Friday, December 28, 2007

Family, Football & Greenjeans

In spite of my pre-game anxiety, we all had a fabulous time yesterday. It's always great to see our Texas family. They are so fun-loving and wonderful to be around.

My boys absolutely adore their cousins... and their cousins always have unlimited patience and love to share. Of course, a chance to try on a real game jersey before the game was priceless.

D might need to grow into it a bit.

We rode in an elevator with Kirk Herbestreit, a college football broadcaster (I know... you are so jealous now), high fived the Longhorn team as the boarded their buses, and sat 14 rows off the field in the family section at the game! My boys were in heaven! Of course, winning was pretty great too.

Earlier this week, we enjoyed Christmas with my family. We played games.

If you enjoy video games at all... and enjoy laughing with your family and being a bit of a goofball, you've got to try Guitar Hero!

Everyone pitched in with the cooking.

Santa's helper here is my sister...
and the happy recipient of my Mrs. Bluejeans.

Knitty's Mr. Greenjeans by Amy Swenson
3 hanks of Fiesta Boomerang in Wild Oak
Knit Picks Options sizes 6 & 7
Size: Small

Modifications: I did the bottom ribbing with the larger needle instead of going down a size as suggested.

Overall, I like the sweater but I did run into a couple of problems with the pattern. Even though I chose a size that should've had plenty of ease and my gauge was right on, the fit was quite snug; not at all like the pictured example. I also found that continuing with the larger needles was necessary in order for the ribbing to hang like I wanted. I only mention these things because I've seen similar concerns popping up elsewhere (so I know it's not just me).

If you knit this, I just encourage you to consider the fit you're looking for, measure accordingly, and try on frequently. In the end, the finished sweater looks fabulous on my sister. Hopefully I'll have a picture of her in it soon.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Decisions, Decisions & Socks

I just couldn't decide... which yarn... which pattern...

so I cast on all three.

I started on a bit of a sock knitting binge on Christmas Eve, and today was short-row heel practicing day. Of course the best directions I found were in More Sensational Knitted Socks. Of course.

The yarns (l to r) are Chewy Spaghetti Sport in "Boyish" (which I am seriously in love with), Duet Middy in "Bauer Blue" (also fabulous), and Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (which I want to wrap all around me). I'll give links and stuff later. Too tired right now and I still have to dig up something in that perfect shade of Longhorn orange for the game tomorrow.

Speaking of which... here's another twist to the family football saga I shared the other day. The Longhorns, as you may or may not know, are playing Arizona in the Holiday Bowl tomorrow. Rudy Carpenter, the quarterback for Arizona, is a local boy. So local in fact that he graduated from my alma mater (although many, many, many years after me), my husband went to high school (and played football) with his dad, and my oldest son goes to school with his younger sister. Local. And he's playing my nephew's team. Interesting, no?

At the very least, football is making the world a smaller place.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Texan for a Day

Several years ago, my very wise brother-in-law had the foresight to encourage his son to play football at their small Texas high school. Now my nephew was going into his junior year and had never really played much football... but, like I said, his dad is a very wise man... and my nephew was actually aware of this at a young enough age to take his advice. You see... there was a Special One on that team and my BIL was sure that his oldest son, M, would want to be able to someday claim the fame of having played high school ball with this fine athlete.

Well, M didn't really have the size of a football player but he is one of the most likeable, generous, fun-loving people I know and found his place on the team as the long-snapper. (My knowledge of the intricacies of football is limited but it's my understanding that this player snaps the ball further than the regular center. He comes out for things like kicks. I guess.)

Anyway, M stayed on the team for his senior year after the Special One went off to college and recruited his younger brother, J, to join the team too. Tall and thin, it turned out that J had a pretty good leg and ended up being their starting Punter for the next couple of years. He was so good in fact that he set some sort of state record. (Don't ask me what.)

Being a bit of the family rebel (in the most polite sort of way), J resisted the urging of his family to follow his 3 older siblings to Texas A&M and instead, to the horror and shame of the entire family, set his sites on the University of Texas. Once accepted, he began to gift his family with burnt orange Longhorn t-shirts, but they just couldn't remove their Aggie maroon and hid the shirts away.

However, all thoughts of betrayal melted away and the Longhorn orange came out a-blazing when they found out that J had been accepted as a walk-on player for the National Champion Texas Longhorns. Football truly can move mountains and heal all wounds.

And that brings me to Thursday. This Thursday... when the Texas Longhorns play in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. We knew that we would have 2 tickets... and being the generous, loving mother that I am, I suggested that DH take our oldest boy. Then, it looked like we might have 3 tickets! Now clearly, I insisted, as much fun as it sounded, Boy #2 would just appreciate it so much more. Yes, I know... I just keep on giving.

But now... Now we have just found out that our nephew has secured tickets for us all to attend! All of us. Including me! Our whole family making a 6 hour round-trip drive to San Diego for a college bowl game! I'm... well... just... overwhelmed. Really. Overwhelmed.

I can honestly say that I am excited and grateful for this opportunity, but sadly my emotions tend to tilt towards panic-stricken when faced with such excitement. Yes, panic, anxiety, nausea... that sort of thing. This is where my finely tuned skill of denial comes in. See, I will put this as far out of my mind as possible for the next couple of days until I'm awakened Thursday morning and told to get in the car. Breathing might be hard for the first part of the trip, but I know I'll have a good time once my breathing returns to normal, my stomach settles, and I've stopped yelling at the way-too-noisy kids.

Oh, and the Special One... the One from their small Texas high school... he has done quite well for himself. After a few years at Oklahoma where he was nominated for a Heisman Trophy his Freshman year, he is now breaking records for the Minnesota Vikings. If you watch football, or have family who does, you've probably heard of him. His name is Adrian Peterson. Like I said, my BIL is a very wise man.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Stocking

This stocking was lovingly made by my own hands for my 2nd boy Travis about 10 years ago. I found the ready-to-cut material at the local JoAnn's and was immediately overcome with the need to make special keep-forever stockings for my boys. I'm not sure how many children I had at the time as those years are a bit of a blur but I know I got enough for 4 stockings and a tree skirt.

My oldest boy already had a stocking so I started with Travis and planned to work through the rest of them over time. I added batting and lining and carefully hand stitched along all the little black lines adding buttons and bells to dress it up. In spite of my amateur efforts at making an heirloom, I have always loved this stocking. I also adore my matching tree skirt. It's only been partially hand stitched and I've long since given up the notion that I'll finish it... but it serves its purpose.

The problem is... this stocking looks a bit sacred hanging in the midst of a row of plain red and white fuzzy stockings. "Oh... look... here's Travis' stocking," moans the one who happens to unpack it each year. And now that my oldest is 15, he's not so easily swayed by the special puffy moose stocking that used to be his. It's becoming a bit like Joseph's coat of many colors, and since I hate the thought of Travis being resented for the rest of his life because of my laziness, it's clear that something must be done.

Now I still have the fabric. Somewhere. But I think the best solution is obvious.

I need to knit stockings for the rest of the boys... and DH. If I start right after the holidays, I'll only need to knit one every couple of months. I think I'll start with the youngest two since they are not only missing stockings but also missing cross stitch birth announcements and baby books. Then again... if I don't start with my oldest... well, I do want him to have it before he leaves home.

So there it is. 5 stockings - 1 year.
Oy... I'm feeling overwhelmed already.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Decorating with Boys

Like most children, my boys begin begging on Thanksgiving Day to pull out the Christmas decorations. However, apparently unlike most moms, I am not so big on decorating. The chaos of all the boxes coming out and all the little hands digging in overwhelms me so I tend to put it off. But more precisely, it starts with the trip through the 3' tall linen closet (which involves moving all linens, bags, bins, etc. stored therein) into the attic.

The attic... like many I suppose... is dusty and gloomy and most certainly full of living creatures of the 8-legged variety. Fortunately for me, I have boys who LOVE going into the attic. Of course.

Well now that my boys are older, they beg daily for the go ahead to take on this dreaded part of the job themselves. Once I was done painting, the day finally arrived. Since my attic expert was at school, I let 13 yo and 10 yo take over this exhilarating job with carefully repeated instructions to only retrieve a couple of the red and green boxes plus the box of ornaments as we were not going to go too crazy this year since it was late and we still have construction and painting going on. Two or three boxes. Only.

Now I was busy that morning... I'm not sure doing what... and actually it's driving me a bit crazy now that I can't remember. I wasn't knitting or on the computer. No, I was in the kitchen... but not baking or addressing Christmas cards... but doing something that I know had to be done. And apparently it was done and done well because I have no idea what it was now. At any rate, knowing that my 13 yo is extremely responsible, I let them carry on with their plans while paying very little attention myself.

Yep... they were in charge. There was a time when I was sure that our most consistent Christmas tradition would be me yelling, "Don't touch! What did I just tell you?! Leave that alone!" while we decorated. I knew this wasn't really my goal, but the very anal, controlling, only-child core of my being could not handle such commotion. Clearly, 15 years as a mother of boys has crumbled broken destroyed mellowed me, because I am finally pretty much able to take a step back.

After a couple of hours, my alertness was perked when my youngest boys began showing me 40 year old magnetic puzzles from my childhood they had found. A quick search revealed that my 13 yo had abandoned the project completely and my 10 yo had found a treasure trove of old coins that he was sorting through in his room. It is at this point that I realize that what appears to be every single box has been pulled out of the attic and is forming an obstacle course throughout the house. (I really tune things out when I'm involved.)

Remarkably, this doesn't sit well with me and my almost-forgotten tradition of yelling kicked in. "Why? What? Why aren't you decorating? What do you mean you don't feel like it? Move! Get to work! Get it out of here!" After some discussion over the meaning of "a couple of red & green boxes", they began to return boxes to the attic. However, once I was able to walk through the house again, I realized that the only decorations that were out were the ones that my 5 and 8 year olds had unpacked from random boxes when they weren't playing with my old toys. Clearly their requirement for selecting decorations was very specific... if it came out of a red and green box, it was a decoration, complete in and of itself. So, after a whole day of chaos and clutter, let me take you on a tour of my humble home...

So far so good....
Of course, all of the most fragile items were unpacked... along with a few presents that belong with something.

And tell me... what says Christmas like an American flag? Every time I look at it I think of Clark Griswold asking Aunt Bethany to say grace at Christmas dinner.
But my favorite displays by far would have to be serious Santa standing along side this single wise man. (Apparently they had begun to lose interest before unpacking any of the other pieces of the 3 or more Nativity sets we have... but I have seen a plastic Baby Jesus around somewhere.)

I think I need to move the American flag next to these guys to complete the scene. What do you think?

Oh well. The kids are happy, my job was minimal, and we aren't on the schedule for any holiday tours so I'm just enjoying our under-decorated tree (they accidentally re-packed one of the ornament boxes as well) and fresh paint.

And so I'll knit. The back of Twist is finished and I'm working on the front now. Fun, fun.

Merry frantic days before Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I've managed a brief hi-jack of my husband's laptop and I'm sitting here, in my spot, with my knitting, watching season one of Lost and talking to you!! Life almost feels normal for the moment. I was even able to get some photos loaded to share. I'm probably much more excited about this than any of you, but it's been a strange feeling to be disconnected (a feeling which in itself is strange). Even more profoundly, I've learned that my laziness when faced with a flight of stairs exceeds my desire to interact with the rest of the world. Of course, being in my room forces me to face the laundry that needs to be put away, the walls that need painted, and the black hole in the corner that absorbs all the stuff I don't know where else to put... but again, we come back to laziness... so I'll just move on...

We've been busy with some of the traditional Christmas-y things...

I got the soundtrack to Wicked and Daniel, my son who really defies any standard classification, has been listening to it almost non-stop for 3 days now. I'd love to take him to see the show.

And, of course, I've been knitting....

I'm loving this Chevron Scarf and now I know why so many people are using this color combo. I've never been a real "colorful" person, usually preferring beiges and blues, but I can't wait to wear this scarf.

I've also gotten a good start on the sweater pictured below using the Dream In Color Classy yarn I got a while back. (Thanks for the inspiration, Maria.)

Oddly enough, I've gotten a lot more knitting done that usual without the laptop at my side. Go figure.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Life in a Vacuum

My laptop, one of my most prized possessions... ever, has lost the will to live. Or at least the will to boot. While it does offer some technical mumbo-jumbo as an excuse, the information has proven useless to us mere mortals who are staring at it.

While I do have other accesses to the www, I can't even begin to tell you the amount of distress it is causing me to not be able to access the rest of the world without leaving my spot on the couch.

Not only that, my photo software is on my laptop. Of course, I could install it my upstairs computer but first I would have to find it. Finding things is not one of my specialties... especially if I've put something in a place where I'm sure not to lose it.

When I find it, I can show you the things I've started in an attempt to fill the void in my life that is normally stimulated by blogging and wasting time on the Internet.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Finished Transition Gloves

These would have to be one of my all time favorite knits. The pattern was enjoyable, but the yarn... oh, the yarn.

What's not to love about the yarn?! The gorgeous, rich colors feature subtle variations to make it interesting without interfering with patterns. It's perfectly tightly spun and squishy... and... and... it's less than $10/hank at The Loopy Ewe! As an added bonus, the hanks are tied with a simple slip knot that is easily released for unwinding. No fighting tiny knots or accidentally cutting the wrong place (not that I've ever done that), just a simple slip and release. Maybe not a big deal but it is a nice little touch.

Transition Gloves by Shi Bui Knits
Shi Bui Knits sock yarn: 1 hank Wasabi & 1 hank Rapids
Needles - Knit Picks Options sizes 0 & 2
Modifications: I used smaller needles and left out the last 2 rounds of the fair isle to accommodate my child size wrists.

It took me a while to get the hang of fair isle knitting, but I ended up getting comfortable with carrying the main color Continental style in my left hand (my normal technique) and "throwing" the contrasting color English style with my right hand. By the second glove, I was cruising right along, barely thinking about what I was doing. I couldn't believe how fast they knit up and how well they held my interest... another feat entirely.

Warning: Now I'm going to say something highly controversial in the knitting world. I used to be a "thrower" before I learned continental. Actually, as a left hander, I was taught by a fairly inexperienced knitter to do everything as a right hander just reversed. This served me well until I tried to knit patterns and realized all my decreases and cables were messed up... then I learned continental which was actually a pretty easy transition. Anyway... I digress... back to controversy. I firmly believe that whatever way one is comfortable knitting is the right way for them! However, why anybody would want to throw instead of slide is beyond me. No offense intended of course. Just saying. :)
I am now going to attempt to cast on for about 5 things that I'm dying to knit at once. More on those later.

Monday, December 10, 2007

You Ate What?

Children should not eat cookie dough for breakfast.

More specifically, children should not eat the raw cookie dough that their mother left on the counter for them to clean up after they tore apart the kitchen making it the previous night. I'm quite certain that, no matter the taste, 12 hour old unrefrigerated cookie dough must surely be mildly toxic at best.

My 10 yo should be able offer additional insight on the consequences of his actions by tomorrow.

My Shi Bui Transition Gloves should be done for pictures tomorrow (barring any floods or food poisoned children). I just can't stop!

Now that I Should Be Sleeping...

In an act of great discipline, I put down my almost-finished, glorious glove so I could tidy up and get to bed at a reasonable time. But then I do that thing that I will sometimes regrettably do and clicked on for one quick game of Minesweeper. Does anyone else play this? If not, it is almost assuredly on your computer with the other games like Solitaire. Check it out. It's a great opportunity for those of you who may be looking for other meaningless ways to waste hours of your valuable time.

I'm a bit fixated on it right now because my 13 yo son can tackle the expert level in an absolutely ridiculous amount of time. While I sit there staring at the screen with my eyes starting to burn while I'm trying to be sure if the 2 I'm looking at is really already touching 2 mines or not, his fingers (and mind) fire through the keys without ever pausing. It's really astonishing. And annoying.

Annoying because I get stuck to the screen when I could be sleeping trying to beat my depressingly average time and can't. No, I actually seem to keep getting worse.

You see, I've always had a thing about being "average". There are very few things I'm really great at... and, for some reason, I've been haunted most of my life by this fact. I'm not a good housekeeper, cook or organizer... all important qualities for a mother of 5... a position I constantly marvel at given my complete lack of corresponding skills.

I can knit... but I'll certainly never be North America's Fastest Knitter or even as good as my grandmother was. But mind you, it's not really fame and glory I seek. No, it's just being better than those around me. A lot better. A humble goal really.

So as I was playing my umpteenth "one more game" of Minesweeper, I began to think of the accomplishments in my past... the things that were or are above average... the moments that made me shine. This is what I've come up with.

  • I got straight A's the first semester of my Jr. year of high school... which was, not coincidentally, my first semester of high school without the required P.E. class.

  • I passed a college Philosophy class on Logic with a C+. A fact that is only remarkable when you consider that I never went to a class or read the material. But it was logic... and I am nothing if not logical. (This is where my great gift of denial comes in so handy... if I really let logic rule my life it would be much more boring... and I'd have much less yarn...)

  • I taught my husband how to beat the original Super Mario Brothers when we met. (Read, I was better than him at SMB.)

  • I was the first (and I believe only person) in my family to beat the entire Super Nintendo version of SMB when it came out. (Gotta love maternity leave.)

  • I hold the fastest household score on Tetris.

  • And, although it is with more shame than pride that I include this, I can shotgun a beer faster than my 20 year younger brothers and cousins. This has only been tested a couple of times but is considered quite an accomplishment and makes my husband incredibly proud. It also offers assurance to my mom that my (many) years of college were not a total waste.

  • Oh, I'm also a woman of strong convictions with a great passion for asserting those on listening ears (willing or unwilling doesn't matter much to me). Put short... I'm quite good at arguing.

Clearly, as you can see, I was quite a catch and my husband is obviously a lucky guy.

Now I have to go prepare for an uncertain night. Daniel was sick with, what we hoped and prayed, was a short isolated bout of food poisoning on Friday... however, recent evidence indicates that it was not isolated but viral so I must make ready. Years of dealing with 5 children and the flu have taught me a few things so I will now cover all the carpeting between the child's bed, my bed and the bathroom with drop clothes, towels and whatnot. The path to my bed is important because they almost always feel the need to come to me personally with the news that they really aren't feeling well instead of heading straight to the bathroom and giving me a shout. I suppose they are just seeking the gentle comfort of my sleepy cry of, "Well go! Go! Get in the bathroom! NOW!" (Yeah, compassion doesn't really make my list either.)

But hey... preparing for stomach flu. I'm certainly good at that! And without a doubt, much, much better than DH who once informed me that he just really couldn't stand cleaning up after a sick child. Geesh! What's not to love about it?

Oh well, he has many other redeeming qualities that don't even involve video games. Not to mention that he has to put up with me, so he's surely a keeper.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Shi Bui Heaven

No time to write. Must keep knitting!

The Shi Bui Knits yarn is amazing... squishy, squooshy, and soft with deep, intense color. Be-a-u-ti-ful! (It's taking all my self-control to not go buy a couple hanks of each color!)

And the pattern! Interesting, addicting, and (for me) a bit challenging. Still trying to find my fair isle "style". Thank goodness for online knitting help videos!
More later...

Friday, December 07, 2007

It Might've Frozen Over

Not much knitting going on here the last few days. Nope. I've been up to something else. Something that may not be a big deal for many people, but something that I find on par with running a marathon. Something that has shocked those near and dear to me.

I painted my house! Well, I painted the living room and hallways.

I know... like I said, not such a big deal for most. But I'm not most people. I'm a slightly neurotic woman who finds painting utterly overwhelming. A woman who tested a color on the wall above the fireplace 2 years ago, didn't like it, yet didn't know what to do instead so left it until 2 days ago. A woman who has been brought to tears by Home Depot. More than once.

So, when I leapt off the couch Wednesday at 2:00 and returned 1/2 hour later with rollers, drop clothes, and paint informing my 13 yo that we were about to move all the furniture and paint, he looked at me like I was from Mars. After following a series of brisk commands, he found himself with roller in hand priming the ugly fireplace wall while 5 yo and I tried out the Sandcastle Cove I had chosen for the walls. (Yes 5 yo helped... see how tired he is?)

Color looked good so after issuing a few retreating orders, I rushed back to Home Depot for a couple of gallons and more rollers. As the kids returned home, each was handed a brush or roller and a job. The absence of carpet in our hallway, made this the perfect place to put a couple of them to work.

Now my 15 yo has spent the last 15 years of his life waiting to help me paint something. He was overjoyed to be handed a roller and immediately went to work with great enthusiasm. Actually, his energy and enthusiasm were so boundless that next thing I knew he was covering every wall in sight with his overly saturated roller unaware of the splattering paint or the lack of a drop clothe beneath him. I'm not sure where he gets it, but he's never been one for authority or instruction so my words, pleas, and shouts were wasted on him. It was his very first and very last time helping me paint.

We finished while he was at school the next day with his brothers enthusiastically painting over his artwork on the doors. (Guess what number he was in football this year.)

In another quick 15 minute trip to Home Depot with 5 young children in tow (including 2 who weren't my own), I chose a darker shade called Castle Path for the stairway (which for a Swiss Coffee gal like myself was a creative leap beyond measure).

Now clearly I am a woman of limited decorating inclinations so I realize I'm not showing you a grand interior, but I am very proud of my humble efforts. That corner under the stairs has always been dark and full of toy baskets, and the wall above the fireplace, well, it was partially painted poopy brown for way too long. Pictures that have been stored conveniently in the upstairs hall (which is next by the way) are hung and my living room feels homey.

This came in the mail yesterday, but I refused to open it until I was done.


It was worth the wait.

Shi Bui Transition Gloves

I wanted to get started upstairs today, but a ghastly amount of laundry and a sick 8 yo have put things on hold. I guess it's back to knitting for now.

BTW - Can anybody tell me why my flickr photos look so out of focus sometimes?

Monday, December 03, 2007


Lately, I am finding myself inexplicably drawn to scarf knitting. Of course, handknit scarves are beautiful. They are, however, things I neither need nor tend to wear. Oh well, they always make a great gift right?

I am finding myself soothingly contented with this Easy Flame Scarf, although mine is more of a Grapevine Scarf because of the color. The Malabrigo and the pattern seem to be the perfect match. I must admit that the bamboo needles are a nice change of pace as well. (And mind you, I rarely feel soothed or contented for long... "antsy" would be a much better word.)

But how about a beaded scarf? Gotta try it. (BTW- Any tips on stringing the beads?? I assume I wind the yarn first. I'm picturing plucking scattered beads out of my carpet for months to come.)

And sadly, I guess I must confess... I'm a follower. I couldn't resist knitting my own Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I cringed when I noticed on Ravelry that almost everyone seemed to be using the same two colors of Socks That Rock... where's the creativity? So after ordering a couple to check out, I'm choosing to do mine in Farmhouse and Watermelon Tourmaline...

just like everybody else.

In my defense, I will say that it's hard to match up colors from little internet swatches... even after many hours of trying. Many hours.

So there's a glimpse of my intentions... which is by no means an accurate representation of what will actually don my needles in the weeks to come.

In the meanwhile, I am trying to get in the mental mode for Christmas. I'm feeling a bit Grinchy however as I adjust to a month of re-runs and pine tree allergies. (Yes, I'm allergic to Christmas trees. How fun is that?) And the thought of getting through a whole month on The Amazing Race alone... shudder.

I'm hoping that some fun knits and this book I picked up will help. A narrated version would be great, but I really don't need it. I can just hear the voice as I read.