Thursday, October 28, 2010

On Homecomings and Monster Mitts...

Home again, home again, jiggity jog!...You didn't honestly think that I wouldn't tell you all about the Family Weekend visit with our new college girl, did you?...Well, I'm happy to say that we {the lad and I} had a completely wonderful visit.  I'm afraid that in our haste to get out the door, I managed to leave my camera at home, but this is view out of the back seat window as we crossed the mighty Mississippi...
{taken with my phone by the lad, who I must say, is the most amazing travel companion ever—an 11 hour drive with 3 stops on the way and only 2 on the way home—incredible!}, and this is the color that the sky was the entire weekend...gorgeous.  Needless to say, we had a great time.
I can't express how much joy seeing my girl in her new world gave me {it helps that she is thriving and is soooo happy where she is}.  What is it about seeing the tiniest and most mundane details of where she is that makes my heart a little calmer?  I'm resting a little easier now that I can picture the path that she walks to class and see in my mind's eye the stairs that she climbs to get to her favorite floor in the library, etc.  Sigh...It's an amazing thing we mamas get to do...watching these little souls grow and discover and then, with held breath {and not a few tears} watching them fly away.  I feel very lucky and full right now, and a little like we have joined this great club together.  That surprised me.  I remember how it felt when I became a I had just been inducted into the most amazing society ever and that nothing but the experience of it could ever prepare me for how motherhood would really feel.  Loving her and letting her stretch her wings feels a little like that in some strange we have turned a corner and we are still here, in a new place, but here all the same, that distance hasn't diminished our relationship but has maybe added a new dimension to it, and I know from my friendship with my own mother that it can be as rich and precious and fun as ever.  All this said, I still miss having her here and can't wait until I get to see her smile across the table again...and yes, I will cry big tears when she leaves, but it will be a little different the next time knowing that she loves where she is going and that she is living and thriving and becoming...makes me very happy and full indeed!

And now on a different note...  
Just in time for Halloween...the look of creativity in our house...
...pretty scary,right?!

Thankfully, there has been a little knitting here and there too...I've finished a sweater or two {more on those another day} and this morning there were these...a pair of make them in a minute Monster Mitts for the lad!...
These are really and truly a quick, quick knit.  How fast?'re done before the end of a movie, swim meet, tap class, etc.  I used a bit of old novelty yarn {left-overs from the year when my girl made furry scarves for all of her friends for the holidays}.  These mitts took less than one skein and were literally done in a twinkling.  They are so easy, I hardly even consider this a pattern, but here's the recipe just in case you want to give them a go...
Pattern Notes:  I used a bulky weight, fluffy (eyelash) novelty yarn for these mitts.  They are worked in the round in stockinette stitch and I used a needle that is substantially smaller than that recommended on the yarn ball band.  The suggested gauge for the yarn that I used is 3 stitches to the inch on a size 10.5 needle.  I used a size 6 needle to get a gauge around 4 3/4 to 5 stitches per inch.  The resulting fabric is thick, soft and doesn't curl.  The look and the fit of the Monster Mitt is created by knitting your bulky, fuzzy yarn at a gauge that is much more dense than would be used normally (ie. for a scarf or sweater)—that's what makes them so furry and keeps them from curling.
Yarn:  Any bulky weight, fuzzy yarn that you have hanging around (or you can double up a couple of finer yarns to  achieve the desired gauge)—I used 1 skein of Lana Gatto Amsterdam (71yds (65m) per 1 3/4 oz (50g) skein.  As an alternative, you could use a double strand of a couple of finer yarns to  achieve the desired gauge.
Needles: US size 6 double point needles or size needed to attain gauge
Gauge: 19 stitches equals 4" (10cm)—about 4 3/4 sts/inch—row gauge isn't important as we will be working with measurements, not row numbers
Finished Measurements:  
Length from wrist hem to finger opening: 6 1/2" (16 1/2 cm)
Width (measured flat): 3 1/4" (8 1/2 cm)
Circumference (not stretched):  6 1/2" (16 1/2 cm)
Sample Size: Child  8 and up/Small Adult.  These mitts fit both me and my almost 11 year old son. 
To make these mitts in another size: 
1)  Measure your hand circumference (over the knuckles but not including the thumb)
2)  Subtract 1/2" (1 1/2 cm)
Multiply the number you ended up with after step 2 by your gauge (in stitches per inch).  This will give you the number needed to cast on.
Cast on 30 sts (or number of stitches needed for your size and yarn) 
Place a marker and join work in the round.  Knit 4 1/2" or for desired length slipping the marker as you go.  This will be the section of the mitt from the wrist hem to thumb base (along the inside of hand by the index finger).  Measure from the inside curve of your thumb down the wrist to get your desired length.  You can make these as long or as short as you desire.
Making the thumb hole:  Once your mitt is the length desired to the thumb, you will begin the thumb hole.  Bind off the first 5 sts on the next round.  If these mitts are for a larger or smaller hand you may need to bind off more or fewer stitches—to determine the number needed multiply your gauge per inch by the width of the thumb—the result will be the number of stitches to bind off).  Knit to the end of the round.  Slip marker.  At the beginning of the next round, cast on 5 sts (or the number of stitches bound off in the previous round).  You can use your favorite cast on method—a backward loop cast on or you can turn the mitts around and use a cable cast on—either way works. 
Continue to knit in the round for 1" or until you have reached the desired length from the thumb hole to the base of the fingers, slipping the marker as you go.
Finishing:  Bind off all stitches.  Weave in all ends.  Wear and scare!
Monster Mitt Update:  The lad wore these all afternoon and loved them!...And as for me...they are a great little stash buster—they were on and off the needles so fast that I can see myself making lots of puppy paws, kitty legs, mouse mitts, and bear claws in the coming, fun, fun!

Happy, happy Halloween!!!...


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Off to Minnesota

 I'm excited to be off with the little man to see our oldest for parents' weekend in Minnesota. I'll be away for the weekend but look forward to catching up when I get back!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Now that it's October proper we are most definitely in pre-Halloween mode here—a fat pumpkin adorning our front stoop, me taking advantage of this spooky holiday to embrace the cobwebs on our porch and, of course, lots of talk of costume possibilities.  To add to the fun, I decided this was a good time to repaint our kitchen, pantry and center hallway {it all started with a couple rolls of contact paper and got totally out of hand from there}.  Actually, I'm not so much in the middle of painting, but more in the middle of emptying the contents of our pantry and cupboards and putting said stuff in our dining room...there it sits, waiting for me.  It's amazing really, how much one pantry can hold.  Needless to say,  the Halloween decorations aren't up yet, but the rolled oats, flour and miscellaneous bake ware  decorating our dining room are honestly a little scary in their own special way, and presumably they will eventually make way for the pumpkins, black cats and bats that we love so much.  I have so many decorating ideas that I want to try this year.  How is it that so many fun ideas flood the brain when you have little time to execute them?  Anyway, as I was getting into the thick of reorganizing, I discovered this little project.
I made this one up last year at about this time.  It is a quick and easy treat bag {really and truly, this one knits up in a flash...big needles + big yarn = big fun fast!}.  The pattern is a freebie on my web site.  Forgive the re-blogging of this project, but I thought some of you might find it a handy, last minute project.  I would love to use the bat motif on a sweater or maybe a pair of is Socktober after all.  I even have some black yarn that would be perfect...fingers crossed I can squeeze it in before the end of October.
Where ever you are, I hope that you are enjoying the kind of lovely Indian summer days that we have been having here these, blue skies, turning leaves, warm days and cool evenings...gorgeous!  Happy, happy fall to you and yours!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


It's that time again...Socktoberfest is here!  Time for a little pick-up-sticks, and this year I will be celebrating with the Through the Loops 2010 Mystery Knit Along
 This is my second year to participate in this KAL.  I had so much fun with this project last year that I couldn't wait to sign up again.  Here are my 2009 Mystery Socks...
I love them.  The picture isn't so great {taken with my iPhone right after I finished them at a cafe—oh the things my poor children have to put up with}.  But take my word for it, these socks are so pretty and so comfy.  Did I mention that I love them?
This project was full of firsts for first knit along, my first pair of of lacy-ish socks and my first time using Jitterbug sock yarn {I love this yarn—it has a nice firm twist which is perfect for sock knitting and the colorways are gorgeous, plus it has the best name for a sock yarn ever}.

If you haven't participated in a KAL like this, I highly recommend it.  It was so much fun.  One of my favorite things about this project is the mystery itself.  It's really fun knitting along following Kirsten's directions and not completely knowing where you are going to end up {it helps to know that all of the Through the Loops patterns are beautiful,  so you are pretty much guaranteed a lovely pair of socks}.  Anyway, it was a great exercise in letting go for this knitter and was just plain fun watching my socks reveal themselves.  Last October the start of each new week found me waiting eagerly for the next clue.  Once the clue was up, I had to download it immediately and get my needles clicking to see where Kirsten was taking us...really too much fun!
If you do decide to play along, there is a great forum for fans of Through the Loops—lots of photo sharing and Q&A—very helpful.
Here's a peek at my the cuff of my mystery socks...
Looks a bit hedgehog~ish in this picture.  I'm using Shibui Sock yarn.  I love the colorways {sadly looks kind of washed out here}.  This yarn is oh-so-soft, but so far am not loving it quite as much as the Jitterbug.  I'm not sure how hard-wearing these socks will be {I'm kind of hard on my socks}, but I'll be nice to them and we'll see.  I do love the design—subtle waves twisting about—quite fetching.  Two cuffs done already and me counting the days till the next clue...October 8th—The Leg!...Can't wait!

Wanna' play along? the first clue {The Cuff} here!

Happy Socktober!!!!


Friday, October 1, 2010


Hello, so soon?...what happened to my good friend September? Oh dear September, where did you go?'re one of my very favorite months and you up and left before I even knew you were here, leaving me bereft with a list full of good intentions.  Ah well, lucky for me that I like your neighbor October very well and our visit will last a full 31 days {30 days indeed!}.

Yes, unbelievably, October is on the doorstep {oh wait it's in the door} and instead of fretting about the spilt milk of a month that was September, I am ready to move forward with just the quickest of glances back.  It has been a busy couple of weeks here in our little corner.  September is always a month of transition, but has been even more so this year.  After depositing my girl at college—still adjusting to that one {can anyone tell me when I will stop putting a plate out for her, or telling restaurant hostesses that there are 5 in our party?  I almost bought an extra opera ticket yesterday, just because I'm in the habit of saying 2 adult and 3 student tickets—realized it just in the nick of time—phew!}. In addition to all of that we have returned to homeschooling {I homeschooled our older two when they were younger, but this is a new thing for the lad} .  Needless to say, our days have been full.
Full of long walks, scientific observation and nature journaling  outside...
 and chemistry and physics inside {aka baking}...
{We've been playing with Beth Hensperger's Bread Bible, yum~science never tasted so good!  Did you see the size of those challah loaves?...our first baking of challah~delish and fun to make!...more of that for us!}

There has been lots of this...
some of this {origami crane mobiles~fyi they make great care package fodder}...
and happily there has been lots of this for both the mama and the lad...
And now, here we are, it's official...Fall is upon us!  It's getting crisp out, leaves are turning and we are finally feeling the first nip of autumn.  We are settling in, and routines of a sort are forming.
October promises to be full of all sorts of good things and I am ready to welcome it with open arms.  It is, after all, one of my very favorite months, and to my thinking the official beginning of the knitting and baking year—not that the knitting and baking ever really stop around here, but for some reason it always feels like the beginning—the start of cozy, homey, contented times.  So bring on the sweaters, warm up the teapot and let the nesting commence!...Happy Fall!!!