Sunday, November 28, 2010

Treading Like Crazy

Things are going about as you would expect when one parent who has always been at home goes back to work in an office, leaving the other parent, now at home full time but also still working full time, to contend with all the various and sundry household and family chores that necessarily arise as a result of kids and pets and chickens and laundry and shopping and cooking and other chores.

That is to say, not perfectly.

So far, though, we are keeping our heads above water by treading frantically. Things are a bit messier and less organized than I would like, but I'm learning to let it slide. I don't think the dust buffaloes are actually dangerous, after all.

The four-day weekend was a help. I did a truly enormous amount of laundry, vacuumed the house, watered the plants, did the grocery shopping, and lavishly petted several seriously disgruntled dogs. We hosted Thanksgiving, which involved a whole lot more shopping and cooking and cleaning. I am proud to say that, three days later, I finally finished the last of the dishes. The boys had a sleepover here Friday night. I woke up to the Great Nerf Gun Battle of 2010, Older Son broke my favorite vase (a wedding present), and Heidi peed in three different spots, yet they all survived, so again--proud of myself. And a dear old friend of mine came to visit on Saturday and showed off her baby bump--a huge deal, since she and her husband (in their 40s and 50s, respectively) have been trying for quite a while and have been through two miscarriages in the past two years. Saturday night is Date Night, so the KH and I went out for Afghan food, sans children--who have been home for nine straight days. That was great on many levels.

I felt so inspired by all this that I put a double batch of sourdough batter out to rise last night, thinking I could bake today and have enough bread for the week. As I usually do, I warmed the oven slightly and put the dough in it to rise before I went to bed. This morning, the KH got downstairs before me and decided to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. You can see where this is going, right? My double batch of sourdough, responding to the delightful warmth of the heating oven, rose and spread and overflowed all over the oven, to the grave detriment of both the oven and the dough. I probably should have stopped while I was ahead...or at least, less behind.

Despite all the activity--or maybe because of it--I have been knitting. Here's proof:

This is a progress shot of Flame D'Amore, the top down raglan I've been working on. The yarn is handspun merino and merino-tencel plied together. It's about a dk weight, but I'm knitting at a worsted gauge, so the sweater is light and drapey.

I am basing the design on Francis Revisited, but mostly making it up as I go. I'm very happy with the way this is turning out. As you can see, it's a fitted design (Bertha and I are the same size), with a moderate cowl neck.

The edges are rolled, because I like rolled edges. I'm planning on elbow- or full length sleeves. I like the short sleeves, but I find longer sleeves are more wearable. Especially now, since my new office is just a couple degrees shy of "arctic". I'm not kidding. It's so cold that my nose runs and my fingernails turn blue. I have taken to wearing sweaters under my suit jackets and I am planning to knit a pair of fingerless gloves to wear while I'm working. I didn't start this with the idea of wearing it to work--hence the casual style--but I'm going to try it with a jacket and see if I can pull it off.

At some point I do have FOs to show you, but it's not easy to find time these days for a FOtoshoot, so I'll just leave you with the song that's running through my head, "Just keep knitting, gotta keep knitting..."

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Just stopping by to say I may not be stopping by as often for a while. I started a new job on Monday, and may I just How do people go to an office all day, every day, and still have time to do anything else? It's been 15 years since I worked full time away from home, and if you do the math, you can see that was before I was married, before I had kids, before I had a house and a community and responsibilities. The past three days I've been taking part in an intensive training program, which has been super exciting and interesting, but also exhausting. I don't want to go into too much detail, so suffice it to say that it is a very fast-paced, formal, professional environment. Virtually everything I am doing is brand new to me. I just got my first assignment, which is awesome, high-profile (think national news), and deadly serious. I'm kind of stunned, actually. I am tremendously excited, because it's a great assignment and a huge opportunity, but I'm also scared sh*tless. And I start...tomorrow morning.

Mr. Yarnhog has been terrific. He is totally supportive and excited for me, and he has really stepped up, shuttling kids and cooking and taking on household chores, but he still has to work full time, even though he works from home. It's a huge adjustment for both of us and it's going to take a while to work it all out. So I need to go do twelve loads of laundry, shovel the house, resuscitate my garden (which hasn't been watered in a week), locate the bathrooms under the accumulated filth, do the grocery shopping, bake bread, walk the dogs, make sure the kids are still alive, and take them to the dentist. Oh, and we're having a birthday dinner for Oldest Son tonight, so I suppose I should figure out what I'm going to make and do something about a cake. Holy smokes. How do you all do this?!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Ain't Just a River in Egypt

This is the progress I've made on my happy knitting.

What's that you say? Smaller than in the last picture? Ah, but that's only because you didn't see the part where I finished the whole raglan, separated out the sleeves, and tried it on. And it was too short. Way too short. Which I knew it was going to be several inches earlier. Not suspected, not feared: knew.

How, you ask? Well, first, because I calculated my row gauge and it was apparent to me that increasing every other round would give me a raglan only five inches deep. I even calculated that increasing every third row instead would give me a raglan that was the right depth. And then I started knitting and increased every other round anyway. My rationale was: "I always increase every other round for a raglan and it always comes out right. Even though, in this case, the numbers tell me I should increase every third round instead, I am going to disregard that, because I always increase every other round and it always comes out right."

So I knitted for a while. And it was pretty clear pretty early on that I was increasing at a rate that was going to get all my increases done well before the raglan was deep enough. But I thought, "Eh," and kept knitting.

When I had only two increase rounds to go, reality began to assert itself a little more forcefully, as I realized that the only person this raglan was going to fit would be someone under three feet tall. So for the last two increases, I increased every fourth round. Because surely that would make up for the entire rest of the raglan and magically add three inches, right?

Inexplicably, it didn't. But, hey, I'm a knitter. I can make it work. I continued to knit without increasing for an inch or two, until my raglan line stared to morph into something less identifiable and even I had to admit that it didn't look quite, um, right. At that point, I decided it was probably good enough, separated out the sleeves, and tried it on.

Yeah. Nothing like a fit test for a reality check.

I momentarily considered possible work arounds involving steeking and grafting and messing with the space-time continuum, and then I finally bowed to the inevitable and ripped. Hard.

It's a good thing I like the yarn, because it looks like we're going to be spending a lot more time together than I initially planned.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How Yarnhog Got Her Groove Back

Note the lack of resemblance to a black, fingering weight camisole. (Or a green angora lace shrug. But we will not speak of that.)

A week or so ago, my knitting up and went. I've been struggling ever since. Not just with knitting, either, as you can tell from my last post. It seems that when the knitting ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Logically, then, finding my happy place with my knitting should bring back the happy to the rest of my life, right?

And this is my knitting happy.

I have a sweater's worth of this gorgeous (if I do say so myself) handspun, which has been maturing in the stash for a while. I had a design in mind for this, but my interest in the concept waned during the spinning and I never did cast on. After spending an entire morning perusing my Rav queue, and then everyone else's Rav queues, and feeling nothing more than a passing flicker of interest in any of the patterns, I decided what I really needed was yarn inspiration. A quick trip to the stash reminded me of this beautiful yarn and I was off and running.

This will be a top-down, raglan, cowl neck pullover with elbow-length sleeves, similar to Francis Revisited. It would actually BE Francis Revisited, except that I don't want to knit this yarn at the very open gauge required by the pattern, so I had to rewrite the pattern to accommodate my worsted weight handspun, and while I was at it, I made the cowl a little smaller, shortened and narrowed the sleeves, and decided on rolled edges rather than seed stitch trim. So the pattern is more of an idea than a set of instructions. I'm okay with that.

After a plain grey tank top and a plain black camisole, I'm loving this nubby, soft, variegated, red yarn. I'm also loving the fact that a round is something less than five million stitches. As soon as I cast on, I felt like I had exhaled. It felt like that moment in yoga class when you've done all the exercises and you finally get to the part where you close your eyes and relax, and you take a deep breath and feel your joints loosen and your bones sink into the mat. Just like that. And that's a good feeling.

So the rest of my life should be smoothing out any time now...right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately

Lots of bloggers have regular lists, like "Ten on Tuesday" or "Random Wednesday" or the like. I like this idea, because it seems like a really easy way to whack out a blog post, even if you can't find your camera cable and your last three WIPs are in the fireplace just waiting for a match. But none of the existing lists really capture the flavor of my daily life. I need a different theme. Something along the lines of "Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately." Consider this the pilot episode.

Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately:

1) Heidi and Sam are engaged in a pissing contest over ownership of a patch of carpet in my dining room. Actually, I think Sam has dropped out of the contest, but Heidi doesn't seem to care. Half my dining room furniture is currently piled on top of the towels covering the spot on the carpet in a truly futile effort to keep her off of it.

2) The Lysol I am using to keep my house from smelling like a back street stairwell caused Sophie to have a seizure yesterday. (Which, incidentally, made her pee on the carpet. Ironic, that.)

3) I finally got a much-needed pedicure--and immediately afterward caught my big toe on the brake pedal of my car, snapping the nail off halfway down.

4) I'm starting a new job Monday. For which I am not getting paid. I do get to pay for parking, though, so it all balances out.

5) In anticipation of starting the new job, I decided to henna my hair to cover the increasingly prominent grey. I didn't have my glasses on while I was mixing the henna, though, and failed to notice I was using the box labeled "Red" instead of the box labeled "Auburn". There is a really big difference between "Red" and "Auburn". I don't think they're expecting Bozo the Clown, but that's who's showing up on Monday.

6) I also--inexplicably--forgot to wear gloves while applying the henna, so now my hands and nails are also a lovely shade of orange, which is bound to make shaking all those new hands a fun experience all the way around.

7) I decided I was smarter than the designer of the camisole I'm test knitting and "modified" the straps. I now have to rip back black, fingering weight yarn and then pick up several hundred dropped stitches. There's not a bright enough light in the world to make this happen without hair rending, sobbing, and an eventual descent into drunken remorse.

8) Due to a scheduling collision which resulted in fatal injuries to my plans for today, I had the chance to sleep in this morning. To make up for it, I had raging insomnia last night.

Hmmm...I could get used to this list thing. Whining is kind of fun!

Monday, November 1, 2010