Thursday, April 17, 2014

A toddling kid

And he's off and running.  Benjamin is officially a toddler.  At day care, he's now in the toddler room.  He drinks from a sippy cup, walks nonstop, and is beyond adorable.  But I still think of him as The Baby.

His day care is staffed with lots of lovely ladies from someplace south of the border, and he's learning a bit of Spanish as he goes along.  If you ask him if he wants water, he says "agua".  Bilingual child.  He knows both words.  Needless to say, he's a genius.  All grandchildren are brilliant.  Goes with the territory.

This is the Greco-Roman style of diaper changing.  He wants to go, not get changed, and the only way you can hold him down is to drop your leg over him.  He protests mightily.  So it goes.

They are all back home now, and my house is so quiet and orderly.  No toys all over the place, no Miss P swiping my Kindle and my chewing gum.  No parental units to chat with.  It was lovely, and I miss them very much.  Good thing elder DD lives nearby.  Yay, elder DD.

So what to do now?

My cute little quilt in progress.  Look, Ma, some of my points really match!  Hah!  Thank goodness for bias, 'cause it lets me fudge.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

PSES

Post seder exhaustion syndrome

Conked out toddler (I could be him.)

Yep, that's what I have.  I'm pooped.  Totally wiped out.  Zonked.  

For those of you who are Jewish and have ever given a seder, you know what I'm talking about.  That total "I can't move a muscle" feeling after the Big Event.  It's a nice feeling, however.

If you are not Jewish, I'll explain in a few words:  On Passover, we tell the story of how the Hebrews left Egypt and slavery so many millennia ago. "Seder" means "order", and we tell the story in a specific way.  We read from a book called the Haggadah, and the Haggadah tells the story for all the children present.  Orthodox Jews will use only Hebrew, but I'm Conservative and we do mostly English with enough Hebrew tossed in for us to feel comfortable.  Half of our guests are not Jewish and don't read Hebrew.  Plus we want the kids to understand the story.  We do have one son-in-law who is Catholic and who taught himself Hebrew to get through the very long Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services.  But that's it.  So, we want everyone to know what's going on, and an English/Hebrew Haggadah works well.  Our Haggadah also gives transliteration, and everyone can follow along.

You say lots of prayers over wine, matzo, bitter herbs, etc, etc.  Lots of symbols.  The highlight of the seder is when the youngest child (or the one who can read Hebrew) recites the Four Questions.  

The Four Questions

What makes this night different from all other nights?
1. On all nights we need not dip even once, and on this night we dip twice!
2. On all nights we eat leavened bread or matzah, and on this night, only matzah!
3. On all nights we eat various vegetables, and on this night, bitter herbs!
4. On all nights we eat sitting upright or reclining, and on this night we all recline!

And then the rest of the seder is answering all these questions.  That's it in a very small nutshell.  Penelope, our almost-12-year old grand, gets to do the Hebrew.  This year, we added in Ben, our 8 year old grand, who masterfully did the English.  And Lili, his 5 year old sister, helped with setting the table and with the hand-washing.  The trick is to get the kids involved, so I ask for their help as often as possible.

We do lots of singing, and I've mined the internet for goofy Passover songs.  There's No Seder Like Our Seder, etc, etc.

It's a lot of fun.

It's a lot of work!!!!!!!  The Hubz and I had to baby-proof as well as do the usual Passover cleaning.  I made enough chicken soup to feed the entire state of New Jersey.  Matzo balls, all the food symbols that explain what's going on, the meal.  You get the picture.  And now the baby, ahem, the Toddler, is toddling around and getting into lots of trouble.  So I set up various exploration sites in the living room and kitchen for him to dump things in and out of. 

The Minnesotans arrived Fri afternoon.  3 of them slept in a nearby hotel, while Miss P stayed with us.  Benjamin the Toddler is not great with restaurants at this stage.  He has this little motor inside that tummy that makes him want to move nonstop.  So I did the breakfast/lunch/dinner thing.  I'm not used to cooking for more than 2 people any more.  But I fed them, and very well, too.

Elder DD came in Sunday night, her guy arrived Mon morning, and then all the rest of the gang came for our 5 PM seder.  We held it very early this year so that the Toddler could be up.  It actually worked out very well.  We never did go back to the service after dinner, not with 3 little kids running around.  The whole thing disintegrated by dessert, but we knew that would happen. 

It was so much fun!  I love it when everyone is together.  And now everyone has gone home, and the house is so quiet, and I'm still pooped.  But I feel a trace of energy coming back.  Yay, energy.  Now if I could just find all the stuff we removed to make the house toddler-safe.






Monday, April 7, 2014

Quilt Monday


Half Square Triangles!  I am determined to master them, and this quilt has only HSTs, so it's now or never.  I'm using a video from the Missouri Star Quilt Company as my guide, and I understand it.  That doesn't mean that I can cut a straight line or sew one either, but the bias from the squares helps me match my points.   Real Quilters will howl with laughter or shake their fingers at me, but hey, I'm enjoying this, so if I have to fudge, I don't care.



My pressing also leaves something to be desired, but here's what I've learned from the few quilts I've finished:  When you wash and dry them, all that lovely quilty crinkly stuff happens and then my wonky cutting, sewing and pressing all work out.

Why is knitting so easy for me and quilting is not?  I tried hand piecing for a little bit, and couldn't get that to line up either.  Oh piffle, I'll just do my thing and enjoy it.  I am getting pretty good at nesting my seams and such.

If only I were not such a perfectionist.  I may be the only quilter who like bias.  It helps me match points.  I guess I'm just biased in its favor.  Groan.

Go away, Quilt Police, I'm never going to be great at this.  But it's fun, and I like it, and I'm the only quilter (such as I am) in the family, so no one has anyone to compare me to. 

Off to clean.  Passover starts next Monday, and I have a ton of cleaning to do.  Yesterday we tackled the living room.  Benjamin, who is now 15 months, is coming.  We have to baby proof.  Today I start the sewing room.  I hate cleaning.  Elder DD told me that we need a focal point for our decorating.  Focal point?  In her dreams.  We just have too much stuff.  So we're tossing like crazy.  I really hate doing this, but with a toddler who will assuredly get into trouble, I have to do this.  It's probably good for us.  Sigh.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Vest on Friday

The Hubz' vest continues.  I'm up to 11" and need to be at 16" before I start the armholes.  It does seem very small, but I measured his favorite vest and that's where it is.  The armholes are, however, pretty long.  The circumference is 50", and I'm knitting on a 32" circular needle, so even though it looks very skinny, it isn't.  I spread the vest over 2 circs, and yep, it measures 50".

Once it's washed and blocked, it'll all appear smooth and lovely.  He likes it, which is good, because 326 sts takes a bit of time to knit.  I am enjoying it, so if he wants another one, I'm game.



The top pic is a close-up of my cute little cable, and is much lighter than it really is.The yarn is Palette by Knit Picks, and the color is Ash, which is a lovely charcoal gray.  I like knitting with it very much.  Soft, flows through my fingers, and is nice and woolly.  

I'm also knitting a hat for charity and 2 pairs of socks, but this is the main knitting at the moment.  Lovely, mindless, soothing stuff.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Quilting Monday


I finished a flimsy.  After not going near the sewing machine since December, I finally worked on this quilt yesterday.  As you can see, it's pretty basic, and not one of my seams is an even 1/4", but it's good enough, and I like it.





The fabric is from Connecting Threads, Spring Terrace, and I used most of the patterns except for the gray ones.  I'm saving those for something else.

I may do a bit of fake hand quilting on it or perhaps tie it.  I'm not sure.  It'll be cute, I think, no matter what.

Knitting:  I'm still at it, but not with the same intensity as those 5 sweaters.  This is the Hubz' vest so far, about 6".  The fake cables are in force.  You'd think that I'd be tired of them, but no, I can knit them forever.



The actual color is very close to the top pic.  I lightened the middle pic so that the cutie patootie fake cables are visible.  He likes it very much, and it is mindlessly easy.  326 sts on a size 3 circ needle.  It takes a bit of time to do each round, but it is very very easy on the hands and wrists.  The yarn is Palette from KnitPicks.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on the vest and I wanted skinny yarn, so Palette is is.  It doesn't have the spin of sock yarn, nor is it meant to be sock yarn.  Much too fragile for that, but for a soft, lightweight vest, it's perfect.



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Finished! Designing and knitting a fisherman's sweater - part 7

Ta da!  One fake gansey finished!  The angle is a bit foreshortened, but you can get the idea of how it looks.  Oh, and the yarn is a bit more olive than the camera wants to show.

Here's what it looked like yesterday after I finished weaving in the ends and, obviously, before blocking.  Messy, no?  But that's what a wool sweater is before a tender blocking.




Isn't it weird how where and when I photograph the sweater the color changes?  The very top photo is the closest, but I'm posting these so you can see how nice everything looks once blocked.  Ah well, I'm not a photographer.





All of this magic takes place when you block a woolly sweater.  Here's how I do it.

I fill up a sink with lukewarm water and dunk the sweater into it.  You really have to push it down into the water because wool resists water absorption and wants to float.  So, gently, you push it into the water until it's thoroughly soaked.  Then, supporting the garment with both hands, you lift it out, drain the water, and very very gently squeeze the sweater all over to get rid of excess water.  Do this over and over, always supporting the garment as best you can.  This sweater weighed a ton before I started the squeezing process, but I got rid of a lot of the water.  The trick is "gentle".  This is not superwash wool, and it will want to shrink or felt.  Nope, don't want that.  So treat it like a delicate object and gently squeeze.

When you think you have gotten rid of the bulk of the sogginess, dump the sweater onto a bath towel, roll it up and push down on it to get the towel to absorb water.  Repeat with a couple of other towels.  Your towels will be totally soaked, which is what you want.

Lay out the largest towel you have.  Pick up the sweater by the shoulders, and it will lengthen like you can't imagine.  Take a deep breath, and give it a couple of good shakes.  Now your sweater will look like it would fit a giraffe.  That's OK.  What you've done is get all your uneven stitches to even themselves out.  It works, but you have this bizarre garment that you will now lay out on that large towel.

Now you shape the sweater.  It's still very wet and you can make it wider or narrower, make the sleeves look good, align the side and underarm fake seams.  In short, you make it look like the sweater you want it to be.  Takes a bit of time, but you need to do this so that it will look nice.

You'll need to change the towel under the sweater very often; it's absorbing all that dampness.  Each time you do this, reshape the sweater.  If you have a fan available, you can blow air onto the sweater and that will help a bit in drying time.  You can expect it to take at least 12-14 hours to thoroughly dry, and even more if you have a dense garment or heavy yarn.  A lace shawl will dry in 2-3 hours easily, but not a sweater.  Turn it over each time you change towels.

And that's it.  A lovely, soft, cuddly garment to keep the recipient warm and toasty.  Here in northern New Jersey, it's still cold enough to need a woolly sweater.  Mail out the garment to DD, who lives in the Frozen Northland, and then cast on for another sweater.  Email a pic to Miss P, the MN grand, and try to convince her that she needs a sweater next year.  Hah!  Middle school kids resist such stuff, silly kids.

A vest for the Hubz.  The Hubz is not a delicate little creature like I am.  I knit 36" sweaters.  This thing is 50" around.  Fingering weight yarn on size 3 needles.  It'll take forever.  But, he wants a vest, so no sleeves!!!!!!  I'm not in a hurry with this one, since he won't wear it any more this season.  But next fall, when it gets cool again, then he'll have it.

I think I'll put a bunch of my fake cables on it.  V-neck, because that's what he likes, and I also like knitting them.

Thank you all for your kind words.  Don't be intimidated by the gansey; I've been doing my own sweater thing for 45 years, so I can do it in my sleep.  But you can do it too.




Friday, March 21, 2014

Designing and knitting a fisherman's sweater - part 6

So, now the bodice is complete.  You can see the front, and where I'm working the sleeve.  Yes, it looks like a mess; blocking takes care of all that.  When you work a couple of purl sts between the various patterns, those sts act as ribbing, and to get the proper effect, you have to wet block the garment and smooth it out.

I've already done the neck ribbing.  It's so nice to get this donebefore you deal with sleeves.  This way, when you are finished with the sleeves, you are done! Finish in all the ends and then block.

Here's a nice close-up of the bodice.  I loved knitting this, and now have a hankering for an entire garment with fake cables and twist sts and lace.

The sleeve incorporates the fake cable and the twist st pattern, plus I added the diamonds, which are just a larger version of the cross pattern that separates the body from the bodice.  About 10" done, and I should be finished with the sleeves by early next week.


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