Ten Years – I Promised Myself I Wouldn’t Cry

On this day, 10 years ago, I was in a hospital room sucking on ice chips as my world was about to change permanently.  10 years ago exactly, I became the mother to the most amazing human being I have ever known.


This journey has been far from easy.  In fact, it has been more difficult than any other dare devil task I have undertaken – from jumping onto moving trains, to jumping out of planes, to launching myself backwards off a trapeze.  When it comes to risking my life, it’s a shrug and a smirk on my part.  But, creating life, nurturing life – that causes so much more anxiety.

Before she entered this world, I was angry, depressed, and lonely.  I was eager to run away from the world.  At 15, my only goal was to finish high school so I could spend a year backpacking in Australia, with the determination that I wouldn’t stop traveling after that.  At 16, I found out I was pregnant.

It took two years and a few thousand miles of separation before I was able to be a mother.  I was trudging through the routine, going to college and working, and still trying to remember to feed her, get enough sleep, and still be attentive.  When an opportunity to study in Ireland presented itself, my parents urged me to take it.  They insisted they could handle things, and that I needed to be do it.  So, I submitted my application and found myself living in Derry for 6 months, and doing archaeology on Achill Island for 2.  In the middle, Ellette had her 2nd birthday and I realized that I really wanted to be a mother to her.


Ellette is my counterweight – she pushes when I am still and digs her feet in when I move to fast.  She has always shown compassion for everyone, and constantly reminds me to see the good in people.  She helps me remember to be silly – from walking like cats down the bustling streets of Chicago, to singing about pink pajamas at the top of our lungs as we walk home from school, to building snow day forts and making silly faces.  She is my light.


My adventure never stopped.  I have criss-crossed the country with her at my side.  We have had spontaneous road trips and meticulously planned trips, and she has been eager for every one.


She has never asked “Are we there yet?”  She is the queen of 15 hours in a car – packing books and sketchpads and music and games to entertain herself.  She tells me to cool it when I feel road rage and is entirely game for detours to junk yards with rusty planes and vintage bikes and museums for obscure artifacts.  She can run across the fields with me and sit in the shade eating ice cream cones.


So, 10 years have gone by so quickly.  And we have managed to pack a hundred adventures into them.  Let’s take the next 10 by storm.  Happy birthday, munchkin!

playa 13

The Circus, Buttons, and Monday

Yesterday, we celebrated Ellette’s 8th birthday.  It was fantastic.


One of the things we love about where we live is that there is a local circus school – the Actor’s Gymnasium.  Ellette and I both take classes there, and love to watch people we know put on amazing shows.


Their winter show this year is called “Skooled: A Study in Circus.”  It was the perfect performance for a group of 12 girls for a party.  They were all well behaved and thoroughly enjoyed the show.  They were excited to share this experience together, and thrilled that it was not a conventional birthday party.


Especially because a lot of the pre-show audience warm up happened at the edge of our row.  Some of our party members were doused with water and coved in silly string.  It was hilarious.  One of the performers joined us in a different room after the show where we ate cake and opened presents.  The girls got to ask her all sorts of questions about the show and the training involved in it.


No school today left Ellette at the office with me, where we brought one of her birthday presents – a button making kit.  She spent the morning cutting out fabric circles and pressing them into buttons, which she then gave away.


I asked why she wasn’t making any for herself.  Her response was that she liked giving things away; she liked making people happy.  I gave her a giant hug and told her she is the nicest person I have ever met, because giving – especially something from a special birthday present – is not an easy task for many people, and she doesn’t give it a second thought.  I have the best kid ever.


In the meantime, I have been working intermittently at my Bosc scarf for the knit-along over at For The Knit of It.  My poor chess board has hit the back-burner, so I am trying to instigate a rule of knitting a chess piece or two squares of the board before I can work on this each day.  We’ll see how long that lasts.

Hey Knitters! HELP!

Yesterday, I cast off the neck edge for Ellette’s vest, held it up, and groaned.  The neck is not drapey – not at all.  It rolls and looks heavy and old-lady-ish.  Not at all what I had in mind for the birthday vest.  I want something flowy and fun and summery.


I stretcehd the neck as much as possible, pulled it in toward the center, stared at it, asked the others in the house what they thought, wondered if I should wait until I see it on Ellette before I make any decision but decided that would sort of ruin the birthday surprise.


The back, at least, turned out exactly the way I wanted it.  The diamond lace pattern is gorgeous.


But the front?  No way! So, all of you knitters and crafters out there – what are your thoughts?  What would you do?  Should I steam block and hope the fibers relax?  Should I rip it out entirely and do a different stitch pattern?  Should I rip back only a few inches and add increases in key areas?

I have 3 days left!  HELP!

Swatch You Looking At?

Ellette’s birthday is quickly approaching, and I have been occupied by other things.  With money being as tight as it is around here, I thought long and hard about what to do.  The big expense was for her party – we are seeing the Actor’s Gymnasium’s production of Skooled with about 12 other kids and renting a room in the facility for cake and presents afterwards.  That left little budget to work with in regards to a present.


Luckily, I have more yarn than I need at the moment, and Ellette is the kind of kid who loves the fact that I knit, and lo, I knit for her!  She wants to show off everything I make and tries to take care of it.  I know that every moment I spend making her things is cherished.  So, I did a stash dive and came up with several balls of Cotton Painte in this beautiful blue.  Ellette is really into layering her clothes, and I want something she can wear into the hot summer months, so I decided a flowy vest would be perfect.  I swatched the above lace patterns before realizing how similar they are.  Trust me, they are different!  Still, I had a good laugh at myself once I set the swatch to block and measured my gauge.


A bit of math and a couple false starts later, and the vest is flying by.  I started the second ball and measure 6 inches.  The only shaping involved is going to be for the arm holes, and then I will add a drape-neck collar with whatever yarn I have leftover.

And, before you ask, I am taking meticulous notes because I do want to make one for myself.  Thankfully, Ellette is at an age still where matching her mother is kind of cool and not embarrassing.


Odin and I took the day off to celebrate his birthday.  Last night we drove to Milwaukee and went dancing with our old crew.  We played bar dice and stayed out really late and woke up this morning with a full amount of sleep and found this amazing diner for breakfast.  I had an amazing vegetarian eggs benedict that had curried tofu, fried bananas, and came on naan instead of an English muffin.  We are staying at the house we used to live in with the coolest roommate we have ever had, chatting in the backyard and drinking La Fin du Monde.  The sun is shining and there is a refreshing breeze coming off the lake.  We are talking about polarized lenses and knitting and we’re celebrating this guy:


Happy birthday, darling.

As for knitting, I am still cranking away at the pawns.  I have this many:

The one that is on the needles has since been finished.

12 pieces completed.

20 pieces to go.

38% complete.

Day 8 of the Olympics and Ravellenic games.

9 days to go.

Average production rate of  1.5 pieces per day.  Need to complete 2.5 pieces per day to realize my goal.

Diminishing probability of having enough yarn and enough time to complete the board.  Next week I am hoping to make a big push, since our social calendar will not be as full.  Wish me luck.




This weekend the temperatures soared above 90* and it was humid.  My plans changed rapidly day by day and I spent every minute engrossed in something.

But Ellette was with her grandparents, Odin was in West Virginia, and the Roommate was working all weekend, which left me with a big empty house and a cat.  I was kind of bored, for the first time in a long time.

I don’t like being bored; it’s a waste of time.  I have so much that I need to and want to do.  Last week was so crazy, however, that this weekend I couldn’t imagine working on anything.  I finished the knitting portion of the afghan and I just need to weave in ends.  I started piecing together the chemise, realized the straps are too long, ripped it out, pulled back the straps, sewed it together again, realized the straps were still to long, decided to start sewing on buttons, sewed the buttons to the wrong side, but I have to pull the straps off anyway and there really isn’t a right or wrong side, so I put it down until my mind was better suited for it.

I have an order for rose headbands that I started working on, until I got bored of doing the same thing over and over and over again.

I tried sewing wings, but got angry when my bobbin kept tangling on me.

There are only two truly productive things I did this weekend.  Sunday, I had a pirate fairy facepainting gig:

(He’s a panther)

I don’t really have a picture of my full pirate fairy get up, but it was a nice change of pace from the vibrant green and floral I usually do.  Here I had layers of tattered skirts in black, red, and white, with red and black leather boots and black wings.  I had several gold and silver necklaces with coins on to accent.  It was fun.

This is the birthday girl, and the only good picture I have of the custom wings I made for her birthday.  She wanted rainbow wings, and that’s what she got.  The purple on the edge is full of glitter that shines in the sunlight – because pirates like sparkly things about as much as they like money.

When I got home on Sunday, and into Monday, I did buckle down and get some of my own work done – cleaning, knitting, wings, and tutus.  As it turns out, the spot underneath tutus is really cool on hot days.  Our cat spent several hours each day curled up there.

The next week is going to be crazy, and I apologize in advance for the repetitive posts (or lack of) involving layers of tulle, wings, and yarn.  (I mean really, this is a crafting blog – that stuff doesn’t belong here in large quantities).

Birthdays and Blankets

I finally feel well enough to do things after the phenomenal birthday party.  It was terribly exhausting for us, and may have gone on past our threshold – but we hung in there.

The pizza was a huge success.  We didn’t know what extra toppings to get with the cutie pie kits from Homemade Pizza Co., so we went with pepperoni, pineapple, and tomato.  The pepperoni was used.  And then the girls got creative with the pineapple.  Some of them were adventurous and put it on their pizza.  Mostly, they liked to make pictures with the pieces and gobble them up.  Odin and I got ourselves a pizza as well, which was good because I had no thought to my own welfare during all of this.

I’m amazed at how excited the girls were for Ellette to open presents.  They all knew she would love their gifts and couldn’t wait to see her excitement.  They chose presents before cupcakes.  I had labored tirelessly over the cupcakes, by the way.  I convinced Ellette not to go with the marshmallow popcorn idea she had (don’t ask) and instead I made “sleepover” cupcakes:

Somehow, I suffered camnesia through most of the evening.  I didn’t even think to get photos of the cupcake creations until the kids had started eating.  I shrieked a “wait!” and then ran around the table trying to take pictures quickly.  They all looked at me like I had lost my marbles – which I suppose by that point I had.

They settled down for a movie and I wandered back and forth, making sure they were comfy, unafraid, watered, bathroomed, and given ample girl sleepover privacy.

I was totally relieved when 3 of the guests departed for the night.  The other 2 were spending the whole night with us, so as soon as I could I had them make their beds and brush their teeth.  I saw them to bed, turned out the light, and retreated to my own room where, through the open door, I could still hear their giggles and whispers for some time.

Sunday was spent recouping.  Ellette lazed around for the morning and then started playing with the trillion balloons that once held helium and had sadly sunk to the floor overnight.  I watched episode after episode of Once Upon a Time and worked on an afghan while Odin created a hanging garden on our back porch and planted Nasturtiums.

The afghan, by the way, is the Tech Square Afghan that I had started in January of 2011, with the intention of finishing it in the space of a year.  Last week, just before heading to knit night, I sat in my studio wondering what in the world I was going to take with me, picked up and put down several balls of yarn and WIPs before remembering this afghan.  I loaded the bag and took it with me.  Sunday saw the completion of another square, which needs to be blocked.  But I finished this one on Thursday:

Now I only have two squares to go – the intarsia and the fair isle.  I have been putting them off as the most fiddly and I didn’t like the geometric pattern in the intarsia one.  I tried to map my own and ripped it out twice before tossing the yarn aside today in a tangle of bobbins and circulars.

It feels good to be working on old projects.  I am looking forward to getting this one done and out of the way.

Green Eggs and Ham

In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and as a suitable dinner for Ellette, we made a most delicious meal of Green Eggs and Ham.

It was a rather fun process.  I couldn’t decide how “green” to make them – I think the food coloring may unsettle our stomachs at some point.

We completed the green omelet with green (vegetarian) bacon – loving called Fakin’ by the family.

And then we sat down to the strangest meal I’ve ever had.


I must say – I quite like Green Eggs and Ham.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

In the Meantime

I made a gallant effort at writing the Tetris aghan pattern yesterday.  Really gallant.  Truly noble.

It left me cursing harshly at the computer and groaning at every turn as I tried to turn a table into a chart into a JPEG.  Open office, while doing most of what Word does, has failed me miserably, and I do think the time has come for me to break down and download Knit Visualizer – especially as my patterns become more complex and colorful.

This meant that I had nothing to show you yesterday, like I had hoped.  I wanted to get the pattern done, upload it, and offer it to you, and hadn’t prepared anything as Plan B.

I am feeling rather frazzled, preceding the Tetris fiasco.  My darling Ellette’s birthday is fast approaching, and on Saturday we will have a house full of little girls for a Sleep Under.

Sleep under? you ask.  It appears to be an exclusive Evanstonian housewife concept, but I like it.

You know what a sleep over is.  A bunch of kids come over, with sleeping bags, you watch movies, eat junk food, stay up all night.

Well a sleep under is just that, except the kids don’t stay over.  They go home at some point – just before everyone falls asleep involuntarily.

So, Saturday, 5 girls will be invading our house.  We will be making personal pizzas, decorating headbands, making popcorn and enjoying cupcakes, and then settling into our sleeping bags to watch a movie.  I tried so hard to get Ellette to chose Cinderella – that 90s version with Brandy and Whitney Houston.  I love that one.  She is adament on Arthur and the Invisibles (also an adorable movie!)

This week I have been desperately cleaning the house and gathering party supplies, trying to convince Ellette that cupcakes and marshmallows to look like popcorn – while a cute idea – might be too much sugar.  She’s not budging.  And, it is her party after all.

Odin bought a helium tank to fill balloons – I can’t wait to have fun with that Saturday morning.

More news to come as the party approaches and the last shreds of sanity depart.


(PS: I don’t know what the F happened, but if you received/saw a million posts with various portions of this one, please forgive.  I think the app I used for wordpress has some bugs to work out, and at various intervals of my post-writing, it decided to publish the text thus far.  I think I’ve got it fixed – and thank you for your patience.)

Roses for Rose

I finished the mittens in the knick of time.  No, really.  I borrowed someone’s pocket knife at the bar while the birthday girl was in the bathroom.

Rose loved them.

If I had to do it again, I would change some things.  I would probably add more rows at the top, and a couple of stitches to the sides, to make it larger.  It was a little snug for even my small hands.  I would also redo the thumb – making an increase and separate thumb shaping.  I would also use different yarn.  Knit Picks Pallette is underplied for my preferences and the burgundy color bled a little during the steam blocking.

Phedre, by SpillyJane, using Knit Picks Pallette in Currant and Cream.

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