Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring Break

Haven't posted in a bit, mainly because there hasn't been a lot going on here other than finding creative things to do on one leg. This gets old, oh, within about the first 10 minutes of starting out on crutches. The ankle seems to be mending well, and thankfully the cast comes off tomorrow. I'm counting the minutes until that doctor's appointment - not only will I be freed from crutches and the itch way down where you can't scratch it cast, but I'll be able to drive! Oh, glorious day indeed. There's nothing like being stuck at home and put at the mercy of others for a ride. Brings me right back to fifteen, right at the cusp of being independent and just tasting freedom.

This is day four of Spring Break, and I'm proud to say that both the boys are alive. Oh, and I appear to also be sane. This is quite a feat, one accomplished so far by signing Arden up for drama camp (two hour rehearsals each day, rides from my mother in law), craft projects galore, many taped episodes of Mythbusters and Dirty Jobs, and the baking of many, many cookies. And a healthy supply of Mike's Hard Lemonade. It's medicinal.

Last night, I was able to have a Spring Break of my own. My mother in law dropped me off at Abundant Yarn, where I promptly sat down with a bag o knitting to wait for Ann and Kay of Mason Dixon fame. I worked on the not quite Cobweb Crepe Shawl since the center is really just a great big dishcloth knit on very fine yarn. Also brought my *almost* (really, honest!) finished Perfect Sweater. We all sat and waited and talked, and in the process I met two of the nicest knitters: Meghan (no blog yet, but I'm working on her) and Janna (brand new blog - go take a peek!). We had a great time talking and admiring each other's knitting, and I hope to see both of them again sometime soon.

Eventually Ann and Kay arrived and they were just as real and funny and sweet in person as their writing would suggest. We got to see glorious blankets, dishcloths, and my personal favorite, the wee baby Blu Jeans. So incredibly cute and so soft in Rowan Denim. As everyone was waiting in line, I sent up a basket of sugar cookies to properly fortify signers and signees alike. I waited until things thinned out a bit, then made my way up to the table. Ann gave me the warmest hug when she figured out who the heck I was. I laid out the Perfect Sweater, mentioned being chicken to finish the buttonholes, and got invited to the SlogAlong - which I will be joining. We all talked for a while (again, did I mention how nice Ann and Kay are? They're both just plain good people), then set off for dinner. Had some amazing pizza at Ken's Artisan Pizza, talked and talked and talked. Finally got everyone's name! Aside from the wonder twin powers of Ann and Kay there were Larissa of Stitch Marker, Jessica of Rose-Kim Knits, Sarah of Cafe Mama and Sarah of Zeitgeist. I got home after ten (Sarah took pity and gave me a ride - thanks again so much!). Felt like summer break back in high school, between bumming a ride, hanging out and talking at a pizza place, and the whole summer camp feeling of meeting people from far away.

Not a bad Spring Break at all.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Cast on

Ah, this feels so much better than the walking boot!* So slim, so soft, so light. The doctor adjusted my crutches so they should be much easier to walk on, too. This sucker will stay on for two weeks, at which point we find out if I can bear weight using the walking boot. In the meantime, no driving and no walking on this foot since the cast could break. To add to the general fun of things, the boys have Friday off and Spring break next I will be at home, on crutches, with two wound up little ones. Ought to be entertaining, to say the least. I'm stocking up on craft supplies, movies, and alcohol (the latter is for me).

It's a bit cold, so I think I'll make a wee toe sock in Spring-ish colors. The cast needs some color, right?

*Which I can be seen here. I must get more attractive footwear.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

It's broken

Woke up yesterday morning and realized that a week after falling my ankle and foot were still really swollen and bruised and noted that the pain didn't seem to be getting any better. Called my doctor's office, who recommended x-rays. So off to the local Urgent Care I went. Got three lovely pictures of my ankle bones, waited, then talked with a very nice Nurse Practitioner. Result? I have a "distal fibula fracture". In English, that means the outer bone on my ankle is broken. I was ordered to get right off that foot completely and use my crutches, which I'm now doing amidst much grumbling since my other foot isn't quite 100%, either. Ow. Tomorrow I'll get it casted and hopefully be back on my feet, at least somewhat. At least we have a very comfortable couch.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Still off my feet, for the most part

My ankle is still very swollen and there's one huge bruise from my toes to several inches up my ankle (which actually looks rather like the yarn over there). If the skin there were yarn, it'd be one lovely sock. I'm thinking of it as temporary body art. I can walk on the ankle a little bit, though I look like a drunken sailor trying to use it at all. But I'm finally able to drive just a wee bit and I *can* get to the bathroom without crutches, so life is good. Looks like a really bad sprain that I'm babying by having it propped up most of the time.

Last night, as a celebration of my newly regained driving ability, I went to a dye and sock knitting class over at Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks. I already dyed my yarn a few weeks back with indigo (nasty smelling stuff, but really fun to use) and other natural colorants, so tonight was just knitting. They were having a fiber festival, so the first thing my instructor said was, "do you want to walk around a bit and see all of the yarn?" Walk? No, not really so much. So she sent me over to find a table to sit at while we knitted. When I got over to the cafe tables, a grin spread over my face.We sat, knitting and talking, while soaking our feet in one of these for an hour and a half. Now that's my idea of heaven...or Footopia. Ahhhh....need one of these at home.

Oh, and tonight I'm leaving Dan and the boys to fend for themselves while I go galivanting off to dinner with a friend visiting from out of town. We're going to go here because they have a gluten free menu. Well, and also because the food there is delicious. Expensive, but delicious!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I get it

Yesterday was a big day - no more bed rest, but more importantly I had the all clear to drive. Hooray! Sadly, I seemed to have caught whatever bug Arden and Dan got earlier this week, so I was tired and headache-y and miserable and remained on the couch for the most part. Last night Ryan decided he'd really like a new pair of socks, too, please, so I went upstairs to grab my tape measure so I could cast on. Got to the bottom step of the stairs and somehow inexplicably tripped and fell. Hard. Both feet twisted underneath me and a few choice words came out of my mouth that honestly could not be controlled at that moment. The boys looked on, agape, as Dan raced to get two bags of ice and place them on my ankles.

After the tears stopped and things were throbbing slightly less, I started laughing hysterically. Dan looked at me, puzzled, until I threw my arms up to the sky and said, "OK! I get it! I'll rest, dammit." Subtle, very subtle. But then, sometimes I apparantly need a 2 x 4 to the head to slow down. Thankfully I kept the crutches, brace, and walking boot from when I pulled the tendon in the other ankle, so I'm using those for the time being. May take a trip to Urgent Care later today if I need to - waiting to see on that. But first and foremost, I'll be sitting on the couch with my feet up, feeling very silly.

And laughing just a little bit.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

I hate Daylight Saving Time

The concept of hours and minutes and days is pretty artificial to start with, I'll admit. But once we all agreed for the most part on what time it was, why mess with that twice a year? It's hard enough to get to bed at a reasonable hour without suddenly moving things up an hour. Grrr. But you know what I like even less? When someone decides, "hey, let's make the switch a few weeks early this year, just for the fun of it." Double grrrr.

I did finish Arden's socks and am feeling pretty decent today, so I can't complain much. But I'm still going to do so.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hanging out on the couch, knitting

Haven't been doing much else this week. Had some surgery on Tuesday (let's just say female issues and leave it at that) and I've been on bed rest since. Normally I can't stand not doing things, so I planned ahead by getting a good book to read, plenty of taped shows on TV, and some knitting to do. Arden picked out this bright Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Dusk and decided he really, really wanted a pair of socks that he could wear with sneakers. No problem. I cast on Tuesday morning and stopped only when the anesthesiologist came in. "Let me finish this row" was I think the last thing I said before getting the happy juice and everything going all hazy. I've been sleeping and reading much more than I would have planned - really wiped out physically, but I still managed to finish one sock and am down to the heel on the second, which should be done tomorrow.

I'm healing up decently well, but sitting is less than comfortable right now. So more knitting and TV watching and lots of water and rest for the next few days. Once I finish the socks I'm on to start my sister's (not quite) Cobweb Crepe Shawl for real, since she gave the all clear on the Zephyr. Can't wait to get going!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Tiny knitting

So what else have I been up to? Lots of eensy tiny knitting. I laid out all the shawl patterns I could find for my sister, and finally she ended up choosing the Cobweb Crepe Shawl from Sharon Miller, found in her Heirloom Knitting book. For some reason this doesn't seem to be a very popular pattern, or at least I haven't found much mention of it online. Not sure if that's because it calls for cobweb weight yarn or because it isn't quite as ornate as many of her other patterns. Anyway, I started knitting a wee swatch in the border pattern right away, simply to practice a bit. The picots are a bit fiddly, but it isn't bad to knit up at all. Then I ordered some cobweb weight wool over at KPixie. This stuff was sooo incredibly fine and soft! I started knitting a small diagonal square and then picked up just two corners to work out how to start the wide border.

At this point I was blown away with how ethereal and soft the yarn was. And with how easily it broke. I also noticed that the yarn was awfully deep beige/yellow, which normally wouldn't be any problem but wouldn't go well with my sister's diamond white wedding dress. You know, the whole reason for knitting the thing in the first place. I called my sister, explained that I was worried about the color and gee, while we're at it, is this the kind of yarn you want since I have to order something else anyway? She decided a heavier, stronger yarn would be perfect. I sent off the cobweb swatch anyway, just so she could see how things would look with the pattern. Oh, and made the world's smallest ball of yarn for Arden who loves all things teensy :-) Meanwhile, I searched high and low for actual white laceweight yarn. Just about impossible to find, I'm guessing because bleach would be too damaging on fibers that fine?

In the end, I bought a cone of Jaggerspun Zephyr 2/18 laceweight in white. Once it arrived I saw that it's actually off-white as well, but I think this will end up being perfect. I'll have to play with the size of the center section so the wrap doesn't end up too big, but it should be doable. And the Zephyr knits up so nicely! The silk really gives it strength, too - enough that I can't break the yarn by hand without a lot of work. I started knitting a much larger swatch (so large that Dan assumed I was knitting the actual shawl) so I could try out picking up the border on all sides and working on circulars. Not bad at all. I'll place the stitches on a holder for now and use it to practice working the border later. Now if I could only think of something useful to do with it later! Might need to make up a pillow or something.

Still not sure if this off-white will get the all clear from my sister. I sent another swatch off and am waiting to hear back from her. She's not extremely picky, but this is the wedding she's been dreaming of for thirty-five years, so I'd like to give her something that makes her feel like a princess if I can. And having a bunch of Zephyr lying around can't be a bad thing, can it?

By the way, would anyone like 2000 yards of Shetland cobweb weight yarn? I only used a tiny bit, and it's so incredibly soft and airy.

Friday, March 02, 2007


All right, I promised lots of pictures. Here's a good start. Back in December, my sister called to ask if I would be willing to make up a wrap for a friend of hers who was getting married in February. I answered back with a bunch of questions: what kind of thing did this friend want? How much was she planning on spending? What did the wedding dress look like? Most importantly, was she very picky? I had nightmares of a bride in California unhappy with every tiny thing I did and the nightmares that could possibly ensue. My sister assured me that her friend was very laid back and would be incredibly happy with anything I made.

I talked to the friend and tried to narrow things down a little bit. She sent me pictures of her dress (seen here) and said she wanted something satin-ish with beading that hit around the waist. Off to the fabric store for swatches, since I couldn't really tell exactly what color the dress was via the link or her pictures. I found some likely candidates and sent them off so she could pick something that would work well. Meanwhile, I tried to see what the beading looked like on the dress so I could echo it somewhat. My sister came to the rescue here when she visited in January - we found the exact dress at a store, so I got a good look at it. Yay! That helped a lot when I went to design the pattern.

I wanted something that would coordinate with the dress and look similar in the detailing, so I took the vines and leaves pattern and started drawing. I used graph paper so the end result would be symmetrical and penciled in vines and drawing the individual beads until I liked the overall design. Then I stitched the sides of the wrap together and placed the pattern under one layer of fabric, tracing the lines with an air erase pen. I machine stitched over the lines with a silver thread veeeery slowly, since the thread snags and breaks very easily. I learned to use larger stitches and re-thread pretty often.

Then I started beading. Here's where I should mention that I've never done this kind of work before. I have sewn larger beads onto fabric and I've done cross stitch and needlepoint and all kinds of find hand sewing, but this was all new to me. When I went to the bead store I had no idea what the different beads were called or what to use to sew them on - all I knew was what was on the dress. The nice lady at the bead store walked me through finding the right kinds of tiny beeds (seed beads?), I learned that the crystal beads I wanted were "fire polished", and found out that freshwater pearls are actually not that expensive (good, because they really made the wrap). When I told her what I was attempting, she paused, then very carefully said "...well, that's quite ambitious" thinking, I'm sure, something more along the lines of "that woman is insane."

The beading took a long time and was very exacting. The needles used for beads this fine are unbelievably tiny - so small, the eye of the needle is barely large enough to fit the insanely narrow beading thread through. After a while I got the hang of threading the needles and got into a groove of following the silver stitching with a narrow line of tiny beads, then adding a lone pearl in the center of each leaf. The pearls got double stitched as they are a bit heavy. I beaded and beaded and beaded, dipping my needle into a wee bowl of tiny silvery bits to gather up more as I went, until my distance eyesight would get a bit blurry. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Finally I was done (cue angel's voices here) and stitched up the ends of the wrap, then hand stitched the remaining opening. I ever so carefully ironed it, packed it in tissue, and sent it off, hoping the bride to be would like it.

My sister went to the wedding and told me her friend loved the wrap. Evidently people kept coming up and commenting on it, and several people asked if my sister was going to get a wrap like it for *her* upcoming wedding. Well, no. I am making an heirloom lace shawl, which is just as cool and is exactly what my sister asked for (more on that later). But I noted a bit of regret in my sister's voice when she told me this, so I have something special planned as a bridal shower gift. More on that later, too.