31 October 2007

October's Unfinished Object

Last year at this time I had the clever idea that I should knit a Klein Bottle Hat for my nephew at Purdue (the nephew that was recipient of the Purdue moebius scarf).

And, lands-a-livin', Knitty even had a pattern! It was fate!

Then I came to my senses. What does a communication major want with a bunch of geeky topological knitting? (Also, I maybe got distracted by something more interesting that came along, and set the hat to one side and forgot about it until I was looking for that set of knitting needles the other day.)

Geriatric Cat is not impressed. It's taking up too much room on her towel (she sleeps on a towel for reasons I hope I don't need to explain given that my life seems to revolve around this particular subject and I'd like to spend at least 30 seconds thinking about something else other than what feline bodily fluids I need to go clean up). Sooooooo...


Someday I hope to find a UFO around here that I don't end up ripping up. Maybe next month's UFO Resurrection, which I think is lurking in my nightstand.

Tuesday Teatime

Happy Halloween!

Our teatime yesterday featured Halloween cookies from the grocery store, and apple cider. While thinking about Halloween poetry I remembered James Whitcomb Riley's Little Orphant Annie. Perfect!

My dad is a fan of Riley, and can recite Little Orphant Annie from memory. Having heard him recite it many times helped tremendously with being able to read it aloud -- I don't do well with dialect, and generally try to stay away from it in read alouds. But I had an internal sense of the rhythm of the poem, and even knew bits from memory myself.

I also read Riley's Old October and An Autumnal Tonic (the latter isn't in dialect; I chose it to show that the man could write in plain English, too). Then Kid1 requested The Bear, another piece my dad can recite from memory. Again, I don't think I could've done it justice with a cold reading had I not a memory of listening to my dad.

(And, yes, I called Dad later and told him about our teatime and his contributions.)

Then we got down to the serious business at hand -- Trick or Treat jokes. It's a St. Louis tradition for kids to tell jokes when they Trick-or-Treat (my theory: this may be a holdover from Martinmas celebrations, maybe from the German neighborhoods years ago).

Some we're considering:

What do you get when you cross Bambi and a ghost?


What does a monster call humans?

Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What do you call a fat jack-o-lantern?

A plumpkin.

30 October 2007

In With the In Crowd

Yes, I got my Ravelry invite. So now I can join about 40,000 of my closest friends in discussing knitting and crocheting, and generally sucking huge chunks of time out of my day on this new entertainment.

I'll admit, I wasn't going to bother with beta Ravelry. I didn't see the point. Okay, yeah, I knit and crochet. I've done both for years. And, honestly, it doesn't strike me as a big deal. Saying "I knit" is about like saying "I read" or "I give people Christmas presents' or "I drive".

(Also, saying "I knit" in order to impress y'all makes me think of saying "I pee on the floor" in order to impress someone, but that's a comparison that probably needs an explanation.

Years ago, when I was in high school, some younger cousins came to visit. The youngest of the bunch was about 2 or 3 years old. During dinner he decided he really really wanted to make an impression on this high school girl [me] at the table, so he came over next to my chair with an expression on his face that said, "I'm gonna knock your socks off", batted his eyelashes flirtatiously, and announced, "I pee on the floor" in a voice that let us all know that he knew exactly what a girl looks for in a guy.

I've been thinking about that incident a lot lately since Geriatric Cat has decided that standing in the vicinity of the litter box is good enough, and it's not her fault if she pees on the floor. Lord help me, I desperately want some Kitty Depends for this cat. But it's a step up from peeing on the bathroom rugs or peeing on our bed, so let us rejoice in the fact that she's sort of making an effort, even if it is a poor one.

Okay, end digression.)

Two things tipped me towards joining. NUMBER ONE: I'd really wanted to find something like sewing.patternreview.com for knitting patterns, and it occurred to me that this might be it, and NUMBER TWO: Lorraine joined, and even though I didn't know Lorraine and hadn't ever read her blog before, I was pretty sure I was missing out if she was in Ravelry and I wasn't (if someday it is revealed that Lorraine is the universal nexus of fiber trends, I, for one, won't be surprised since I intuited it about a month ago).

Okay, so I'm signed in, but I probably won't do anything with my new Ravelry status because I need to go mow the lawn, clean up the pumpkin seeds all over everything after our pumpkin-carving extravaganza, and mop the cat pee off the floor. Because, in addition to saying "I knit", I also can say "I mow", "I carve pumpkins" and "I clean up after the cat". Y'all know where to find me if you need me.

Another Road Trip

St. Louis has finally cooled down into autumn, and I'm dying to cast on for a sweater for myself. Ooooh, that would be perfect about now, wouldn't it? What with the hint of frost in the air and the leaves turning, wouldn't it be wonderful to be knitting something all wooly and cable-y for my own pleasure?

But my 2007 Parade of Unfinished Objects has inspired me to stay on task. So, when we packed up to go on a road trip, I took knitting to which I had already commited myself. (And while I'm feeling so virtuous about that, I also decided to tuck my prepositions in neatly, even though it made for a lumpy sentence just now.)

In other words, it was a very, very boring trip in regards to the knitting.

I worked on Counterpoint from Magknits -- mild-mannered black and white stripe scarf from one angle:

Clever illusion-knitted piano keyboard from another angle:

It's for Mrs. Piano-Teacher for Christmas. Mrs. Piano-Teacher knits. A lot. I'm not sure it she's ever seen illusion knitting, though, and I thought she'd get a kick out of this.

I also worked on The Socks Formerly Known As All-But-Kitchenered (Shaun's term in the comments, which has now stuck in my head as the name of the socks):

Mid-way through the heel flap of sock 2. We don't have dance class this week, so I'm unable to wave them in front of snarky dance-moms. Actually, it would be better to simply show up with them totally done. Except they don't fit me (they're a Christmas present), so I'd have to be casually carrying them or something.

Anyway, you may be wondering "why were you on a road trip?". (And if you weren't wondering that, you can stop reading now.)

This was the weekend that Kid2 made the pilgrimage to that most sacred site for middle-class caucasian 8-year-old girls. Yes, the fantastic, amazing, awe-inspiring Aunt E took her to American Girl Place in Chicago. To let you know what a rite of passage this is, last week Kid2 discovered that one of her good friends (also a middle-class caucasian 8-year-old girl) was going to be there at practically the same time, transported there by her grandparents. Expect much squealing when they see each other later this week and compare notes on the experience.

We drove to my parents' place in Indiana, and Aunt E picked up Kid2 for the trip to Chicago. This left us to hang out at the retirement center where Mom and Dad have an apartment. The retirement center is within reasonable driving distance from a place you can go horseback riding (not that any of the retirees go horseback riding on a regular basis, other than my parents, who consented to go along with us). It was a glorious fall day, and a great day to be out in the woods on horseback.

(Aside: it was also a great day to drag all of your trash into your back yard and set it on fire, judging from the number of people we saw doing that. Or maybe people in Indiana are trying to recreate the California fires. I don't know. But it was sort of weird how many people were out doing it last Friday.)

We also stopped by an apple orchard. MrV has a quest for unpasteurized apple cider every fall; it's getting harder and harder to find the stuff. The cider we found this year is amazingly good. Skiles Orchard, folks.

The retirement center also has a bowling alley. Four lanes, lots of shoes and bowling balls to choose from (including switching shoes and/or ball mid-game). Hand scoring, so you're not locked into bowling in a certain order or a certain number of frames. You'd be amazed how much a 12-year-old can bowl when given a chance to run down and do it for free whenever she wants. It's safe to say I bowled more this weekend than I have in the past 10-15 years. Also, I got my bowling groove on to the point where, yes, I actually bowled 2 strikes in a row in the final frame of the final game we bowled over the weekend allowing me to BEAT MRV.

MrV and my dad also made it to Purdue's homecoming. Kid1 worked on various Junior Girl Scout badges that involved hanging around large amounts of old people, although we weren't able to find any women that were Girl Scouts between 1912 and 1950 (we will continue quizzing the retirees about that when we return for another visit -- the odds are in our favor, given the age group we're hanging around with there).

Overall, other than the boring knitting, it was a fun trip. And I get to feel virtuous about the knitting. It's a winning combination.

24 October 2007


We have 2 huge boxes of costumes downstairs. Actually, they're those boxes the moving companies use to move your clothing from your closet -- the tall ones with a hanger rack. I cut them down some, and we hang up a lot of our costumes in them. Other costuming accoutrements (hats, gloves, tiaras) are stored elsewhere (okay, generally they're strewn all over the basement floor).

Our latest addition, finished just in time for The Big Day, the day we take our show door-to-door through the neighborhood:

Simplicity 0523/3626, in a size that doesn't appear anywhere on the pattern (not that I'm bitter that I had to resize 18 billion frickin' pattern pieces since they couldn't include a size 6 on their stupid pattern). It was hard to photograph due to the glare of all the shimmery fabric. Also hard to photograph without anyone in it, and the intended wearer is upstairs asleep. What you're looking at is a pair of I Dream of Jeanie pants with a matching top laying on them -- there, now does it make sense?

Yes, this is the reason I haven't been blogging or even cleaning the house or cooking decent meals the past few days -- I've been putting together fabric, overlay, contrast fabric, miles of trim, and boatloads of velcro.

For the record, the other child has very sensibly decided (currently**) to dress as something easy for Halloween: salmonella. This will involve wearing white, and carrying around her "little sister Sally" in a basket with some fake eggs. She bravely attempted to convince her sibling to wear a hospital gown so she could play a victim of salmonella, but the lure of all the glittery fabric has proven too strong for that sibling (plus there was Mommy growling under her breath "I spent hours making this damn costume, I expect to see you in it" in a threatening manner).

**This could change in an instant, of course.

18 October 2007

Reflecting on the past week

It's been a blur:

Homeschool class at zoo, 1.5 hours plus driving time.

Homeschool class at Science Center, 1.5 hours plus driving time.

Lead 15 Brownies in Plants Try-It field trip, 2 hours plus driving time, plus large chunks of time explaining where and when we were meeting. Plus get there early to Be Prepared (and also make sure I made it there without getting lost, which has sort of been a theme for living in St. Louis -- every time I make it straight to the correct place a cheer goes up in the car).

Conceive of and execute a plan to get a Junior Girl Scout to her field trip for Science in Everyday Life badge in a different location (about 45 minutes away from where the Brownies were).

(The above 2 activities involved doing things like having to make phone calls to people I barely knew. This is so far outside my comfort zone I felt like I needed a passport.)

Swimming lesson.

Piano lessons (had to be rescheduled to different time slot due to other stuff going on).

Dance lessons (ditto on the rescheduling).

Choir and youth group.

Take cat to vet. Pick up cat from vet. Figure out how to get antibiotics into cat. Note: if you've ever wondered what would happen if that abcess bursts on its own without having it drained by the vet, let me tell you, it stinks. Literally. Stinky pus is inside that abcess. And then you have to go to the vet anyway since you can't clean in properly without shaving, and the cat's fur is so thick and the cat so wiggly when you try to clip fur in that spot that he needs to be tranquilized. Plus he needs antibiotics. And the vet tries to say, "Well, he saved you the cost of having me drain it," but the vet doesn't realize that the cat decided to lay on your new, clean fabric after the abcess (full of stinky pus) burst.

Help child pack for her first camping trip. Take child to drop off location for the trip. (Actually, we haven't done that last bit yet. That happens this afternoon. I'm pretty sure I can get straight to the place without getting lost. I mean, we've driven by the place before, although we've always been on the highway, and it's on some side street. I'm assuming I can figure out which side street it's on. Heh.)

Overall, a good week for that Multum non Multa homeschooling style. I think we've managed some math and Latin most days.

What the Well-Dressed Scout Will Be Wearing to Sleep In at Camp

And the Camp Leaders spake unto the Junior Scouts, saying, "Thou shalt bring jammies with pants to camp. Also, thou shalt bring a stocking cap to sleep in, just in case the weather turns bitterly cold. For lo, we control much, but not the weather."

And the Junior Scout moaned and cried out, "Mommy, I have no jammies with pants."

And the Mommy replied, "Fear not, for we have that pattern you used in sewing classes last summer to make capris -- we'll just make the full length version. Also, I think a soft wool hat would keep your head warmer and more comfortable, so let's look at yarn."

Jammie pants from Butterick 3314, except this time we walloped off part of the torso, since when she made it over the summer it looked like those old-man pants that come up to a person's armpits.

"Gee, Gail, I don't recognize that fabric from that huge pile you just got ."

Ahem. Yes. Well, good for you memorizing my fabric stash. But I can now leave my house (via the new steps, even!) and go to the fabric store. And purchase more fabric. So. Moving along....

The hat is out of Cascade Pastaza Paints in color Forrest, and it is wonderfully soft. I knit it up on size 10.5 needles -- I think 10s would've been better, but I found the 10.5s, and am not sure whether or not I own 10s. Kid1 picked the color -- she wanted variegated green, and wanted a pink stripe (out of some WoolEase we had around) to jazz it up. I sort of like how the greens pooled in swirly stripes.

So I'm at dance class finishing up this hat, right? And this other mom asks, "What happened to the sock you were knitting? Did you finish it?"

"No. I still have to kitchener the toe [aside: all knitters know that kitchenering the toe is a tiny little thing, yet something you don't want to do while standing around waiting for your kids to come out of dance class]. Plus I was sort of sick of it. So I'm knitting this for [daughter for whom I should come up with clever blog-name]'s camping trip this coming weekend."

"Oh." Then, in That Voice, "So, you have just have one partly done sock." And walked away.

I laughed and called after her, "Hey, all it needs is to be kitchenered."

First of all, you don't use That Voice to diss a sock that only needs to be kitchenered -- it reveals that you have no idea what needs to be done to the sock to complete it.

Second of all, you don't use That Voice on the reigning Queen of That Voice. Give me a break. Your paltry efforts at That Voice are likely to earn you That Look from me.

And I let you know that That Voice didn't do its job by laughing and shrugging off your statement, which I now publish so more easily intimidated knitters will learn to roll their eyes and shrug off people like you. Also, I'm publishing it because everyone else says they sometimes get weird comments from folks about their knitting, and I always say, "Gee, no one ever says anything like that to me." So, this is either a first, or else I usually ignore comments like this as unworthy of my attention. Either way it works for me.

16 October 2007

RightStart Geometry

Woohoo -- the book is finished!

Of course, now we have all the lessons that haven't yet been put in the book. The website has downloads of several lessons. I haven't printed them out yet. But still, it's exciting.

As to why I haven't been giving much description of what's been going on with RightStart Geometry, well, it's because I've had less and less to do with it. Kid1 deals with it all pretty much on her own. I deal a little with the fallout, such as when she paused too long between lessons and apparently forgot how to do basic trig (much weeping and gnashing of teeth that week). And occasionally she would ask me a question....

Wow, did it ever reach the point where I couldn't answer questions, since I hadn't been following along. Yes, I can do trig, but I'm not really tip-of-the-tongue with it. I would stare blankly at whatever diagram she was showing me ("Mommy, I need to know this interior section of this pyramid so I can compare it to this cone" -- ick, I just remembered that I did dislike parts of math back in school, particularly anything to do with cones). And the answer sheets don't really go step by step through the logic of solving the problem. Or maybe they do, but not in enough detail for me -- I want them to explain it like Mr. Broman did years ago in high school trig, and the answer sheets are more like that TA in that Saturday morning math class freshman year at Purdue.

Also, one memorable occasion I used the phrase "well, you need to isolate x on one side", and, gees, you'd have thought I'd announced she needed to sacrifice her firstborn on a flaming pyre. "That's algebra! I don't know algebra!" Um, yes, you just did it in all of these problems up here without realizing it.

All of which is leading me to consider what to do next -- what program will we try once all of this is done. I'm factoring in her flair for drama about math concepts she doesn't instantly comprehend, as well as my dislike of cones. Where do we go from here?

15 October 2007

Forging Ahead Through October

The Concrete Guys have come and gone, taking their noise and mess (well, except for all the muddy bits where we need to put grass or mulch or something). They really were an exemplary work crew, arriving around 6am every day, beginning work before 7am and working steadily for the entire day. Once I glanced out the door and saw a guy with a sandwich in one hand sweeping off the step with the other hand, apparently not willing to stop for lunch.

Yes, this was a private company. They were fixing the mistakes of the crew who originally built the place many years ago. That original crew has moved to Ami's city, and now work for the public works department putting in streets and curbs in Ami's neighborhood. (Oh, I am so witty this morning. Did I mention that I've been up since 4:30? On purpose, even, with the alarm clock going off then and all. And guess what -- most of this week is going to be like that.) (By the way, I meant to link to one of Ami's posts about the concrete guys on her street, but Blogger disagrees with that concept. If you normally read Ami's blog you know what a fun bunch she had working over there this summer.)

The first day was extremely noisy and mind boggling. I spent it ordering fabric:

Sewzanne's was having a sale. That's 9 different cuts of fabric, most at least 2 yards. It arrived a few days later; I opened the box and had no memory of why I ordered most of it. It was sort of like getting a present from someone else, with the someone else being my alternate personality.

I also sewed. The Easy Pants/design #37 from Ottobre 4/2006, in size 170:

I didn't have any fabric for the pocket facing, and no good way to go get some what with the concrete equipment all over the place (not to mention the lack of steps out the door), so I used some funky Hello Kitty fabric purchased years ago. Kid1, the intended recipient liked that detail, since it doesn't show at all in normal wear. Other than that, she doesn't like the pants. But, aha, I do, and they fit me. Except that the drawstring is all wonky -- I centered it over the fake fly instead of over the front seam. So I need to take off the waistband and twitch it around a bit.

We did manage to get quite a bit of schooling done once the noisiest pounding was over. When you have a crew arriving before dawn every day you're inspired to get up and out of those jammies and right to work. Heck, Kid2 was finished with most of her work by 9am Wednesday, and asking if it was time for lunch yet.

But we plan to return to the abyss of homeschool slothdom this week. We'll also be running around 3 times as much as usual to make up for being stuck inside last week. Unfortunately, I'm not exaggerating. Sigh.

09 October 2007

Abandoning All Hope of Coherent Thought

A guy is running a large drill about 15 feet from me. He/They are breaking up our porch. It is loud. It makes the house shake.

(For the record, the geriatric cat is okay with this, as she has gone somewhat deaf. So, if you were wondering how this effects the cat, there you have it.)

Since I cannot string a line of thought together due to the uproar, blogging will be suspended. Possibly for several days, given that we will then have to catch up on our homeschooling and life in general.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure this is a good time to order fabric online. And maybe yarn. And books. Lots of little (or big) comforts to look forward to.

03 October 2007

The Perfect Outfit for Kit

If you're unfamiliar with the American Girl pantheon, Kit is the doll that represents the Depression Era. You know, when people made do with what they had, and didn't spend a bazillion bucks on doll accessories.

So, it seemed fitting to make an outfit for Kit by cutting up old clothes:

Actually, I had been a bit too efficient on getting rid of MrV's old plaid shirts, so I had to buy a bit of blue plaid from the fabric store for 50 cents (he still had a blue plaid shirt that would've been perfect, but he wouldn't let me near it with the scissors). The turtleneck is from a pique golf shirt. The pattern is once again from Joan Hind's Sew the Essential Wardrobe for 18-Inch Dolls. Once again I modified the pattern, particularly giving the turtleneck a back velcro closure since I think pulling a turtleneck over a doll's head is the pits.

By the way, this post should no be taken as meaning that anyone here actually owns a Kit doll. The outfit was made as a birthday present. The birthday girl will be travelling to American Girl Place with a dear aunt sometime soon to make The Big Purchase -- she already has a Welcome Home sign hanging in her room for the day Kit arrives.

Harvest Time

Did you know deer eat tomatoes?

I knew they eat coleus, even if you have them in a pot by the front door. And, of course, they eat hosta and daylilies.

But, apparently there's nothing quite like a juicy tomato on a hot summer night. Even if it's off of a plant in a pot on someone's patio. I think they might eat the blossoms, too.

The kids were thrilled to nab these two before the deer got them. And this is the total harvest for 2007.