Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009, The Year in Knits

Overall, my knits this year was quite unimpressive & lackluster. I spent the first two thirds of the year trying to get my knitting mojo back after I misplaced it. Let's see what I did accomplish this year:

First up, is a WIP that is still hanging around. Branching out is my first serious attempt at lace knitting. It's still unfinished because I found that I must have complete quiet & no interruptions to keep track of the pattern... and those conditions are rare in our house.

T2 ~ Early in the year I knitted a baby blanket for some friends. It was the second time I knit the Trinity pattern by Indigo Muse (Hence the name "T2"). I still love this pattern, and may find myself making another one in 2010.

Pretty in Pink ~ If you've read my blog recently, you'll recognize this knit & the last knit of '09 as the most recent FO's. This dress was knit for my darling niece. She's still really small, but she should grow into this dress just in time to wear it this spring.

Black-N-White Blob ~ So named because that's what it seemed to be as I knit this blanket in the round. I loved how it turned out, and so did my niece's parents. It wasn't what I would call a quick knit, but it was super easy.

I think I may have located my knitting mojo, as I am back to knitting every single chance I get. I've also been inspired to make a few New Year's Knitsolutions. Check back tomorrow to find out what these are.

For now, I wish you all a Happy New Year! Please celebrate responsibly and be safe tonight!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas & a Few FO's!

I hope everyone had a great Christmas. We sure did! I'll post some photos another day. Matt took most of the pictures on Christmas morning, so they are all in his camera. I do have one photo, though. Just in case you were wondering where Santa hid the presents for the boys... he hid them in the trunk of Matt's Cobra. Since it is tucked away for the winter, it was the perfect hiding place.
What's that? Oh yes. It's a landmark day. For the first time in about 10 months, I have some finished knits to share.


First up, we have the OpArt blanket (AKA "The Black-N-White Blob). I am so, so, SO happy with the way this turned out.
Here are the specs:
Pattern: OpArt by Melissa Dominguez
Made for: My baby niece, Claire
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish in Coal & White; Cascade 220 in a bright pink
Needles: 2 Size 7 DPN's
Modifications: I knitted this in stockinette stitch, instead of the recommended garter stitch. I
also omitted the last two color bands (partly because I ran out of time, partly because I
wanted it to be a good "Linus" size), and I added three rounds of a pink border in garter
Reflections: I loved this project. Although it became a little tedious (I couldn't see it getting
bigger because it was knitted in the round), it was so simple! I hardly had to pay attention, so
it was a good project to knit while watching TV and attending to my children.


Next up was the project I named "Pretty in Pink:"
Here are the details:
Project: Dress with Eyelets, by Debbie Bliss
Knitted for: Baby Claire
Yarn: Phildar Plaisance, in Camelia
Needles: Size 3 straights
Modifications: Um, yes. When I was working on the back, I realized that the opening for the baby's head was going to be quite small, so I omitted the single button closure on the back and knitted one shoulder so that it overlapped and could be tied with a bow. This way, my sister in law can open the entire shoulder when dressing the baby. Also, I had a wee bit of trouble getting the eyelet rows to match up on the sides, so I tied one bow under each arm instead of the one bow in front.

Here's a picture of the shoulder:
And here's a picture of the two bows:
I am so relieved to have these two projects done. I loved knitting for my new niece, and both projects were fun, but after a few false starts and a bit of tinking... they sucked up most of this year. I feel really good about them, and have no doubt that Claire's parents will save them for her for many years.

So, what's next for this knitter? Well, it's time to make my New Year Knitsolutions. I didn't really make any last year, but I do have a couple in mind for 2010. I'll be working up a list of knitting goals for next year... and I'll be sharing them later this week!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Family That Hunts Together...

Despite my best intentions, I am still terribly behind on the blog. These are about a month late, but here they are, nonetheless.

The second weekend of Deer Season was a HUGE first for us. It was the boys' first weekend in the deer woods. Neither has ever gone during deer season. We said they could go when they were (much) older, but finding a babysitter was a problem, and Matt had already bagged his deer, so we thought it would be easiest to just shlep them along.

One of the first things Riley learned was to warm his hands by the fire. You hold them out to the fire, then rub them together....
...then hold them out toward the fire. Repeat until summer weather returns.
Tyson loved hanging out with "The Girls." The twins are my step-sisters, so the boys' aunts. For some reason, Ty just calls them by their names, sans the "Aunt" title. I think this is due to the fact that they were only about 9 years old when he was born.
He just loves hanging out with them.
And of course, there was quite a bit of horseplay in the evenings. Here is my Dad (AKA "Pappy") goofing with Riley.
Despite missing a couple of people, we still had a pretty big group. (My step mom was taking the photo, so you can't see her...)
And here are the hunters. We call the non-hunters "Campfire Girls," though that wasn't quite right with the boys there this year. They tag along, hike, hang out in camp, keep the fire going and often cook meals for us hunters. (Thanks, D!)
I am no longer the only huntress in the family. My step-sister, J joined in the fun this year. (If we look like we're faking smiles for the camera, it's because this picture was taken at about 5:00 am. And it was cold. And dark. And we were at the point where we were sort of wondering why this is fun...)
The boys really enjoyed themselves. The slept in, played in the dirt and ate way too much junk food. Riley averaged about one tantrum per day. You would be surprised how far the sound of his shrieks will carry through the forest.
Overall, it was a super-fun weekend!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Belated Halloween Pics

Here are my lovely boys on Halloween:
Ty was Super Mario, Riley was Luigi & Matt was V (from the movie, "V for Vendetta." If you haven't seen it, it's an excellent movie, and quite appropriate for our times.)

I made the boys' costumes the week before. It was quite a bit of rushing around, and I officially vow to have the boys costumes complete before we go back to school next year. It's just too difficult to sew two costumes while settling back into a school year routine. I was terribly short on sleep that week & nearly stitched my thumb the Luigi's overalls!

Riley had his first Trick-or-Treat experience. This was the first house, and clearly, he wasn't shy about picking out some M&M's.
Before Trick-or-Treating, we carved our family pumpkin. Tyson & I worked together to draw the face. He took out the guts (ew!) and I did most of the carving.
Overall, it was a nice Halloween. I love watching my kids enjoy this stuff.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pumpkin Painting

I know I'm behind, again. I'm going to try to get caught up on the Halloween & hunting stuff this weekend... since I have a 5-DAY WEEKEND!!! (Insert Happy-Dance here.)

A couple days after the pumpkin patch, we painted the pumpkins the boys had picked out. It's a great way for even the smallest of kids to decorate their own pumpkins, since they are so often left out of the whole carving thing.
Ty set to work on his like Da Vinci on the Sistine Chapel.
While Riley preferred a less structured approach.

At one point their Daddy got involved, chasing the boys around the kitchen with his own paint brush.
Ty's pumpkin actually got several layers of paint, which required drying time in between. He worked on his for several days. This was only the first layer.
There was much helping and sharing. We are blessed to have 2 boys who get along really well (so far, anyway...)
The end results were spectacular!

The works of pumpkin-art:
... that are actually going to be cleaned, baked & pureed this weekend for future use in pies, muffins & chili.

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's the Great Pumpkin...

Well, we didn't find the Great Pumpkin, but we did go to the pumpkin patch. This was a new one, and there was so much to do!

Ty started with the giant, bumpy slide. It was made of PVC pipe, and he thought it was funny.
Then we did some swinging. Riley liked the "pony" swing...
...while Ty preferred the more traditional variety.
We did the see saw (Riley needed a little help, since he now weighs exactly half of what Ty weighs).
Then we went over to sit under the pavilion.
To eat Kettle Corn and this:
That there is a deep fried Oreo, and it was heavenly.

We listened to some great music while having our snack.
See that skilled musician sitting in the front there? That's my Grandpa.
He plays the steel guitar, and I'm pretty sure that every last drop of my musical talent came from him.

When we had eaten, sang ("... Rocky Top, you'll always be...!") and danced a waltz or two, we watched the chickens & turkeys.
Then we went over to the pumpkin patch.
Riley was impressed with the very big pumpkins that people were carrying around. He tried & tried to pick this up. He even made some interesting grunting sounds (imagine the Incredible Hulk)...
... but ultimately decided on a more manageable pumpkin.
Ty picked out our family pumpkin, in addition to his own personal pumpkin.
When we were paying for the pumpkins (which were quite reasonable) I noticed a wall that had rows & rows of preserves. We also got some wonderful apple butter, which tastes just like fall, in convenient, spreadable form!

We painted the pumpkins the next day. Check back tomorrow, when I will post those photos. It was a blast!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spring Cleaning. No. Wait...

It's not spring, but I'm definitely in spring cleaning mode. Maybe it's because I'm feeling the need to "feather my nest" before winter. Probably it's because I couldn't possibly spend an entire winter cooped up in this house with it being such a mess.

Either way, I've been busy. My plan is to spend one day each weekend & really deep clean a room. I'll just work & work at it on that day until that room is cleaned to my satisfaction, or until the day comes to an end.

Last weekend, the boys played quite nicely for a long time while I cleaned the kitchen.

I decluttered the counters, threw "stuff" out, and wiped everything down. Everything is sparkling. Well, almost everything. I cannot get those drip pan thingies that go under the burners on my electric stove to come clean:
This is the nicest looking of them. Stuff boils over. I can't clean it up right away because it's too hot. By the time it's cooled, it has hardened into an ugly mass of charcoal (it's like the stuff God uses to make meteors!). I soaked them in hot, soapy water for about 30 minutes, then scraped them with a table knife. That was followed by some serious scrubbing with vinegar & a Scotchbright pad. When that didn't work, I resorted to Soft Soap and steel wool. Nothing worked (except for me... I worked up a sweat.) I guess they're stuck this way forever.

The thing I found that worked best on getting the grease & grime wiped off the back of the stove (& the microwave) was the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Holy grime buildup, Batman! This thing is amazing! Now, anyone who knows me very well at all knows that I prefer to not use chemicals to clean my house. I *heart* vinegar and lemon juice. I do have a few leftover cleaning agents (a half empty bottle of 409, a half jug of bleach, a now almost empty bottle of Soft Scrub...) but my "old fashioned" cleaners were just not cutting it. But the Magic Eraser? It worked like, well... magic!

I highly recommend this product, even if you just keep this thing for cleaning up the serious crud... I used it to clean the fronts of my cabinets, the backs of the counters, the stove, even scuff marks on my floor. It really was like magic!

Of course, when I had finished the entire kitchen, the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser was ready for retirement. But, it was a pretty big job.

And now I have a lovely, sparkly, organized kitchen. Here's a picture of "the bridge." (Just like the Starship Enterprise, my house must have an area from which I can run things.)
And here's my very shiny sink area.
This weekend I will be tackling the upstairs bathroom, which I'm sure you can imagine can get quite icky (given that I am the only woman in this house). In addition to general cleaning, I will be changing the shower curtain liner, disinfecting the tub toys, washing the rugs and hopefully decluttering the counter.