Thursday, November 29, 2007

Babies, babies everywhere

"A miracle, my friend, is an event which creates faith." (George Bernard Shaw)

OK, my list of people to knit baby things for is growing faster than I can knit. In the past two weeks we learned that two friends are pregnant, including our good friends Jenny and Jon, who recently moved to California. Also, Ed's friends Dan and Lin. And our former neighbors John and Leigh Ann had a beautiful baby girl this week: Josephine Virginia. Those old-fashioned names are back in! They're going to call her Jovie.

This sweater was finished and sent to my friend Kristi, who is due at the end of December. It's my first "kimono" style baby sweater, which I learned means that you have to knit two big fronts! I also had to do a chain stitch crochet for the ties. My crochet is very amateurish, and Kristi is a crocheter so I hope she overlooks that. I used this Bunny Hop Side Wrap Kimono pattern from Crystal Palace and Bernat's Cotton Tots yarn in a sunny Lemon. The trim is supposed to be two colors, but I just used a varigated cotton in blue/cream.

We're always happy for friends who are expecting, but sometimes it's hard, too. Will we ever be parents? It's hard to hold onto hope going into our fourth year of trying (one year of infertility, and now two years of adoption wait). Most days I get through by not thinking about it, but I know Ed is having a hard time with it these days. The holidays are always hard, too, especially since we have to admit that we may not have a child by next Christmas either.

Sometimes I have to stop and deal with my own pain, which may involve needing to try to forget all the friends who are enjoying their new babies. But usually there's at least one person that I really want to make something pretty and handmade for their new little one. I've got several on my list right now, but I'll take a break in the next month to do Christmas gift knitting. Then maybe in January I can knit baby sweaters again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Plan B

"Thanksgiving beckons us with open minds and heart, offering the chance to find something in common and to hold hands, one with another, in appreciation of all that we have been given." (Sir John Templeton)

I was all excited to host Thanksgiving this year. Ed's brother, his wife, and baby were all set to arrive late Wednesday night when we learned Wednesday morning that Kremena, his wife, was sick. Good thing I hadn't completely cleaned my house yet! So Ed and I threw the turkey in the car and headed to Wisconsin to have a last-minute Thanksgiving with my parents, who were going to have been alone. We just beat the snow. How nice to wake up to a blanket of white on Thanksgiving morning.

My dad made his famous stuffing; I did the Brandied Sweet Potatoes (yes, you heard that right: Wisconsinites like brandy in everyithing!), the cranberry orange relish and two pumpkin pies, and my mom made the turkey and gravy. We cheated with instant mashed potatoes and skipped the green veggie. It was simple, but nice.
Right after dinner my dad left to go hunting up north, and my mom and I curled up on the sofa with our knitting and watched movies. (Ed was there too, but he wasn't knitting.) First was Akeelah and the Bee (very good), then The Greatest Show on Earth on TMC (1952), which was appropriate because I'm reading Water for Elephants (also about the circus).
I'm knitting Christmas gifts so won't be able to show all of them, but I have some other FOs to share this weekend, and many in progress. I'm also cranking out purses and some felt ornaments for our parish craft fair. More details about that to follow.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thrifty finds

" 'A great event is coming, bow down.' / And I, always looking for something anyway; / always bow down." (Poet William Stafford, "Things That Happen")

I haven't done a post about my thrifty finds lately. I've been trying to hold off on too many trips to the thrift store, since our house is getting too full! I've been doing some sorting and donating too. I try to never arrive at the thrift store without a donation too!

I've found some nice kids' clothes lately, even though I've stopped looking for Sam or Sophie. But my sister-in-law told me to keep an eye out for the style of stuff she likes (no pink or lace!) for her daughter. That striped outfit (new with the tags still on) in the middle is destined for Elena, if it still fits. The mushroom jacket is from Gymboree and like new. I'm keeping that for Sophie (it was $4). The boys' striped shirt was only 10 cents! And I just couldn't pass up the handknit doll, even though she's from very acrylic yarn.

Here's my latest finds from the linen department (sorry for the bad light): some red fabric, cool vintage Christmas fabric, a very dressy taffeta apron with gold rick-rack, and a brown tie (for purse handles). I also found this new, red metal canister with a glass lid. It's already been put to use for sewing storage (it's full of spools of thread).

I've got some finished objects to show soon! And some good news, which I may not be able to share for awhile (not adoption related. Don't get too excited).

Friday, November 16, 2007

The "C" word

"Hope, like faith, is nothing if it is not courageous; it is nothing if it is not ridiculous." (Thornton Wilder)

Why does it seem like everyone has cancer? My father-in-law was diagnosed two years ago, and thankfully, so far has been cancer-free since his surgery. My cousin's daughter had a rare cancer a few years ago, and she, too, is doing fine these days. One of my best friends had breast cancer about five years ago; her sister had died from it. Now my sister's sister-in-law (her husband's oldest sister) has been diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. She is the mother of two kids: a boy in high school and a younger girl, and is now going through the absolute strongest chemo and radiation possible to kick it. We have been praying for her like mad, and hope you will join in and keep her in your prayers too. Her name is Marcy.

I knit her this hat (she expects to lose her hair) from this Chunky Cabled Beanie pattern. It was my first time doing cables and it really was quite easy (just like my friend Kaycee told me!) I was a little nervous because Marcy is a rather experienced knitter, so I hope she's not inspecting this for flaws (it seems a bit loose; probably should have used slightly smaller needles). I used the super softest yarn I could find: that new Bernat Bamboo in the Wicker colorway.

Speaking of the "C" word (that would be "Cancer" not "Cables"), I ordered this cute patchwork potholder from Jennifer at The Felt Mouse, whose family has been affected by pancreatic cancer. Apparently the "color" for pancreatic cancer is purple, so she made these purple potholders to raise money for research. (She still has three for sale in her shop. A bargain at $8!)
In her tag, she notes that pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate and it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., yet the Nation Cancer Institute spends only 1 percent of its budget on pancreatic research. Thanks, Jennifer, for doing your part to help rectify that.

Movies to knit by: In keeping with his theme of only ordering sad movies from Netflix, Ed got us A Mighty Heart, the film starring Angelina Jolie as Marianne Pearl, wife of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl. While his story is compelling, the movie didn't do much for me. I already knew what was going to happen, and the film didn't really reveal that much about the characters: He was the perfect man; they had the perfect marriage. I suppose that happens when you make a film too quickly after someone's death.

On the TMC and Retro channels, I recently watched The Enchanted Cottage (1945), which I loved. The whole message that love can turn ugly ducklings into swans, at least in the eyes of their beloved, was a touching one. Then last night I saw Ninotchka (1939), a classic with Greta Garbo. Strange coincidence: this movie was a clue in yesterday's crossword puzzle I do every morning.

To keep yourself cancer-free, schedule the screenings recommended for your age. I just made my mammogram and pap smear appointments today.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sock it to me!

"Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3:5)

Ta da! My first pair of handknit socks! I started these last winter. I don't know why it took me so long to finish them; partly because I'm always knitting gifts for other people that seem more pressing than a pair of socks for myself.

(Traditional blog shot of socks from above)

I used a basic sock pattern my mom gave me; it was attributed to Ruth Blazenko of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They yarn was also from my mom, and she got it for $5 at one of her knitting group meetings. It's called Regia from Italy, and the colors are bright orange, red purple and green. Not exactly the colors I'd pick, but they're fun.

I know some people knit socks almost exclusively. I didn't find turning the heel to be that difficult (although each sock has a boo-boo, luckily in hard-to-see areas). I definitely like wearing hand-knit socks, and it's a nice portable project and I know there are lots of gorgeous patterns out there. I don't think my next pair will take a year. (And I have enough yarn left over to make a pair of kiddie socks.)

I made pumpkin leek soup on Sunday and have been enjoying it for lunch this week. This recipe called for lime sour cream to top it. Yum. Now it finally feels like fall, and the leaves are finally turning colors here in Chicago.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Camp name: Knitter

"All serious daring starts from within." (Harriet Beecher Stowe)

I went camping again with my niece's Girl Scout troop again this past weekend. Last May I accompanied my sister, the troop leader, and about 12 girls. We stayed in tents, boiled water to was dishes, and peed in a latrine. This time there were only 7 girls, we stayed in a cabin, but still had to go in the latrine.

I showed up dressed in a vintage G.S. sash and hat (found at an estate sale and destined for ebay). That's me with my niece, Clare. I also was in charge of keeping the wood stove going to heat the cabin. It was actually pretty toasty, except first thing in the morning since the only person who stoked the fire during the night was my sister, who was up with a puking Girl Scout. Too many s'mores, I guess.

I finished my first pair of socks during the three skits the girls put on during the evening. Will post them soon! Ialso worked on a baby afghan, which now has that campfire smell.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

In the shop

"Only a life lived for others is the life worthwhile." (Albert Einstein)

Cute leaf pins made of recycled wool felt and hand embroidered (sorry for the slightly blurry photo). Only $3 in my shop now.

I'm trying to make some items at different price points for any selling I do this holiday season. I hope to get accepted into the craft fair at my parish in early December. The booth cost for two days is only $55, so I thought that was reasonable. I've been busy making more purses so I have lots of inventory. But I've been remiss about putting stuff in my etsy shop.

So I've listed three (and have more) of theses cute fall leaf pins. They'd look cute on a fall coat, I would think. I've also been sending them as little thank-you gift to esty customers who order a lot. The felt sales are still going like gangbusters.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Swap partners that rock

"We meet no ordinary people in our lives." (C.S. Lewis)

Here are the Halloween goodies from my Sweet Goodness Sister Swap partner. Like me, she is a knitter and a writer. I was so excited when I opened the box and saw this gorgeous sock yarn from Socks That Rock. I've read about this yarn and know that it's pricey, so it was so generous of Christy to share her stash with me. I'm nearing the completion of my first pair of socks so I hope to be able to post that FO soon.

The package also included this cute homemade Halloween fabric goodie bag. So cute, with the coordinating pumpkin fabrics and "Happy Halloween" ribbon. Inside were recipe cards with some of Christy's favorite recipes, plus a cute little string figure and something I really needed: knitting needle point protectors shaped like little socks!

Thanks again, Christy. I look forward to Part 2 of our swap this month.