Moving Trumps Knitting

I can finally reveal why I’ve been absent for the last month: we’re buying a new house and moving! I didn’t want to say anything too early in case something fell through, but we’ve had an inspection, the offer has been signed, so I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve spent the last three weeks going through the house and donating/selling/trashing so much stuff, and now I’m packing. Packing, packing and more packing. It’s going quickly; I’ve got the craft room all packed up, but don’t worry, I left out two WIPs in case I needed emergency knitting. The kids are on their own and the girl is doing well. The boy…well, his room was pretty much a pigsty so he’ll probably need some help soon. The husband is doing some fix-it-up stuff around the house so I’m doing all the packing. Except for all his woodworking tools and stuff. He’s on his own for that.

We’re moving about 20 minutes north of where we are, but it’s getting the kids into an amazing school district with advanced classes and bigger, better programs than they’ve had. That’s the reason we’re moving, really. About a month ago, at the end of the school year, we learned that the school district we’re in is changing the gifted program a bit, making the one gifted class an elective and making all kids take a mainstream reading class. Well, my kids were reading at a 12th-grade level by sixth grade, so that class won’t do much for them. The only advanced class they offer in middle school is math, and no advanced English until 10th grade. That just didn’t sit right with me. A few days after we spoke with someone at the school district, we went to a party with a teacher friend who lives in a nearby town, and she told us their district offers THREE gifted classes (math, science, and English) in middle school. I was amazed. I knew our district had some drawbacks, but I hadn’t realized most of the other nearby districts were offering more. By the next day, I was idly browsing through houses for sale, just pipe-dreaming, I thought. But when I mentioned it to my husband, he said he’d been thinking the same thing for a while. Well. That was all we needed, and we started looking in earnest. We stumbled across this house and fell in love with it, and that part was really easy.

It’s really hard to leave, though, because I was born in this town, lived here all my life except for college, and I love it. My family is all here. I wanted to have faith that this city, and this school district, would get better. I wanted to believe in it.

But I also really want to do better for my kids. I took the girl to meet the new band director and see the facilities, and she was so excited she was practically in tears. It’s just such a big change to go from an older school with less funding to a newer one that can afford a huge band room, one that prides itself on the band enough to put a glass case with trophies and awards in the hallway. Her old band director is trying really hard, and we love him. He’s fantastic. But he’s trying to rebuild a band program that’s suffered the last several years, and that’s a hard, slow process. Band is my daughter’s passion, her gift, her future, so if I can do anything to get her into a strong program, I’ll do it.

And I’m excited about the change. I think I needed something different. We really love the house. It’s big but needs some work. But it has hardwood floors, pocket doors, a finished attic with a full bathroom (the girl is SO excited about that) and a nice big backyard for the puppies. My new craft room is bigger and has three big windows. The house is a 5-minute walk to school for the boy, and he’s so excited to not have to ride the bus anymore. So yeah, we’ll be farther away from my family, but it’s not too far. It’s a short, easy drive. I just might have to try harder to schedule time with them. And that’s totally worth it. Now, I have to go pack some more, but here are some pics of the house.

Dining room

Dining room

Living room

Living room

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Sitting room

Sitting room

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Craft room

Craft room

My Weekend Adventure

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Eleven days! That’s how long it’s been since I posted anything, and it feels like longer. The worst part is that I haven’t even been knitting in that time, or crocheting either! I know, I know. It’s a bad thing. I need to fix it. But you know, it’s summer, and I decided it was a good time to clean out the basement. We’ve lived here for 16 years, the kids have been sticking old toys down there for almost that long, and it’s just getting uncomfortably full. For the last 10 days, I’ve been busy going through boxes and getting rid of stuff left and right. It feels good but it’s hard work too! That’s why I was so glad to take a break this weekend.

See, I have this friend, Rory. I met her on Facebook through a mutual friend, and I discovered her jewelry page first, Kind Spirit Jewelry. We started chatting a bit, I had her make me a special necklace in memory of my dad, and the friendship just grew from there. She’s truly a kindred spirit for me: our circumstances are the same in many ways (SAHM of older kids, creative people, part-time caretakers for moms, lost our dads too soon), we see situations much the same way, we finish each other’s sentences, she’s just…a special person. Kind and loving and supportive and encouraging. I love her.

But. I live in western Missouri and she lives in Ohio. We’re 13 hours apart. That’s not fun. Texting and messaging is great, but not the same as face to face. A couple of months ago, she said she was thinking of coming to visit me. After squealing a bit, I realized it could be easier on her if I met her halfway, plus I’d get the benefit of a little getaway. Halfway was the Chicago area, but neither of us are big city girls, so we found a Hampton Inn in Ottawa, IL. Not much to recommend it, but we just needed a room to house us while we talked.

Of course no road trip is complete without a yarn store, so I did some searching and decided to stop in Milan, IL at the Naked Sheep Yarn Barn. And guess what?? When I got there, I found out the entire store was 50% off!! How cool is that? I was fast and within 15 minutes I had paid and was on my way with these goodies. IMG_2663I got two skeins of Berroco Peruvia wool, two skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Worsted, and one marvelous skein of Scrumptious superwash (hello, Hitchhiker #2!) I was quite delighted.

Anyway, I made it to Ottawa and met up with Rory and it was so so good. It just felt like we were already old friends. There was no awkwardness even though we’d never met before. 2+ years of conversations means you get to know someone pretty well. We got along just as well in person as we did online. We talked, drank a bit, walked around the little downtown, ate too much, laughed a lot, slept too little. It was heavenly. I let the stress of all the stuff at home melt away and just enjoyed the calm, easy friendship. I even got to introduce her to margaritas! (Can you believe she’s never had one before? I couldn’t. But now she knows the joy that is a margarita on the rocks with lots of salt.) She made me a bracelet while we were there, working away while we chatted, and it’s perfect. Iridescent rainbow sparkly beads with a lot of purple, and a heart “friend” charm. IMG_2664Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time, and after only 24 hours together we had to say goodbye and drive our separate ways. I think this was only the first of many meetings. As Rick says in Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” IMG_2660

The Hitchhiker is DONE!

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IMG_2382_2Now I know why everybody has made one: it’s FABULOUS. The pattern is so simple, but the end result is just stunning. It’s absolutely perfect for variegated yarns, but it would look equally gorgeous in a solid too. I loved knitting this, didn’t get bored or tired of the endless garter stitch. It was perfect TV knitting, and even though Rafa lost (so sad!) I was happy because I finished this!IMG_2380_2 IMG_2381The photos aren’t great, sorry. It’s raining and very wet outside, but someday I’ll get better pictures. I guess I need to paint my craft room so the walls are a better backdrop color. I wanted purple, but maybe I should consider white. Or maybe a very pale gray? That could be cool. Anyway. Love my Hitchhiker. Already perusing my stash to figure out which yarn to use for my next one.

Last night I decided I needed a super-fast instant gratification project, and I wanted to use my new Marblez straight needles. I chose this Leafy Washcloth pattern and it was done within an hour. I wasn’t crazy about it at first. IMG_2383But then I got it wet and stretched and tugged and flattened, and voila, it became a leaf!IMG_2384Mine’s not as dense as the photo, so I think I’ll use smaller needles for the next one. And as much as I love knitted washcloths and dishcloths, there will definitely be a next one. This is a fun, unusual pattern.

Our new sod is enjoying the rain, I think, but the puppies are not. They did get a walk yesterday but Grace still woke up with plenty of energy for mischief. IMG_2376_2
I’ll be going out today to buy a cheap rug for her, and she will be sad because she’s a spoiled little princess who thinks she needs a cushion to sleep on. Well, too bad for her! I’m not giving her anything else that can be torn open and have its innards removed.

Today is the women’s semifinals of the French Open and I think I will work on my black and white chevron scarf. It’s becoming the neverending project! How do the rest of you find the motivation to work on those projects that seem to take forever?

Plodding Along with my Hitchhiker

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I have been quiet for the last several days, mostly because I have little to share. I’m still working on my Hitchhiker while I watch the French Open and it’s growing. IMG_2365I’ve got the pattern memorized by now so it’s going faster, and I anticipate much progress being made today when I watch Nadal and Djokovic battle it out.

On a more exciting note, the rain finally stopped long enough for us to get a bit of sod down in the backyard! IMG_2367I say “us” when really it was the husband. He did good work. There wasn’t much sod available; it’s been too wet to harvest or cut or whatever they do. This is a good start, though, and now the goal is to keep the puppies off long enough to let it take root. IMG_2368They’re not crazy about the fence, and both of them have jumped it a couple of times, but they don’t go out unsupervised anymore so we’re able to limit the exposure. Yesterday I took them out for two walks to replace their normal backyard romping, and the plus is that today they are VERY sleepy!

Now it’s time for me to Hitchhike, and with any luck I’ll get to show off a finished project soon!

My First Hitchhiker

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Well, I broke my own rules. Instead of working only on current WIPs, I started a new project yesterday. I couldn’t help it. I’m going to a party tonight and I need a new simple travel project. (Yes, this is how you party when you’re old. You get together and eat, play games, and knit. I’m okay with it.) I also had a craving for garter stitch. The Hitchhiker shawl was near the top of my library and I had my new Frolicking Feet yarn handy, and before I knew what had happened, I’d cast on. It’s marvelous! IMG_2357I love that nifty sawtooth edge there, and the garter stitch is so squishy and dense with the size 4 needles I’m using, and wow those colors! This is my new favorite project and I’m sure it’ll be finished before I get back to those other, older WIPs.

But sadly, Hitchhiker is not a good travel project for me, at least not a good party project. You have to keep track of which row you’re on, and I’m not good at that when I’m distracted. So instead I’ll cast on for AndreSue’s KitKat Hat with some brown Malabrigo Worsted and that’ll be my happy mindless knitting for the evening.

And also sadly, I had another needle mishap. I have the worst luck with needles lately! Especially this set of Knitter’s Pride Trendz acrylic needles. I already have one with a broken tip, now I have one that came apart. Apparently you need to be very careful when you tighten these. IMG_2358I love the colors of these needles but they’re definitely not as durable as others I have. At least this one I can glue back together.

Oh, and big news in our house: the girl got her learner’s permit! IMG_2350Now I have to let her drive my car, eek! She’s been out once in my car and once in the husband’s truck, and actually she’s doing well. We’ll just stick to parking lots for a while, I think.

Two More WIPs Finished

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I’ve been on a roll lately! In the last couple of days I’ve completed two more WIPs, bringing me down to only three still on the needles. One of the new FOs was my Mother’s Day project, the Chocolate Cherries shawlette with the Baah wool. IMG_2344It hasn’t been blocked yet, so the yarnovers aren’t as open as they will be. I’m also hoping I can block it a bit longer, because I wanted to be able to wear it like this: IMG_2342I absolutely loved knitting with this yarn. The colors are so gorgeous, and the yarn is perfect, soft without being limp. It has great stitch definition. I have another skein of this, and I’m looking forward to finding the right project for it. My Ravelry project page for it is here, or you can go directly to the Find a Penny pattern page.

My other FO is another Oh, Helen! mesh scarf. This one I made in a silvery-gray Berroco Weekend. It’s a worsted, not DK, so I cast on fewer stitches and used size 9 needles. I rather like this one better than the first, pink one. It doesn’t roll quite as much so you see the pattern better. I made this so I’d have something versatile and lightweight to wear when I do craft shows so I can model my wares! IMG_2345I haven’t been knitting as much the last few days, though, because I’ve had another project going. For the first time in my adult life, the first time in the almost 18 years I’ve been married, I have an actual bed with a headboard and footboard! We’ve always just had the metal frame that comes with the mattress. We waited at first because of money, then the husband wanted to make them. I think he would still like to, but he’s got a lot of things going on, and it probably won’t happen for a while. Then a friend of mine mentioned she wanted to sell her bedroom set with a bed, dresser and nightstand. It just happened to be oak and the Mission style that I love and that matches the nightstands the husband made several years ago. She was asking a fair price and it just seemed like too good a deal to pass up.

The downside was that it meant quite a bit of manual labor, to move them home then clean out the bedroom and set up the new furniture. I took apart the old bed and set up the new one ALL BY MYSELF (okay, the boy helped a little bit) but I needed the help of the husband and brother to move heavy dressers. Last night it was all set up and I could appreciate my new grown-up bedroom!IMG_2347 IMG_2348The dresser has a matching mirror, but the husband was too tired to attach it last night. Maybe tonight. Anyway, I’m delighted with it.

And last but not least, here’s a recent puppy photo. Remember the new dog bed Grace tore up? The one I mended and sprayed with the bitter apple spray? Yeah. Here it is. IMG_2328I give up. I mean it, I really and truly give up. No more new dog beds. At least now I can look at this and chuckle. This was Monday, and nothing’s been destroyed since then. Fingers crossed we can make that trend last a while!

The Secret Bag is Unveiled

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I have finally finished my sister’s project bag, and now that she’s seen it, I can show it to all of you! Voila…IMG_4240It measures 12″ across, 9″ tall and 4″ deep. IMG_4241Nice big button with tab closure.IMG_4256I love how the fabric I found continues the blue and brown theme.IMG_4253This might be my favorite bag ever. The pattern is called Retro Knitting Bag and the main visual element is the butterfly stitch. It was wonderful to knit, new and a bit challenging, but not so difficult to be frustrating. Once I got the hang of the stitch and the pattern, it was smooth sailing. I made a few modifications: cast on fewer stitches since I was using a heaver-weight yarn, made it 9″ tall instead of 10, and added the button closure. The pattern also said to sew the sides together, but I didn’t like that idea. I wanted my sister to be able to open it up wide and see inside easily. I used Berroco Weekend, an acrylic/cotton blend that should be durable. I already have plans to make one for myself!IMG_4249

Meet My New Baby

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That’s what I’m calling it anyway, since it took nine months to make. This is the first project I’ve made with the silk yarn the husband brought home from his trip to India. Remember that marvelous pile of handspun, handpainted yarns I blogged about last summer? I started this cowl back then and for some reason I found it slow and boring and set it aside for nine months. Then Saturday I finished the chair socks (all 32 of them, with 4 tails each) and yesterday I finished the sister’s bag. (I KNOW!! I’M EXCITED TOO! I’m giving it to her tonight so I’ll show you tomorrow.) I’ve known for a while that my next priority would be WIPs. I don’t like having so many lingering projects. Aside from a cardigan that I don’t know if I’ll ever pick up again, this was my oldest WIP.

Once I picked it up, I had no idea why I set it aside. Well, that may not be completely true. The pattern called for size 9 16″ needles. At the time, I didn’t have my 16″ interchangeable circs, so the needle tips were full length, making them closer to 18″ than 16″ and making the knitting awkward. I immediately switched to the shorter tips and the needles flew. The yarn is glorious, as soft as you can imagine, with beautiful rainbow colors. It didn’t split or snag or knot; it flowed smoothly through my fingers and over the needles. It took three episodes of Gilmore Girls and two episodes of Supernatural and I was done! (Aside: have any of you watched both those shows? It’s strange seeing Dean from GG as Dean’s brother on Supernatural. Plus Supernatural is extremely freaky and weird and strange. I was not watching it, the girl was. She’s got strange taste.)

Anyway. Cowl is done. As soft as it is, the silk is a bit limp and floppy, so it lays strangely when I put it on. I might try pinning it close to the neck with a shawl pin or brooch. Still, it’s gorgeous. And when I see it I think of the husband, so that pleases me too. IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322Here are the details: the free pattern is Malabrigo Neck Thingie and I made no modifications. The yarn is Duke Silk, 100% silk worsted weight from SilkIndian.

I am now down to only four WIPs, not including that cardigan. That feels good! Next up is finishing my delicious Chocolate Cherries shawlette. I’m really enjoying this phase of not thinking of knitting as a business. I’m not missing the craft shows or the pressure of making things for them. Instead I’m just making what I want to make, letting the yarns guide me, and it feels so much better. I don’t know if I’ll even want to make Christmas presents this year! Okay, okay, it’s not even June yet. I’ll keep an open mind. But I’m going to keep knitting for pleasure for as long as possible! If I don’t do many craft shows, though, what do I do with stuff I make that I won’t use? What do the rest of you do with all your knitted or crocheted goods?

The sun really did come out tomorrow!

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Figuratively, anyway. We’re still stuck in a long stretch of gray, rainy days. Thanks to those who cheered me on after my rough day! Yes, after my (very) early start yesterday, things got much better. I had a lovely long lunch with two great friends. Funny how something like that can improve your outlook so quickly. I came home and got out the chewed up dog bed to further inspect the damage. Here’s what I saw. IMG_2309That’s all there was, the rest of the bed was fine. This was doable, especially since it didn’t have to look nice. I trimmed the rough edge of the zipper and re-threaded it so I could zip as much closed as possible. Then I just sewed it all closed, making sure to sew around the zipper a bit to keep it closed. I won’t be able to open it for washing, but at least the bed will last a while longer. It’s not pretty but it worked.IMG_2310_2Once that was done, I sprayed it all with the bitter apple no-chew spray and set it aside to dry. Then I moved on to the other bed, the one that had been soiled. It needed a second run through the washer but came out nice and clean. By the time bedtime rolled around, the pups had two good beds again!

But wait, it gets better! I got to sleep until 6:40 this morning AND nothing was chewed up overnight! *CHEERING* Yeah, I got this. These puppies aren’t gonna break me!

Oy, What a Day I Had

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Yesterday was not a good day. Yesterday was pretty close to a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. It was the last day of school so it was going to be my last day of peace and quiet, and I had high hopes which were quickly dashed. I woke up to find the 2-day-old $30 dog bed now had half its insides on the outside. Not only that, the charming dogs had also chewed up one of my smaller tote bags. Thankfully, it was a $2 bag from Goodwill, but still.

After breakfast, I had to cancel an Etsy order. I messed up when I created the listing, which was for multiple sizes, and I had no idea which size the customer wanted. Three emails had gone unanswered, so I refunded her money and fixed the listing. Maybe she’ll reorder. I hope so. Until then, there went that money.

I didn’t have time to sit around with tea and yarn, because I had an errand to run and I wanted to get it out of the way. The boy’s school said he still owed money on lost library books, and I had proof I’d paid for them a year ago. I get to the school…nope, I need to go to the elementary school since that’s where the fine was accrued. Fine. I went to the pet store and spent $60 on new puppy toys to hopefully discourage the darn dogs from chewing on inappropriate things. I went to the grocery store to get milk and bread for the mother, and discovered it was the day for everyone and their grandmother to shop. Seriously, so crowded, and they all moved SO SLOWLY. Plus, they didn’t have the exact bread the mother wanted, and she’s picky about her bread. One phone call later, bread was selected and I was on my way. I dropped off the milk and bread and got my first pick-me-up of the day: she’d made No Bake Cookies! Whew. One was consumed quickly and several were packed away for later. Off again, this time to the elementary school. Thankfully, they were very nice and took care of the problem quickly.

After that, the day improved for a good long bit. We had a nice dinner, started watching Shrek, then discovered one of the pups had an upset tummy and had been eating A LOT of grass. A fight ensued over which puppy would get to re-ingest said grass before we ushered them outside so we could clean up. Two more small puddles and a movie later, we went to the kitchen to get ready for bed and discovered the one remaining dog bed had a very large puddle/pile of…unpleasantness on it and next to it. I swear, what the heck was wrong with these dogs?? I was pretty sure it was Jack, since he was the one looking sad and pathetic. Dog bed cover was thrown in the washer, towels were laid down for them to sleep on, and off to bed we went, with hopes that surely things would look better in the morning.

Well. I certainly didn’t mean at 4:45, but that’s what the puppies thought. I really think it was Jack. He was probably starving after emptying the contents of his stomach last night. But, at least they hadn’t chewed up anything overnight. Small victories, right? Sigh. I am discouraged. Discouraged and frustrated. I’m trying to tell myself that I survived small children, so I can survive this. I’m trying to remember that my pups bring me lots of joy and love, they really do. I mean, look at this sweet guy. IMG_2294_2So let me end on a high note. My collection of chair socks has grown significantly. IMG_2296_218 made, only 14 to go! My sister’s project bag has been knitted and has handles attached. I bought the fabric for the lining and it’s GORGEOUS so now I only need to line the bag and it will be done and I can show it to you! And best of all, yesterday I booked a room for a short getaway next month. I get to go meet a dear Facebook friend who I’ve never met in person and I can’t wait! It’s only one night but it’s better than nothing and I think we will have a marvelous time.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go find a quiet place to play with yarn. I need to restore some sanity.

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