And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm a Believer!

Last night I sewed together the front, back, and sleeves for Ian' sweater (Katie's sweater is on the agenda for tonight; the picture -- for which the sweaters are being knitted -- is scheduled for noon tomorrow). After putting both sleeves on, I realized that I had sewn them in slightly differently on the front, and it was obvious. OK, just cut the yarn sewing the sleeve to the front on one side, pull it out, and resew. Simple, right?

Well, it would be, if you didn't miss the sewing yarn and cut the yarn at the edge of the front, thereby mysteriously unraveling four rows and leaving a hole in the piece about 1.5 x 2 inches. EEKS! I managed to kludge together a reknitted section, and it doesn't look too terribly bad, but I alternated between panic attacks and tantrums for a good 45 minutes there.

Anyway, I got it done, and the cute pewter celtic knot buttons sewn on, and tried it on Ian. It fits, just. I swear the boy has the arms of a monkey! But then, this afternoon, I discovered the magic ingredient: BLOCKING!

Oh, sure, I've heard of blocking sweaters. And the instructions did say to block the pieces before making up the sweater. But I thought blocking 100% cotton wouldn't accomplish much, so I skipped it. And it turned out okay. But then I started to sew Katie's sweater together, and the lengths of the front and back didn't quite match, so I looked up how to block a sweater, and decided to give it a try.

I started with Ian's sweater, to see if I could get the armholes to relax a little bit -- they seemed kind of lumpy and crowded. I plugged in my new iron and steamed and steamed and steamed -- and behold, the sweater looked amazing! All the crumply, jammed-up stitches relaxed and straightened out. I tugged on the sleeves and the torso, to make it smooth out and fit a little better. I just can't get over what an improvement it is.

Of course, I blocked Katie's pieces first, and I'm trying to sew the seams a little looser -- I tend to be a very tight stitcher. Hopefully it will come out even better (which is why I did hers second -- since it's light blue, it can be passed down to Ian in a few years, whereas he'll outgrow his by next year at the latest).

I'm feeling more successful at knitting than at baking. I started Christmas cookies today, and ended up with very flat Christmas trees, extra crunchy fudge (note to self: when allowing preschooler to help decorate with sprinkles, make sure to give him the thing with the sprinkler top, so he won't pour out the sprinkles), and flattish snowflakes. I don't know if it's my margarine or what, but it's frustrating. At the moment, I wouldn't give any of these -- except maybe the fudge -- out as teacher/friend gifts. I'm going to have to come up with some more foolproof recipes. Tomorrow we'll be dipping Christmas-shaped pretzels in Ghirardelli white chocolate and sprinkling them with holiday sprinkles. I have high hopes for that project -- if I give Ian the right shaker!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Fooled you, didn't I? Did I say every day in November? And then go right off on a weekend away to Baltimore to visit relatives and yarn? I did. So no blogging in November (no, I can't remember what happened after that weekend -- I suspect it had something to do with multiple deadlines at the same time). And none in December, apparently, until now. And little cohesive stuff, either, but there are a few bloggish things that have been floating around in my brain.

Thing #1: The kids have been "playing" Dragonquest on Playstation with Dave for the last few weeks. He maintains that any violence is cartoonish, and thus not the kind of thing we need to restrict. I'm skeptical, but I've been letting it go. Hey, at least there's a strong female character! Anyway, they all go up into the bedroom together, Dave mans the controls, and the kids wrestle each other around the room and apparently absorb all sorts of geek language. Conversations around my house go something like this now:

Ian: "I'm a frozen ghost, and frozen ghosts can inflict more damage than liquid ghosts."
Katie: "I'm going to use twin dragon slash on you."

There's also a lot of casting "boom" and "zing" while shopping. I try to pretend they're not mine.

Thing #2: This morning I watched my neighbor's 9-year-old daughter before school because she had an emergency. This girl is pretty much Katie's best friend, and they play often. Friend is hard to describe, but generally okay. However, her family are evangelical Christians, so I found myself being proselytized (to?) before I had my coffee. This is an excerpt from the conversation around the breakfast table:

Katie: Did you know that one thousand billion years from now, the Earth is going to explode. It's true. I read it in a book.
Friend: Well, it doesn't matter because God is going to end the world soon. (turns to me) Do you believe in God?
Me: Yes.
F: Does she?
Me: I don't know, you'd have to ask her.
F: Well, have you been saved?
Me: We believe in a different kind of religion.
F: Well *Christians* --
K: But it's *science* --
F: We're Christian, just a different flavor of Christian than you. There are lots of different religions, you know.
F: I know, but when Christians die, they all go to heaven, and ... I don't know what happens next, but I guess I'll see you guys in heaven.
K: Well, the Earth is going to end one thousand billion years from now, but it doesn't matter, because we won't still be alive.
F: Did you know that back in the time of the Bible, people lived for 300 years?
Me: Some people think that that was just a way of showing respect to people.
F: It's true! It's in the Bible.
K: Sometime the Bible lies.
Me, intervening: People believe different things about the Bible. Some people believe it literally, and some people think it's more of a story. Right?
F nods.
Me: Can we please move on to a different topic??

(Dave is very proud that Katie took up for the side of science, by the way.)

So this afternoon, I went over and gave some of our extra pine roping (note to self: 75 feet is far too much pine roping to buy, even if it does support the PTO) to my neighbor, and I thought I'd mention this in passing. I said, "You should have heard the theological discussion at our house this morning. I hope it's okay that I was telling them that it's okay that there are all different kinds of beliefs." Her response -- and keep in mind that this is someone I'm friendly with: "Not in my world it's not." Ho-kay. I said, "Well, at least that it's okay that we can believe what we want to believe," and headed back across the street. I didn't even tell her about the evenhanded approach to peace in the Middle East that I promoted to her child. (She should know better -- she saw my Hillary sign in the window!)

Thing #3: I'm done with Christmas shopping! Woohoo! Of course, we're not exactly done with decorating -- boxes and bins still strewn throughout the house. In fact, one-quarter of the ornaments still have yet to make it to the Christmas tree. Fortunately, I've got a whole weekend to deal with it -- we were going to have Ian's 4th birthday party on Sunday, but only one child could make it. (Very, very sad.) So we reissued invites today for Jan. 7, and we're hoping at least a few will come. We had to promise Chuck E. Cheese for the celebration of the actual day (ack!), but he took it better than I thought he would. And we'll have a family party when my parents get her next Thursday. Dave's pushing to move his parties to the summer and have half-birthday celebrations, but I don't know that that would be any better.

Thing #4: I've been busy, busy, busy knitting. Sadly, I've succumbed to SSPD (Second Sock Procrastination Disorder), and I have no fewer than four single socks that need their mates. I have reasons -- not necessarily good ones -- for each sock to be mateless, but it's no excuse. Still, they have to wait until I finish the kids' sweaters, which are all done but need making up. I'm working on that tonight and tomorrow, and have to be finished before they get their pictures done tomorrow afternoon. I'm hoping to post some pictures of the things I'm doing, but since many of them are gifts, I may have to wait until after Christmas -- I can't trust the recipients not to peek!

And that's it. I'll try to be more profound (and prolific) in the future. I'd really like to build this up to a much more frequent blog. It helps that a phone conversation with a friend the other day revealed that this friend has greater admiration for and faith in my writing ability than I remembered. Nothing like a compliment to spur you on to more effort!