Sunday, December 12, 2010

Maidu Historical Site

I thought it would be fun to visit a local Native American site. Lucky for us, there is one just a few miles from where we live. It was a great place to learn about the Native Americans that lived in our area, apart from the books that we are reading for school.

The first thing we saw on the way to the site were egg shaped rocks:

Near the beginning of the path, we saw petroglyphs. I would not have noticed them if there had not been a sign.

At the beginning of the path, we saw Grinding Rocks, which was so cool, because we had just read about them. It was then that my daughter started to connect her lessons with the world around her.

We strolled around a little more of the path, before I decided that we had to start heading back to the museum. It was late in the day, and I told my children that we could visit the museum store before we went home. They each chose a small souvenir (my daughter, a piece of pyrite, and my son a piece of gypsum). The site had a very interesting aura about it. To know that living people performed sacred ceremonies there, ground food in the rocks, cooked their meals (perhaps underground) on the site with open fire, hunted wild animals, used the local plants to make their tools, baskets, and clothing, passed down their knowledge of the land to their children, and died there, was surreal to me.

There is still more to see and we will go back in the Spring, when the daylight hours are longer. I wonder if the aura will be different...

And my son will have the orange slice please...

I really like Chevy's Restaurant. There is one close by our house, the dishes are generous, and they have a decent selection of children's meals. However, no matter how delicious I think the plates look, my son always only eats the fruit. He worked on his orange slice the whole time we were there, even when his dessert came. Go figure...

On Building the Cave

I took pictures while I was putting together my cave and I wanted to post them, so I would remember what the room looked like before I took over.

Placing all of the furniture where I wanted them was a full day event (with the exception of the Gazelle, which is actually a compromise that my husband and I agreed on, a few days after my other furniture was in place). It is still not perfect; I need a lamp, want more shelves, and want to add more greenery - probably with silk plants that won't die. However, I am really enjoying it, as are my kids. There is even room for my son's table. While my daughter is working on her schoolwork, my son can do his "work" too.

Of Gingerbread Cookies and Parsnips

Last week I decided that it was time to make some holiday cookies, i.e. Gingerbread Boy cookies. I found all of the ingredients (you have no idea the kind of joy I felt when I found *just enough* molasses in the back of the cupboard), made the dough, rolled it out, cut out the cookies and baked them. After they had cooled, I laid out all of the sprinkles, non pareils, sugar crystals, chocolate morsels, and icing that I had so that the kids and I could decorate the gingerbread boys.

My son's creation:

As it turns out, neither of my children like the taste of gingerbread. Now what am going to do with all of these cookies??

On a better note, I also cooked with parsnips for the first time. If you have never cooked with this root before, it is like a white carrot, although I have to add that they taste and look more like potatoes. I found the recipe in Ming Tsai's One Pot Meals. My family loved the meal, and I am beginning to think that I don't season my dishes well enough. I used quite a bit more salt and pepper in this dish than I usually do, probably because I was worried that the white vegetable wouldn't taste like anything. In any case, there were only enough leftovers for my husband's lunch the next day; everything else was eaten. Hurrah! I have another favorite chef.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mom Cave: Phase One...Ooooga Boooga!

I finished cleaning and placing the furniture (most of it anyway) in my Mom Cave yesterday. It took all weekend but it was totally worth it. Attaching the shelves to the wall was a challenge...I have a particular talent for drilling into parts of the wall where the stud nails are - Grrrrr. Despite this, the brackets were attached by Saturday evening. I was determined to have the foundation of my cave done by the end of the weekend and it is. Yay!

I couldn't use the long piece of shelving that my friend gave me. This made me very sad because it was FREE and it was LONG and sturdy...okay, mostly I am bummed because it was free. For some reason, I could not let the changing table go, despite the fact that if I had, we would have had room for the FREE shelving. It's weird being that emotionally attached to a piece of furniture. I mean, really, it's only a few pieces of wood and screws, and the drawer doesn't work properly. However, it has been with us through all of our homes, it has never allowed either of my children to fall, has kept all of the diapering needs in one place for me, and even has space underneath to keep clothes. And the reason it has a problem drawer is because of me. Anyway, I opted to keep it. It's a nice piece of furniture anyway. I gave up the shelf and bought smaller ones.

I was able to get 2 shelves with brackets, plus 2 more shelves and cinder blocks - all for less than $100. My husband commented that I still have vertical space, so I took this as permission to get more shelves and cinder blocks for MORE shelf space. I plan on hanging pictures on the walls and knitting more decorations.

My only concern is that my son will want his room back...Where will I move my cave then?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Birthday Ice Cream Conecakes

My daughter turned nine years old today. I made her French Toast for her birthday breakfast and we took her out to The Old Spaghetti Factory (where her little brother called the Spumoni "Mustachioed Ice Cream - HA!) for her birthday dinner. I had wanted to bake a cake for her, but I thought it would be fun to make Ice Cream Conecakes instead. Her friend Jesse came over to help decorate them.

I found these instructions on how to bake the cupcake cones properly. The problem I often have with cupcake instructions is "fill to 2/3 full". What the heck does 2/3 full mean???

This is what the cones looked like the first time I filled them. Is this what 2/3 full looks like?

Not unless this is your idea of Ice Cream ConeCakes...

So I filled them up the lip. Is this what 2/3 full looks like? \
Most definitely!


My first Thanksgiving Challenge

I made my very first Thanksgiving meal yesterday. My husband was supposed to take the kids to his brother's house for the occasion, but my husband is feeling under the weather. He decided on Tuesday that he wasn't up to the almost 3 hour drive. I took is as a domestic challenge to hold Thanksgiving here and make it a semi-feast. I went shopping that evening and bought a small turkey (10 pounds - woohoo!), cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes, gravy. I scoured the internet for Thanksgiving meal tips. What I feared the most was cooking the turkey. Pages and pages talked about thawing out a turkey and how it takes about one day per 5 pounds of turkey to thaw it out in the fridge. Holy cow, that meant that I needed 2 full days to thaw out even my itty bitty turkey. I hoped for the best, but I searched for other ways to thaw out and cook the official bird of the holidays (which, at times, I wonder about. How are we so sure the pilgrims used a pheasant or some other bird for their feast. I mean, do we REALLY know??)

I found a very useful website that explained how to cook a frozen turkey. This is what saved my first Thanksgiving meal:
Cooking Turkey from a Frozen State.

Midway through the cooking time, I pulled out the giblets and neck and stuffed the cavity with fresh poultry herbs and garlic. The house smelled wonderful. After only about 4 hours, the thermometer told me that the meat was fully cooked, but not overcooked. The herbs gave the finished turkey a very pleasant and subtle flavor. The meat was moist, especially the breast portion, the skin was nice and crispy (I didn't share, but I took advantage of Cook's Privilege). My daughter mentioned how tasty it was. She even asked for seconds. My son announced that he didn't like turkey, but he is three and is notorious for only eating carbs, so he made up for not eating turkey by eating his share of the potatoes and stuffing. My husband, even with his cold, said how tasty it was.

I am happy to say that I met with my first holiday/meal challenge well-armed and I have succeeded.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Mini Pottery

My daughter loves little things. Her latest creations were inspired by Native Americans, as we are learning about this culture in our Social Science lessons. The pottery piece she made a few days ago fell apart, much to her disappointment. This afternoon, I decided to buy some clay that would hopefully allow her to make more permanent pieces. Here are pictures of what she made:

I took another picture of them next to a spoon for size reference. Look how tiny!

We bought 10 colors and I couldn't help but make a few pieces for myself. My plan is to make enough beads to make a necklace. We'll see if that happens...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Little Anime Boy

My son has anime hair. He always has, especially when I let it get long. When he was 6 months old, his hair stood up on end, and there was no hair gel that could tame it. When he grew more hair, I thought for sure that the weight of it all would help tame the anime tendencies. Boy was I wrong!

Jesse's Hat

Finished Jesse's hat. I got gauge and it fits. Woohoo!
Now I will make a matching fingerless mitts for her. Can anyone tell me how to pause November??

Update: Jesse let me take a picture of her in her hat:

Her mother says that she wears it often...and I must say that she wears it well.


Our current Social Studies lessons involve learning about Native Americans. I found a book focused on the Miwok Indians, the group indigenous to our area, here in the valley. I have always found that lessons are always more meaningful if they include some type of activity related to what we are learning, so I found a few art activities online.

I made some clay with baking soda and cornstarch. I added some red food coloring, at the request of my daughter. I showed her to make pottery using the coil method. I gave my son some of the clay too, although he wasn't quite adept at the technique as my daughter was. The clay was flimsy and after about an inch or so, my daughter's cup was starting to sink into itself. Oh well.

Next time, we'll use Sculpey. I know, not exactly the way Native Americans made their vessels, but it's the idea that counts, right?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


We had my daughter's ninth birthday party today.

We played Stick the Nose on the Alien:

I painted this alien myself (and whom I secretly named "Henry"). I painted noses on a separate piece of cardstock paper, cut them out and laminated them. I placed pieces of double sided tape on the backs of each. I found a really cool bandana at Michael's, decorated with stars and moons, and used this as a blindfold. I tied the bandana around each child's head, covering their eyes, spun them around 10 times (overkill, I know, but they didn't seem to mind), guided them towards Henry on whom they stuck the noses. I wish I had picture of Henry after the game! My children, interestingly enough, placed both of their noses on Henry's left hand. There was a nose on Henry's lip, another on his middle eye, one on his neck, one that found its way way over Henry's far right eye. The winning nose was placed almost perfectly where it should have been, right on top of his lip. I seriously think that she studied Henry because she felt her way to that spot. Smart Girl (it wasn't my daughter)!

We also played "Comets". I cut out a 3 foot circle from a cardboard box that we had in the garage. I painted 5 rings on it. I made "comets" using styrofoam balls and old tights that didn't fit my daughter anymore. I placed the circle on the floor and gave each of the children 3 comets. The object of the game was to throw at least one of your comets in the center of the circle. Three of the children got pretty darn close and they each received a prize.

I had two activities for them related to space. The first activity involved decorating star cookies. I baked star shaped sugar cookies last night. I supplied decorating gels (tubes of decorating frosting mixed with edible sparkles) and pareils. I allowed them to take as many cookies as they wanted to decorate.
The second activity was painting Meteorite rocks. My children and I had a couple of rock collecting trips, which they thoroughly enjoyed. The only problem was that I had to remind them the rocks were not for them to keep - ha! We took home the rocks, washed them, and brought them to the party in buckets. I bought 5 tubes of glow in the dark paint and several vials of neon paint. I supplied brushes and instructed them to paint whatever they wanted. All of the children enjoyed these activities (based on the length of time that they spent on their chosen activity) and it was interesting to see that each of the girls preferred one over the other. The boys (my daughter's best friend and my son) were the only ones that wanted to do both. My daughter, of course, had her Buggi dance on her rock while she painted it.

If I had to do it over, I wouldn't change a thing. I feel very, very fortunate that I was able to find a venue that was affordable, close by, clean, and available. It had just enough space for all of the kids and parents that joined us today. My friends helped me and my husband decorate and set up the room, and clean up afterwards. Best of all, my daughter had a great time with her friends and the party was uniquely hers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mr. Cool with the Square Hat

I found a Woolly Wormhead pattern that I wanted to knit for my daughter's friend, Jessie. I love her independent spirit and I LOVE that she is not a girly-girl, just like my daughter. They get along so well, it is very hard to believe that they have not always been friends. I thought Bridget was the perfect hat for Jessie. Knit in the round, it is essentially a tube seamed at the top with pom-poms added for the "pigtails". There is no decreasing for the crown. I am not a current fan of pom poms so my idea was to add braids instead.

I forgot that I am a tight knitter...okay, maybe I am in denial, but whatever. I am also not used to the fact that my little girl is almost 9! How did she get so big? I mention these things because she and Jessie wear the same size; therefore, I used my daughter's head measurements for the hat.

After I finished the hat I attached one braid before I asked my daughter if she would try it on for size. She flinched and said that it was TOO TIGHT. UGH.

Just for fun, I placed it on my son's head (he is more than 5 years younger) and it fit him perfectly. He even wore it to bed that night. He loves this hat and gets upset if my daughter even looks at it. She teases him about it because of the one braid, but he does not care. He has claimed it.

I took pictures of him wearing it and I asked him if he wants the other braid on it, so both sides match. He said no.... In fact, each night, he asks me to make the braid that is attached a little bit shorter. Hmmm, maybe I should take the hint and just cut the darn thing off....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

So I have this idea...

I perused through Lorna Miser's Faith, Hope, Love, Knitting (signed copy from when she visited one of my FLYS last year) last night and happened upon her project for making your own needles. It looks pretty easy...just some polymer clay and imagination, supplies from the local hardware store, a hot glue gun, and patience. It occurred me that my daughter would love to make at least one set. I say this because she loves making little things. Miniature houses, miniature furniture, miniature food (she once made a mini pizza out of Floam), you name it. What a great project for us to do and, not to mention, fairly inexpensive.

Then I thought how great it would be if I could get her into knitting again. Then I thought that maybe the best way to do that would be to give her something easy peasy to do, like knitting squares for her Buggi. Then I thought that we could FELT some of those squares (making sure this was actually possible). And I thought, "WOW, I could TOTALLY incorporate the bean bags in our Social Science lesson about Japan." I remembered a game that I read about in one of my homeschooling books that Japanese girls used to play a game called Otedama with bean bags.

I feel like such a genius!

You see, these Japanese beanbags were called ojami and were filled with red beans that made a very distinctive sound when played with. Traditionally, grandmothers made them with silk kimono scraps. I don't have any pretty silk fabric scraps lying around (boo for me, they are so pretty) but I do have pretty scrap yarn, some even with silk. Most importantly, a lot of my beautiful yarn will felt nicely and are in the colors that she likes.

I can't wait to finish my holiday knitting. At the moment, it seems like it keeps growing, but that's okay because I still have over a month left to finish. Yeah, I'll stick with that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Or maybe it's the holiday season...

At this time of year, I feel the need to exercise. Not in the Spring, not in the Summer, when many people are concerned about looking good in shorts and swimsuits. For me, it's in the Fall.

One of the reasons is because here, in California (especially where I live), it gets pretty darn warm. Maybe I'm weird, but I like to exercise when it is cold. I like my walking routine because I warm up - but not so much that I am uncomfortable - and also get to spend time with my dogs, who love the walks as much as I do. My favorite time to walk is during the mid morning, when the air is crisp but not icy and the sun is out but not high in the sky and the day hasn't warmed up yet (which usually happens around 3:00 in the afternoon).

Of course, I am also concerned about losing weight. Running is better than walking, for this. However, I am not a big fan of running, unless it is on the treadmill, something that we do not have the room for in our house.

I found an article this morning about Walking Routines that help burn more Fat. Knowing me, I probably will not remember half of the tips listed (yes, I know there are only 3, but my memory has not been the same after kids - haha). So here it is, for my future reference. Feel free to use it as yours too...

3 Fat-Blasting Walking Routines.

by Woman's Day, on Wed Oct 20, 2010 1:54pm PDT55
By Karen Asp

Walking is one of the easiest ways to get fit. It’s free, you can do it just about anywhere and it burns up to 200 calories in 30 minutes. That’s why we enlisted Bob Harper, one of the trainers from NBC’s The Biggest Loser, to create a walking program that blasts calories by including strength-training moves. Aim to walk four to six times a week, ideally picking a different routine each day. For motivation, check out the stories of four women who each shed major pounds mainly by walking. In just a few weeks, you’ll be on your way to becoming the next weight-loss success story!

Walk #1: Muscle Up

Location: Your neighborhood
Goal: Increase upper-body strength by alternating cardio and strength moves. Throw a resistance band in your pocket before you leave.
Total time: 38 min

5 min Warm up: Walk at easy pace.

1 min Walk fast, pumping your arms.

3 min Stop walking and do the following moves with your band, moving as quickly as you can:

Lateral Raises

Standing with both feet in the center of the band, hold the ends in each hand. With arms at sides, lift band to shoulder height (or as high as you can without going past shoulders); release. Do 30 reps.
Overhead Presses

Hold ends of band in each hand. Place left foot in center of band and right foot about 8 inches in front of the left (the band should be behind you). Lift arms to shoulder height so they form 90-degree angles. With palms facing forward, press arms straight up, keeping arms next to ears. Lower back down to starting position. Do 30 reps.
Biceps Curls

Hold ends of band in each hand and stand with both feet about shoulder-width apart in center of band. With palms facing forward, arms by thighs and elbows close to sides, lift hands to shoulders. Keep wrists straight. Release. Do 30 reps.

24 min Alternate 3 min of fast walking with 3 min of the above strength moves. (You should do circuit 4 times.)

5 min Cool down by walking at an easy pace and stretching.

Walk #2: Fat Blast

Location: Indoor mall or outdoor park
Goal: Burn fat with high-intensity cardio moves while increasing lower-body strength.
Total time: 41 min

5 min Warm up by walking at an easy pace; work up to a brisk pace.

3 min Do walking lunges.

Stand with feet together, hands on hips. Step right foot forward about a foot or two, lowering body until right thigh is parallel to floor. Release, step left foot next to right, and repeat, this time stepping the left foot forward. Keep moving forward with each lunge.
4 min Walk briskly.

1 min Skip/walk briskly.

2 min Walk at a slow pace so you catch your breath (recovery walk).

3 min Walking lunges.

4 min Walk briskly.

1 min Skip/walk briskly.

2 min Recovery walk.

3 min Walking lunges.

4 min Walk briskly.

1 min Skip/walk briskly.

2 min Recovery walk.

1 min Do speed squats.

Stand with your back to a bench or chair, feet hip-width apart and arms at sides. Lower body as if you’re about to sit, extending arms in front of you. When thighs are parallel to floor, stand back up. Do as many as you can. 30 sec Recovery walk. 1 min Speed squats.
30 sec Recovery walk.

1 min Speed squats.

1 min Recovery walk.

1 min Do a standing bend: Bend forward until head is hanging. Put hands on elbows and breathe deeply. Let neck relax and feel your muscles release.

Walk #3: Indoor Power Walk

Location: A treadmill
Goal: Burn big calories by alternating harder and easier periods of work (intervals); build overall strength.
Total time: 46 min

3 min Warm up: Walk at an easy pace (3–3.5 mph at 1 percent incline).

1 min Walk fast (4.5–4.8 mph).

1 min Moderate-pace walk (3.5 mph).

28 min Continue alternating 1 min of fast walking with 1 min of moderate. Challenge: Increase the incline during the fast walk to 3–5 percent.

3 min Cool down with an easy walk (3–3.5 mph with no incline).

10 min Do the following strength exercises (repeat series up to 3 times):


Lie facedown on floor with elbows under shoulders, feet hip-width apart. Contract abs and press body off floor so only forearms and feet are supporting body. (If this is too difficult, keep knees on floor.) Keep body in one straight line; hold 30 seconds, then release.

Lie face-down on floor and place hands under shoulders, fingers forward. Keep knees on the floor and bend lower legs back, crossing at the ankles. Contract abs and lift upper body off floor until arms are almost straight. Keeping head in line with spine, lower chest until you’re about 3 inches from the floor. Push back up to starting position. Do 25 reps.
Treadmill Squats

With the treadmill turned off, put your feet on either side of the treadmill belt, hold the handlebars and lower your body toward the floor, keeping your knees over your ankles. Lower until your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Release and return to start. Do 50 reps.

Photos: Daniela Stallinger/Woman’s Day

Original article appeared on

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween 2010

When I was a kid, Halloween was THE holiday to celebrate (aside from Christmas). You get free candy and you get to dress up as anything you want. I loved wandering around the neighborhood with my friends, knocking on doors, yelling TRICK OR TREAT and feeling my candy bag get heavier and heavier. Sometimes we got money, which was really cool back then because I could actually get some Annie (the movie) cards from Wawa, my neighborhood version of 7-11. Stickers and candy, what more could a girl want?

In our neighborhood, we do not receive many Trick or Treaters. Consequently, we normally spend the evening with our friends. What made this year different was that it was the first year that both of my children got involved with choosing their costumes.

My daughter has never been picky about her costume. Most of the time, I just chose one that I thought would look good on her and she usually agrees. She has been a Bumble Bee, a Spider, A Fairy Princess, Super Girl (2 years in a row! I got a lot of mileage from this costume), a black cat.

This year, we went to a Halloween store. My daughter mentioned wanting to be a dog, because she thinks she sounds just like a dog. 8 year old logic, what more can I say? Anyway, went to the store intending to buy her a dog costume. We couldn't find one, much to my daughter's disappointment. I told her to look around while I looked for a costume for her brother.

He saw the Ninja costumes and decided that he wanted to be a Ninja. We purchased a set of Tridents to complete his costume. I enjoyed his excitement about wearing his costume for Halloween - he told everyone we knew and often asked if he could wear his costume.

My daughter chose to be Cleopatra. It is a beautiful costume and she looked so grown up in it, especially with Egyptian makeup on.

I also dressed up the dogs. I have to admit, at the moment, I truly believed that I have the cutest dogs in the world. I found a witch costume for Pippin and an angel costume for Lucy last year at the Halloween clearance sale at Target.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Almost done

My daughter's Hearts and Tait Vest is almost done! I am working on the armhole ribbing. She was able to try it on for size this morning and I took a picture:

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Classic Birthday Party

This year we are going to give my daughter a classic birthday party. You know the kind: Pin the Tail on the Donkey, Musical Chairs, Simon Says. We've reserved a room at a local Pizza Parlor. The Parents website has a few pages dedicated to this. I am very happy to find that there is someplace on the web that has collection of ideas for less expensive children's parties.

Easy Halloween Costumes

Okay, not exactly knitted costumes but I thought this article is worth saving:

Easy Halloween Costumes

made from stuff you probably already have in the house!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Why didn't I think of this before?

Fingerless Mittens. Most of them only need one skein. And here I am bemoaning the fact that I can't wear Malabrigo next to my skin (and other animal fibers). I have several (read "ALOT") of merino yarn that I have been holding onto. Let's face it: I love these yarns. Soft. Buttery to knit with. LUUUUURVE the colors. How can I sell them? Now I know that I can keep them with due cause. I'll make fingerless mittens out of them.

I want to make Matching Mitts for Meret, Ailbhe, Eireen - these three are Ravelry patterns, so you may not be able to see these if you are not a member - and I might even attempt London Eye Glittens.

Of course...after the rest of my holiday knitting is done. I told never ends.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Good to Know...

I take my knitting everywhere: Ballet practice, the playground, McDonald's (if you are a mom, then you know what I am talking about), the mall, anywhere that I think I can get at least one row done. At times, some kind soul will ask if I sell any of my items. I have always said no because I was never comfortable using someone else's pattern for something that I am selling.

Katharine of Accessories For Your Left Brain has a Lawyer mom and she wrote about this topic this summer. She explains in readable detail that clothing made from a pattern is sellable. Please read her post on this topic if you are curious about it, especially if you want to sell your knitted items.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It's not Rocket Science; it's Knitting Science

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably know that I love (this word is not an exaggeration) Top-Down Seamless Patterns. In fact, I have been known to buy entire magazines and books because they include ONE pattern that is written this way, and it doesn't even have to be a pattern that I necessarily LIKE. I know. It's a sickness. However, I am satisfied that I can brag and say that I have an AWESOME collection of top down patterns. And this makes me very happy.

As is the case for many, I am sure, I prefer FREE. Let's face it, there are a TON of knitting blogs and websites that offer free patterns: yarn companies,, Whip it, Knitch Magazine, just to name a few. Plus, Ravelry has improved their search function so I can find top down patterns at my leisure in no time at all.

This said, there are also some designers that do charge for their designs. GAH my frugal minds growls, but I can't blame them. It's work: increase here, decrease there, YO here, SSK, K2Tog, P2, K5...and it all has to look good on various shapes and sizes. And top down designers - wow, they take away the stress of seaming too! Priceless.

So in this post, I want to list some of the designers that I personally like and would not mind paying for use of their designs. Not surprisingly, many of them are Top Down designers, and also not surprisingly, I have already splurged on some of their designs.

Coco Knits
French Girl Knits
Knit and Tonic
Brooklyn Tweed
RetroKnit (she is a Ravelry designer, so you may have to sign into Ravelry to see her designs).

I'll be adding to this list as I find more and more things that I want to knit, which lately, is about everything. I swear, a week ago, Christmas was 6 months away...

If there is a designer that you absolutely love, please post a comment!

Another WIP...

It never ends.

I get a lot of inspiration from Ravelry. I have been spending a lot of time on this social network and the more I see, the more that I want to knit. However, at the moment, I am very pressed for time. I have a constant battle between all of the things that I have to do, and all of the things that I WANT to do. It. Never. Ends. Especially with kids.

Since I started homeschooling my daughter, I have had less time to do anything else - housework, taking care of the dogs, relaxing, and worse of all, knitting. Then how do I spend a lot of time on Ravelry, you ask. Well, read on.

My days go like this: I wake up, drink a wee bit of coffee with lots of milk, make breakfast for the boy ("Crunchy cereal please!"), an egg burrito for the girl (cereal and oatmeal never fill her), breakfast and lunch for the man (this changes daily), remind her to get ready for the day (get dressed, and brush her teeth and hair) while I prepare the day's lessons.

I start her off with Math. Our kitchen table is our classroom. We tried having her do her lessons in her room - too distracting! The first day I taught her from home, I went in to check on her progress 30 minutes after she started and she was still on the first question because she started playing with Buggi. Grrrrrrrr. So now, we sit together at the kitchen table. I sit parallel to her, so she can ask me questions if needed, and I can check that she is not distracted by something. Here is where I spend my time on Ravelry. Personally, I hate people watching over my shoulder. I figure that if she knows that I am present but not hovering, then she will be more comfortable working on her own. Sometimes this works, sometimes not. It's still a work in progress. The problem is, if I leave the table for too long, she "forgets" she's supposed to be doing her schoolwork. So I need to stay in the immediate vicinity so that she stays on task. Therefore, forget about walking the dogs with her brother so she can work on her own, forget about cleaning the bedrooms, forget about playing a game with the boy, at least until her lessons are over for the day. I am glad that my son enjoys drawing and learning his letters, so he is not watching the TV all day.

Between all of this and keeping the kids occupied after "school" is over, I have less knitting time. I am grateful that we belong to a charter school that we have to visit every week for her Spanish class and my bimonthly meeting with our home teacher. I am grateful because this trek to the school gives me an excuse to stop at the nearby McDonalds. It has a nice children's area where both of my children can play and cushy chairs where I can sit down and knit. This is the only way I have been able to work on a shawl that I am making for a Christmas present.

Other times, I sneak in a few rows in other projects in between my chores, but only when my kids are playing and getting along in their room. Each time I start a row, I pray to the knitting gods that a fight won't erupt until after the row is done. It is only after the kids are in bed - 8:00 pm - not a minute later! - that I can get chunks of projects done.

Being Sunday, I have given myself permission to do nothing (well, okay, almost nothing) and surf through Ravelry, I found a circular shrug that I think I want to make. I like it because I can use any yarn at any gauge. It's super cute and perfect if you want something to wear on top of a tank top.

When am I going to have time to do this? I dunno. That's never stopped me from casting on before.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Knitter, a Beader, a Stitchmarker Maker

Recently, I've decided to try to make and sell stitchmarkers again, after a long hiatus from my beading. I've sold a few at Babetta's Yarn and Gifts in Fair Oaks, and I have just started selling them at Knitique in Elk Grove. I thought that I would post some of my designs, with hopes of more publicity. If you have any questions about them, please send me an email or post a comment. I do not have an Etsy store, and do not plan on starting one. Frankly, with homeschooling my daughter, keeping my son occupied, keeping my 2 dogs out of trouble, knitting, and housework, I don't have the time. Besides, selling them at local yarn stores gives me an excuse to get out of the house and fondle yarn that hasn't been sitting in my closet begging to be knit.

All of my markers are snagless and flexible (with the exception of a small few from when I first starting selling them). The sets include an accent. They are made with Swarovski crystals, sterling silver, silver plated, and glass beads, strung on platinum quality wire.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fair Isle Heart Motif for Tait

I figured out how to put the chart up:

For Tait, I am knitting the second to largest size, so I had to cast on 78 stitches, increasing to 80 after the ribbing. When I seam it, I will lose the 2 added stitches, which brought down the number of stitches to 78. The pink sides of the chart represent the selvedge stitches.

Hearts and Tait

I cast on for Tait, from Rowan Kids a few days ago. After I finished the rib for the back, I thought to add a fair isle pattern. I needed a motif that was 13 stitches wide; no restriction on the heighth. My laptop was not charged, so I decided to pull out my graph paper and design a fair isle chart myself. I put it onto an excel spreadsheet this morning. I think it turned out pretty well. As soon as I can figure out how, I will share the chart. For now, here is a picture of what I've knitted so far:

I will be making the top (sleeveless body with a hood). I had intended to make it for my daughter so she would be able to wear something blue and white for her school's spirit days. However, now that I am homeschooling her, I am just making it so she will have something to wear that will not be too warm for our fall days here in California.

I have to say that I am so glad that I learned how easy it is to seam. I guess I could have converted this top to knit it in the round; however, I still would have had to seam the shoulders. The way I had been seaming my knitted projects, I would have been too embarrassed to have my daughter wear her top. Yay!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To destash or not to destash

Sometimes I humor the idea of destashing some yarn. I pull out all of my yarn (it's really not that much, just a quarter closet full), I separate the bins, and decide where I am going to put the "destash pile".

First I start with my massive amount of sock yarn. I pull out the skeins that I definitely want to keep, put them back into the bin. Then I pull out the ones that I have ideas for, put them back into the bin. Then I pull out the ones that I am not sure of and put them aside for the destash pile.

I do the same for the rest of my yarn weights. These don't take as much time because I like to knit with heavier-than-sock weights. These are often tagged for sweaters and gifts.

I give my destash pile a once-over and pull out the balls/skeins that still speak to me...crazy colors - SOCKS for my daughter, too-similar color - SHAWL for a gift, too small yardage - DOLL CLOTHES for my niece, you get the idea.

I then take a final look at my destash pile and wonder if people will really pay $5 for even a lot for the yarn I first bought when I started knitting 3+ years ago...

And there you have it...the answer to my post title.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Blocked and ready to be seamed...

I finished knitting Max's sweater a few days ago. It has been washed and blocked. I've started seaming it. It is taking forever. Although I am glad that I learned how to seam (both for the learning experience and the fact that there are so much more patterns for seamed garments) I will probably always try to minimize doing so with the things that I knit.

Goomba Hat

As part of a gift, I made a Goomba Hat, using Fadecrazy's chart. Since I knit the hat in the round (I could not bring myself to knit it flat), I used duplicate stitch to add the face to the hat, with Plymouth Encore in brown and white, and Plymouth Encore Tweed (for the eyebrows). For the actual hat, I used the top-down hat technique from Cathy Carron's Hip Knit Hats. It's a cute hat and I hope that the recipient likes it!