Arguing With Myself

Let me set the scene:

There I was, knitting away happily on my Wispy. Beautiful yarn was transforming into beautiful sweater in my capable hands. Only one problem. I was knitting a portion of the sweater that was numbing my brain. All the excitement of picking up stitches and establishing the rib pattern had vanished and I was left with an endless loop of K1, P1 until I achieved 3″ of ribbing. So, I dutifully sat, chanting “knit, purl, knit, purl, [sigh], knit, purl”, ’till at last I thought, “surely that is three inches!” But, upon rendering accurate measurement (with a tool that I had to search for, taking up fifteen minutes of my precious knitting time) I found that I only had two inches. Sigh

Knit. Purl. Knit. Purl. Knit Purl. Around and around. “Surely by now I am there!” Measure. Nope.

Knit. Purl. Knit. Purl. Knit Purl. Around and around. “That has got to be three inches.” Measure. Nope.

Knit. Purl. Knit. Purl. Knit Purl. Around and around. “Heavens to Betsy! This is endless!” Measure. Nope.

Now, this is about the time that I started arguing with myself. And the argument went something like this:

“Does it really have to be three inches? What difference could 1/2 inch make?” I asked myself.

To which I angelically replied, “If it is worth doing, then it is worth doing well.”

Disgusted, the impish side remarked, “But knitting is your hobby. Don’t you knit for fun? For cryin’ out loud! Your brain is turning to mush!”

“I am going to do all three inches. It just wouldn’t look right if I cut it short. Besides, I would have to write about the modifications in my blog and in my notes on Ravelry. How embarrassing that I couldn’t knit another half inch!”

“Nobody would have to know. You could just say that you did it all the way.”

I gasped in shock at this, “You want me to cheat and then lie about it?!?”

“Obviously,” I replied to myself in a bored tone. “Just think of all the interesting knitting ahead. Why, there are short rows! Your going to slog on for another half inch when there are short rows ahead!?!”

Okay, that was a low blow. We all know how I relish a challenge, and, as I have already stated, K1P1 rounds were dulling my senses. So, I did what any self respecting knitter would do. I put Wispy down and finished a different work in progress!

This was a smart move, let me tell you! Instant gratification – one strawberry takes about 20 minutes. I had a blast felting them. Plus, I finished a work in progress that was on my checklist a couple of weeks ago! (These are a gift to my Knitting Buddy’s daughter, who will turn two at the end of September. Her Daddy is building her a little kitchen, so my KB asked if anyone who wanted to give a gift would please make it something food related. This is my little contribution.)

Then, I went back to Wispy, to K1P1 for the remaining half inch. I am so glad I did!

You do believe me….. don’t you?

Imponderables

Some questions in life just don’t have any answers. Take these, for example:

Why is it that children, after bathing and donning clean pajamas, feel the need to roll around on the floor? My kids do this all the time. They have all day to slide across the floor on their bums, or slither like snakes, but they always wait until they are ready for bed. We live in the country (dirt) and have a concrete floor (dirty), so, as you can imagine, this does not please me. And now I realize that I have no photo to illustrate this point. I guess I was too busy saying, “Hey! Quit mopping the floor with your pajamas! You just got out of the bath, for cryin’ out loud!”

Why is it that the underwire in my bras eventually ends up working its way out of where it is supposed to be and burrowing into my chest? I pay good money for those puppies. I would understand if they were some cheapie off brand that I got at the thrift store, but I am talking about Victoria’s Secret. I expect better. No pictures for that one, either, I guess. What a boring post this is working out to be…

Why is it that when I finish a knitting project and have, say, 5 yards of yarn left over, I put that yarn back into the stash? I have a bowl of tiny little balls, all left over from projects long finished. I guess if I was planning to make some amazing, colorful creation like these folks… But I am not. I have no desire to ever use all these odds and ends, but I just can’t throw them away. It is inexplicable and pathetic. But, at least I have a picture for this one!

Will I really finish the Wispy Cardi or will it get set aside for some shiny new project that I have to cast on right now? Actually, I think I have the answer to this one. I have been a good girl and have not gotten side tracked all weekend. (I know you were thinking that I was going to stray over the weekend. Tee hee. Fooled ya!) Well, to be perfectly honest, I did work on the Labyrinth sweater on Saturday night, but that was only because I had come to a place in the Wispy that I had to pay attention, and I needed some mindless knitting while I watched Brian Regan with The Man. On Sunday, I came right back to it. Beka took this shot. I am holding what is left of the first ball of yarn (another useless end to go into the bowl, I guess):

The reason for this strange bout of monogamous knitting is another imponderable (I blame the malabrigo).

Defining My Occupation

Just a stay-at-home-mom? I think not. Try these on for size:

Waste Management Engineer Specializing, but not limited to, infant secretion disposal.

Elementary School Educator Turning every experience into a learning experience.

Guidance Counselor and Self-Help Guru Guiding them to help themselves.

Nutritional Supervisor and Gourmet Chef My motto – “Eat it, it’s good for you”.

Professional Shopper and Budget Manager Working miracles with a checkbook, one grocery cart at a time.

First Response Emergency Personnel Administering medical care when required and liberally applying Mama’s Magic where needed (uh, that would be kissing boo-boos)

Incubator and Infant Sustaining System I am so crafty, I make babies! I also make milk. What is your superpower?

Barber Specializing in crisis management, turning “Mama, I cut my bangs!” into “There, that’s not too bad, is it?”

Entertainment Coordinator and Chauffeur Including precise age-appropriatteness calculation expertise and proper Automobile Infant Restraint System usage expert.

Your turn. Can you think of more?

Pet Peeve

I have a little knitting pet peeve. And I don’t think I am alone. I can’t stand badly written patterns.

Now, you may say that I am being unreasonable or hard to please when I tell you that I hate patterns that use too many words just as much as I hate patterns that don’t use enough words. Knitwear Designer, pay attention here. When writing a pattern…

Please don’t write out directions for every single row for 40 rows, when the simple phrase “repeat last five rows 8 more times” will do. Also, please don’t use confusing phrases like “each end of 5th foll 6th rows”. HUH? Are you really unable to write that more clearly?

Please give me more instruction than just “join squares together”. Am I to sew them together? Using what method? How did you get the one in the picture to look seamless? I appreciate the freedom to use my favorite method, but what if I don’t have a favorite method and need a little help? Make a suggestion, at least!

Pictures, People. I also hate the beautiful, artsy pattern books that have awesome photos of children romping through a green forest and women laying in fields of flowers – but no good photos of the actual knitted garments. If you want me to knit one of your exquisite and complicated sweaters, it would be nice if you could show me what, exactly, the pattern is going to lead me to create.

Is this too much to ask? I think not. Take Hannah Fettig over at knitbot.com. She has it down pat. I am knitting her genius Wispy Cardi (more on that in a moment) and I cannot say enough good things about her pattern writing. She gives the perfect amount of information in the clearest terms. She somehow makes me feel really smart, as if I could have figured it out on my own, while at the same time giving every detail needed to complete the project. Her patterns are short, sweet and complete, and always have plenty of pictures. They are well worth every penny. (Your welcome, Mrs. Fettig. I take paypal.)

Now, about my cardi. I mentioned the word genius earlier, and I meant it. But, I am sloshing through the mundane at the moment. I know that the interesting part is coming, and I can’t wait to get there. But this first part is killing me with all the lace weight stockinette stitch! What really keeps me going, beside the promise of interesting knitting to come, is the yarn. Oh, baby! It is gorgeous. The color, the texture, the smell. I love this yarn. I am starting to wonder if this is a color that a thirty-something-mother-of-five like me can get away with wearing, but we will deal with that later. For now, I will continue to knit on what Abby said “looks like a long, plain scarf”. You know, I think she is right…

My Wispy Cardi in Malabrigo Lace Amoroso (It’s a work in progress…)

Diapering Chloe

When I got pregnant with Chloe, I thought to myself, “Self, you really should make new diapers for this new baby. Emma’s diapers are old and used.” And, I agreed with myself. I even bought fabric for the new diapers. And, if I remember right, I did make newborn sized diapers. But, I got busy and Emma’s diapers really weren’t all that bad, so I put it off. Until now. Well, until last week, when I was hanging out those old diapers and I realized that there were more holes than diapers!

So, yesterday, I began cutting, assembling and sewing a new set of diapers for Chloe. I was pleased to find that I had some already cut out, and further pleased to find that most of the fabric was girly.

I had lots of help. From the kids who “helped use up the scraps” making wash cloths for their dolls, to the lap warmer who watched intently as I sewed.

She was so cute, I couldn’t bear to put her down, even though she made it really hard to sew!

Some thoughts on this project –

There is a reason I have chosen knitting as my hobby. Sewing is loud, messy and tons of work. It is also a commitment. I turn into some crazy sewing fiend once I get it all set up. “I must sew everything that needs to be sewn right now while I have the machine out!” Where as, when knitting, I can set it down and live normally when ever it is required of me to do so.

I used to balk at the high prices of cloth diapers. When I was buying them I spent between $6 and $12 per diaper, depending on brand and style. That seemed to me to be a high price to pay for something that absorbs urine. However, once I started making my own, I totally changed my mind.

Tons of work aside, I still love making and using cloth diapers. I love the way they look on the changing table. I love hanging them on the line to dry. I love knitting the little covers with beautiful wool yarns.

And, I love putting them on my little girl. I feel like a good mom, like I am doing something right.

Plan the UnSchool

I was happily knitting away on my Wispy Cardi yesterday (a knitting project to which I am feeling strangely monogamous), with kids running hither and thither, when, out of the blue, Marc asks me, “When are you going to start school?”

Oh, shoot! I had forgotten about school! Well, not forgotten really. But, is it just me, or did the summer just fly by? So, last night, I did some serious thinking and planning…. and internet shopping. Now I am really excited to get started!  (which won’t be until the second week of September….)

As you know, I claim to be an unschooler, which is mostly true. But, unlike the media reports about crazy unschoolers you may have heard, I actually plan out my unschooling and take a very thoughtful approach. This is how I intend to operate this little unschool in the foothills:

amblesideonline.org – We are on year four of this incredibly wonderful curriculum. Being unschoolers, we don’t follow the 36 week schedule, but we read nearly every book on the reading list throughout the year. I cannot reccomend this reading list enough. We have read most of the books for years 1, 2 and 3 and have loved 98% of them!

Making Math Meaningful – this is a fairly new addition to our program. Last year, I saw some gaps in our education when it came to mathematics. Some of the older kids had hit a plateau and it was time to get help. I picked Making Math Meaningful after reading their website and downloading some sample pages. I love the philosophy behind the books, which is, in short, that math shouldn’t be a memorization thing, but rather a concept thing. If a child understands why 2+2=4, then they won’t have to memorize it. The lessons are short, the concepts are well presented and we spent last year enjoying math. (I really thought that was impossible, but I was wrong!) I am excited to get the books for the other kids, now that I know that we will use them.

Foreign Language – Last year we started learning American Sign Language as our “foreign language”. I can’t believe how fast the kids picked it up and how much we all have enjoyed learning and using it. We used “Signing Time” videos last year, and have exhausted our library’s meager inventory of them. The complete set from the website is a little out of budget, so this is one thing I am not sure on. I really want to keep the kids going on this, but don’t know which direction to go. I know that I want to continue to use videos. I will have to pray about this one.

Of course we also have knitting, crocheting, cooking, living, playing and loving on the schedule. Plus, Noah is dismantling an old motor, Abby and Beka are taking piano lessons and Emma is learning her ABC’s. Then there is chess group at the library, taking care of the farm, helping Papa with home improvement projects, drawing, painting, clay, beads…..

There. Settled. I feel better. Now, for a little respite with my current passion –

The Attention Span of a …. Ooo, Chocolate!

So, after trying all weekend to get my wips under submission, I have come to realize something:

I lost a pregnancy and a grandparent in the last month, plus,

I have a really hard time focussing on any one project in the best of times, let alone in a difficult time (such as this), plus,

I am more than halfway done with my checklist. Therefore,

I think that I have done pretty well with this little challenge and I hereby declare myself free to cast on something new! (insert crowd cheering sound effect here)

While, I didn’t quite complete the entire challenge, I did cut down from nine wips to five and made great progress (at least one ball) on most of those five. Besides, when the stash starts sending SOS signals, you know it is time to cast on a new project! But, not before I revel for a moment in the satisfaction of finishing some of those goals.

1. Work one skein of yarn on each of the three large projects – I worked two skeins on one, one skein on the second, and didn’t even look at the third (which ended up being put into hibernation on Ravelry to make me feel better. I don’t know if it is working…).

2. Frog the junk – check. I even found and frogged two other projects that I hadn’t even counted!

3. Finish the little gifts – Oh, I have plenty of time.

4. Decide whether or not to finish Icarus frogged. See #2

5. And, finally, get Celandine to mundane mode – I did three more medalions. Not quite there, but some progress was made. Plus, I sewed together the medalions that were finished and blocked.

And now, the Malabrigo Lace (that I totally adore by the way) is destined to become a Wispy Cardigan, and by golly, that is what it will be!

Ahhhhhh. That feels better.

PS I love you

While recently looking through my stash (I was just looking, mind you! I will finish my checklist! I haven’t made any progress since I last wrote about it, but I haven’t cheated, either….yet), I came upon a crumpled love letter addressed to me. This is what it said:

Darling Shelly,

Hi. Remember me? I haven’t seen you around in awhile and so I decided to write and tell you how I miss you.

I was so excited when you chose me to come home to live in your stash. You fondled my soft, merino strands and gazed at me with such adoring eyes. You thrilled me with promises of all that I would become in your able hands. When you placed me at the top of the stash, I knew it was temporary. I sat there and reveled in your stolen glances and the way you would come pet me from time to time. I understood then that you had to finish a few things before we could be together. I was willing to be patient and I knew that you would be back for me soon.

But, I am starting to wonder if those dreams we shared were nothing more than empty infatuation. Have I done something to offend? Did you replace me with some other yarn? Do you even remember my name?

Come back to me, Knitter, dear! Come back and let us find the project that will fulfill us both. I want to glide through your fingers and experience my destiny with you. Put down all those sad wips that drag you down and bore you to tears. I can make you happy, I know I can.

Love Always

Malabrigo Lace

PS – I love you

Now, Friends, tell me truly – how can I resist any longer?