Tuesday, December 26, 2006


There has been much knitting and gnashing of teeth going on the past week. I'm in the home stretch now and as soon as all of the gifts have been given, a multitude of pics will come.

I leave you with the words of a commercial that we saw the other night....

...(product name)!

It's new, revolutionary, and patented!

Off to finish dinner!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Manos, the Yarn of Fate

I am so in love. I bought some Manos del Uruguay Yarn in a beautiful red and actually knit something for myself out of it, which unfortunately I can't show because others are getting similar items for Christmas. It's wonderful.

Manos - Yarn of Fate

For those not in the know, the title of this post is a MST3K reference to the movie, "Manos, the Hands of Fate"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh but to be an engineer...

Michael and train in window

Michael - close-up

You can just picture the tears that came when we told him we had to leave.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Me, obsessive?

Here's what's been doing in the land of knitting (a.k.a. the land of avoidance or the land of trying not to think about smoking - which has unfortunately revoked my visa but I have the state department working on that).

Linen Stitch Hand Towel

Linen Stitch Hand Towel

This has been on the needles for at least two months, maybe longer. It's a simple linen-stitch towel knit from Sugar and Cream cotton yarn with an I-cord loop. I love the way the variagated yarn colors pooled on this. Here's a detail of the stitching:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I will get the pattern written up soon and posted over on Knitty Keen, probably this weekend.

Ball Band Mop Covers

Ball Band Mop Covers - bottom

Ball Band Mop Covers - top

I finally managed to make a few of these, after finishing one and frogging it all in the same night back in September. You can check out the pattern yourself here. Here are the changes I made from the original pattern:
  • I cast-on 49 sts, adding a 2 st garter border on either side
  • I picked up 25 sts on each side and rearranged the rest of the stitches using markers so it was 47-27-47-27
  • I worked two rounds in stockinette before begining the decreases.
  • Worked decreases until there were 35-15-35-15 sts left
  • Worked [K2, P2] rib for three rounds, then [K2, P2tog, yo] for a round, then 3 more rounds of [K2, P2] ribbing.
Contrary to what I said back in September, I did end up working it on Size 8 needles. I'll be using them tonight so I'll give an update on how my own modifications worked.

Cable Hat

Cabled Hat Band
The whole band waiting to be kitchnered.

Cable Detail
Rather fuzzy cable detail

Truth be told, the hat is actually finished, but I'm not happy with it. The cable looks bad where it was kitchnered - which means that nobody else but me would really notice it. On top of the cable I added a purl band, a moss stitch band, a purl band, and then a flat top using decreases in a spiral pattern (I love the way this looks). Below the cable, I have a purl band, a moss stitch band, a purl band and just over an inch of K1P1 rib. The ribbing has to be reworked on smaller needles - it's just too loose. The hat as a whole looks pretty good, but becsaue the cable band has stuff above and below it, it does not seem to be the main focus of the hat. I'm going to get some other opinions before I go in and frog.

The GameBoy beckons....

There's nothing quite like it

Picture if you will - your two year-old happilly singing, "Sleep, sleep, sleep" for about thirty minutes at one in the morning when you both know that is the last thing that's going to happen, at least not for another couple of hours.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Food for thought...

I finally got around to finish reading Stephanie Knaak's paper Breast-Feeding, Bottle-Feeding and Dr. Spock: The Shifting Context of Choice and it definitely is worth the read. Here's the abstract:

In today's environment, breast-feeding represents both a medical gold standard for infant feeding and a moral gold standard for mothering. The morally charged character of this discourse makes the notion of choice in infant feeding particularly problematic and fraught with difficulty. From an historical content analysis of selected editions from 1946 to 1998 of Dr. Spock's famous child-care manual, this paper explicates the process through which the breast versus bottle discourse has shifted over the last half-century, and how these shifts have shaped the context of choice within which mothers must make their infant-feeding decisions.

Here's a link to the whole paper. Thoughtfull discourse to follow soon...

The Devil and Philip Morris

I am working on what is probably the hardest thing I've ever done, and that's saying something considering the mental health roller-coaster that has been my life. That oh so wonderful thing is smoking. I've been on and off the wagon so many times these past few months it's not even funny. I started smoking back when I was seventeen for those oh so wonderful reasons - because my friends smoked and it would piss-off my mom (the driving force behing many of my late teenage decisions).

Aside from the insidious nature of nicotine addiction, the psychological reasons for my smoking are very hard to shake. One, I am a nervous smoker. Whenever I am feeling anxious, its the first thing I want. Secondly, and this is one of the hardest to find a way around, it's five minutes at a time when I can't be a mom. I've been working on finding substitutes for both of these but it's been very hard work. The withdrawal symptoms add a wonderful dimension to all of this. Cravings I can cope with, the short-temperedness (I'm not even sure that's a word) and what nicotine detoxification does to my mental state are very, very nasty. It gets to the point that I want to smoke just so I can feel better which of course sends me back to square one.

I haven't given nicotine replacement a good go yet, prefering in my mind to go cold turkey and get it all over with, but the time for reconsideration is now. Michael and I are going to walk down to our local wholesale club and pick up some gum or the patch tomorrow. Again, wish me luck because I sure as hell can use it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My version of Panta

Here is a link to the original pattern on Drops Design.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

This is what I did and your mileage may vary greatly - try out the first half see how it goes and then tweak it from there. I've included instructions for placing row markers after each section - this is purely optional and just something I like to do for myself as I am usually being interrupted often while knitting and my row counter is way too attractive to my toddler to be of any use.

US Size 8 (5.0mm) Needles
Lion Brand Suede Yarn
Waste yarn
Tapestry Needle
Row Markers (optional)

CO 13 using a provisional cast-on

Row 1 (RS): K1,*[K2, P1], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 2 (WS): K1,*[P2, K1], rep from * until 3 st rem, P2, K1

Rep rows 1 and 2 6 times for a total of 14 rows, place row marker (optional)

Row 3: K1, *[K1, K1fb, P1], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3 (16 sts)
Row 4: K1, *[P2, K2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1
Row 5: K1, *[K2, P2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 6: K1, *[P2, K2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1

Rep rows 5 and 6 two times for a total of 8 rows from marker, place row marker

Row 7: K1, *[K1, K1fb, P2], rep from marker until 3 sts rem, K3 (19 sts)
Row 8: K1, *[P2, K3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1
Row 9: K1, *[K2, P3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 10: K1, *[P2, K3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1

Rep Rows 9 and 10 two times for a total of 8 rows from marker, place row marker

Row 11: K1, *[K1, K1f&b, P3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3 (22 sts)
Row 12: K1, *[P2, K4], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1
Row 13: K1, *[K2, P4], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 14: K1, *[P2, K4], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1

Rep Rows 13 and 14 6 times for a total of 16 rows from marker, place row marker

Row 15: K1, *[K2, P2, P2tog], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3 (19 sts)
Row 16: K2, *[P2, K3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1
Row 17: K1, *[K2, P3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 18: K2, *[P2, K3], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1

Rep Rows 17 and 18 two times for a total of 8 rows from marker, place row marker

Row 19: K1, *[K2, P1, P2tog], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3 (16 sts)
Row 20: K1, *[P2, K2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1
Row 21: K1, *[K2, P2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 22: K1, *[P2, K2], rep from * until 3 sts rem, P2, K1

Rep Rows 21 and 22 two times for a total of 8 rows from marker, place row marker

Row 23: K1, *[K2, P2tog], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3 (13 sts)
Row 24: K1,*[P2, K1], rep from * until 3 st rem, P2, K1
Row 25: K1,*[K2, P1], rep from * until 3 sts rem, K3
Row 26: K1,*[P2, K1], rep from * until 3 st rem, P2, K1

Rep rows 25 and 26 5 times for a total of 14 rows from marker.

Remove provisional cast-on from start and graft/kitchner stitch the sides together. Weave in yarn ends.

I don't have any actuall measurements handy right now, but I'll get some up tomorrow. Let me know what you think or if you run into any problems.

Happy Knitting!

Idle hands...

Trying desperately not to think about cigarettes. I finished a hand towel today and finally knit a ball-band mop cover, the one I said I was going to make 3 months ago. I'm heading back down to start dinner and cast on for another.

Wish me luck because man do I ever need it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The long awaited crafts update...

With lots of pictures, no less....

From the Dye Pot

Louet Gems Opal Yarn - hand dyed
Louet Gems Opal, Cream
1/2 tsp Red paste coloring, 1/2 tsp Orange paste coloring, 1 c vinegar

I went to one of my LYS's to pick up some sock yarn. I wanted something bright but in a solid color. the Louet gems yarns looked great but none of the colors sung to me so I picked up a skein of the Opal sport-weight in cream and decided to dye it myself. This was a first for me, superwash wool and mixing colors. I am very happy with the results. Next time I decide to do this, I am going to have them ball the skein for me and then wind it onto my niddy-noddy myself since the skein was tied a bit tightly and I ended up with some small areas that didn't take the dye.

Debbie Bliss Soho - Color 15

I bought three balls of this color of Debbie Bliss Soho (its a variagted with purples and a very bright pink) on sale from my favorite LYS for a felting project. The colors aren't really me and with a shocking amount of selfishness, I decided that I was going to make my first felted project for me and I wanted it to be a color that I liked. Into the crock pot it went with some fisherman's and 1.5 tsp of Wilton's Copper (one of my favorite colors). Several hours later, I got this...

Overdyed yarn

These are so my colors - the purple and pink still sparkle through in some places but there is a lovely burnt orange glow to it. here it is on the needles...

Felted bag on the needles

I cast-on 126 stitches on my 29" size 10 circulars. I'm doing wide bands of stockinette in the fisherman's and then two rows of the Ball Band Pattern from the Mason Dixon book. Since I know the yarns will felt at different rates, I should end up with a neat horizontal corregated effect. I've been wanting a felted bag of some sort for ages so I'm really looking forward to this project being completed.

On the needles

Knee Sock in progress

This is the first of my pair of knee socks in a wonderfully hideous yarn I bought on a whim from one of my LYS's. It's an acrylic/nylon blend somewhere between sport and DK weight and I'm knitting it using magic loop on size 4 circulars. The first sock is done and I'm about half way through the instep on it's mate. I did overdo the calf increases so while it looks fantastic on my huge legs, it's pooling around my ankles after about a half a block. I'll be heading out to AC Moore's later this week to pick up some elastic thread to fix it.

Toddler Mitts

These are a pair of thumbless mitts I'm knitting up for my friend K's son to match his hat. I love this colorway. I'm hoping Santa will be bringing me a big stainless steel pot so I can dye up enough yarn at once for a sweater in this color. I'll get the pattern written up later this week and posted over on Knitty Keen. I knit them top down at a pretty tight gauge for worsted - 5 sts/inch, but they should be all the warmer for it.

Top-down raglan sweater in progress

This is Michael's top-down raglan tunic that I've been battling for the past month. It has a k2p2 ribbed funnel neck with button closures on the side with a k3p1 rib in the body. After frogging it at least four times, I think it's going well at this point. I decided that I was going to do the button holes as a separate facing and I finally worked out how the k3p1 rib would work with the should increases. It's bugging me a bit, but I put in a purl band to separate the neck ribbing from the body ribbing and I should have knit a round before and after to give it extra definition. It doesn't look bad, but it's not a crisp as it could be. At this point thought I just have to let it go.

I only have a few more rounds to get to the bottom of the arm holes. I'm going to steal the technique for doing the afterthought heel once I get there so I can just continue to knit the body without dealing with a provisional cast-on for the under-arms. I'm still not sure if I'm going to bother with underarm gussets. The ease on this is pretty generous and the arm holes are very deep so I think they may be overkill. When I'm ready I think I'm going to transfer it to waste yarn and try it on him to see if that extra the gussets provide is necessary.

Cable Swatch

This is my first real foray into cables. I'm going to be using it for a horizontal band for a hat for my mom for Christmas. I love celtic knotwork and once you get into the swing of it the cables go very quickly. It will be a 6 stranded braid alternating between all six strands in the braid and then only four strands with the extras framing it (the patter on the left-side of the swatch). I'm knitting it up in Lion Brand Wool Ease on size 8 needles.

This is getting long and I need to eat lunch so I'll leave you with this...

Lion Suede Panta

This is my take on Panta from Drops Design. I altered the pattern a bit to accomodate the chunky yarn. I'll post the pattern I used later tonight or tomorrow.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Promises, Promises

Honestly, I have been knitting (and frogging, that goes without saying). I will be buying batteries for the camera tomorrow so I can actually upload some pictures of my five million works-in-progress.

On a household front - drumroll please - while we're still overbudget for our monthly expenses, the credit cards are not maxed out this month! Progress is being made.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Note to self....

When trying a new technique, it may behoove you to read how said technique is actually done, rather than trying to wing it yourself.

I have now started to knit sock(s) for Michael twice - the reason for the plural is the second time I decided to knit both of them at once, thankfully I switched to one at a time a few rounds into the cuff. I will most likely not be doing this again. Having the insteps and/or cuffs the exact same size when you are knitting at 10-12 rows/inch really doesn't matter all that much to me, and that's saying something given my perfectionism. Nor is having both socks done at once worth the bother of dealing with two balls of yarn at once - I have to concentrate on the way I turn my work to keep them from getting too tangled and I have to switch too often (Michael's socks have a 42 stitch circumference on this yarn). I'll stick with speedier knitting. I am getting sold on Magic Loop though - buying one long needle is cheaper and easier on my hands than working with two 16" circs.

The first sock went fairly well up until the heel. I tried out a new technique for working the shortrows on Misocrafty that Wendy Knits posted in her blog as worth trying for people having trouble with holes in their heels. Almost always up for something new, I decided to give it a shot. I tried it and hated it, this is with the caveat of doing it from memory having read the instructions once or twice. I got a round or two away from starting the ribbing for the cuff and frogged it.

After talking with my friend J, I decided to give two-at-once a try again. I also decided to try out a new to me technique called the Afterthought Heel. The idea appealed to me, having my heel look exactly like my toe and not dealing with shortrows at all after the last debacle could only be a good thing, right? It would have been if I decided to actually google the technique and spend five minutes reading on how to do it. Instead I laboriously knit the insteps of Michael's socks, knowing that time was of the essence since I not only need the yarn but the needles as well for a project that I am intending to sell (and wouldn't you like to know what that is...). I figured that you transfered half of the instep stitches to waste yarn and then replaced them with a provisional/crochet cast-on. In theory, this is a good idea and if I had been knitting the socks one at a time it may have even worked in practice, but the end result was hideous to my eyes, which is to say it was probably acceptable to the rest of the word at large and who the hell is actually going to be scrutinizing my son's sock heels anyways? His mother, that's who.

The moral of this rambling rant filled with way too many parens and run-on sentences is to take the five minutes to google the damn thing before you start so you don't have to frog several hours-worth of work that you've been avoiding, despite needing to finish it so you can do the thing that will make you money.

Take that Strunk and White! Yes, I said it. No appologies here tonight.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wiping away the cobwebs...

I have been very neglegtful of the blog recently - I've been knitting, and frogging, designing, and frogging, and then knitting some more. I'm getting some stuff ready to post later today/tonight (yes, there are knit items that survived the blitz-frog). I'll leave you with this happy piece of news:

O.J. Simpson book, TV show canceled

God help me that I actually agree with Bill O'Reily on something.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Rambling around...

Michael and I went into town this morning and had such a nice time. I popped in to Barnes & Noble for coffee and a new book for Michael - it's so cool that he demands one whenever we go into a bookstore. We ate a bagel in the park and then walked over to Loop to get some yarn. I really wanted some bright solid color sock yarn, but everything was sort of washed out looking - nice colors, but not what I was looking for - so I picked up a skein of Opal Sport-weight yarn in an off white and am currently dyeing it a bright red-orange in my crock pot. It's super-wash merino so I'm excited to see how it turns out. I'm planning on making something for my next self-published pattern and a pair of socks for Michael (another pattern that is coming soon, I promise). I also picked up three balls of Debbie Bliss Soho in a pink/purple colorway to make something felted out of. I think I'm just going to wing a bag with it or I may try using a pattern from my very over-due copy of Modular Knits.

I've been jumping around alot with my knitting this past week. I've started Michael's sweater four times now and have frogged it four times so I decided to put some space between me and it for a few days. In the interrim I've been designing a knit fish toy. I'm going to cast on for version 1.1 this afternoon. I'm not sure what I'm doing with it yet - if I'm going to sell it myself or submit it to a magazine so until I make up my mind I can't post any pics.

Michael has really been a dream these past few days. I always love my baby-zen days and they far outweigh the angst we both suffer on non-zen days. He is such a great kid.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Check out the new duds...

There are still a few knit-picky things I have to take care of, but overall, I'm pretty happy with it.


Of course I had to take one last look before I went into bed - 45 minutes later and I've tried to change it about 3 times but I can't get it to work the way I want it to. I'll tell you what the biggest sticking point is - limiting myself to 800 pixels! If I had a full 1000 pixels to work with, I'd be so happy. My columns would be nicely spaced, I could have that little bit of background graphic showing, and I could have a clean layout without it feeling crowded. Right now it's getting to the point of saving my sanity or preventing those people with the resolution set to 800x600 from having to scroll over.

I have to go to bed and leave it alone for now. 'Night all....

grumble, grumble, grumble


I have taken the plunge and decided to go with 850px so my 3 column layout is a bit less crownded. I have to get out of the house because I know I'm going to obsess about it nonstop.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Take a look...

I've finally posted my first pattern on Knitty Keen! It's a free download for my Knot Cap. Here's a pic of one of my prototypes:

Knot Cap

Happy Halloween!!!!

I'm only two days late with this, but here's some Halloween Goodness for you all...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crafts Update

I'm supposed to be taking a break from real knitting, but here's what's doing:

Ito Maki Pincushions

Ito Maki Pincuchion - Tuna Roll Prototype

Here's a first look at the Ito Maki Pincushion that I'm designing. I used one of those English-Japanese dictionaries to find the Japanese Word for yarn and "Ito" came up, so my appologies if it is in fact the wrong word. This is the Tuna Roll version. I have a vegetable roll with brown rice on the needles right now and I'm also planning a Salmon Roll and California Roll version as well. It's knit using Carron Simply Soft acrylic yarn.

Quick and Dirty Stich and Row Markers

Quick and Dirty Stitch and Row Markers

I broke out the pliers and beads the other day to make myself some row and stitch markers. Usually, I just use cut up straws (an idea I got from DIY Network's Knitty Gritty), but my last black straw is almost gone and I like to have a couple of different colors to mark the begining and midway-point on my knitting. I also hate using a straw segment to mark a row and then have to cut it when I'm finished.

I didn't have any head pins, so I just made little spirals to hold the beads in place. I really like the way the row markers came out - it's a long piece of wire bent in half and then formed into to the hook with the ends of the wire bent into spirals. I flirted with making ones that looked more like fish-hooks, but I was afraid the wire would snag my yarn. It was alot of fun making them and my friend K gave me some really pretty beads to make some more.

I'm really itching to start a big project. I have some yarn that I recycled from a Good Will sweater that is destined to become a raglan sweater for Michael, but I really don't like the color so I'm going to overdye it. the problem is that it's about two pounds of worsted-weight yarn and I don't have a pot big enough to fit it all in. next weekend I'm going to pick up a cheap corn pot or the like so I can dye it all in one go and be assured that the colors will match.

Since the cold weather has already set in, I also have to get some knitting done for myself. I have one of a pair of fingerless gloves done so I have to get cracking on its mate. I also have a poncho half-done for myself that has to get dug out from the in-progress no-man's land so I can keep warm without resorting to wearing two sweaters and a cardigan everytime I go out.

On a non-knitting front, I'm felting a piece of wool in my washer right now to make Michael a winter coat/poncho. I have a nice piece of navy micro-fleece that I'm going to use for the outer layer and sandwich the wool in between that and a lining fabric (most likely muslin). I'm planning on knitting a neckband and cufs for it as well. The reason the wool isn't going to be on the outside is that it's magenta and I think I'd be really hard presseed to make that mannish in any way.

Cross-Posted on Knitty Keen

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Grumble, grumble, grumble...

I've tried to graft the crotch of the longies I'm working on 4 times today and it keeps coming out wrong - a nice line of purls in the middle. I even tried grafting it with the wrong sides together and I still got a nice line of purls.

I just checked Knitting Help.

I had the instructions written backwards.

This is the kind of day I'm having.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Take a look....

After many hours and much gnashing of teeth, I finally finished the skin for Knitty Keen and got something that I'm pretty happy with. Now I just have to get knitting.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Look Ma - No Holes! (and other knitting)

Here are pics of my ultra-cool socks!

Infant Sock

The Sock itself

Infant Sock Detail

Heel detail - note the conspicuous absence of gaping holes

Infant Sock Detail

The other side - still no holes!

I'm hoping to get some time in this weekend to actually write up a pattern, but realistically it probably won't get done until after the show.

Here's what else is on the needles (or off in some cases):

Brown Striped Snazzy Pants Longies, Newborn

Brown Striped Snazzy Pants Longies, Newborn
These are almost done - I just have to finish weaving in the ends. I'm very happy with the way they came out.

Blue Striped Snazzy Pants Step-Ins, Medium

Blue Striped Snazzy Pants Step-Ins, Medium
All that remains is to sew the elastic together. We tried them on Z this afternoon and they look like they are a great fit - very trim.

Brown Striped Snazzy Pants Longies, Small

Brown Striped Snazzy Pants Longies, Small
Yes, more stripes. This time I'm being smarter about it and stopping to weave my ends in every so often.

Green Cabled Snazzy Pants Snoozin' Sacque, 0-6 Months

Green Cabled Snazzy Pants Snoozin' Sacque, 0-6 Months
This has a few firsts for me - my first real time cabling and the first time I'm using Lamb's Pride yarn. I really like the yarn. It's a single (one ply) made of 85% wool and 15% mohair, very soft and has a nice sheen to it. I've been wanting to do some fancy stitch work and since the sacque pattern has no short-rows in it, it was the perfect chance to try out cables. I still haven't decided how I'll end it - draw string, ribbing, or actual buttons. If you have an opinion, please let me know.

cross-posted on Knitty Keen

Friday, October 06, 2006

Socks and Latkes

I took a little break from soaker knitting and the horror that is stripes to knit up a quick baby sock. I tried out the figure eight cast-on and it worked beautifully this time around. I cast-on on my size 1's, knit for a round than transfered to my size 2's. For the first increase, I used a knit-front-and-back rather than my normal make-one increase because I thought it would work better. I do like the ease of doing a figure-eight cast-on, none of the mess of doing a provisional and then having to pick up and decrease for a few rounds to close the holes at the edges. I don't like the little bump created at both ends of the cast-on. I have to double check the directions to make sure I'm doing it correctly or if that is just a trade off.

Aside from the cast-on, my stellar moment came after the short-row heel -- no holes!!! I dread doing a short-row heel because I always end up with a gaping hole on one side no matter how hard I try, but I really like the way a short-row heel looks on the finished product. I finally figured out the right way to pick up and drecrease so I can close the hole up neatly on both sides. There would be pictures but the batteries only lasted long enough to take the pictures, not transfer them to the computer. Once I do a bit more work on them, I'll be posting the pattern on Knitty Keen as a free download.

It was a yucky, cold, rainy day today so I decided it was worth sacrificing my knuckles (and they were sacrificed) to make latkes. John picked up some potatoes, sour cream, and I must say sub-par apple butter (why, oh why do you have to put not only corn syrup, but high fructose corn syrup as well, in apple butter?) on his way home from work tonight. Thankfully, they were probably the best ones I have ever made. I think I could have achieved perfection if I took the extra step to grate an onion in it as well. It was really cute watching Michael march around the livingroom chanting, "Latkes!" while I was making them.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let the knitting begin....

I have less than three weeks to do quite a bit of knitting and designing - not to mention all of the other stuff I try to avoid on a regular basis. Here's what's on (and off) the needles...

Red Snazzy Pants

This is an infant/small sized soaker that I have named Snazzy Pants. The style is "step-ins" and I think it's a keeper. It's knit with hand-dyed fisherman's wool and there is a bit of stranding at the waist to creat the crenelations.

Blue Stripe Snazzy Pants

This is a blue/green/orange striped Snazzy Pants step-in soaker in size medium that I am knitting for my firend K's son Z. All of my measurements look good on paper, now I have to see if they actually fit a child - good to know since I plan on selling them in a few weeks. It's knit from hand-dyed fisherman's wool and has a new trick I'm working on - built in elastic just below the ribbing. I created a casing by double knitting for a few rounds and I'll weave in some 3/8" elastic.

Brown Stripe Snazzy Pants

This is a size newborn/preemie striped Snazzy Pants soaker with the built-in elastic, I'm not sure it it will be longies or the step-in style. It's knit from Cascade 220 which I can give or take - it's not as heavy as the fisherman's and not as soft to my hands. I'm hoping that washing and lanolising will cure that.

Yes, I am insane for doing all of those stripes. I started the blue ones on Monday and I started the brown ones this afternoon. I'm back on the wagon again (4 days - woohoo!) and I need to keep my hands busy.

A more verbose post to come soon....

cross posted on Knitty Keen

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The deed has been done

I just e-mailed my submission for Knitty. Wish me luck!

Cross-posted on Knitty Keen

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Crafts Update (and other stuff too)

Not a snappy title, but it will do...

Here's what's doing:

Knitty Submission:

I'm half-way though the second large bootie model and I finished one of the small bootie models. I'm also 2/3 way though the second large bootie and have yet to get the second small bootie on the needles. On the pattern front, I've gotten feed-back from a few of my testers and know what changes I am going to make to the pattern, I just have to take the time to do it. I'll probably work on it tomorrow morning - I'm thinking of escaping to Starbucks with the laptop for a few hours before John goes into town to get his comics. I have a great idea for my picture and it's actually in my back yard. I'll also be scouting out some locations in town for potential pics as well but I think the backyard one will work. Lastly, I have to get someone to take a picture of me for my head shot.

New dyeing!

Black Yarn

3/4 tsp Wilton's Black Paste Food Coloring, 1 c vinegar, ~4oz. Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool
Cooked in Crock Pot

Almost everything else is on hold, but here's a quick run-down on where we are:

Fish toy: finished the second tail fin, now have to do two more and then decide if I'm going to do it in the round or flat. I'm thinking of offering the pattern in both as well as multiple gauges.

Ball band mop cover: I think I'm going to go ahead and do it on my size 6's - I plan to add a few garter stitches on either side(allowing me to slip the first stitch on each row and create a nice loop for picking up when I switch to knitting in the round) and I'll add one more purl band.

Since I was unable to sell my stash yarn (that I had no business buying in the first place) on MDC, I've decided to turn it into soakers for the craft show I'm doing at the end of October. Oh, I'm doing a craft show at the end of October. Once I get through the Knitty submission, I'll begin the mad knitting for that. I'm going to do some longies (out of the Rowan Kid Classic I was trying to sell), some miscellaneous baby knitting also out of the Rowan, some soakers out of hand-dyed stash yarn, and assorted dishcloths and hand towels out of cotton.

I need to get my freebie patterns written for Knitty Keen and some business cards made up as well since I'm really going to try and push the business.

Last but not least, I'm hoping to spend some quality time crunching HTML and redo the skin for Discombobulation Notes and finish the skin for Knitty Keen.

On the Michael front I've been in touch with his service coordinator from EI. Many things are rolling. We've gotten rid of his Special Instructor and it looks like he'll be able to pick up with the new one soon, so there won't be a huge lapse in services. We're still on the waiting list for speech, and it looks like we're going to get OT increased to weekly. The transition from EI to the school district also starts and I'm still not sure what that entails, but I know I'll be meeting with them in the next few weeks.

After eight weeks of being milk-free, we started a dairy challenge yesterday. I didn't see any real change in behavior from him when we removed it and I'm not seeing anything discernable now that we've added it back in. I flirt every once and a while with going gluten-free, but I don't think it will make a difference and I know I'm not ready for it myself. I'm sure some mild gut issues are there, but I'm not willing to jump through restrictive diet and supplementation hoops to find out what they are.

Monday, September 25, 2006

It just gets better and better....

The day didn't start out as the day from hell, but they rarely do.

I haven't had a half bottle glass of merlot yet, so instead of the sing-songy trail of events, you get the bulleted list and my atrocious lack of grammar and syntax (not to mention spelling).

  • Took a flying leap off the wagon, we'll try again tomorrow.

  • Stayed out to long at K's house, Michael almost falls asleep on the way home. Michael becomes very hyper the second I put him in the crib to take a nap. We stay in his room listening to Sarah Vowell while he bounces in his crib for an hour because it's nap time and we may as well go through the motions even though we both know no one is sleeping.

  • Go up to the bathroom. Hear a choking noise and run to top of stairs. See Michael trying to drink from my water cup and figure water can only help the carpet. Go back to bathroom. Hear TV making funny noises. Come downstairs to find that Michael felt the TV was in need of water. TV is broken (we think). Stressed out mom, no nap toddler, no TV - you do the math.

  • Talk to K, am offered their old TV. Thank you K!!!! Yay K!!!!

  • Bring up ancient TV from basement. I've had a day and dammit I deserve to watch the evening news. Can't get news tuned in without tons of static. Settle for tuning the station on the radio and turning sound down on old TV. Yes, watching the news meant that much.

  • Michael decides that he does not like the "new" TV - keeps pushing it back on the table and pulling the big TV forward with many demands to watch Oobi and Bob

  • Finally, 7:30 - we can go to bed. I give him his melatonin.

  • Head up stairs, sit down at computer for a moment. Michael joins me a minute later with a gift - a handful of melatonin tablets! Run back downstairs to see melatonin bottle emptied onto table. Call John and tell him to come home now! Mind fills with visions of syrup of ipecac and activated charcoal. Call Poison control, almost become hysterical. We deduce that he didn't have enough time to eat enough pills to cause him any real harm. Call John to tell him that we will not be spending the evening at CHOP. Loose it on the phone with John. Michael looses it because I am loosing it. John points out that this is a good sign that he's developing empathy.

  • Michael falls asleep in less than 5 minutes - check to make sure he's still breathing at least three times before leaving the room.

  • Commit war crimes against the English language for all the world to read

  • Suffering from delusions of grandeur that all the world will read my blog.

The husband has just arrived with coffee. Good night all.


The Tv does in fact work - of course when we first tested it, it looked like every one was a member of the Blue Man Group, but the old stand by of turning it off and on again cleared that up. John and I admitted to each other that we've each checked on Michael at least twice since he fell asleep. John also asked me if I knew where our parenting license was, since surely someone would be asking to inspect it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What to do, what to do...

I have a great deal of knitting and writing to plow through in the next couple of days. I've finally settled on how to make the models for the booties - I'm knitting up socks in some white baby fingering yarn I found in the stash. I'm not bothering with gauge or anything like that, but I figure if I knit it up on my US #1 needles with the same number of stitches as the bootie it's supposed to go into I should be fine. I'm about 2/3 through the cuff of the the first one and my theory seems to be holding true. Since I can't show the booties themselves until after they've been published (we hope), I'll try to get a pic or two of the models up.

I'm pretty behind on the knitting - I still have to make the models and finish up the booties. I also have to take my head shot. We took a couple of pictures at the wedding last week, but I'm not feeling any kind of love for them. I think I'll try to wear my hair down some time this week and get one of my friends to snap a picture of me at Starbucks, which is a much more natural setting for me than a wedding reception.

John has just emerged from getting Michael down for his nap. Now I have to fight inertia to get out of the house and get some coffee. I know I really need it (both out of the house time and caffeine) but it's a cloudy Sunday and I really don't feel like moving. I'm off to pack up the knitting and the ipod. Coffee, here I come...


Ok, so I changed my mind on several points. I didn't end up going out for coffee. This is my first day "back on the wagon" and wandering close to purveyors of cigarettes is not in my best interest right now. So I shut myself up in Michael's room, settled into the glider with my knitting, a chai latte (I love the Tazo concentrate) and listened to the first disc of Sarah Vowell's, Assassination Vacation. I also switched up my sock model yarn - I'm using Carron Simply Soft and size 4 needles. In the hour and a half or so that I was listening to Sarah Vowell (whose though processes eerily mirror my own) I turned the heel, so I only have another 30 minutes or so and it will be done. A much better deal than the baby fingering.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Self restraint wins!

I went to one of my LYS's this morning and managed to leave the store without buying anything! Yay me!

Yesterday, I did stop in another LYS and picked up a skein of Schaefer's Anne sock yarn for one of the booties for my Knitty submission. It's a beautiful blend of turquoise, green and yellow. It's a bit on the baby-pastel side, but more vibrant rather than washed out. I started knitting with it last night and I think I'm in love. I can definitely see spending $24 to have a pair of socks knitted from this yarn. It's unbelievably soft and wonderful to work with. It's a bit loose on my size 2's, the bootie gauge is 7 sts/inch and it's kniting up as 8 sts but should relax to 7.5 when I've washed it. It looks like it will do fantastically on my size 1 needles for socks though. I'm planning on using the leftovers to make a pair of baby leg style leggins and a couple of infant socks to put in the hope chest for baby number 2.

When I was out shopping yesterday, I passed by one of the organic supermarkets in the neighborhood and they are having a craft show in October. At first I thought nothing of it, then it started to simmer in my brain. I'm going to take Michael back up there this afternoon and look into getting a table. I know I can get at least 6 soakers done between now and the craft show and if there was ever a place where I could sell them, it would be at this market (it's also where our local LLL meets). I'm planning on doing up some patterns as well - freebie ones I'll be offering on Knity Keen and hopefully a few for sale as well. With any luck, I'll be able to make enough money that we'll actually be able to afford to go to PhilCon and do more than just look.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ball band mop cover

Well, I knitted, I saw it was too small, and I frogged.

I prefer to knit Sugar & Cream on size 6 needles because my tension is better than with size eights, not to mention the fact that I have tons of size 6 circulars and all of my size 8's are bamboo - not the best for knitting with sweaty hands. So I face the dilemma - do I rewrite the pattern for my size 6 gauge or do I go up to a size 8? I'm leaning towards the former, but I'll let you know in a day or two which I went with.

Hair shirt

I just finished watching an episode of Birth Day on Tv and I'm feeling a wonderful coctail of anger and fear. Of course both of the births featured in the episode were highly medicalized and one of the women ended up having a c-section.

I started out my pregnancy with Michael with the mindset of having a medication-free birth. I read a great deal and had enough faith in myself that I could do it. Towards the end of my pregnancy, my blood pressure kept creeping up. My bloodwork and urine came back clear, no signs of pre-eclampsia. The times when my pressure was notably elevated were times I was in a close, warm exam room - in fact one particular time I had just come back from a nonstress test/biophysical profile. the whole time I was there my pressure was stellar, but in the exam room at my OB's office it was through the roof, so I was put on partial bedrest. Then Michael's estimated size came into play. They predicted his size to be 9+ pounds at 37 weeks. I started getting the shoulder distocia warnings and a section was scheduled for the day before my due-date. It was originally supposed to be some time the following week to give my body a chance to go into labor, but my OB's schedule (read: vacation) wouldn't allow it.

I'll continue this later as I'm a bit too angry right now to write coherently.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Fantastic Potroast!

I can't beleive how well this turned out.

3 lb chuck roast
2 onions sliced
1.5 c chicken broth (about one 14oz can)
1.5 c red wine (I used my favorite merlot)
1 Tbls flour
2 Tbls dried thyme
1 tsp oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350

Salt and pepper the chuck well on both sides. Heat oil in a dutch oven or other oven-proof pot 'til it is almost smoking. Sear chuck on both sides for 5 minutes, set aside. Add onions and thyme to the pot until onions just begin to soften. Add four and stir well for another minute or so. Add wine and chicken broth and then chuck. Cover and bring back to a simmer. Put pot in oven and cook for 3 hours or until meat starts to fall apart. Let the meat rest for 20-30 minutes before serving. Season to taste.

We ate it tonight over egg noodles but I can't wait to try the leftovers over some medium grain brown rice. Everything is an estimate, I'm one of those cooks who rarely uses measuring spoons so your milliage may vary.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Why didn't I read it sooner?

I borrowed a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility from a friend and I am a changed woman. I feel truly empowered - not in a kum-by-ah/energy crystal/birkenstock kind of way, but in a, "I finally know the real story of what goes on down there," kind of way. Truly, every woman should read it (and a good number of men as well).

Take a look...

I just found this on MDC and it looks very cool!

hakucho: Ball Band Mop Cover Pattern

I haven't used my swiffer in ages because I don't have any more mop pads - now I can knit up a few of these and I'm good to go. Yet another project to knit...

Friday, September 15, 2006

'Cause I can't be happy...

...unless I have 5 million projects going at once.

The pattern that I'm planning on submitting to knitty is almost ready to give to my test knitters - I just have to finish making it pretty and turn it into a PDF. I am very nervous about it. I feel it has a good chance of being accepted, but I'm not sure if I can be ready for the potential traffic that this is going to cause if it does get accepted. There's still a decent amount of work that has to be done on the Knitty Keen site(s) not to mention actually getting a few freebie patterns written up and posted. They are written, so to speak, and there are finished objects to photograph - it's just a matter of finding the time I need to put them together. Michael will let me knit during the day, no problem. He will not let me use the computer during his waking hours, which is a big problem if I actually want to offer patterns. I'm working on finding a more happy medium, but it's difficult.

Now onto other things....

I started knitting up a bootie in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Yarn in the flame colorway and I have to say I'm not feeling the love. I knitted a bootie up in the Cherry Tree Hill Super Sock Yarn and it's great. It knits up nicely at 7 stitches per inch on my US Size 2/2.75mm needles. Very springy and a joy to work with. (An aside - I still can't figure out what colorway I actually have of the stuff; I think I'm going to have to go back to Sophie's Yarns and buy some more so I can find out what color it is.) The Lorna's Laces is very smooth and tightly spun - it's more like knitting with cotton than wool. I also found that I don't like it at 8st/inch (how it was knitting up on my size 2's) - it seemed way too loose, so frogged it was. This got my mind rolling and I came up with this...

Fish Tail

This is the tail of what will soon be a small fish toy that will be available in the not too distant future. I've been wanting to do some toy designing for a while and what better way to start off than with a gorgeous, handpainted yarn? I really love the colors of the Lorna's Laces so I'm going to look into trying out the Shepherd Sport for my next sock project.

Cross Posted on Knitty Keen

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Short and sweet...

Booty pattern for Knitty - progressing well, I hope to have it written by tomorrow and off to the test knitters. I'm almost finished my final test for pics to go with the pattern. We took a couple of pictures on Sunday for a possible head shot but now I'm not liking any of them.

Michael had a repeat eval with a behavioral specialist this evening. Early Intervention recently revamped their handling of autistic kids. Before, spectrum kids got the first available therapist, now they have three agencies specializing in treating ASD. The evaluator is going to recommend one of these agencies and a specific special instructor to work with Michael. His therapies have been all screwed up for the past month and a half. I'm hoping this is the begining of some changes.

Speaking of Michael, or my amazing, non-asleep toddler. He's been waking up around 6 for the past three days (5:30 this morning) with multiple night wakings. This is made all the more wonderful by our lack of an air matress. My back is killing me because I've been sleeping on the floor, I sleep on the floor because we have no air matress, my back pain has been preventing me from walking to Target to get a new air matress which means I have to sleep on the floor, and so on and so on. John just gave up trying to get him to sleep and he is currently downstairs with him. Again, why doesn't thorazine come in a grape-flavored chewable tablet?

I have coffee waiting downstairs, and I have to eat eventually as well. I leave you with some pictures from my sister's wedding...

Jenn and M

Jenn and A

Jenn and John

Three sisters

And of course, a picture of Michael...


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

When John and I were dating, we both worked on Saturdays - he at his local hobby shop and I at the answering service. Since both places had fax machines, I would send him elaborately drawn faxes that I drew on Friday nights in between calls. I just came across a few and here is one of my favorites...

Attack of the Artist's Mannequin

I've also found a ransom note for Mrs. Potato-Head (all the letters cut from magazines and newspapers), an ad for Sporks - "The Other Utensil", notes written entirely in Tolkien's Elvish runes and Elvish Script (yes, I am that much of a geek), and an ad for Sponge - brought to you by the Sponge Council. They bring back such fond memories. He lived in the Philly 'burbs and I lived in South Jersey. Between the three jobs he was working, my ungodly hours at the answering service (of course almost the opposite of his hours), and the fact that neither of us drove, these played a major part of our courtship. We managed to see each other on Tuesday afternoons for lunch and Sunday evenings - with lots of phone calls, emails, pages (I had an alpha-numeric pager at the time through work), and these faxes. It was such an intense time for both of us, and I miss it in a lot of ways. We still work hard to maintain that spark, but the distance and time separating us really played a major part in it.

I think I need to send my husband a little love note...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Karma at last!

I am probably jinxing myself majorly, but here goes...

Found 2 balls of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn, I would estimate about 50g each for a grand total of $6. Yes, folks - $6 for what ammounts to $24 worth of yarn.

I have what is probably the most fantastic haircut of my entire life (it has layers). I am planning to buy product for it tomorrow. Yes, I am still Jenn and not a pod person from the planet Mars.

The dress we ordered from Penney's in a size that I was sure was going to be too small on me FITS! It not only fits, but looks good on me as well - to go with my fantastic 'do!

And now for something complete different...

Because I need to concentrate on something nice dammit!

I've been working on makine some baby booties this past week or so and have devised a really cool pattern (if I do say so myself). I'm going to take the plunge and submit it to Knitty for their December issue. I think it actually has a decent chance of getting accepted too. I've just changed the pattern slightly again, for the better, and it looks fantastic. This afternoon, Michael and I are walking up to one of the three LYS's in town - Sophie's yarns which I haven't visited in well over a year since I spend most of my time on the other side of town. I'm seriously considering treating myself to another ball of sock yarn for booties to knit for one of the babies our friends are having or just for pics for the pattern. We shall see. If anything, I'll at least get to visit some really nice yarn *sigh*. Well, I'm off to look at Sophie's site - I caught a glimpse of the word "sale".

Alas - I was mistaken, but who knows what I'll find...


Our house was broken into this morning between 2am and 7am. I came downstairs and thought it was odd that John's jeans were on the sofa and some of my knitting was out of the bag, but didn't think to much on it because I thought Michael had been down first. I went into the kitchen and saw my change jar on the floor and then saw that everything had been moved from in front on our kitchen window. It looks like the sliced the screen open, pulled up the window, moved all of the recycling on the sill outside and then moved the bins sitting in front of the window to get in. They went through all of the bags in the house and took the couple of dollars in change from my jar, rifled through my memory box, $45 in cash from John's wallet, and nothing else - we had a lap top, playstation, games & dvd's, and an i-Pod in the livingroom as well, not to mention the couple of practically maxed-out credit cards in our wallets. They didn't even bother with John's cell phone.

All in all we were incredibly lucky. It looks like they hit one other house in our neighborhood and again only took cash. The cops came and wrote a report and a crime scene investigator came out and dusted for prints. I've even gotten a call from a detective working on the case who said he'll contact me if anything comes up from the prints they took. I have to say I'm pleasantly suprised, I was expecting just a police report and an warning to make sure our windows were locked properly, but they actually seem to be taking it seriously.

I haven't let myself feel everything yet, except for some revulsion every once and a while that they rifled through my knitting. I'm so happy that I had to sleep with Michael last night - at least he wasn't in his room by himself. Part of me so wants to have the complete emotional breakdown, but I have to keep it together for a bit longer - I'll let myself get hysterical tonight. Strangers were in my house!!!!! They touched our things!!!! We were only a floor away!!!!

I also wanted to say that I have the two best friends on the face of the earth - both of them took us out for coffee this afternoon and I can't thank them enough for the support that they've given us. I have to stop now before it all come flooding out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Take a look...

I'm in the process of taking pictures of the three million projects I have on needles right now (not that big of an exaggeration). In the meantime, take a look at this to tide you over - her work is beautiful and I can only hope to dye as well as she.


Friday, August 18, 2006

On breastfeeding...

I've been working on a post about breastfeeding for some time, but haven't been able to put it exactly into the terms that I want to. I recently posted this on a message board in response to a thread asking for responses to reasons women give for not breastfeeding.

I stopped trying to exclusively breastfeed my son due to a multitude of reasons at three months and then continued to comfort nurse him for another month until he went on a strike that I just couldn't wait out. I did seek some help early on, but I just wasn't able to put it into practice because of a woeful lack of physical support and the stress was severely impacting my ability to be a mother (history of major depression).

I was *very* defensive in those early months after I weaned. I knew what to do but was unable to implement it given my circumstances and consequently felt a great deal of guilt and grief over it. I used any number of "excuses" to explain why our breastfeeding relationship ended and on more than one occassion pulled out the laundry list - long sleepy nurser, large breasts w/inverted nipples, could only nurse in football hold, nipple shield, pumping, supplements, etc. as if to prove that I had done all that I could. If someone responded to my laundry list with a bunch of suggestions of what I could have done differently in those early months, it would have sent me into a downward spiral of guilt and second guessing.

Now that I have come through my grief and am proud of the fact that my son got four months of breastmilk, I am faced with the problem of how to respond to others when they confess to having problems. There were some pieces of advice that I got that just infuriated me - my most hated was, "it gets so much easier after X weeks." Everytime one of those milestones came and it didn't get any easier I just wanted to cry, so that is one that I don't plan on using much. I do have an overwhelming urge to spout warnings about what led me astray on my breastfeeding journey and am constantly having to think twice before I speak for fear of coming across too over-zealous, thinking about how I would have reacted and did react when I received similar advice when I was struggling.

One of the things I have been concentrating on is debunking the myth about La Leche League. Because I was struggling so much, I projected my own feelings of failure and guilt onto them and consequently removed what may have been a great source of help and support, I was so afraid that I was going to be told I was a bad mother. I've also been able to relate my own story with out having to justify it, but with the caveats that every nursing relationship is different and that some bad advice and treatments (didn't start nursing with the shield until 7 days post-partum, that burns me the most) really impacted us.

It's a very difficult road to tread - advice that may give one mother enough to keep going may send another deeper into the guilt/failure downward spiral. Moreso than anything else is the realization that nuclear families and society in general is not conducive to breastfeeding. Yes, nursing on demand and pumping every two hours is a good way to help increase supply. Telling this to a mother who is already completely overwhelmed by her baby, family and responsibilities may not be. I agree with many others who have said that shaming and judging mothers has no part in lactivism, not when there are so many barriers to a successful breastfeeding relationship, and I am very happy to see a thread like this trying to change things.

For the obsessive knitter...

I saw these last night at AC Moore's. Darkness used to be a reason not to knit, but no longer. Oh, all of those hours wasted sleeping in bed, now I can knit and not keep John up.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I want to hold your hand...

We were walking to the subway from story time this morning when Michael started to knod-off in the stroller. Since we were on a quiet street, I decided to take the plunge and let him walk for a few blocks. I was great! He held my hand the whole time for four city blocks. He threw a bit of a fit when I told him I had to carry him dow the stairs to the subway station, so I decided to try letting him walk down the stairs to the platform. He did it so well. I am petrified of the thought of him bolting and falling off the platform, but he just held my hand as we walked around to the bench to wait for the train. We will definitely have to try this out again.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Where has all the crafting gone....(and a rant too)

In between rantings and bemoaning my lot in life, there has been sewing and knitting going on - oh and frogging, waaay too much frogging. As soon as I get some decent pictures, I'll post a full update which I know you are waiting for with baited breath.

I'll leave you with this thought:

I live in South Philly - a.k.a deepest, darkest Eagle's country. I HATE football season. If people put a fraction of the time, effort and money they invest in supporting a football team - comprised of players who make millions of dollars and don't really need fans bedecked in green and silver paint to live their lives - into something that would actually make a difference in this world, think of what we could accomplish. It's a freaking sport people. Here's counting down the days until they are officially out of the Superbowl running and I don't have to see those damn E-A-G-L-E-S commercials any more - my heart bursts with pride that you can spell while 'faced, kudos to you.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Just for fun

What kind of knitting needles are you?

You are pink aluminum.Retro, straightforward and fun, you love classic things. If they're 99 cents at Goodwill all the better! You are moved by striking colors and tasty morsels, and you like a stitch-n-bitch session in the sun. Just remember, while you're being kitschy cool, don't get too cold. Ice cubes are best kept in your cocktails, baby!
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

Monday, August 07, 2006

The briney deep...

Not to long ago, I broke down and started buying Perdue Shortcuts pre-cooked chicken. Everytime I did so, part of me screamed in protest - not only was I buying a mediocre to decent convenience food chock full of salt and multi-sylabic preservatives, I was also paying around $5.50 a pound for something I could make for less than half the price. The crux of the problem was it's a convenience food. This was one less thing I had to worry about - just pull a bag of chicken out of the freezer and I was good to go. No fuss, no muss.

My mother has been raving about brining for the past few years. We both subscribe to Cook's Illustrated magazine, and almost every mention of chicken is accomanied by brining instructions. I've never had a real problem with overcooked dry chicken - my mom tends to cook everything for too long and underseasons it to boot, thus the brining saves us from eating dried-out flavorless chicken. Since I've always marinated mine using the handy-dandy method of chicken + ziplock bag + small bottle of Ceasar salad dressing method combined with the correct cooking time, my grilled chicken breasts have come out pretty well. A child, trying to improve our eating habits, and John's confession that he doesn't really like chicken that has been marinated in Ceasar salad dressing have all put the kabosh on this tried and true method. As a result, I've avoided grilled chicken as a staple for myself because I can't stand the taste of it reheated or cold.

A few weeks ago, I was determined to stop buying Perdue shortcuts and start making my own - spending all of that money on a convenience food was just too much for my inner hausfrau. After three tries, I think I've come up with a method that works, at least for my taste - chicken that I can happily eat cold the next day without having to force myself to chew. Here's what I did:

Brining solution

  • 2 quarts water

  • 1/2 c table salt

  • 1-2 Tbl California Garlic Powder

  • ~2 Tbl sugar

To this I added 5 lbs of split chicken breasts and allowed it to soak for about 40 minutes. I removed each breast and rinsed it well and put it aside for grilling. Since I was barbecuing some of it, I used a dry rub on those. After the chicken had been grilled and cooled, I removed the skin, peeled the meat from the bone and cut it into strips. To give it a bit of sparkle, I tossed the cut chicken with a tiny bit of lime juice. The result is a chicken that is great both cold or hot and doesn't need a heavy sauce to cover that reheated-chicken taste.

The first two times I did this, I used boneless breasts. The last time I used split breasts. Granted, I did change the brining solution a bit, but I am much happier with the split breasts. The bone and skin really help prevent the chicken from being overcooked in some spots to raw in others. Once the breasts are cool, it's really easy to bone them, not nearly the pain you would think. The clincher is that I can get split breasts for $.99/lb at BJ's compared to $2.50/lb for boneless.

Enjoy and let me know if you like it!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Enough already!

It's too damn hot.

It's too hot to go outside and let Michael run off the steam he desparately needs to.

It's too hot to even think about going out for a walk, my normal method for dealing with toddler energy overload.

Even though I'm doing great, I'm still recovering from surgery last week and even walking a few blocks, let alone a few miles, in this heat is just impossible.

Even if I had a car to escape to the mall with, chances are pretty good that I couldn't afford the gas required.

Surgical recovery and carrying a stroller with a 35 pound toddler up and down stairs to the subway are pretty much mutually exclusive, wearing him is downright impossible.

I'm touched out and I'm tired. Tomorrow's big break in the heat wave is a high of only 89. I haven't seen the extended forcasts, but what little I've been able to glean from NPR seems to predict a similar heat wave for next week as well.

Send me healing vibes - I can't stay in all next week again. Even sitting in the Gallery is better than this. Here's hoping I can manhandle him down the steps to the subway next week or walk the extra three quarters of a mile to get to the station with an elevator.


Monday, July 31, 2006

Greetings from the Land of Should

Actually, I'm stuck in the Checkpoint Charlie between the Land of Should and the Land of Reality - which side do you think I'm trying my damnedest to get into?

I think any wife or mother has a problem when she is sick - when you spend a great portion of your time taking care of someone else it's very hard to ask for help and let others take care of you. For most, this involves a token resistance and then just laying back and accepting it. Not for me - it involves fighting it tooth and nail, much thanks to my upbringing and my own personality disorders. I actually tried to convince John to let me go to the grocery store this afternoon so he could get a break. Walking three blocks to sit for an hour and nurse a cup of coffee almost completely wiped me out this morning, but walking five blocks in 100 degree heat to the grocery store was somehow going to be different.

I hate seeing John struggling. Michael has been dealing with this wonderfully all things considered and it could always be worse. His way of coping with my absences and my not being hands-on is to become hyper. John is not used to dealing with Michael for extended periods, add to that the worry about me and his own sleep deprivation you do not get the most patient parent. This, unfortunately, only seems to exacerbate Michael's hyperactivity. So we are getting stuck in this downward spiral of feeding off of each other's emotions, and I'm not helping.

Barring locking myself in my room I don't know what to do. Logically, I know I need to turn off the "shoulds" - even under the best of circumstances they really have no place, under the current ones they need to be stoned and then burned out of existance. I'm hoping now that I'm no longer dependant on narcotics for pain control, my base mood will get better and I can put a tighter leash on the "shoulds".

Mental illness and narcotics - two great things that go great together.

Thank you everyone for your kind words, as you can see by my above diatribe/whine I am home and in one piece, although with several small holes around my belly. The surgeries went very well and everyone loved my "super-value-sized-surgery" joke. I am told they removed a "ball" of scar tissue from my pelvic area and that all of my other parts were in working order. The worst part of the whole experience was waking up with the NG tube still in - which caused my vitals to go through the roof. Not that they have any idea I've had to have several placed without the benefit of anesthesia (many, long, long stories), there still was no reason why it should not have been removed before I woke up. My only other complaint is that my GYN is on vacation, for the next three weeks and I have to follow-up in two. I am really pissed about that, and if his partner doesn't have a copy of my surgical notes and report, I may let them know how pissed I am too.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Supersize me!

Not much going on except the mad rush to prepare for the surgery. I am happy that the GYN portion includes fixing anything that can be fixed while he's in there - adhesions, scar tissue on my ovaries, ovarian cysts and any blockages in my fallopian tubes. I'll probably be under for almost four hours - 1.5 for the gall bladder and a good two hours for the pelvic lap.

It's great that they can do all of this at the same time but it still scares the shit out of me. The recovery and my two year-old scares me even more.

Wish me luck, I'm going in...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Playing around

I made some changes to the skin for the Knitty Keen blog. I still have a bit of work to do on it, but at least something is up.


Padding, must add padding!

I'm not sure of the easter-egg colors - may have to play with that a bit. The problem comes from the fact that I'm doing the bulk of my designing on a laptop and the colors always look very washed out there. Maybe something more blue than purple...

Oh, and I am so totally screwed - Michael is still asleep and it's 4:30. Ah well, I can get some good knitting in tonight.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Come to us....

I just looked over today's mail and say a flyer advertising a free women's razor. I guess they don't know that it's been well over a year since I actually shaved, and now all of cyber space know this as well ;)

John: "You feel obliged to share this with the world, eh?"

Yes. Yes I do.

Well, it's done

I am officially done with the newsletter and have probably pissed off the executive board to boot. I'm still taking the high road and uploading all of the files I have for it, but the silence that I have received from the president is really evidence enough of their feelings.

All in all, my being done is a very good thing. The club is nothing like I wanted it to be when I started it last year and I'm just as happy to be shut of them. The club is now like the classic dysfunctional family, all form and no function. On paper they look fantastic - a whole slew of members, a great website and message board, a professional looking newsletter, and a full calendar with events almost every day of the week. The reality is that of the forty plus members on paper, only a dozen or so are active, there are even less posting on the message board. The calendar is full of events that no one goes to because the executive board doesn't bother to commit. I stopped maintaining the message board on the website a few months ago and now the whole site may be going soon as well, and you already know about the newsletter. When I was still on the executive board I tried to address many of these issues, but was met with the response, "it's just a moms club," and that I was being too keen (my description, because who in this day and age uses keen?). The best part was because I held myself to this high standard, they did as well. When things started getting flaky around the edges I wasn't only dealing with the guilt I was putting on myself for not keeping up but a healthy serving from them as well. To be fair, some of that was just perceived, but to be fair to myself a decent amount was truthfully coming from them.

In the end, this abrupt cessation was the only way I could get myself out of it. I didn't want to do it this way, but I can't do what they want me to do any more and I can't stand to see the club I started as a way to connect with other moms turned into a clique. When things calm down and I have a better handle on life, I may try again, probably a different organization or just starting my own from scratch. I know what to do and most importantly what not to do. I got what I wanted out of this - proof that I could do something like this, experience, and two fantastic friends.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I see his point...

but it still sucks.

I went hat in hand to see my psychiatrist today. In between Michael's squeals, I was able to communicate why I continually go off my meds and how I really need to be on them right now. He wrote me a scrip for the same dose of Welbutrin I've been taking for the past week and told me to come back in a month. The problem is, I'm not sure if that's enough to hold me. I told him this, again in between Michael's blatant disregard for "inside voice", and he told me that I have to get stable first, then we can increase the meds. He then went on to tell me some of the dangers of going off meds cold turkey (of which I am very aware). So now I've got to suck it up for the next couple of weeks and prove to him that I'm serious this time.

The first time in the past five years I want to be on medication, no scratch that NEED to be taking the psychotropic feel good happy coctail that is antidepressands and mood stabilizers, and I get the compliance, quitting cold turkey speech. I know, I know - this is what noncompliance results in. This is also what insurance not treating mental illness as the REAL medical condition that it really is results in. I've seen this man about a dozen times over the past five years and even on an intake appointment, the one that's supposed to last 45 minutes and get a detailed history and picture of your current mental state, I've never been in the room with him for more than 10 minutes. I have no relationship with him, so he knows nothing real about me or my history. He has no idea that the fact that I was even there today with cranky todler in tow was a sign of how serious my situation is right now.

I wish I could say that this was an isolated event, but I've dealt with many docs like this in the past. These are the docs for whom you are just another diagnosis from the DSM. The docs that I would tell, "I've had a bad reaction to X in the past. It caused A, B and C," who would then write me a scrip for X and send me on my way, because X is what is used to treat my diagnosis. If you think family docs and peds don't give you credit for actually knowing something, psychiatrists are worse. If I'm still having problems in the next couple of weeks, I already know the drugs that he is going to suggest I start taking - ones that I've taken in the past and either haven't worked, made things worse, or caused unliveable side-effects. I can see myself protesting, and giving detailed explainations as to why these drugs aren't for me. I can, unfortunately, see him dismissing my concerns, writing my scrips, and telling me to come back in four weeks.

Why do I continue seeing this man, you might ask? Because my insurance contracts with ONE mental health provider that I have a chance in hell of getting to. I think there are a few others out in the 'burbs, but for the city, this one is it. A city that has four medical schools in it. An insurance company that is supposed to be one of the best. I have to get treatment from this ass.

Hopefully, it won't come to this. I'm removing as many situational stressors as I can right now and after this weekend I don't owe nobody nothin', no how. I see my therapist tonight, and will get a lecture about how it's ok to call her outside office hours (which I do know and have done, just not as often as I should). At least she'll be an advocate for me if things warrant a more agressive pharmaceutical approach.

Well, bed awaits...


Check your facts!

I just got done looking through my insurance company's mental health provider's listing, and there appear to be three other practices in that I can choose from. Even though it's more than the one I thought, I still stand by my outrage that there are not more covered providers.

Swatches abound

Since I've been in a big design mood recently, I've been doing a lot of knitting and a lot of frogging. Now, I'm concentrating on just swatching - I can get an idea of how it's going to look without putting hours of work into it and ripping it out when I see it's not working. I'll post pics soon.

Well what do you know.

I just IMDB'd Seth Green and we share the same birthday.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It’s time to make a change

The monster is completely out of the box and causing a ruckus.

I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that my depression has been steadily worsening over the past six months or so. I’ll start to take my meds, sometimes for up to two weeks, and then start “forgetting” them when the situational stuff seems under control. The problem is that the chemical part is nowhere near under control. I have good days - days when I can actually function as a mom, wife and homemaker. Those are the days that I can bake, pay bills, do some cleaning, and socialize with my friends for a bit. More often than not, I’ve been having bad days recently. Everything is overwhelming. The only way I can cope is to pack Michael up, get out of the house, and hang out with my friends. Meanwhile, the mess at home grows (and becomes more overwhelming), and it all falls on John’s shoulders. I also get into this feedback loop - it’s my job to do X, I tell John repeatedly that I’ll do X, hours/days pass and X is left undone, finally either John does X or I do after some more procrastinating. This doesn’t only apply to the house, but everything. I haven’t checked my email in the past week for fear of seeing requests for my mothers’ group’s newsletter, or yet another note asking me how I am. I just now realized that our monthly meeting was last week, not tomorrow like I thought, and it sent me into a tizzy of failed obligations. Right now my perceptions are so out of whack, anything is likely to set me off and I hide even more.

I was first diagnosed with Major Depression when I was eighteen after my first suicide attempt. At that point, I had been living with at least clinical depression for years and major depression for about a year prior to that. I was hospitalized for two weeks and finally found out that the way I was feeling wasn’t just a pity party, that I wasn’t weak or selfish, that pulling myself up by my bootstraps wasn’t an option, and most of all that it wasn’t my fault. Then I got sent home.

That first hospitalization stripped all of the defenses that I had built up so I could function in my family. Yes, the people at the hospital told me I was sick, that I had a valid medical problem. My parents told me the exact opposite. I won’t go into the details because I have accepted what happened and rehashing it here isn’t going to do anyone any good. It took five years for my parents to accept and understand what had and continues to happen to me. Since then I have enjoyed their support. I’ve waded through the blame-game and come out on the other side. I’ve been able to function in my family without carefully constructed defenses for years now.

Those five years still haunt me. I am a huge proponent of seeking treatment for mental illness. I’m the first to suggest talk therapy, share my experiences with various meds and treatments, and tell of my journey through life dealing with this disease. The problem lies in taking this advice for myself. I still do talk therapy every other week and have been with the same therapist for the past five years, but that isn’t enough - I need medication. Even though I’ve grown so much, I know my illness and the signs of its ebb and flow, I still cannot do this thing for myself.

I am a classic non-compliant patient. I’ll go in, talk to the psychiatrist, tell him what I need and apologize for not keeping up with my meds, take the meds religiously for a few weeks, and then start to “forget”. No matter how much I know intellectually that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain, that the soul-crushing emotional pain is not normal or my lot in life, I am still that eighteen year-old hearing the daily message that all of this is somehow my own fault.

This cannot continue.

I have set very strict limits on my self-destructive behaviors. I have a small child who I stay at home with, certain things, not matter how much steam they’ll let off, just can’t happen. I also have way too many people who care about me who would notice and ask uncomfortable questions. The past few days (weeks, months), I’ve been fighting very strong urges to do some of these things, and my resolve is starting to get a bit shaky. A hospitalization has been looking very attractive, a time to fall back and regroup. The problem is that it’s never really that. Just like my first hospitalization, coming home is always harder and things feel/seem worse than they did before I went in.

I have to change for Michael. Not that John doesn’t deserve that change as well - we went through hell the first year of our marriage - he really does, but I have to be here for Michael and our future children. I’ve seen too many accounts of adult children who lived with a non-compliant mentally ill parent to not know the damage this causes. Sure, I just have depression, that’s not too bad, I can cope with it. Right now bad times for me result in him eating Veggie Booty and watching too much TV while I doze on the couch or compulsively knit in an effort not to think - that’s not that bad, right?

Realistically, I could probably keep this up for several years, I read about women who do it all the time - mending the cage that holds the monster until it’s more duct tape than steel. Women who manage to go through all the right motions, and a couple of days a month where their child is being raised by the TV and subsisting on junk food isn’t the end of the world - heck who wouldn’t want to watch TV all day, not get dressed, and eat potato chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner? That’s not the whole story though, just the surface. There’s the black cloud hanging over me, the short temper, the exhaustion, the hiding from people and tasks, the annoyance radiating from John when another day passes without my doing X even though I swore up and down that X would be done, the fear radiating from John as he waits for the shoe to drop, and the ever growing guilt. Sure, this is functioning, but it’s not living.

I started taking my meds again this morning. John, unfortunately, is being placed in the position of making sure that I “remember”, but he’s willing to do it and it really does need doing. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist next week so we can do the compliance song and dance. We have talked and made plans, once again. With some luck, it’ll stick this time. When Michael is in therapy as an adult (as I’m sure he will be), I’d like him to be telling a story about how my refusal to let him have five servings of ice cream when he was six damaged him for life, rather than expressing a wish that his mother would have taken her meds so she could be happy.

as always, my apologies to Strunk and White

Spitting nails!

I don't know what to think - the chicken pox scare may have been all a false alarm. You can take a look at the back story here.

His speech therapist is pregnant, so I thought it best that she know that he had been exposed and leave it up to her as to whether she felt comfortable seeing him or not. We cancelled last week and I called her this morning to tell her that he was still showing no signs but was still within the three week incubation period, so she chose to cancel to be on the safe side. In the interrim, I also received a letter from the agency that the infected therapist (special instructor) works for saying that she and two of the children she sees have confirmed cases of the chicken pox.

Well. I just got off the phone with the speech therapist. She had a meeting this morning where the infected therapist was present. She refused to come into the home, because she has no immunity to chicken pox. The infected therapist reassured her that she did not have the chicken pox and it was never confirmed. Two of her kids were sick - one with the measles and another with chicken pox, but she just had a viral infection and had been back to work for a few days. The infected therapist has not called me to reschedule any appointments AND most importantly in my book, did not call to tell me that she didn't have chicken pox in the first place! I stayed home all last week and even felt guilty for seeing the one kid we did even though he'd been vaccinated. A few days last week, Michael was sporting little green circles on his chest and back as I obsessed over every spot/bump I saw or imagined for fear that it was pox. Hell, my mom even stopped by one night to take a look at him since she had been through pox with all of us. Arrgghhh!

In general, I like his special instructor. She's been working with Michael since November and he has a decent rapport with her. The past few months her performance has been getting sketchy. Michael has become more and more frustrated with the activities they've been doing, I've been a little uncomfortable with some of her methods (pretending to cry when he was not complying), she's almost always late, and there have been a few too many last-minute cancellations for my liking. In my attempt to bury my head in the sand, I've been ignoring much of this, but the chicken pox thing is too much. I'm going to call his coordinator tomorrow and request a new special instructor. I have enough shit going on, I don't need this on top of it.

Can you guess?

Which character is the one I play in my D&D game?

Order of the Stick #327

For the gamers among you, the whole strip is definitely worth a read. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Someone to watch over me?

I received a letter in the mail this afternoon and the more I think about it the more creepy it becomes. It was just a non-descript letter-sized envelope with my name and address hand-written on the front. The postage was canceled, but it was done with one of the newer computerized methods so all I call tell is that it was sent from somewhere in Southeastern PA. There was no return address. Inside was a square of blue paper - like a post-it without the glue. On one side was written, "I love you, friend." On the other side its says:

Come to know and love Jesus

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."

John 8:24

John did some searching and it's a quote most often used by the Jehova's Witnesses. Most of the people I've talked to think they got my name and possibly my address from my mother's group - I used to be the Membership VP so my address was pretty much sent to everyone. The anonimity of it bugs me the most. When the Witnesses come knocking at the door I just firmly say, "No thank you," and send them on their way, ditto with the ones hanging out in train stations. This just feels like a violation and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.