Wednesday, April 23, 2008

ADD Knitting. Again.

So a friend told me the other day that knitting is recommended for people with ADD. It helps them concentrate by keeping part of the brain busy. Interesting, no?

I don't know if I have ADD as it is conventionally considered, but I do show ADD tendencies in my knitting. I started 2 new projects lately, because I guess I did not have enough going on (!). On the plus side, I finished a big one (the clapotis shawl), and I'm close to being done on a little one (the Fetching mitts). Not so bad, hm?

Long story about Clapotis . I had 3 skeins of this yarn, the Kraemer Silk & Silver, hand dyed at Woolbearers. I really, really thought that 2.5 would be more than enough. I was sure of it. Accordingly, I started using some the yarn for Branching Out, a lacy scarf that I am doing as part of a KAL (knit-along) with a group on Ravelry. I just knew that this yarn would be perfect for the pattern, and, like I said, I was sure that I would have plently left over from the Clap.

Tempting the Knitting Gods is never a good idea.

So. There I was, cruising along on the clapotis, and working on my Branching Out when I felt like it. Then ... the partial skein I was using for Branching Out ran out. Hm. I put it aside, and decided to work harder on the Clap so I could and get the rest of the leftovers for the little scarf. Unfortunately, as I watched my ball of yarn shrink more and more rapidly, it was becoming apparent there would be little or no yarn left over from the Clap. Then the Clap started casting its greedy, cannibalistic eyes on Branching Out. I had to face facts and do some frogging. And so my little scarf bravely and quietly gave up its yarn for the greater good (i.e., finishing the Clap). And this is all that I had left of the 3 skeins of fingering weight yarn (over 1200 yards, mind you!), when all was said and done:
Such a sad little ball, about one and a half inches in diameter. Barely big enough to call a ball, really.

After I cast off, the clapotis finis measured 22 inches by 74. I figured it would grow some upon blocking, which was what I wanted. But I had no idea what a monster it would turn into! Here you can see it in all its 25.5 by 93 inch glory, blocking on the playroom floor:
(9 year-old added to help give perspective. As you can see, the Thing is too big for the beach towel I lay down underneath it.) Anyway, I know it is HUGE, but I love it anyway. It has plenty of length to help me keep it wrapped around myself. I can even tie it in front. I made it to wear with a very pretty brown summer dress I have, and I think it will be a great way to glam that dress up for the wedding this summer in Maine.

Meanwhile, I was committed to the Branching Out KAL, so I had to "reboot" that with a different yarn. I settled on the Zen String Serendipity Sport I had originally planned on using for this pattern:
Branching out
Here it is, with about 18 inches done, so far. It's all right. The pattern is somewhat lost in this busy yarn, but it is better IRL than this picture shows. Hopefully blocking will help as well. I regret the loss of the Kraemer yarn for it, though, because it had looked so nice.

Yet more evidence that I must be completely insane: I started the Great American Afghan. Actually, I think there is a method to my madness, in this case. The afghan is made up entirely of 12 inch squares with different stitches and colors for each square. I thought it sounded perfect for an ADD knitter: there is enough variety to keep me engaged, the squares are small enough to be portable, and the needle and yarn sizes are large enough (worsted) to make progress visible and rewarding. So far I have nearly 2 squares done:
GAA #25
I am not sure that the top one (yes, the one blocking between the toothpaste and the hair gel on the bathroom counter--sorry!) will work with the rest of it. The yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, in Safari) may be just a little too crazy. An aside: I bought that yarn at purlsoho in NY. I wasted a half hour on the subway and 15 minutes walking in the wrong direction on Soho streets getting to that shop, so, by golly, I was going to buy something there and I thought this was pretty. But I will say that purlsoho isn't half the store that my favorite LYS, Woolbearers is. As Dorothy says, there's no place like home.

Anyway. I loved the stitch for that square, and it is not quite as lost in the yarn as it seems in this picture, but I know a solid yarn would have been better. I may do it again in a solid. There are a few squares in the pattern that I really don't care for, so I plan to skip them and do second squares of the ones I like best.

The second square (the one 3/4 done) uses Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Merlot Heather. This yarn is wonderful. I can't believe how soft it is! Because it is so reasonably priced, I think I will do most of the afghan in earthy shades of Swish, with a few other yarns thrown in for contrast. At least, that's my plan at this point in time. We'll see how it goes.

I made some progress on some long-languishing socks while I was riding trains in NY, because that was the only project I had that would fit in my purse and did not require I bring a chart or pattern along. And my Fetching Mitts are almost done, thanks to the car rides to and from NY.

Blogger Catch Up

Man, I've had trouble getting motivated to blog. Ravelry is meeting my needs for sharing my knitting progress with other knitters, and I know that my family almost never reads this, so I've started having that "why bother?" attitude. I am pretty embarrassed to see that it has been over a month since I last posted an entry here. But it has been a pretty exciting month, so maybe I should write something about it.

Easter Break: For Easter weekend and the environs (which was a whopping four weeks ago! holy smokes!), we went down to Charlotte to visit Leslie and Frank. It was the first Charlotte trip for the Scarlet Carlet, as Rich wants to call the new car, and it did admirably. (Unfortunately, it is so darn cute that it attracted the attention of a state trooper on the way home, but let's not get into that here.) It was a very low-key weekend, which was perfect. The weather was beautiful. So, aside from church, most of what we did was letterboxing, and we couldn't have been happier. We had carved a new stamp in preparation for the trip, and Leslie had printed out lots and lots of clues for us to hike around and find. We had a blast.

MathBoy liked to be in charge of the clues, but Cat Girl was very observant and great and finding hidden boxes.
Some people have carved gorgeous stamps. Here Cat Crazy Girl shows off a pretty one: an elaborately carved tree with leaves in contrasting colors:

After we got back from Charlotte, we were thrown abruptly into softball and baseball season. Honestly. We went from not even knowing what teams they were on before Easter, to having a full-blown practice and game schedule in force by the time we returned. I really wish they wouldn't do it like that, but nobody asks me, you know?

Model United Nations: The next thing we had to start getting ready for was the Montessori Model United Nations, in which Mathboy's school was participating as the delegation from Sweden. This was held in New York from April 16th through the 19th. Since it was the first time Mathboy's school was involved in this, we really did not know what to expect from it, and everyone was pretty nervous and unsure about what they had to do. Cat Girl and I accompanied the group up to NY on Wednesday and did our own thing that day and Thursday, then Cat Girl went home Thursday and I joined the group to help chaperon for Friday and Saturday. I'm not sure how much help I was, but everyone graciously allowed me to join in, which I appreciated.

Wednesday afternoon and evening were spent at American Girl Place. We indulged, because we had no boys with us to complain. Nicki got her hair done, we bought stuff, we had dinner.
Thank goodness Nicki had good table manners. I must say, there were a lot of kids there that evening that were too young for the place, I think. The girl at the table next to us spent the entire meal standing on the settee looking out the window.

After dinner, we had to get to Grand Central Station to catch a train to my friend Elyse's house, just outside the city, where we were staying that night. It was rush hour, and the cabs were not stopping for us, even though Nicki kept raising her arm so politely. Eventually, we gave in and accepted a ride from this guy in his pedicab.
Did you know that these things can squeeze between cars and cabs, go through red lights, and do all sorts of interesting maneuvers that will get you to the train station way before any conventional cab can? Neither did I. It was an exciting, if harrowing ride. Don't think we'll do it again. Once was enough.

Rich took the train in on Thursday and met us at the American Museum of Natural History. What an amazing place! I have too many pictures of that to post here. (Friends and family can see them at my Flickr site.) It was a gorgeous day, so we went over to Central Park to eat lunch by the lake and climb Belvedere Castle and make faces in the Shakespeare Garden.
We had a great time and will definitely have to go back. We barely got through half the museum, and just scratched the surface of what Central Park has to offer.

On Friday, I joined the UN group, where I heard things were going quite well. Mathboy was having the time of his life, closely involved in writing a resolution that the General Assembly was writing to present to the entire group on Saturday. Mathboy enjoyed this experience so much that he was nearly crying when it was over. We were all very happy to hear that it will be held in NY again next year, rather than the Dominican Republic as we had previously thought. (A trip to DR was really not in the budget for next year.)

Saturday was the big day, when the whole group was to meet in one of the voting rooms at the United Nations. The kids got to sit where delegates from their countries normally would sit and see their votes tallied on the big electronic voting board.
(You can see Mathboy and his group in the mid to upper right in the bottom pic.) There were over 500 Montessori school children involved in this program this year, and a lot of parents and chaperons there on the last day. In fact, there were so many that they had to divide the spectators into 2 shifts, with each shift supposed to be allowed to see half the program. Our group drew the 2nd half. Mathboy got to give a short speech during the first half, which was exciting for him but bad timing for me. I sure would have like to have seen that.

Anyway, the real scandal was that many of the parents who attended the first hour did not leave, which meant that the second shift of parents had trouble getting in. The security guards were quite vigilant; if you did not get a pass from a parent who was exiting the voting room, you could not get in. We had to rely on the honesty and good nature of the parents who were already in there. They stopped the program a couple times to announce that the first shift of parents should leave and emphasized that parents were still waiting to get in, but I know for certain that several parents stayed for the entire program. Our teacher said that a group near him just looked at each other and mulishly said to each other, "We're not leaving." Ah, human nature. Fortunately, I was able to get in and I had a good seat from which to take photos. I think eventually everyone must have gotten in somehow, but some unfairly got to stay and see the whole program.

We came back Saturday, after fighting our way out of NY through the Passover traffic. Six loads of laundry and one huge grocery store expedition later, we are back to our regularly scheduled lives. It's now Wednesday the 23rd, and we've had 3 games, 2 piano lessons, C has had 2 tests, and Mathboy is taking Terra Novas at school today and has karate tonight. Phew!