Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hersheypark Happy!

Hersheypark glad! Everyone remember that jingle from those TV ads in the '70s, or was it the '80s? Anyway. How's this for a Hersheypark Happy Face? Believe it or not, she really wanted to greet the Kiss Dude, it was only when Rich whipped out the camera and wanted to take a picture that this expression appeared. Well, the Kiss and the Webkinz look happy.

Hershey was a lot of fun. We did not get a lot of pictures, though. I think we were too busy. After 3 days of it, in fact, I think we were relieved to go home. We wore ourselves out.

We did take a very nice buggy ride in the Amish Country. That was pretty relaxing. The countryside around there is so beautiful, but we began to feel uncomfortable with the way the Amish people themselves seemed to be a tourist attraction. It was almost like they were like fish in a bowl. We passed one crummy-looking motor-lodge called the Amish View Inn. There were crummy looking plastic chairs set up in front of each room facing the road. Can you guess what was across the road? Yep, it was the Amish View. An Amish farm was there, and, coincidentally, there was a farmer working there at the very moment we passed. We saw the farmer, the crummy chairs facing his lovely field, and the name of the crummy motel, and it made us feel kind of ... crummy. We drove back to Hershey, with its strangely animated candybar characters.

And here, I finished one sock for Math Boy. Yes, I know I haven't finished Cat's second Panda Cotton Sock, but I could not resist starting something with this yarn as soon as I got it. It is Claudia Handpaint in the sport weight, in the Boot Camp colorway. This yarn is fabulous! It is so smooshy and bouncy. I love it the feel of it and I love this color. I simplified the "Inside Out" pattern from the Rockin' Sock Club to make this sock--essentially it's just a 2x1 rib with garter stitch short-row heel and toe. Super easy. I used size 1 needles for the toe, foot and heel, and 2s for the leg. That is Math Boy's foot, modeling the sock. His feet are almost as big as mine now!

I know I said that I did not like the fingering weight of the Claudia yarn when I used it for a scarf in February, but this sport weight is great! To be honest, my scarf may not have been the best project for that yarn. Anyway, I love this and probably will use it again.

Monday, June 18, 2007

All Better, just in time for Summer Vacation!

Here is our Cat Crazy Girl, feeling much better after 3 days on the amoxicillin. An awfully nasty bout with strep has had her knocked out for several days. She had a fever more or less constantly from Tuesday, when the school nurse called to have me pick her up, until Saturday night around dinnertime. She missed the last 3 days of school, and all the fun end-of-the-year stuff that was going on this week (final softball game, pool parties, ice cream socials). The teacher had to clean out her desk for me. Luckily, she is all better for our upcoming trip to Hershey Park, which is the important thing.

All in all, Cat Girl is not sad to put 2nd Grade behind her. It was not her favorite year, for various reasons. Math Boy, on the other hand, was very sad to see his school year end. In fact, he has been lamenting the end of school so much, I finally told him (and only half-jokingly) that he was kind of hurting our feelings. I am glad that he loves his school. What a change from the days when he used to go to Cat Girl's school. We are very lucky to have found such a good fit for him.

Cat Girl is hamming it up, modeling my Montego Bay scarf, made in Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Paris colorway. It's already wrapped up and sent to Mom for her birthday. Although the pattern called for the scarf to be 80 inches, I felt that 60 inches was plenty long enough. (To be honest, I was darn sick of the stitch pattern by 40 inches.) So, because this skein was so big to begin with, I'm sure I have enough left over to make something else, just ... not now. The yarn is very delicate and I'm just not in the mood for starting another project with it right now. So I re-wound the ball on my ballwinder to tidy it up and put it aside for a while.

This pattern was easy and a good showcase for this yarn. Aside from making it shorter, the only change I made was to use a size 7 needle instead of an 8. It was definitely lacy enough for me on a 7. I love the braid fringe! At first, I was worried it might be a little too funky-looking, but by the time I finished braiding all those tiny little braids I was hooked by the cool look.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Had to add a separate entry about Math Boy (new fun name that my son and I have settled on for him). There will be no pictures for this entry, although there really should be. Why? Let me explain.

Last night Math Boy's Montessori school held their annual end of the year "Festivities." It was kind of like a pageant: each class performed something they have been working on for a while that fit with the international theme that the school chose to use this year. Nearly all the teachers are from other countries, so each class generally did something to fit with the heritage of its teacher.

Because this was Math Boy's first year at the school, we really did not understand what a big deal this was. I did not think to bring the video camera. Math Boy told me that his class was doing an authentic Filipino dance--their teacher is from the Phillipines. That was pretty much all he told me.

We arrive for the evening, and a friend asked me if Math Boy was nervous about playing the piano for everyone. WHAT? He never mentioned that. Sure enough, at the beginning of the evening, it is announced that some children will play piano at the end of the evening, as accompaniment to a slide show about the school year. My son is reported as one of them, playing the First Movement from Khachaturian's Toccata (go here to hear someone playing it). And, again, I said WHAT?! As far as I knew, he hadn't played that in months. The sheet music was at home. Gathering dust. Sure, he did learn it through and through, but that was months ago and it's a darn hard piece and what does he think he's doing telling everyone he can perform that piece in front of all these parents and all I could think about was what a recipe for disaster this was. Rich told me I had better go find Math Boy and find out what's going on.

I sneaked backstage and was fortunate enough to find Math Boy quickly. He assured me that he has been practicing the piece at school and he's going to be fine. He doesn't need the music; he still has it memorized. Relax, Mom.

I went back to sit down. The preschool class productions were very cute, although kind of a mess. The songs were probably a little too long for these little ones (ages 3, 4 and 5) to keep their focus. There was one little girl who kept taking her dress off. The teacher's assistant kept putting it back on and tried to hide the girl behind the curtain, but she was bound and determined to disrobe in the spotlight. One boy discovered the side-stage door and kept running in and out, over and over.

Then Math Boy's elementary class (covering ages 6 through 12) did their Filipino martial arts dance with sticks, and it was great. They clearly had practiced quite a bit and had a lot of fun. The girls in the class had opted to do a harvest dance, which also was lovely. I settled down to worry about the piano perfomances, which were scheduled to take place at the end of the evening. But little did I know what was coming.

Math Boy had mentioned at some point during the year that he was doing the part of Peter Pan in a song the music class was doing. I thought it was just something they worked on in class. He did not tell me that was for the end of the year festivities. He did tell me that the kids were singing a Beatles medley for the music teacher and that we would see that during the festivities. So I was not surprised when the elementary kids came out and did a rousing version of Yellow Submarine, etc. But I totally unprepared for Math Boy to take the microphone and do the part of Peter Pan in a full length version of "I Won't Grow Up." The funny thing was that when he did pick up the mike, Rich and I both thought he was messing around and that he would get in trouble. Then he started singing. With a Microphone. By himself, for a lot of the time. And he was good. I don't think I breathed until it was over.

In the end, the piano performances did not really matter, because the evening was so rife with technical difficulties that it went very late and because the folks in charge could not make the slideshow work. Worse, nobody went up on the stage to let the audience know what was going on. I think most of the audience simply forgot about the planned slideshow/piano concert and just stood up and started collecting their kids and chatting with each other. Eventually the piano kids came out and did their numbers, but only those of us who wanted to listen--and who pushed our way up to the front so we actually could hear--got to hear them. That ended up being about 15 parents. And I need not have worried about Math Boy--he definitely knew that piece, without music, and impressed the few of us actually listening.

All I have of this evening is my memory. I missed a major video moment in my son's life--and, frankly, we don't really get that many. He says he did not tell us too much about the Peter Pan song because he was embarrassed. He forgot to tell me about the piano. I'm still a little shell-shocked by the whole thing. I was so blown away while we were there that I completely forgot to make him and his friends pose in their costumes for a picture, so I don't even have that.

I am very proud of him for everything he did. I just wish I could have had more warning!

Progress? Well....

It depends on what you are asking about, of course. Look: my van made progress, going over 100,000 miles this week. There were days when I swore it would never make it this far. I clearly underestimated it. I made some (very) small progress in stash reduction, knitting up these super-quick and inexplicably enjoyable squares of garter stitch on the bias. I used up a lonely not-quite-complete skein of Noro Silk Garden I've had hanging around for a while now, left over from a sweater I made. It was one of those things where I loved the yarn so much that I could not just throw this small leftover skein away (plus it was not cheap), but I had no idea what to do with it. So I made these squares for the Rebuilding Greensburg project.
I also made a couple squares with leftover sock yarn held together with some leftover black dk yarn from a sweater I made, oh, eons ago. The woman who began this project plans to make over 40 afghans for families in Greensburg KS with the squares she is collecting. All I can say is ... wow.

I made sock progress. I finished the Farmhouse Socks that Rock. There is no new picture of the FO, because I have taken enough pix of those darn things and I am sick of looking at them. As soon as I finished them I packed them away for colder weather and started these...
Look: already one sock done for Cat Crazy Daughter (she asked I refer to her by a fun name rather than just her initial). This is the Crystal Palace Panda Cotton in Vanilla Cream, a color chosen by Cat Crazy Daughter and bought from The Loopy Ewe. These were done toe-up on size 0 needles. I worked from the basic sock recipes out there and used a lace rib on the instep and leg. I still love working with this yarn. It feels incredible. Unfortunately, the foot for which this sock was made has gone to the pool for the afternoon, so I can't show a picture of it being worn. It fits her well--but not tightly. This yarn is nice and stretchy so I hope the 8-year-old-foot can wear it for a while. I just started the second sock. I also started this...
The Montego Bay scarf from this month's Interweave Knits magazine (look here and scroll down) in Handmaiden Sea Silk in the Paris colorway, also from The Loopy Ewe. There is no way I can adequately convey how completely gorgeous this yarn is. It even has a slight smell of the ocean to it. I know that sounds kind of icky, but it's really cool. The only irritating thing so far is that, for some reason, it was very difficult to wind. It does tangle rather easily. I only have about 12 inches done and I would like to finish it for Mom's birthday in about 3 weeks. Doable, I think. And this skein was so huge I should have enough left to make something else!

So. I haven't mentioned the sloggin' denim cardigan. Why? Because I barely have touched it since my last blog entry. It's not very portable and it is at a point where I really have to pay attention to what I am doing with it, and that just hasn't fit with my lifestyle for the past couple of weeks. It is due to become even less portable, because I realized I really should sew the fronts and the back together before I continue doing the button-band-slash-collar-thing. It's languishing on the rocking chair next to my side of the bed, so I have to look at it a lot and think about how I should be working on it, but other things are much more attractive.