Tuesday, January 30, 2007


putting the trains together

making the switch

on the tracks

day 30 of 365/photo a day
day 30 of 365

Sunday, January 28, 2007

the great yarn crawl of 2007 (LaLa Land episode)

A few weeks ago, Chelle mentioned that she wanted to do a Mom's Day Out (where we mommas do something fun that doesn't involve the littles). Her plan was to get a bunch of us knitting/fibery types together and break through the Orange Curtain to visit some yarn shops in LA. She really wanted to visit the Black Sheep Knittery (and get away from the small ones for the day).

It turned out that the other ladies who wanted to attend couldn't make it for various reasons. So just Chelle and I jumped into the car for the trip to La La Land. She had directions to three different stores in the heart of LA, all within a few miles of each other. Our plan was to hit each store, have lunch at some point during the all the yarn-y goodness and then head on home. So here's my capsule review of the day:

Black Sheep Knittery: Located in the shadow of the Capitol Records building with some metered parking out front. Unfortunately we had a difficult time finding parking and ended up with a metered spot about a block away. The neighborhood is a mix of residential and small storefronts, so not much else was open.

The BSK is long and narrow, with a big table in the middle for classes or knitting meets. Yarn is in cubbies on two walls, with some placed in baskets or hung in the display windows. They also have a loft in the very back of the store...I didn't notice it till we had been inside for a while. We were greeted by a nice young lady as soon as we entered (tho she didn't introduce herself or ask if we needed any help). Yarn is organized by brand and somewhat by type. The two walls of cubbies held lots of wool and wool mixes: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, Rowan Yarns, GGH, Blue Sky, Noro etc. They had a pretty nice selection of Koigu KPPPM and Lorna's Laces. Some yarns I hadn't seen before: Rio De Las Plata, a new Noro with sparklies (don't know the name), a twisted tape/rope Noro in a DKish weight, Blue Sky Organic Cottons.

Upstairs in the loft, there was a small couch and a big blue fluffy rug as well as most of the needles, knitting accessories and a small wall of cotton yarns. Patterns and pattern books were spread throughout the store. They have a 50% off clearance table next to the cash register with patterns, needles, older magazines and assorted small bags of yarn. There was a pretty large stack of sweater kits next to the stairs. I ended up buying Louisa Harding's Winter Muse Classics pattern book (like I need more pattern books, but I couldn't resist!).

Overall, the prices were fair, the store was pretty easy to navigate and they had a good selection of workhorse yarns, as well as some more expensive stuff like angora and cashmere. The shopgirl was very helpful as we were paying and even cheerily broke a $10 for some meter change (anyone who lives/works in the city knows how unusual that is).

Next we headed over to Suss Designs:
The store is located in a tonier section of LA, on Beverly Boulevard. There was a lot more retail here, so more foot traffic. Metered parking is available on the street in front of the shop, but we had to park around the corner in a residential street (free parking for 2hrs, no parking after 6pm without a permit).

A big, airy space with exposed brick walls and lots of yarn cubbies. Suss carries her own yarn line which includes merino wool, alpaca, cotton, and several blends. All of them were priced very competitively (for example: approx 200yds of nice alpaca in natural colors for $9.00). Books and patterns were placed in a central area & organized so it was easy to look through them. There are comfy chairs & couches in the main display area, a back room with a big table (for classes, I'm sure), and what looked like a coffee or wine bar in the back of the store.

Yarn was organized by type/brand and easy to browse through. Lots of sample swatches were tucked into the cubbies with the corresponding yarns. Needles and notions were all on one wall toward the back of the store. I saw: some Blue Sky Alpaca, Debbie Bliss, Lamb's Pride bulky & worsted, a big basket of Artyarns Supermerino, etc.. Yarns I hadn't seen before: Suss' entire line, the Artyarns, some GGH yarns. I'm not sure that I spotted any Noro, but it might have been there.

About a third of the store is dedicated to Suss' own line of knitted goods and fashion. Some of the sweaters were interesting, but I didn't really browse through the racks since that wasn't why I was there.

The only employee in the store was a very friendly and knowledgeable shopguy. Chelle was looking for yarn to match some handspun she had been gifted with, and the shopguy was helpful without being annoying. I was also impressed by his ability to help three people at once without getting flustered. Kudos to the shopguy for being so on the ball.

Finally we headed over to Knit Cafe, which is in another tony part of LA, very near the Beverly Center. Metered street parking is available (we parked about 1/2 a block away).

The store itself was quite small, but very charming. The shopgirl had a sweet (French?) accent & was helpful without being too pushy. There were some comfy chairs located in the center of the stores (they seemed to have a small sit n knit going when we got there), as well as a table in the front. There was a coffee bar in the rear of the store & another larger table in a back room.

Yarn in the cubbies included Colinette, Rowan, GGH, etc.. Needles & accessories were in a central spot on one wall. Pattern books and mags mostly clustered in near a shelf. I saw quite a few purse handles and buttons.

They had a lot of crocheted and knitted items out- I loved the tiny little crocheted cowboy boots and knitted cupcakes. Some of the yarn was displayed in old 50's style wooden cabinets. There was a small but decent selection of sock yarns (Regia Cotton Surf, Regia Crazy Color, etc.). I found a small stash of Colinette sock yarn and one of them said "Buy me", so I did. Prices overall were reasonable/competitive.

And that wrapped up our yarn crawl for the day. Since we were right near the Beverly Center, we headed over there to get some lunch and rest our wallets.

The only other eventful thing we saw today:

day 28 of 365/photo a day
day 28 of 365

That's right: this is the only photo I took all day and it's of Bobby Trendy's 'shoppe' in LA. And let me tell you, I felt like quite the tourist holding my camera out of the sunroof for some drive-by photography. (I know I'm one sick puppy, but as soon as I saw the sign, I couldn't resist!)

So, that was our Mom's Day Out/Yarn Crawl. Thanks to Chelle for the great idea and we'll definitely have to do something like this again!

how to cause and cure a migraine

Little Man is nearly five and somehow we have managed to prevent him from visiting Hell On Earth (aka Chuck E. Cheese). He's occasionally seen commercials about HOE/CEC, and now that he's in preschool some of his friends have told him about it. In the past few months he has asked several times if we could go to HOE/CEC for lunch so he can play games. I've always told him no, mostly because my one visit to HOE/CEC many years ago gave me an almost instant headache. I remember the place as being very dark, dingy, loud and dirty. So my motivation to go inside the local HOE/CEC was minimal.

But then we received a couple of birthday invites from some children in Little Man's preschool class. Both of them were for parties at HOE/CEC...one on Saturday (today) and one on Monday. Luckily my neighbor's daughter is in the same class so she was also invited, making it easy for us to swap watching the kids at the party. I took Little Man and Blondie to the party today, and my neighbor will take them on Monday.

I had braced myself for a repeat of my last HOE/CEC experience (this time including the fun of running after Monkey Boy, Little Man and Blondie). However, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. The local HOE/CEC is actually very clean, well lit and has a huge bank of windows to let in lots of natural light. They had all kind of arcade games, including skee ball (remember that?):

remember skee ball?

And of course Monkey Boy loooooved the train/trolley (he probably spent 25 tokens just on this ride):

trolley ride

While Little Man greatly enjoyed this contraption:

bike helicopter

All in all, the experience wasn't as bad I thought it was going to be. Unfortunately after about half an hour I started getting a nasty headache. By the time we left, I had a nice little souvenir: a migraine. ugh

Luckily the boys crashed when we got home and I was able to take a short nap. When the Dearest arrived home from his workout, we decided to head to our favorite Shabu Shabu restaurant for dinner so I wouldn't have to cook.

Shabu Shabu is a lot of fun: they give you a big plate of very thinly sliced meat, another big plate of raw veggies and a pot of hot water. You swish the veggies and meat around in the water to cook them, dip them in ponzu sauce and eat up.

day 27 of 365/photo a day
day 27 of 365

The small men always love Shabu Shabu- even if they don't get to do any swishing themselves. Tonight Little Man was putting pieces of carrot on his chopsticks and "warming" them over the pot like he was roasting marshmallows.

Monkey Boy's favorite part of the meal is the 'ndoodless' or noodles. He's gotten pretty good at slurping them up:

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The Shabu Shabu was good enough to cure my migraine and I'm feeling ever so much better now. :) Off to bed, because tomorrow I'm doing a yarn crawl with the lovely Ms. Chelle. Maybe I'll even take some photos (ya think?).

Friday, January 26, 2007

new hair and housekeeping

I went for a long overdue cut & color today. The ends of my hair were soooo fried from previous colorings and all the extremely low humidity we have had lately. So off when the dried, fried ends and in went some layers. I also got some very slight, wispy bangs.

I like it, but we'll see how it wears since I don't have time to blow my hair out daily.

day 26 of 365/photo a day
#26 of 365

Now, onto the housekeeping:

Comments: I try really hard to reply to people's comments, but since I migrated to the new Blogger, I'm no longer receiving commenters' email addys. This means that unless the commenter has a *public* Blogger profile with a valid email addy, I can't reply. This is one of the reasons I wanted to install Haloscan for comments. Unfortunately, Haloscan does not play well with the new Blogger so we're back to missing email addys.

So in the meantime, if you would like a reply to one of your comments, please try to leave a valid email address.

And here are some answers to comments that I couldn't reply to via email:

hunny asked about tips for taking 'better photos', and what camera I use. I have two cameras- a small point & shoot (Canon a540) that I keep in my bag, and my work camera (Canon Digital Rebel) which is a DSLR. The P&S is what I use for snapshots, while most of my FO report photos are done with the DReb.

I personally do not believe that an expensive camera = better photos. There are things you can do with a DSLR & good lenses that you can't do with a point & shoot....but bigger megapixels and more $$ do not guarantee good photos. Most of good photography is understanding the light and how to make the best out of the light you have.

There are tons of books out there that will help: Understanding Exposure is a great, easy to read book. There is also The Digital Photography Book or The Betterphoto Guide to Better Digital Photography. All of these would be a good start.

And then there are the myriad photo sites on the web: Betterphoto, ILP, DpReview are just three of them. Flickr is home to some of the best photographers around...and there are plenty of forums to learn in.

Other than that, my biggest tip is start taking photos. Seriously! Take your camera out of "Auto" mode and put it in AV or TV. Turn off the flash (99% of my photos are taken with only natural light). Find a well lit window (no direct sunlight) and start taking photos of something that doesn't move. Have fun! Play with your camera settings and see what happens. A lot of learning to be a good photographer is about just taking pictures. Like so much else in life, a little practice will really help.

Ween wanted to know the yarn requirements for a size 4 Pirate Sweater from Zoe Mellor's book. The pattern calls for :
-4 (50g/94yd) balls of Rowan Handknit DK in main color (navy blue)
-2 balls each of A (red) and B (ecru) Rowan Handknit DK
-You also need a pair of US5 and US6 needles.

I don't much care for cotton, so I'm using Cascade 220 Superwash (220yds per 100g): 2 balls of the navy and one ball each of the other colors. The 220 is a worsted weight yarn so I'm also using bigger needles (US6 and US7).

LizK wanted to know what I think of the Swish Superwash I used for the small men's Drive Thru sweaters. So here is my Swish Superwash Review:

IMO Swish is pretty good stuff- it's softer than the Cascade 220 superwash I'm using right now. The price is about the same if you consider that the 220 comes in 100g balls and the Swish is in 50g balls. The only reason I went with the 220 for LittleMan's new pirate sweater is because the Swish doesn't have a white/offwhite color.

Both of the boys' sweaters have held up exceptionally well. I've washed LM's sweater at least six or seven times now and it still looks really good with minimal pilling. There has been a bit of felting around the cuffs and neck edges, but nothing too bad.

I also noticed that the yarn shrank a bit when I washed it the first time. SaunShine has an extensive review on her blog that talks about the actual amounts of shrinkage she experienced with Swish. The shrinking on my sweaters wasn't quite as severe**, and even with the shrinkage I'm not too concerned about the long-term wear of the yarn. It has held up quite nicely against all the abuse (and food) two little boys can dish out.

I would't hesitate to use Swish again for another project. I just wish Knitpicks would come out with better colors!

So, that's all the housekeeping for now....I'm off to enjoy some hot cocoa and my new hair.

**I think some of the differences in our experiences can be attributed to different washing machines, different water hardness & washing methods, etc.. We have a front load washing machine that requires very little water & detergent. It is also very gentle on clothing, which is probably why my sweaters didn't shrink as much as SaunShine's, and why they haven't pilled at all.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

the start of something new & love thursday

Another sweater for LittleMan:

start of a new sweater

A pirate sweater to match LM's Pirate Hat (click photo to see more info)

...and love thursday (better late than never)... loving:

-the GIANT bubbler I found at le Target:

day 24 of 365/photo a day
day 24 of 365
Monkey Boy can finally make his own bubbles without making a mess all over me or himself. Plus this thing is so huge that it holds a whole bottle of bubbles- less time spent re-filling. It's about the size of a 1 gallon paint can!

-when the small men hold hands and walk together (I need a pic of this)

-the anticipation of *finally* getting my hair cut tomorrow

-good, runny, stinky cheese + crackers

-homemade minestrone soup

-handcrafted soaps (you gotta try the beer & honey or the java orange mint)

-hearing LittleMan ask for "hot chocolate & marshmallows, please" before bed

And what are you loving this week?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


concentration::little brother

day 23 of 365/photo a day
day 23 of 365

Sunday, January 21, 2007

hang in there

just a fyi- I'm wrestling with Blogger beta, which doesn't seem to like the changes I made to my previous template. I also tried installing Haloscan for comments, but now I can't get to any of the archived comments in Blogger.

*bangs head on desk*

Can y'all help a girl out and leave me a comment to make sure this damn thing is working? Does the blog layout look alright? I have Firefox and just want to make sure that all my tinkering didn't totally screw up the html for other browsers.

thank you much and we'll return you to your regularly scheduled program asap.

ps: LittleMan wanted me to 'put this on the computer', so here it is:

day 21 of 365
#21 of 365

ETA: Haloscan has been disabled until they figure out a way to install onto Blogger Beta without removing the exisiting comments.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

a picture of someone else's dinner

Super-knitter (blogless) Joyce told me the other night that she laughed to see photos of my dinner on my blog.

In her honor, I present a photo of someone else's dinner:

Little Man enjoys a taco

Friday, January 19, 2007

just step away from the mom jeans

day 19 of 365/photo a day

day#19 of 365

I've been feeling kinda dowdy lately. Like I'm wearing the same tshirts and jeans all.the.time. I've never been much of a fashionista, but the mommy uniform was starting to get me down.

After Christmas sales were a good place to pick up some fun boots, a couple of nice new jackets and accessories. But I was still looking for a good pair of jeans. Something in a darker denim so they could be dressed up if need be. Since the small men were hanging out with the babysitter today, I headed off to be the local mall to be Gapped, Nordstromed, and Hollistered to within an inch of my life.

Normally I buy my jeans at Old Navy (along with 90% of my wardrobe). Today I decided that I was NOT going to buy jeans at ON. So that meant I tried oh, about six THOUSAND pairs of jeans at practically every place in the mall that sold jeans. I finally found the perfect pair at Gap (it only took about three hours). Yay me!

Then I headed over to Nordstrom's lingerie department for some new bras, another item I was badly in need of updating. It's been about 4 yrs since I wore anything but nursing or soft cup bras. Let's just say that the 'girls' were not quite as perky as they should be after two pregnancies and nearly four years of nursing.

Nordstrom's always has the best Lingerie Ladies. They *really* know their stuff. As soon as I walked into the racks of lingerie, three LLs descended on me like a pack of tiny, impeccably dressed sparrows armed with measuring tapes. Twittering at me in soft, Eastern-European accented voices, they measured, poked and prodded, then led me into a dressing room. Half an hour later, after trying on a multitude of undewire, cross yer heart, padded, gelled and 'air-foamed' (wth?) undergarments, I emerged with The Perfect Bra.

The Perfect Bra cost almost as much as my first car, but it put the 'girls' back where they belong -above my navel. With the 'girls' in the right spot, I looked like I had lost 10lbs! In fact I looked so much better that I ended up wearing TPB out of Nordies. The Lingerie Ladies just nodded sagely and threw my tattered old bra straight into the trash. They'd seen it before.

sometimes the first cut isn't the cruelest

Yesterday I took MonkeyBoy to have his hair cut for the first time. The Dearest has been after me (in a nice way) to do it, but I've been resisting. LittleMan got his first hair cut when he was only 18 mos. old, but he had very straight, fine hair that was growing out all spikey on his head. Since MB's hair is so curly, it was hard to see how long it was growing till just recently.

We've had super low humidity (along with record near freezing temps) for the past week, resulting in some crazy MonkeyBoy hair:

before the first cut

He kept running around, pushing his hair out of his eyes and saying "hair-cut? hair-cut?". The other day my neighbor (who has 3 girls) offered me a barrette to hold MB's back. We had a good laugh over that one, but I realized that he really did need a trim at least.

So off to the local kids' salon we went. MB did *great*. He's seen big brother get several haircuts, so MB was excited that it was finally his turn. He really enjoyed sitting in the car/chair, but once the cutting started he wasn't so sure about the whole thing. No tears, just some very concerned faces:
not so sure about this

Monkey Boy gets his hair cut

I told the stylist that I didn't want all the curls taken off. Just a trim to neaten things up. She seemed to know exactly what I was talking about and we're all happy with the finished product:
the finished product
Stilly my curly-top...still my little baby!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

love thursday

First off, I had several people asking me about my opinions on the Swish superwash yarn I used to make the Drive Thru sweaters for the small men. I'm working on a real review-like post for that, so keep an eye out.

Now onto the things I'm loving this Thursday:

-warm basil beer bread, pungent with Welcome Ale and spread with Plugra

-Monkey Boy's trouble-making ways:

day 17 of 365/photo a day
(he was busy "washing his hair" with a bottle of gel while I was trying to take the photos of Veste Everest. No wonder he was so quiet!)

-my new necklace from Little Put Books :
my new necklace from etsy

-Top Chef

-sleepy little men:

sleeping like a baby

-watching Little Man set up a bunch of child-sized lounge chairs so he and all his friends could relax:
Little Man lounges

-time spent with my small men (how can I love them so much?)
day 13 of 365/photo a daymy little helper

-vegging in front of the TV and having the Dearest appear with a Drumstick for me (he's psychic like that)

-sipping hot vanilla creme coffee with milk

-stealing the Dearest's sweater to wear and feeling like he's hugging me all day because the sweater smells yummy like him

-new books to share with the small men

So, what are you loving this Thursday?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

FO report- Veste Everest

Veste Everest

FO Report: "Veste Everest"
Started 03/06, finished 01/16/07
Pattern: "Veste Everest" (size 40in) by Veronik Avery in Fall 2005 IK
Yarn: My own handspun; Brown Alpaca and silk plied with Chocolate Cherries roving handdyed by Lori Lawson (alpaca, silk & merino). Approx 850yds of light worsted weight yarn.
Needles: Addi Turbos for the body, Knitpicks Options for the neck and arm bindings
Pattern Talk: Like most Interweave patterns, this one was well written and easy to follow. The cable was a simple series of repeats. I had no problems following the pattern, or making modifications to it.

neck detail

My Mods: I lengthened the body by about 2 inches by doing extra repeats of the cable pattern on the front. The pattern calls for cabling on the back, but I figured that would be waste of time & effort (plus I'd have to spin more yarn) because no one looks at the back of a piece. So instead I did a simple 6x2 ribbing across the back. I fudged the math a little to make the back the same size as the front, but it all worked out. Since I changed the back, it took me *forever* to finish- I had to do more math to make the neck and shoulders fit the front correctly. I'm so math-adverse that I put the work aside for months instead of just jumping in and finishing it. If I'd done that, the vest would have been completed within a couple of months of starting it, instead of taking nearly a year to finish.
Veste Everest

Overall, I'm really pleased with the way the vest fits. The cables look great in my handspun, too.
cables closeup
With all the silk and alpaca, this vest is super warm. I don't know if I'll be wearing it with any long sleeved shirts any time soon! I do like the finished product a lot, though, and it's really cool to have produced a complete garment from my handspun.

Monday, January 15, 2007

FO report- Visiting the Drive Thru again

completed "Drive Thru" sweater

FO Report: "Drive Thru, aka Quicko Cheapo" sweater from Wendy at Knit and Tonic
Started 01/02/07, finished 01/15/07
Pattern: "Drive-Thru" sweater by Wendy at Knit & Tonic, Size 2yrs
Yarn: Swish superwash in Sand Dune, Jade, Aloe and Dublin
Needles: Clover dpns for the sleeves and collar, Knitpicks Options circ for the body

I've knit this sweater once already, so most of the info regarding modifications and pattern talk can be found here.


The only real difference between this sweater and the one I made for Little Man is the collar: I didn't rib this collar at all. Instead, I did the short rows on the back and then finished it off in stockinette so it rolls a bit:

day 15 of 365/photo a day

Also, I had some difficulty with mattress-stitching the armholes shut. For some reason, there was a lot of puckering around the armholes this time. I didn't run into that with Little Man's sweater. When I was trying to fix the first armhole, I accidentally unknit part of the sweater (woops!). My 'repair' is kinda ugly, but it's on the backside of the sweater so I'm not going to stress about it too much. If it really bugs me while Monkey Boy is wearing it, I might end up tearing out the ugly grafting I did and reknit the area. But I have a feeling that MB will outgrow this sweater before I get too worked up about the patch.

ETA: More photos of Monkey Boy actually wearing the sweater. I couldn't pick just one cuz he's just too cute LOL

Monkey Boy in his new sweater
fits perfectly!

other views:

colorwork closeup

Sunday, January 14, 2007

in which a monkey rides a bike

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(keep in mind, this kiddo just turned two. the little bugger is keeping me on my toes! also, did you catch those train noises!? LOL can you say "train obsession?)

And thanks to all the lurkers who posted comments or emailed. :) It's nice to know you're all out there!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

love thursday & a request

this thursday, I'm loving:

-coming home to the smell of fresh baked choco chip cookies, especially if I didn't have to make them! (thanks, Dearest!)

fresh from the oven

-cool winter weather

-Little Man coming home from a playdate with the little neighbor girl, covered in glittery makeup (neighbor girl got play makeup for Christmas!). Hearing LittleMan tell me about how they played dress up and he was dressed 'like a regular person'.

-finding great books by reading other blogs. The small men are loving "Poetry Speaks to Children" and so am I. The illustrations are great fun and there are some rollicking poems in the book. We haven't even listened to the CD yet and the book has already become a favorite.

-on-line shopping! I hit all the great on line stores for after-Christmas sales and got some cool deals. The UPS guy is at my house practically every day now, as the packages roll in. On-line shopping: I can do it while the small men play, in the comfort of my own home and not have to drag them out to the mall. Throw in great deals and free shipping: What *isn't* there to love?

-finishing a project (Little Man's Pirate Hat) and starting another (socks for me). Love that feeling of expectation and excitement when I'm casting on.

-feeling not-sick after a month and a half of everyone being ill

-lunch out with the small men...they are getting big enough now that I can take them both to a restaurant and half-way enjoy a meal.

-playing trains with Monkey Boy:
day 10 of 365/photo a day
photo #10 of 365

-the anticipation of an upcoming date night with the Dearest

What are you loving this week?

Oh, and in case you haven't hit an announcement about National Delurking Week anywhere else, here's mine:

(graphic courtesy of Life with 4 Kids)

So you lurkers out there, leave me a comment! No more lurking! At least not for the rest of this week. :)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

dinner out

first day back on the school schedule
first day back with swimming lessons
still cleaning up from the party
4pm and no idea what to make for dinner
I polled the men and they voted for Spaghetti Factory
so we had dinner out:

dinner out

Monday, January 08, 2007

FO report- Pirates Hat!

Little Man is really into pirates. He has a bunch of Playmobil pirates and a pirate ship that he plays with on a daily basis. The dialogue he makes up for the pirates is always fun to listen to- one pirate is usually a bad guy and another pirate is the good guy. They swordfight, swing from the ropes of the ship and eventually make friends so they can dig for the treasure together.

With LM's interest in pirates, I knew I had to make this hat as soon as I saw the pattern:
LM's "We Call Them Pirates" hat

FO Report:
Pattern: "We Call Them Pirates" by Helloyarn, one size
started 12/15/06, finished 01/08/07
Yarn: Knitpicks' Telemark in black (master color) and cream (contrast color), one ball of each
Needles: Knitpicks' Options, size 3 circ. Balene size 3 DPNs
My Take: This was my first ever colorwork piece. It was actually pretty easy once I got the hang of knitting with the master color in my right hand & the contrast color in my left. I normally knit English, btw. It was difficult in the beginning to know how much yarn to leave for the floats on the back of the work. Plus my tension when knitting Continental is pretty wonky. So there are some pucker-y parts....but I think it looks alright anyway.

The pattern itself is well written. It calls for a provisional cast on at the brim, then you knit in 1x1 rib for a bit, then start the colorwork. Decreases (k2tog and ssk) are done in pattern at the top. After the hat is completed, you pick up the live sts on the provisional cast on and knit a lining on smaller size needles, which is finally tacked to the inside of the hat.
My only complaint is that the colorwork chart is SUPER confusing since it is in black and white: the master color is shown as white squares and the contrast color is shown as black squares. Unfortunately the MC I used is black, & the CC was white....so it was totally opposite of the chart (when I saw white squares, I needed to use black yarn). There was a lot of cussing before I finally decided to scan in the chart, reverse the colors and reprint it so white was white and black was black. MUCH better.

My Mods: Different yarn. Decided that the provisional cast on /lining was a lot of extra work & not really needed in So.Cal. (never gets that cold here anyways). Instead I did a cable cast on, knit in 1x1 rib for an inch or so and then started the colorwork.

Monkey Boy tries on the hat, too

I was running out of black/master color by the time I got to the top and so I had to skip the in-pattern decreases. Adding a few rows of plain white/contrast color enabled me to finish the hat with about one foot of black yarn to spare!
top of the hat

Originally I thought I'd have to felt the hat a bit to make it fit Little Man's head, but he has such a huge noggin that it fits just fine as is. It's quite stretchy and even fits Monkey Boy (tho it has a bit of a conehead effect):
a little cone-headish?

All in all, a fun and pretty quick knit. This pattern is a great introduction to two color knitting, and it's easy enough for any intermediate knitter to follow. If you don't know how to knit with one color in each hand, this would be the perfect pattern to learn on.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

we survived!

the mega-birthday party, that is.

I woke up at 7:30 this morning and immediately got to work. I had a little list of things to do (start crockpot meatballs [which take 3hrs to cook], tidy the kitchen, decorate the cakes, pre-heat the oven, take a shower, etc. etc. The party didn't start till 10:30am so I thought three hours would be enough time.

Boy, was I wrong!

First off, I received a phone call from my dad's ex-girlfriend-who-is-marrying-someone-else-but-still-his-roomie/caretaker (don't ask) exactly three minutes after I rolled out of bed. She proceeded to talk my ear off for nearly 45 minutes. Without going into a bunch of really boring and depressing family stuff, suffice it to say that it was a highly aggravating phone call. Not the way I would like to start the day- especially since I wasted 45 precious minutes!

After peeling my ear from the phone and doing some deep breathing to calm myself down, I started decorating the cakes. I ended up making two complete trains, one that I made "girly" for Ms. Izzy:

Izzy's cake

The other one I made "boy-ey" for Monkey Boy:

#6 of 365/photo a day

I think they turned out pretty good, considering I've never taken a cake decorating class (tho that might be something I'm going to sign up for shortly). The first set of cakes I baked last night were waaaay too sticky and wouldn't come out of the pan. I learned my lesson and made sure to spray the pan liberally with baking spray; the second set of trains popped out perfectly formed. Woot!

It was actually a lot of fun decorating the cakes. For Ms. Izzy's cake, I used lots of pink sprinkles, different colors of icing, strips of rainbow sour candy, and homemade buttercream icing to hold it all together. Monkey Boy's cake included Twizzlers, rainbow sprinkles, black licorice and more buttercream icing. I was really happy to find rock candy sticks for the funnels, too. The largest rectangular trays I had weren't big enough for the trains so I ended up using circular ones. The white stuff is shredded coconut; the tracks are made out of green sour candy.

Decorating the cakes took a longer than I thought- especially since I had 'helpers'. The small men had to taste test all the candy, try sticking their fingers in the icing and climb up on my stool every time I stood up to get something. At one point Monkey Boy tried running away with one of the half decorated train cars.

In fact I was so busy that I was shocked to look at the clock and see "9:47am". Yikes! The Dearest was occupied blowing up balloons and playing with the small men. I was was still unshowered, had to vacuum up all the sprinkles Monkey Boy had spilled on the kitchen floor, and clean up the kitchen.

Luckily, Chelle (Miss Izzy's mom) showed up and was able to do some of the cleaning for me so I could actually be presentable when the guests started arriving. Thanks to her & the Dearest, everything was taken care of by the time I came back downstairs with my face on.

Guests started arriving, and then suddenly the entertainment showed up:

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The kids really enjoyed riding on the train. It went around our neighborhood about 50 times- and a couple of the grownups jumped aboard too. Every time the train stopped, all the kids would jump out and run to another car so they could sit in a different seat. It was hilarious. Monkey Boy loved, loved, loved the train- he was sad to see it go but we distracted him with the offer of cake. It was time to blow out some candles:

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So the kids ate the train cakes and we big people had cookies & cream cheesecake with a garnish of cream puffs for dessert. Yummmmm.

People started leaving after dessert, which was perfect because it was time for Monkey Boy's nap. Lots of photos were taken, everyone laughed and the kids played together without too much fighting. All in all, a great party and a really fun day.

I'm glad we went 'all out' for this party, since I failed to celebrate Monkey Boy's first birthday at all (I know, I know: bad mommy!). He might even remember this party- when I was rocking with him tonight, he kept telling me about "Thom-y" and "ride" "train" "fast" and "Gwam-ma"...in other words- "Riding the Thomas the train fast with Grandma." I have a feeling he'll be dreaming about it tonight, too.

Friday, January 05, 2007

doing, doing, done?


#5 of 365/photo a day
#5 of 365/photo a day

Tomorrow we are having a birthday party for two precious little ones: our Monkey Boy and his cousin, I. Monkey Boy will be celebrating his 2nd birthday; I. will be turning 1 year old. Because their birthdays are very close together, we decided to throw them a combined party.

Since MB is obsessed with trains and dinosaurs, that's our theme. The above image is the new cake pan I got from Williams Sonoma, along with a photo of what the cake will eventually look like (I hope!). Wish me luck!

new moo cards
Playing with my new moo cards. I lurrrve these cute little cards and can't wait to start handing them out to people. I was surprised at how nice and thick the cardstock is, as well as how great the images look on the cards. They are just gorgeous and this photo above doesn't do them justice.

My cards include some work photos, some yarny photos and some photos of the small men. I'm planning on using them as business cards & calling cards to hand out at playdates or whenever someone asks for my # or email addy. They are so cool that I made a little collage out of them for the front of our fridge. I had to use removable scrapbooking adhesive since our fridge is stainless steel and magnets don't stick. It's fun to catch a glimpse of some of my favorite things every time I open the door.

upgrading to the 'new' blogger!
This is my first post with the upgraded blogger- hopefully all is going to continue working well. Let me know if you all have any problems. I'm going to start playing with the template again, so don't be surprised if things look different around here!

Now....off to get some sleep so I can wake up bright and early to decorate cakes, clean house, cook appetizers and get ready for the arrival of the guests tomorrow. G'night!