Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

from the world of sick & ick

Last week we had an absolutely lovely play date with dear friends of ours who happened to be a wee bit under the weather.  It was positively delightful, a balm for this (sometimes feeling a little isolated) mommy and Clara was BEAMING because she loves these dear boys so much.  except, well, it turned out that the boys were a little more than a wee bit under the weather... and we got hit with a douzy. 

we have been to the doctor and to the emergency room with Clara and while she is feeling much much better, now Zoë has the cough and we are watching her closely.  So I haven't had much time to think about this space as I would like and I'm just coming up for air and hoping that I'm not getting the ick as well. 

I haven't forgotten about you dear readers!  I promise!  This is the first time in a few days this computer is being used for something besides playing Kiki and Totoro over and over and over to entertain our adorable toddler.  I have to say, that in the small world files, the on call doctor at the emergency room is married to a knitter and we recognized eachother from the shop.  Of course Clara was wearing her orange socks that I had knit her (Feverish as she was (105!) her feet were like ice.) and everyone admired them and it was one of the first things the amazing staff at Hasbro got her to talk about once her fever started to go down.

I was needing a bit of the normal and I was so inspired by SouleMama's inventory of her knitting basket, that I thought I would show you what I'm working on these days.  There are too many things, and like usual, some of them are experiments that will be frogged eventually, but I hope it's fun for you all to see my design process, and to see that things do take me longer than, say, 5 minutes to knit!  Now, this list is by no means an accurate depiction of all the projects I have in needles... it's just what I'm carrying around with me in my knitting tote.  Shall we begin?

This is something I've been working on for a few weeks.  Featherweight Cardigan from Hannah Fettig.   I'm totally in love with this pattern and the yarn: madelinetosh merino light.  It's gorgeous, and a bit more green than the photo shows.  The pattern is entirely, deliciously, mindless and perfect for moments where I just need my hands to move.  Of course, I totally screwed up my switch to the ribbing while watching Inception this weekend.  I knew it was a good movie while I was watching it, but to get me to screw up a K1, P1 ribbing, it must have been exceedingly good.  I'm almost finished with the ribbing.  It's a slow mover because of the gauge and my girth, but it's a a pleasure!  And it's for me!

This is another Little Pea, there has been a lot of interest in the pattern and I'm trying to work out some kinks in the sizing.  I realized a major gaff on my part (knitting to size, instead of adding ease, doh!) which means that all of my sizes are one size too small.  I was wondering why the 12 month size looked so good on Zoë... So I have to either rework, or just add a few more sizes.  I'm just wondering if this is going to be a good 12 month size or not, we shall see.  It's a pretty quick knit- I knit the above in one evening, but there are a lot of sizes and I tend not to notice them being all wonky until I put the sleeve stitches on holders.  It's knit with Hacho (big surprise, i do have *cough* a lot of that in my stash...) in a color that will hopefully look nice with the yarn I've picked out for the next size up.  I'm already imagining the photo shoot for this one!  We'll see if this gets frogged for a better size or not.

These are a little pair of socks for my big girl.  We went to the the store a little over a week ago to help Naomi with this ridiculous shipment of yarn.  Clara was such a huge help, and so very well behaved, that as a reward she got to pick a ball of yarn. Of course, girl after my own heart, she picked some Madelinetosh sock... in super saturated green.  When our doctor told us to bring things to keep us occupied for our trip to the ER (wise man) I grabbed this to wind up and work on.  It's lovely, just as the insane orange that she picked out for sister matching socks.  I didn't want to do a plain pattern so I wandered through my Knits & Purls Harmony Guide and found something I liked.  They are adorable, but possibly too large.  She'll grow, thank goodness.

Do gauge swatches count?  This is Berroco Flicker, a new yarn that is sick- sick I tell you.  Chainet construction, wool and a very tasteful strand of metallic running through?  Oh, yes, please.  I have two different ideas for this yarn.  But I'm not sure which to dive into first.  You'll have to wait and see.   It is light as air and so so so soft.

And now from the really deep freeze department, a Lizard Ridge that I've been working on for literally years.  I made all of these squares when we were deep into Kureyon at the shop so customers could see the different colors.  It was useful, but cumbersome and we've come up with a different system, so the squares all came home with me and have been taking up a huge amount of space on my wall of knitting projects. (wall?  yes, a wall.)  So when Clara was feverish and cold I thought immediately (in that irrational, my kid is sick kind of way) that I should finish that blanket and at least sew all of my worry and care into the blanket.  I got 9 squares together that night.  As you can see from the pile of remaining squares, there is still a bit of work to do.  But when a mama is that worried sometimes you can't actually knit.  Sewing pieces together is very mindless for me and good for those moments.  And, well, it's been cold here recently and it will be nice to have a wool blanket.

So that's what's in my bag right now.  There are some things I should be working on - josh's sweater?  yes.  I know.  I still just hate cotton.... but soon I'll work up enough guilt to start working on that again ;)  and oy, so many others.  But we'll just leave it there, okay?  No need to drag out my entire list of projects, right?  That would take quite a few posts. 

I hear my little one has gotten up from her nap so I must rescue her from the crib and get back to my mommy job.  Hopefully some cute pictures of the Zone with some finished items soon.  I will admit the snotty nose and sad looks have a particular adorable quality, but I don't think she's quite up for a photoshoot today. 

I hope this post finds you well! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

all of my beautiful snow!

I know, I know, I'm nearly the only one in the universe, but winter is my favorite season.  I'm a hermit by nature (you would never know!) and I love the snuggling, hunkering down that we do during the winter.  It sounds unbelievable, but I even love the darkness!  I will admit that I wish the sun rose a little earlier in the day, but the 4pm sunset doesn't bother me one bit.  Having babies, I think, has made me appreciate the other seasons a little bit more... but I still love winter best.

The past couple of days my corner of New England has been hit by the most unpleasant of winter precipitation: the "wintery mix"  It wouldn't be so bad but the rain is ruining all of our snow!  It's not enough to melt the feet of snow we've gotten since Christmas, but it's enough to make everything, well, gross.  Hopefully Friday's forecast will pan out and it will all be replaced by new snow.  I know I'm crossing my fingers!

So, to console myself about this wretched weather, I'm going to go back in time to some playtime in the snow just before the new year.  Clara is finally old enough to appreciate all that a major snowstorm can provide and it's great to have someone to play in the snow with.  I love how bright and magical the few days after a snowstorm are.  All the sunlight reflects off of the snow and the sky is so blue and clear!  She loves helping me shovel our walk. We don't have a tiny sized snow-shovel, so she uses a dustpan to shovel... fantastic!  And when we're done shovelling she loves playing Queen of Snow Mountain! 

My business partner grew up in Texas and never experienced snow as a child with all the possibilities for play it provided.  She only knows snow as an adult with all of the annoyance of removal and the horrible driving conditions.  I hope these few photos help remind you how much fun it can be, and if you were unlucky enough to never experience snow as a child yourself, to see how much fun it can be!  (trust me, get some snow pants and dive in, you won't regret it!)

Happy Winter! 

Monday, January 17, 2011

a tour of my home away from home

It's so funny to think that just a year ago Naomi and I decided that having two kids in the store just might be one too many and that perhaps since we were open 7 days a week it might be useful to have me work in the off time keeping track of orders, bills, payroll and whatnot.  Last January, I stopped working part-time in the store and began working part-time for the store.  What an enormous change! 

We (all three of us) went into the shop last friday to help Naomi with a particularly large order of Cascade yarns that had arrived. (When we say we recieved a ton of yarn we mean literally 2000 pounds!)  It was very nostalgic for me having my babes with me in the store.  When I think that I basically did all of my early parenting with Clara in that space... (and in the previous space just down the road) that Clara pulled herself up to a stand for the first time in the old Bella, all of those moments of her baby-hood are so deeply tied to those spaces.  It was our home away from home, a place that she knows as intimately as our own house.  It makes me a little sad that Zoë won't have that experience of being there daily, but logistically it is a challenge and we are sometimes not much more than comedic relief for Naomi when we do visit.  I do feel we all need to go there more often so she can feel as comfortable there as Clara does.  And I do miss the store and helping my ladies find what they need. 

You may not have been to the shop in a while (or ever, really, if you are coming to this blog from far away) and you may be interested to see what it looks like now.  Why don't you come in for a moment?

Some gorgeous Blue Heron Metallic Rayon that greets you at the door along with...

Some hand-made lavendar wands from Naomi's Sister.  We have a much diminished supply of these.  THis photo was taken about a month ago and many have sold.  We get them seasonally, as Naomi's Sister grows the lavender herself.

We had to put our register in the middle of the shop, due to some visibility and resulting *cough* shrinkage.  But we love having it there.  It freed up the back wall for something we've always needed - a place to put our leaflet patterns.  Now you can easily browse all of them!

We also have expanded the machine washable section to the north side of the store.  Can you believe that ALL of these yarns are machine washable?

I actually can't get the machine washable section all in one frame, it's just that large, you're missing on seeing another whole bay of yarn - the bulky machine washables.

Now the hand-wash yarns take up the south wall and the center island.

And a class in progress:

So much fun!  I didn't take pictures of the store room, because you aren't supposed to be back there anyway!  And if you knew how large Naomi's stash was, you would try to break in at any opportunity!

It's so lovely there, don't you just want to come visit sometime soon?  Maybe for class this Thursday?  More adorable pictures of the girls in a couple of days... I promise.  Hopefully one of a brand new tooth if we're lucky ;)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Little toes (now, not so cold!)

I had promised you some shots of Zoë's little socks in use.  I maintain that this is the best baby sock pattern ever. Naomi made some for Clara many moons ago and she wore them for over a year. She has tiny feet that decided not to grow so much until this year (3 shoe sizes in about as many months.... phew!)  but these are great.  

A trained eye may notice that I made two left socks, oops!  No time to rip out since her toes were really cold, right? 

These were made out of Hacho, from the Mirasol Collection.  It's one of my favorite yarns that we couldn't support at the store.  I have odd taste in yarn, apparently. But when we decided to close this yarn out I bought most of it to stockpile for just these reasons. It is super warm and durable and perfect for kids stuff that you don't mind handwashing.  She's felted these socks a bit already, and I really do need to make more of them.  I also have an idea for little matching baby legwarmers... the first one is on my needles, but not going very far.  I've started a project for me that has taken all of my attention.  Maybe one of these nights if Zoë gets to bed at a reasonable hour.  Knitting on dpns while the girls are playing around me always seems like I'm tempting fate.  Very Pokey!

Monday, January 3, 2011

return to reality

At least, almost.  Today is our first day back to the real world from vacation.  Sigh.  I knew it had to happen, but it's always so nice to have Josh at home that I try to pretend it will last forever.  We're all having a bit of a difficult time transitioning to our day to day (even with some big changes we've made to hopefully make our lives a little easier) so I'm going to spend the next couple of posts reliving our glory days from the holidays.  Let's try to stretch the 12 days of Christmas out a little more, okay?

I want to take a short step back in time.  This is the second year that Clara and I have made christmas cookies.  The first time we made them, it was literally the first time we had ever made cut-out cookies together and there was quite a learning curve.  She was just past her 2nd birthday, I was pregnant, we were in a different place altogether because we were still working in the shop almost every day.... oy.  It was fun, but also frustrating for both of us, we were just trying to jam too much into our schedules. 

I had decided that I wanted to start a collection of cookie cutters. My family LOVES a theme present, so for the holidays we were gifted quite a few from my aunt Ninny, who always seems to get THE perfect present.  I also went shopping for some more with my Mom.  We went up to Rooster Brother in Ellsworth, ME, a fantastic shop for cooks and picked up some extra weird ones and some for specific themes.  They have a great selection and we got lobsters, sailboats, tons of farm animals and a squirrel!  I haven't actually counted our collection, but I'm sure it's close to 200 cookie cutters.  Honestly, half the time it takes us to make cookies is in the selection process.  I still have more that I would like to find.  We have all of the farm animals, but no farm buildings... it would be awesome to have fences and barns, then we could make a whole edible farm playset!  But I digress....

Clara and I spent the next few months making cookies all the time.  We mostly made the alphabet, as we were trying to teach Clara her ABCs and she could eat whichever letters she could name.  She started calling any cut-out cookies "Letter cookies" because we spent so much time just making letters.  We have made dozens of batches of cut-out cookies since last year, so when it came time to make some to give away for the holidays, we were practically professional bakers!  We narrowed our selection down to ones that were wintery, but not christmas-y, and made DOZENS.

The only difference between these and our regular cookies is that we decorated these ones.  I only took photos of the decorating part... the cut-out part being such old hat by now.  I find frosting to be challenging when decorating, because it never quite seems to set up well and then the cookies get stuck together in the tins.  My favorite technique is to loosen up some frosting with water to make a wash for the cookies, I paint the wash onto all of the cookies and Clara uses sprinkles to decorate. We used a sparkly white frosting for the wash and so everything kind of shimmers a bit.  Very cool.

This time, we didn't get too frustrated, and we made just enough to feel like we had plenty, without getting bored. A double batch, which makes quite a few cookies (especially when 2/3rds of them are tiny snowmen...) 

This year we decided to up the ante a bit for our holiday gift tins.  In addition to the cookies, we made some toffee and some peppermint bark.  It's amazing that we were able to do so much, but Zoë does love a long nap!  The week before the holidays we spent one nap a day doing some baking and we ended up with way more than we needed.  First we baked the cookies, then the next day we made the peppermint bark, then the next day the toffee, then the next day we decorated the cookies and then on the weekend we put all the tins together.  It was lots of fun.  We have had some reports back on the treats and now we know who likes what the best... so next year oure recipients can expect a little more of their favorites in the tins.  It's a fun tradition that really gets Clara involved in the gift-giving.  I'm sure that next year we'll add more to the list of treats that we make.  It's so much fun to cook together, and I can't imagine it, but Zoë will be helping next year (is that even possible?) 

This year I was also able to use a cookie cutter that my mother gave me that belonged to my great-grandmother and namesake, which was especially wonderful for me.  These little things passed down mean so much to me.  The star with the wavy edges is hers.

Especially good times.  Our little blogging vacation is over and I have so much to share with you!  Lots of finished objects, some memories from our trip to maine for the holidays, and hopefully a tour of the shop so you can see some of the changes we've made (if you haven't visited in a while, things look pretty different!)  I hope you all had wonderful holidays!  Happy New Year!