Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Sock knitters of the world, hand it over...

Is it me, or has sock knitting taken over the knitting world? I understand that they are a small, portable project for summer, but honestly, in LA? How many pairs of wool socks do you need? I am not a sock knitter. The needles are too small and the yarn too fine. I once tried to knit toe-up socks, but only got to the point where it looked like I had knitted a diaphragm.
The only "sock" I have successfully knit was Eliza's Christmas stocking. I liked it because I got to use size 15 needles and big, bulky wool. It had beautiful cables and I turned the heel and everything. I felt very accomplished.
Now it's time to make Vivian's stocking. I could sew one like I have for Richard & I, but I enjoyed the process of knitting Eliza's so much that I want to knit one again. But I can't find a stocking pattern that I think compares to the elegance of Eliza's stocking (from Handknit Holidays).
So, sock knitters, can I take a normal sock pattern and supersize it, with bulky yarn and large needles to make it stocking size? I'm thinking of the Tyrolean Stockings by Ann Budd from the current issue of Interweave Knits:
My thought is that I could reduce the number of repeats of the cable rows through the leg so the stocking wasn't inordinately long. Should I also try to reduce the length of the foot? This is, of course, theoretical, because I don't have a yarn/gauge/needle size selected. But what do you think?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

New dawn, new day

Not quite literally dawn, although only a few hours from it. Vivian was in fine form tonight, and by fine, I mean screaming her head off from approximately 8 p.m. until midnight when she finally fell asleep draped over my shoulder. Screamed bloody murder for four hours. All Richard and I could figure was that she got a mean case of gas that would not go away -- not with gas drops, burps, farts, thumping on the back, rubbing of the tummy, swaddling, stomach pressure, anything. My head wanted to explode. The cats kept giving us plaintive looks that said "why won't she shut up?!?"

Eventually she did, after spitting up copious amounts of milk in my hair and down my back. Don't I make it sound fun? Don't you all want to run out and get knocked up? Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade Vivian or her tantrums for anything (well, maybe the tantrums for some nice alpaca yarn, but since they seem to be a package deal with Viv, I guess I'm stuck with them). I love her more than life itself, but the 4-hour crying marathon was... trying to say the least. But she is asleep now, and of course, looking positively angelic.
Doesn't she look peaceful? Appearances can be deceiving.

I've been so focused on Vivian, and the day-to-day trials and joys of life with her, that I haven't had much time to reflect on Eliza, and how our loss of her last year has changed me. But this weekend, I finally finished my quilt square for the
Preeclampsia Foundation's Memory Quilt. I had been sent my square to decorate back in April, but it had sat, untouched ever since. It was due Aug. 1st, but I kept telling myself I just didn't have the time, with Viv here.

But when Rosemary, the volunteer who is coordinating the quilt (and sewing the final piece all together) emailed me to ask whether I would be sending in my
square, I felt guilty. Guilty that I was avoiding this simple way to remember Eliza, and guilty that I was using Vivian as an excuse. So Sunday I decided to knuckle down and get it done. It's nothing fancy, just her name, Eliza Pearl, her birth/death date, July 4, 2006, and an oyster with a pearl inside. Once I started, I couldn't stop until I had finished. It felt really good to have finished it and sent it off. It's not much, but it's one more thing that I can know that I've done for her. And it's one more way that I can move forward into a new day.

Eliza's quilt square

Sunday, August 19, 2007

This here mom thing...

As I type, at 2:47 a.m., I have a laptop on my left knee and a sleeping, swaddled baby on my right thigh, having just fed her for the 100th time today. Vivian is currently favoring the "cluster feeds," where she sucks for 10 minutes, spits the boob out, refuses more boob, but then, an hour later, screams bloody murder for more. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

So that's pretty much been our Saturday, along with a family outing to Costco (on a Saturday afternoon with a 7-week-old. Shoot me in the head if I ever try to do that again). The incessant feedings have been a bit irritating -- every time I start to enjoy some me time (say, eating a sandwich, getting through a row of knitting, going to the bathroom), she'd start sqwaking, and only a boob could calm her down. But now as I sit here, baby in lap, I can't imagine anywhere else I'd like to be. She's snug in her Sleep Sack (love, love, love this thing), with one arm pulled out of the swaddle, and I'm just amazed that she's here. After everything, she's here and she's mine. She came out of me. This mom thing is just the coolest thing ever.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Just keep truckin'

On Saturday, the Reeve-Manfredi clan hit the road, driving from LA to Tucson, AZ, where my mom, stepdad & sister have relocated this year. We three piled into the car at 7:30 a.m., and after getting an infusion of caffeine at Starbucks (thanks for the gift card, Dad!), we got on the road. Directions: get on the 10 East, and drive. If something gets in your way, turn.

8.5 hours later...

We rolled into Tucson (107 degrees!) that afternoon to see family, and we promptly hopped in the pool. Because that's how I roll (at least when it's 107 degrees).
Vivian didn't hate the pool, but she wasn't sold on it, either. But look how cute that swimsuit is! I had to get her in it, while she still fits in it. Vivian got to spend quality time with the family over the weekend, with Aunt Jenny... and Grandma... And Great-Grandma... I haven't seen my grandma in years, so it was great to be able to introduce her to Vivian.

Rich & I also got our first night out, sans baby. We, along with Jenny, went out to karaoke while Grandma Susan & Grandpa Bob watched Vivian. It was hard being away from her, but we had a good time anyway. Rich and I sang the Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash duet, "Jackso
n," and the minute we got up from the table, Jenny was descended on by guys hitting on her. The girl's still got it!

The drive home on Monday wasn't quite as easy as the drive there. We left at 2:30 p.m. and got home at almost 2 a.m. Now, we stopped in Phoenix to see Rich's friend McClane, which was fun, sharing stories of parenthood (his wife just had twins, bringing their total number of kids to 4). And then we got stuck behind a bad accident on the freeway, which stopped us for an hour. And Vivian was not happy with the delay. Let's just say that baby was fussy. For hours. It was hard to keep her happy, having to be in the carseat for so long, when she really wanted to stretch and be held. But I think we'll be doing this trip fairly often, since the family is fairly convinced that they like Vivian and would like to see her regularly. So, viva el 10!
Vivian thinks road trips are fun!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wake up, little Susie, wake up!

No, actually don't wake up. Instead, try sleeping. You know, at night, when it's dark. It's fun! All the hip kids are doing it. Come on, just for a few hours, you know, until dawn? It's now 3:30 a.m. and I am typing, instead of sleeping. Vivian isn't crying, per se, she's just "active awake," which can turn into crying in the blink of an eye (and has, at least a couple of times tonight). She's talking to herself, and fidgeting. She's also yawning, which is incredibly frustrating because she's obviously tired, but won't go to sleep.

I, on the other hand, would love to sleep. I've had insomnia the past couple of nights and even when she was sleeping, I wasn't. So now when I'm dead tired, she's wide awake.

On the bright side, she is really getting the hang of breastfeeding, which is a huge relief to me. How can a species survive when the act of feeding is so hard for so many babies? If I'm engorged, like first thing in the morning, she has a hard time latching on, but otherwise, she's a champ. And, at last, I don't feel like such a idiot that can't even figure out how to feed he
r baby.

I may end up going to sleep here on the couch, just so Vivian doesn't keep Richard up (since he has to go to work and all).

She's starting to fuss again, so I'll finish up here. I'll end with a cute baby photo to remind myself why this is all worth the exhaustion.

Vivian at a more restful time, wrapped in a beautiful blanket hand knit by Mel

Sunday, August 05, 2007

SP 11 Questions

I'm participating in my very first secret pal, and I have to say I'm excited. I always heard such good things about people who participated, but I never seemed to find out about them until signups were closed. So here is my chance!

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Hmm, there aren't many fibers I can't stand... I tend to prefer natural fibers, NO FUN FUR! I love the feel of Debbie Bliss Alpaca silk, although I've never actually bought it. I love hand dyed variegated yarn. I love color!

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
Lantern Moon silk roll for hooks, Offhand designs circular clutch for circs, don't use straights/dpns much, so they just rattle around.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been crocheting for probably 5 years, and knitting for 4. I'd consider myself an advanced crocheter and an intermediate knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes, Amazon

5. What's your favorite scent?

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
Um, yes? If it's sweet, chances are, I'll like it. I also love baked goods (brownies, cookies, cake, etc!). I love fruity stuff, too, such as the Japanese gummy snacks.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I don't spin, but I sew, and I quilt (sort of).

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I'm a big dork and I love show tunes, classic country (Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, etc.), Madonna, stupid pop (hello Spice Girls tour!)

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
My favorite color is orange, but I love any fall/harvest color. But there is really no color that I'd write off completely.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Married, with a brand new daughter Vivian. 2 very large cats and a turtle that is plotting our deaths.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Hats and scarves, yes, but since I live in LA, I don't have much use for mittens. And ponchos, not so much.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I love to knit garments, particularly funky little sweaters (boleros, shrugs, tanks, etc.). No socks!

13. What are you knitting right now?
The Cloud Bolero (for the 2nd time -- great TV knitting)

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
I love handmade gifts.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Circular, definitely. I tend to use my Denise set for everything because it's convenient, but I love Addis and Bryspun if I have them.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, to both. My sister used to work in a yarn store, so I got spoiled a lot with fancy knitting equipment.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Oooh, good question. I have a circular crocheted shawl that is probably about 4 years old. I just got bored and not happy with the yarn.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween! I love costumes.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Vintage knitting/crochet patterns and magazines, 1940s-1970s.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I really want Lace Style, but haven't gotten around to buying it yet. Although I don't subscribe, I love Interweave Knits/Crochet, KnitScene and Vogue Knitting (except for their Spring/Summer issue -- almost always crap).

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Fair Isle, although I don't know that I have the patience.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
I am not a sock knitter, but I've always wanted a pair of hand knit socks. I don't have the patience to work with needles smaller than size 8 (although I do knit combination style, so my knitting on 8s is like someone knitting English on 6s). How do you measure your foot? I wear a size 8 wide shoe, if that helps.

23. When is your birthday?
Oct. 24

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Sadly, I'm still waiting, and will be for a while:
  • You signed up on July 11, 2007
  • You are #15831 on the list.
  • 7798 people are ahead of you in line.
  • 7399 people are behind you in line.
  • 33% of the list has been invited so far

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Yay! Pepto-Bismol!

Why are all home-based daycare centers painted Pepto pink? Is it to signal "hey! We're fun and love children!"? Because all it says to me is "hey! We're colorblind and/or hate our neighbors!"

In the ongoing quest to find quality daycare in Hollywood, we found a center today that could work for us. It seemed a bit sketchy in front (peeling Pepto pink paint), but out back and inside it seemed well organized and clean. The kids all seemed happy and engaged, and the staff seemed knowledgeable. AND they didn't laugh at me when I said we needed an infant spot starting in October (as opposed to the last center we visited which told me they had a 6 month to a year waiting list -- so I should have signed up before I got pregnant). So I need to call tomorrow to speak with the owner to get on the list. We feel good that maybe Vivian will actually have a daycare center by the time I go back to work.