Saturday, April 28, 2007

I'm speechless

Warning - Photo Heavy Post
I've been stalking the mail carrier ever since my SP 10 Pal told me a package was on the way. I was so disappointed when I checked the box after lunch and there was nothing - not even a bill. I soothed my disappointment by working on the Mexicali Peppers sock (I'm on the stockinette portion of the toe now). While I was sitting knitting, the mail carrier pulled up the driveway. He only does that when he has a package to deliver so I practically ran out there. Ahhh ... a package from my SP!!

The package SP10

Here's what it looked like when I first opened it. I promise you it holds unimaginable treasures. My SP wrote a little note and said it was hard to choose things for someone else. I don't believe it for a second. She is amazing! You really won't believe what she sent me. Please click the photos for bigger pictures.
Mountain Colors Bearfoot Koigu Quiviut All the purpley yumminess

First up - the yarn. Mountain Colors Bearfoot in an unlabeled color that is dark purples, greens, orange, blue and black. Koigu KPPM all in purples. Muskox Qiviut - all the way from Alaska - in purples and blacks. What a haul of yarn! I'll admit that my self imposed yarn diet had left me feeling a bit deprived. Now I feel like I have so much abundance I could cry. Seriously. I love Bearfoot - it's one of my all time favorite, desert island kind of yarns. I have never knit with Koigu. I've been tempted but always put it back. It's just so lovely. The Qiviut speaks for itself. I can't imagine that I would have ever bought some for myself. It is so soft and amazing. Now I need to find the perfect project for it. I'm a big yarn sniffer and all the yarn smells so good. Of course, the lavender sprigs in the package probably helped.

My SP didn't send all that yarn without some inspiration. She also sent me this beautiful book to help me out. I haven't really checked it out yet but it's filled with color photos of wonderful looking projects and has lots of reading too. I think I'll bring it to bed with me later.

New book

As if all this wasn't enough, my SP 10 included both papery goodness and eating yummies. I love good paper products and my SP sent me some truly lovely notecards and a Bling Book. I really need a new notebook for my yarn bag and this will do the trick quite nicely. I also got an organic dark chocolate bar and some toffees. Mmmmm.
Paper stuff Yummy Eating

Phew! I'm exhausted and overwhelmed. Thank you SP. You are truly the best!!

Friday, April 27, 2007

They're getting so big

Lucy April
I haven't posted a picture of Lucy in a long time. Here she is relaxing in the bathroom window - one of her favorite spots. She's recovering nicely from her surgery earlier this week. She's getting bigger - almost big enough to go outside with the other cats. We just have to make sure she's big enough not to get carried away by a hawk or an owl.

I got a phone call from my middle son at Disney World last night. He'd had a wonderful day and just watched the parade. He's not a big communicator on the phone - it's hard to get him to say much more than "Yup" but he went on and on about the parade and the rides he had been on and the pool at the hotel. According to my mother, my son was most impressed by the fact that their hotel room had a bathroom! Clearly he is not a world traveler. I am amazed that this 9 year old son of mine flew on an airplane by himself to go over a thousand miles away to stay with his grandmother. There were times I wondered if he'd ever even be able to leave us to live on his own as an adult. He's getting so big.

Lastly, I picked up the Mexicali Peppers sock again. I decided to just give it a go and see how far I could get before I ran out of yarn. Funny thing is that now I'm starting to feel optimistic. I've got 4 repeats on the leg done - only 3 more until the toe - and I've got a nice little ball of yarn still. Now I'm actually excited to see if I can finish them with the yarn I have so I'm cruising along. It's getting pretty big. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baseball Knitter

Whenever I speak at homeschooling conferences I remind new homeschooling parents that it's important to remember the word "home" in homeschooling. Presented with many wonderful opportunities for their children, many parents believe they should sign their children up for everything so they don't miss any experience or opportunity. Often by February these parents and their children are burned out. They are tired and, truth be told, often behind in their schoolwork (behind being a relative term for every child or family). This is because in order to homeschool well it is important to be home some of the time.

We live in the country. We love our home, neighborhood and town. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. The only real downside is that we are at least 25 minutes from anything - and often it's more like 45 minutes. I've had a busy week so far. On Monday I had to get a new driver's license as my old on had expired on my birthday. This meant driving 45 minutes each way to the DMV. On Tuesday I brought our kitten to be fixed - driving 45 minutes each way twice. Yesterday I drove my middle son to the airport so he could fly to Florida to visit my mother - another 45 minute drive each way plus the requisite waiting at the airport.

Today I do not have to be anywhere. I can't tell you how free that makes me feel. I listened to NPR on the computer this morning while I did a little knitting. I was able to walk this morning for the first time all week. I have laundry going and the kitchen floor washed. I plan to clean both the family and living rooms. Dinner is already planned and will be simple and delicious. I feel like I can breathe.

Next week our baseball schedule kicks into full gear. My oldest son has practice or a game every day of the month except Sundays (which could happen in case of rain). He often has practice or games for different teams in different towns on the same day. My younger boys will have baseball three times a week but Mr. Baseball is their coach which makes the transportation easy. Although we normally eat dinner together every single night at the dining room table this will not be possible for the next month. We'll have to do a lot of eating on the run and my oldest will have to eat a lot of sandwiches in the car as he changes his uniform and we drive from one town to another. We will all survive but by the end of baseball in June we'll be very ready for it to be over.

I need to keep myself healthy during this time. This means daily walks, plenty of sleep and eating well. It will take discipline but it can be done.

I'm hoping that I can continue to knit during baseball. I got lots of knitting done last year during practices. It's somewhat weather dependent - it's hard to knit when it's too hot or rainy or when the black flies are swarming. At least I can knit at night when everyone's home and showered. It's always easy to knit during Red Sox games (woohoo, what a game last night!). Knitting helps me feel centered. It calms and relaxes me. It makes me feel that I accomplished something. This is why I'm the Baseball Knitter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It's a good thing

New Binding close up
I brought my copy of Sensational Knitted Socks to my local Staples and had the binding cut off and this spiral binding put on. Little did I know they were having a "binding" sale at the time so the whole procedure cost me 49 cents.

Now my copy of SKS lays flat when opened. It makes it so much easier to read and use. It's a good thing.
New binding laying flat

And in case you're interested, the Red Sox swept the Yankees in a three game match. The games were exciting to watch - especially the third game when the Red Sox hit 4 home runs in a row! I've never seen anything like that before.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


She looks like a lovely Whitby, no?
Whitby 1
Truly I enjoyed every moment of knitting her. The Louet Gems is a dream to work with and the pattern was memorizable right from the start. I even enjoyed knitting with my old Pony Pearls that haven't been used in years.
You'd think that I'd be happy and celebrating the completion of the first sock and eager to start the second. The problem is the sock doesn't fit. Oh I know it looks like it fits but it fits like a latex glove. It's just too darn tight. My gauge is a smidge off from Nancy Bush's but that's not unusual for me. I typically knit to a much tighter gauge than she and my socks still always fit. My gauge was only off by 1/2 a stitch. I got 7 spi whereas she got 6.5. Normally my gauge is more than a whole stitch tighter than hers.
Whitby closeup
What to do?
I can't wear the sock as is. I'd lose feeling and blood flow to my feet. I could go up a needle size but I'm not sure that would be enough and truthfully I like the fabric at 7 spi. I could add stitches between the diamonds and the cables and add a couple more ribs to the back - bring the stitch count from 51 to 59 or so (I haven't done the math yet). For now, it's just resting. I didn't cut the yarn or kitchener the toe or rip it out yet.
I started working on my second Mexicali Peppers sock again. That's disheartening also because I know I won't have enough yarn to finish. I guess I've got to knit until I run out before I plan a solution - see how much yarn I'll need. I'm not opposed to contrasting toes but I'm not sure what the Perchance to Knit base yarn is and I'd like to match it. Maybe my friend, Sheri, at The Loopy Ewe could help me figure that out.
April may be my first sockless month in a long time.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I've got sunshine

It's a beautiful day!
I'd almost forgotten what the sun looked like or felt like.
My SP10 hostess, Shelby, asked us to flash our stash. With the sun shining, it seemed a good time to take the stash out to play. I don't have my stash organized in a fancy way. It lives in Rubbermaid containers in a corner of my closet.

Here's the smallest container. It has my most favorite yarns that I plan to use in the immediate future. Sweet Georgia, Apple Laine, Mountain Colors Bearfoot, Cherry Tree Hill, J. Knits, Louet Gems, and Brooklyn Handspun. There's even one lone ball of Rowan to make a Shedir.
Stash 1

This picture shows the bottom layer of the larger container. I don't have any immediate plans for any of this yarn. I should finish the last 5 inches of the Irish Hiking Scarf and I intend to make a red scarf with the Patons. The rest of it just sort of lingers there with no plan or intent. Two lonely skeins, one each of Lorna's Laces Sport and a Handpainted Brown Sheep, look particularly sad. I don't know what to do with these yarns.

Stash 2

The final picture is the top layer of the larger container. These are all lovely yarns with a plan but no timetable. Enough Lorna's Laces for 3 pairs of socks, some Cascade 220 to make a Christmas stocking (pattern still undertermined), yarn to make a There Be Pirates Hat, my felting penguin kit, some beautiful Furryarns, and the second ball of Claudia's to go with my son's toe up socks that are languishing at the bottom of my knitting bag.

Stash 3

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The power of water

Flood waterfall
This is the scene in my neighbor's yard. A waterfall of water running through their yard and onto the road below. Normally, we have culverts in front of the houses which handle the rainfall and divert it to a common source that runs under the road and forms a small stream on the other side. The culverts couldn't handle this amount of rain and backed up.

This is what the awesome power of water can do.
Flood road
See how there is no longer any shoulder to the road? If you were to stand or drive on the very edge of that pavement it would crumble beneath you because the dirt that is supposed to be below it has been eroded away. There are many gulleys like this all along my road.

It is still raining/snowing/sleeting today. We did not see even a glimmer of the sun all day. I keep checking the weather forecast and they claim we'll see sun and have temperatures in the 60s by this weekend. I'll believe it when I see it.

Meanwhile, it's been good knitting weather. The Whitby I started yesterday is 5 inches long. I wish it were on circs so I could try it on easily but I'm kind of enjoying using double points again. Whitby is a super easy pattern and knits up quickly with the sportweight yarn. I may end up with a finished pair of socks for April after all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Counting my blessing

I am counting my blessings today. We are in the midst of a terrible Nor'easter here. Generally this means many inches of snow - and we did get a bunch of snow yesterday - but the temperatures are too warm to support snow so we're getting rain. Lots and lots of rain. We've gotten about 5.5 inches in my small town according to the local news stations. All the major roads have been washed out. We were called by the Chief of Police this morning who told us our road was washing out and there was too much water at the bottom of our hill to leave the neighborhood. Schools were canceled and Mr. Baseball stayed home from work.

The weather is depressing and a little scary but I'm counting my blessings. I live on top of a hill so our house is not subject to flooding (just some water in the basement around the bulkhead door). We are all home safe together and we have both power and heat. I am so very, very grateful for power and heat. We planned for the storm yesterday and have everything we need right here. We don't plan to leave our house until tomorrow. The boys are excited to have Dad home. He was able to help everyone through their schoolwork this morning and has had time to play with everyone too. We've had some rousing games of dominoes and have promised to play Clue later.

I decided to wind a hank of yarn and cast on for a new sock. I love my Mexicali Peppers socks but it's become very apparent that I won't have enough yarn to finish the second sock. I haven't decided what I'll do when I run out of yarn but I'm open to suggestions. I'm kind of sad about the situation because I really do like the socks so much. I'll get back to them another time. To cheer myself up I've cast on with some Louet Gems in a colorway called Robin. It's a very nice orangey color. I've been wanting to knit Whitby for quite awhile and I think this is the perfect yarn for it. Long time readers may be surprised to see those Pony Pearls in the picture. I'm a devoted two circs knitter but I have yet to find acceptable 2.75 circs. This yarn is a light sportweight. I didn't want to use my 3.0 Knit Picks circs nor did I want to use my 2.5 Knit Picks circs so I pulled out the Ponies. So far, so good.

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's here

Downy Woodpecker at the feeder this morning

Thank you to all of you who sent good thoughts or prayers or who kept their fingers crossed all day yesterday. I drove up to the school yesterday morning, through the snow, to pick up the notification letter. While at the school I ran into the coach who told me to come back at the end of the day. So I waited until the very end of the day and drove back to the school through much snowier roads only to run into the coach again. He told me something had come up and he hadn't gotten the letters out. Ugh!

Finally, this morning I called the school and found out that Adam's letter was waiting in the front office. I went to pick it up without him as he didn't want to leave the couch. He asked me not to read the letter until he read it first but when I was handed the letter it was just a folded over piece of paper - no envelope or tape or staple- and the front desk wanted to be sure they were giving me the right thing so they unfolded the letter. The only word I saw was Congratulations!

He made the team. I'm so happy for him. It takes a lot of guts to show up to try out for a school team when you don't attend the school. I know this will be a good experience for him. It's a lot of work and commitment for our family. He's not already at the school, after all, so I need to drive him there every day for practice and then return to drive him to another town for his Babe Ruth practice. He'll be at baseball from 3:30 to 8:00 many nights a week and the other two boys have their own practices (thankfully, my husband is their coach). Now if the weather would only look or act like baseball season we'd be all set.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Just drumming my fingers

Fingerprint animals

Here's a sample of the fingerprint animals my boys have been making this week. This collection was done by my 7 year old son. Aren't they cute?

I'm up early today distracting myself by reading blogs and knitting. I nudged Mr. Baseball out of bed early too and suggested he go to work so he could come home early. Then the miraculous thing is that I got out of bed myself.

It's nerves keeping me awake. Good old fashioned anxiety. There are two things running through my mind this morning (well, there are more than two things in my mind but two are at the fore front). Both of them are completely out of my control and I don't really believe in worrying but they're making me nervous.

The first thing is that we're expecting another snow storm today. *deep, deep sigh* We sometimes get snow in April in New England but we don't usually get big snow followed by days and days of cold that prevent the snow from melting. We don't usually get snow at the end of the second week of April. I'm done with the snow for this year. It's starting to piss me off. Furthermore, it's really messing with our family schedule. With three boys playing baseball and involved in Scouts, we have a busy calendar at all times. When things start getting moved around and rescheduled the calendar gets impossible. It's not snowing here yet but according to the forecast it should start soon.

To understand the second thing causing me anxiety you must be a parent. Really. This week my 13 year old son tried out for the school baseball team. This is the first time he's ever "tried out" for a team. He's had to show off his skills before to make teams but it's always been a situation where every boy would make some team, it was just a matter of which. This time only some of the boys will make the team and the rest will not. Period. I so want him to make the team because I know he'd love it but also because I don't want him to suffer the disappointment.

What makes the situation even more difficult is that we homeschool. They've never had a homeschooled kid on the team before but the coach didn't bat an eyelash when my son showed up. The coach seems like a very fair minded kind of guy and everyone in town tells me what a great guy he is. He will hand out notes today to every boy who tried out. The note will tell them whether or not they made the team. My son's note will be left in the front office for me to pick up. I'll bring it home for him to read. Alone. Without any of his buddies around to congratulate him or soften the blow. I'll have to be the one to do that. Please let me be the one congratulating him. Please.

Monday, April 09, 2007

First Mexicali Peppers sock

Mexicali Peppers Fancy Sock
The first Mexicali Peppers sock is done!
I used the Gentleman's Fancy Sock pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks. For some reason it cracks me up that this is a Gentleman's Fancy Sock. I doubt that Nancy Bush imagined these socks in these colors. And yet, I love the yarn and pattern together. I followed most of the pattern. The socks are sized for a man and I don't have man sized legs so I started the legs with the number she had decreased down to. I also left out the purl stitch in the middle of the heel. I don't have a scale at home and I'm very nervous I won't have enough yarn to make the second sock. I cast on for the second sock right away and I'm hoping for the best. I didn't graft the toes of the first sock just in case I have to rip the toe back.

These socks will be my April entry for Socktopia for the Sunshine on My Shoulders theme. You can't imagine how much I miss the sunshine. Spring is coming very, very slowly to my part of the country. We still have 6 inches of snow on the ground. Baseball practices have had to be canceled and tryouts for the school team will have to take place in the parking lot. More snow is predicted for later in the week. I've had enough. Really.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Birthday presents

birthday present
Mr. Baseball worked half a day yesterday - after spending 1.5 hours snowblowing his way out of our driveway - and then came home to spend the afternoon with me. I convinced him to go shopping with me. We decided to pool our money to buy a tv for the bedroom. We may be one of the last couples alive not to have tv in the bedroom but I believe it's bad for the sex life so I've avoided it like the plague. The thing is, though, that we don't air condition our house in the summer. We only air condition the bedrooms at night. I don't mind the heat during the day but by night time I've had enough and usually retire to the bedroom to soak up some ac. In the past we've moved the tv out of the spare bedroom in to our room for the summer but that tv is on its last legs so I made the decision to buy us a new one. We found one we liked but it's on backorder so it'll take awhile. That's fine. We won't be needing ac for awhile - especially since there's still snow on the ground.

I also decided to buy myself something with my birthday money from the inlaws. Nova encouraged me to buy something special - something I wouldn't ordinarily buy - for my birthday. I decided that I'd like to knit a small shawl. I went to a wonderful LYS and told the owner what I wanted. I want a small rectangular shawl, something lacy but not too intricate with no stitches on the side that need to be picked up later. I came home with a pattern from the LYS, new needles (which I hope help with the Carpal Tunnel), two skeins of Zephyr in a copper color and a big bottle of Eucalan that the owner threw in as a birthday present.

I also bought the second Lucy Neatby socks DVD. I've repeatedly asked one of you to come by to help me with my short row heels but none of you have showed up. Now I can have Lucy right here with me. I haven't looked at the DVD indepth yet but I checked it out briefly last night and it's going to be perfect. Perhaps I could even loan it to a friend or two when I'm done with it :-) I'm happy with my presents.

I've almost got the first Mexicali Peppers sock done. I hope to post pictures this weekend. It sure looks like Spring.

The Red Sox were kind enough to win on my birthday. That always makes me happy.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Me - 1983

This is my high school graduation picture that I recently found while cleaning out my father's house. I must admit that I like this picture of myself. I look so young. It's hard to remember being 18 - it was a long time ago. The feathered hair makes me laugh because I remember how hard I had to work to get my hair to cooperate. I'd spend lots of time in the morning blow drying it to look just like this and then I'd hair spray the death out of it so it wouldn't move. Note the wool sweater. It was something like 95 degrees the day this photo was taken but I had already picked out what I wanted to wear for my senior photo and I wouldn't let a little thing like the weather change my mind.

I just found out that plans are underway for my 25th high school reunion next year. I'm not in touch with anyone from high school but I look forward to attending. I loved high school - mostly. I was listening to the Meat Loaf cd that I took from my father's house. I thought it was funny to find it among his Eric Clapton and Beatle cds and I remember how much my mother and all my friends' parents didn't want us listening to this album. As I blared the music while cleaning the house this morning I realized why(a post on that later). Anyway, somehow it helped me to remember exactly how I felt as a teenager. Scary!

Anyway, I'm quite glad to be 42. It's just hard to believe how long ago 18 was.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


This is what it looks like outside my window this morning. And it's predicted that by this time tomorrow we'll have 4 to 6 inches more. It's making me grumpy. I love the snow and I think it's silly to complain about the weather but ... come on, it's April. I am so ready for green grass and crocuses and tree buds. I'm done with snow until December.

The doctor appointments went well yesterday - even if we were there for over 2 hours. All the boys are strong and healthy. The oldest, just 13 for one day, is now 5'7"! He's grown 8 inches in the last two years and has gained 42 pounds. He's eating us out of house and home. If you've never raised a teenage boy you can't imagine the amount of food he can consume. In a few years, they'll all be teenagers and we'll be in the poor house. The doctor wouldn't predict how tall the oldest will get but it's going to be well over 6 feet.

I forgot my knitting at home which was just as well because I was kept quite busy trying to juggle all three boys through the doctor's office procedures and making sure the boys behaved in the waiting room while I was in the exam room with each boy chatting with the doctor. The doctor didn't hassle me even the teeniest bit about my unvaccinated boys and I was so grateful. I didn't have the energy to fight with him.

Mr. Baseball took the boys home so I could do a little shopping. I stopped in to a LYS and couldn't find a single thing to buy. Their stock was skimpy and I'm rather picky so I left without a single thing (though I did find another copy of Knitting Marvelous Mittens). I guess I need to do my birthday shopping online. I'm just not sure what I want. I'd like something that I haven't tried before. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Birthday week

adam ski lift

I don't tend to get very sentimental about things. I'm just not that sort of person. Yesterday was my oldest son's 13th birthday. We have our very first teenager in the house. The day just really made it official. We've seen the dramatic changes during the last year - first he got smelly, then he got tall, his voice changed, his feet grew even more. Sometimes it's hard to see the little boy left in him at all.

I watched Nova celebrate Little Sir's first birthday and I remember how we felt when our first born turned one. I've looked through the very thick photo album. I'm trying to remember our second and third son's on their first birthday but the truth of the matter is I can look at photos and remember pieces of their lives but they just don't stand out like that first child. Life just goes by too fast and it's hard to remember small moments. The boys start to blend together until Mr. Baseball and I struggle to remember which boy did what when.

Today I'll bring all three boys to the doctor for their physicals. They'll get weighed and measured and looked over. Mostly this is done so they can get physical forms filled out for camps and sports. We know they're healthy and we feel very, very blessed to have such healthy children. Still, it's always amazing to see how very much they've grown since the last time they were officially measured and weighed (unlike the marks on the laundry room wall where we measure their growth).

It's a birthday week here at the Baseball household. My son turned 13, I'll be 42, and my Nana turns 81 - each three days apart. It's snowing outside my window. We're so ready for SPRING. We all want to be outside in the sunshine but it's snowing. It reminds me of the birthday parties that were canceled for me and for my son because of snow. It shouldn't snow in April. Please send us some sun.

For those who care about such things, the Red Sox lost their opening game yesterday. To Kansas City of all teams. Ugh! It's a long season and I think we're in for a bumpy ride.