Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Knitting ADD

The birthday socks are complete and ahead of schedule. The colors came out well and should please the purple loving giftee. Self-striping yarn can be a whole lot of fun. For these socks, I used an afterthought heel for the first time. I am not sure how I feel about this construction. It seems a little misshapen to me. I truly prefer a good old fashioned heel flap. Of course, I would probably feel better if I saw them on an actual foot. Since my foot is quite a bit bigger than the recipient, I can only guess at how the pair will fit. I wouldn't want to be accused of stretching them out!
As I was finishing the heel, I began plotting my next project. The planning, researching and listing of patterns occupies a lot of my knitting time. I love exploring Ravelry in search of the perfect pattern. I type in my yarn and lose myself amidst all the amazing projects knit from it. I find myself easily distracted by the options. My queue and favorites list overflow with the possibilities. Some may use their queue to actually keep track of what they will knit. I use mine as a suggestion list. I spend countless hours making lists only to be lured away by a new pattern and yarn.

This has been my problem the last few days. When I was in stash-busting mode a few months ago, I listed my upcoming projects in my queue. I vowed to stick to the list. Now that I look at the list, I am not satisfied. There are so many other things I want to make. I decided I would have to compromise. I reevaluated my yarn bin and settled on one project from my browsing, one on the needles(or ready to start) and one from my queue.

The project which resulted from my recent browsing is the Bedford pullover. Since I made my squishy, snuggly legwarmers, I have been enamored with Rowan Purelife Organic Wool. The yarn is now discontinued, so I was able to get enough for the sweater at a reasonable price. The pattern calls for a worsted weight. Based on other finished sweaters and my experience, I think this yarn will work even though it is a dk weight. I also will make it with a bit less positive ease. I am afraid a bulky sweater would not be very flattering.

In another yarn along post, I mentioned the Through the Loops mystery sock. With the birthday socks my first priority, I never even cast on for the mystery socks this month. Since I have the yarn, pattern and needles at the ready, I will make it my second project. I admit that I cheated and peeked at the finished socks on a spoiler thread. I like them and think they will make a great gift for someone this year. I am just not sure who.

My queue project is the Holden Shawlette. I really like this shawl, and I think it will look good in the yarn I paired with it. The yarn is Wollmeise in the Am kalten Polar colorway, which I bought too many years ago. I am hoping the shades of blue and purple meld with minimal pooling. With generous yardage, I may add another repeat to the shawlette and make more of a shawl.
As far as my reading, I picked up Songs of the Humpback Whale again. I started this a few months ago, but had to abandon it when my library holds were available. While waiting for more books on hold, I decided to resume reading it. The novel is broken into several character voices, and is pretty good thus far. I keep waiting for the wrinkle that Jodi Picoult inserts into all her books. I am also listening to A Secret Gift when I can. It really makes me ponder resiliency and true hardships.

So, are you an ADD knitter or can you just plan and execute without even noticing the next new shiny thing?

(I have also linked up with Nicole's {crafting on})

Today

Outside my window the sun is beginning its ascent across the slightly cloudy blue sky
I am thinking about the grumpy mama that struggled to remain kind and centered with her kiddos last night
I am thankful for those kiddos and their father
In the kitchen there is nourishing food for our family
I am wearing my cozy flannel pjs with my hair pulled back in a clip to keep it out of my face. I do hate my slept in hair touching my face.
I am creating memories every day
I am going to talk with the kiddos to discover our plans for the day. I am thinking the dino museum may be in order
I am wondering what this year will bring. It seems to be so full of opportunity
I am reading Secret Gift and a bit of the Yarn Harlot books
I am hoping this new year brings change and a bit of contentment to us all
I am looking forward to breakfast together
I am learning some new knitting techniques and improving the old
Around the house are visual reminders of our days. It is not clean, but it is home.
I am pondering how to write more and get a little more done each day
A few plans for the rest of the week: park days, hiking, knitting, sewing and loving
A peek into my day will show lots of reading, playing, listening and a bit of craziness

a daybook post to wrap up the first month of this new year

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our Weekend

Warming up
Sporting his newly blocked hat (he wanted "the blog" to know he is wearing it now)
- soccer early on Saturday morning. We have been sleeping in lately, so the early morning games are a bit of a struggle. Aine did well. It is a non-competitive league focusing on skill development, which Aine loves.
- major planning with our local homeschool group. So much fun in store. I love that we have found our homeschooling community. We are very lucky to have found such supportive, enthusiastic families that share our common unschooling goals.
- dinner and an evening without Dave as he took a rare night out to watch UFC with friends. We read many chapters of Lone Wolf. The kiddos enjoyed the first few Guardians of Ga'Hoole books and like this wolf series thus far. The tragedy of life in the wild has not been too much for Aine's gentle heart. We have not had to stop reading yet.
- on Sunday most of us slept late to make up for the previous early morning. I snuck out of bed a few hours early to work on our homeschooling group's calendar, email and a bit of knitting.
- an afternoon spent hiking in the Superstition Mountains. I forgot to bring the camera, so I have nothing to share of our hike. It was actually quite nice to be unencumbered as we walked. It also freed up my hands for the multiple water bottles, apple cores, oranges, map and stick I was asked to carry. The wildflowers are just beginning to bloom in such beautiful oranges. I cannot wait for more yellows, whites, and purples to join the orange. Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year in Arizona? The desert truly comes alive.
- knitting on the birthday socks while driving around with Dave at the wheel. Finishing them at home while we settled in for a quiet evening of game playing, reading and server creating.

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun?

Friday, January 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

A Good Blocking

Two years ago, I knit Dave a hat. The pattern was Turn A Square by Jared Flood. I proudly gave it to him to help combat the chilly Arizona mornings and nights. He tried it on his head, smiled and put it away in his closet. It has stayed in his closet for the past twenty-four months. He has never worn it. Last week, I suggested that if he was cold, he could wear his hat of love. Guiltily he pulled it out. When he put it on his head, we both laughed. It did not cover his ears and was a bit big at the top. 

I realized that in my eagerness to give it to him, I had failed to block it. I knew I could fix it for him. I soaked his hat in warm water for about a half hour. When I pulled it out of the water, I formed it around an inflated balloon. This blocking technique worked perfectly. He tried it on today and it fits - covers his ears, is smooth on his head and looks good too. I only wish I had paid more attention to the stripes as they are a bit wavy in one spot. He doesn't seem to mind. At least now he is willing to wear it, which is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

At least He Knew What to Do

Benton chose our destination today. He was up early sitting beside me on the couch while I read my email and blog reader. The light was low as we sat side by side under a down throw. He was quiet until I began reading a friend's blog. He immediately identified his friends and asked where they were walking. Once he heard, he decided that the Desert Botanical Gardens would be our destination today.
Winter is such a beautiful time in the desert. It is a fantastic time of year and only gets better in the next two months as the desert flowers begin to bloom. The garden was a bit busier with winter visitors, which meant that there were a lot of docents scattered throughout the garden. Many of the volunteers are so willing to talk with my kiddos. One in particular was a delight. She spent quite a bit of time telling the kiddos about nests, birds and reptiles. The kiddos didn't want to leave her station.
When we did resume our walk, Eamon was eager to find the hands-on area. Besides the telescopes, the mortars and pestles were the most fun. We talked about mesquite and the many uses of it. As the children ground mesquite pods into flour, I noticed a small rabbit approach. It came up so close to us nibbling on vegetation. I quietly told Eamon and Aine to look behind them. Benton came over too and we all watched the bunny. It must be very accustomed to people, because we were not quiet in the least.  The flour tasted a bit sweet and salty
When we did resume our walk, Eamon was eager to find the hands-on area. Besides the telescopes, the mortars and pestles were the most fun. We talked about mesquite and the many uses of it. As the children ground mesquite pods into flour, I noticed a small rabbit approach. It came up so close to us nibbling on vegetation. I quietly told Eamon and Aine to look behind them. Benton came over too and we all watched the bunny. It must be very accustomed to people, because we were not quiet in the least.

Our outing was derailed at this point. We abruptly had to leave the hands-on area, because Eamon had to use the restroom. He began to run ahead of us ignoring my instructions to stay close. As Aine, Benton and I rounded the turns back to the main part of the garden, we did not see Eamon. We made our way to the closest bathroom, but he was not in it. With a quickened pace, we retraced part of our earlier journey to another bathroom. No Eamon. Our yells for him were getting a bit frantic. The garden is big, and he is only 8.5 years old. A few of the volunteers began to help in the search. Benton began to worry about his big brother and added his voice to our yells. With a definite urgency, I steered us to the main entrance. As I was getting closer, an employee of the garden was coming toward me after hearing our shouts. I instantly remembered the other time we lost Eamon. The park ranger told me that my son was at admissions after confirming my name and his. With the ranger at my side, I practically sprinted toward the entrance and my oldest son.

Amidst big hugs, Eamon said, "I did what you always tell me." I told him that he hadn't. He had gone ahead of us and not stayed where he could see me. He agrued with me about my interpretation of his behavior. He said that when he realized that he had lost me, he did what I tell him to do. He had emerged from the bathroom near the entrance and realized I wasn't there, so he went straight to the admissions area. He even assured me that he told them my phone number. He did admit to flipping the first three and the final four numbers, because he was a little nervous. We hugged again and again. I told him that yes, he had done the right thing when he realized he was lost.

After the excitement, we all wanted to head home. In the cool safety of the car, I asked Eamon if he was scared. He said he was, and that he was glad we were all back together. Phew, what a day!

A foot away

Since Aine's vest was completed this week, I have been working on the birthday socks. It has been my only project, yet I am still a foot away from being done with them. I marked the heel today while we played at a friend's house. Amid flying popcorn and laughter, I was able to knit a few rows before we headed out to Aine's first soccer practice with a new league. While watching her play and the boys climb at the park, I texted my knitting guru about foot length. I am technically working on the foot of the sock although there is no heel yet. The recipient of these socks wears a smaller shoe size than mine, and I didn't have the web to consult. My kuru told me to go with 9.5" for the foot. So I still have another 6 inches on the foot of the socks before returning to the heel. I am fairly confident I will be done with these buggers by the end of the week, which means everything possible will probably go wrong and they will languish!

I have been listening to a new audiobook while knitting. It is the book recommended by Ginny at Small Things during one of the Yarn Alongs. It is entitled A Secret Gift and is very thought provoking. Our nation's current financial situation has caused many people to change their purchasing habits and reflect on savings and resourcefulness. This book discusses the Great Depression and true hardship. It is really fascinating to me. I am intrigued by the stories the tragedies and the successes.

My other book reading continues to be The Yarn Harlot. I finished her most recent book and am going back to her previous books. I find her humor quite funny. I think part of the allure is that she is a former LLLI leader and a mom.

So, what are you knitting and reading this week?

Monday, January 23, 2012

On this Monday

we spent the day:
- celebrating a good dental visit
- building LEGO spaceships and other galactic creations
- playing and exploring the zoo with friends
- recuperating after hours at the zoo
- slow-roasting spareribs for dinner using this recipe and local pork from Date Creek Ranch
- watching LEGO clips and minecraft videos
- baking another big batch of these cookies with fresh lemons from a friend's tree. (Go and make them. According to my husband and kiddos they are that good.)
- knitting the birthday socks while dreaming of my next project
- winding yarn for that next project
- rearranging rooms yet again hoping to make sleeping a bit more comfortable for everyone
- reading book after book after book
- looking forward to Tuesday

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Shield Your Eyes


Aine's vest if finished, and she loves it. The colors are perfect for her. While hiking someone commented  on all her bright colors. She just knowingly smiled. Color is her thing. I am satisfied with the vest. I liked the pattern, but I did not love the yarn. It was nice to knit, but it has already started to pill. The yarn is single-ply, so I should have known. All the information is on Ravelry if you are interested.

A Cure for Dysentery


January in Arizona is beautiful. It is the time of year when everyone seeks the outdoors. Bundled up in handknits and long sleeves, our family headed out in 70 degree weather to hike at Cave Creek Regional Park on Saturday. The park is known for its mines, and we wanted to check them out.

The weather was gorgeous and the hike was great. We wandered along the Clay Mine trail toward our goal. Benton led our expedition. He was very serious about his job. He would run ahead and make sure everyone stayed behind him. He carried a backpack full of supplies - a swimsuit, rashguard, pjs, clothes and a lot of suckers. He was ready for almost anything.
As we approached the mine opening we took a small trail up to the top of the mine. Everyone was excited about the talc-like clay surrounding the shaft. Immediately the kiddos huddled around the fence enclosing the mine opening. After looking at the mine depth, the kiddos began molding the clay on the ground. It was so much fun to play with the clay. With a little water, they were able to form balls and disks from the clay.

A trip to the mouth of the mine revealed the use of the clay. The mine owner would sell the clay as a cure for what ails you. It was ineffective for most illnesses, but it did actually help those with dysentery. It worked similar to Imodium. This discovery was hilarious to all of us. It was fodder for quite the conversations.
Aine commandeered the camera on the hike back. She was quite pleased with her photos. She captured some really neat perspectives (including some of her parents and Benton actually wearing his mama-made sweater).

Friday, January 20, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - Joining Amanda in a Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

In Our Own Backyard

After a myriad of errands, the kiddos and I set out for the Riparian Institute in nearby Gilbert. We visited the preserve much more often when we lived closer. Since we have moved, our excursions east are much less frequent, and I miss the remote feel of this urban island. Encouraged by such beautiful winter weather, we grabbed our explorer bags, field guides and water and set out for a hike.
The Riparian Institute at Water Ranch is a 110 acre preserve that is home to many birds and wildlife. It is listed by Audobon as a fantastic bird refuge and is loved by bird watchers across the nation. Whenever we walk through the meandering paths, we encounter many folks with binoculars and cameras. They often chat with the kiddos about what they have found or are looking for. This time was no exception.

We sat on the benches, birding stands or just on the banks of the ponds to observe and watch the waterfowl and birds. Aine led the way in identifying our finds, paging through our spotter's guide for breed identification. We asked others what they had found along the way sharing our enthusiasm. Eamon spotted many hummingbirds and talked to a couple who slowed their approach when they noticed us staring at a tree. They mentioned a beautiful red -breasted specimen they saw a bit further down the path. Benton would call out when he saw nests or other trail magic. Everyone was delighted when were able to pet a horse as his rider passed and chatted with us.

As we walked, the kiddos also explored the water areas. They walked along the little streams and eventually started to wade in them. We talked about the combined purpose of the site and water purification. Aine wondered how water could be cleaned by passing through layers of dirt. Eamon wondered why some of the ponds were dry. We all marveled at how this little bit of land sits amid a bigger city yet feels so remote.
As we headed toward the exit, we paused to examine some of the flora and other features of the institute. I spotted a prickly pear cactus covered with cochineal. My kiddos love this fascinating bug and the bright crimson color it produces. I love the fact that it has been used to dye fiber throughout the centuries. We also identified a Screwbean Mesquite tree with its cool bean pods. Eamon, Aine and Benton then stopped to unearth the remains of dinosaur skeletons and peek into an equipment building to see real fossils. Aine impressed us all by correctly identifying a mix of animal trail prints in the concrete. We left refreshed by our hike and ready for more this season. We are lucky to have so many outdoor opportunities living in an urban setting.