November 2007 Archives

It Was A Week, Baby

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You know, every time you turn around, your kid is getting into something. Hitting a new milestone. I'm not sure what milestone "sneaking onto Mommy's blog" qualifies for, but clearly I will have to keep a close eye on her to see if she does it again. And make sure I don't get any unexpected orders from Babies R' Us.

Both Z and I would like to say thank you for all your good wishes for my dad. His recovery was absolutely incredible. His surgery was early Thursday morning, on Monday afternoon, he wrote this email message:

Well it has been an an exciting week for me. I was riding my pedal bike on Monday of last week and I became dizzy so I got off my bike and promptly passed out. An half hour later I was in St Joe's cardiac ward. On Thursday morning I had a double by pass and had my aortic valve replaced and one of the good spin offs is I no longer have high blood pressure. And today I'm sitting in my chair at home with all my loved ones and pets. What a wonderful world it is.

My dad is always an inspiration to me for his outlook. He can go through unexpected cardiac surgery and still come home and be happy about the amazing technology that made it happen and the people and important things in his life.

Which is part of what helped get me through this week. In spite of a whole bunch of stress from work and baby-related issues that I won't go into (mostly because I've gone into them before and because they are pretty much the same issues all moms who try to juggle work and a newborn and their own needs run into), I have come to the end of the week realizing that I have a pretty good deal. A smiling baby who reminds me (even as she refuses once again to take daytime naps -- I suspect more developmental milestones are soon to be reached) that the job stuff is just job stuff and I can only do what I can do. A husband who listens when I talk about all the things that are making me crazy and takes on some extra baby time so that I can get enough things done to feel like I am not failing on all fronts. And my Dad, who, after an incredibly scary surgery, can come home from the hospital and see the good things all around him.

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This Smile's For You, Grandpa!

I love you Dad. Even when things are not exactly as we'd like them to be, it is, indeed, a wonderful world.

Swatching for Oliver

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Before I had a child of my own, I could be sympathetic to a lot of child-related health issues, but I really didn't understand the depth to which they affect the parents. Now that I have a child of my own, I have a much better idea of how it feels when something happens to your child that causes them some kind of distress. Fortunately for me, Zosia hasn't had to undergo anything more distressing that the vaccinations that every child gets, but I do have friends and colleagues who have had to go through significantly more to ensure the future good health of their child or to help ensure that their child has a good quality of life.

One of those friends is Emma Emma has been my "blog neighbor" in the Knit Bloggers ring since 2002 (although, sadly, now it appears that we have been separated in cyberspace). At that time, I wasn't a very adventurous knitter and I was really just getting my knitting legs underneath me. I can still remember the incredible good feelings I got one evening after coming home from work and finding a package from England on my door step: my first sock yarn. How amazing that someone I knew only by email would send me a thoughtful gift to encourage me in a new direction. It was the start of an addiction, a fiber trading experience, and, best of all, a friendship.

Since that time, Emma and I have sent quite a bit of fiber back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean. She's remembered many of my special events with lovely electronic greeting cards and when I had problems with miscarrying, she was one of the first to email and talk to me about it. I know she's made relationships with many knitters around the world -- she's left many kind and positive comments on many blogs. And I know she's been generous with her words and her needles to many people. I don't know if I will ever get to meet Emma in person, but I know I would love to have her living on my block here in Chicago.

Emma has a very lovely son, Oliver. I've been enjoying Emma's pictures of Oliver since I started reading her blog a long long time ago. He has a beautiful smile. He also has cerebral palsy, and, as he grows, he's had increasing needs for equipment that helps him to be mobile and helps Emma and Alan give him the kind of experiences that every child deserves to have.

Right now, Oliver is in need of a larger car seat. Any of you out there that have kids already know how much gear costs for kids. A good car seat can cost anything from $50 - $300. Oliver's equipment costs significantly more. In order to help out Emma with some of those expenses, Michaela has started a project that can help you de-stash a little and feel good about helping out a fellow knitter and her child. She's sent out a call for 4" x 4" knit squares. She's collecting them and is going to seam them together into what she hopes will be at least 2 blankets. And then these blankets will raffled off to help out with some of Oliver's needs for new gear. She initially envisioned the squares out of left over sock yarn (although she is open to squares out of almost any yarn except lace weights and super bulkies).

Since, we all know I have a lot of left over sock yarn, and I've been able to find some extra knitting time while Z nurses, I thought I might be able to put this time to some extra special use. I talked it over with Ms. Z and she enthusiastically endorsed the project with a big smile and a willingness not to squirm too much while she nursed. So I pulled out some yarn, and my copy of Barbara Walker's stitch treasury and started on my first square.

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Swatching for Oliver

For my swatches, I'm using some Opal (in honor of the fact that the first sock yarn I ever knit with was from Emma and was Opal -- it's still one of my favorites) and some Tess Designer Yarn's sock yarn that was left over from my Jaywalkers. The first swatch, done in the Opal, is in a pattern called "Quaker Ridging" which I think works pretty well with the self-patterning Opal and isn't too complicated to work on while keeping an eye on a hungry baby.

There's still plenty of time if you'd like to contribute to the project as well -- I believe Michaela has extended the deadline for squares until the beginning of December. Maybe you have some swatches of the right size that you've already knit that have been looking for the right new home? Maybe you've been looking for an excuse to try out some stitch patterns for fun? This is a neat way to play with yarn and help someone out without having to knit an entire garment. Isn't it nice to think that a 4" x 4" square of knitting could help make a kid's life a little better?

Blogvolution

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Yes, the blog is in transition... again.  Last night I lost control of my senses and decided that I needed to figure out why MT4 wasn't working correctly.  And I actually couldn't get to sleep until I was sure it actually would do all the basic things that it needed to do.  Clearly, I am now certifiable. 

MT4 is not bad, it's just a significant shift structurally and I did some dumb, blind things without thinking when I installed it.  I have been kicking myself for deciding to upgrade when what I had was working fine.  The lure of shiny new features is just too much to resist sometimes.  Some days I am just my own worst enemy when it comes to wanting to play with new toys. In the end, I ended up "starting fresh" by creating a brand new blog and importing all of the stuff from the old blog into the new one. And there are still a ton of issues that I still have to resolve.  Sigh. But at least you can read it and I can post to it, which is an improvement.  The look and feel of my blog is now just one of Movable Types standard on board styles... I miss my old template already.  But hopefully I'll be able to resurrect things as time goes on.  In the meantime, it's nice just to have a blog that actually functions. 

Right now I'm trying to look on the bright side and see this as an opportunity to learn something new and to clean up a bunch of old cruft that had accumulated in my template.  I'm hoping that once I get to start playing with some of the new widgets and toys in MT4 that I will be happier about the whole situation.  I do have to say that I like the image preview functions much better...

However, the moral of this story is most definitely the old engineer's adage: if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Yes, I know I am having problems with the comments... they want you to be authorized to log comment... even I am not authorized at this point, so don't take it personally...  more MT4 issues.

Comments now appear to work!  Woo hoo!  One issue down, a few hundred more to go....

Swatching and Rolling

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With a little help from my favorite 16 week old baby, I actually accomplished a little knitting project this week:

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A Pair of Squares

The swatch on the left is made out of the Tess Designer Yarns Sock Yarn in the Confetti colorway.  The swatch on the right is made out of Opal Sock Yarn from the Southwestern color series.  I found the pattern stitch for the Tess Yarn swatch in a Japanese stitch dictionary that I purchased a little while back and I like it quite a bit.  It is very easy to memorize and very easy to work even when nursing a squirmy small person.  It may have to find it's way into a pair of winter socks.  I think it would be the perfect in a toe up design! 

The swatches don't look quite square... they are pretty close.  The Tess Yarn swatch needs to be stretched a bit, the Opal swatch needs a little compression. I'm hoping that Michaela won't mind working with them.  Hopefully they will make it into the post on Monday or Tuesday. 

And because no Friday would be complete without an appearance by Z:

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Z Wearing A Very Special Hat

Here's Ms. Z getting ready to go for a walk last weekend.  It was a bit chilly so we got to dress her up in some knitwear.  This hat has got some more outdoor time since then.  It's the perfect size for her and it is absolutely adorable.  Which fits so well with her right now.  She's started making a lot of sweet little vocalizations -- sometimes it almost sounds like she's trying to copy what we say to her. 

We're rolling off to Ann Arbor to see Grandma and Grandpa this weekend.  It's a guarantee that that hat is going to come with us!

P.S.  The comments should actually really work now!  And, of course, I've learned a few more things about MT4.  Now maybe I'll be able to start bringing some of my own look and feel back.

More Forward Progress

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I got my main blog template back!  There are still plenty more things to do:

  1. Individual entry pages need to be "updated" to have my old "look and feel".
  2. My main archive page needs to be restored (I don't really like having all my archive links on the main page).
  3. My WIP blog that provides the feeds for my WIP listing in the side bar needs to be brought back online.
  4. Mourn the loss of my pop-up comment entry box -- it's not really supported by MT anymore
  5. Add the Tag Cloud widget to my sidebar.  The whole widget thing is a real improvement to template maintenance in MT4.  That one was easier than I thought.  It's already done you can scroll down and look in my side bar to see it in action.
  6. Work on re-factoring my template a little bit to conform better to the MT4 templating system, which should make my templates easier to maintain.
  7. Back up the whole shebang
If any of you want to know how not to upgrade to MT4, drop me a line.  I feel like I could write a novel about that.  And if you should notice anything else about my blog that doesn't work, feel free to drop me a comment and let me know.   

Roll Over, Baby

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It's milestone time for Ms. Z again, who hits 4 months on Saturday.  On Monday afternoon, after her nap, John found her on her back.  Which wouldn't be unusual, except for the fact that he put her down for her nap on her tummy -- her favorite sleeping position (yes, we know about the SIDS/tummy sleeping connection... no one needs to remind me about the "back to sleep stuff" -- she's been sleeping this way since she was 8 weeks old and it's just what makes her happy).  For most of the rest of this week, of course, we've been putting her on her tummy every now and again to see if she will do it for us.  I've seen her do it once (it's a lot of work for her!), John has only seen evidence of the behavior after the fact.  Sneaky kid! 

She's also started reaching out and grabbing things that interest her and drooling up a storm.  And suddenly, those elusive afternoon naps are back again.  And she's started "talking" -- all sorts of noises at all volume levels.  It's a real hoot to watch her tell her dad about her day after he comes home from work.  You would think she was having a real conversation with him. 

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Preparing for a Roll


It's been a very good baby week.  We're all sleeping well and she's been a real peach to hang out with.  She's even getting better at dealing with car trips.  It's hard for me to complain about that.

With the return of the afternoon nap, I'm not only getting some work work done, but I've also been able to sneak some knitting in here and there when I'm not working on getting my blog back in shape (a major time sink if ever there was one!)  I'm getting close to the finish line on my Diamond Fantasy Scarf (but there's only so many times I can show you the same crumpled looking piece of lace) and all Z's nursing time is definitely helping me make some progress on John's Stained Glass Scarf (although I am still not even close to the halfway point yet).  Since my knitting time is still pretty limited, I'm trying to rein in my startitis and am forcing myself to finish things before I start new stuff -- although I do have a few new things that I am just dying to get started on.

Things I Am Thankful For, 2007 Edition

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In no particular order...

  • Understanding co-workers who have made it possible for me to have a flexible transition back into full time work.
  • A very kind and loving mother-in-law who adores a certain small person and who will be watching her in December.  This is the kind of peace of mind for child care that money just can't buy.
  • Modern medicine.  If you know anyone and love anyone who has ever had major heart surgery, this one is self-explainatory. It is beyond scary to imagine what it would have been like to live it a world where we couldn't fix things in our bodies.  We still have much to learn, but what we know already is pretty amazing.
  • That my family can be together for Thanksgiving.  With my parents in Michigan, John and I in Illinois and my brother and his wife in Texas, it's harder than you think to get everyone together.  
  • A supportive husband who has made having a child a shared experience, and who works hard to make sure that I have some time to do some things on my own.
  • Most of all, I am thankful for this: 
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My healthy beautiful baby girl and her very special getting all healed up grandfather.

I hope you all had a happy, healthy holiday filled with people who make your lives better. 

A Motley Collection of Squares

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An Assortment of Squares for Oliver's Blanket

One of the nice things about long weekends with family is that I get a little time to play with my knitting needles. I didn't work on any large or complicated projects, but I was able to finish up a few small things. These squares are going to be sent off to be part of the blanket being assembled for a raffle to support Oliver.  You might wonder why I picked the particular self-patterning sock yarn that you see above.  Well, as you all know, Emma and I have traded and shared yarn for some time.  The green squares and the squares with the yellow stripes come from Opal that I have gotten from Emma.  It seemed to me that knitting it up into simple squares for Oliver's raffle blanket was absolutely the perfect way to use the last remainders of this yarn.  So I'll be sending in seven little squares (two of which may be off in size... but I figured I would leave the decision to include them or not up to the intrepid seamstresses). 

Most of you who want to share in this project probably already know that Kay at Mason Dixon Knitting has graciously offered to seam up squares on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.  So I'm going to be sending my squares to the US blanket as soon as I can get to the post office!  

Baby Socks

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Thanksgiving weekend was busy, but I did get some time to finish up two projects.  I'll talk more about one of the projects next week.  Today, since it's usually Z's day on Friday, I'll talk about the project related to her: her very first pair of hand knit socks that actually fit.

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I used the left over Regia 5047 that I had from my Mermaid Socks -- there was just about enough for a nice pair of socks for Z.  The socks were knit toe up, starting with that lovely magic cast on and 8 stitches on a side.  I increased up to a total of 36 stitches and knit a bit before I did the short row heel.  The little bit of ribbing just above the heel was my attempt to mimic a couple of pairs of baby socks that Z has that stay on well -- there is this little bit of a tighter knit just above the ankle.  I went down two needle sizes (the socks were knit on 2.5 mm and the bit of ribbing was knit on 2.0 mm) and did 3 rows of K1P1 ribbing.  Probably I should have done a little more because they don't pull in and help hold the sock on as well as I would like them to.  After a bit more stockinette, I finished the top off with K2P2 ribbing.

Baby socks are quite rewarding.  A small sock can be completed in an afternoon, even without a lot of focus and they use up yarn that I had previously thought was too much to throw away, but was hardly enough to do anything but knit blanket squares with.  And it was a lot of fun to slip these first handknit socks on to tiny squirmy baby feet.

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She's not the ideal sock model, but at least the socks fit.  They're actually just a little big for her and she can get them off in no time, but she's growing so fast right now that I suspect that it won't be too long before I'm putting them into her stash of special outgrown things.


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