Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Outside my window

Monarch butterfly

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

This morning while the boys were doing their schoolwork, I saw this butterfly flying around the azalea bushes outside the schoolroom window. I went outside with my camera to try to get his picture and he was pretty obliging. He flew from bush to bush but stayed still long enough for me to get his picture a few times.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Skinny Dipping

It was a beautiful day at the ball fields yesterday which was a good thing since I was there from 8:30 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening. It was a hot one but the sun played peek-a-boo with the clouds which helped it to feel not quite so hot. There was a nice breeze and very little bugs. All the boys had games and I was able to watch them all. I even managed to finish my Skinny Dipping socks (kitchenered toes and all) while there.

Skinny Dipping socks

Yarn: Skinny Dipping by All Things Heathered
Pattern: Summerfield by Lisa Parker at Wildhorse Farm Designs (Loopy Ewe Summer Sock Club pattern)
Needles: Size 1 US Knit Picks Circulars

Skinny Dipping close up

I promised you a skinny dipping story when the socks were finished.

A long, long time ago when I was much younger and thinner and had never birthed children, I had some friends who were in a band. Friends and I used to spend many an evening at local bars listening to the band and dancing. We were a tight knit group of friends - as only young single 20 somethings can be. One of our favorite bars was a tiny granite building called The Stone Church. We loved The Stone Church but it was small and there was no ventilation and, this being the 80's, the room would fill with smoke by the end of the evening. By closing time we were sweaty and stinky and not quite ready for the night to end. We'd often meet at a dam not far away and skinny dip all that sweat and smokey smell away.

One night, I noticed a tall, blond man with a friend of mine. He was cute and jumped right in to dance and drink with the rest of us. Toward the end of the evening I invited him to join us to go skinny dipping. He was game and I admired his spunk for being willing to join a group of strangers and get nekkid. And that folks is how I came to see my husband naked on the very first day I met him.
Nightswimming deserves a quiet night
I'm not sure all these people understand
It's not like years ago,
The fear of getting caught,
Of recklessness and water
They cannot see me naked
These things, they go away,
Replaced by everyday

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September's coming soon
I'm pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Keeping busy

Even with all the thinking going on, there has been plenty of time for other pursuits. I have been knitting and I have the photo to prove it.

Stole beginning

These twelve rows, which mark the first completed round (of 39), of my copper stole took me an unbelievable amount of time yesterday. While the Bryspun needles feel great to work with and don't seem to bother my Carpal Tunnel, they are almost impossible to do a k2 or p2 together with. I may have to switch to different needles if I'm to complete this stole. I may also have to give up on my perfectionist tendencies. This will be a slow mover and I promise not to keep you updated inch by inch but I'll share my progress over the summer.

The Skinny Dipping socks are coming along nicely. I probably could have finished them yesterday if I hadn't worked so long on that 1 inch of lace knitting. I've got 1.5 repeats of the pattern left on the foot and then the toe. I should be done very soon. I promise an interesting skinny dipping story to accompany my final photo of the socks. G rating of course.

As the weather was still cool enough for baking yesterday I whipped up a batch of peanut butter cookies. I had been having a craving for over a week and took the time yesterday to satisfy it. Mmmmmm! I don't see much baking in my immediate future as Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer in NH. I don't use my oven in the summer. Baking will have to wait until apple pie season.

Peanut butter cookies

There has also been lots and lots of baseball. Oldest boy had a double header on Tuesday and has another one today. We'll be at the fields a long time. The season for the school team will be over very soon and then things will settle down quite a bit. Oldest boy has enjoyed being on the school team but, as is true in every baseball season, much of it has been "character building". Babe Ruth baseball, on the other hand, has been a joy. If I could hug his coach after every game, I would. I get the feeling he wouldn't take too kindly to it.

The Red Sox have been a blast to watch so far this season (well, except for the past few days but I'm choosing to ignore that). What a team!

I've also been doing some reading. I have a very bad memory and I don't remember anything I read. I've been re-reading the Harry Potter books in preparation for the last book coming out in July. I finished #4 last night and started #5. I've got a good pace set to finish before the last book is released.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Just thinking

Alex surmised that I might be going on a yarn diet. I'll admit that I've been giving it some thought. Actually, I've been doing altogether too much thinking. We've got a big family decision to make and it's had my brain working over time. I've also been thinking about our budget and consumerism. All this thinking has led to some good old fashioned guilt.

I'm not a yarn collector. I'm a knitter. I buy yarn with the sole purpose of knitting with it. Okay, I admit that I love to fondle and smell it, too (I'm a BIG yarn smeller) but mostly I buy it to knit with. I don't knit large projects so I mostly purchase small amounts of yarn for socks or mittens or scarves. I only buy yarn that I love. Sadly, my knitting does not keep up with my purchasing and over time I've amassed quite a nice stash of yarn. Oh, I know it's nothing compared to others but I'm not comparing myself to someone else. I just know that when I look at my stash it makes me feel guilty and a little sad.

Some beautiful yarns are sitting there just waiting to be knit up. I WANT to knit them. Still, I get caught up in The Loopy Ewe updates because she has such wonderful yarn and it's often difficult to find the yarns when I do want them. Also, some retail therapy often makes me feel good - at least temporarily. There's nothing like the anticipation of waiting for a package to arrive and then opening the package to finally see the yarn for the first time.

Brooklyn Tweed captured a little of what I'm talking about in his blog post today. This is what he had to say: As knitters I think we're constantly in a state of transience between our sense of inspiration (impulse) and our sense of duty. We swing back and forth, sometimes violently, between casting on for the next project which is sure to be absolutely perfect... ahem.. and that ne'er empty basket (or closetfull?) of half-finished projects whose days of divine inspiration have long since passed.

I don't have the unfinished projects calling me. Instead I have the untouched yarn calling my name. Transience between impulse and duty. I like that.

So, Alex, I'm not going on a yarn diet. As I said below, I've never been on a diet. I'm too much of a rebel to follow a diet. As soon as I say the D word I'll start lusting after yarn. Instead, I'm calling myself to duty. I have some projects on the needles now that need to be finished. I WILL finish the toe up socks for my son. I'm almost done the Skinny Dipping socks (and they are beauties) and I can't wait to finish my Apple Pie A La Mode second sock. Then I'm moving on to Project Spectrum yarns for June and July. I've got some wonderful reds and metallics that I pulled out to photograph today. I even cast on with the Zephyr to start my stole.
Red yarn Metallic yarn

I'm not going on a diet but summer's almost here and it's time to be more healthy. I'll keep an eye on things. I may treat myself occasionally but I don't foresee any big splurges. I've got plenty on my plate as it is.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I've been tagged

Cactusneedles tagged me for this meme that is all over blogville right now.
Here's the deal: Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog.

Seven random facts about me:
1. I have loved baseball and the Boston Red Sox my whole life. When I was a little girl I send Yaz a poem for his birthday and he sent me back an autograph. I sure wish I had that autograph now.

2. I have never been on a diet or followed a budget. I think it's because I have problems with authority - even my own.

3. I am not a great housekeeper but my bed is made every morning and the laundry is always done. The whole house could fall down around me but those two things would be done.

4. I think that pickiness over food is a personality flaw. I know that children may be picky (mine certainly are) but I believe that adults should get over their pickiness. There are very few foods that I will not eat. Of course, I have plenty of other personality flaws.

5. I despise paperwork so much that I am fined every single year for doing my grandmother's guardianship paperwork late. I have also been known to lose bills and other important mail because I just don't want to deal with them. Camp forms, car registrations, medical forms, scout paperwork, bills - they all pile up until someone forces me to deal with them.

6. I received my graduate degree in Counseling and worked as a mental health counselor until I decided to stay home with my children. Although I loved my job and thought I was a good counselor, I can't see myself returning to the field because there is too much insurance paperwork and red tape to deal with. Working with actual people takes up less time than handling their paperwork.

7. If I could choose any other life I wouldn't do so. I'm pretty darn happy with how my life is unfolding. I feel very, very blessed to be with my husband and to be able to stay home to raise our boys. I have been given so much.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A penny saved


I just love a bargain. Seriously. I'm a die hard bargain hunter. An ideal day for me would start nice and early on the yard sale trail. The yard sale season here is short and much of it overlaps with baseball so I only get so spend a handful of days a year scouring the neighborhoods of local towns looking for good bargains. Of course there's plenty of junk and just plain yucky stuff but amidst all the carp are some wonderful finds. Last year I bought 40 Knitter's magazines for $4.00 at one yard sale. At another I bought 10 pairs of Levi's jeans for $10.00. I bought boxes of The Teaching Company lectures for $5.00. Most of these items were resold on ebay but many were used by my own family or given to friends.

I enjoy shopping using The Grocery Game and no one can beat this periphery Target shopper. I even taught my local Target store manager a thing or two about how to find bargains in his own store. I walked out of CVS today with two full bags of health and beauty items for $7.00.

Some of the best items are FREE. Oh what a word!! I often get free health and beauty items (you'd never believe how much toothpaste we have) and I'm able to give large amounts to my local food pantry. Pictured above are two free magazines that I recently received in the mail. I'm sure I got them based on my subscription to Cook's Illustrated. They're both very nice magazines and I've enjoyed reading them but I won't subscribe or buy them on the stands. They've been good free entertainment.

I know sometimes people sigh at me when they're behind me in line at the store. I'm always very organized with my sale, clearance and coupon items but I can't help it if the staff are inexperienced or poorly trained and don't know how to handle these items. I always remain calm and patient and walk away knowing that I've used my family's money wisely.

I've been thinking about where our money goes and how I spend it. I've got a post coming up on my thoughts about buying yarn and my stash. I've been doing some serious thinking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Secret Pal and Swaps thoughts

I've been doing some thinking about swaps, secret pals and the like. Trying to clarify how I feel about things. When I returned to knitting last fall there was no that I'd be blogging. I've had a couple of homeschooling blogs and I've always found them a great way to connect with other people who have a similar lifestyle. I was and still am surprised by the interesting knitting blogging community. For me, blogging makes knitting much more social and I really enjoy that. I don't have any real life knitting friends or knitting groups. Other than blogville, I don't know any knitters at all.

One of the first things I discovered when I started this blog was swaps. I was amazed at the diversity and participated in my first two swaps - Knitters Tea Swap and Chocolate Swap. I received wonderful packages from both of my partners and was thrilled with all my goodies. I tried yarn I'd never tried before and discovered my now favorite tea. I put a lot of thought into both of the packages I sent and neither of my partners sent more than a cursory thank you. I haven't stayed in touch with either. I don't know if they didn't like their packages or if this is just how they are. It made me wonder.

I took a break from swapping over the winter and just recently signed up for Secret Pal 10. I've sent a couple of packages to my Pal and she takes happy photos and seems genuinely pleased with the items I've carefully chosen. My Pal has sent me an amazing package. I loved every single bit of it. I received yarns that I had never seen before and I know I'll use them. I got delightful little treats that cheered me up. I know my Pal is going through some rough times right now so she doesn't keep in touch much but her package had SO much thought put into it that I don't really mind.

Now, I'm participating in Knitters Tea Swap again. My swap partner this time is not a secret and we've already been in touch. She sounds enthusiastic and I know it will be a good swap.

Still I wonder. I've seen the buttons that say I Am My Own Secret Pal. Surely I could wander through tea shops, candy shops, boutiques and yarn stores and treat myself once in awhile. I'd be guaranteed to get exactly what I want. I know I could do this but I also know I never would. I like getting packages in the mail. I like the suspense and the surprise. I like meeting new people.

What are your thoughts about swaps and secret pals? I'm curious.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Beach chair

I spent some time out on the back deck in my new beach chair this morning. It was just warm enough to be able to knit and enjoy the sun. I couldn't help but notice how well my Loopy sock club yarn matches my new chair.

Beach chair 2

Pretty cool, huh? I'm enjoying the pattern. Although it's not intuitive to me and I can't memorize it, the chart is super simple to follow and it's easy to figure out where you are when you put the sock down. I'm just about to the heel of the first sock.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

NH Sheep and Wool

When Mr. Baseball asked me what I'd like for Mother's Day, I didn't hesitate for a second. I wanted to be able to attend NH Sheep and Wool. Now Mr. Baseball never cares when I want or need to go out but managing baseball all alone with all three boys on a Saturday is a challenge. Mr. Baseball was up for the challenge so I headed off for a day of fibery fun.

NH Sheep and Wool is much, much smaller than many of the other state's festivals but it's just the right size for me. There aren't as many "famous" vendors, either, but that suits me fine, too. Instead there were many lovely local vendors - many of whom I'd never seen before. I brought just enough cash with me so I wouldn't feel guilty and vowed not to put a penny on the credit card. I'm just amazed at what I bought with my money.

I took lots of pictures. Please remember you can always click on the photos to make them larger. First up are the animals. What's a Sheep and Wool festival without animals?

pocahontas dreadlock sheep alpaca angora bunny

Next are my fibery and not so fibery purchases. I didn't take a picture of the buffalo burger I ate for lunch but it was delicious.

alpaca sock yarn non fibery stuff

At the top is 8 ounces of sportweight alpaca in a beautiful Fawn color. Would you believe I paid less than $20 for this? I imagine I can get a shawl and a scarf or two from this much alpaca. Next is the sock yarn. I got some dye your own (which could go to a lucky swap partner), lots of wool (I promise you wouldn't believe the price), and some hand plied wool/camel blend in an apricot color. Finally, on the bottom, some notecards, some nose balm (for my oldest), some felting foam (for that little penguin kit I bought), and a beautiful fleecy angel. Ahhh! It made me feel full.

It was a beautiful day and I am so grateful to have been able to spend it at the festival. I walked around all day with a big smile just enjoying the freedom of being alone surrounded by knitters and fiber enthusiasts. What a perfect Mother's Day present!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A big decision

Red Delicious sock

A decision had to be made. Last night, I finished my first Red Delicious sock. It should probably be called my Apple Pie A La Mode Sock as I used Apple Laine's Apple Pie sock yarn in Red Delicious with my plain vanilla sock recipe. The yarn is almost as good as apple pie, too. The wool/mohair/silk/nylon mix makes for a very strong, very sturdy, very soft, very cushy sock. I'm glad I stuck to plain vanilla for this yarn because I love how the colors appear with no pooling or flashing or striping. Perfect. Though it's probably going to be too warm to wear them much before apple picking season I know I am going to LOVE these socks.

Here's the problem. I have four size 1 Knit Picks circulars. Two of them are being used for the Claudia sock I'm making for my son. These are destined to be shorty socks for his size 12 feet and I've got the foot done but I'm so bad at doing short row heels that they've sat for over a month. I need to get out my Lucy Neatby DVD and just follow her directions but I haven't had the time or patience to do so. So one pair of needles is tied up in this unfinished sock languishing at the bottom of my knitting bag.
Claudia sock

The prudent thing to do - the thing I would normally do - would be to immediately cast on for the second Apple Pie A La Mode sock. I'm not a big fan of the single sock thang and I don't normally suffer from SSS before I always cast on for the second sock right away. The problem is that my Loopy Sock Club yarn has been calling to me. It will make wonderful summer socks with the bamboo content and bright blues, greens and yellows. I could wear these socks NOW. What to do? I slept on the decision last night and woke up bright and early this morning and decided.

Skinny Dipping Beginning

I couldn't help myself. The fall socks can wait. Summer is right around the corner.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Loopy Sock Club

Loopy Sock Club May

I've waited almost 24 hours to post hoping that most Loopy sock club members will have received their packages by now. I don't know how she does it but Sheri has the fastest shipping. I've been waiting for this first installment of the Loopy Sock Club for months. Sheri told us it would ship on Monday and I just knew it would be here on Wednesday. Yesterday, as I was leaving for my four mile walk, I spied a package hanging from the mail box. I KNEW what it was. You should have seen me running and skipping (yes, skipping) to the mail box. I sat down immediately and opened the package. Squee!! Everything was wonderful! Well, I did have a little moment of panic when I saw the envelope of lemonade Kool-Aid and thought I'd have to dye my own yarn.

I walked those four miles with a light heart (though it was 90 degrees) because I knew what awaited me when I returned. I couldn't wait to check everything out more closely. I took it to the back yard to be photographed. Sheri always pays attention to detail. In addition to the sock yarn and very nice pattern (yes, I fully intend to use the pattern), there were chocolate kisses, Kool-Aid, some sheep soap, and, best of all, an exclusive Loopy Ewe Sock Club pouch.

The yarn is by All Things Heather in a colorway named "Skinny Dipping". It's a superwash merino/bamboo/nylon blend. Sounds perfect for summer socks.
Skinny Dipping

And because Sheri likes to see yarn (well, really socks but that would take awhile) in trees, I took a photo of it would into a cake.

Skinny Dipping in a tree

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I took a stroll around the yard this morning to see what was in bloom. I really like this photo of the fully opened flower over the flower still to bloom. I'm sure I could make all sort of great analogies but, really, I just like the photo. There aren't many flowers blooming in my yard yet. We have a wooded property that provides lots of shade. All the rain and the natural shade have slowed down the flowers. They'll be out soon enough.

With all the baseball craziness going on around here, I've decided to take Saturday off for Mother's Day. The schedule works out so that the wonderful Mr. Baseball can take all three boys to their games. Me? I'm going to NH Sheep and Wool. The weather is supposed to be cooperative (there's a long tradition of drenching rains) and I really need a day off. I'll spend my day surrounded by animals and wool. Sounds good to me. Is anyone else going?

The Red Sox's Josh Beckett picked up his 7th straight win last night. If he can get 8 straight wins he'll tie some Red Sox greats like Babe Ruth. If he can manage 9 he'd be in a class by himself. Right now he's hot.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Still freezing

Apple Laine Delicious

The yarn is Apple Laine's Red Delicious. Doesn't it look yummy? It's got a wacky content of 50% wool, 20% mohair, 20% silk and 10% nylon. It feels very, very soft but substantial at the same time and it is a dream to knit with. I'm making a pair of plain vanilla socks and there is no striping or pooling or flashing. The colors are great. I'm loving this yarn.

Did you know that you can freeze and get a sunburn at the same time? It was a long week of baseball in which I froze my butt off most of the time. Yesterday we were at the field for over 5 hours. I served over an hour in the concession stand - missing a stand up double by the oldest while I was in there. The rest of the time I spent walking back and forth between the fields to watch all three boys play. I didn't take off my fleece all day because it was too cold. When I got home last night I learned that I had a sunburn on my face. Sheesh! You'd think if you're freezing you wouldn't get enough sun for a sunburn.

The weather is supposed to get warm this week and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm tired of being cold.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Laundry day

laundry day
There's not as much knitting as I'd like going on. Busy, busy schedules. Middle son came home from Florida yesterday. He had a great time but the reentry into the family has been a little bit rocky. The boys are so sweet individually but put them together and it's unpredictable.

Oldest son has all baseball all the time. He's had one game for each team this week and both teams won tough fought games. His thumb is fine - thank you for your concern. The juggling of two teams with two coaches with different thoughts about how to play baseball is challenging but we're hanging in there.

I spent the morning catching up - doing laundry, getting schoolwork done, giving haircuts. I love to be able to hang the socks outside again to dry in the sun. They smell so good.

The Red Sox won again last night and Josh Beckett took his 6th straight win. Very impressive.

The post is very choppy today because that's how my brain feels. I'm going to try to get some knitting done at baseball today (from 3-8) if it's not too cold to hold the needles.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mexicali Peppers

Mexicali Peppers - April

Yarn: Mexicali Peppers by Perchance to Knit
Pattern: Gentleman's Fancy Stockings by Nancy Bush in Knitting Vintage Socks
Needles: Size 1 US Knit Picks circs
Modifications: Cast on the number of stitches she had decreased down to

Mexicali Peppers

I finished these socks yesterday morning in time to photograph them and wear them to book group. I just squeaked in under the wire to finish my April socks for SAM 3. I haven't missed a single month in SAM 2 or 3 yet and I didn't want April to be my first.

I almost lost the faith folks. I was sure I didn't have enough yarn to finish the second sock. You know how it is once that center pull ball falls in on itself and starts looking all floppy. Once I abandoned the Whitby I took another look at my second Mexicali Peppers. I wound the yarn into a ball and it started to look better. I decided to just knit and see what happened. As it turned out I had more than enough yarn - I've still got a small ball left (should have taken a photo of that, too).

This yarn is wonderful. If you have a chance to check out Perchance to Knit you really should. All her yarns come with a handmade Swarvoski crystal stitch marker. The yarn has good yardage and is very soft and nicely spun. I can't wait to knit with it again. I now have another Nancy Bush pattern under my belt. My goal this year is to knit at least Nancy Bush sock from each of her books that I own.

Baseball season is really in full swing now. Although the weather did not look promising yesterday with thundershowers all afternoon and pop up showers throughout the evening, we were able to get in all our baseball. The oldest had school practice from 3:30 to 5:00. That practice ran late by 15 minutes which created a small problem as he needed to be at his Babe Ruth game in another town by 5:15. I rushed him to his Babe Ruth game only to find that he was the starting catcher (13 year olds don't normally catch in Babe Ruth) AND that his school coach had "borrowed" his catcher's mitt and not put it back in his bag. He was able to use the team mitt and caught a beautiful, hard played, slug fest game. He got hurt in the last inning - took a pitch to the hand - and we'll see how he feels when he wakes up this morning. In the end, they won 11 - 10. It was an exciting game.

The Red Sox are looking great. They won 2 out of 3 games with the Yankees this weekend and 5 out of 6 in the last week. Woohoo!! It's early in the season but wins against the Yankees should count twice because they're that much more satisfying.