Monthly Archives: August 2014

General Update

Let’s use a numbered list! Those are fun!

1. We are settling in nicely with the Cruze. It is still red. HRH drove it to Pennsylvania and back last weekend for Clan Camping, and apparently it handled like a dream. We’re getting insanely good gas mileage. I think, apart from the trip to PA (where they also filled up a lot less than expected), we have put gas in the car all of twice, neither a full tank.

2. I am currently copyediting a 600-page, 300-recipe French cookbook. This has had three major effects so far: One, I want to slow cook everything (as I said the other day to Daphne and Ceri, “mijoter TOUTES LES VIANDES!”); two, my desire to drink wine has increased proportionally to the direction to pour wine in every second recipe; and three, my desire to cook everything in butter has also increased. It is a pretty tight schedule, since it’s about twice the length of a standard manuscript but I have the same timeframe in which to complete it. HRH is back at work so my daytime work hours are reduced with both kids home, which doesn’t help with the stress levels. But I am in the home stretch, with less than 100 pages to go before my deadline this week.

3. I registered for this year’s Spinzilla, spinning for Team Kromski. This is a week-long event hosted by the TNNA (AKA The National Needlearts Association, specifically the Spinning and Weaving Group) designed “to motivate spinners to learn new skills, take risks, and spin their hearts out. It is also a fundraiser for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program (NAMP). NAMP connects adult mentors with school age children to teach the needle arts — spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, and stitching.” The basic goal is for teams try to spin as much combined length as they can. Plied yarns count for the length of the singles used to make them. In other words, if you end up with a 300-yard three-ply yarn, it counts for 900 yards of spinning. (Turns out the plied length counts, too, because you ran it through the wheel to ply it! So a 300-yard three-ply yarn would count for 1200 yards!) This is mildly insane because Canadian Thanksgiving happens during that week, but we shall see what kind of game plan I can draw up.

4. I read The Apprentices by Maile Meloy, which is the sequel to The Apothecary. It wasn’t as good, unfortunately. I also recently read Indexing by Seanan McGuire, which was fantastic. I got my copy of Beth Smith’s Spinner’s Book of Fleece book last week, and when this project is handed in I intend to sit down and enjoy it from cover to cover.

5. I will also enjoy trying out my new hand cards after this project is done!

I got paid for a crazy project I did a month and a half ago (recently it has been all huge or crazy projects, which is good for the bank account, not so good for the stress levels) and I took some of that money and bought a pair from Colette at her spinning studio. I also picked up some pink and purple Corriedale that Owlet fell in love with, so I shall practice carding by blending some Tencel with each of them and knitting her wee socks and mittens.

6. I forgot to mention that HRH painted the bathroom at the end of July. I came home from a week with my parents and the shabbiness of it finally made me snap. He scraped off the white paint on the wall soap dish (who paints a soap dish?), replaced the soggy MDF shelf above the sink, and painted the dark grey walls a lovely spring green. I love it so much more.

7. I bought a new computer monitor on sale a week or so ago. It’s a 20″, and it is astonishing. I can easily have three or four documents open on my screen and flip through all of them easily. I have no idea how I survived with a 15″ for so long.

That’s life in a nutshell right about now.

Thoughts on Handspun and Socks

My friend Stephanie recently pinned a lovely photo of half-finished socks knit with handspun and added a note saying, “I really want to knit socks with my handspun. What is stopping me?”

I am still a baby sock knitter. As in new to it, not a knitter of socks for babies, although Owlet found a bag of pink Corriedale at “the knitting”, which is what she calls the spinning and weaving studio we go to, and decided she wanted socks made from it. “Socks, and mittens!” she added enthusiastically. There was another nice icy lavender beside it, so I think we will make a striped yarn and go that route.

But yes, I am still new to socks, having knit only seven of them. (Yes, that’s an odd number, I know. There was that lone Gryffindor striped sock for Sparky that was a just-fit, so I knit two of a bigger size.) And while I love the idea of using my handspun for socks, I’m moderately terrified. What if I don’t have enough? (That’s pretty much a given, actually, unless I plan to do heels and toes in a contrast yarn, which, having written it out, sounds perfectly reasonable.) Handspun is precious, right? It’s handmade, and something you want to keep and use for an item that will last a long time, like scarves or shawls or mittens. And socks wear out quickly, especially ones made with soft handspun with no nylon or bamboo or Tencel in it to provide some resistance to abrasion. And then there’s the fact that tightly plied handspun is best for socks, again to better withstand abrasion. My handspun is rarely plied tightly enough for ideal sock yarn. Finally, a three-ply structure, either traditional or chain-plied, is best, and most of my handspun is two-ply.

Oh, so many reasons to not use my handspun. So I should spin yarn especially for socks, right? With the ideal fibre blend and ideal plying structure.

I’ll start by blending Owlet’s pink and lavender fibre with some Tencel I have in my stash, and knit those for her. Baby steps, right?

Owlet: Three Years Old!

Three years old! Impossible!

Our Owlet has lost most of her baby chub. Now she just has that toddler tummy. She’s wearing size 8 shoes (sometimes 9, and winter boots seem to be 10) and size 4 everything else. Although now we are at a point where the waists of things don’t snug properly if they’re styled with a button or zipped; elastic waists are our friends again. She is 34 pounds/14.5 kilos, and about a metre tall. We have to comb her hair every night before bed and when she gets up in the morning, and rub a dab of conditioner between our hands and smooth it through to help avoid tangles. When it’s wet and the curls vanish, her hair reaches her mid back, which always manages to surprise me, even though I of all people know that the length of curly hair is always deceptive.

She loves listening to The Doubleclicks, and she is currently obsessed with the film How to Train Your Dragon. The Henry and Mudge series of books is the best thing ever right now, particularly The Forever Sea, the Funny Lunch, Annie’s Perfect Pet, and The Happy Cat. She can ‘read’ the first few pages of The Funny Lunch, as well as some of her board books like Goodnight Moon and Mouse Count. Lately she’s been settling down and telling herself stories from books, reconstructing a semblance of the plot and dialogue from the pictures, adding in snippets of perfectly remembered phrases. When she gets to the end, she closes the book and announces gleefully, “I did it!”

She has begun making her toys have long, involved conversations with different voices. This is wonderful and we love it, but it also happens after she has been put to bed, and there are times were we have to step in and tell her bunnies to shush because they are being too loud and rambunctious, and they are keeping Owlet awake with their antics. She has begun a funny bedtime thing after lights out of sorting through the dolls and animals who sit at the end of her bed and knocking on the door, then handing various ones to whoever comes to the door. One night the white lamb may be sent to sleep with me, HRH is directed to sleep with the brown rabbit, and the white rabbit may be sent to Sparky. As adorable as it is, it takes up time and focus that are supposed to be for sleeping, so I think we’ll have to move those toys at bedtime.

Her use of language has leveled up yet again — a few times in the past month, actually. We’ve had some crazy leaps recently. One set of words she’s been working hard to master is brother/sister, restating the relationship from different points of view to see if it still makes sense.

She is a wonderful eater, bless her. She’s still off potatoes unless they are in fry shape, and avocados are still yucky, but just about everything else you put on her plate will be eaten cheerfully. She devoured two ribs at Nana and Grandad’s house when we were there, also had her first taste of Camembert and promptly ate a third of the wheel of cheese, had her first taste of almonds, and would have eaten the whole bag if it had been on the table. Nana also gave her a miniature Hagen Daaz ice cream bar, and that was definitely a bit of all right, thank you. If we let her, she’d eat her way through our cherry tomato plants, and we have discovered she adores cucumber again all of a sudden… but it can’t be sliced into rounds or peeled. We have to cut a garden cuke in half, then hand it to her to eat like an ice cream cone. Unfortunately, we planted the wrong kind of peas in the garden this year; the pods are too fibrous to eat, so we have to carefully open each one and scoop out the peas inside for a treat. (Or we did, for what few managed to grow. We’ve already pulled the vines out, they were growing so poorly.)

I was informed several times in July that her birthday was coming, and “I will have three years old!” She has also informed me that she would have little bugs on her cake. I don’t know if that’s because she had ladybugs and bees on her cupcakes last year and thinks that all her birthday cakes will be decorated with bugs, or because she just adores bugs and wants them again. Either way, we had a bug theme again, to her delight. She had an early birthday celebration at Nana and Grandad’s house, because they weren’t be able to come down for her actual birthday party, and since she informed Nana that there would be bugs on her cake, I popped over to Michael’s to see if they had anything we could use as cake decorations. There was nothing specific, so I improvised by buying red candy melts and sparkly black decorating gel. It was so successful that I did it again for her birthday here.

She had her first beach experience while at Nana and Grandad’s, too. We found a tiny sandy area along the boardwalk, and after being unsure about the sand in her sandals, then unsure about the sand under her feet, then about going close to the water, then about letting the water touch her toes, she decided everything was okay. So okay that there were big heaving sobs when we had to leave and go home for lunch, and she got stuck in a crying loop and couldn’t break out of it for about twenty minutes.

She is so past the smaller wading pool. This weekend she asked if she could go in Sparky’s big pool, and we said yes. She’s fine with it, so the tiny wading pool has now been retired. They love playing in it together. In fact, Sparky was trying to give her swimming lessons and giving her rides on his back today.

She’s a marvellous little girl, so fun and sharp, sweet and silly, joyous and clever. She’s testing her boundaries in a very three-year-old way, needing to be told something over and over if she doesn’t like the answer, but also making wonderful intuitive or deductive leaps. We love having her around. We think she’s okay with us, too.