.

I think the hardest moments are when we are on a "schedule". Trying to balance some happy, relaxed minutes together or letting Heathr do things "all by myself" with the need to keep things moving on our busy weekdays. There is little leeway in our Monday through Friday routine, but allowing for a little flexibility helps keep everyone happy. There is always a happy balance we are trying to acheive...and the needs will just change again when Todd gets older and more mobile.

7 - My family has experienced a few losses in the past four months. I'm finding it very difficult to write the condolence cards. I stared at the blank cards for a bit this weekend. I've been told that its better to say something that's not quite right than nothing at all, but it still feels pretty impossible. It's much easier to get caught up on thank you notes, but of course I didn't do that either...

8 - Thanks to everyone who has inquired about the past two weeks. The return to work has gone pretty well for me. Enough work to keep the days from moving too slowly. But not so much work that I'm feeling totally stressed or overwhelmed. Things are kind of slow right now, but we're short listed for a large project that would really help the firm out financially. So if you could all keep your fingers crossed that we get this big job, it would really improve the job security for all of us.

I'm still not totally on track with the meal planning thing. But there are meals in the freezer and I'm 10 times better at it than I was before maternity I'm happy with my progress and that I've added a few recipes to my repertoire. In the past couple of months I've made meatballs, banana bread, pot roast, lasagna and pancakes (not on the same night!) for the first time and my confidence in the kitchen is up. I am a happier cook when I don't have to look at a recipe every five minutes, and even happier when I can improvise with the ingredients I have. So I expect that meal planning and nightly cooking will get even better as my skills and experience improves.

Of course, all three of us still love easy things like mac'n'cheese and frozen its not like I need to turn into a nightly gourmet. ;-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Kid Stats

My good intentions keep getting away from me as I seem to be spending 90% of my weekday evenings in the kitchen, eating dinner and nursing Todd. So I'm going to try to make myself write brief posts instead of waiting to have time to write what I really want to write with pictures, etc. :-)

Heather had her 2 1/2 year check-up on Monday. She's 34 1/2" tall (+2 1/2") and weighs 26 lbs (+2 1/4 lbs). She did great with the doctor. She was cooperative and responsive (just a little shy) and really seemed to impress him with her language. She didn't tell him any stories, but spoke in some long sentences. He didn't express any concerns and wasn't even worried about the lack of potty training. I suppose he might feel differently in 6 months, but I think R and I both hope it won't be an issue by then...

I have a feeling I've missed both Todd updates, so let me fix that before I get three appointments behind!
1 month, 1 week - 8 lbs, 13 oz (+3 lbs from birth) and 21 1/2"(+2" from birth)
2 months, 1 week - 10 lbs, 13 oz and 22 1/2"

He's had good appointments. Since I've done this before and he's a fairly easy baby I haven't had a lot of questions for the doctor. And since he's growing well the doctor hasn't has a lot of questions for me. Can't ask for much more than that! The doctor commented on how strong he is and that he seems to be catching up to the milestones for his age, so we don't expect we'll have to worry about his adjusted age much at all. And, bonus, Todd only cried for about 30 seconds when he got his shots. I didn't even have to nurse him to calm him down!

We go back the second week of September to find out how far he has outpaced his sister on growth. She was 12 lbs, 14 oz at 4 months and according to our scale at home he's already 13 1/2 lbs! The funny thing is that everyone keeps telling us that he's a "little guy", but from our perspective he's not.

We are definitely blessed to have two healthy kids!