Monday, August 31, 2009

Choose My Own Adventure (Again)

Seven months ago, the Businessman booked us a trip to Hawaii. We leave early November.

I might have mentioned to him that nine months seemed a bit too enthusiastic. I mean, technically he could have knocked me up the night he made the reservation and I could have puked every morning for 200 days, created 23 new stretch marks, waddled around with knee, calf, ankle and back pain for 120 days, watched my feet increase another size, writhed for 20 hours to produce a child and then still would be able to slurp lava flows on the beach.

Except I would have been too busy finding a hit man for the urologist.

So much can happen in nine months.

Not that I didn't slurp lava flows last time I was in Hawaii-7 1/2 months pregnant. I just asked them to leave out the liquor--a request I will not be making this time around.

And now I realize I only have two months. Two months to figure out what size I'll be when I board the plane. Two months to realize no one sells swimsuits in November. Two months to clean the house stem to stern so my in-laws don't feel the need to poke around clean while they watch my kids.

Two months to decide which knitting project I should bring.

But, since I'm very much enjoying having my readers choose my projects, I see no reason to stop now.

1. Venezia by Eunny Jang in the harvesty colors I've been teasing you with:

(click pic for Interweave link)

2. A lace shawl. I have two started. One has larger needles but uses beads, the other is on needles thinner than pencil lead.

3. I have a tough time finding knitted hat patterns that don't squash my hair and make me look pea-headed. I'm thinking I need a beret of some sort.

4. It will be my tenth anniversary celebration. Perhaps I will be too busy to knit?

Never mind. I've been married for ten years and really...we already live at a mile-high elevation.

5. Socks. The kids always need socks.

The poll is up on the left. You can vote anonymously.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Vestes

Hand sewing sucks.

Completed Vestes

I would rather clean the kitchen, scrub toilets, and watch my husband pick at his softball sliding wounds than hand sew. The only thing in my recent history that's more unpleasant is seeing a large, man-eating garter snake, screaming at the sight of it, and causing a lady trying to take a casual walk with her dog run to my assistance.

Back view

That almost put hand sewing right up there with shopping at Trader Joes.

Inside out-Must have nice seams


Estes Vest by Hana Jason
Interweave Knits, Fall 2008
Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky, Pistachio, Wool/Mohair blend

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On The Lookout

I'm trying to do some market research. Which means this post will sound suspiciously like some creepy spam mail. I'm not a spammer, though some people might find me creepy, especially if you produce chocolate, yarn, or anything else that causes me to breathe heavy and drool.

I am looking for e-book authors. Specifically self-published. Preferably non-fiction.

I have some questions to ask you. You can contact me at mtnmamaknits at gmail daht calm.

In other news, I saw a snake in our backyard yesterday. It was huge and could have swallowed me whole.

I'm never leaving my deck again.

Daring Bakers: DobosTorte

The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonfulof Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular DobosTorte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: ExquisiteDesserts from the Classic Caff├ęs of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Oooh. Daring Bakers got back to their name this month. I actually partitioned a segment of my calander to make this one. You know, considering how little my social life is, it shocks me how busy I am sometimes.

Cast of Characters:

Actually, I ended up not using the almonds, so pretend they aren't hiding the chocolate chips.

Then I turned on my iPod, ignored my children (it was Saturday so they were free to whine to the Businesman), and proceded to systematically make a mess in every bowl, every utensil and every horizontal surface in a 10 foot radius.

It's what Daring Bakers is all about.

I had some leftover toffee glaze so I pulled it and twisted it to form a lovely little spun sugar crown.

And when cut:

Not the most even of layers, but it didn't seem to affect the flavor.

Monday, August 24, 2009

You Heard It Here First

You know how you see a wildly successful business with a really simple idea and you wish you had thought of it? I had one of those ideas yesterday. An idea that's simple, yet potentially huge.

I've been pitching the Businessman for the past 24 hours.

Look. I bought a zipper.

And it's nothing like the idea I pitched to him when I was pregnant with our first child. That idea was to set up a gym that hooked all the machines into the powergrid so the energy used during the workout could be converted into electricity.

I'm interfacing with polka dots to hide the fact the zipper doesn't match.

I still like that idea, it would solve so many problems; obesity, crude-oil dependancy, office productivity...oh wait...that was my idea that cubicles should be set up with treadmills so employees could walk or jog while they work.

I couldn't sell TBM on either of those. In fact, he still makes fun of me. Something about gerbil wheels.

But if those treadmills were set up so they powered the computers...

Baby sweater being blocked.

...hmm...I'll have to come back to that one.

I'm close to selling TBM my latest idea. It doesn't involve treadmills, but it could be big. Provided I can assemble the right team...

The mountains, a mama, and yoga on the rocks.

...Starting with a Businessman.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Black Hole

My deck looks lovely. It really does. The Businessman did a great job.

Look! Water beads on the newly finished surface!


Okay, just one little complaint.

We haven't done the stairs yet, and we may not until Spring, which makes this a great before and after picture:

Before: wood absorbed water like a sponge. After, water beads on top of wood.

Before: night time rainfall was dry by 8:00 am. After: deck still isn't dry until mid-afternoon.

Slippery when wet. Just ask the kids.

In other news, it's the first week of school, so free time has been limited. I've been trekking on the Baby Sweater while I wait for the results of the Choose Your Own Adventure I've got going on the side bar (don't forget to vote).

In working on the Baby Sweater, I met the Black Hole.

I read the pattern and knew I needed to knit on the front until it measured 8 inches. At about 7 inches I found the Black Hole. I knit about six more rows and measured: 7 inches. I knit another few rows and measured: 7 inches. I knit 1,287 more rows and measured again: 7.25 inches. I put it in time out and went to bed. When I pulled it out the next morning:

Eight inches. Yes! Time out works better on knitting than on 3yos. I pulled out the pattern to see what I should do next and read:

Buh, buh, buh, buh...Knit as for back until piece measures 6 inches. Begin neck shaping...


Six inches?

*mumbling* Stupid black hole. *yanks out needle* Stupid elves who change numbers in patterns. *starts ripping*

You'd think gift knitting would be a little more immune to rookie mistakes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Knitting Calamity--You Decide

Now that I've messed around with color schemes (and avoided a trip to the fabric store for a zipper for the Vestes) I'm gauge swatching.

My pattern gauge is 31 stitches and 32 1/2 rows to 4 inches. They suggest a a size 2 needle. When I knit my yarn on that needle, I got a very dense fabric that is 32 stitches to the inch. I went up to a 2 1/2 and got 31 stitches, but 35 rows. So I bumped up to a size three (and here is where the little voice started mumbling because I could only find some size 3 double points) and hit gauge. Whereupon I decided to cast on.

Which meant I needed to locate my 32 inch size 3 needle.

Odd. I just sorted through and organized my needles. It's possible the 3 is hiding in some dark corner somewhere...but more likely it's in use.

So I shuffled through my pile of hibernating knitting projects.

It's a bigger pile than I thought.

Found it! Attached to this:

Oh yeah. I forgot about this.

What should I do?

  • Finish knitting the body of this sweater (there's about 6-ish inches left) so I can free the needle to start my colorwork.
  • Finish knitting this sweater, body, sleeves and all
  • Put this sweater on a stitch holder and start my colorwork
What's that? The baby sweater? Of course I'm still working on it. It's small, portable, and doesn't feel like a huge, hairy, dog is sitting on my lap.

Anyway, you guys get to choose my course of action. In the leftmost column you will see the poll, where you may vote anonymously. And, as always, your comments are appreciated.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Little Artsy Fartsy Color Play

The knitting on Vestes is done. The deck is done. The baby sweater is trekking along...

I have a little time for color play.

Fair Isle can be intimidating. Usually the color combo in a pattern is what makes me love it so I just play it safe and adhere to the colors as written. Sometimes, however, I feel the need to switch it up.

I will link to the pattern in a later post because I don't want you to be influenced by the colors prescribed. The yarn is Knit Picks Palette.*

My pattern has nine colors, with a tenth as a 'grounding' color at the hem and neckline. I want four lighter colors for the background, and five darker colors for the foreground. In the following pictures you will see one ball as the hem, four balls for the background and five for the foreground.

Exhibit A:

This was the color scheme I ordered. Online is always tricky and luckily the colors were close to what I expected. But...I'm not crazy about the cream-yellow-green transition in my background.

Exhibit B:

My background transition is better here, but now I don't like the foreground. I think the span from my dakest color to my lightest will create visual confusion when it's knitted.

Exhibit C:

Better for the foreground and background, but I really want my hem to be green and not yellow.

Exhibit D:

Okay, we're closer. But that pale green/dark gold transition in the foreground is a bit too dramatic...

Exhibit E:


Now, I need to do swatches to make sure my guage is okay, and my color choices work.

The lesson to learn here is that it's easy and fun to mess around with color.

*Oyster, Bison, Masala, Sweet Potato, Edamame, Green Tea, Cream, Turmuric, Cornmeal and Semolina

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Can See The Finish Lines

Well, the Vestes is almost done. Possibly today, possibly Friday. I took a quick pic while it was wearable:

The seams are sewn, the collar is on, the armholes are finished. After this pic I took a 40" circular needle and picked up about 300-350 stitches down the front, around the hem and up the other side. Now it's a squished blob and won't be camera worthy until it's off the needle. Then it's a matter of setting the pockets and hiding those dangling strings...

...and inserting a zipper. The last time I inserted a zipper it took me a year. Want proof? Here's the link before zipper July 2007, and after zipper (it's just the back but I promise the zipper's there) which was inserted August 2008.

But I think a zipper would look sportier than the buttons the pattern calls for.

In deck project news, take a look at this bench. The businessman recruited me to stain it.

That is one beauteous bench, if I do say so. But mostly because of this.

I thought that might get your attention.

The deck is finished now, but since I don't know if the Vestes will be off the needles tomorrow, I had to save the picture just in case.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Deck, Vestes, And Baby Sweater Status

It took the Vestes three days to dry while it was blocking. Seriously. I got desperate and put it out on the deck all the while promising myself I would bring it in once the Businessman started sanding.

Oops. You can see it on the leftmost railing. Downwind from the Businessman. The half naked, sweaty, well-sunscreened, Businessman.

The Businessman threatened to pull me over his knee and spank me if I didn't take a picture of our lovely, freshly sanded deck.

I was tempted to let him.

I'm feeling a little attention deprived since he's spending all his freetime with the sander and powerwasher. Getting all dirty and sweaty...and hot.

What I He Made (so far):

If I spent that much time getting exfoliated and cleansed I'd look pretty good too.

Now we wait for a 24 hour dryspell so we can apply stain/sealant. Colorado, I apologize in advance as this guarantees at least two weekends of rain.

What I Made:

I had three days of baby knitting. I should block my wool in a damp basement more often.

The baby sweater is coming along nicely don't you think?

Saturday, August 08, 2009

My First Kiss

In fifth grade, I started going out with a boy. Going out entailed...well...nothing really. It was fifth grade and we were still mostly innocent. Kids paired off as only kids barely out of cooties can.

But, back to the boy. Over the years, we had your basic cootie-ridden relationship. I crushed on him when he hated me. He liked me when I pretended to ignore him. I bloodied his nose once. You know, the usual childhood memories.

Dale of Norway Baby Ull. Machine washable merino wool.

And in fifth grade it all came together, so we started going out. One day, some of the couples decided to spend recess getting married. Jon McEuen (shameless name drop...sorry) was the officiant--no one thought to check his credentials--and my boy and I exchanged vows.

And we all know a marriage ceremony ends in a kiss.

He broke up with me the next day.

It knocked my self esteem as flat as my chest and I never kissed another boy until I met the Businessman. *snort* Okay, even I can't hold a straight face at that last sentence.

From what I see on Facebook (and we all know how reliable that is) Mr. Boy seems to have grown up and has a baby due in October. He expressed incredulity that I would partake in such an old-fashioned hobby (proving he never really got to know me at all in fifth grade) and so, in retaliation, I am knitting him a baby sweater.

Sized for six months

It's how I work these days.

My other option would have been to avoid kissing knitting altogether until a truly wonderful frog person worth my kissing knitting expertise came along. But knitting for frogs is just not going to happen.

Kissing for sweaters...that has potential.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Estes Vest: The Baby Sweater Detour

So. I'm blocking. I wet the pieces, pinned them to their proper size and shape and now I could twiddle my thumbs while they dry, which will take a day or two, or in the meantime I could knit...

What? Oh come on! I'm allowed to start another project while I wait for this one to be workable again. It's my blog. I was saying...I'll be knitting a baby sweater.

What I Made:

What I'll make is a cabled version of this, which I designed and knit poolside in Hawaii while drinking virgin lava flows (I was 34 weeks pregnant):

I even considered just giving this one, which I knit for my Vicious, who had the audacity to be a ten pound newborn and therefore, too large for his lovely Cashmerino sweater.

Now you know why we call him Vicious. My goodness look at those hands.

As I said, I would give away this sweater, but it's handwash. While I'm a knitter and regularly handwash things, I couldn't do that to a new mom. So new, machine washable sweater it is.

Not that the Vestes hasn't been a great ride and all, but I can't wait to start this.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Vestes Days 10 And 11. Bonus: A Cat Bath

Day 10 of the Vestes: Also note the huge holes in the deck.

I had a rare day of no kiddos. Fortunately it resulted in a decent chunk of knitting. Unfortunately it takes me a good 36 hours before I fully realize the potential that can be had from having no kiddos around.

They were gone 28 hours. I dontated blood. Sat in my quiet house. Played computer games. Took a nap. Pouf. The kids were back. Where did the time go?

I did intend to work out, I really did. But my achiles were having none of it.

Day 11: Look, new boards!

I am at the part of the pattern that says Finishing. Of course, those instructions are about two full magazine columns. You can see I'm working on the pocket linings now.

In other news, I washed the cat.

He spent the night outside and the Businessman said he stank. I have a remedial sense of smell so, rather than assume it was my new deoderant, I gave the kitty a bath.

He's mad at me right now.

The cat, not the Businessman.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Staghorn Longhorn Cable

Estes Vest, Est Vestes, Vestes; Day 10? I think that's right. This monogamous knitting could drive me batty.

Thank you, voting populace, for not choosing the lace on size 0s.

Not a whole lot of knitting time for Day 10. Mondays are never ideal, even for stay-at-home-moms.

I've been pondering the names of the stitch patterns in this vest.

In the above picture, the leftmost cable is called a Rope cable, no explaination necessary. The cable pattern on the right is called Hexagon. Refer back to geometry if this escapes you.

The final cable is called a Staghorn cable. It took me a while to figure this one out. Then, while taking my promised daily picture, I had the random thought: It sort of looks like a Texas Longhorn.

Or maybe a stag. I'm leaning toward the Longhorns myself.

Good to know, should I ever need to knit for any University of Texas alumni. Hook 'Em Horns and all.

Day 11 was much more productive.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Radish Pods

Here's how it goes. You start a garden and you're very excited. You get the kids in on the action. Everyone tells you that radishes are perfect for kids because they grow quickly, are brightly colored and foolproof.

No one seems to remember that radishes can be spicy. And that eating one spicy radish can turn a child off to eating garden vegetables for indefinite spans of time.

Then you quickly learn that planting 483 radish plants at once was a bad idea, because there comes a day when you go out to the back forty and find this:

But never fear! There is a solution for those bolting radishes.* Let them flower. In a week or two you'll have:

Radish pods. Radish pods taste like radish, but have the texture of snap peas. I toss them in salad. I saute them with a little garlic and crushed chile.

Yummy went out and made a harvest while I was giving his brother a haircut.

Then he and his brother ate the whole bowl.

I predict they will take the farmer's markets by storm in the next few years.

*Bolting is when your plants decide the clock's ticking and they need to grow up and make some babies.

What I Made:

Still chugging on that vest. I forgot to take my Day 9 picture though. I'm snapping Day 10 right now. After I eat some radish pods.

Monday, August 03, 2009

A Kid's Haircut

First the knitting.

Day 6:

Day 7 (not much done today):

Day 8, Now the back and left side are finished--A direct result of getting to spend an evening watching a season of Rome from Netflix while everyone was in bed:

In other news, I've been ignoring something all summer. But it came to a head, literally, this weekend.

My little Sampson Vicious has an unruly mop on his head (not that this is all bad).

What I Made:

I cut his hair. I hate doing it because he has such charming blond curls, which will no doubt go away as mine and the Businessman's did when we were children. Also, I cannot use the clippers on him as the outcome makes him look German...

...circa 1940's. Not ideal.

So the goal is to find his baby blues, keep the curls (which hide all manner of haircut mistakes) and pray for the blond to stick around another year.

It'll do.

P.S. I get him to sit still by letting him use the spray bottle. Works like a charm. Just make sure you do this outside.
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