SSS-Single Skein September

August 30, 2011

 Anyone else out there getting ready for single skein September?  This is when you make projects that only require one skein to complete, a good opportunity to use up some lonely yarn in your stash.  Not that my yarn is lonely, it has plenty to keep it company!  I was able to fill a little box with some likely candidates to focus on, and I intend to start on Thursday and cast on for some little projects.  I’m not saying I’ll finish everything in this whole box, that would be madness, and very difficult, but we’ll see how I do.  I’m planning at least two baby sweaters, a cowl, two hats, and a something or other.  To be determined.  The exact hats are to be determined as well, the pattern hunt is continuing!  Now that the yarn is out, I’m itching to start, but I need to wait until Thursday! Oooh, angora, put that down for another two days!

SSS is inspired by the Stash and Burn podcast, and is organized in their group on Ravelry.  I’m still on my self imposed yarn diet, and I’ve only “fallen off the sheep” twice this year, buying yarn I hadn’t planned on to make sweaters for Althea.  I knew this year would be a lean one money-wise, and therefore had planned to knit from stash most of the year.  I am really, really, looking forward to the Boxing Day sale at Pudding, where I will be ending my yarn diet with a vengence!  I’m hoping to get the stash below 40,000 yards by the end of the year, and I only have approximately 4500 yards to go, and four months to do it in.  Go me go!

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I really, really, want Althea to wear this again before it is too small, and I was really mean putting her in it on one of the hottest days of the year.  Considering I made the 3-6 month size, and she is almost 8 months old, I wasn’t really expecting it to fit!  But oh my goodness it did!  I almost swooned from the cuteness.

So please, please, please let it snow tomorrow, let the temperature plummet.  Let icicles form, let the frost come, let the fall leaves with the chilly air come early.  Jack Frost, please come by, Queen of the Winter, make a stop.  Trust me, it will be worth it.  Just look at the tail shot:

From the Debbie Bliss book: New Baby Knits, I used leftover ultra alpaca, that somehow turned into buying two more skeins of white.

My First 24 Hour Race

August 22, 2011

 No not my first, Althea’s first!  Two days after we got back from Denver, we were up in Canmore, getting ready for our first camping experience, along with the race.  I will say this about my one lap: it really hurt but I made it around.  The laps were approximately 18 km, with the normal amount of lots of climbing.  The route seemed to be not as much intense climbing, instead more gradual, but more of it.  What really hurt was the last couple of km’s, a gradual up the whole way, followed by a lot of up.  I wasn’t sure I was going to do it, or whether Mr. J would have to come and find my gasping body by the side of the trail, still clipped in, muttering “make it stop”.  Somehow I kept going, and even got up the last hill, my legs just kept finding more and more strength from an unknown reservoir.  I had wanted to do two laps, but had to concede that that wasn’t going to happen, and be happy with my one lap.  Mr. J did five!

I felt isolated from the rhythm of the race this year, as for me it was so much about Althea and looking after her.  With her Daddy doing so many laps, and resting in between I wasn’t expecting him to help much.  It rained almost right up until the race started, and then stopped thereafter.  Good thing Althea likes the carrier (or “How can you carry her around like a kangaroo, you savages” as GGM says) so we were able to move around quickly and see the sights, and she napped in it all weekend.  I did learn that she doesn’t like people cheering loudly near her, it prompted a few crying sessions, poor little munchkin.  For our first camping experience we enjoyed temperatures just above freezing.  I had her in warm sleepers, her warmest sleep sack, with a  hat, and under my sleeping bag, tucked under my arm, and she was just fine.  I kept worrying about her little hands getting cold, but because the rest of her body was toasty they were good.  On the second day she got used to all the noise from cheering and the loud speaker and began to ignore it, and slept well in the fresh mountain air. 

 They added a new feature this year, the flyover as they were calling it that you had to bike over in order to start the race.  Finishing races came underneath it.  My lovely shot of Mr. J didn’t come out very well did it?  The exact moment he gets behind the flag, I take the photo!  I think you can get an idea of how glorious the sun was, and how breathtaking the mountains were this weekend.  I felt refreshed and rejuvenated just being out there.  I’d love to say see you next year, but this may be the last year!  The race has become so expensive, and it is hard to find racers to join the 10 person teams, my team captain didn’t sign up again and I don’t blame her.  I will miss the race, but it is a lot of money for just one weekend.

Last month I had an opportunity to head to Denver for leadership training provided by the charity I like to volunteer for: Water For People.  The more I learn about them, the more I think they are doing things correctly, and that it is worthwhile putting some time towards them.  In a nutshell: they are working to give people in developing nations what we have.  Turn on the faucet, clean water comes out, a healthy place to go to the washroom, and hand washing routines that reduce the incidence of disease considerably.  All of this is provided by local people working on committees, in their jobs, and the people that benefit pay a fee, much like we do with our water and sewer bills.  If you get something for free, you don’t tend to appreciate it as much as something that you pay for, and work for.  It is also better for local people to help themselves, rather than foreigners to swoop in on a week trip, build something, and then swoop out.  Other innovative programs include starting a repair person business so that people have someone to call when something breaks.  They are basing many of these programs on business models, rather than giving things away for free.  Their latest goal is to start a business in crap.  Yup, crap.  Let’s say you get a lovely new latrine, which works great for 7 years but then it’s full.  Now what do you do?  Who do you call, how do you pay to get it cleaned out so that you can use it another 7 years?  If you can call a local business that has advertised in your area so that you are aware of them, and they you can sell your s^%t to them, and they turn around and sell it somewhere else for a profit, then the whole thing keeps going doesn’t it?  Water for People gives opportunities for people like me to volunteer in their monitoring work; they monitor each program for 10 years after completion to ensure that it is still working and operating properly.  One day, one day I’ll do this. 

But back to the trip to Denver, Althea did wonderfully on the 2 hour plane ride down.  She checked out everything, but everything.  Towards the end of the trip she started getting a bit fussy, and  I was standing up in the aisle with her rocking back and forth.  She then filled her diaper to capacity, and felt much better as our sunny girl came back.  I had to go to the front of the airplane to change her, and I believe I scared the front row people into never having children due to the sheer number of wipes it took to clean her up.  Hee hee.  While I went to the training, Mr. J wandered around Denver with the baby in the stroller, getting mobbed by women.  Even some men, one guy complimented him on his genetic prowess “Good job man, she’s really cute”.  Ummm, I helped to, in fact one might say I did a lot of the work?  Mr. J somehow manged to fight off all the women and get Althea down to me at the training a few times, I fed her in the back of the room once or twice while presentations were going on.  The people putting on the training were very baby friendly, which was wonderful, but Althea couldn’t stay long as she was delighting in her shrieking voice.  Over, and over!

I had vowed to eat Mexican (Tex-mex actually I don’t like real Mexican food) every day since it is good in Denver, and crap here.  Unfortunately I discovered or remembered something else, it upsets my stomach.  Yup, my old guts are back, all the benefits from my pregnancy are gone and I have to start watching my fat intake again.  Even though we were eating on a budget we still managed to find yummy things to eat, but we didn’t find a Chipolte’s so that Mr. J could have one of their burritos. 

During one of Althea’s naps we wandered by this construction site, and I was awestruck but the artistic yarn bombing.  Here is my confession, be upset with me if you want, I don’t like most yarn bombings.  One good rain storm and they look ragged and dirty to me.  But this one was different, this one was a work of art, and brought colour, life and beauty into the ugly construction site. 

 Breckenridge was so beautiful, whether due to the alpine setting, the beautiful building styles they have obviously preserved, the flowers everywhere, or the fresh air.  I know it seems silly to almost need a vacation from our vacation, but I really relaxed here after two months or running around, and being buried under “To Do” lists.   I can’t relax like this at home where I’m constantly staring at things I need to be doing.  Mr. J went for a bike ride, we went for walks with the stroller, had naps, watched tv, and explored the town.  Unfortunately the yarn store wasn’t that great, but that is good for my pocket-book.  I ate huevos rancheros as much as  I could, it is so damn good.  So good.  Not as good as in Moab, but pretty good none the less.  I think the trick is with the green chili sauce, it needs to be hot, but just the right level, and also very fruity to give a robust flavour.  Smother the tortilla, refried beans, potatoes and scrambled eggs just so.  So good.  It will be my mission to find a recipe and try to make some up here, if I can find the correct chilis. 

On the way home Althea was again a champ, and even slept a bit on the plane.  People complimented her behavior, as I’m sure they had the mental thought “Oh no a baby, she is going to cry the whole way”.  But nope, she is a world traveller just like her Mummy, and now she has the passport and foreign country visit to prove it.  Plans are afoot for us to go back to Breckenridge next year for Mr. J and some friends to enter one of the endurances races in the area.  I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Bachelorette Tea Party

August 12, 2011

Going way back now to before the wedding.  I’ve been meaning to tell you about this for awhile, but just never seemed to find the time!  (In other exciting news, not only is Althea putting herself to sleep at night, she napped in the crib this week for Daddy!).  I had the idea sometime last year that I wanted to do something “bachlorettey” but that with nursing Althea, that something just couldn’t include a wild party with lots of crazy shots, or any alcohol really.  Plus I think my days of dancing on the table at Elvis’s in Singapore, while it was super fun at the time, are over.  I don’t want to go out for boozy evenings anymore, which take days to recover from, I may just be too old.  (Right now I’m taking a minute to remember some of those boozy evenings, and while some were a bit out of control, some were indeed SUPER FUN).  Besides, most of my friends that I wanted to invite just aren’t big drinkers, or interested in boozy nights either.  Also, I don’t have much interest in having any “entertainment” of the scantilly clad male variety, other than my now husband.  Truly.  Okay, there are exceptions, but Mr. J is well aware of them.  (Alex Skarsgard, that one is for you).  But Tea!  We all like tea, and tea parties are fun.  Another thing that is really fun is pastry!  Yummy yummy pastry, of extremely good quality. 

 I began the search to find the best quality pastry in Calgary, which wasn’t easy I tell you.  I had to go to many, many pastry shops, and sample many, many pastries.  I finally decided that our local Belgium pastry maker, Manuel Latruwe just couldn’t be beat, and placed a nice big order.  My MOH had been busy scouring local thrift shops for antique tea cups, and found our cookie stand, along with some tea pots.  Everyone got a unique tea cup, a choice of a few different teas, and then we dug in.  And dug in some more.  At we chatted, and chatted and chatted.  I had such a wonderful time, and shared so much laughter, and enjoyed everyone’s company to such a high degree, I’m still chuckling over some of the things today.  Much superior to a boozy feather boa filled evening in Vegas, and we didn’t wake up to find a tiger in our bathroom the next day.  Just leftover pastries (not in the bathroom, the fridge). 

 Plus, I got the Queen cup, which made me feel very special indeed!

WIP….Sunday?

August 7, 2011

Better early, or late than never for a WIP update!  For some crazy reason I have been getting up at 6 am on the weekends as well, just after I feed Althea.  By then it is light, I wake up fully as I feed her, and it is easy to not go back to sleep.  The last two nights have seen a bit of a breakthrough around here – Althea has fallen asleep in her crib on her own rather than on me.  I would also like to mention that she did it last night without hardly any crying, the night before there were a few crying sessions to soothe her through.  This means she is falling asleep earlier, and sleeping longer, which in turn means I get a nice long chunk of 4-5 hour sleep before I get up the first time to feed her.  It truly can make you feel like a new person to get that much sleep, and then I get another hour or so until she wakes up again and it is six am! 

I got up, made some coffee, cereal, and came downstairs to the basement to what I’m now referring to “My Knitting Pod”.  In the basement bedroom I have all my crafty supplies in the nice big closet, which is wide open as we haven’t gotten a door for it yet.  My little bookshelf which holds all my knitting/crafty books is just in front.  I’ve pulled up a chair, I’ve got a rubbermaid container which houses odds and ends of old yarn and fabric to put my coffee on, and a table for my computer.  I’ve been listening to podcasts and knitting, it is like a little slice of heaven my pod! 

After I finished up my wedding knitting, I started going back and finishing up projects that had gotten put down, namely the sheep suit. Althea is too big for this now, but I am finishing it up in hopes that another little babe will wear it one day, besides it is too cute to leave undone.  I just need to sew on the ears and tail, and get some buttons for it. 

 I started a sweater called Buttercup by Heidi Kirrmaier, from a lovely shade of Alpaca Drops.  It has a clever yoke construction, and then is knit in one piece down to the bottom. There is finishing on the arms and neckline at that point.  I had great deep thoughts on what size to make this sweater, given my post-pregnancy body, which I plan to cover in some other posts.  I’ve long admired this designer, who has a lovely clean aesthetic, but in the last few weeks I’ve gone off the deep end, and am thinking about making another 3 or 4 of her patterns.  I’ve actually linked above to her pattern catalog, there are so many good ones in there.  I’m hoping there is an Atelier in my near future, have you noticed she is from Calgary? 

Then I just couldn’t help it, I cast on with yarn I bought three (gulp) years ago at the Olds Fibre Fest, six skeins of worsted weight merino, alpaca and silk. I have been wanting to knit it for, yeah three years, but I had planned on doing a unique design which is what always stops me.  It is so much easier to cast on and follow a pattern then to sit down and make your own, even if you have the percentage system to follow.  But then I had a breakthrough, which led to me casting on.  The gauge was the same as the cardigan of a twinset I made awhile ago, out of a horrible yarn.  BUT the cardigan is a great design, and fits flawlessly, I could even try it on to make sure it still fits me.  The plan is to put a bit of a design on the front lapels, which I will do last.  I’m still trying to decide what to do: sine waves, diamond pattern, a little repeating picture…

I have two socks on the needles for little go to projects, and recently took “Itty Bitty Toys” out of the library and fell down that hole hard.  I’ve already got a monkey on the needles, with plans for a hippo to follow soon.  After that I’m fascinated by the reversible toys, they are so cool!  I think I will need to purchase the book after all!  I normally never make stuffed toys in the obvious colours, but I have two balls of brown, and two of grey sock yarn that I hated and wanted to get rid of.  Ta da!  Perfect monkey and hippo colours!  I’m using them doubled to get rid of the yarn faster. 

I seem to have a lot I’m working on, as this is taking forever to finish up.  In other obsessions, I’m also busy thinking about making another Tempest, as I have more sock yarn that doesn’t want to be socks and grey Kroy, and then I found the Paulie pattern.  Another one perfect for four balls of Kroy I have (why?  Oh yeah, it was on sale) and more sock yarn that violates the “it must have nylon in it to be socks” rule.  Besides, I love wearing my Tempest, which is perfect in the cool Calgary mornings over your t-shirt that you will need by 10 am.  Back to my pod!

Six Months

August 6, 2011

Six months means so many things to us, Althea is hitting so many milestones, and I am going back to work.  I spent this past week going into the office for half days, while the week before we were “practicing” with me being in the basement for the morning.  Around noon I”d “come home from work” and go upstairs to see my family.  Mr. J and Althea are doing really well together, she is eating  from the bottle, eating her solids, and napping.  I’m not enjoying going to work, but you have to do what you have to do.  I am thankful I was able to take six months off, and get some money as I did.  I live in a wonderful country, and I’m so glad every day that I came home to Canada.  I really couldn’t have imagined going back to work at 12 weeks, six months was hard enough.  My Mum made fun of me a little while back about being emotional about leaving my daughter and going to work, but I think this is a normal reaction in a parent who cares for their children.  I miss my baby, and I miss our time together.  I wish I was feeding my baby instead of pumping milk at work.  In fact,  I really don’t like pumping, and my milk making machines hurt today from a week of doing it.  At the same time I want to feed my daughter as long as possible, so again, you have to do what you have to do.

 When I get home Althea’s little face lights up into a big smile, and she immediately reaches for me, and I get big baby hugs and kisses.  We call them kisses, but it is still mostly her face pressed up against mine with her mouth wide open, tongue licking away.  It’s a bit messy, but very, very endearing.  We spend the rest of the day snuggling, playing, and having our nap together. 

 Althea is babbling with more complex sounds, even in the last two days.  She can sit up on her own and play, and is hardly ever falling over anymore, usually just when she is reaching for a particular toy.  She desperately wants to crawl and go places, and is so frustrated when she doesn’t go anywhere.  She is a happy, fun little girl.  She still sticks her tongue out all the time, and every day seems to have a new way to do it, lately she just covers her upper lip with her tongue and looks at you.  Most importantly to us, she fell asleep in her crib on her own last night, and slept from 9 pm to 3 am!  The last week she had been waking up every ninety minutes, which made going to work more of a chore.   She managed to fall asleep in her crib with a minimum of fuss, and we didn’t “let her cry it out” despite the pleads of GGM.  Normally I get her mostly asleep on me, and then transition her, but after all the traveling she had forgotten a lot of her sleeping skills.  Interestingly, after the wedding she had stopped sucking her thumb, while in the week before she was doing it almost constantly.  As Mr. J said last night as we were discussing her progress “Almost off to university”.  He is such a good Dad, and Althea loves him very much.

Catching Up

August 1, 2011

It has been a crazy two months for us, and we’re both (well all three of us actually) are now at home, resting up and catching up.  Althea went to her first foreign country, her first plane ride, her first camping experience, her first solid food, her first Stampede, so very many firsts for such a wee girl.  Needless to say with all the activity her sleep has suffered, and she is slowly getting back in the habit of sleeping more than three hours at a time.  I am also going back to work this week.  Sigh.  Sniff.  AHHHHHHHH!  Six months are up, and I need to go back to work, not only because they need me, but because WE need the money.  I have been working from home for a few hours every day for a month or two now, before Althea wakes up, but now I’m actually going to be heading to the office each day.  We have spent this week practicing, which means I feed Althea, then get up and head to the basement.  I’m allowed out around noon each day, at which time I snuggle my baby like mad, and she snuggles me back.  Mr. J has been doing an admirable job, but it has been crazy hard to hear her cry for me each day.  She is taking the bottle now, and starting to eat solids, and is getting to be such a good little girl.  Next week I’ll actually head to the office, and as soon as possible stretch to full time days.  I want to head off as soon as I finish her last feeding in the morning, then get some hours in while she is still asleep, and get home as soon as possible.  Pumping at work is going to be so much fun, I imagine the guys are going to be super embarrassed, and I’ll try not to make too many bad jokes about the milk in the fridge.  There is no real place for me to go to close a door and pump except the bathroom, so I plan on just doing it at my desk with my nursing cover on.  So many bad jokes, must. not. say. them.  Now that it has been over six months of nursing, I’m a bit too comfy with it, and haven’t even been using the cover much in public.  Actually it is almost impossible to use my cover as Althea immediately grabs it, shoves it in her mouth, waves it around, struggles to get her head out to see, etc. etc.  I’ve started to just turn my chair away so that what we are doing is not in your face, get her started and use my shirt to cover up anything. 

This week as I mentioned I’ve been going to the basement in the morning to work, and as I finished my tasks I could do from home, I had extra time on my hands.  Wow, extra time, without baby care  in it.  That hasn’t happened since….. January.  I’d like to say I’ve been so productive, and gotten so many things done, but I really haven’t.  Instead I’ve been indulging, knitting and catching up on podcasts that I haven’t listened to since… January.  I started (another) new sweater, almost finished a baby project that I started before Althea was born, wound yarn, indulged, indulged, indulged.  It has been awesome. 

 All in all, Althea is doing so well with her Daddy, whom she loves very much.  She is very lucky to have him, and vice versa.  I can tell Mr. J is feeling pretty good about caring for her so well, he finally gets to help out after so many months of it being Mummy only.  I have so many to catch you up on, and I’ll be working away on my little posts now that I’ve made a start.  I hope you stay tuned and are enjoying this beautiful summer we’ve been having.