Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Long time, no knit

Sorry I have blogged for awhile, but I've spent the past five days researching the heck out of Vietnam adoption agencies. I've learned about the ugly side of unethical and sometimes illegal adoptions overseas. Ed and I are trying to select an ethical agency, but it's sometimes hard to figure our who is, and who isn't. So, it looks like we will be changing agencies from the one we originally thought we were going with. Right now I'm starting over trying to find one. What this means is that we most likely will not have Samuel before the end of the year. :-(

The emotional roller-coaster is killing me, I've got to tell you. You would think knitting would relax me, but who has time to knit when you're on the Internet for hours at a time, researching agencies and posting on list-servs.

I have been working on the cardigan sweater, hoping to finish it in time for a shower this weekend. (Mom, I attached the second pocket all by myself!) I just have to finish the left front and then put it together and knit the hood. I'll post it as soon as I'm done.

I've also started a baby blanket for Sam, but this past weekend's news hasn't exactly got me excited about working on it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Patience, grasshopper

A few weeks ago I started a toddler hooded cardigan sweater for a friend who is planning to adopt an older child. I had this Lion Brand Wool-ease Thick & Quick in Teal that I bought on sale for something like $3/skein, and the pattern took four skeins. So a nice, cheap, washable and quick-to-knit gift.

Of course, I forgot to factor in that those patterns off the Lion Brand website can be awful. First I knit the back. That was straightforward. Then I knit the pocket linings. Again, simple. Then I got to the right front, and I could see this was more than I could understand. So I went on to knit a sleeve and a half, and then the right front up to the part where you attach the pocket linings.

And then I waited for my mother.

Luckily, we had plans to see each other last weekend and she helped me with this. It was awful. Took almost an hour for the two of us together to try to figure out what they meant. Why do pattern writers do that? It would have been easy to just add a few words to make this clear! As a writer, and more importantly, as an editor, I find this inexcusible.

But I did have spiritual lessons galore from this little detour. (It helps that I'm reading The Knitting Way right now, too, to make those connections.) Here are just a few:

1. You don't have to go it alone. I knew from my first read of this pattern that there was no way I could figure out that complicated part by myself. But I didn't let it stop me from going for it. Which leads me to ...

2. Don't be afraid to ask for help. I could have agonized over trying to figure this out myself, but I knew that that's what mothers are for! Or other knitters. Or even fellow knitting bloggers. But you won't get help if you don't ask.

3. When you run into trouble, it's OK to step back for a moment. I put this project on hold while I waited for my mom's visit. It wasn't avoidance, just some patient waiting for the time to be right to move on to the hard part. In the meantime, I did started a baby blanket, and did some reading.

4. When you're not sure, sometimes you have to just make a leap of faith. Which is exactly what my mom and I eventually had to do. The pattern was so unclear, we finally had to just make our best guess and give it a try.

5. Patience pays off. I finished the right front and it looks pretty good. Now I'm going to see if I can remember how to do it again for the left front. If not, see #1-4 above!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Sad news

Just a day after I posted about the wonderful show my nephew and niece were in last weekend, my sister's family was shocked to learn that one of the other principle actors, a lovely 24-year-old woman named Andrea Baker, was killed in a car crash. Read the news story here. My nephew Kevin, of course, is devastated, as are all the young people who worked with her on this production. She played "Mrs. Mayor" and gave a nice speech at the end, thanking all those who helped with the play. I didn't know her personally, but am shocked at such a promising life cut short. Her family and friends are in my prayers.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Seussical the Musical

While most Chicagoans were sweating yesterday in 100-degree heat, I was in a nice air-conditioned theater watching the Fox Valley Park District's production of "Seusical the Musical" starring none other than my nephew Kevin (left) with a supporting role played by my niece Clare (below--I helped with the styrofoam balls that create that Seuss hair!)
This is no amateur school play, but rather a 250-cast production at a really nice theater in downtown Aurora. Kevin did an excellent job, including his two solos. He played the main character of JoJo, while Clare was part of the "jungle creatures." She did some great dancing and singing, too.

Apparently this show bombed on Broadway, but I thought it was cute, if a bit long. There's Horton, the Whos, the Grinch, and all these other Seuss characters all woven into one story. I suppose I'm going to have to get used to reading those cutesy rhyming books 10 times in a row if I'm going to have kids soon!

My sister went all out with a pre-play brunch, serving all kinds of good brunch dishes (Amy, don't forget to send me the recipes for that french toast thing and the egg dish). Of course, the Seuss-themed party wouldn't have been complete without green eggs and ham.

The knitting connection (you knew there would be one eventually, right?) is that when my mom and dad were down for the show, my mom helped me figure out the extremely poorly written pattern for the kids' hooded sweater I'm making. The attaching of the pocket lining was incredibly confusing, but we figured it out around midnight. I'll finish it soon and post a photo. Meanwhile, enjoy my cute niece and nephew instead of FOs.


Off to yoga class! Actually this is a posed photo of me pretending to go to yoga class with my new yoga bag, which I knit with the pattern from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation. It is a definite improvement over the old Urban Outfitters bag I was using.

This is my first foray into lace knitting, and I think it turned out pretty well, although I did find it a bit repetitive. It took me a couple of weeks because I kept putting it down.

Here's my summary:

Pattern: Om Yoga Mat Bag from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton, 1 skein Morning Glory Blue #108
Needles: Wood Size 8
Changes to pattern: Only took one skein of yarn, not two as pattern says. Was confused at first about whether lace was knit with one strand or two (pattern not clear) but search on craftster.org confirmed it was one strand. Made strap 26 inches instead of 29. I haven't added the drawstring cord yet.
What I liked: learning lace, pattern was easy to memorize
What I didn't: It was complicated enough to not be "mindless" knitting but not interesting enough to keep my attention
Cost: Less than $2. Cheap!
Spiritual lesson: Knitting is not quite as meditative as yoga, but almost! It's great to combine the two in this way.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

July birthdays

Lots of friends and family have birthdays the first week in July. July 2 is a big day, with Ed's goddaughter Grace, my friend Lourdes, and my former coworker and still friend Dolores Madlener. Then on July 7, we celebrated Ed's dad's birthday in Philadelphia (pictured above). He's 68. Tomorrow is my sister's birthday. She's considerably younger that that.

Lest you think this blog has completely lost its knitting focus, here is some pretty pink 100% wool fingering yarn I bought at a yard sale for 50 cents. Someone has started crocheting a little baby sweater and even included the instructions. I may make some booties for it (although it seems all my friends are now having boys: Kristin and Jon, D'Arcy and Mike, and Staci and Tim--all due with boys this fall or winter). Maybe Ed's brother and sister-in-law will be having a girl. I guess we'll find out soon.

I had a really nice time hitting the rummage sales with my mother-in-law. She's a master, even helped me bargain down a nice antique leather suitcase to $4. Also got two nice cardigans for $1.50 each and an adorable antique "Candy canes 3 cents" sign for $2.50. Finally, a roasting pan for $1, which fits right in the suitcase to get it home. I knit another fortune cookie, but still need to confirm if this will work for our Vietnamese son. So I started a blanket for him, in a sage green acrylic (washable), using the pattern I made my first baby blanket with, another sage green one for Kassie Misiewicz's little Maeve. This has been a wonderful vacation, hanging out with Ed Sr., Marge, and sister-in-law Trish. I'm off to the lawn chair in the sunny back yard to read my book, the 700-plus page The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. It's a good one.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

It's all relative

This is a non-knitting-related post. Yesterday Ed and I had a really nice visit with his cousin Brendan (on his mother's side) and Brendan's wife, Kate (pictured above at O'Donnovan's, where Ed and friends had just watched England lose in the World Cup). Kate is doing her law school internship in Chicago this summer, and Brendan was visiting this weekend from Iowa. They hope to be moving here next summer, which would be great. It was fun to meet both of them. Brendan and I have lots in common, in that we're both writing books. His is about a jazz musician; mine, about the spiritual journey of infertility. Well, at least we're both writers.

Good fortune

While at my parents' last weekend, I knit up a quick fortune cookie, using the pattern for the smaller one (from IndigoMuse). It only took less than two hours (knit during Walk the Line). I felted it in my mom's new-fangled, computerized washing machine. This one turned out much closer to what I expected--about 4 inches in diameter. (See comparison to the larger one in the photo at right.) So I think these would make great birth announcements, but now I have to find out if the Vietnamese do fortune cookies?!