Now that the weather’s nice, we get multiple requests for “Ousside? Ousside?” each day. When we are ousside, she mucks about in the dirt of the garden, inspects every flower (or “flowerfly,” if you are Owlet), giggles on the swing till she hiccoughs, picks up rocks and carries them to new places, and picks up as many sticks as she can till her hands are full. And then she stands and stares at the ones in her hands, wondering what to do with them, because there’s another stick on the ground, right there, and if she lets go of the bouquet of sticks with one hand to reach for it the ones she’s holding will fall, and that will be a crisis of unimaginable proportion.
She adores pine cones, dandelions, standing on manhole covers and crouching down to poke her fingers in the grooves and holes, and stopping to talk to random people on the sidewalk. One of her latest obsessions is the small bell tower around the corner. We can see it from our back porch, as a matter of fact. Every day as we pull into the driveway she asks two things: “Flowerflies?” If I tell her no, we can’t spend half an hour in the front garden examining every single flower that is currently in bloom, she asks, “Bayels?” We walked once to the church to look at the bells, and now she asks to do it several times a day. Most of the time it’s a nice way to kill twenty minutes, especially in the early morning after we’re back from dropping Sparky off at school, but sometimes I have stuff to do, and it’s not a convenient time.
She is also currently enthralled with bugs of all kinds. She is especially fond of bees; bee-bugs (which are ladybugs); fufferfies (we get this one mixed up with flowerflies a lot, to her frustration); and nails (snails: she pointed at the spiral in Ceri’s seal tattoo the other day and informed her that there was a snail in it). We have recently managed to get her to understand that the buzzing sound in the sky is not a bee, but a plane. Mushrooms, tomatoes, and cucumber are the best snacks ever. Unless there are goldfish crackers in the house. Then all bets are off.
New words are too numerous to keep track of any more. Monster, snail, loom, sit, sauce, pizza, dip, snack, bite (“Bite?” she says hopefully when she sees you eating something, and she offers you bites of whatever she is eating, too… also to the cat, whether he is there or not), diaper, people, sure (it is hilarious to ask her if she wants something and to hear a laid-back “Shuuuure!” in reply), and phrases like “here you go” chirped every time she puts something down by you. About six weeks ago she started calling me Mummy instead of Mama, and it’s rarely once at a time; it’s usually Mummy, Mummy, Mummy. Today I asked her, “Do you want to help me?” “Help you? Shuuuure!” she said. That’s huge, being able to turn the pronoun around from “me” to “you” and use it correctly like that.
She wakes up around 6:30, has lunch around 11:30, and has a nap from roughly noon till 2:00. Then we go get Sparky at school for 3:45, have supper around 6:00, and she’s in bed by 7:00. When she wakes up from naps she calls for Gryff (“Maow! Maow!”) and I open the door for him. He runs in and they get all excited, because the next thing I do is lift the cat into the crib, and the two of them lie there and talk to one another. Owlet covers him with blankets, asks me for some books and reads to him, or just lies down and cuddles with him until he’s had enough. It’s really sweet. The two of them play an odd game of Marco Polo in the house, too. If Gryff is somewhere and meows, Owlet will meow back, and the Gryff will reply, and they’ll carry on like that for a while.
We cut out the bottle or cup before her nap entirely; now it’s just snuggling with the soother till she’s asleep, which is usually in about five minutes, and then I slip her into the crib. (We do the opposite at bedtime: a couple of ounces of milk still, then into bed awake, although we need to switch that milk over to a cup of water now). Over this summer we need to start weaning her off the soother before naps, because she won’t have it at daycare.
She’s still incredibly social. When we drive to or from school, she waves to bus drivers (“Hello, peoples!”), and blows kisses to the drivers around us as we pull away from red lights. She’s cheerful, likes to make sure everyone gets hugs and kisses when people leave (family hugs are particularly important before Daddy goes to work in the morning), and shares everything with everyone, but expects the same in return. (You weren’t going to eat half that bowl of pasta, were you? Or that scone? Or drink that cup of tea?).
She slept restlessly for a lot of this past month. I thought it was spring, maybe, or the hard transition to one nap a day, or the damn canines finally settling into place… but now we think it was a language development upgrade running at night. Suddenly we have things like: Read, read book?, clock, bless you!, allons-y (usually followed by go go go, but all in a tumble of sound so it’s more like allonsygogogo!, which rather suits the emotion of the statement). She chirped “Congratulations!” to Sparky after I said it when he finished Pokemon Black the other week. She calls snow “no,” which is what a lot of us feel about it at this time of year, frankly. And we have “Merci bye-bye!” followed by a serious blown kiss, which is generally reserved for the people at the deli counter in the grocery store who give her a slice of pretty much anything she points at while I’m ordering freshly cut cold meat. She thinks the deli counter is her personal buffet. They would have started slicing the cheese she pointed at with a charming grin and a “This?” if I hadn’t stopped them a couple of weeks ago. And we are finally starting to get animals identified by more than the sound they make. We actually heard her say “horse” the other day, and “dog.” Rabbits are hophops, though she calls her blanket bunny Bunny.
Sentences are starting to be more common. “Bird!” she said the other day when we were walking in a parking lot, leaning back and pointing gup. “Fying! Sky!” When I queried her, she strung them all together: “Bird fying sky!” And then there was “Here, Ee-yah, put cup here.” After which Sparky turned to HRH with wide eyes, saying, “She just said a whole sentence and I understood her!”
But the most hilarious language-related development is her use of the word ‘delicious.’ She may have picked it up from us, because when she pretends to feed us something we generally say, “Mmm, delicious.” So when we ask her, for example, “Is your mushroom good?” we are rewarded with “EeeeeeeISHush!” And she says it with such gusto that we can’t help laughing. But the other day, HRH caught her putting something into her mouth: “Wait, what have you got in your mouth? Open. Open! Is it a sticker?” So we checked, but there was nothing. We turned back to getting supper ready, and I said, “Well, whatever it was, it’s gone now. I hope it was good.” And from behind HRH and I came: “EeeeeeeISHush!”
Firsts this month include her first taste of tire d’érable on snow (I picked up a small jar of tire, HRH scooped up some clean snow from the back of the house, I warmed the tire up in the microwave and poured it on the snow for the kids; it’s the closest we’ll come to cabane a sucre, because they’re shockingly expensive and honestly, I hate most of the food apart from the tire), first homemade playdough, and her first serious watercolour painting and finger-painting. Someone adores painting in every form. (Also note: neither of these were finger-painting sessions. That didn’t stop her from using the technique.)
Grandma taught her how to play Ring Around the Rosie, and she made poor Grandma play it a billionty times in a row. She had her first real phone conversation, too, with Daddy. She did her first Easter Egg hunt, which was lots of fun:
She wore a pretty periwinkle blue dress with a blue-green floral chiffon skirt at Easter (I think it was Wynter’s—does it look familiar, Annika?), but every single photo is blurred because she couldn’t stop darting around at her grandparents’ house. So we’re going with the arty one that looks blurry on purpose:
Ceri and Scott passed along Ada’s booster seat, and while Owlet thought it was the best thing ever for about a week, she started resisting it, likely because she prefers to sit or kneel on a regular chair. So we only use her wooden high chair at supper now; all other meals she gets a real chair. Which is kind of funny, because she runs to it and hauls herself up onto the seat on her tummy, but usually gets her head stuck under the table while doing it.
She loves playing with the iPad, so much so that we have to have strict rules about when she can play with it and for how long. (Out of sight, out of mind is the best way to deal with it, we have discovered.) Her favourite app is Endless ABC, and she can rearrange the jumbled letters and drag them to their shadows in remarkably impressive time. She took the letter L off the fridge the other day and waved it at me, going “Luh-luh-luh-LUH-luh-luh” like the letter L in the game does when you try to drag it into the correct spot. So, er, hello, knowledge sponge. She loves the Kids CBC app and sings along with the Dirt Girl theme song, and is starting to get into matching/Memory game apps. But she also loves the simplicity of Fantasy Music Box and the Little Fox Music app, which she likes for the songs as well as the studio section where she can touch different things to make noises and sounds against a beat.
She came up to me one morning while I was casting on for a toddler sweater I’m test-knitting for an acquaintance, and said, “Eit? Eit?” I thought she was saying eight, because she was looking at the ends of the needles where the size is printed, so I told her no, they were size 7s. She took the needles away from me and clicked the tips together a few times. Turns out she was saying, “Knit? Knit?”
At the thrift shop the other day we found not one but two pairs of barely-used shoes for her. One is a just-fit for now (purple lace-up ankle boots! she saw them and pestered me till I handed them to her, and then she yanked off her boots and tried to shove them on her feet by herself) and the others are a pair of suede t-straps, a size or two bigger for this fall. That day after her nap, she insisted that she put on the ones she had picked and she stomped around in them all afternoon, very pleased with herself. I got a parcel in the mail that day and there was bubble wrap in it, so Sparky put it on the floor and showed her how to stomp on it. She made very satisfying sounds with those shoes on!
On the same thrift store trip I found an older Little People house there for three dollars, which was missing the doors and didn’t come with any furniture or people, but she adores it. She is especially fascinated with the bathroom, and has given all the Little People and equivalent sized figures we have a turn on the potty and several baths. On another thrift store trip we scored a little china tea set for $2, and the tea parties began! We’ve already misplaced the creamer and the green cup has broken, but that’s not slowing anyone down.
She walked up to stand next to me in the kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and sang, “Tiyul, tiyul, i-al STAH… howAwaaa-aaawha-ooAAAAH.” And she kept going, looking at me with a tiny smile on her face. At the end she grinned and started clapping for herself. She sings along with stuff, but I’ve never heard her voluntarily sing a whole song on her own before. She randomly does bits of the alphabet song, and requests “Baa Baa Black Sheep” often during diaper changes. We’ve started to listen to a playlist just for her in the car with some of her favourite songs on it, and after each one she says, “Thank you!” She’s such a sparkling, giggly, drop of pure sunshine. Sure, things get cranky and hard, and teeth are jerks, as Ceri says; but she’s a sunny little thing. We’re fortunate parents–again.
The Fibre-Dyeing Experiment:
About three weeks ago, I was halfway through spinning the merino/silk half of Mum’s yarn, and I found myself craving colour. It is spring! I want to spin something pretty! The yarn I’m spinning for her is gorgeous, but it’s white. I thought that as a treat after all my crazy work and hard budgeting, I’d subscribe to a three-month fibre club. Except they’re all so much more expensive now that the USPS shipping has gone up, and the one I wanted to do that I subscribed to in 2010 took off over the last two and a half years and now has two different clubs, a waiting list, and a jump-on-it-as-it’s-released rush, like Phat Fiber has. (I am thrilled she’s doing so well, but I am kind of cranky, too, in a ‘get off my spinning lawn’ kind of way.) So as much as I love getting fibre surprises in the mail, I can’t justify the cost knowing that I could do it myself for so much less.
So that’s what I decided to do. I bought a $20 roasting tin for dyeing, and I’m going to dye 4oz of fibre for myself every month. Or I may do a couple at a time in different colour combos, and put one aside to pull out randomly when I don’t have time or inclination to dye some. I have lots of plain fibre tucked away to use. It will be a do-it-yourself fibre club!
My first dye experiment was a gradation from green through blue then red on some BFL. But it didn’t blend as much between the colours as I wanted to create a blue-green and purple, because I set up for low-immersion dyeing then handpainted in the pan, so it didn’t work the way it was supposed to for either method. I did a blue overdye of the whole braid the next day, though, and it turned out beautifully!
The Test Knit:
I signed up to do a test knit of an online acquaintance’s child’s sweater pattern, in an Owlet size. It’s garter stitch and a simple construction, but elegant in its simplicity, the kind of thing I could manage, I thought. I got the pattern via e-mail mid-March, and started angsting about yarn. Choosing yarn is hard! It’s so much easier to make it yourself, because then you can get the exact grist and composition you need, and often the colour, too. Plus, it’s a lot less expensive. (I realise the statement “it’s easier to make your own” makes an awful lot of people snort incredulously. Just go with me, here.) I got the pattern, and I was so excited! Trepidatious, but excited! I’ve never test knit anything before! And then I got hit with that last massive edit to do on a hard deadline, and lost my time in which I relax and knit or do other stuff. Okay, no problem; maybe I could knit while Owlet was awake. (Ha ha ha— no. Never.) The designer okayed my past-deadline projected finish, though, bless her.
I had nothing in my stash (of course, because I don’t knit, so I do not have a yarn stash of sensible stuff, only handspun of enough yardage for scarves), so I looked at my budget, said, “I can get a really low-quality wool blend or a good acrylic,” and found an acrylic that was not completely unrelated to the dusty plum colour I was envisioning. I brought it home and swatched it up. It was just a tiny bit over gauge. So I went ahead.
And I hated how it felt, and the knitted fabric was stiff, and I couldn’t go up or down a needle size or it would be wildly off gauge or even stiffer. So I groused a lot and researched more yarn, and finally decided that I’d either get Cascade 220 or something else if it totalled under $30, and even that I shouldn’t do because money was, as usual, super tight. (The acrylic will be used, don’t worry. I have a project in mind, for which it will be perfect.) I’d been angsting about this project a lot, and I was already stressed because the product was going to be late, thanks to work.
Then a week ago I was shifting things around in the storage room, and I found a box marked “Mum yarn fabric” that hadn’t been unpacked after the last move. And I remembered that five years ago, my mum had sent me home with a bunch of wool and mostly-wool yarns from frogged partly-knit Aran sweaters and such, plus some linen fabric that she was clearing out of her own stash. And I found the perfect undyed yarn, wound into balls with no label. It was the right weight, and it swatched to gauge. I did a burn test, and it seems to be mostly wool with some acrylic/nylon. And a sample skein took my purple dye beautifully.
So the test knit was in business again! I skeined up the handwound balls to dye it, discovered that there was over a pound of the yarn, measured out the 530 yards I’d need (and there’s enough to do more than another of these sweaters left). I dyed it a pretty dusty plum colour, which ended up a bit bluer than I’d intended but it’s lovely, so I’m not messing with it by overdyeing it. I have about five inches of the back knit already.
The Blanket Square Fiasco:
I have a very careful chart of all the blanket squares I’ve signed up to knit for our knitting group’s baby blankets. And yet despite this, I somehow managed to mix the next yarn I’d need for an end-of-March set of squares with the yarn another mum and I are sharing for a blanket squares due in May. I’d planned to order the yarn for these two squares when Mum came to visit in February (the visit that was rescheduled to late March, so I could perhaps be forgiven in that respect), so I hadn’t even ordered it yet when I realised it was due in two weeks! I ordered it immediately, and the yarn arrived in less than a week. I started knitting right away, but the pattern I was assigned for this square isn’t my usual pattern I usually knit for our group’s blankets. It requires a lot more concentration than my regular one, so it’s going slowly because I can’t do it while Owlet is playing or while Sesame Street is on. The coordinator for this blanket okayed me being late on them, too, but I felt like I’d let everyone down somehow. What good is a detailed chart if I can’t interpret the info on it properly?
What About Sparky’s Socks?
Well, the only thing worse than second sock syndrome… is third sock syndrome. I finally cast on for his second properly-sized sock two weeks ago. I’m at the beginning of the heel.
So much knitting, most of it on a deadline. I don’t know who I am any more.
Not exactly fibre-focused, but related because it’s with my online knitting group:
I signed up for a toddler busy bag swap with my Ravelry group that’s due in mid-April. I think I am moderately insane, but now I have time to put my bead-stringing project together. (Twelve times. Ha ha ha. Still, it means I get eleven other busy bag projects in return, which is really awesome.) And we’re doing a Reduce/Reuse/Recycle swap, due in mid-May, which I haven’t even started on yet either, though I have an electronic scrapbook file of ideas…
Oh, the words. New this month are: Mushroom, tomato (“may toe”), drink, toes, flowers, butterflies, bug, bath (we must be careful saying this, as she will beetle directly into the bathroom, start drumming the edge of tub with her hands, and say, “Bath. Bath? Bath!” then get very cross if we say that it isn’t a bath night), dance, again, UP-down, outside, happy! happy! happy!, happy baby, angry! grr (that’s all one unit: “Angry!grr“), mine, sky, sun,moon, and sad.
This month also saw her first three-word sentence: “Where Papa go?”
Singing has suddenly exploded as well. Owlet sings “Twinkle” with me, not that anyone would necessarily recognize it. We started off with her supplying the last word in each line, but now she burbles along. She sings the “ABC” song with Sparky, too, much to his delight, although most of the letters are e, d, or g. She also sings “Baa baa black sheep,” with some serious head-banging for the “yes sir” bits. (It’s so serious that we can’t sing it if we’re sitting at a table, because she will crack her forehead on it.) She sang the first two lines of the Cat in the Hat theme song when it appeared on PBS today, much to the astonishment of Sparky and me. It’s very simple and mostly repetitive; I’m not surprised that she can sing “Go, go, go, go” of course, but “on an adventure” was kind of a shock. (It was more like “onna vedjur,” but it was in time and on beat.) We read Goodnight Moon and I can pause to let her fill in lots of the items listed throughout it, too.
Furniture-moving is one of her newest pastimes. She likes to shove her bench out into the middle of the living room to stand on it. In the kitchen, if I’m doing something on a counter, she’ll drag a chair over to counter next to me, climb it, stands to help me bake. (Which, yesterday, involved her dropping a whole measuring cup into the Kitchenaid bowl, and sinking her entire hand into cake batter after it had been poured into the pan. So helpful.) We can’t build tents as easily as we could in the old living room with Sparky, who adored them, but sometimes I can manage this:
Another of her idiosyncrasies is her pretend sleep: She’ll flop over and start snoring really loudly… with her eyes open, watching us. Too funny! She has also discovered stickers. The kids got Brave sticker books from Santa when they saw him at Christmas, and she dragged one out the other day. Stickers are awesome! They stick to things! Like noses! And doors! And the fridge! And the cat! Thank goodness these ones are designed to peel off and restick in the book, but even they pick up dust and grime and stop sticking. Time to pick some assorted sticker books up in the dollar store now and then and tuck them away for days when we need something new.
Poor Owlet. We had a horrible February, as all four of her canines decided to come in at once. They were huge, swollen, white lumps in her gums, and she was miserable. The top two broke through two days apart during the first week of March, and the right bottom one has just emerged. The bottom left one is still a lump, but she’s back to her usual cheerful self. I think her appetite is finally slowing down. But that may have been the teeth. She still steals tea even though I give her her own.
We seem to be stuck between one two-hour (or more) nap, and two hour and a half-long naps. It’s hard. We kind of play it by ear as the day goes. Some days she makes it till past 10:30 and naps for two hours. Most days she goes down around 10, and naps for only 1.5 ish hours. If that happens I gauge her mood and usuallyput her down for a catnap around 2:30. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. I’m thinking the time change may actually help us out in this respect.
She really loves sitting on the big potty. None of this kid potty thing for her! No, if everyone else uses the big one, she will too. So I got the child insert from storage and she cheerfully asks to sit on it several times a day, reading books or brushing her teeth. Nothing has actually happened yet, but it has to at some point.
Colouring is going better. Except she has to be supervised extremely carefully, because apparently our wood-based decor is in need of some colour. I went to pour another cup of tea the other day and when I came back twenty seconds later, I found red crayon on the floor. So I scrubbed it off with a tissue, saying, “No! Crayons go on paper.” And because she loves to clean and I wanted to reinforce the lesson, I handed her the tissue and asked her to help clean it up. She scrubbed at the mark industriously, and then turned and scrubbed at the mark she’d made on the bookshelf, then the other bookshelf, the spines of the books on that second bookshelf, the spinning wheel, and her bench. (!!!)
Sometimes she goes after Gryff, saying, “No! No, meow!” then a string of baby gibberish that very clearly tells the cat off for doing whatever she thinks he’s not supposed to do. Granted, we do shoo him away from various places and things, so it’s definitely imitative behaviour. Once she kept yelling at him to get him away from his dish, and it took us a moment or two to realise that she was imitating us shooing him away from Cricket’s dish when she imagines something is scaring her and runs off, leaving food in her bowl. So we find ourselves now having to tell Owlet that no, it’s all right, the cat is allowed to do whatever he’s doing. Except in the past couple of days we’ve noticed her shooing Cricket away from her own bowl, so apparently she thinks no cat is ever supposed to eat from that bowl, ever.
Her hair is a lovely honey colour, a warm light brown. Her curls are getting longer, which means the weight is pulling them down a bit and they’re becoming more waves with a half-ringlet at the bottom. Her hair dries super-curly, but it’s so fine that the curl slips out of it after sleeping or wearing a hat. Sometimes she reaches for my green spray bottle in the bathroom, and I spray her hair and squish it into curls for her. She loves the spray bottle, thank goodness. We’re sweeping her uneven, thin bangs to the side at the moment, but I wonder if trimming them to an even fringe might work better. (My heart just about stops every time I consider that. My baby can’t possibly be old enough to need a haircut.)
So, this sock project.
We started with off-white yarn, and wound a long skein:
Then we dyed half of the skein in one bag of yellow dye, with the other half in a bag of burgundy dye next to it (we used the microwave to steam and set the dye, and the pictures were awful, so they’re not here).
After it dried it looked like this:
I reskeined it, so we’d have a better idea of how it would look knit up:
And I knit it:
Hey, check out that self-striping! How cool am I?
And the boy tried it on…
… but it’s a just-fit, verging on a shade too small.
He had a lot of trouble pulling it over his heel. I saw him hauling on the ribbing and there’s no way it would last. I had to inch it on his foot for him to get the photos. There’s no point in knitting another one this size. And I was so proud of my number crunching, scaling my sock pattern down through every step for a youth foot, too! The main problem is easing the cuff and heel over his instep and heel and then settling the toe on properly. So, you know, if he never had to take it on or off, and didn’t have to move in it, it would be fine.
So I’ll knit a bigger pair. I won’t have enough of the self-striping yarn for two whole socks, though, especially if they’re bigger, so I will use the dark red Cascade superwash I have left over from knitting a baby blanket square for for the body of the leg and foot, and the striping yarn for the cuff, heel, and toe. It will look awesome.
But I am very proud of this sock regardless! It is a real sock to be worn as-is on a foot! And I knit it in six days. I cast on for sock 1.2 yesterday and finished the cuff today, so now it’s on to the leg.