If you slog through my blathering, you will be rewarded with a chance at a little giveaway at the end of the post…

I’ve been fighting a nasty cold for the past week and a half. Just as I was starting to feel a little better, my ear started to hurt. A lot! Took myself to urgent care last night. It’s not a good sign when the physician’s assistant looks in your ear and exclaims, “eeyuu”.

Thanks to this grand state of health, I haven’t had the energy or brain power to blog but I did manage to finish a couple of much anticipated projects. That is to say, much anticipated by me, not necessarily anyone else.

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(let’s ignore the crooked buttons, shall we?)

Pattern: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne (Flint Knits)
Yarn: Tranquility by Mooncake Yarn
Color: Brown Stone

I cast on in mid-September and was wearing it by mid-November. It grew a little when I blocked it, as expected. I don’t think I would change anything, with the possible exception of my yarn choice. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED knitting with this yarn. It is so soft and yummy, not unlike Malabrigo. Problem is, it is pilling like a mofo already. The danger of knitting with single ply yarn?? Regardless, it won’t stop me from wearing it all the time.

I also finished a couple of Lazy Days Skirts for the girls. You can’t beat a 45-minute sewing project with such cute results.

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Although I love the pattern, especially the ribbon hem, I am most excited about the fabric! It is from the new Moondance line by Jenean Morrison from Free Spirit. Look at these fabulous prints:

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I met Jenean last spring while visiting my family in Memphis. Her husband, Joel, was a good friend of mine in high school. Although Joel and I had lost contact for many years, thanks to the power of the internet, we were able to reconnect. He sent me a link to Jenean’s Posh Patterns website and I immediately responded, “Her work is amazing. She should get it made into fabric!” I soon found out that Jenean was already working with Free Spirit and I started to count down the days until I could get my hands on some fabric.

When Jenean e-mailed to say she wanted to send some of the sample yardage she had left, I was beyond excited. I figured she would send a couple half yards or something.  I had no idea she would send so much! I have plenty of projects in mind, but I feel a little selfish.  So, here’s your chance to get your hands on some, too.

Leave a comment by November 30th and I’ll draw a name.  If your name is drawn, you can choose to receive either 4 fat quarters or 2 half yard cuts.   If you win, be sure to share photos of what you make and spread the news about this great new line of fabrics!!

Be sure to go read about Jenean’s adventures at Houston Quilt Market.

A friend of mine called me Wednesday and referred to me as her “happy, happy Democrat friend”. I’m not sure happy does it justice. It’s more like the feeling I experienced after giving birth – exhausted from the effort and anticipation; over-the-moon with the result; overwhelmed by the enormity of what just happened.

Since turning 18, I’ve done my share of “lesser of two evils” voting. It is a thrilling experience to get to cast my ballot for someone I truly believe in. Someone who is smart, articulate and espouses hope, as opposed to fear. And the fact that he won? Amazing!

Then there is the fact that the U.S. just elected its first African-American president. Think about it this way: within Obama’s relatively short life span thus far, the U.S. has gone from enacting the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to electing an African-American to its highest office. It’s true that the 15th amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited governments from preventing citizens the right to vote based on race, but that didn’t exactly make a clear path. Facing tactics like poll taxes and literacy tests to violence and intimidation, African-Americans remained disenfranchised. Getting to the point where African-Americans in Alabama can register and vote freely was no easy task. Just ask anyone who was trying to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge in March 1965.

Some committed and brave folks crossed that bridge and many others. Thanks to them, we’ve come a long way, baby! But to think that we are in a post-racial time is pretty naive. It only takes a few anecdotes from the polls to understand the continued need for such a law. The need for The Movement isn’t over, but the face of those who are being discriminated against and disenfranchised is changing.

I don’t envy Obama the task at hand. Not since Atlas has someone had such a weight to shoulder. The whole world is looking to him to fix the myriad woes that surround us: the economy, the environment, health care, education, the war, etc. None of these tremendous problems are going to be fixed anytime soon. Let’s face it, he doesn’t have a magic wand. As I’ve learned parenting a little boy with no impulse control, it takes far more time, effort and patience to fix something that’s broken, than it does to break it in the first place.

Brad took Sarah to daycare on his way to work, so the bigs and I could go vote.  We walked the two blocks to our polling place and took our place in line.  I’m guessing there were nearly 100 people there when we arrived at 8:30.  Sounds like the line was even longer at 7am.  It took about 45 minutes of waiting, but the kids were great and I even got a little knitting done.  The kids got to cast their own ballots and were eager participants in this exercise in civic duty.  I’m pretty sure Joshua just voted for president and skipped the rest of the ballot.  Brad assured me that there are plenty of adults who do the same thing.

Sarah is obviously not old enough for Kids Vote, but she knows her pick for prez, too.  She joined me the other day as I watched a clip of Barack Obama on The Daily Show.  When it was over she said, “more!  brack omama”.

My sentiments exactly.

Months after casting on, I finally finished Brad’s socks.

Pattern:  Stansfield #11 from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks

Yarn:  Cestari 100% wool, worsted weight in Spice Heather.  Used approximately 190 yards per sock.

NeedlesKnit Picks Nickel Plated dpns, US size 3 (3.25 mm)

If I can get them away from Brad long enough, I might block them.  Or not.

I am also enjoyed new wool socks.  When I ran to REI before our camping trip to purchase wool socks for the kids, I couldn’t resist getting a pair for myself.  My first pair of SmartWool socks.  I justified the purchase by claiming I would never knit myself knee length socks.

Apparently, I had a serious case of first sock syndrome. Poor, long-suffering hubby has been waiting patiently for new wool socks for months. Luckily summer fell in the middle of that period and he didn’t need wool socks. Not even in Minnesota.

I cast on last winter and got just beyond the heel before I set it aside. Knitting the required length for the foot was more than I could deal with. He wears a size 13 shoe. His foot is literally a foot. Maybe it was our recent camping trip and the need for wool socks that prompted me to revisit the sock on the needles. I powered through and finished the first sock.   I’ve even gotten a good start on the second. I’m in the middle of the gusset decrease. Let’s hope that I don’t stall out before the end this time.  It’s getting to be wool sock weather around here!

Last night, I made apple crisp for dessert. I followed Erin‘s lead and used Ina’s recipe. So yummy! It was hard for me to resist having some for breakfast this morning. The only thing stopping me was that fact that my children would want some too and I didn’t want to share.

Between the apple butter (btw, here’s the recipe), crisp and each family member eating multiple per day, we have officially finished our haul from apple picking. I am kind of disappointed that they are gone. I didn’t make a pie. Or applesauce. Surely, we need another crisp soon. Guess I’ll have to get a couple bags from the co-op. There is more cooking with apples to be done!

Sarah’s language acquisition has taken a slightly different trajectory than her sister’s did.  (What was that about being a third child?)  When Lizzie was Sarah’s age, we made her language development into a party trick.  “Say, ‘epistemology'”.   What can I say?  We are geeks.

With Sarah, it is not hard to see who has the most influence on her language and it isn’t her over-educated parents.

  • Whenever she sees something related to Star Wars, she yells “Obi!”  (as in Obi Wan Kenobi).
  • What child can resist talking about poopy diapers, especially when it makes big brother laugh hysterically?
  • She has been known to refer to a person as “guy” or “dude”.

And then there is Lizzie.  She’s moved far beyond parroting our 10 cent words.  How do you respond to questions like these?

  • “Isn’t sex a bad word?”
  • “What is the difference between Methodists and other churches?”
  • “Everyone can go to heaven, unless they killed someone, right?”
  • “What about if someone commits suicide?”

Most of these left me sputtering and incomprehensible.  (You might have thought someone asked me what newspapers I read on a regular basis.)

Anyone have a copy of the parenting handbook?  I think I could use some backup here!

Let me count the ways:

  1. the start of school makes me giddy (sorry kids, but you know you love it too)
  2. being outside without sweating or shivering
  3. can you think of a better time to be a knitter?
  4. hot tea
  5. fall foliage
  6. sweaters
  7. curling up under a quilt (to knit a sweater, while drinking hot tea)
  8. apples (apple picking, apple cider, apple butter, apple crisp, apple pie, etc.)

A couple weeks ago, we made our annual apple picking foray with friends. It is not the cheapest Saturday folly, but it is truly fun for the whole family.

Sarah was downright giddy as she walked among the trees, yelling “apple” at every turn.

She seemed to enjoy the tasting portion of the day, too.

The big kids enjoyed searching the trees for the best looking Honeycrisps.

Brad was a few rows over filling a bag with Haralsons.

Honeycrisps for eating. Haralsons for baking and apple butter.

Brad spent quality time with the Haralsons while watching the debate last night. (I was too busy trying to get Sarah to sleep while simultaneously swearing at the t.v.) He cored, peeled and quartered about half of what we brought home. The apples went into a pot and onto the stove for a few hours to end up as apple butter. Brad canned 3 pints and 1 pint went straight into the fridge for (almost) immediate consumption. You’ve got to love a man that cans!

We’ve been making apple butter each fall for the past 10 years. The smell of apples simmering with cinnamon, ginger, clove, cardamom and nutmeg may surpass the smell of fresh baked bread in my book. You can argue with me on that point, but you definitely can’t go wrong with a combination of the two!

A few years ago we earned quite a reputation with regard to our apple butter consumption. We had spent the weekend with a group of friends and cooked apple butter over an open fire in a huge cooper pot. It was a friend’s family tradition and a glorious one, at that. A beautiful October Saturday spent sitting around a campfire, taking turns stirring the pot of apples with a giant wooden paddle. What could be better?

I can’t remember how many jars we put up that day. It was A LOT! Anyway, we came home with around 10 pint and 2 quart jars. I think we were the only family to finish our share before the next October. The next year, we came home with a few extras. 🙂

Over the weekend, we headed up nort’ with some friends. Given my lack of enthusiasm for camping, it might surprise you to know that we went camping in Itasca State Park. I have to admit, it was lovely. Really lovely. The first night was a little on the chilly side, but the majority of the family had very warm sleeping bags and no complaints (thanks, Anna). It seems the effort of getting long underwear and wool socks for the kids was not a waste. (Frankly, given the estimated price of heating this winter and the resulting low temps set on our thermostat, the kids will definitely get more use out of those!)

For our city kids, it was a weekend filled with wonder. The stars alone made the trip worth it. The kids were trying to count the stars and quickly gave up. They looked for constellations and made up a few of their own. I think Joshua’s involved a rocket ship coming from Orion’s belt.

Lizzie’s internal clock, which is set ridiculously early, gave her (and Brad) the privilege of witnessing the mist on the lake at sunrise.

We heard owls at night. We saw and heard loons in the morning. We saw trumpeter swans. Sarah broke the quiet sunrise moment by proclaiming, “DUCKY! WATER!”

We climbed to the top of the Aiton Heights Fire Tower and enjoyed an amazing view. How often do you get to see fall foliage from 100 feet up? I wasn’t sure if I could stomach the trip to the top, or more accurately the trip down, but the view was worth all 100 feet. Brad took Sarah up with him and she was pretty excited. Joshua managed to go twice (no wonder he slept so well).

We also went to the Headwaters of the Mississippi River. As a native of Memphis, I was blown away by the fact that Old Man River starts out so small. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to go across since I was busy trying to keep Sarah out of the water. Once again, Joshua managed to go across twice (that kid is nothing if not enthusiastic).

I almost forgot to mention the apple and pear crisp cooked in a cast iron dutch oven on the camp fire. Oh my, it was yummy!

Good friends, good food, and a gorgeous setting. I guess camping isn’t so bad, after all.

Sometimes, it seems like the third child really gets the short end of the stick.  All the things we were so careful and meticulous about with #1 have long since been relegated to the back burner with #3.  For example:

Staring solids:

  • Lizzie started solids on the day she turned 5 months old.  I took nearly a full roll of film’s worth of pictures.
  • Sarah started solids sometime before she turned 1 year.  When?  Couldn’t tell you.  I did take a couple of pictures.  If I could find those, I’m sure I could tell you when it was.

Age:

  • I could tell you how old Lizzie was in months until she turned two.  Without missing a beat.
  • I’m lucky if I can tell you Sarah’s birth date without stammering.

Well Child Check Ups:

  • I kept careful records of when Lizzie’s appointments should be, which immunizations she’d had and the various percentiles in which she fell by height, weight, etc.
  • Turns out, not only did I forget an appointment for Sarah’s immunizations, I forgot two of them.  Doh!

Although Sarah has definitely suffered the fate of 3rd child syndrome, there do seem to be advantages to being #3.  After years of accumulating enough toys, puzzles, books and games to fill a store, I have learned to be more prescriptive when it comes to gifts from family.   I’m trying to be more intentional about what comes into our house.  I think about where it comes from, how it is made, how long it will be used and where it will live in our wee, little house.  Some might question my sanity, with all the thought and research that goes into gifts for a two year old.  I will defend myself and argue that the results are quite lovely.

I’ve been wanting Sarah to have Waldorf doll for a while.  I was planning to make her one.  I had priced kits and even considered signing up for a class.  Then, reality set in.  With relatives asking what they could get for her birthday, I let go a little and decided that a doll lovingly made by someone else would be just as good, if not better, than one made by me.

I’m sure I read about The Q’ewar Project somewhere in the craft blogosphere.  Between the mission of the project, the fact that they are made by hand and the wonderful materials that are used, I was 100% convinced.  The turn around from Tiny Bird Organics was amazing.  The doll is also amazing.  The body is stuffed with wool and is dense, with a nice heft to it.  The outer clothes are all handspun, handknit alpaca.  As Lizzie said repeatedly, “she’s beautiful”.

The best part about the doll?  Sarah loves her!  She opened up the package last night after dinner and said, “wow, da-wee”.  She then spent the better part of the night undressing, dressing and cuddling her.   Sarah went to sleep holding her new “da-wee”.  This morning, Lizzie brought up her doll bed from the basement, so Sarah has been very busy tucking da-wee into bed.  She’s also made sure all of her favorite books have been read to da-wee.  So very, very sweet!

See, being #3 isn’t all that bad.

In an unprecedented show of deference to the conventions of knitting, I actually did a gauge swatch today.

Not just one, I knit two.  Possibly more shocking than the swatch itself was the fact that I had to go down a needle size to get gauge.  It must be the yarn I’m using, because I am an infamously tight knitter.  For example, Brad finally had to give up wearing the first hat I knit for him.  I think it was cutting off the circulation to his head.  Did I mention that I am a tight knitter?

What’s the swatch for?  I’m starting my February Lady Sweater.  (Me and half the knitting bloggers in the blogosphere.)  I have been itching to knit it since the pattern debuted.  I bought a sweater’s worth of yarn at a going out of business sale a few months ago with the original intention of knitting the KPS hooded tunic.  I’ve since decided this would be way more fun.

I finished knitting my shawl last night!  I have yet to block it, though.  Maybe I’ll wait to give all the specs once I’ve done that and have some photos.  Now, I just have to find a space to block it.  Yikes.

Other, completely random, tidbits:

I feel the need to start wearing lipstick regularly.  An attempt to show the world that lipstick isn’t just for the socially conservative, pit bull types.  Even flaming liberal, Macalester College alumna can wear lipstick proudly.  I may be wearing clogs and jeans at the time, but nonetheless.  Come on ladies, grab your cruelty-free, vegan, organic lipstick tubes (100% post-consumer recycled plastic, of course) and wave them high!

I have been living in a house under siege by the plague.  Ok, not the plague, just a fever-inducing infection of some sort.  Two kids, two trips to the doctor and two antibiotic prescriptions, all in 4 days.  Woo-hoo.  Crossing my fingers we don’t make it 3.  Sarah has a well-child on Thursday, so if she does get it, maybe they’ll find it then and I’ll save on a co-pay.