Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Juggling All The Balls

To say I've been busy is an understatement.

I'm in that stage of Motherhood where my days are full of stuff that needs done TODAY, yet at the end of the day I somehow feel I haven't gotten anything done.

I'm still consistently attempting to learn to play the guitar.

And I've got the blisters and baby callouses to prove it.

The Greatest is obsessed with home improvement/renovation shows right now.  The other night we were watching one where two brothers create ridiculous projects every month.  Like a floating hot tub.  Or a floating fire pit/stage.  Their cottage is on a lake. They make a lot of floating projects.  But on the floating fire pit episode at the end of the episode these idiot pull out two guitars and just start busting out flawless chords.  I turned to The Greatest and asked him "Is it just me or does it seem like everyone can play guitar except us?"  He agreed.  We suck.  I'm really feeling this meme

But I can play "Twinkle Twinkly Little Star" and "The Alphabet Song" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep."

So I've got that going for me.

And today I had a breakthrough and I think I've mastered the D major chord.  So now I can play "3 Little Birds."

That was a pretty thrilling moment for me as well.

I've given in and turned the bottom half of the hutch in the music room

into toy storage.

The tiny Queen was always pulling out the things I stored in there anyways.  And now I can watch her cause mayhem and destruction while I serenade her with nursery rhymes.

This child is always getting serenaded

She has no idea how truly spoiled she is.

Last week she had to have outpatient surgery to remove a broken tooth.

A simple extraction turned into an extraction, two crowns, and five fillings.

But at least now her mouth doesn't hurt.

And in the midst of surgeries, and learning guitar, and unf*cking the house, and chauffeuring children to sports, and checking home work, and keeping the kids fed and for the love of all that is good did everyone brush their teeth before bed?!!!!...

There is knitting.

I'm a teensy bit obsessed with the designs by Andrea Mowry.  I've knit the Find Your Fade Shawl (twice) as well as her Boho Blush Shawl (which is still waiting for blocking/fringe).  I have big plans to knit a Kingston Tunic someday.  For now I am knitting a FunFunFun Shawl.

I wanted to copy the colors of her original shawl

But sometimes you have to go with what is available at your local craft store.

So my shawl looks more like FunFunFun's goth older cousin.

But it's all good.

Or at least it was until I ran out of yarn.

Looks like I'll have to add "Run to the craft store" to the list of things have HAVE to be done tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Change All The Things!

So it turns out when your fingers are blistered and bleeding because you are so metal playing your guitar it also hurts to knit.

Suck monkey.

Good thing I'm using super soft yarn on really big needles.  I found a way to make it work without gripping the needles too much.

Unfortunately my project with super soft yarn on really big needles is a Knit Picks test knit.  So no pictures allowed until after it is published.  That makes for a rather boring knitting blog doesn't it.

In other life news I didn't do my spring cleaning.

I thought about doing it.  I talked about doing it.  If I spent as much time working as I did thinking about working it would have been done.  Only I just didn't do it.  I thought to myself "Self, lets wait until summer break and then the kids can help."  And I replied to myself "Self, that is a really smart idea.  Let's wait.  It will get done faster with more people working.  Plus they live here too.  They can help."

Only that did not happen.

We decided not to ruin summer break with spring cleaning.  We were too busy swimming, and making bath bombs, and being lazy slugs.

So I sat back and kept thinking.  We moved into our house nine years ago and our house no longer works for us.  Our family is a much different family than we were nine years ago.  We have teenagers, and an extra kid.  We have different needs and responsibilities.  We use the spaces differently than we did nine years ago.  Only for the most part our house is still configured the same way it was when we moved in.

And it isn't working for us anymore.  And if I'm being honest things are a bit of a mess.  And by mess I mean a disaster of epic proportions.  Things attack you when you open cabinets.  Our former baby proofing is no longer effective.  Dangerous chemicals (and everything else we don't want the Queen to mess with) are stashed every high place we can find.  Everywhere I look things are crammed and cramped and in some places unnecessarily complicated.

I've really been thinking about the spaces and storage and how to make things work more effectively for us.

This project sucks.  It is a very grown up management project.  And not exactly an inexpensive project in some cases.

But it must be done.

First up, we turned our rarely used front room into a music room.

We took this big monstrosity of a couch no one uses

and created this cozy corner perfect for strumming guitars instead.

Where the piano formerly sat

Is now a cozy readying spot

Yup. I just used the word cozy twice.  I'm really striving for a hygge feeling in my home.  Also I finally got a new couch and it's making my soul so happy to have the big sectional gone, replaced with a nubby comfy couch.

The piano has returned to the inner wall where it belongs.  Every piece of furniture in the room has been dusted.  Every inch of floor has been scrubbed.  This room is "Mommy clean."  I may never let the children set foot in this room again.

There is still work to do.  The way the hutch is being utilized for storage needs reconfigured.  The yarn cabinet is a complete mess

Half the lights aren't working for the love of all that's good.

And I'm rethinking the way we are baby proofing the front door.  The wall of gate may still be our best option, but I'd like to explore some other ideas.

But all this is a good first step.  The Queen is reliably sleeping through the night.  After three years of chronic sleep deprivation I am starting to feel like me.  And I'd like to return to the homemaker I used to be.

As soon as I finish practicing my guitar.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A New Adventure

I have to confess:  There hasn't been any knitting these past few day.

This happened instead

Isn't she beautiful!

Can I play guitar?


No I most definitely can not.

But I'm hopeful.  Once upon a time I didn't know how to knit.  And look at me now!

"They" say it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill.  And we all know "they" are always right.

I'm willing to do the work and learn.   10,000 hours?  It might take me two decades, but I got this.  I can do this.  I even cut my nails ridiculously short for this.  You know I'm serious when I deliberately cut my nails crazy short.  I've spent a life time trying to grow them long.  But if I want to be a Guitar Goddess sacrifices must be made.

I've practiced so much over the last few days that my poor fingers are literally blistered and bleeding.  My pampered fingers are accustomed to dealing with smooshy soft merino wool.  And silky smooth wool blends.  And even cotton or linen is softer than a steel guitar sting.  They are used to being treated gently, so as not to cause a callous or break a nail.  I even wear gloves to clean.  They are not used to this sort of abuse.

I am not exaggerating when I say I had to stop practicing today because my finger was bleeding on the low E string.

I am so metal.

I showed the Queen my bleeding finger and explained to her how metal and hardcore this makes me.

She was unimpressed.

I guess everyone's a critic.

And just to make it extra fun

The Greatest is learning to play too.

I'm trying hard not to hate him because he is already better than me.

We have very different approaches to learning.  He watched a video and has been very focused on practicing his finger exercises.  He is very precise in what he does.

I stumble my way through the finger exercises (badly), then I try my hand at a few cords (badly), then I practice individual notes from a guitar book (badly), then I go back to my finger exercises (The Greatest has been focused on his finger exercises this entire time).  I flit around doing stuff that feels fun while trying to keep good form as I go.

And this is the perfect description of us.  He is so precise and meticulous in all he does.  And I just kinda throw myself in and roll around with it.

My fingers are blistered and bleeding.

His aren't.

I'm making no judgement calls on who is doing it right and or who better in their approach (although he's already better than me, so maybe I do know which approach is better and what I SHOULD be doing).

But I'm definitely more metal than he is.

And that's all that matters.

I'm about five hours in.

Only 9,995 to go.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Tangible Hugs

Some of you might recall that the Find Your Fade shawl I showcased yesterday was not my first attempt at a Find Your Fade.

I knit this one first.

Oh how I LOVED this shawl.

It was ginormous.  I think this one came out larger than my second one.  I have no earthly idea why.  It was knit with similar yarn (in a few cases the same yarn) on the same needles, with the same stitch count, by the same knitter.

And yet this one came out slightly larger, and dare I say it, slightly more awesome.

I think the fades in this shawl where executed better than in the second one.  I really took the time to think about how the yarns were going to blend.  This wasn't just a fun flight of fancy shawl.

I wanted this shawl to be BEAUTIFUL!

No, I NEEDED this shawl to be BEAUTIFUL!

I didn't knit this shawl for me.  I created it for someone I love dearly.  Someone I don't get to hug nearly as often as I need to.  So I sent her a tangible hug to wrap around herself when ever she needs to feel loved.

Or when she gets cold.

She can also wrap it around herself when she gets cold.

That's cool too...

And unfortunately those three pictures are all the pictures I have of the finished item. It was gorgeous and I hope it is happy in its new home.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fade to Awesome

This morning I had to get up to take The Queen to her weekly therapies where she refused to make a sound for the speech therapist and decided to cry instead of  pushing coins into a bank with her occupational therapist.

Because of course she did.

Everyone is allowed to have a bad morning, and my little rock star is no exception.  I'm sure if I had been going to three therapies a week for three years there would be morning when I just didn't.want.to.do.it!

So we'll try again next week.

The upshot of this is I put on a bra and some lipstick.  And if you're paying attention you'll notice I still have the same hair.


At least my clothes are clean.

I've got that going for me.

Looking semi-presentable led to me sweating in my overgrown yard in a vain attempt to bring you beautiful knitwear content.

 I suffer for you.

Pattern:  Find Your Fade

Yarn:  I used ALL THE YARN!  There's a complete list on my Ravelry Project Page.

Needles:  Size 4, I think my Knit Picks Caspian tips

Modifications:  I used more colors than the pattern calls for, so I just faded them out when the mood struck.


I loves me a massive shawl.

And this shawl delivers.

You can even attempt to wrap yourself and a squirmy toddler in this ginormous shawl.

But she won't be happy about it.

Despite my usual preference black and gray (and recently cream/white) I adore this crazy colorful shawl.

Bird demanded I take a picture of her in my shawl.

I don't care how good she looks in it.  I am not giving her my shawl.  I've lost more than one knit item to her with that logic.  I refuse to yield to her cuteness.

Despite her protests that it was simply too hot to try on knitwear (and since it was over 110 degrees she may have had a point) we threw the shawl on The Queen.

She turned out to be a quick study on how to properly model a knit shawl of massive proportions

I don't care how cute she looks

She can't have my shawl either.

But I'll be happy to share my technicolor snuggles when the weather finally turns cold(ish).

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Of Course It Was Terrible The BMV Was Involved

So last night my 17 year old, my straight A student, my responsible one, my first in her graduating class, my legit being invited to apply to Ivy League colleges daughter

Turned to me and said "My drivers permit expires on Thursday so we need to go tomorrow morning to renew it."

Cue the swearing in my head.

Cause I have nothing better to do right?

But I'm a good Mom.  And I'm a stay at home Mom for just this kinda thing I guess.  We went online and filled out all the forms we needed, and gathered up all the various documents we have to have to prove she exists, and we checked what time the BMV opened, to be sure we had time to get it done before school started.  Thank goodness Wednesday is late start for the high school.

Which is how I found myself awake and dressed and made up at 6:30 this morning so we would be there as soon as the doors opened.

We got there ten minutes after the doors were said to open.  But it didn't matter because instead of facing a line out the door (as we did with our last trip to the BMV) instead we found ourselves in an empty BMV parking lot with a sign that stated "All metro BMV offices will open at Noon today."

Suck monkey!

I guess the BMV wanted to have late start on Wednesdays as well.  But I had other commitments today.  First thing in the morning was really the only time I had to do this.

There was much swearing in my head.

As I drove away I remembered that there are private companies where you can get these kind of things done.  They just cost more.  But I needed it done.  There was no getting around it.  We were going to have to pay the too-busy-to-deal-with-this-nonsense tax.  Quickly I pulled into an empty parking lot and googled (cause I don't google and drive y'all.  That stuff if dangerous).  Yay for us there was one in the same city we were in.

I tried to call them to ask if they did permit renewals, but then I remembered my cell phone doesn't make phone calls anymore.  It will take a call now and then, if it feels like it.  But it doesn't let me dial out.

There was even more swearing in my head.

I need a new phone.  A water proof phone.  A Queen Bean proof phone.  But that is neither here nor there. Desperate to get this over with I plugged the address of the super expensive private licensing company into mapquest and told it to start giving me directions.  I was just going to drive there and hope for the best.

It just kinda beeped at me.

Cue even more swearing but this time I think it was out loud.

Then I realized the empty parking lot I was sitting in was right next door to a strip mall which contained the aforementioned super expensive private licensing company.  I moved the car 200 yards and "You have reached your destination."

And that was just the start of my day.

All of this is to say I got up and dressed and left the house this morning which means I was semi-presentable, which means I have a finished knit to show off.

Photos are courtesy of Bird.  I think the last time I let her touch my camera was in 2007 when she broke my camera.  She's improved her camera etiquette since then.

Pattern:  I've dubbed this "The Good Sweater"  It is a franken-knit created using the pattern Isabel but modified to more closely resemble this picture.

I think I did a pretty good job

I love this sweater!

Mine is definitely a lighter weight sweater than the inspiration sweater but since I am not a lawyer in Chicago, I am instead a kept woman in a mild climate, it works.

Of course the finer details of the sweater are all fuzzy now.  Ravelry tells me I used a size 4 needle.  And I knit the 41.25 size.  I used four and a half hanks of Knit Picks Bare Gloss, which was less than I anticipated needing, so I still have a sizable amount left over.  Not enough for another sweater for me, but maybe for Sweet Pea or The Queen.  Gloss is a merino wool/silk blend, so the feel of this sweater is divine.  Soft, and yes, silky.  I adore it.

When modifying the original pattern I eliminated the short rows at the bottom of the sweater.  I also didn't want the A-line shape, so I cast on for the number you would have after all the decreases were worked for a straighter silhouette.  And I extended the rib pattern by 20 stitches on each side (I only know all this because I made good notes on Ravelry in the beginning).

 I did some other mods.  I remember it involved math but honestly I couldn't tell you what they were.  I stopped keeping good notes on Ravelry.  Sometimes I suck.  But even if I could explain what I did you wouldn't want to duplicate this part.  After knitting the body I put the sweater in a time out for a few months even though I only had the sleeves to go.  Imagine my surprise when I rescued the sweater from the yarn trunk in my bedroom (which is quickly becoming a satellite office for The Abyss) and I discovered I had bound of twenty stitches for one armpit, but I had bound off FORTY stitches for the other.

There was much swearing.

Out loud.

I made it work.

I couldn't tell you how.

But I made it work.

Sometimes I even surprise myself.

Speaking of surprises, this was the moment the bushes behind me moved and I realized I wasn't alone in the back yard.

I was barefoot in my overgrown yard with a lizard or three.

Good times my friends.

Good times.

There you go.

New favorite sweater has been properly documented.

Day three of pretending I am a blogger in the bag!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

I'm Firmly On The Road To Hell

I've got finished knits Y'all.

I promise I do.

I've got stuff to show.

Only it's monsoon season which means it is migraine season and I'm feeling like a busted tube of biscuits.

On any given day I'm either in pain, or I'm exhausted (because being in pain is exhausting for some reason.)

Today I'm exhausted.

I wanted to show off one of my finished sweaters that I knit for me but that would mean running a comb through my hair.  Maybe putting on a swipe of mascara and some chap stick (because I'm fancy with the make up these days).  But I'm just not feeling up for it.

But never fear.  The Queen is growing like a weed (seriously.  She's recently transitioned from a mostly milk from a bottle diet to a real solid food only four ounces of milk in a bottle at bedtime diet.  It is awesome, but she is eating me out of house and home.  She's gonna be three feet tall by her birthday.  Maybe 3 foot 4!)  Which means she needs an entirely new wardrobe of sweaters for the coming winter-ish weather.  And I've got a fantastic purple fancy cables and lace sweater to show off.

I can always count on pictures of my cute children in knitwear to save the day!

Only I pulled the sweater out and realized

I blocked it but in true me fashion I never actually finished the finishing work.

I can't show off a sweater with ends dangling willy nilly.

Think of the children!

And then I turned around and realized my model

had curled up on the couch with her bear and fallen asleep.

Preschool is exhausting.

I've got good intentions.

My execution needs some work.

But here's to day 2 of pretending I'm gonna be a regular blogger again!

Monday, August 07, 2017

In Which I Try To Start Blogging...Again

Where did the summer go?


One moment it was April and I was planning for the end of the school year.  I had big dreams of lazy days in the swimming pool.

Meaty graduated 8th grade.

Then I blinked and it was the first day of school

I have a Senior in high school, a Freshman in high school, an 8th grader, a 4th grader, and the Queen is all ready to dominate in her first full year of Preschool.

Summer went way to quickly.  In summers past we have created a Summer To Do List and Daily Schedule that hung prominently on the wall in our Kitchen/Dining Room.  It was a fun way to make sure the children did their chores and that we had planned activities together.  I know if left alone I will give in to inertia and do nothing.  But this summer we decided to forego the to do list.  Which isn't to say we didn't go swimming, or eat ice cream or make craft projects.

We did.

It was just a more laid back less structured summer, that I think we all really needed.  Thanks to the skills their Grandma taught them, Bird and Sweet Pea kept us in a steady supply of cookies.  Pork Chop has a budding side business making bath bombs (We're still working out the recipe.  I think they're a teensy bit too oily but still pretty darn awesome.  The smell alone is worth having to scrub the tub when I'm done).  We ate our weight in popsicles and ice cream.

It was a good summer.

And a short summer.

It's time to get back to the business of learning.

And for me...KNITTING!

There has been knitting.

So fingers crossed I'll have a finished knit or two to show off six months from now. (that was a little joke.  and also maybe not a joke given my track record)

Here's to a fantastic school year and the best intentions to blog.