Monday, January 25, 2010

Little Milo Blue

Taaa-daaaa! An actual finished project, how about that? It's a pretty rare occasion around here.

Pattern: Milo by Georgie Hallam (Ravelry Link)
Yarn: Moda Dea Wool Bamboo
Needles: US 7, 16"

This was a pretty fast knit for me - only a few weeks, once I actually got going. I know, I know, some people can make five of these in that time, but I am a super-slow knitter. I started it and frogged it at least four times, and somewhere during the cast-offs for the shoulder straps I messed up and had to take it off the needles entirely to rip a huge section out. Then I put it back on, but didn't notice it was backwards. Fortunately the yarn is nice and squishy and the garter stitch hid the one row of stockinette I'd just created.

I made the body plain stockinette, so it would be the same front and back, and also because I've never done cables and I knew if I tried I would probably take so long to finish this she'd be wearing it to middle school. I could not, however, seem to do the m1 increases called for without making little holes where the body branches out into stockinette. I couldn't figure out any increase that would add stitches without making it really noticeable, actually. I'm sure this is something to do with my poor knitting skills.

The yarn was really, really nice to work with. I got it in a clearance bin for something like $3 a skein, and it took two skeins to make this, which is a good price for an item that will have macaroni and cheese or yogurt smeared all over it every day it gets worn. I thought I read somewhere on the Coats & Clark website that they were discontinuing the entire Moda Dea line of yarns, and although most of them were godawful technicolor acrylic fun-fur craziness, I will be sad to lose the Wool-Bamboo. It looks like they are, however, introducing Stitch Nation Yarns, which has a wool-bamboo blend, so hopefully it will be similar.

These pictures were taken before it was blocked, because she insisted on wearing it as soon as it came off the needles. No kidding - I bound off, held it up and said, "hey, this is for you!" and she grabbed it and started pulling it on. She slept in it and wore it the next day, too, and was very upset when she had to take it off for brief periods while changing into or out of pajamas.

While sometimes I look at things I've made and see only the mistakes and flaws, having her love this so much made my crafty-mama heart swell with love and, for once, a sense of pride in my work.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fashion: Queen Bee/Chickpea Bags

It is well-documented that I am a total bag FREAK. I have more purses, bags, backpacks, totes, and satchels than any sane person could possibly use in a lifetime. And yet, there's always room for more.

Meet Queen Bee & Chickpea Bags.

Queen Bee is for grown-ups - bags, wallets, & bike panniers. Chickpea is their line of baby bags and accessories. Both are very cute. All the stuff is hand made at their studio in Portland, OR.

I actually have two of their bags; a trucker bag in a now-discontinued leaf pattern and a "laptop jetpack" (a discontinued style) in a lotus pattern. I love them both. I had really, really wanted one of their diaper bags when Piper was little, but I couldn't justify spending the money. By the time an awesome sale came around at the same time my husband wanted to know what I'd like for an anniversary gift, she was out of diapers and so I had to settle for the trucker-style bag. My laptop bag only rarely gets used for laptop transport; it has d-rings and convertible straps on the back so it can be a backpack or two styles of shoulder bag. This made it my main bag for much of last summer, when I was taking commuter-train trips downtown once a week with Piper to pick up our CSA box and then we'd spend the afternoon wandering downtown, going to the library and playing in the fountain. My Queen Bee jetpack was the only one of my many bags that was light enough to carry all afternoon, big enough to hold snacks, drinks, swimsuit, towel, change of clothes, and small toys, and versatile enough to keep up with our activities. I love that thing. And someday, when I have a shiny new laptop, I will actually use it to carry a computer around.

However, what I'm really lusting after right now is an Edith:

It comes in large and small versions.

I love them both, although I like the proportionate look of the small one better. I'd probably need the large one, though, because for some reason I seem to need to carry a massive amount of crap around with me these days. Either way, I wouldn't say no!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In Which My Clumsiness Astounds Even Me.

A few weeks ago, we took Piper to Monkey Joe's, which is this sort of indoor playground full of inflatable bounce-houses and slides. It's all soft, air-filled non-threatening equipment, designed so little kids can shove each other into it and jump around like howler monkeys on speed all day long and not sustain so much as a scratch.

And yet, somehow, despite all the inflatable bouncy protection, I managed to bunge up my foot so much I have been limping for nearly three weeks. When we arrived, I was perfectly happy to let Piper wear herself out climbing all over everything, and to let my husband chase after her and help her on the things she couldn't quite manage, but he wanted me to join the fun! So I scrambled in my stocking-feet after my own crazed little howler monkey as she navigated a foam-and-rubber obstacle course which ended in a short climbing wall studded with toe-holds. Since these toe-holds were designed for small kid feet, not Sasquatch-sized adult flippers, she was much faster than me. As I tried desperately to clamber after her and not look like the out-of-shape couch potato that I am, my cotton/poly-blend socks surrendered what little traction they had and my foot slipped. I crashed down onto the mat below, my foot still at an awkward angle, and heard a snap! sound when it hit. The almost-immediate burning sensation along my ankle let me know what something not good had just happened.

I tried to tough it out and accompanied Piper up and down a few more of the giant slides, until my husband noticed my grimace and pointed me to a row of lounge chairs conveniently provided for parents right in front of a big-screen TV. The arch-side of my foot had a rapidly-swelling lump and the burning, tingly sensation was getting worse as I propped it on an ottoman and tried to work on the knitting I'd brought with me.

Eventually we packed up and I limped home, tried putting it up and applying ice, and it hurt less, but I was still left hobbling around. I poked at it and decided nothing was broken (although, with no health insurance, it's not like we could afford to pop down to the Urgent Care for an x-ray anyway). I think I whacked the little bony part on the arch of my foot and bruised a bone or something. After a week, an ugly greenish-purple bruise blossomed on that side of my foot. The bruise has faded, but it still hurts to stand on it too long, it hurts to wear tight shoes, and anything besides tennis shoes or my trusty boots will leave me grimacing and hopping around.

Every time I step down and get a bolt of pain up my leg, I mentally kick myself for being such an idiot. I mean, who else but me could injure themselves that badly in a room FULL OF INFLATABLE SOFT THINGS?! Honestly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Long-Overdue Thanks: Antoinette of Clever Girl

I was part of Antoinette's Pay-It-Forward swap, and she made me the most amazing hat and scarf.

Oh, look, it's my bathroom. The glamour never stops around here, I tell you.
Both the hat and scarf are marvelously lightweight, but provde enough insulation to ward off the occasional Southern chill. The hat is nicely floppy, so I don't have to worry about ruining it when I take it off and cram it into my bag as I'm running to a) something I'm late for (which happens a lot) or b) catch my kid (which happens a lot more).

Recently we have experience a cold snap here, and my husband (who normally can't be bothered to wear a coat and usually sports flip-flops in the snow) had discovered the wonderful insulating properties of scarves. Since he has none of his own, he steals mine - mostly this one, because it is soft enough and lightweight enough not to, as he puts it, "bother" him. There may or may not have been a time or two when I whined, "but it's MY scarf!" as he took it from its hook by the door yet again.

Either way, both pieces have gotten a lot of use and, I'm certain, will continue to. Thanks Antoinette!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Long-Overdue Thanks: Tina of glam.spoon

Waaaay back in September, I won a skirt from Tina at glam.spoon. She shipped it to me quite promptly, and I immediately started wearing it. It is one of the nicest things I have ever owned. I may or may not have referred to it as "my Precious" in front of my husband.

I sent her a thank-you email, but have been sorely remiss in writing a thank-you post. This is partly because I was gone for a month, but mostly because I wanted to take a picture of myself wearing it, and it was way harder to take a self-portrait than I'd imagined.

I finally did get a few shots, and although they are not as good as I'd hoped for, I think they're the best I can do for now.

Do I seem a bit grumpy here? That's probably because it was 83 degrees that day (these photos were taken in October, shortly before what turned out to be a month-long visit to the family up North), and in order to get enough light, I had to stand on the sunny (read: HOT) side of the house. Oh, and I'm right under a huge wasps' nest. Also, the neighbor kids were standing on the sidewalk staring and pointing at me.

Lawn equipment. High fashion, people, right there.

The hat and scarf are from the lovely and amazing Antoinette, whose thank-you post is coming later this week.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Fashion: Down East Basics

I commented to my sister (and to you guys) one day that I might be too old for Delia's. They don't have much of the stuff that I used to buy from them - cargo pants, cheap basic tees, cute skirts. It's a teeny-bopper site, and sells teeny-bopper clothes, which are just not my thing anymore. I'm not really in the market for skintight fuschia skinny-jeans and faux-vintage cartoon graphic tees. Their thermals used to be a staple of my winter wardrobe, but as they are now tissue-thin, a foot too long for me, and I'd be paying $22.50 each for something that will snag the first time I wear it and develop holes with its first wash, I pass.

But I was still in the market for a new basic-stuff/pretend-shopping site. I had given up hope of doing anything but mournfully coveting things from Anthropologie...and then I met Down East Basics.

Not only do they have an entire page of nice basic tees & tanks, their other stuff is cute too. These skirts are a lot closer to the stuff I wear nowadays than, say, a zebra-print velour bubble-style ultra-mini skirt. In fact, a couple of them look a lot like ones I was coveting from Anthropologie, and a couple more look like stuff I've already got hanging in my closet. They have a girls' section, too, although a lot of it is a bit floral and pink for my taste. Their mens' section is a little sparse, but does have some nice basic tees.

And it all seems very affordable. Their sale section has some mad awesome bargains, but the regular prices aren't sky-high. They've recently added a lot of nice handbags at very reasonable prices, like this Large Patent Tote for $24.99 (which I like almost as much as this Hollywood Intuition bag I've been drooling over). The recent cold weather has me eyeing the Carpe Diem Cardigan ($26.99) because I am a sucker for a good slouchy cardigan. I can't help that it would look great with the First Lady Skirt ($34.99) and a kick-ass pair of boots...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another Belated Holiday Post: Gift Tags

I meant to post this on December 15: What to do if, say, you have gifts to wrap, and your 2.5-year-old wants to help, which, of course, is not much help at all?

Bust out the stamper set you were saving for her stocking, cut up some index cards, and let her make some gift tags. This will keep her busy and also stop you from frantically searching for the pack of gift tags you are absolutely sure is somewhere in your house but does not turn up even after you trashed three rooms looking for it.

She will have a good time. You will get gift tags with blobby, inky monster stamps on them, which delight your gift recipients (particularly those of the grandparent variety). You will get your presents wrapped without her "help."

Even your household pets can get involved.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Snow Slide

It has been COLD here (cold FOR here, I mean) - daytime highs in the 30's (that's close to 0 degrees for anyone measuring in Celsius) and night-time lows in the 15-20 range (again, for you Celsius-users, that's around -9.4 to -6.6 degrees). It's nothing to the mountain of snow our relatives up north are shoveling, but since it's usually 50-plus during the day here, it feels like we could make one of these:

(Photo source; found via Playscapes)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Christmas Post, A Little Belated.

Here's a little of what our Christmas looked like:

A drum set eagerly awaiting use.

We got this silver tree a mere eight days before Christmas. Neither of us was a big fan of fake trees, but this one was just so glittery and space-age-looking we couldn't resist. We immediately dubbed it "THE CHRISTMAS TREE...OF THE FUTURE!" and are working on making a rocketship topper for next year.

Piper's ornament this year, chosen by her (last year was a dinosaur).

The glass ball ornaments originally belonged to my parents; they got them when I was just a baby. My mom wanted to throw them out one year and I said "What?! You're crazy!" I've been moving them back and forth across the country ever since.

We "Santa" watched Mad Men while putting together the drum set, filling stockings, and pulling packages out of hidey-holes around the house.

The (very quiet) drum set was a big hit, although I haven't seen the sticks since Dec. 26th and she keeps trying to sit on it.

Hope your holidays were merry and bright.