Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Yarn Review

Because my knitting progress is slow, and I want to contribute some knitting content for a change, I've decided to do a brief review of the yarn I'm using right now for the ARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHyle sock.

Dalegarn Baby Ull

100% Wool
Made in Norway
This 4-ply wool is a fingering yarn.
Recommended gauge for Baby Ull is 32 stitches per 4 inches (10 cm) using U.S. size 2 (2.5 mm) needles
A description from the website reads,
"Dale Baby Ull is spun from only the finest Merino Wool, combed to create a supremely soft yarn. This yarn is superwash treated and is machine washable."

One ball of Dale Baby Ull is 192 yards (175 meters)
Each ball weighs 1 3/4 ounces (50 grams)
It is available in 32 colors, some are more pastel and infant like, while other colors are bolder for children.

I have never worked with this wool before, but I have read the comments of many other bloggers who have. Everyone seems to like it. Its' softness and the fact that it is machine washable is truly appealing for use in garments to be worn by very small children and infants. After the hours spent carefully and lovingly knitting a garment for a baby, it would be a shame for that garment to never be worn because a parent is in fear of spit-up stains that could not be washed out easily. The company claims that garments made from Baby Ull will retain their shape and crispness after several washings, but I have not been able to test this.

The wool has a wonderful feel as it is worked. It is very soft. The fabric it creates has a nice drape, and looks crisp. The wool is not easy to work with, as the knitting needle frequently splits the 4-ply in half, so knitters need to carefully watch as they work. It is also diffioult to rip out stitches because of the ease in splitting the 4-ply.

It seems that there is never an end to the need for baby gifts. Knitters with good time management skills are able to work on knitted gift items early, sometimes before parents even know they are expecting. The rest of work feverishly into the late hours of the night, click-clacking away to finish a gift that must be given the next day. Both knitters will agree that this is a great material choice. Last-minute knitters will most likely use it for small projects, while those who are able to plan ahead will create beautiful garments that will stand the test of frequent spit-ups while still looking great.

Oh, and by the way

All of you who were able to go to Rhinebeck, I don't want to hear about it ANYMORE! I am insanely jealous, and the wonderful stories of meet-ups with other bloggers only make me feel like I HAVE NO LIFE! Then, I get to see all of your pictures. Stop it, already!

Pfew! I feel much better getting that off of my chest.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

How did THAT happen?


Cast on 68 stitches using straight needles.
No problem. At least this time I didn't start the ARRRGGGHHHyle sock on DPNs

Work in K1, P1 rib for 2 inches.
Easy Peasy... who wrote these instruction? Of course I won't admit that I better not have a problem with this because it is my second time working the pattern, not to mention, it is ribbing. How easy. I know what I'm doing. Or do I?

Decrease 1 stitch in final row of ribbing.
SHIT! I rip back half of the last row to make that stinking decrease centered. Why the heck didn't they just have me cast on 67 stitches to begin with? Who wrote these stupid instructions anyway?

Begin AARRRRGGGGHHHHHyle pattern.
I am a pro at this. I should be a pro after starting the pattern over at least 395 times with the last sock. I carefully add the colors and tell everyone in close proximity to leave me alone. I can't possibly be expected to move when I have bobbins precariously hanging from my knitting needles. There can be no emergencies now.

Follow pattern to row 70.
I am sooo talented. Why would I even need to refer to the pattern anymore? I have it memorized. Even when those crosslines cross the diamond, I can handle that.

NO! I did not peek at the instructions. You were spying on me and saw me peek? Well only once, but I only did it to prevent a tink. So far I have tinked only once... compared to 482 tinks the last time I was at this point in the pattern.

I continue working. I even show off by knitting at Chuck E. Cheese's. My daughter picked that as her "going out" birthday choice on Thursday. I am obviously brilliant. Every once in awhile I count the stitches in each color section to make sure I am working the pattern evenly. There is nothing to worry about, I have this pattern DOWN!

What?? Why are there 9 yellow stitches on the right side and only 8 stitches on the left side? Did I forget to increase the diamond evenly?

I frantically look back at my knitting. Curse those Level II raters... these light colors are so hard to follow, especially with the lighting at Chuck E. Cheese's while some girl named Megan (who we now call "Megan the Monster) screams at everyone who came to her party and proceeds to destroy the place within an hour.

The diamonds are even? What happened? I DID decrease that stitch at the end of the ribbing, right? I remember doing it and swearing under my breath. Yes, I MUST have decreased it. I count the stitches.... 68! What???? I NEVER accidentally increase! When the heck did I do that?

Three days later after I stopped glaring at the sock, I ripped out the mistake, and luckily didn't lose much of my progress. God only knows how and when I increased that stitch, but I'm back to 67 stitches again. Not much progress to report. Anna's birthday, the sleepover party last night, and a beautiful day today to do yard work kept me from picking it up much.

At the birthday party, we blew HUGE bubbles. The 9 year-olds lost interest after 10 minutes.

Guess who sat for 30 minutes by herself blowing bubbles? I love it when 12 year olds (or almost 12 year olds - her 12th birthday is next month) still play like kids.

Today, I raked up the leaves, washed the windows and did some trimming. The girls, of course, played in the leaf pile until I had to take it to the dump.

Not to mention the heavy drinking I have had to do in order to dull the memory of "Megan the Monster".

But that is another story!

Monday, October 18, 2004

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

Sunday... the first day in almost a month where we didn't have to go ANYWHERE. Not even to the store, the gas station, or to take the kids ANYWHERE!


a day to make this

steam into that

Chinese potstickers. YUM! The oldest daughter helped stuff and roll all 52 of them. They were fabulous, and the house smelled SO good! I also cooked for supper, and put in a roast for tonight that we will eat in a few minutes. Cooking? I had forgotten what that meant. I was beginning to think cooking involved ripping open the packet and adding 2 Tbspns butter with 2 1/2 cups hot water and simmering for 15 minutes until ready to eat. Or else cooking was waiting in the drive through lane for the fresh batch of fries. This cooking is a real treat. I hope it lasts!

Yesterday, during a true day of rest, football, and a roaring fire in the fireplace... I did this..

All of the bobbins make it look terribly confusing, so be impressed if you like. The reality is that it really isn't that difficult, and the ARRRGGGHHHHyle socks are working much more smoothly than the last time. Only two tink episodes so far.

Tonight..... what? No Brownies? No Girl Scouts? No basketball? No horseback riding? No meetings? You mean it's a night at home?

Definitely knitting time!

Friday, October 15, 2004

Kerry Rally

Wow! I found out that Kerry was coming to my "old" hometown of Sheboygan, WI for a brat fry, and then I found someone with "yellow" tickets. My husband and our daughters were excited to go to the rally, so off we went after school today. Turned out the yellow tickets got us in the quicker line, and into a better viewing area. I assumed Kerry would be late. In fact, if he had been on time we would have missed some of his speech, so I was happy he was late. There were some goofy people trying to show support for some other candidate... I wish I could remember his name.... something about Brish... or was it Boosh? I'm not sure. Never heard anything good about him.

Anyway... after waiting about 20 minutes in a spot that seemed perfect we caught a glimpse of the busses.

Kerry soon came out and no lie... looked right at my family and gave a cheery wave. He was about 50 feet away from us, and obviously heard us scream his name. We were pretty much the first to spot him. Of course, I was so excited that the camera didn't work. Anyway, I got a few nice shots during his speech. He spoke for about 20 minutes as it got darker and darker. We were about 200 feet away during the speeches, and 20 feet while he ate his brat.

My eight year-old can't wait until she can bring the photos and her invitation card to school for "Star Day". I'm so proud that both of our girls are into the political scene. They actually watched and listened to all three debates, and ENJOYED it! DH is sure that the younger daughter has a future in politics and the older one will be a speech writer. She did write a speech for a friend who ran for "class representative" this past week. She said that no other student even had a speech prepared, and hers was pretty good at getting the vote, but her candidate lost. Oh well!

Now... down to some serious knitting for the rest of the night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Wonderful Weekend!

I know it's Tuesday, and a "wonderful weekend" post should have been posted on Monday at the latest, but you know how quickly time can get away from you!

Wow! Saturday, my DH agreed to come shopping with me and our two daughters, KNOWING that we would be doing a marathon session. Eight hours later we got back home, and he was still smiling! Nope, you can't have him, HE IS MINE!

First we went to JCPenney and the girls got some clothes. Then we went to Jane's Knitting Hutch in Appleton (I almost went to Yarns By Design, but decided not to because I am so close to getting my $20 worth of free stuff at Jane's ..... see?)

I really like Jane's shop. She is so friendly and helpful, and once I joined in on open knitting night and everyone was super friendly. It's too bad that it's such a drive for me to get there (45 minutes one way). But then I found out that Jane lives 40 minutes away, too! Crazy!

I went for sock yarn for the new ARRRGGGGHHHHHyle socks. Remember that the directions said "no dark colors", so I was looking for light colors and I found this

Aren't the colors yummy?

The best part of shopping at Jane's are her bags. She has the CUTEST bags for your supplies when you buy them. See?

Sunday was also a great day. When I was a teenager I loved to fly kites. I would go (even when I was 18 or 19.. I know... what a FREAK!) on a Saturday and set up three kites that would fly themselves and then work my stunt kite. I would pack a chair, my radio, and some snacks and spend the day outside. I loved it. After kids, though, my life ended (as most mothers' lives do) and about two weeks ago, Alicia asked to fly kites. I hauled out my old kites and most of them were still looking pretty good. We flew them all afternoon, and that night I found out that there is actually a Wisconsin Kiters Kite Club! Who knew? When I went to the events site, I found out that there was a fly-in near my home on Oct. 10th. The girls were excited. DH came, too.

It was great! The people were so friendly and helpful. We got to see some really neat things, but the wind didn't cooperate. There was no wind, and people fought and fought to get anything in the air. At one point a strong breeze came in and we all rushed to get our kites up. There were about 10 of them in the air, but the breeze only lasted a few minutes. We were so excited, though. DH thought it was AWESOME! Next Saturday we are off to Oshkosh where they will have another fly-in, hopefully there will be better weather. Another new hobby.

Last night I got started on the AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHyle sock. I wound all ten of the bobbins and did my swatch. I used size 2 needles and the gauge I was shooting for was 7 stitches to an inch and 8 rows to an inch. I got the 7 stitches to an inch, but I have 9 or 10 rows to an inch. I don't think I need to worry about that.. it will maybe make the sock a little longer, but won't affect the circumference. I'm not sure, though, for TKGA if I should worry about this more or not.

Well.. off to the BBall scrimmage. DH is coach for a boy's team from the school I teach in. First scrimmage tonight - they don't keep score - it's a chance for all of the kids to be able to play. He has 24 kids on the team. YIKES!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Return to the Past

Well, finally I have some pictures. I tried to post them last night, but photobucket wasn't working, and it still took me over 30 minutes to get these two photos of the ARRRRGGGGHHHHyle Sock.

For a review, there was swearing
there was sweating
there was ripping
there was ripping
there was more swearing
and finally I was able to turn the heel and feel as though there wasn't much left until it was done for TKGA Master's Level II

I knew I wouldn't submit this one, though, because my stitches at the color changes were too loose. See?

It's not a great close-up, but some of those pesky little stitches just wouldn't snug up, even with a lot of prodding. I thought I would start the sock to be submitted right away. Then I read the directions.

"Use light colored yarn. No dark blues or browns."

SHIT! Does anyone know a great way to make navy blue look light?

I guess I need to buy more sock yarn. Shucks! Last night I went to Hobby Lobby (a 35 minute drive) after we visited my in-laws. I picked up some cute froggy invitations for my daugther's birthday party. But no sock yarn. At least nothing in light colors, unless you consider shocking pink to be light.

We went to the LYS in Sheboygan, but it had just closed. Just my luck! This weekend I will drive to go to the "big mall" in Appleton and stop in the LYS there to pick up the yarn I need. I like to go to Jane's Knitting Hutch, but I may check out Yarns By Design again.

Here are some photos of the traveling shells so far.

It is bordered with garter stitch for this swatch, just so that I had an easier time working the pattern and learning it.

Oh... the day with my mother was surprisingly wonderful. But that is another post.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I must be Insane

The Traveling Shells is going ok, very slow, but ok. I wanted to post a picture yesterday, but I forgot to bring my knitting bag to school with me (that almost never happens) and today I am not going to work because I have a funeral to go to. First I'll talk about the knitting, then the funeral.

I finished the mitten on Sunday while I visited my mother-in-law in the hospital (the funeral is not hers.. many people at work thought it was, it's just wierd timing) and we all had a good laugh. The darn thing is so tight, you can't even get your thumb into it, but IT IS DONE! I put it away, never even thinking of giving it a mate, and feeling absolutely no guilt about it's status as an orphan mitten. I may end up ripping out the yarn and making a standard mitten instead of double knitting.. that created too much bulk in the thumb, and made the inside fabric of the mitten slip and slide along the outside which also drove me nuts.

Then I got rid of all of the DPNs in my bag by using waste yarn to finish off the arrrrrrrrggggghhhhyle sock I made for TKGA Master's II but will never turn in because the colors are too dark for their requirements. My MIL, who is a knitter, was very impressed by the sock. "It looks very English" she said, which in her words is a compliment. She is a fiesty little German lady with a thick accent, and I love her dearly.

Next I cleaned (YES CLEANED) out my knitting bag. The different yarns were talking to each other way too much and getting unruly in there, so I wound up all of the left-over skeins in there and tossed out all of the chip bags, candy wrappers, and receipts. Wow! It looks nice and tidy now! Then I really got at the Traveling Shells, but it is slow going.

Now the funeral:

To make an 17 year story short, my widowed mother (widowed for 27 years without a date... EVER) and I have had a very strained relationship since I grew up at 18 and started to want a life outside of her house. In her opinion, I married way too early (21) had my first child way too early (23) and shouldn't have had a second child so soon (26). Not to mention I have the wrong job, live in the wrong city, married the wrong guy (but she likes him now.. FINALLY) and pretty much have never done anything right. We rarely speak. In fact I've been so angry with her since her outburst over us moving to Cincinnati (we didn't move because of her and my in-laws, who also acted like jilted children) in July. She has called me twice, but all I could muster was a, "Uh-huh" or "OK" here and there. She called me Sunday night, and had to leave a message because we were out. I called her back (after a stiff drink... she is always more dangerous over the phone than in person), and after my hello, her comment back was the ever present, "Oh, so you ARE still alive. I was beginning to wonder." Off to a great start! Next she asks if I would do her a favor. After I ask her what it is, she tells me that my great uncle Albert died last Thursday. It is a blessing, really, because he had suffered for more than five years with advanced stages of Alzheimer's and his poor wife spent every waking moment taking care of him. Would I take off of work to drive her to the funeral? Before my brain thought about the ramifications of my answer I blurted out, "Oh, sure". Who invaded my body to make me want to 1) drive 35 minutes out of my way to pick her up, 2) spend 3 hours in a car ALONE with her to remind me of every mistake I have made in my life and 3) watch her be all lovey to me when the family is around. I have been here before, I know what will happen. But I want to go to the funeral, and my guilt won't let me go and leave her at home. She is afraid to drive (at 67 years old) anywhere outside of her city. She never liked to drive, and I can deal with that, but my life is ALWAYS about taking care of her. We have role reversal BIG TIME here. Saturday I was thinking about her, and I thought that if she died and we still had this kind of a relationship, I wouldn't forgive myself, but I have tried so many times to make it better and she won't. I thought, on Saturday, that I could offer to take her to a counselor, go with her if she wanted, to find out if she wanted things to stay the same or not.

I leave in fifteen minutes and I already know how the conversation will go for the first 30 minutes. She will first say, "Is that what you're wearing? You could have at least dressed nicely for this." I have spent about an hour trying to figure out what would be "nice" in her eyes, and this black pants with red coat is what I finally decided on. Next she will criticize my daughters for at least 5 things from this list:
1. How heavy my second daughter is.
2. How inactive my second daughter is.
3. How I never should have had my second daughter for a million reasons in her eyes.
4. How my oldest daughter worries too much
5. How she would like to spend time with my children, but they are too difficult for her to deal with.
6. How my oldest daughter is too busy.
7. How my youngest daughter is too lazy.
8. How she thinks my youngest daughter should be on more medication for her ADD.
9. How she thinks my youngest daughter is "just like" my husband's family.

She has issues with Anna, my youngest daughter, and Anna knows it. We keep them separated as much as possible.

You also need to know that my mother is a retired second grade teacher of 35 years. She doesn't like children, and never did. She told me at age 14 that she never wanted me. She's a charmer.

Sorry to rant here... but my Metamucil isn't working and the stomach cramps are kicking in just thinking about how this day will turn out. I'm home at about 6:00pm and my youngest daughter (who will be 9 soon and is always wanting to diet because she hears grandma saying she is fat) has Girl Scouts. I would like to be home before then, we'll see if I'm still alive by then, or if I have been booked on charges of "mother abuse".

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Left without rescue

I hoped that by threatening to rip out the shawl I had spent so many hours creating, and by showing a picture of the intended victim, someone would come to my rescue. The phone didn't ring, there was no hostage team of police setting up camp outside of my driveway, and here I sit, in a staredown with the shawl. Only one of us will survive, my knitting bag isn't big enough for "the both of us". But as I grab at the throat of the shawl, teasing it by pretending to pull out the needle and expose it's jugular vein of neatly lined up loops, I loose my nerve. Maybe I'm not strong enough, maybe I just want a handsome policeman to bring his friends to my house, I'm not sure. I just can't do it.

(Warning: some political content.... Bush supporters may not want to read this)
The debate started and I planned to rip, rip, rip. How appropriate, I thought, as Bush seemed to be coloring pictures while Kerry talked, and then Bush had a stunned expression when it was his turn, "Uh, uh, uh" was all he said while he took a drink from an empty glass. I almost felt sorry for him, but not enough to vote for him. My political comment: Which man do you want to represent our country to the world? Which man carried himself better and could hold a coherent conversation? Click here to see some of Bush's greatest quotes:

For example,
"Border relations between Canada and Mexico have never been better. "-- In a press conference with Canadian PM, and apparently forgetting about the country wedged between Canada and Mexico, Sept. 24, 2001

and have you noticed the resemblence?

Sorry Bush supporters, but I don't get how he got as many votes as he did the first time, and I'm shocked that he seems to have the lead at the moment. The funny part is, I consider myself to be more Repulbican than Democrat, but I haven't voted Republican in presidential elections ... ummm... EVER! I'm sorry for becoming political..... but I just don't understand his popularity. He is an extremely poor speaker, he has ruined international relations with countries we have had as allies for years and years, he went into Iraq with our family members for absolutely no proven reason AND without the support of the international community. Our economy is in terrible shape, and if people really look around, is anyone in a better position compared to four years ago? The day after the debate, Bush made many statements that I heard on the radio. The commentator made a point of telling the listeners that these statements were prepared for Bush to read. I didn't need to be told, it was pretty obvious because they were coherent. The comments he made were the rebuttals he should have made the night before, but he could not think on his own, and only came up with, "Uh... ummm. I work hard as President". Scary.
End of political comment

So, while I waited for the hunky hostage counseling police officer to arrive on my doorstep and save the shawl, I began practicing the pattern for Traveling Shells. Three cast-ons later I am finally getting it. Meanwhile, the shawl is still staring at me, but now it has a look of victory in its eye. I may be beaten here.