Friday, October 29, 2010

Costumes for Halloween

 Why oh why did I decide to make them myself rather than just buying them?!  Hmm, maybe because I am an idiot?  Or maybe because I'd feel guilty being a stay at home mom if I didn't?  Regardless of why, I decided to do it and boy am I sorry!  It has probably ended up costing about the same to sew the costumes for the kids as it would to simply purchase them already done.  Then besides the money spent is the vast amount of time involved, it takes quite a bit of time to cut out the fabric, sew it, press it, finish it...  Although, the kids get something really personalized out of the deal.

Lil' Miss has decided she wants to be Super Girl for Halloween, now before you get all excited this is not the Super Girl of Superman fame, she came up with this idea independently.  Here's the best part, when I asked her what her superpower was (because most heroes have special powers dont'cha know!) she informed me that Super Girl brings rainbows to people.  Yes, rainbows.  And what is special about that exactly, well it keeps changing.  At first she brought rainbows to teach people their colors, but now it has morphed into being a kind of replicator (where the food comes from in Star Trek for you non-geeks) that pops out fruits and veggies with special rainbow dots on them.  Does my kid have an imagination or what?!

Since every hero needs a nemesis (now imagine that word being used correctly by a 5 year old playing with her My Little Ponies and you have some insight into my world!) Super Girl is faced with the catastrophic powers of Destructo-boy!  Yes, we the parental units are really imaginative, aren't we.  Seriously, with a nickname like that how could he be called anything else?  With the window rapidly closing on how many years we get to dress them in coordinating outfits I like to take advantage of it as I can.

Sadly, we the adults don't really get to play along this year as we have in years past.  Lil' Miss has always had an entourage with her, Mister Vonkysmeed and I, Grumpy, Chatty-Cathy, and Kako Grikor all tag along with her on the special day, and after the first year we have all dressed up right along with her.  I think her Alice in Wonderland year was a favorite of the neighborhood, I was the Cheshire Cat, The guys were all cards, and Chatty-Cathy dressed up as the Red Queen.  I guess we'll all just be mild-mannered citizens according to Mister Vonkysmeed, at least the kids are happy, isn't that what really matters?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

WIP: Pembroke vest

This was a planned project, actually queued it quite some time ago that has ended up being a KAL (knit-a-long) in the Knitting For Boys group on Ravelry.  A KAL that I somehow seem to be nominally in charge of, how did that happen exactly?  Not sure, but I think it may have something to do with all of us interested in doing a project together but no one knowing quite how to begin.  I made a few suggestions and ended up setting up the discussion thread that resulted in my personal choice winning.  No, I did not cheat, I simply waited and hoped!  Once we had picked out the pattern I happily set  a discussion for us to all to support one another as we worked on our creations for our little guys.  It is fun to see what others are doing, especially any solutions they may have found for any problems with the pattern or suggestions to improve it.  Destructo-boy will be the lucky little guy to eventually wear this vest, hopefully by turkey day as that was my original plan. 

For my Pembroke I decided to mirror the cables, I think it is just so much nicer looking that way.  This involved some white out to redraw some symbols on the chart, but it is coming out beautifully.  Unfortunately I didn't really pay attention to one of the most common comments/notations on the pattern, that it runs small.  Meaning even if you attain gauge as noted, the finished garment will be smaller than that indicated in the pattern.  I realized it was coming out a little short after I did the cast off stitches for the armholes.  Since for ths pattern you need to start on a particular row for the cables to line up properly with the v-neck, I couldn't just add more rows.  To make the body longer I would have to tear it all out and begin over.  Yeah, not happening.  Instead I added on 1/4" to the length of the armhole and consigned myself to the fact that it may be a one year garment.  Oh well, at least I already have a worthy little one that hand me downs can go to!

Then I had a little problem at the armhole cast off for the shoulders, they came out totally uneven, in the way of six stitches uneven.  So I adjusted the cast off for the shoulders so they would be even, on the neckline shaping row, I cast off 4 stitches as in the pattern and then knit 12 stitches (13 live stitches now) put these 13 stitches on a stitch holder, cast off to 16 stitches from the end with 1 stitch on the right needle, total 17 stitches live. Pretty much followed the pattern from there and the two shoulders are now even.

Next to cast on the front and hope it goes as well!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Growing Pains

They are more than just physical aches.  My lovely neighbor, The Child Whisperer, clued me into the simple fact that when a child is going through a growth spurt they start acting out at the same time.  I just realized after seeing how Lil' Miss has almost outgrown her leggings purchased for her at the start of summer that the major attitude problems we were experiencing over the past two weeks must have been due to a little growth spurt. 

In spite of realizing the why, the simple existence of the 'tude is beyond aggravating.  Ever have a cute little blonde blue eyed 5 year old talk back at you?  Doesn't matter how cute that child may be, you still want to grab them by the scruff of the neck and pitch them out the nearest window.  The fun is multiplied when you realize that elements of the 'tude are your own annoying habits being reflected back at you (yes, I really regret some of the choice phrases I have popped out with now that it's too late!).  Thankfully it only last a few weeks and then she gets back to her normal self, but nw we get the fun new tricks she is learning from her friends at school to deal with!

Not to be left out Destucto-boy has entered the terrible twos.  Lil' Miss didn't get there until she turned three, but the boy is already there.  It is completely normal for the age, but sometimes it is just so incredibly tiresome, especially when you are trying to get somewhere and he insists on doing everything himself.  Then when he doesn't get his way he starts screaming at such a volume as to put a Howler monkey to shame.  Some days I wonder why it ever occurred to me that having children was a good idea, then one of them gives me a hug or kiss and I remember.

Mister Vonkysmeed and I are not looking forward to the teen years, I don't know how we will survive!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FO: Tomten

My very first EZ (for the uninitiated this is an abbreviation for Elizabeth Zimmermann, a very famous knitter and writer about knitting) pattern is this Tomten jacket for Destructo boy.  It was both easy and difficult for me.  The easy part was the stitch pattern, I mean, what's easier than garter stitch?  Having to figure out my own stitch counts based on my gauge and deciding how many ridges to do, well, that was more difficult for me.  I am used to using patterns which practically hold your hand whilst you knit so having to figure it out for myself was terrifying (you could say I am a bit insecure about my own design abilities!).

It took quite awhile for me to get started, I was literally staring at the web for hours, perusing all the projects on Raverly and looking all over the web for sizing guidelines before I finally cast on, about 6 hours later (yes, it really took me that long to work up the gumption to just do it).  I really wish it didn't take me so long to actually get projects started but it often does, remember my battle with the socks?  Once I got it started it moved pretty quickly though taking only 3 weeks to finish, for me that's pretty good as I usually have 3 projects going and of course am often busy keeping the little ankle biters mollified.  Of course I had to restart the hood 3 times as the armholes were too deep and it took a couple of tries to get it right.  Let me say this, attempting to fit a sweater in progress on the 5 year old is difficult enough, on the almost 2 year old it is nigh impossible!

Once I got the hood done I looked at my radically diminished ball of oats colored yarn and said a little prayer that I would actually have enough to finish the sleeves.  This is where my recently purchased scale came in really handy!  Mister Vonkysmeed thought I was silly, but hey, I wanted my sleeves even so the scale helped my figure out how much was left and then helped my to calculate how many ridges I could get out of it by multiple weighings (I was weighing after almost every ridge, overkill? maybe).  In the end it came out just fine, if a bit slim on the oat color, oh well it's probably better to have lots of a darker color on the sleeve hem to hide all the inevitable dirt and food stains that will happen with this sweater.

Can you believe those buttons I found?!  They seem like they were made to go with this sweater, I almost squealed out loud in JoAnn's when I spotted them, the boy sure did when I handed them to him to hold until we checked out (he squealed a little differently when I had to pry them out of his hands to be rung up though).  Once I got the buttons and loops on I tried the sweater on Destructo-boy and he would not take it off.  He even yanked on the hood until I helped him get it up and wore his new tomten for the next 2 days straight, mind, I hadn't even had a chance to wash it yet!  It is terribly nice though to have my work appreciated, so much nicer than all the sob story postings on Ravelry about gifted sweaters ending cut up in dog bed.  Best of all, it fits the boy well now, and he still has some room to grow.  Hopefully we will get another two years of wear out of this sucker before I need to make him a replacement (unless he wears it out first!).

Tomten specs:

Used pattern recipe from Knitting Without Tears, Elizabeth Zimmermann
needle:  US 7
yarn:  Berocco Vintage in the oats, dungaree, and fennel colorways
  • cast on 120 stitches
  • worked for 30 rows before beginning hood
  • made 9 increases on hood which is 44 ridges total
  • for sleeves after 20 ridges changed decreases to every 5th ridge rather than every 4th
  • 65 ridges total on sleeves
  • 3 stitch applied i-cord all around opening, also used i-cord for button loops

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Apples, apples, apples!

It is officially fall in spite of the heat we have been enduring!  And what is a classic fall fruit?  Yup, that would be apples, and we are lucky enough to live close enough to two different apple picking locales that we made a trip out this past weekend to Oak Glen to go apple picking.  In spite of the 40% chance of rain from thunderstorms (our local weather systems have been rather manic depressive the past few weeks!) it was a beautiful sunny day, almost too hot, note my sunburnt shoulders, sigh...

The apples available for picking this first weekend in October were Red Delicious, Granny Smith, and Rome Beauty.  Since I detest Red Delicious apples we got a peck sized bag and filled it up with Granny Smiths and Rome Beauties.  The trees were all around 6-7 feet tall, plenty low enough for a little girl to reach the lower limbs to pick off ripe worm-free apples.  I was expecting apple trees more the size of what were depicted in The Wizard of Oz, but these were great.  After seeing myself and Mister Vonkysmeed pick apples from the trees Lil' Miss was eager to do it herself, taking hold of the branch in one hand and grasping the apple in the other she gave an expert twist and off popped an apple, quickly followed by another and another.  Thankfully she did understand about checking the apples for wormholes first so we seem to have gathered a clean batch.  Destructo boy didn't really understand what we were up to as he kept picking up half rotten apples from the ground, we finally gave up and had him ride on Daddy's shoulders (which may have been his plan all along!) while we filled up the bag.

I foresee some srious baking in my not too distant future, we like apples here but I fear will not eat them all up as is before they go bad.  I have not counted but suspect there are at lease 20 apples in our little bag.  I am planning to make a yummy German Apple cake that I have successfully made before and may even try my hand at an apple pie.  Anyone know of any really delectable recipes?!

There were even some raspberries still available so Lil' Miss and I went in search of some amongst the rows of vines.  We managed to fill our little tray fairly quickly, much more were there than I thought would be.  Lil' Miss even caught on pretty quickly about what is ripe versus what isn't quite ready with her instructing me as to what to pick by the end of our last row.  I am so looking forward to next spring when we are planning on putting in a little vegetable garden in our sideyard, what fun we'll have then!

Funnily enough Lil' Misses kindergarten class is studying apples this week.  They all have to bring in an apple to school and will be painting with them, tasting them, and making applesauce with them.  I honestly had no idea when I set up the date for the apple picking expedition that her class was doing this, but it worked out great!  She even got called on to tell her class and another kindergarten class at the school about her experience of going apple picking over the weekend, I am such a proud and happy mama!
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