Monday, August 25, 2008  

One Last Time Before I Go...

We're all packed and ready to go - we leave Wednesday for almost two weeks of hiking in the Scottish Highlands. I cannot wait.

Oh, and packing? Always fun - especially with our furry little helper, who can't resist inspecting the suitcases. I think we'll have to double check to make sure we don't accidentally zip her up inside one!

But before we packed, I had to figure out the most important issue - what to knit?!? The Dale of Norway baby cardigan, ummm.... well, it kinda is already knitted. I still need to do all of the finishing, but the sleeves and body are waiting patiently for me, so that project is a bust! I also thought about bringing my long-hibernating lace project, but the yarn is on a cone, plus the chart is on a magnetic board... just seemed like a lot of bother. I thought about starting a pair of socks for S... but I'm afraid I might finish those up too quickly!


I tried swatching for a Trellis, but it just wasn't doing it for me. Plus, I was pretty sure I would finish it too quickly!

So I headed downstairs to my newly-organized, newly-moved "stash closet" in the basement and tried to figure something out. And yes, this is the entirety of the yarn (with the exception of 1 basket of white yarns that I've set aside for dyeing!)

I ended up with a cabled sweater from Inspired Cable Knits, and started swatching in some superwash sock yarn. Of course, I decided I didn't like the cables in the pattern, so set about trying to figure out some substitutions. I think I've finally ended up with the cable on the left of this swatch:

It's from one of Lavold's Viking Knitting books. So I cast on, started on the back, and went for it...

Almost. It's too small - these cables must pull in a lot more than the ones in the original pattern, so I've ripped out and cast on again - I'll be using the stitch counts for the medium size, and the lengths for the small size. Basically, I'm winging it. But the cables are complicated enough that I can't finish this one too quickly - and at 96 sts for each row, there's plenty of knitting! But the pattern is easy enough that I can knit away without referencing the various papers TOO much.

So after all of the knitting-related trauma, I treated myself to some chocolate (See's Candy, courtesy of my parents who just got back from California)...

... and settled in with Cricket to watch some Olympics. I'm still pretty behind - life got in the way, so I ended up taping most of the primetime broadcasts. I'll get there eventually! And I'm WAY better than Athens - I didn't finish watching the Athens tapes until almost October!

Cricket, you can tell, really loves the Olympics. She's on the edge of her seat with excitement...

But don't worry - Abby didn't neglect HER very arduous snuggling duties this weekend...

(yeah, that's S' pillow...)

And on Sunday morning, instead of watching cartoons, we watched the "Squirrel Channel." Apparently, a few squirrels have decided to spend the mornings playing in the oak tree right outside our bedroom window. The audience was quite appreciative!

After the squirrel show went off the air, Abby, S and I headed to Old Town Alexandria for a brief field trip. While S was at church, Abby and I toured the city... we watched the boats...

... got a little stubborn after spending a good amount of time digging for moles in front of city hall...

.... and finally ended up at Pat Troy's, waiting for the waiter to bring us chicken. She may have been just a teensy bit tired!

Whew! Hopefully my next update will be full of glorious hiking, knitting, and general visiting-Scotland pictures... here's hoping that my awesome airplane luck beats up S' terrible airplane karma and we make it to Scotland as scheduled!!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008  

A Long Overdue Update

I really need to develop a better routine for taking pictures, uploading pictures, and blogging. You wouldn't think it would be so hard, but somehow weeks go by and all of the blog fodder stays firmly inside the camera!

For example, here are the sheepie squares laid out in their final configuration. Of course, I've finished knitting the remaining squares, but haven't taken any pictures. SIGH. My game plan for this project is to finish weaving in the ends and blocking the last few squares, and to begin sewing the squares together into a blanket. As the weather gets cooler, my plan is to pick up and knit a narrow black "frame" around the sheepies (probably in some version of moss stitch or garter to prevent curling). Then I'll do a wider green border, incorporating the sheep dog panels. I may finish it off with a narrow band of the navy... or perhaps not! We'll see how it shapes up. But since the remaining steps require me to pay attention (sewing and picking up stitches) AND require me to have an entire blanket resting in my lap (knitting the borders), I'll be getting back to this one in the fall - after the Olympics, and after the weather cools down.

Speaking of weather, we've been having the most beautiful and mild August I can remember. Usually August is synonymous with "hazy, hot and humid." This year, however, we've spent most of the month with the windows open and the air conditioner off! It's been a wonderful treat.

In fact, a couple of weekends ago we took advantage of the weather to have a picnic at the National Arboretum. It was spectacular...

... and, of course, Abby came and kept us company (and closely supervised our sandwiches!)

We even got her to (almost) pose with us in a family photo... but it's hard to get her to look at the camera when there are all sorts of birds to look at!

I think we tired her out, however... she barely had enough energy to steal my spot when I got up to use the bathroom! She even stole my pillow... good thing she's so cute!

So what else has been happening? I'm well into my second trimester, so I'm feeling SO much better (not that I felt too terrible in the first trimester, thank goodness!) My appetite is back with a vengeance, so I've been eating like an oinker! I'm finally gaining a little bit of weight, which makes my doctor very happy.

One thing I am NOT eating, however, is the nasty lime jello that I made for S. S, being for Minnesota, seems to have a very different relationship with jello than I do... I think it is gross. He thinks its yummy, especially with whipped cream (I refused to buy cool whip). I guess you can take the boy out of the midwest, but you can't take the midwest out of the boy...

Oh! And we took pictures from Abby Come Home Day last week - proof that she did, in fact, get her Doggy Chicken! Of course, my camera's shutter speed is only so fast, so by the next frame most of the chicken was gone...

And I've been knitting away on my "Scotland Project" (oops!) Ok, so we don't leave until next week. But I ran out of Olympics/metro knitting, and besides, baby sweaters are just so freaking cute I can hardly stand it. I decided to go with the cardigan (thanks for all of the suggestions!). I've done both sleeves...

... and am well on my way to finishing the body. I think the finishing will have to wait until after our trip, however, since I'll need to steek and do other somewhat fiddly steps.

I'm really racking up the "finish these at home" projects - I need to steek and do the bands on my dad's vest, sew up the sheepie blanket and do the borders, and I'll need to assemble the baby cardigan. Plus, I still have another bumper to sew, as well as 3 fitted sheets. I'd better get cracking on all of that - especially as we've started to dismantle the second bedroom/craft room in preparation for the Little Monster, and I'm about to lose my nice, sunny sewing spot!

And don't worry, even though Abby has tended to get more "blog time" lately, Cricket is holding her own in the household as "Alpha Kitty" - but her schedule is packed at the moment, what with all of the hard-core napping...

... and "clothes that no longer fit over the baby bump pile" supervising. She'll be so sad when we box up her bed all of the clothes and put them in the attic!

Whew! That was quite the update. I hope I'll get off my butt and update before our trip next week - we leave next Wednesday for a glorious almost-2-weeks in the Scottish Highlands. I'm so excited!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008  

Abby Come Home Day!

Three years ago today, S and I drove out to the Washington Animal Rescue League and welcomed a new person into our little family.

Apparently, Abby REALLY REALLY REALLY liked S, even before she knew she was going to come home with him!

Luckily, I was there to help fill out the last few forms so S could get a head-start on the snuggles.

I think Abby picked a good forever-home... we're going out to Pat Troy's tonight to celebrate - Abby will order either the doggy chicken or the doggy hamburger, and maybe even get a doggy biscuit!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008  

Inspiration... From Stash!

So last night I thought that I should take a quick look through the stash of baby pattern booklets and see if anything inspired me. A few years ago, Knit Happens stopped carrying Dale of Norway yarns, and the owner gifted me with several of the shop copies of the baby pattern booklets, including #124, which contains this cute pattern:

pullover version:

and cardigan version:

I'm thinking I will do the cardigan... but then I get all wishy-washy and think maybe the pullover, but using the cardigan charts. After all, I won't know the gender until the big day, so will it bother me to risk having the buttons on the "wrong" side? I'm going to use some stash sock yarn in cream and dark green, with the cream being the main color (because I have enough of it!). I'd better decide in the next few weeks, as I need to get swatching so I can bring this sweater to Scotland (along with some socks for S, just in case!)

So what do you guys think - is the Little Monster more of a cardigan or a pullover kind of baby?

That's from our ultrasound yesterday - it was saying "hi!" Or possibly "stop bothering me, I'm trying to sleep."



Saturday, August 02, 2008  

So Much To Knit, Nothing to Bring on Vacation?

Ah, the classic knitter's dilemma - I have so many things I want to be knitting, but somehow I have nothing appropriate to drag with me to Scotland at the end of the month. I'm sure I'll think of something - but for now, I'll distract myself with happier thoughts.

First up - proof that we can, occasionally grow something - our cucumber! We're not sure if we're getting any more, and we're not sure if any of our zucchini plants are going to bust out the produce any time soon. The tomatoes did ok, but I didn't stake them soon enough, so they're a little mad at me.

See how many zucchini plants we've got? We're either going to be drowning in zucchini, or it'll end up as much ado about nothing, and winter will come without us seeing any yummy veggies.

We've basically decided that this year is a trial year - we didn't get things planted as early as we wanted, we didn't know quite where the sunny spots in the yard would be (we have a LOT of trees, but had to plant before the leaves came in!)... so next year, we're ready to go for it. Plus, our lovely compost bin should be full of rich, black, nutritious dirt to supplement the lovely red clay that we naturally have here in the mid-atlantic.

Abby, meanwhile, is not so impressed with our foundering attempts at gardening, and wonders why we don't just dig a nice, cool hole in the flower bed and take a nap.

I clearly have learned to listen to the wise and all-knowing dog, although I did convince her to relocate the napping spot slightly to better suit the pregnant lady and the picky kitty. Abby obliged, but wanted to split the pillow.

When I wasn't catching up on my puppy snuggles, I was blocking 10 of the 15 sheepie squares - and I even annotated the picture with the number of ends I've woven in so far! Ugh. I'm now on square 12 of 15, and have been making pretty good progress - and the next steps involve me sewing up all the sheepie squares, knitting some sort of borders, adding in the 6 doggy panels, and maybe another border (I'm kinda winging it at this point because, after all, the pattern is only a suggestion!) But regardless of what I end up with, I will be working in the entire blanket, and won't really want to drag it around on vacation. So that's out as a travel project!

I'm also just about done with my dad's vest - I need to cut the steeks and knit the neck and arm bands. Also not worth bringing on vacation.

I'm guessing I'll end up knitting socks for S or something. Perhaps I'll get all wild and crazy and knit a baby sweater... I'll have to take a look through the pattern books and see what jumps out at me!

I also have finished 2 of the 3 baby-crib-bumpers I'm making out of a few yards of fabric and some old sheets...

I have one more all ready for the final assembly, and then I need to make 3 coordinating flat sheets. Overall, I'll get 3 crib sets for under $40, including the extra fabric and the $10 pattern! I'm really excited to be able to skip out on the super-expensive bedding. Somehow it just seems wrong to spend more on crib bedding than we spent on bedding for our king-sized bed!

In other baby news, we had another ultrasound this morning - everything is looking great, and we successfully avoided any mention of gender. And apparently I might be in for some fun - the Little Monster's legs are aimed at my bladder - so any day now, it'll start with the kicking and boy will I feel it! I'll try to scan a picture tonight!

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