Friday, January 31, 2014

Homemade Friday: A baby sweater, but first let me complain

I am grumpy today.  Like super grumpy.  Like I’ll bite your face off if you ask me what’s wrong because clearly you should already know that I am tired and sleep deprived and just all around IN A BAD MOOD.

I have no real reason for how I feel.  I mean, sure, I haven’t been sleeping well.  But that’s not anything all that new.  I’ve been working out like crazy, which is nice but also exhausting. 

Today has been a lesson in patience, however.  As in, I need to learn to have patience for other people even when I want to yell at them for not giving me back my debit card after they used it last and so I wasn’t able to buy all of the groceries we needed for the week because I only had a small amount of cash and the store I go to only takes cash or debit cards.  Because it really wasn’t his fault, Christopher.

Also, patience for the child who wakes up so early and comes downstairs to tell me that he has dry skin on his foot and needs lotion, which is really just an excuse to get out of bed because he knows he’s supposed to wait until his clock tells him it’s okay to get up because if he doesn’t use the clock he’s downstairs at 5:30 a.m. and that is TOO DAMN EARLY FOR ME TO HAVE TO BE A PARENT.

And patience for the other child who loudly tells me to do things for her instead of asking in a nice way like I’ve taught her.  Nope.  It’s “Mama!  Hold baby!  Mama!  Zip up my sleeping bag!  Mama! WAIT!”

And patience for myself when I forget to bring the proof of insurance into the clerk’s office to pay the car registration.  Or when I try unsuccessfully to shove a too-large package into the UPS drop-off box, almost locking up the whole thing.  And when I realize I have to go to the UPS store instead, saying screw it and eating lunch out with Adele even though it really isn’t in the budget and isn’t that healthy but it was right next to where we were and I was already exhausted and didn’t feel like making one more peanut butter and jelly sandwich on top of the homemade pizza I’m supposed to make for dinner because I make it every Friday because THAT’S WHAT I DO.

(Also patience for myself on account of how many ‘becauses’ I’ve used in this post already.)

But this is a Homemade Friday post and so far I’ve said nothing about the sweet little sweater I made for my friend, Jo Ellen.

Jo Ellen and I have been friends for many, many years.  I think I’ve told you about her somewhere but my computer is pretending that it’s on dial-up and moving at the speed of nothing so I’m going to forgo searching through the archives because I just spend 10 minutes attempting to find a post I thought I wrote about her first baby, only to discover that I started this blog after that baby was born.  Because I am good with dates.

So anyway, Jo Ellen and I became friends over a love of playing guitar and being hippies.  And it’s continued to this day.  I don’t play guitar so much anymore and she lives an hour away from me but I still feel like we’re a lot alike.  And whenever we do get together it feels like it used to, only better because we’re grown-ups and moms and married and totally not complaining about how awful our boyfriends are.  (Boys suck and I hate being a girl!) (That was our mantra for awhile.)

Jo Ellen has a sweet, adorable little girl named Elyse, who just turned 3.  Here’s a picture of her wearing the sweater I thought I’d already shown you:

It’s a February Baby Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Without Tears. 

And here’s a picture of the two of us with our little babies:

I’m pretty sure Adele was trying to nurse here and was also pissed at me because I wasn’t letting her.  Also look at my sweet little baby!

Jo Ellen was due with her second little girl this month, and a bunch of friends planned a surprise baby shower where we all drove to her house, unbeknownst to her, to whisk her off to lunch.  We luckily made it in time.  Sweet little Sarah Jane (or Janey Bear, as I insist on calling her) was born only a week after our visit. 

Surprise baby brunch! 
The sweater I made for Sarah Jane was a lot like the one I made for Elyse.  It followed the same style as the February Baby Sweater, but  had a heart lace design on the body of the sweater.

I was rushed with this one because I was trying to finish some other things as well, so I didn’t have time to take it to my mom to sew the buttons on.  I had to do it myself, which means that they will probably have to be re-sewn.  But Jo Ellen’s mom is a seamstress so I have no doubt that she can find someone to fix it if needed! 

The sweater was bigger than I originally intended, but that just means that she can wear it longer, I guess.  I’m attempting to put a positive spin on it because it really irritated me when I realized what I had done.  I didn’t have any time to fix it.  As it was the sweater was damp from blocking when I gave it to Jo Ellen.  And I had to sew the buttons on during the hour long drive to the surprise shower.   That’s also where I t
ook these photos, which is why they’re a bit blurry.

Hello thighs.  Pull your skirt down, heathen.
(I probably should have cropped this.)

However, I think Jo Ellen was happy with it anyway, in spite of the dampness and possible button catastrophe. 

I haven’t been able to meet Little Janey Bear yet, but I greatly look forward to cuddling that sweet girl.  And giving her Mama a big hug.

(All this talk of babies and sweaters has put me in a decidedly better mood so thanks!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Motherhood and More: No sick time granted for a stay-at-home mother*

It’s a bit of a cliché now, what with the dawn of mommy blogs and everyone telling everything about their lives, myself included, to a point.  But as a mom, especially a stay-at-home mom, I’m not really allowed to be sick.

I’ve been dealing with a heck of a cold, full of coughing and sneezing and headaches and the need to spend the entire day laying down watching bad TV on Netflix.  I’ve lost my voice, which I at first attributed to a late night at a friend’s house and too much wine, but it lingered longer than I thought it should have.

I’ve been fighting to keep my eyes open intermittently throughout the days.  Sometimes I do not win that fight and my daughter decides to wake me up by poking my eyes.  So that’s fun.

In order to keep myself from coughing all night and waking up my husband I accidentally over-medicated on Nyquil, which, of course, means I took one dose.  But apparently I am not made for that type of medicine and spent the next day catching myself staring off into space, trying to focus.

I suppose I could ask my husband to take off work, but I feel guilty for doing that.  Like, how sick is sick enough?  Plus all that would happen is that I would be stuck in the bedroom without the TV, and sporadically interrupted from sleeping by a 3 year old who likes to jump on people who are lying down and yell “Stop sleeping!  Open your eyes!”

Or there’s always one of the grandmothers.  I could ask them to pick up the kids and let me rest.  But again, they would have to take off work.  And I don’t quite feel like I’m that sick.  Plus it’s hard to admit you need help and to ask for it. 

So no.  I’m not allowed to be sick.  I still have to do what I normally do, it’s just harder and I have to put forth more of an effort because a simple act of fixing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich takes mental strength. 

And I’m not entirely sure my husband believes I’m sick, as is evident by the fact that he asks me every morning if I’m going to the gym to work out.  I’ve thought about coughing in his face to show him that I may not be up to it, but settled for a simple “probably not.”  I assume he’s trying to be encouraging and not irritating, however the outcome is still the same.

It’s dispiriting to look around your house at all the stuff that needs to be done but only have the energy to force yourself to do the essentials.  The essentials being, of course, cooking and cleaning and entertaining children and reading stories in between coughing.  So basically just like every other day, but with less enthusiasm and more exhaustion and sore-from-coughing stomach muscles.

That totally counts as going to the gym, right?

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on January 22, 2014.   

Friday, January 17, 2014

Homemade Friday: Spring Lines*

In spite of the name of the sweater pattern, Spring Lines, it is decidedly un-spring-like outside.  We're having our first good snow of the season, even more than during the POLAR VORTEX last week.

And that was my main reason for trying like hell to finish this ridiculously long sweater.  Because I was cold.

This is what happens when you try to snap
a couple of photos while your children are
playing in the snow.

I'm not sure when I actually began knitting on it because I have become very lax in taking knitting notes on account of that cuts into my knitting time.  But I think it was in late fall.  I finished on the second-coldest day of the POLAR VORTEX so I was good.  And then I remembered that winter had just started.  And while we do have relatively mild winters when you compare us to Maine and Canada and other places I would like to visit if only to have more excuses to wear handknits, there were still cold days ahead.  Like today where layers and wool sweaters are a must. 

I conned my husband into taking some photos
on his lunch break.  He was thrilled, as usual.

My daughter is currently wearing this sweater I knit for Sebastian two years ago.  (Look at my Baby Babash!!!)  I didn't even attempt to put a sweater on Sebastian as he doesn't seem to be all that fond of handknits.  He does, however, regularly wear the snowflake hat I knit him in the fall.  So that's something.  My husband, also, is wearing a sweater I made for him.  It's only the third one I've made, and the only one he'll actually wear.  I made it almost 10 years ago, actually.  So I guess it's held up well.  Have I told you about it?  I can't seem to find a picture of him wearing it but I feel like I've shared it with you before.  So just imagine a plain wool raglan sweater.

I picked out this pattern because I wanted a big, cozy sweater and this one just so happened to have pockets, which as we all know is the best thing ever to have on shirts and sweaters and dresses and skirts and aprons and anything else you can put one one. 

The pattern was fairly straight forward.  It was top down, which I'm not usually fond of because I can't ever get the neck to look right.  And I do have a bit of concerns about this one, but not enough to take it apart (again - I've already tried to improve it once).  So for now it is what it is - a big, cozy sweater with pockets that is perfect for snow days. 

I first wanted to make the pockets a bright color, and settled on this leftover pink from the neverending socks from 2012.  And I knit one, having my doubts the entire time.

There was something vaguely ... anatomical about it.  Here's a picture of the pocket as it is now:

Now imagine that it's bright pink:

Do you see?  Can you imagine?  Maybe it's just me.  And my husband, who giggled like a 12 year old when I showed him.

So the pink was ripped out to be replaced by a nice, safe, boring beige.  And I'm okay with that.

I have sort-of plans to knit a leaf lace pattern to sew up the middle of the sweater to create some kind of design as now it's just a large brown sweater.  I've started it, but I'm not entirely sure I'll finish, or when I'll finish.  I've got lots of other stuff I want to knit - including another sweater that Christopher will wear.  I'm determined to find one.  So I don't know if I'll take the time for pretty, frilly details.  Maybe in the summer.

Yarn is Knit Picks City Tweed Aran in Tabby, which seems to be discontinued.    It's warm and soft and seems to be durable.

I accidentally made the sleeves a bit too short, but I've actually discovered that I like them this length.  They end just a little bit above my wrists.  They're not 3/4 sleeves, which would kind of defeat the purpose of having a wool sweater in my book because I would get cold.  But they're also not so long that they cover my hands and get in my way.  So maybe from now on this will be the length I go with.

I also made the sweater quite a bit longer than the pattern.  I almost went longer to make a dress, but decided I'd had enough and it was getting a little boring.

I'm posing like this because Chris told me
I was going to be in a magazine.  Liar.

Now if you'll excuse me I have one kid in her room 'napping' and the other one, who's on a snow day, watching Scooby Doo.  It seems like the perfect time to read a bit and work on some socks I've been meaning to finish.
 *Alternate title: What has it got in its pocketses?**

**I'm a dork