Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Playdate DRAMA...

Who knew there could be drama involved in playdates?  Let me take you to the beginning to understand the current state of affairs.  Lil' Miss made her first special friend, Miss E, in Kindergarten and withn a few weeks we saw them walking home and realized they lived literally around the corner from us.  So the new friends mommy, Missus Sweden and I started talking and set up playdates for the girls.  It was kind of funny as we had no experience doing this and both admitted it to each other, but I told her that I felt we should for lack of a better word, 'inspect' each others' homes to make sure we were comfortable with the girls playing there and make sure we had contact info for each other and all should be fine.  She agreed and we had a new routine on Fridays.

So this was the state of affairs for a few months, every Friday we would have the girls play together for a few hours after school, alternating homes.  it was working really well, and then The Third Wheel was introduced over winter break.  She was the child of divorced parents and Missus Sweden felt kind of sorry for her so invited her to a playdate we had set up to have at her house.  It seemed to work out alright, but you know how threesomes turn out, generally not too well.

The next playdate was scheduled at my house and instead of talking to me directly TTW's mother asked Missus Sweden if she could come to the playdate.  So here I was with this child I hadn't really invited, whose mother had no idea how to contact me and who didn't even know where I lived, talk about poor judgment (please excuse me why I shimmy into my judgey pants!).  So we continued on this way, alternating between our house and Miss E's house with TTW added in for spice.  Then TTW's mom wanted to have a playdate at her home, um, NO!  Why no?  I had serious problems with her judgment, after letting her kid come to a home she had no contact info for, let alone had never seen, as well as her not being within walking distance, and the fact that she currently had a brother residing with her who until that time was a homeless drug user.  But how to bow out gracefully?  Thankfully The Child Whisperer came to my rescue with the perfect excuse, #1, Lil' Miss is not ready to be that far away from home (yup, blame it on the kid!), and #2, neither am I.  TTW's mom seemed to asccept this, although she was clearly not happy.

So things continued on but there were starting to be problems, Miss E and TTW were starting to have some issues with getting along.  TTW is a rather bossy child who is sadly lacking in manners (and I'll admit it, I don't much care for her) and Miss E had had enough of being told what to do constantly.  So every week now instead of Missus Sweden and I getting to watch the girls play nicely and hae some fun with them, we were having to intervene to stop the fighting.  Eventually Missus Sweden called up TTW's mom and apprised her of the problem, although she never pointed fingers or placed the blame on TTW, her mom went ballistic.  Apparently we were the mean stay at home moms who were 'cliqueish' and didn't like her.  She refused to accept that it just wasn't working because the kids weren't getting along, it was us evil moms that were the problem.  Sigh, really?  Didn't we leave this kind of crap back in high school, apparently not.

So currently we are back down to two very happy little girls going from one house to another on Fridays and having a fantastic time playing together.  It really amazes me how well these two get along, when they have a conflict I will inevitably hear them saying "Eeny, meeny, minny, moe..." to pick who gets to choose.  The truly amazing thing is that they did this all by themselves, no one directed them to resolve their conflicts this way.  Oh, and although they still play with TTW at school and seem to be getting along much better, her mom hasn't even said hello to either of us since then.  Hold a grudge much?!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The boxes are in the building

I thought I'd share my birthday haul since the boxes have all arrived, finally.  I do still have some gift cards to spend but I am a bit of a hoarder so it might be awhile before I spend them.  I got a box from KnitPicks, one form WEBS, and one from Amazon, I love that smiley face!  I really wanted to pull all the yarn out and roll in it, but I managed to resist the temptation.  I certainly petted it all and rubbed my face in it though!

First to arrive was the KP box with 10 skeins of Comfy worsted in a gorgeous color called sea foam.  It is not as bright as it appeared on my monitor but I love it nonetheless as it definitely has the feel of the ocean to it.  This was my birthday present from Grumpy and Chatty Cathy that she helped me pick out on my birthday after we went out yarn shopping.  One of the reviews of this yarn said when knit up it feels like your favorite t-shirt and after feeling this yarn I can certainly believe it!  Maybe this is the answer to my issue with the current availability of decent t-shirts at retailers, maybe I should just knit my own!  Anyway, this yarn is destined to become a Lilas cardigan designed by Hilary Smith-Callis, a truly lovely drape front cardigan that I think I would get a lot of wear out of.  I am debating about lengthening the sleeves to 3/4 length rather than the short sleeves as written in the pattern.

Next up came a box from WEBS, I went a little crazy since they are currently having their annual anniversary sale and the prices are fabulous!  I ended up ordering Classic Elite Classic Silk in the princess pink color, Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool in persimmon, and a lonely skein of Madelinetosh sock in fragrant.  It is all gorgeous!  The silky wool is the perfect shade of dark terracotta, it has a subtle pink tone to it and will be perfect for a Dark & Stormy (Ravelry link) cardigan designed by Thea Colman (I adore her designs, classic and simple, but very modern too, just my style).  For the classic silk I'll make a Nantucket Red (Ravelry link) cardigan, it'll be another great layering sweater for spring and summer.  The pink color is a bit lighter than I expected but still quite acceptable for me to wear (sorry Lil' Miss, you don't get this stuff!).  The madelinetosh, well, I have no plans for that yarn as of yet.  It is unbelievably beautiful though, I now understand why people love this stuff so much the colors just don't photograph nearly how they look in person, I do believe I'll be treating myself to this yarn on occasion in the future.

Lastly I got some books from Amazon, of course some knitting books and one just to enjoy reading.  I am delighted to have The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger, I have admired her patterns for awhile but just couldn't afford to pay for them individually.  Now that there are 20 available in a single book for less than $12 through Amazon, well it was kind of a no-brainer!  I also desperately wanted the Silk Road Socks book by Hunter Hammersen once I saw the first pattern, they are all incredibly gorgeous and although I haven't had a chance t read through the book yet it appears that there was quite a bit of research that went into it on the history of the silk road and how the rugs are different in each region and then how all this went into the design of each sock (I can't wait to get started on one of these!).  Lastly a work of fiction, New York by Edward Rutherford.  I think I have read just about every one of his books and love them!  His approach is unique, he follows a few families through a very long period of time and thus depicts the changes that occur in a community over such a long period of time, quite interesting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Yessirree, we are planting our first vegetable garden.  I am a complete novice at this so it will definitely be a learning experience to see what will thrive and what won't.  The idea first came to me last summer when the kids and I went along with The Child Whisperer as she needed to water a community garden she was part of.  It seemed like such a neat idea for the kids to see where food came from that I thought it might be nice to do it in our own yard.

There isn't much space left to put in planters for veggies so we are giving it a go in the side yard, it is a bit shady on one side due to the angle of the sun, but as the season progresses it will be less shady.  So Mister Vonkysmeed purchased a set of raised garden planters for us to start up our new garden in.  I requested assistance via Facebook from my friends and got the most responses (21) to a status update ever I think!  Everyone seemed to think squash, zucchini, various beans, and tomatoes were good bets.  I also had a few suggestions to check out Square Foot Gardening to make the most produce out of the least amount of space.

We ended up choosing broccoli, radishes, zucchini, carrots, green onion, cabbage, lettuce, mesclun (a variety of lettuces), chives, and green peppers for our garden.  the radishes had already been started from seed by Lil' Miss following her school field trip to a farm, but everything else we are trying to start directly from seed.  Since we don't have to worry about frost here is a Southern California beach city I am hoping they will be okay and we will see them sprouting in a few days, hopefully.

We are currently using white plastic knives for our plant markers (aren't they quite snazzy looking?) but will be upgrading to some kid painted cuter ones soon.  Mister Vonkysmeed will be making a few trips by the paint department of Home Depot to pick up paint stirrers, they should work perfectly!  Wish us luck as we start our own Victory Garden!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rainbow knee socks, third times the charm?

why yes, I am enjoying my ipod!

Yup, I have started these suckers three times already.  I am so hoping that this time they come out the right size.  In case you were wondering, these are for Lil' Miss, not for me, I'm not really a 'rainbow' type person.  When the new colors of felici were released last month I knew she would love the color so bought 2 skeins to make her some knee high socks (cause doesn't even fashionable Kindergartener need some snazzy knee hi's?).  It is a really nice yarn base to work with, washable merino wool that is nice and smooshy, and it can being handle ripped out three times and re-knit!

The pattern I finally settled on was Riblet (Ravelry link) socks by Katt Walker designed to fit a wide range of young'uns.  All would have been great if I hadn't decided to do them up to the knee (they aren't designed as knee socks), it is a really well thought design of ribbing all the way down the sock to ensure a comfortable fit on many different foot sizes.  However I decided to just cast on and go for it after some reassurance from a fellow Raveler without doing any kind of gauge swatch to check my gauge against Lil' Misses calf circumference (I need to re-read my own goals list on the left bar don't I!).  So after about 2 weeks of knitting I tried them on her again and this time she said they "didn't feel so good."  Sigh, you know what that means!  I frogged them and started over. 

Funny aside here, a non-knitter friend was sitting in the room with me and some knitters when I began ripping them out.  The poor thing was literally squirming in her chair watching me do it, I think she was just about ready to leave rather than continue to watch in growing horrified fascination.  Everyone else understood my problem, yes I could just finish them, but they wouldn't fit and would never be worn so it was better to rip out 2 weeks of work rather than continue on with a doomed project. 

I cast on for the second time with 70 stitches instead of 55 and of course after being too small this time they were turning out too big, so frog again.  For my third attempt I cast on with 60 stitches and am keeping my fingers crossed that it will work out this time.  My gauge seems to have relaxed some too, for some reason when I started these I think I was attempting to choke the life out of the poor yarn.  Now that I have gotten used to working with it I seem to be having an easier time of it.  Hopefully I'll get them done before she grows out of them, I just have to keep plugging away now that they seem to be the right circumference for her leg.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

It's my birthday, let's go buy yarn!

Just like the title says, I convinced Chatty-Cathy and Crafty Auntie (who is to blame, since she taught me to knit in the first place!) to meet up at my place and go to a couple of local yarn shops with me.  I may do a lot of shopping online but I need to support my local merchants too!

First up was Knit Schtick, a very cute shop that just happens to be located a few doors down from where I bought my wedding gown (so, immediate happiness when going there beyond the whole I get to buy yarn thing).  Not only is a great little store but they also have a great online presence and send regular emails informing their customers of upcoming workshops, knitting gatherings and new product arrivals. Unfortunately I didn't double check their hours before we left, whoops!  We drove into the parking lot and I said 'Oh no, why are there white blinds drawn over the windows?!'  Yup, they were closed, bad on me.

Next up was The Sheared Sheep, a bit difficult to find but worth the search.  They don't have quite the grasp of new technology as the other shop but nice to go feel and buy the yarn regardless.  Since shop #1 turned out to be closed we drove over to make sure this one would be open and it would be, in about 40 minutes.  So we went off to a bookstore to kill some time before coming back to the yarn store.  When we did return they were happily open with a group of ladies gathering around the table for a knitting class.  It was a rather small selection of yarn, but it is always great to go pet the lovelies instead of just buying online and hoping it'll work.  They had some Rowan Kidsilk Haze knitted up and I must say, that stuff is gorgeous!  However, I just don't know what I would do with it, so none of it came home with me.  I ended up getting a nice palmwood crochet hook by Brysun and a skein of Cascade Venezia in turquoise (it will become a Brambles beret, so pretty!).

Then my dear friends took me out to lunch at Todai all you can eat sushi and seafood, yummy!  We had a nice leisurely lunch, although Chatty Cathy was saddened to discover the crab legs are only available on the weekend and not during the week.  The sashimi style sushi was the best, some of the rolls had some really weird stuff in them.  Maybe it is just me but raw fish does not go well will cream cheese!  The desserts were delectable and served in bite sizes so one could easily try several guilt free.

After lunch we went back to my place to sit, talk and craft for the afternoon.  Since Chatty Cathy hadn't gotten anything for me at the yarn store we pulled up Knit Picks and she bought me some Comfy worsted in seafoam that is destined to become a Lilas cardigan to wear this summer.  Doesn't that look wonderful!  They even helped me decide on some colors of Elsebeth Lavold silky wool (I got the persimmon to make a Dark & Stormy cardigan) and Classic Elite classic silk (the princess pink for a Nantucket Red cardigan, I certainly hope it's not too 'princessy'!) that I was having trouble deciding on.  Then I horrified Chatty Cathy by ordering some madelinetosh sock yarn, she really couldn't quite believe I was spending $26 on yarn to make socks, I just told her it was my birthday and the yarn was pretty and I wanted it, so there!  With all the online ordering my birthday will continue for the next week or so as the boxes begin to arrive, hooray!

Monday, April 4, 2011

To err is human, to mend is divine

My dear brother Grumpy brought back to me a few months ago the fingerless gloves I had made for him for Christmas 2009.  He brought them back because some evil moths had gotten to them and eaten holes in them.  If you didn't guess where this is going, now I get to learn some new skills, namely mending holes in knitting.  The more observant readers out there probably  caught the timing in the first sentence, he brought them to me several months ago and I am only now getting to them, yes I am a bit intimidated by having to fix the moth larvae damage.  And no, I really don't want to do it I would much rather knit something new.  However Grumpy really loves the gloves and wants to be able to wear them again so mend I must.

now that's some moth damage!

First of all, right after he brought the holey things back to me my mind went bananas, screaming moths, motHS, MOTHS! over and over in an endless loop.  I mean, how dare Grumpy introduce moth larvae into my sterile yarn loving house?!  So I ran into the kitchen to find a ziploc of the appropriate size and crammed those suckers in as fast as I could.  Then I perused the interwebz looking for assistance as to what to do with the defiled gloves sitting in my kitchen.  First off I put them into the freezer for a few weeks, than I put them on the counter to bring up to room temperature before re-freezing again to kill any newly hatched bugs.  Then I forgot about them for awhile again before defrosting them again and then putting them in the microwave for 3 minutes on high.  Then they went back in the ziploc (can't take any chances with my stash or finished knits you know!) inside my knitting bag awaiting their turn with my undivided attention.

can barely see the mend on the side of the pinky finger, yea me!

One of the gloves had rather minor holes, the other was significantly worse so of course I decided to start with the easier one.  I used these articles from Knitty to help me figure out what to do.  Thankfully Grumpy wasn't particular about the gloves looking as they had when brand new so it didn't need to look perfect when finished.  And let me tell you, after I had some time with them to do my best to fix the holes, they do not look like new.  Thankfully I still had some of the yarn I used originally left in my stash so at least the mended holes aren't glaringly obvious.  However, they are quite visible.  Now that the first glove is fixed I need to suck it up and go after the second ones, they are just much worse (and thus are still languishing in my knitting bag as I write this!).

how the heck do you mend ribbing?!
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