Friday, March 11, 2011

let's hear it for COLOR!

There's a kids' album that I swear no one else has ever heard of except for me - it's called "Start Dreaming" by a fellow called Mr. Ray. And my favorite song on it is "Roy G. Biv." The rest of the album is super excellent, too, and I highly recommend it if you're bored with whatever kid music you've been listening to. You can preview the songs using the Amazon link I posted, or buy the songs individually for 99 cents. But you should buy the album. Seriously, it's really good. I tell everyone about it and I always just get weird one ever knows this music and it's a shame because it's done in a grown-up style, so it's very tolerable for repeated listening.

So I've been singing that song about the colors of the rainbow non-stop since starting my rad drying mat:

And check it out! It's finished! Just what I was hoping for...super bright, very easy, and quick to crochet. I finished last night just after dinner, trimmed the threads and voila! I think it's so pretty that I didn't even want to put dishes on top of it. But I did, obviously, and it works great.

To recap:
6 balls of Sugar & Cream yarn (2.5 oz size), purchased at Michael's for $1.25 each
Size K crochet hook
Chain 46, then work back across 45 stitches using single crochet

I think I worked maybe 12 rows of each color? I'm not sure, I just made sure each segment was the same width before changing colors. It seems I used about 1/3 or so of each ball, maybe a bit more.

Now I'm blowing off today's chores to start the coordinating dishcloths. Kind of a bad should see my house after ignoring work in favor of crochet all day yesterday. No wait, you shouldn't see it. No one should. It's pretty disastrous in here. I suppose I could at least fold the huge pile of clean laundry that I removed from the recliner (so I could sit and crochet) and dumped on the sofa. Yes, fine, ok, I'll do that much.

But then it's back to the rainbow. :)

ps: I guess I am on a crochet kick because I really want to make one of these for every kid I know right now:

(picture from Lion Brand website)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

making my own cheer

Thanks for the great vacation suggestions! I've done a lot of NE travel and we are thinking of heading south a little bit...maybe Colonial Williamsburg? Any thoughts on neat places to see in PA as we drive? Please keep the ideas coming!

It's soooooooo dark right now, and cold! You can sense the seasons struggling to change, but Old Man Winter is desperate to hang on. Now we've got a rain/snow mix thing happening, though the temps are more moderate. AJ was able to play outside today, pushing wheeled toys up and down the driveway. He got a skuut-type bike for Christmas from my in-laws, which needs to be assembled, but when I looked in the box today, there are no instructions. Par for the course with my in-laws. They rip the tags off everything, never give a gift receipt, and I'm guessing they opened the box with the balance bike and somehow managed to misplace the assembly instructions. I guess Hubs and I will have to spend an evening trying to figure it out ourselves.

Anyway! As I was working on the endless laundry yesterday I noticed that a) I wash a lot of dishtowels, and b) our towels and kitchen cloths are starting to look a little...rough. This thought popped into my head: gee, wouldn't it be neat to have a dedicated drying mat next to the sink, so I don't have to keep using regular dishtowels?

And the uncontrollably impulsive side of my brain answered, ABSOLUTELY! You should make something bright and fun!

So AJ and I went to Michael's, where Sugar & Cream yarn is on sale for $1.25.

Oh my gosh, isn't that just about the happiest thing you can imagine right now? After reading all these Waldorf-y blogs over the years, the idea of making rainbow stuff has taken strong hold in my brain.

The plan is to crochet (FAST!) a drying mat for the kitchen counter, and then use the leftovers of each color to make coordinating washrags (and turn the current collection into dustrags, as they are seriously discolored, faded, and gross).

And because I veer from impulsive to overthinking, I started pondering color order:

Traditional ROYGBV?

Or something different, a little out-of-order?

OMG, seriously, do I have an off switch? 'Cause I could really use one. I annoy myself.

A traditional rainbow it is. I started this just before lunchtime, and it is 2:00 as I write this (and I have fed a toddler, taken him to the potty, and read naptime stories). So obviously it's quick. The yarn calls for a J hook, but I am using a K because I tend to crochet quite tightly and I don't want this to curl up. It's 45 chains wide, and I'm working about 3" of each color, which should give me approximately an 18" long mat.

I always feel like I'm getting away with something when I crochet. It's just so fast and uncomplicated. I really do like it and should do it more often as a break from knitting. Plus I can more easily keep and eye on (and interact with) the children when working a simple single-crochet project like this.

And the colors! Good fun on this dreary day.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

life stuff...and a question for you!

Dear Winter,

It is really time for you to go now. No seriously, we have had just about enough. GO AWAY.

We had this one nice day a few weeks ago, and the kids made the most of it, romping around in the melty snow, playing under the huge pine tree in our yard, and generally soaking in the nice temps. (Also, trashing their clothes almost beyond saving...thank you, Tide Stain Release!)

But since then we've pretty much had snow on the ground. These are tough winters, the ones with no thaw from Thanksgiving straight through till March. We often get a long, late autumn, with no snow up to or even on Christmas, or some nice warmish days in January, up into the 40s or even 50s. BUT NOT THIS YEAR! And it is starting to wear on me, big time. I'm feeling so utterly housebound - it makes me think of the Ingalls family in "The Long Winter" and I wonder how on earth they didn't all go screaming insane.

It's just that when everyone is sick and playdates get cancelled and it is truly too cold to spend much time outside...well, it gets really boring and frustrating for everyone involved. I'm so, so tired of hearing my own voice as I snap at the children (again and again and again): stop it! don't push him! quit pulling her hair! if you can't agree on a video I'm turning the TV off! etc, etc.

We did end up joining the museum, and that's fun on the days we can go. And I've been leaving the house every single day with AJ, even if it is just to drive around a bit and go for a donut and coffee. We go grocery shopping a few times a week, hit the drug stores with our coupons for good sale items, browse Joann's and the other craft stores, and get donuts or bagels together. Sure, it's kind of bad for my pocketbook, but it is better for my sanity. Until we can go outside and wander the neighborhood, or go to the park, or spend the afternoon at the wading pool with lots of other kids, it will have to do. I wish we could do something a bit more...I don't know, educational? Valuable? We'd go to the library to get books or participate in story hour, but my 2.5 year old destructo-bot would unshelve all the books and disrupt the story hour. He's just not quite ready for that yet (maybe in the autumn when he turns 3). For now it's strictly outings where he can be trapped in a cart or the stroller.

Daughter was off school for a week recently and it nearly killed me, trying to keep them both from destroying the house or hurting each other. They are just so bored, and have pent-up energy to spare. Winter kind of sucks for little kids! I know so many people lament the growing up process, and chastise those who "wish childhood away" but good heavens, I have had enough of the toddler years. (And did I mention we are potty training? Aaaargh!)

I know it's just a phase for both of the kids, but right now it's tough. There are very few activities I can come up with that suit both a 6 year-old and a 2.5 year-old. They can paint together...sort of...until AJ uses the same brush for all the paints and wrecks all the colors or Daughter starts hoarding paints so AJ can't reach. If I try to start an activity with Daughter, or play a game with her, AJ will either disappear and get into something dangerous, or try to wreck the game/activity. And if I try to sit down on any piece of furniture in the entire house, my son wants to crawl up and sit directly on top of me. Which wouldn't be so bad if he could sit still. But he writhes and tickles and pulls at my hair and just won't settle.

I'm grasping at anything that will cheer me up these days. That means blowing off my responsibilities (nuggets and potato smiley faces for dinner again, kids!) so I can sew or knit. Making sundresses gives me hope that nice weather is around the corner, hooray! And I find that utterly losing myself in a detailed sewing project (like this somewhat complex dress pictured above) is like a meditation for me. Sometimes I play music or NPR, but often I just sew in silence after everyone has gone to bed, or during naptime when AJ is sound asleep and the house is nice and quiet.


I do have one nice thing to look forward to, and it is this: Hubs and I are planning to take a little vacation together, just the two of us, which we have not done since our honeymoon in 2003. For real. Our marriage could use a little attention (no problems, per se, just a need to reconnect) after these last few troubled years taking care of kid issues, and we're going to head out for, oh, maybe a 5 day weekend journey or something like that. We plan to drive and keep it budget-friendly (because of Hubs' work we can get hotel discounts), and want to do something peaceful and quiet (no big cities). We're thinking sometime in May, and somewhere on the east coast. Where would you go? I'm looking for ideas!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


Just in time for Spring...I finished a hat for myself!

Haha, Spring my foot, it's sure to be freezing and snowy here for many weeks to come. This hat came off my needles yesterday morning and has already been put to good use. It's the basic cabled hat from Cables Untangled. I used less than one skein of Patons Classic Wool in jade heather (it is really a bit more green than this photo shows). Doesn't look like much sitting on the table, but when it is worn and the cables and rib open up, it looks nice (in my opinion). Oh, and I did knit the cables and decreases correctly at the crown. This picture makes the top look terrible but really it looks pretty good, I promise.

It is telling that as soon as I finished the hat, my son grabbed it from my hands and pulled it on his own head. I guess I do make rather a lot of knitted items for the kids.

But no, this late-winter chapeau is for mama!

Mmmmmm. Warm.