Reading While Knitting

Nothing complicated; nothing too exciting, but yes, I do knit while I read. As well as during many other domestic activities.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh Say can you see, see, see the OCD?

I'm such a seat-of-the pants kind of woman. Days go by, and I just carom from stimulus to crisis, reacting as best I can, but not much is planned. Yet, there's a small part of me (probably huddling in the attic of my mind, moaning) that likes order, and clean Scandinavian spaces, and light, and quiet. Caterina right now is listening to Bowling for Soup, there goes the quiet. . .

Anyhow, the other day, Beloved Sister came over to rearrange the yarn room with me. Afterwards, she gently suggested that I might have a wee problem. This, of course, is the same sister who reminded me about the bag sale at Stash, so, "enabler" comes immediately to mind. However, due to some unexpected good fortune, I have a couple of travel-related delights to save money for, and certainly enough yarn and fiber to enjoy the using of it without needing to spend any money to acquire more.*

So, I gave myself a challenge. Twelve completed items from the stash before any more yarn or fiber comes home. They don't have to be huge -- I have some yarn set aside for an afghan, and that's not getting done any time soon -- but swatches certainly don't count. Spinning does, however, so I pulled out this lovely eight ounces of. . . something unlabeled. I remember that it had bamboo and silk in it, but there appears to be some dark long hairs in it. Alpaca? Maybe. Maybe it's wool.

And I think I'd been saving it for "when I was good enough" to spin it. My last experience with bamboo was unhappy. Then I figured, there is more where that came from, essentially, and the spinning is a joy, especially with the Woolee Winder Eric got me for Christmas. Woo-hoo! Just focusing on that long draw from the fold while the yarn is wound on in that smooth, even way. Makes my knees go weak, practically. This is where my inner order-lover comes out in the spinning. It's a clean, neat, sunlit room on a bobbin. So it doesn't matter if it's perfect, it's flat, and it's very very pretty.

I can't wait to spin up the whole whack and decide whether or not to knit it as singles or ply it.

And not just because I could get more eventually.

*At least, not until the Delightful Travel experiences.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Chattering monkeys

Today was a running day. I've sort of fallen off the training schedule, but I'm still out running almost every other day. So when Eric rousted me out of bed, I got up, made breakfast and school lunches in my pjs, and then went back upstairs to get dressed.

First choice -- grab running clothes. I've found that if I'm wearing them, the odds that I will run go up markedly. Getting into (and out of) tights and a running bra isn't for the faint of heart, so if they're on, you might as well use them.

So I made breakfast, as I said, made lunches, dropped a pot with boiling water and tofu dogs in it on my ankle, causing a nice burn, asked Eric to do the school drop off while I took off.

About three quarters of a mile into the route, which consisted of "run toward the wind, then toward the sun," I looked at my little wrist computer. I try not to "ride" it, but just check distance every once in a while.

I looked again.

The pace was blistering. Really fast for me. That was great. What was a little disconcerting was forgetting to start the timer. Power on? Check. Start the recording? Not so check.

So I hit "start," and continued on. But what I was thinking of, as I was feeling the pace finally, was how much I like running, and yet my mental tape in the morning sounds like someone being forced to do something utterly against their will.

"Don't go," say the chattering monkeys. "You never get any faster, your clothes don't fit differently, who says you'll live longer. You don't even like it that much!" "It's too hard, you have too much to do, stay in bed another half an hour!" Or maybe, and this doesn't work much around here, apologies to those of you still in winter's grip, "The weather isn't right, it's too cold/hot/windy." The message is always, "Why bother? Just don't."

And some days I listen, and roll over, and the world doesn't end. And some days I go and have a crap run, and think, "Hey, monkeys, you got it right this time."

But today, despite the operator error, it was worth struggling with latex and shoe laces, dodging children who don't know that maybe sharing the sidewalk works best for everyone, judging whether I can get across the road before the car has to slow, dealing with the fact that running chin-up as I do makes the rising sun flash straight into my eyes, despite my cap, and dealing with hauling what my mama gave me around town, and only timing half of the route, eventually going about a half mile less than I intended. It was a good run.

And now as I'm having my tea and listening to the bookend girls get ready, I'm thinking maybe the monkeys will be quiet for the rest of the day.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

On the go, go, go

I was thinking of writing up my day yesterday and seeing if it made the top of anyone else's head lift off. It went something like this:

Up at 6:30, graded papers.
Woke kids, fed kids, made lunches.
Got Eric to drive kids to school.
Decided what to make for dinner; made shopping list
Woke up Sarafina.
Woke up Sarafina.
Woke up Sarafina.
Suited up, got bee stuff together to take to school.
Got Sarafina to take pictures.
Took bees out of hive, put in carry box.
Got Caterina and bees in car.
Went to school, got stranger to close car because I was holding bees and a hive box.
Did presentations about bees in three classes.
Got call from Sarafina; needed an emergency ride to class.
Got home, put bees away.
Regular ride showed up.
Got shopping bags together.
Realized Tor's doctor appointment wasn't at 5pm, it was 2pm.
Got in car, called back up to pick up Ellie after school.
Picked up Tor, got him to doctor.
Walked 6 blocks to get tea with Cat.
Knit on baby sweater.
Walked 6 blocks to get Tor after appointment.
Tried to get ice cream, they only take cash.
Nice lady offered to treat.
Cat said she'd rather have ice cream in Alameda.
Thanked nice lady, drove through afternoon traffic to ice cream shop.
Talked to Denise on the phone about getting together right then.
Got ice cream.
Drove to grocery store, got milk in recylable bottles, asked about the honey which is all gone.
Drove home, put away groceries, cleaned up kitchen, put beans on to boil.
Denise came over, we picked vegetables.
Cleaned and weighed veggies, chopped kale.
Denise left, Italked to my mom on the phone while I made soup.
Eric home, talked while I made rest of soup.
Ate dinner. Eric made me laugh so hard I almost shot soup out of my nose; Sarafina followed suit when he made a crack about that. Tor dramatically fell over "dead" because he had eaten kale.
Tor and Cat began to kick a large ball back and forth.
Eric and I and Sarafina cleaned up.
Tor ate a bagel.
After multiple tries, got Tor and Cat brushed and in bed.
Ellie came home.
Got her in bed.
Read bedtime story.
Turned off lights.
Knitted while Eric drew shelf plans.
Cat got up saying she was hungry. Offered her soup. She took it, therefore she really was hungry.
Put Cat back to bed.
Went upstairs and got read to while knitting on sweater.

Today seems much calmer, although I realized I've repeated the get up/lunch/drive routine, plus taking Ellie for an 8am tooth extraction, then grocery shopping and driving the teens to writing class. Now I'm going to make lunch for park day and pick up some baseball supplies. Maybe I'll finish that baby sweater today! And maybe, just maybe, I'll do some running of the sweaty kind today and tomorrow.

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Thursday, March 04, 2010

Numbers don't lie

One of the very best parenting ideas I ever, ever had, was to take a long, thin board and paint a growth chart on it for each child. We tended to move a lot, and any kitchen doorways that had charted kids' growth would have been left behind. (Plus, with four kids, can you imagine? It would look like a New York subway car after a graffiti artists' convention.)

Sarafina's been feeling sleepy and hungry (not to mention a teensy bit grouchy) lately, as well as stumbling around a tiny bit more than usual. The doors, table legs, and cupboards haven't been jumping out at her, so if she's smacking into them, it's probably because she's been issued Another New Body that she's not completely checked out on. So I've been suggesting that it's time to whip out Ye Olde Measuring Boarde and check.

But she's been resistant. "Wait until next week." "Wait until Thursday," and today was the day. Despite my cherished belief that I am Very Tall, the kid outgrew me a couple of months ago. I can tell, because my height is marked (like a goal) on the stick.

Today, she moved past the next inch. Three quarters of an inch in just over three months. Who knows, I might have been grouchy, too.

And why was today the day? Well, of course. She's fully fifteen as of one o'clock this morning. But daddy's height is a goal that might just not get overtaken in this life.

Happy Birthday, tall daughter.


Monday, March 01, 2010

Restraint and the lack thereof

Running this morning reminded me that workouts are as individual as dyelots. Although I can do this distance, today was more of a slog than usual. It's grey and gloomy outside -- who knows if that contributed to it? Sunshine seems to act as a battery charger for me. In the absence of actual sun, bright colors seem to help, too (this may explain the colorways of some Scandinavian designs. My brother who moved to Sweden says it's grey much of the time. Get your sunshine where you can!).

I was lucky enough to go to Stitches West this year with friends. Somehow it always feels too far away, and I don't need any more yarn, or fiber, or books, or anything. But a day out with the girls did sound terrific, so off we went.

It was so much fun, of course. Turns out it takes longer to look at everything than I expected, so if we do this again we'll take that into consideration. Also, I think taking classes would have been more fun than just the marketplace, but that's also for the future.

One of the nicest things ever to happen to me was over before we made it through the doors -- a woman in line for tickets said, "That is a great sweater. Where is the pattern?" So I got to point at my head. She was so flattering that we gave her our spare ticket. Then wandering about, I had my muse/voice of reason with me, my sister. She suggested that I might want to look at colors other than green, for instance. So -- red became the Color of the Day. She was obsessing over brown and orange, so it seemed even.

The find of the show, for me, was Miss Babs handdyed yarn. The woman I spoke with was lovely, and seemed to understand how important it was to find just the right red. Meet "Vlad."

Right behind my delight at finding this yarn came a typical worry: How was I to find the perfect sweater for it? To do the color justice, be able to be made with this yardage, to flatter me? Does anyone else do this? Eventually I shook myself mentally, and realized that an imperfect finished sweater trumped a theoretical sweater any day, and that there would be, in fact, more yarn made.

My wardrobe used to have three neutral-colored sweaters, all by the same commercial designer. One was thick and cable-y, one thin and slubby with silk, one was thin merino. All flattering, all the kind of neutral which could really pull a look together.

All, alas, irrevocably stained. Two were the victims of leaky tea cups; one has some sort of oily stain right over a nipple. Lovely, let me tell you. I tried to overdye the tea'd ones with more tea, but it wasn't successful. So finding neutral replacements became another Stitches quest.

Yarn? anyone can buy yarn. I ended up with fiber. Pound of BFL; half pound of BFL/silk. I bet I can get a sweater out of the first, and you can see that it's spinning up into a nice mix of colors.

Spinning up, in fact, on a spindle. I don't, as a rule, like spindles. I drop them, they're hard to use, give me my wheel any day, etc. But this spindle, which I picked up on a whim at Asciano FiberArts Tools seemed to spin itself. I'm no expert, and I'll probably do the bulk of this yarn on the wheel, as I'd like more loft than I'm getting with this, but it's a nice breakthrough feeling. I may have to get Abby Franquemont's new book.

After I toted up everything I spent while there, I thought I'd been pretty restrained. But the Russet and orange yarns (I don't remember the name of the second) at Miss Babs had been left behind. I swear I could hear them calling me. So I went online and got them, too. One good itch scratched. I have got to get my papers graded, my baby sweaters knit, all to get to the good spinning/knitting waiting for me here.

Anyhow, everyone seems to love Vlad:


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