Monthly Archives: February 2013

Happy Owlyblogaversary

Art by Paul DowlingYesterday marked eleven years of owlyblogging.

I’ve been having trouble wrapping my mind around units of time recently. Ninety percent of my CD collection dates from college and university, for example (and not because I embraced the digital form of albums, but rather because the money had somewhere else to go, I wasn’t in record shops as often, or I just wasn’t as excited by new releases as I used to be). Most of my bookcases date from the same era, the contents of said bookcases covering twenty-five years of purchases (again, book buying has taken a severe hit recently, in the last five to seven years). The majority of furniture in any given room is either secondhand (donated or, more rarely, purchased), and the few pieces that were purchased new were done so over seven to ten years ago.

And then I realised that Sparky has only another four years in elementary school (mind = blown), and my concept of time took another sucker punch. I’m sure yours just has, too. You’re welcome.

I have met some wonderful, wonderful people through blogging, people whom I consider good friends even though we have not met in real life. I have even been fortunate enough to meet a handful face to face and tell them what they mean to me. I am thankful for this mode of journaling, and for this method of communication, even though I do it primarily for myself. Thank you, dear readers, for journeying along with me, some of you for the entire eleven years, some of you only for a few days, weeks, or months so far. It is lovely to have you here.


Sparky’s Sock v 1.1

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.

Recent Randomness, Mostly Starring Sparky

Sparky dressed as Tintin for book week at school. He looked awesome. We expected him to choose his default of Harry Potter, but we’re thrilled that he went in a different direction. (Also thrilled that I had a perfect sweater, he had a pair of lightish-coloured pants, and there was an arctic fox stuffie that made a somewhat convincing Milou.)

LATER: Since Blade requested it… photographic evidence in the form of a bad phone camera shot!

I dyed that self-striping yarn in crimson and gold for Sparky’s Gryffindor socks. I’m at the heel gusset already. Sock knitting is fast; sock knitting for kids is super fast. I could get to like this. It’s a short colour repeat, but they’re smallish socks, so it balances out. I’m hoping he wears these more than his Gryffindor scarf; he kept asking for it to be longer while I was knitting it, but then it ended up being too long for him to play in. He’ll grow into it, I guess.

The car gave us trouble earlier this week. The engine light started going on, and the car was uncharacteristically sluggish. I started saying a quick prayer every time I got in to drive to the school. We were pretty sure it was either the alternator not charging the battery for some reason, or the battery not holding a charge. We hoped it was the battery, because we’re covered by full replacement warranty on the one we bought two and a half years ago. HRH took the day off work yesterday, dropped Sparky off at school, then drove the car to the garage he uses near his parents’ house, and the car pretty much died as he turned into their parking lot: no power steering, no power brakes, no accessories. Turns out it was the alternator (which was original, so nine years old!), and the belt was dead, too. So it was costly, but his parents paid for half of it as his birthday present, bless them, for which we are extremely grateful. I should be thankful that I had money in hand at the moment to do it, but it was designated for various bills, which now get shuffled to the next payday, and we’re tight again for another month instead of being okay. Grr.

More grr in that Sparky and I have had dreadful colds, but I’m thankful that Owlet doesn’t seem to have caught it. It’s one of those colds that makes the ears and throat hurt like blazes, which is no fun for anyone, but especially hard on toddlers and babies. I thought everything was fine, and then Sparky came home from school early today and went right to bed. We’ll see how he is tomorrow morning.

He was selected for a lunchtime homework assistance program, which I was thrilled about, because it’s taking an hour or more to do his homework after school (most due to concentration issues) and it’s hard to help him when Owlet is running around screeching, plus make supper at the same time. He now meets a teacher twice a week to work on his vocabulary and reading, and it’s knocked at least half an hour off his homework those two days. As a trade-off, he was allowed to register for an after-school program on a Tuesday or a Thursday. He wasn’t allowed last term, because we knew homework needed to be his main focus, and he was really upset about that; but if his homework load is going to be halved two days a week, then sure, we can swing an after-school club on one of those days. He dithered between science, chess, and art, but eventually chose science. I know he’s going to love it, especially because his best friend in class registered for the same club.

This week is the last of the second term, which means report cards by the end of the month. I’m looking forward to seeing how he’s doing. I can’t wait to see how his French marks have climbed up again.

Owlet: Eighteen Months Old!

Officially a year and a half! I am trying not to think of all the adorable 18-month clothes I had to take out of rotation ages ago. We’re into 2-3T, leaning toward 3T, as it has the length she needs. She’s a few ounces shy of 30 pounds and is 82 cm tall, according to this week’s doctor appointment.

I think the cutest thing that has developed over the past couple of months is Owlet hiding something, then raising both hands up into the air to either side of her head, cupping them as she shrugs a bit and says, “Where go?” in a hilariously angsty voice. It’s followed by, “Hmm,” with a finger touching one of her cheeks and a little furrowed brow as she feigns thinking. When she or someone else reveals the hidden item, she grins impishly and says, “Peeyaboh!”

We’ve had a word explosion lately. Ears, eyes, mouth, nose, hair, baby, nigh-nigh, see you, flower, butterfly, teeth please, tea please, bear, bug, sun, moon, star, all gone, Daddy, up-down-up-down. She said “merci” to the crossing guard and waved a couple of weeks ago. Her way of asking for something is to point at it and say, “yes, please.” If we don’t respond, or explain that she can’t have it for whatever reason, she gets quite cross and repeats, “yes, please, YES, PLEASE” over and over quite imperiously. She has a very clear and chirpy “Thank you!” that she uses when anyone hands her something. She will spill her milk at the table on purpose so she can say “Uh-oh” and wipe it up with a cloth. When she’s finished her meal she says “Aaaaall done,” and hands her plate to an adult to be cleared, the way everyone else does at the table. Her obsession with saying “cheers!” and clinking glasses has relaxed; now she only does it once or twice per meal, and is much more focused instead of waving her glass around wildly.

There are two things she has become obsessed with in its place, though. First is brushing her teeth. She adores the whole process and goes into the bathroom several times a day to pull her little stepstool over and call for her toothbrush. Most of the time I can get away without the toothpaste, but she insists on her brush and a glass of water to dip it in so she can happily chew on it and and suck the water off. There’s a full-scale meltdown if she isn’t ready to stop when you need her to stop, even after twenty minutes of happily playing there. She will happily try to brush other people’s teeth, and has gone after Gryffindor with her toothbrush. (We caught her in time.) The problem is all brushes are fair game, so she tries to dip her hairbrush in the water glass and chew on it, too. And sometimes she tries to brush her hair with the toothbrush. She’s been practising drinking out of the open cup after brushing her teeth as well.

The other obsession is tea. I got tired of fighting with her over my teacup, so I got her one of the sippy cups with handles that didn’t work for her when we’d originally got it, filled it mostly with warm tap water, then added some tea. She adores it, sucking it back and handing me the empty cup and clamouring for more. So now I have two kids who think going to the tea store is an enormous treat. I make a whole pot all the time now, because someone will be asking for their own cup, and making a single cup isn’t efficient any more. Although having her own cup isn’t a guarantee that she won’t pester me for a sip from my cup, or dip her fingers in to lick the tea off if I left it on an end table instead of out of her reach.

Playing has become more complex. She loves her play silks that my friend Elizabeth dyed for her, using them as capes or scarves, wrapping toys in them, or pulling them over her head and wandering around, giggling. Her Little People mini stable and mini cottage see a lot of play, as does her bus. She likes to sit on a tiny bench and spread her crayons out on her love seat, flipping pages in her sketchbook and scribbling all over the place. It’s an instant toddler dance party when the dance music or the British Grenadiers march from the Pride & Prejudice score comes on, or “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates” from the Hobbit score. (We clocked five plays of that one in a loop before we had to call an end to it, exhausted from whirling her around the room.) She’s really gotten into the Wheely Bug this past month, too, zooming around on it. One of her latest quirks involves taking a parent’s hand and walking them around and around the living room, through kitchen, down hall, and back into living room. It’s like she’s doing the Regency ‘taking a turn about the room’ thing.

She is voluntarily expanding her bedtime routine. After supper she changes into jammies, marches down the hall where we brush her teeth, she says nigh-nigh to Liam, and walks back to her room. I pick her up and she says goodnight to things: Nigh-nigh moon (the birchbark moon hanging on her door), nigh-nigh other moon (the wooden cutout above her door), nigh-nigh fairy and fairy owl. Then nigh-nigh Mama, with a very sweet kiss. Then she is handed to Daddy for her bottle and bed, and waves to me, sometimes catching my hand to swing it a bit while I give her one last kiss on the forehead. When I put her down for a nap, she strokes my face gently with the satin or plush blanket parts of her blanket bunny, sharing it between stroking her own cheek.

She is now giving perfect, gentle little ‘mwah’ kisses, a nice change from wet open-mouthed kissing with teeth bared! She is giving very good hugs now, too, with arms around the neck and the head laid on a shoulder, complete with gentle patting on the back. She has decided that shaking hands with new people is excellent, and she has a very matter-of-fact shake, too, not goofy or simpery.

The communication thing is part of the toddler development that fascinates me. It’s so exciting to be able to say, “Do you want X?” and have her think for a split second before she shakes her head and says, “No,” very clearly with a tinge of melancholy. We have to play the suggestion game till we hit on what she does want, though, which can get frustrating for everyone. But sometimes we know exactly what she wants, because in general she is very good at getting her point across. Like she loves to sit at the table on a Big Person Chair, especially for snacks, lunches, and homework time. She is Very Serious about her homework. Or maybe it’s about her shared homework time with Sparky.

In Which She Is Very Excited About Knitting

A few years ago I knit a pair of brown slippers and felted them. They are very, very warm, and the soles have worn out twice. Two weekends ago I darned them… and then they wore out next to the darns. So I cut off the tattered second soles I’d knitted for them and savaged what I could of that knitted and felted fabric, cutting out patches and sewing them over the holes in the original slippers. And then the patches wore through.

I needed new slippers.

I wear through slippers very quickly, most likely because I wear them all the time at home, fall through spring. Since my feet are long and narrow, store-bought slippers don’t fit me very well. So I decided to knit more.

Except this time, I wouldn’t knit a slipper. I would knit a sock, a low anklet-style sock, and felt that instead. Because, you see, my online knitting mamas group have been luring me into sock making, and Ceri has been doing the same in person (going so far as to buy me a whole set of gorgeous KnitPicks DPNs, in fact, so I would have the tools at hand when the sock whimsy strikes). And doing this, in a bulky yarn on big needles to boot, would be a good way to ease into the whole event.

So in my last KnitPicks order I got a ball of lovely bulky Merino blend Full Circle yarn in Ponderosa, a lovely cool piney colour (a single, so squishy!), and I cued up the highly recommended Silver’s Sock Class tutorial, and I cast on for the worsted size, using size 10.5 needles. (This first photo is the actual colour; the others are all odd thanks to lighting issues.)

I knit a couple of inches at the ankle in straight stitch, no ribbing, with just a line of purling after my foundation knit row to minimize curling. And then I got to set up the heel gusset! And then I turned the heel!

Then I knitted and knitted the foot, and then I got to do the toe decreases, and I was all set for grafting.

And then, dear readers… I grafted the toe.

I am not sure what the angst about grafting toes is really about.


It is floppy and too big because it will be felted down to a slipper, but I did it, and it is mine, and it is soft and warm and I am terribly proud of myself. I owe a lot of this success to the incredibly well laid-out instructions of Silver’s Sock Class, and the accompanying fantastic photos that reassured me I was understanding the written instructions properly.

Now, this is a huge success on one hand — I knit an entire sock! in about two days! — but only a qualified success on the other, because if I stopped here, my other foot would be very sad and cold. So I have to knit another one. This is exciting, because turning the heel was really cool, and so was grafting the toe. The problem is… I have to wait to knit the second because I don’t have enough yarn! I can cast on and maybe knit to the heel gusset, I suppose, but I don’t have enough to go any further. That’s okay, because I’m conveniently doing a KnitPicks order this weekend for baby blanket yarn. I should have thought it through and known that 100 yards wouldn’t be enough to do two socks, even if you’re doing four inches less of the leg than the pattern calls for.

And in the meantime, Sparky has requested a pair of Gryffindor striped socks. He wanted to know what I was going to use the purple Squoosh yarn for, and I said I thought it might be my first pair of hand-knit socks, but I’d have to practice on something else first so I didn’t ruin it, like maybe smaller socks for him or Owlet. He got very excited and said, “You could knit me Gryffindor socks! In stripes!” So that’s up next. I’ll buy a skein of white yarn when I pick up the yarn I need to do my next blanket squares for a group baby blanket this Saturday, and we’ll dye some self-striping crimson and gold yarn for his socks.

Achievement unlocked: Turning Heels, Grafting Toes, and Handling DPNs Without Devolving Into A Spitting, Swearing Mess. Thank you, everyone who helped and cheered me along. I should have another sock in a couple of weeks. Then the felting adventure begins!