Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Sign of Too Much Knitting

I started two new knitting projects over the weekend.  But it all started with a small mishap.

The tip of my US 5 needles broke in the first few rows of my new knitting item (details forthcoming).  These are a part of my interchangeable Knit Picks Harmony set.  A very inauspicious start to something I was supposed to start a few weeks ago.

It just seems that as soon as I start something, another something goes wrong.  We buy a van and the same week our basement floods. Life just seems to be a roller coaster some times.  When things are looking up there comes a twist.

Ups and downs make life hard, but it also makes life interesting and fun.   You don't know your ups without your downs. 

Knitting has always been, in my opinion and I am sure many other's, a great metaphor for life.  Knitting has ups and downs, challenges and easy spots.  The challenges keep knitting interesting and fun.  Plus you learn so much from the challenging knitting that soon you are ready to take on a bigger challenge and things you found to be hard at one point are a bit easier now.  Then again, every once in awhile you just crave the easy pattern with the mindless knitting. (I am working on one of those projects too.) 

What's nice about knitting is that you get to choose what you knit, with life patterns you don't always get to pick.  Knitting helps me deal with the ups and downs life sometimes chooses for me.  It keeps me sane because I can control my knitting and choose projects based on how the rest of my life is going. (Well for the most part I can control my knitting. Sometimes knitting does not behave, but the majority of the time I can control some aspects of knitting. You knitters understand.)

Luckily with this down, I had another needle set the same size.  I was able to continue on knitting and learn a new skill, intarsia.You just never know what is going to happen, so it helps to be prepared.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

That Kind of Mom

Last week, we bought a "sport van".  Not a mini-van, a sport van according to the title,but who are they kidding?  Now this is not our first van, my husband has been driving a mini van since 2006, but that was his vehicle not mine.  This sport van is for me.

The decision to buy a van was difficult, I'm not even 30 yet (one month from today actually).  Yet, I knew it was the right decision to make with our growing family and our constant trips to visit family.  Plus our old van has been very helpful for hauling everything from Christmas presents to bags of mulch.

So I did my research on and read Consumer Reports and found the van in the Peoria area I wanted and that we could afford.

So we bought this 2011 Kia Sedona.

And guess what.  I love it.  I am a mini van mom.  I never thought I would be a mini van mom, let alone love it.

I am not a bells and whistles girl.  All my previous cars have been manual transmissions.  I have never had power windows or locks. For the past seven years I have been without cruise control.  I would much rather prefer a vehicle with low mileage that is less expensive and will last a long time. 

Our new van doesn't have a lot of extra features, but it does have power locks and windows, plus cruise control.  It has Bluetooth capabilities. It has a V6 engine and I have never driven a vehicle with so much power.  I have to watch the speedometer closely because it is so easy to go fast.  It is great in the rain which has been nice for this very rainy April.  And D really, really loves it.  She has staked out the back seat as her domain.  She gets herself in and buckles-up all by herself.  I really love that. 

I guess I can even surprise myself. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

This week

Too much stuff

All alone, poor spinning wheel 

A nearly finished project...

Around a huge mess...

As you can see, everything is a mess this week, but I did finish knitting the little baby sweater.  I just need to add the buttons and block.

How is your week?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Swatchin' Away

Any knitting pattern will state to always check your gauge. To check your gauge you need to knit a swatch, which for my non-knitting friends, is a "test" of how many stitches per inch you are knitting.  The traditional way is to make a 4" by 4" knitted square and measure how many stitches there are per inch.  This is a very important part of starting a project, if you want it to fit (not super necessary for scarves, dishcloths, etc.).  You need to get the right number of stitches per inch so the item you make fits and isn't too small or too big.  After all., if you are going to spend $50+ on yarn and countless hours knitting a cardigan, you want it to fit the intended recipient.

However, many knitters do not swatch.  They just see the pattern calls for a certain sized needle and a a certain weight of yarn and they cast on.  I know several very fine knitters that do no swatch.  They must have excellent tension and perfect stitch sizes  How I envy them..  I, however, seem to have poor tension (which is strange for a continental style knitter) and imperfect stitch sizes.  I have made two pairs of socks that are way to big (one for me women's size 10 and the other for my husband men's size 14 or 15 so we are not small footed).   I even swatched for the women's socks and still ended up with huge things. So even when I do swatch, things can go terrible awry.  But I am trying to get better.  Knitting is about little improvement steps.

So while I have nothing really big happening on the needles right now, I have some fab swatches....

This one is for a little summer sweater for the future baby #2.  I know this is not  4" by 4" square, but I figure it is good enough (remember little improvement steps).  I need 22 stitches per 4 inches and I am really close.  I just have to go down one size needle.  Casting on to commence soon.

This one is for a maternity summer top.  Again it is not the 4" that is should be yet, but I am getting impatient waiting to make something awesome. Plus, now that the weather is finally turning spring-link in Central Illinois I have a renewed sense of urgency that a sleeveless top is something I should be knitting.

So okay.  I am still not the greatest swatcher, but I am getting better and soon there will be wonderful things on the needles.

Are you a swatcher?  Any tips for improved tension?

Friday, April 5, 2013

FMLA Outrage

I have come to accept that the United States does not give women paid maternity leave (or men paternity leave).  Sadly, we are one of the few countries in the whole world not offering paid maternity leave.  I am saving up my vacation and sick days so I can bring home a pay check while I am on my six-week maternity leave this summer.  I accept all these things.  

One thing I cannot accept is that my OB/GYN is charging me $25 for them to fill out the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) paperwork that states I am pregnant and will need maternity leave.  I understand my HR office needs proper documentation of my "condition."  I understand that someone at my OB/GYN office had to work on filling out that form and faxing it back to my HR department.  Really, all they had to do was look up my due date, enter standard information and stamp it with the doctor's signature. I am sure filling out the form took less than 20 minutes (and that is if it took 10 minutes a page which again I am sure it didn't).  I am paying over a dollar a minute for this form so I can leave work, give birth to a baby and not get paid.  I am outraged.

For my first pregnancy, I was not covered by FMLA because I was not with the company for more than 12 months, so I am pretty shocked over this.  I don't remember anything like this.  I am not planning on taking any more time off from work with FMLA than without. I just don't get it.  I am glad FMLA exists, but why should it cost me?

Am I crazy?  Is this a standard form thing I have just forgotten about in the past 5 years?  Is this something I should just write a check for and not think about again?  I guess I will have to do that , but I am very upset over the whole deal. Thoughts?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Yarn

I am a bit behind in my crafting.  I had a three day weekend and didn't knit a stitch.  I was a bit busy with everything else going on.  That's life.

About mid-March I did finish a yarn.

I got this fiber at The Fiber Universe.  I believe it is hand dyed.  I think it is superwash merino but that sounds wrong since it is hand dyed, maybe just 100% merino.  I forgot to save the tag and it was months ago.

I started this forever ago, but with the baby bump, spinning is a bit more difficult.  I am just glad I finished it.  It is a very thick and thin yarn.  I apparently had very thin ideas when I started spinning it months ago and then when I picked it back up again, I had thicker ideas.

Still the results are pretty and I will make it into something some day....