Saturday, June 30, 2007

summerknitting? winterwear!

The temperature's been up and the day trips have been frequent, so we've turned to smaller, easily portable knitting projects lately. Leah's making fingerless gloves/gauntlets in between swimming, sleepovers, beaches, and visits with friends. She also started weaving a shawl on her tri-loom and, as of this morning, is knitting a neckwarmer.

I finished a balaclava for Jesse and pair of socks for ? , started a pair of convertible gloves/mittens for Scott, and cast on these Tofutsies socks while at the races last night.

The what? Yes, the races. I know, I know, as unlikely a destination for me as the casino, but the tix were free, the evening was glorious, and it was a plenty good time. I've done quite a bit of work for the Speed Channel over the years, so it was fun to get a glimpse of what these events are like in real life. The full moon and fireworks were a bonus, as was the visit to the winner's circle (my sister's company sponsors the car that came in third place on one of the races) and ogling a young, dreamy flag-waving official. ;-)

Anyway, this is my first time knitting Tofutsies yarn. As many people have commented, it is a bit splitty, but not too bad. It's fairly fine yarn, so I was concerned that it would make flimsy socks, but I'm knitting it on size 1 needles and really like the fabric it's creating. Very soft and comfortable for the tootsies. You can't tell it from my pic, but the candy store colors of the Tofutsies yarn are just yummy.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

now you see it...

(the ugliest porch on the face of the planet)

and now you don't...
It's difficult for me to post these pics because that Before picture is just so hideous that it makes me cringe. Not that the During pic is a thing of beauty, but it's a step in the right direction.

You see, we have an otherwise decent 100 y.o. house that had been totally hacked by the previous owners. Slowly but surely, we've been working to undo their messes and then move forward to fix it up. This ugly porch, which is used as our main entrance, is part of a repulsive addition the previous owners slapped on the back end of the house, without any attempt whatsoever to incorporate it with the style of the main structure. Not only was it clearly done on the sly and not to code, but they used crap for materials. I swear, they went out of their way to use whatever happened to be available for ultra-cheap or free. That had to be the case, as I can't imagine anybody would choose to buy vinyl, aluminum, AND wood to use together as siding on one small wall (see Before pic -- and yes, the squatty stupid windows will eventually be replaced and the entire exterior will be re-done). And the layers...oh, the layers! Rather than plan a little beforehand or take a moment to FIX a problem, these guys would just slap layer after layer of cover-up attempts onto problems.

I do have to admit, though, that there has been good entertainment value in the previous owners' maintenance efforts. Like where the wallpaper was coming loose from a wall, so they stapled it back up. Or where they tried to connect PVC plumbing to copper by soldering it. (In case you're wondering, PVC looks much like a torched marshmallow when soldered.) When that didn't work, they used duct tape to connect the pipes. Duct tape for plumbing! Then there was the genius maneuver when they had a leak in a corner between the main part of the house and the crappy addition, where the fascia hadn't been secured properly, leaving a gaping hole. What did they do for that? Go ahead and guess. I'll give you all the time you need. Seriously, if you had a hole in the roof of your house, what is the most bonehead fix-it technique you can think of? Stuff it with a towel?! Yes -- ding ding ding -- ultra bonehead homeowner repair maneuver! Dat no worky so well.

This porch has been a major thorn in my side since the day we bought this place and I am delighted to see it in its current state. I truly feel that the big empty hole qualifies a home improvement. ha! For those of you who haven't been here, let me assure you that the rest of our living space is a million times more pleasant.

Anyway, tearing the piggy pit apart has been great fun for the past two evenings. Now we have to figure out how to put it back together in a new and hopefully waaaayyyyyy improved version. Yikes!
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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Roy G Biv

I'm trying to clear out some random stuff from the stash, so when I found a small skein of one of Leah's first handspun yarn efforts, it seemed like a good candidate for some light summertime knitting of a winter hat. The handspun Grafton Fibers batt became the cuff and pom-pom of the Roy G. Biv hat, named with a nod to its bright rainbow hues.

Leah brought in the mail yesterday with a ratty, tattered package we sent out quite a while ago, apparently damaged during processing at the post office. The package originally contained the glass bead stitch markers we gave away a couple of weeks ago. We figured the stitch markers would surely be lost or shattered, but luckily, they were there and survived the rough handling. They have been repackaged and will be on their way to Cheryl of Seed Stitch again today!
There's been plenty of free time around here lately and the interior painting is just about finished, so Scott and I finally dove into destruction of The Ugliest Porch On The Face of the Planet, which is unfortunately situated on the back end of our house. As with every project in this old house, which had been terribly hacked by the previous owners, the porch required complete gutting and remodeling. We have struggled with the question of how to fix it for every one of the 13 years we've lived here. We finally stopped thinking about it and just DID IT yesterday. Yeah for progress, even if we need to take steps back before we can move forward!
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Saturday, June 16, 2007

fuzzyfaces seeking homes

The three kittens and mama cat found in our tree stump are now ready to move on to permanent homes. The four of them have been living on our small enclosed front porch for a couple of weeks. They've had lots of play time with humans and exposure to our dog, Kodi. The kittens are eating solid food now and everyone's using the litter box. One kitten was adopted, so there's 1 male and 1 female left. They are just as adorable and friendly and fun as you can imagine.

The beautiful mama cat is also in need of a home. She's not very trusting, but she's not wild, either. She will sometimes let the kids pet her, but mostly prefers to keep to herself. She's probably best suited to a mostly independent life, maybe as a barn cat, but I bet she'd also warm up with a little more TLC.

I have not heard back from some families who were interested in them. While my hope is that those folks would still like to adopt these three beautiful kitties, I know there's a possibility that they'll back out so I'm putting these pics up in hopes of finding homes for them. If you're in/near CT and can adopt one or more, please send me a message at livnletlrn at gmail dot com.
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Garden Patch

Design: Garden Patch from Philosopher's Wool, in Peacock colorway.
Started mid-February and completed mid-June 2007.
Knit in the round on size 3 and 7 circular needles.
Accidental twist in the cast-on, salvaged by a mini-steek.
Final steek done at a knit night.
Rheos buttons from Glastonbury Glassworks, who will make me 2 more soon.

This is the second Philosopher's Wool design I've made. Unlike the first, I was not nuts about this one from the start. I was not sure I liked the browns in the colorway. I was not sure I liked the purl row bumps. I messed up with a twist in the cast-on. I wasn't sure if I'd keep it or give it away or if I should even bother knitting it. But I kept on knitting while I pondered and evaluated these things. Exactly like the first, the pattern was easy and fun to follow. I'd even call it a fast knit because, I swear, it just sort of appeared. I still didn't even know if I liked it, but both sleeves were finished, so then I figured I might as well knit the rest of it. Lovin' the process all the way. And now that it's all the way finished, I like it a lot. There have even been a few surprisingly cool days lately, so I've had a chance to wear it...everywhere. :-)
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everybody wins

Camping in Vermont last weekend was, as usual, a great experience in every way. There was a gentle, shallow river for playing and fishing (trout for dinner!)...
a beautiful skein of yarn received from Margie's Muse in trade for a set of stitch markers...
enough knitting time to start and finish a Mirelle hat along the river or by the campfire while kids swam, rode bikes, or read their books...
and the acquisition of much-anticipated coal from an exceptionally kind and helpful blacksmith at Morrell Metalsmiths (really in MA, but sort of on the way and very close to VT).
Luckily, it's all only a couple of hours away and we'll be back many times this summer.
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Tuesday, June 12, 2007


After following the simple charted design of another hat pattern she has made three times now, Leah decided last week that it was time to play with the graph paper and chart her own design. She sketched out a bunch of motifs and eventually decided to put some together into her own hat pattern. The peace sign is the centerpiece of the design and from there she added ocean waves below, mountain peaks above (not well seen in this pic), and the four points of the compass in between. It was dubbed the Peace on Earth hat at first, but then I showed her a John Lennon video and the connection to another image with which she is familiar, and this became the Imagine hat. She then sat right down to knit it up with Scott's super squishy handspun merino as the background and whoknowswhat gray wool from the stash. Finished the very next day and worn with glee...
Since the girl just can't get enough of socializing with fiberfolk, that evening we headed out for the Hartford Stitch & Bitch knit night at Creative Fibers, where I cut the center steek of the sweater I was finishing and Laura showed Leah how to do a Portuguese purl.

She caught on super fast and knit a stockinette square to contribute to the Webs afghan, bringing her total squares completed to four. The Portuguese knitting style is interesting because the yarn is carried around the back of the knitter's neck to provide tension and then simply flicked over to the other side of the needle to make the yarn over. We followed up at home to find more videos of Portuguese knitting style, which led to a video of backwards knitting. We haven't tried that yet, but both thought it was pretty neat for when you're knitting something narrow and don't want to turn it over at the end of each row.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Our style of homeschooling is based on the premise that everything is related to everything else, so no matter what someone is interested in, there are connections to so many other topics that you're bound to run into a bunch of math and science and history and who knows what other good stuff along the way. Besides enjoying the opportunity to explore interests to whatever extent we want, much of the fun lies in the discovery of those connections, how the web of connections grows over time as interests and experiences evolve, and how some of the most unexpected connections often pop up to surprise us. It's like playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (BTW, I'm two degrees away from Kevin Bacon, as I pierced the ear of a guy who hung out with Kevin Bacon on a train ride) or pinballing around time and space with James Burke's Connections.

So when I was browsing some knitting books from the library yesterday evening...

and Jesse was browsing some blacksmithing books,...
we were having great fun sharing with the other some of the things we were learning along the way. After all the years of living the way we do and seeing the connections jump up in front of us, still we're surprised and delighted every time it happens. You'd think we would have seen it coming...

(You might need to click for the biggie view, but the books on top are explaining a blacksmithing technique called faggot welding and the book on the bottom is introducing a section of lace knitting techniques called faggoting.)
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Sunday, June 03, 2007


We taught a friend to knit a few weeks ago and she's definitely liking it, enough so that she hosted her own knit night this week. Activities, of course, were not limited to knitting. There was crocheting, knitting, hand and machine quilting, needle felting, and dollmaking. Highlights of the evening, for me, included seeing our friend's son knitting a few stitches of his own and Leah teaching Amanda how it all works.
Yesterday was the spring meet of the New England Blacksmiths at the Hannaway Blacksmith Shop in Rhode Island. Scott and Jesse were up bright and early so they could hang with the blacksmiths for the day, watch demos, chat 'em up, and hopefully find somebody with a used forge for sale. We've been on the prowl for a forge for a couple of weeks now and felt fairly certain that this would be the winning place. Sho' 'nuf. When you get 80 blacksmiths together for a 3-day party, there's bound to be some extra equipment up for grabs. So the guys arrived home with a small forge, anvil, and tongs. Oh, the glee! To see Jesse's longstanding interest in blacksmithing finally become a hands-on activity is something I think we'll all enjoy.
Scott got a kick out of seeing this woman spinning merrily among the crowd in one of the blacksmithing demo tents. He snapped the pic because he said he was so tempted to sit and babble with her about spinning, but he didn't want to be disruptive during the demos. "Those crazy fiber fanatics, they're everywhere!," he said, in his best faux conspiracy tone.

Congratulations to Cheryl of Seed Stitch, who is the winner of the stitch markers posted in last week's giveaway!

Leah wants me to tell you all that she's working on a new project and she's very excited to unveil it very soon. Nothing like tidying up the yarn stash to inspire new projects!
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Friday, June 01, 2007

WEBSward ho!

The Wednesday evening jaunt to Northampton, MA, to see the Yarn Harlot was every bit as much fun as we had hoped. We started with a visit to Webs to drop off our hat donations and nonperishables for the food bank collection, then to the Calvin Theater, where we all knit socks while waiting to go in. Upon entering the theater, everybody received a complimentary ball of yarn and set of needles with a request to knit a 7 x 7 inch square, in any pattern, for donation to Warm Up America. My yarn was rose and I did a basketweave square while there. Leah knit most of her green square while we were there and completed it last night. Our friends are still finishing theirs up too and they'll all be mailed or dropped off back at the store later. With 600+ attendees, that should make a nice collection of blankets.
Stephanie was a riot. I enjoyed hearing her more this time than when we saw her last year because all of the material was completely new to me. I was impressed with how funny the prepared talk was, but even more so by her spontaneous comments when the audience was asking questions afterward. Some of the audience participation was poignant, some inspirational, and some was hysterically funny.

After the theater emptied, we joined friends in the bar for some locally crafted refreshments and a little quality knitting time. Back to Webs for a short visit in a festive atmosphere to top off the night. Home late (again) during a big work week, but worth it.
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