Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's a BOY

Today Annie had another appointment with her High Risk OB. It was a very quick visit with the doctor telling her everything was just fine, and a glorious hour of watching Baby Boy flip, twist, turn, punch, and kick his mother. :o) The super thorough sonogram detected and measured all major organs and limbs....including that third leg which told us, he is a he. giggle/snort

See? (the angle of the pic is upward through the pelvic girdle. The arrow indicates his boy bits on either side of that (above and below in the photo) are his hip bones or perhaps they are his knees??? :0P

Hopefully this will be the only X-rated pic that will ever be published of him. :o)

I know these pix are often difficult to decipher but here is a one of those cute baby toes. Toes of his foot are nearly centered in the photo. You can see the 5 little toes and the complete sole of his foot.

And now the collective "aawwww" baby boy in profile picture with his left forearm and finger visible as he reaches up to give mom a punch.

I know there has not been much knitting content of late. And if the truth be said, not a lot of content period. Sorry 'bout that guys. Still no knitting content for you except to say I began a couple lace projects and well, you know what lace looks like when it still on the needles. Yup yarn barf, it looks like yarn barf so I won't bother with photos.

One of the lace pieces is/was a lace caplet. I'm on the fence as to whether I'm actually going to finish it or frog it. I can't steer you to a pattern cuz there isn't one. It's just a piece where I took a little bit of a lace pattern from one pattern, stole a little from another, cobbled together another lace from yet another couple of patterns and then kinda freewheeled it with generic caplet pattern as a guideline for sizing. I'm not sure at this point if I don't like the play of the patterns of I just don't like the idea of a caplet. Another thing that is holding me back is the fact that I have very little experience with lace and absolutely zero when it comes to making up a lace pattern. Will the patterns play nice??? I think so, but I'm not overly optimistic about it and frankly a little intimidated.

Still having the lace bug within my soul I decided to cast on this Drops 94-14 pattern. It's going well. Worked bottom up, sleeves joined for a seamless lace yoke. About 10cm to go on the body and then onward to the sleeves.

Now that I know he is a he?????? I just might have to get some babyboy knitting started. Just kidding, I won't start any babyboy knitting until Sunday, Saturday at the very earliest. And that's cuz I'm having a bunch of knitting buddies out to the house for a day of dyeing. Now that I know he is a he I'll be dyeing plenty of babyboy appropriately colored yarns and fibers, thus the delayed start of the actual knitting. ;o)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Great Exodus

Last Thursday the crew from Christman's Wildlife Service arrived to put an end to the long ongoing, heretofore, futile battle between Us, the inhabitants of the Hermitage, and Them, the bats who are the unwanted guests of aforementioned domicile. Unfortunately I was not at home when they came to do the work, and Joe, dear sweet Joe, didn't think to give me a call. (how he could not recognize the blogworthyness of the days events?!???) For this reason, alas, there are no photos of the crew nimbly crawling about the exterior of the house caulking, stuffing, and plugging every minuscule gap, crack, and void of the house....sigh

What I do have are pix of the "one-way doors" the crew installed. There are three of them. One toward the front of the house and two toward the back.

As you can see, they aren't the prettiest things, made primarily of 4 inch pvc pipe, expanding foam, and duct tape, but you really don't notice them much from the ground looking up. See?

If they were clad in flashy red glitter, 3 feet in diameter, with horns, bells and whistles I'd be OK with them if they got rid of the bats. Right?

A little refresher course on the procedure of "bat exclusion".....

The law says you can't kill the little buggers, (bummer, I know) so what you have to do is seal every conceivable point of entry a structure might have so they can't get in. Be aware that anything the size of 1/4 inch is big enough for a bat to get in. (this crew is very thorough they seal everything) Remember too that we aren't just interested in preventing more bats from roosting within the walls of the Hermitage but we do, in fact, have bats already residing here. So, what do you do about those bats?, cough, spasm, gag, choke, spit, to 50 of them. Yes, you read that correctly, the Bat Guy said we had 30 to 50 bats in the house. Hold on a sec, I still get faint when I think about that.

Whoosh, better now, I just have to remember to breathe and find my happy place.

To get rid of bats already in residence you have to seal all possible points of entry and exit except their favorite ones and install "one-way doors" at those points. In other words, all points of escape for the inhabitants are barred except for a few which allow them to exit but no longer enter. The "doors" are simplistic and crude as you can see in the pictures. Just a tube of plastic with a 90 degree downward turn. The bats sort of , crawl/fall out the door when they leave but can't fly or crawl back up the door when they want to return "home".

A cautionary note here. The Bat Guy told me, in some cases, if the wrong exit point(s) are closed up, you could conceivably have the entire colony swarm(?) flock(?) into the main living area of the house searching for an exit. Whoa.....swooning again...hold on.

find a happy place find a happy place find a happy place

OK back to Thursday the day the guys came and installed the bat doors. I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. Better yet, they came on a day when Joe didn't have to work at night and I wasn't going to have the face possibility, however remote it might be cuz my Bat Guy and his crew really do know how to do this stuff, of having a swarm of bats in my house. I was also thrilled that with Joe here I just might be courageous enough to actually sit outside and watch the exodus of the bats....maybe even document it! And maybe just maybe even sit outside (or perhaps sit in the car) and watch when the evicted-at-last bats return after their night of foraging and try as they may can't find a way to get back home. After all the Bat Guy said about 80% of the bats will leave the first night. When they return and realize they can't get back in a bunch of ticked off bats will keep circling the house searching for entry. OK perhaps the bats aren't really angry just a little confused, but I kinda like the thought of pissing them off rather than just confusing them. (vengeful much? who me?)

So after dinner Thursday I set up a table and chairs out in the yard so we could see one of the bat doors clearly. A pair of binoculars for each of us, note cards and pens to keep a tally of how many bats we each saw, and my camera ready, fresh batteries, empty memory and I even reviewed how to take a video. I was a little dismayed by the fact that we could only see one door at a time. While we were watching one door how could we know if they were leaving by another, but oh well, it was the best I could do and later would extrapolate how many left from the other doors.

As the sun began to set, and the sounds of day changed into the sounds of night Joe and I faithfully watched one of the bat doors. It grew dusky. No bats. The bugs began to bite. No bats. It grew dark. No bats. Joe by now had long ago lost interest in watching for bats, if he really had any interest in it at all, but Joe being Joe sat there with me still. I too had begun to grow weary of this now all too boring task (you can't knit and hold binoculars) The fact that I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes wasn't helping my waning enthusiasm either. Yes, I know, the irony was not lost on me. At approximately 9:45 we called the bat vigil quits. Yes, I was disappointed. Yes, images of a swarm of bats flying out of the house as I opened the door to go in did cross my mind.

There was no swarm, but there also wasn't a mass exodus of bats which I was really hoping for. Maybe in the morning I would be rewarded with pictures of displaced bats hanging around the doorways they could no longer enter. (one of the crew told Joe there might be a few hanging in the eaves having failed to gain entry still hoping to get in the following night) There were no bats hanging around Friday morning. There were no bats hanging around Saturday morning. Sunday morning around 4:00-4:30 the dog and cat were restless. Joe got up and the animals followed him to the kitchen. I fluffed my pillow to lay back down and that was when I heard it too, the unmistakable chipping ping. There were some pissed offed bats circling the house searching for a way to get in. I snuggled down with a smile on face and fell asleep to the lullaby of echo distancing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Balbriggan heel

I adore this heel!!!!

I stumbled upon it in a vintage knitting book....another thing I love. :o)

Um yeah nice pix huh...sorry I can only contort myself to an extent. Did you notice the sock isn't even done yet?....yeah that's so I could try it on both ways. And my ribbing ends at an odd place, I should have continued it down the instep. Oh well this pair is just an experimental pair anyway the sock pictured above is worked cuff down, its mate will be toe up. :o)

Why do I like this heel so much? Plenty of reasons, primarily I like the fit. It is also a very intuitive heel, not a lot of stitch counting, and/or wrapping and lifting those wraps, and it looks good toe-up as well as cuff down. Sure a short row heel can be worked both ways as well, but this little heel has gussets whereas short row heels usually do not.

I've already got plans for a cute little vine or flower growing up out of that seam on the back of the heel. A perfect heel for clog socks!

There are some aspects of this heel I dislike, but I've figured a way to get around those. I'm not exactly sure if the more recent renditions of this heel in some of the current sock books out there address these points but the way my circa 1940's pattern explains it is a really fiddly heel. The 40's era pattern has 2 yarn ends to be worked in plus my nemesis the kitchener stitch....ick.

The adaptations I do eliminate the cutting and rejoining of the yarn (thus the ends) and the grafting.

Here's a few notes on how to do the balbriggan heel with some modifications. (ie minus the cutting and joining and the grafting)

If you'll notice this heel allows you to take whatever pattern you're working almost all the way down to the sole. Without having a whole lot of experiences with this heel yet, about all I can tell you is work the leg to the length you want so it just grazes the top of you instep and then begin the heel.

You will use half the total stitch count for the heel. An even number of stitches works best, and if that number is divisible by 4 you're golden. :o)

Here is a quickie row by row for a heel on 28 sts.

Heel flap: work 15 rows in stockinette beginning on a purl row (WS).

Begin heel shape/turn:

Row 1: k5, ssk, k5, ssk, k2tog, k5, k2tog, k5

Row 2 and all even rows: purl

Row 3: k5, ssk, k3, ssk, k2tog, k3, k2tog k5

Row 5: k5, ssk, k1, ssk, k2tog, k1, k2tog, k5

Row 7: k5, ssk, ssk, k2tog, k2tog, k5

Row 8: purl

This is where you would normally divide the remaining 14 stitches on two needles and kitchener stitch them together, but since I don't like doing that.....

Row 9: K7, place the remaining 7 stitches on a second needle and forget about the working yarn for a while all you'll be working with are loops.

Begin with the center two stitches, one from each needle and "weave" the stitches over each other "eating" one of them. How do you weave them together? Simple, take a stitch from one needle and lift it over a stitch from the other needle. You just eliminated one stitch by "weaving" them together. Now lift the this woven stitch over another stitch from the other needle. Continue eliminating stitches alternately until one stitch remain. There you go, a nice little seam done without kitchenering and you have your working yarn right where you need it.

To finish the heel:

This one heel stitch on your needle is now the new beginning of the subsequent rounds. Pick-up and knit 18 stitches, knit across the instep stitches, pick-up and knit 18 stitches. You are now at the beginning of the round again. Start decreasing one stitch at the heels stitch/ instep stitch junctures until you reach your original stitch count and your heel is complete. In this example 56 sts. (56 stitches makes a nice sock for me in sport wt.)

If you try this heel yourself let me know how it goes. I think you can see the decrease pattern that creates the heel cup, if you have trouble figuring it for a different stitch count feel free to drop me a line. I've crunched the numbers for all even numbered heel stitch counts from 20 sts to 44 stitches.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

While My Pretty One Knits

Have you read it?

I did, last night. What a fun read, and real page turner too. Perhaps some of that rapid page turning was spurred on by self interest too. ;o) I'm mentioned in the book. Rather this blog and something I did and wrote about a while ago is referenced within the confines of the book covers. giggle/snort

This yarn (I know, groan I couldn't resist) is a peek into the lives of 5 knitting buddies. And we all know how wonderful knitting buddies can be, so varied in life, style, and age, seemingly incompatible.

Knitting is the thread that binds us together but the fabric of friendship we create is rich in color and deep in texture, person by person, stitch, by stitch.

I am truly thankful for my knitting buddies.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sock Bag

As foretold, my new sock bag.

Of course it has to have shoulder length straps, preferably ones that can be knotted to make the straps shorter just in case I ever want to carry it like a handbag.

It also has to be small cuz it will never be the only bag I'm carrying, and prob'ly not the only knitting bag! It also has to have a no hassle access to the project so a quick stuff and the knitting is put away.

See? That's the jaywalker on the needles from the last post. A simple slip of the cord around the big button and the top opens to reveal the sock I'm working on.

Now turn the bag to the side and you can see the zipper.

Open the zipper and reveal the interior.

Plenty of room for extra yarn, there are 3 balls of yarn in there, enough for 3 pairs of baby socks, or perhaps the equivalent of one adult size pair of socks. Also inside is my set of short dpns with a few other needed tools for sock knitting, all my circular needles for sock knitting, plus a little pattern book. You can see the circular needles in their pocket that is the side of the bag just unzipped and folded back. See them sticking out of above the fold on the top?

This is the tiny pattern book and the dpn case.

The tiny pattern book has a suede cover with the same paisley fabric in the inside. It's the size of an 8x10 sheet of paper folded into 8 rectangles. The leaves (or groups of pages) can easily be added or removed at anytime. Short pithy directions are all you really need for most sock patterns so it's plenty big enough.

And here is my new dpn case. It too is covered with suede inside and out. It is kept securely closed with the elastic cord that crosses inside to help keep the dpns and other tools a little bit more orderly. I haven't decided how I'm going to finish the ends of the elastic yet. So for now they are just laying there loose within the case.

Just in case you might want a bag, dpn case and tiny book, I'll give some thoughts on making your own.

The bag itself began it's life as a six-pack cooler. I removed the original lining, and insulation foam on all sides of the bag except the original "top" of the bag (the side that has the zipper around three sides.) Leaving the original lining on that portion of bag makes the pocket for the circular needles.

The original "back" of the six-pack cooler is now the top of the bag. I simply made a rectangular "pouch" out of the paisley fabric, cut out the center of the original six-pack back and sewed the pouch in place allowing it to fall into the inside.

Because the six-pack fabric itself is a little stiff, plus the added exterior fabric, simply pleating/folding the sides of the bag to make the overall triangular shape of the bag is enough and there is no need to secure the pleat. The placement of the eyelets and the length of the cord does help the pleats/folds to behave though.

Remember all those AOL cds they use to send out? That is what the dpn case is made of. Most of the time they were just plastic cases about the size of a paperback novel, this one was more like a fiber board box and little smaller. Rubber cement affixes the suede to the box really well and a tiny drill bit is all you need to drill the holes for the elastic cord.

As for the pattern book, obviously I'm not going into the whole book making thing but I do want to share with you how the pages are made. I wish I could remember where I found this little gem, but it was eons ago and I honestly don't remember it was many years ago. I think you can find the same thing on the Instructables website but I know I didn't find it there first.

Isn't origami the boom? An eight page "book" out of a single sheet of paper. You can squeeze a couple more pages out of this by making a few more cuts after all the folding is complete, but you also lose some of the integrity. I like using graph paper to make these, no worries regarding the orientation of the lines plus when used as above in a tiny little pattern book, it eliminates the need for a tape measure (4 squares to the inch!).

I'm sure you can find several applications for this little "book". Of course the grandkids love having their own "books" and they are fab for organizing a long list of to do's and errands that need to be ran, ie groceries on one page, pharmacy on another, home improvement store on another, outside chores, inside chores, etc.

Almost FO's

Nope none of these are finished. Some need buttons, some need blocking, some need ends worked in and some need seams.


At least for now it is ick. I don't mind the blocking bit, and buttons? eh, if I find/have buttons I like. But the other finishing tasks.....?.....let's just say I have a hate/love relationship with them. Notice the hate part of that equation comes first, and to be quite frank is the typical sum total of my feelings on the matter. Usually. Maybe it's just me, but I can and will let a so-close-you-can-almost-wear FO sit idle for days, weeks, months, and if the whole true be told, occasionally years!

I can't explain it other than to say, as much as I detest the chore of finishing, I do have days (rarely, but they do occur) that all I want to do are finishing tasks. I figure since this baby is still several months away from making his/her debut the chances one of those extremely rare finishing days will come, hopefully. :o)

I've thrown caution to the wind and have just been knitting willy-nilly. Note the various sizes of the above pictured sweaters and socks. It is an undeniable fact that the child will grow, so as long as it is not too small to begin with, it will fit at some point. Another reason for my hit and miss approach to this knitting is believe it or not, massive stash notwithstanding, I have a very small amount of baby appropriate yarn. Darn the luck, I have to do some yarn shopping, sigh. ;o)

There's not much new under the sun up there in that photo. Of course there is an EZ Surprise (red), and an EZ Surplice Surprise (yellow). The center blue/brown sweater is the Seamless Yoke Baby Sweater (Ravelry link) [non-Rav link here] This is a really nice sweater. The sweater in the upper left of the photo is a vintage pattern that is eh, the tiny grey sweater is also a vintage pattern but has a very intriguing construction. This sweater will prob'ly never be worn by the baby to be, but certainly a cousin of this design will be. The grey sweater was worked at a gauge of 12 stitches to the inch, to me that's a just a tad bit ridiculous. The huge "sweater" in the lower right isn't going to be a sweater at all, it's just a bodice for a little jumper I have in mind. I have some purple wool to make the skirt but that will be toddler size.

As for the socks, the pink, red, and green socks are just plain old ribbed socks. The yellow socks are The Sweetest Little Baby Socks (rav link) and the blue socks are the Lacy Rib Baby Socks (rav link) [non rav pdf here] Not sure which one of these I like the best, the stitch pattern is very similar. On the needles are baby Jaywalkers, and up next are baby No-Purl Monkeys. (rav link) [non rav link here]

Oooo how do you like my needles??? Yeah I know you really can't see them but I love them! I re-fashioned them myself. I had to, I've been totally obsessed with knitting these little socks. Each pair has been made differently and I don't mean the stitch patterns. I've been playing with different toes and heels, top down and toe up, dpns, 2 circs, and magic loop and having a marvelous time. The only thing that was really bugging me was the length of my dpns. When you've only got 30ish stitches on your needles 7 inch dpns is a little over kill wouldn't you say? So I dove into my stash of needles, yes Virginia, I do have an enormous stash of needles too. A few snips with some wire cutters a little bit of filing and ta da. Now I have 4 sets of 5 dpns, 4.5" long, in sizes zero, one, and two. (I have two sets of size two cuz I made a set out of some vintage casein dpns too.) I know you can buy such things, but making them seemed just as simple, a whole lot cheaper, and besides, all those needles were just languishing in boxes have no idea have many needles I have, sigh, and I've even given away more complete sets of needles than I can count, but I digress....

So now that I have all these sock specific shorter needles, plus the fact that a baby sock can be whipped out in an hour or two I needed a bag devoted to tiny baby socks.....doesn't everyone? Tune in soon and I'll show you my new baby sock bag.

Annie/Baby update:
All is quiet and progressing well. No emergencies and aside from a few weepy days (don't we all remember those well?) everything is fine and dandy. Tomorrow we just might learn if this little one is a boy or a girl.