Monday, October 20, 2014

Toughen Up

One of my favorite things about Germany is that the whole country seems to be tuned into the changing seasons.  Completely opposite to the way it was in Hawaii where my neighbors left their Christmas lights up until July (to be fair, I'm sure this happens in many parts of the world, but I'm pretty sure that the passage of time on the islands is just so warped that they honestly forgot it wasn't December anymore).  The local pumpkin patch opened up at the beginning of this month and we ate our first Hokkaido squash soup the other night from a squash we picked ourselves (delicious!) Summer scarves have been swapped out for winter scarves and the Christmas candy is OUT.

I'm noticing that even though the Germans are bundling up and putting their gardens to rest for the winter, they haven't moved themselves indoors. Not even a bit! Our local newspaper advertised some hiking get-togethers over the weekend and I see just as many bikers (commuting and joy-riding) as ever.  And while I can totally get on board with a good, brisk autumn walk (and frequently do) I'm realizing that I need to seriously step up my toughness factor.  Why?  My neighbors are still drying their clothes on the balcony every day.  This impresses me for several reasons.

1. I do not do laundry every day.  Unless you count cloth diapers.  Even then, I wash those every other day.

2. My neighbor (who is the one I see drying her laundry outdoors) has two little kids and is obviously showered, dressed, and finishing laundry hours before I've even had my first cup of coffee.

3.  My fingers are just a little numb typing this out.  (Maybe it's time to turn the heat up)

4.  My clothesline currently looks like this.
Hm, busy spiders.  Looks like it's time to buy one of those huge drying rack thingies and get my patio laundry on.

Speaking of autumn walks, I saw this really cool snail the other day.  Check out that shell. Isn't it wild?
In yarn news I visited a new-to-me craft store in a neighboring village and came home with a wee bit of wool (it's so tiny it doesn't even count as a wool purchase, right? RIGHT.) and some KnitPro wooden DPNs.  It has taken all of my self restraint not to cast on for baby socks right here, right now.  But instead I am diligently crafting away on Baby G's Halloween costume (hint: it's going to be adorable).  
Baby yarn
Also I may have frightened a fellow knitter today with my sheer enthusiasm for yarn.  I somehow ended up following this poor person down the block rambling about stretchy bind-offs before I got a grip.  Oops.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

I'm Learning

Things motherhood is teaching me:

1. Bananas leave a bad stain when not rinsed out before being put in the washing machine.

2. I'm alarmed by the sheer number of times I'm willing to pretend not to notice the messy/destructive thing my baby is doing just because it's keeping her busy and out of harms way and I need to finish just one more thing...

3.  Getting out of a warm bath with a whole Pinterest full of ideas while K watches the baby is extremely, impossibly difficult.

4.  Socks are hard to keep track of. Baby socks? Impossible.

5.  I'm more likely to force G to wear a hat because I'm afraid of a fussy older German telling me off than because I think she needs one.  (For the record, I would have her wear a hat every day since I, you know, knit them, but she is not always such a fan. We pick our battles.)

6.  What works today will not work tomorrow.

7.  Fluffy cloth diaper butts make footie pajamas nigh impossible.  If the diaper fits, the legs are too long. If the legs are right, the crotch won't button.  Why can't clothing manufacturers get with my hippie program?

8.  Cheerios are the ambrosia of babies.

9.  Everything will be mysteriously sticky forever.

10.  Motherhood makes you say sappy crap.  It's so saccharine sweet to look into those big beautiful baby eyes and get a little toothy grin that takes up so much of that chubby little face. I can barely stand it. I love it.

Oh, and here's the sock.  Didn't get much time to knit on it today.
Sock (3)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turn That Heel

Sock (2)

Back in college I remember my mom sending me a care package with some beautiful bright pink sock yarn in it.  She knew I was having a great time knitting hats and I don't know if I'd ever expressed interest in knitting socks but she has amazing taste in yarn so I wasn't about to turn my nose up at the opportunity.  After hours of knitting the tube part of my sock on the streetcar or during class (what? It's a good memory technique...) I reached the dreaded heel.  This heel brought me so much frustration and confusion with terms like "slip one as if to purl" and "heel flap".  All I knew how to do was knit a roll brim beanie, for goodness sake!  I looked up tutorials, somehow failing to think of YouTube (I find this utterly dumbfounding, looking back).  I agonized over walking down to my local yarn store and asking for help.  Social anxiety and tech un-savvy kicked my butt and the socks were abandoned.

Today, I bring you a heel flap and gusset. I turned that heel baby, and I turned it pretty good.  

For the knitting-curious among you, I'm using Susan B. Anderson's How I Make My Socks for a pattern and Opal for Ladies & Gentlemen in Aufrichtig (sincere in English).

Turn That Heel

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Waiting Rooms, Jello, and Tea

Sock (1)



Lots of time spent in waiting rooms today. Baby G took two naps in the Ergo and I got a lot of sock knitting in.  See the orange sock? It's coming right along even after I had to frog it over the weekend because it was huge on K's foot.

The jury is out on Opal sock yarn. It's really thin so I should probably go down a needle size...but the thought of needles any smaller than the toothpicks I'm already knitting with makes me kind of queasy.  Maybe it's the type of Opal I'm using. I saw some much thicker varieties when I was at the yarn store, ahem, three days ago, ahem. On the other hand, it did seem like the sample socks at the store looked a lot like the socks I'm knitting so I haven't lost all hope, they're just thin. But thin is ok, right? They're still wool and they are still a fun color.  I'm going to pretend like there isn't a ball of rainbow sock yarn staring at me from across the room, begging me to just knit a few rows of it to see how it looks.  Ok so the only thing stopping me from doing that is that I only have one pair of good 2.5mm double-pointed needles.  Maybe I should keep it that way.

I've been drinking a lot of tea, listening to Alphabutt by Kimya Dawson, and making Johannis berry jello.  All right, so Johannis berries are black currants but doesn't Johannis berry just sound so much better? Germans have the best words. It's been a crazy mix of homesick and loving Germany and for each point in Germany's favor I remember a point I love about Oregon.

Thermal leggings all over the place? One point Germany.
Thrift store chic always in style? One point Portland.
More festivals than days of  the week? One point Germany.
Delightfully dorky indie folk music? One point Portland.

And it goes on.  Perhaps we'll make a trip back stateside soon for a little PNW recharge...

Friday, October 10, 2014

Self Control and Socks

As you can probably guess I cast on for a pair of orange socks the other night.  No sooner had I closed out of blogger and walked back over to my daughter's play mat than I picked up my new small and pointy DPNs and cast on for a gauge swatch.  I never swatch but I thought I was breaking quite enough of my rules already so I might as well knit one.  Well. half of one at least.  Hopefully this helps my sock turn out like more of a sock than a toe ring.

Things I am thinking about this morning.

1. Laundry.  Number one is always laundry.

2. There are a lot of half finished projects in my living room.  There are half finished projects all over my house but I mainly notice them in the living room because that's where I spend 90% of my time. These projects need to a) finish themselves b) find a new home in some other part of the house or c) I need to go buy more baskets.  Tricky tricky.

3. Photos from recent vacation need to be gone through, edited, and posted. There are about a gazillion of them to get through during nap-time.  I barely get through editing one blog photo during nap-time so you see my concern.

4. Orange hats.

5. I wish I was good at making lists in the rest of my life and not just my blog life.  Maybe if I made more lists I wouldn't make lentil soup once a week because it's the only quick healthy meal I always have the ingredients for. Oh well.  I like lentil soup.

Here's the sock on top of a lot of chenille yarn.  Thoughts on making this chenille into a bedspread? I'm already making granny squares from it....need more baskets.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Anniversary Yarn

My addiction knows no shame.

So after a lovely dinner with K and Baby G at the Homburger Brauhaus I moseyed on over to Brinkmann's for a little "window shopping".  I definitely don't need any more yarn but they always have great sale bins out front and it never hurts to look, right?  I showed amazing restraint by passing up some cotton yarn with SPF 50 (now that I'm writing about it, I think I'll probably go back and get some. Damn.) and didn't even touch the merino on the bottom rack.  But - and here's where that tricky Yarn Harlot got me again -  I spied two skeins of sock weight Opal yarn and didn't I just read something about how the Yarn Harlot is a huge fan of this yarn? And maybe if I buy this yarn I will actually finish a pair of socks, or maybe even two pairs of socks? Even though I have an embarrassingly large collection of hand dyed sock weight yarn at my house that has yet to morph itself into socks, a plan began to form.  There were two skeins of Opal yarn, half price and one was purple and one was orange...a girly color and an eccentric manly color.  It being our anniversary and all I thought to myself, "This could be the year of the anniversary socks!" and snatched the yarn right up.
Opal Sock Yarn
It's not that I needed to justify the purchase to K but rather to myself since only I know the true depths of my yarn stash.  Am I slightly ashamed that I used my wedding anniversary to justify the acquisition of new yarn? A little bit. But not enough to stop myself.  I know what you're thinking. "But wait, don't you already have like five million other unfinished projects?"  Shhhh.  No, that's just your imagination. But even if I did have like five million other projects I have such phenomenal self control that I would never wind the sock yarn I bought yesterday into center pull balls and start looking for a good sock pattern. No, not me.  You must have me confused with somebody else.
Opal Sock Yarn 2
As an aside, I was surprised for some reason when I removed the wrapper looking for a sock pattern and found it was written in German.  Why this surprised me is a mystery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

I like weird stuff

I am this close to finishing the ridiculous awesome orange hats for myself, baby, and K.  I literally just need to sew three tassels onto mine. I've even tucked away all the loose ends already and if you know me in a knitting capacity you know that I loathe that part (doesn't everyone?).  K's pom-pommed hat came off the needles this morning and he gleefully tried it on and laughed under his breath for a good five minutes.  I told him it looked a bit silly but in a good way and exactly the kind of silly way I'd planned on it looking.  He told me that the entire set of orange hats are ridiculous, but I know he didn't mean mine. Mine is just cool.
For any babywearing savvy friends who read this, yes the backdrop is my Didymos Orient.  I am so in love with that fabric.

But wait, there's more! I went on a lovely and much needed trip to a Floh Markt (flea market) with some pretty badass ladies this weekend.  We had a good breakfast, much coffee, and it was an all around perfect way to spend the day.  It's good to remember that socializing isn't all terrifying and tedious (note to self: remember this and get out more).  Though we did get hopelessly lost on our way to the flea market (it's not entirely my fault since the flea market moved from where it was last year) and I missed having a smart phone for the second time this year, we eventually found our way and were lucky enough that the whole thing hadn't been entirely cleaned out yet.  Here are my treasures!
I got two of these sweet can't-tell-if-very-kitschy-or-very-cute tins.  They've got this colorful Alpine thing going on that I absolutely love.  Those colors are just fabulous.
I got this little purse because I need something that can hold a wallet and a phone and isn't the size of Jupiter (unlike my diaper bag which likely weighs 30lbs).  It's shiny - a very important point in it's favor - and it makes me feel like a lady. Double win.  I also got this little crochet hook case with some stitch holders and a cabling needle inside.  It'll go perfectly with my "rundstricknaedln" box that I got at the same flea market last year.  This guy tried to sell me a box of knitting needles for 5 Euro but I resisted (somehow).  
These scarves are for little peanut. She loves to play with scarves and I thought she could do with some new colors.  I also picked up the toy in front for a song.  I haven't had a chance to clean it off yet but I'm hoping she'll enjoy playing with it instead of chewing on it...we'll see.

I'm trying to be really judicious about what I bring into the pig sty house to avoid excess clutter but the flea markets just call to me.  They sing the song of my people.  Every time I go to one I think, "Oh, this thing will never be junk! This is exactly what I've been looking for!"  And so it is.  Then how did I fill an entire garbage bag with things to donate out of my bedroom alone? Riddle me that. Ok, please don't.  These are my treasures and I love them and you can't have them.  Now I think I'll have some tea before we jet out to our anniversary lunch.

Did I mention it's our anniversary? I love you, K.  Three happy years and going strong.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Out of my gourd

When you have a kid you suddenly realize that the amount of laundry a person generates has absolutely no correlation to their size.  Or if it does correlate, it's an inverse relationship; the smaller you are the more heaps of stinky, disgusting clothes you produce.  Lord help me when I have a teenager.  It's this massive amount of laundry that I engage with in daily battle and the laundry usually wins.  By winning, I mean it piles up and if it's not piled up in a dirty heap in the bathroom/laundry room it's piled up and clean in a laundry basket (or K's desk).  Today for example, Baby G took an exceptionally long afternoon nap (compensating for our night last night? I think so).  Nap-times are perfect opportunities to get work done around the house! But did I work on the house? Even a little bit? No. No, I did something profoundly stupid.  Something so wacky and insane that even I knew I was being a nitwit.  (If you're not a knitter you're probably just going to start glazing over. I warned you.)


It all started with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot.  As I mentioned yesterday I have been obsessively devouring her blog.  The knitting is fantastic and plentiful and she knits lace.  Gorgeous, delicate, intricate lace with teensy strands of yarn.  And after several days of reading about her insanity talent I thought it was a good, no excellent, necessary thing that I cast on for a lace shawl. A shawl.  One of those big things you wrap around your shoulders? You know the ones.  And the one I like? Did it call for beads? No. No, but after winding up a laceweight yarn cake I meticulously strung 150 beads on this yarn so that my shawl would be sparkly.  I even got as far as casting on upwards of 300 stitches for this shawl before I regained my sanity, ripped the whole project out, and at a gummy bear.  What the hell kind of free-time do I think I have that I would ignore the 40 some-odd WIPs and cast on a knitted lace shawl during nap-time.   "That Lauren, she sure has gone off the deep end" I mumbled to myself over the gummy bear.  I probably should have just folded laundry.

In other news, this is the beginnings of Baby G's Christmas stocking.  In yellow! Weeee!  (The red is just a provisional cast on.)


And yes, there are two more skeins hiding in that green teapot.  I have a yarn problem, ok?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

New Hero, Cowl, and a Decision

I've been kind of a scatterbrain / organizing my life lately (perpetually?) so blogging has been a tad sporadic.  I've got three things of note to share today.

One. All right it's official, the Yarn Harlot is my hero.  No really.  I've been obsessively reading her blog for a few weeks and actually started reading through her archives a few days ago. She's freaking hilarious, she knits, and she's an IBCLC and doula (translation: badass breastfeeding counselor and awesome birth assistant person).  Her blog is the extra daily dosage of sass I've been craving in my life and her knitting just makes me drool.  I have been laughing my butt off.  Love it.  I would probably give my DPN collection for her wit.

Two.  I made myself that cowl!  Remember the one I was telling you about?  Well it hasn't been quite cold enough to wear it yet (it's been really warm again) so I tossed it on over a little cardi the other day while we were out for some quick shots. I'm rocking the "clothes-I-found-on-the-top-of-the-laundry-pile" look, as usual.  Ah, the glamour of motherhood.

Cowl 4

Cowl 3

I cast on extra stitches (32) and I sort of wish I'd had a second skein so it could have been big enough to wrap around my shoulders.  Also should have paid more attention to the grafting since I ended up with a big ol' seam.  Ah well.  I'm rocking it upfront so it looks edgy.  Am I even capable of looking edgy with that brooch? Seriously.  My love of costume jewelry needs to meet some actual fashion sense. I digress.

Cowl 5

Despite my yarn wrapper hoarding tendencies, I have no recollection of what this yarn is. I think it's Lang (I always say that, but seriously that and Schachenmayer are like the only two types of yarn you can buy in Germany). And I didn't get a closeup, but there are little flecks of sparkle all over it.  If you know me, you know I love a good bit of sparkle.  What can I say? The pattern (which I totally bastardized) is My Kind of Town Cowl by Trish Woodson.

Three.  I'm not doing the October craft fair. I've been mulling it over for weeks now and I realized that it just wasn't one of the big stones in my life.  Would it be nice to make a little extra money doing something I enjoy? Yes. But is making a little extra money at the expense of my sanity worth it? Meh, probably not.  I've been having a bit of a rough time keeping it together between K's crazy work schedules, Gg's teething/growing/being-a-baby-ness, and just trying to keep my life from completely dissolving.  Honestly I just have bigger fish to fry and perpetually inadequate time to fry them! Prioritize and accomplish or as ye olde Larry the Cable Guy would say, Git 'r done.

Night folks!