The Book Nook

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been inspired to cut out some of the toy clutter in our home, fine tuning some play areas for Peaceful Baby (Toddler!).  There’s the kitchen play area, a box of musical instruments, baby care, and a small table for coloring and puzzles.  The most magical transformation, however, has to be the new Book Nook.

For a while now, I’ve had a few pillows on the floor, with a basket of books nearby.  This is where I would put our weekly booty of library books in an attempt to keep them from getting mixed in with our book collection.  Several times a day PB would sit there and flip through books on her own, or pull one of us over and pat the pillows, asking for a story.

One day, as I was rearranging things aiming for a more efficient and pleasant arrangement of toys and furniture in our living room, I gave an underutilized corner some attention.  There was already a light tube and a large eye hook above, and plenty of floor space below.  Not really room for furniture, but perfect for a cozy reading and resting spot. One store-bought canopy and a junk-drawer carabiner later, we had this:

This has turned out to be a very special, almost magical corner, where once there was nothing.  PB gravitates toward it not just for reading, but for playing with her babies and other toys.  And I find myself offering to read PB even more than before, because it’s just such a peaceful, happy spot!

Someone else likes it, too.

Oh, cats…

Happy July, friends!  I hope everyone has a restful and yarn-filled weekend.  And if you’re in the US, have a safe and happy Independence Day, too!

Highlights

It’s been a great weekend around here.

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Some highlights:

Sweetie surprising me outside my Saturday  morning yoga class.  The car was packed with a picnic and beach towels and off we went to the shore.  It was lovely.

Sushi dinner with friends.

Casting on a new knitting project on Saturday night before sushi dinner because you just can’t wait until later!

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Doggie playdate for Big Martha & her friend Hugo.  She drank some funky pond water and had diarrhea all night, which was less fun.

That moment when you’re sitting in a movie theater and the lights go down and the first preview starts.  Perfect.

Sleeping in a room that is cool not from the air conditioning but from the actual air outside.

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Getting good photos of your cats enjoying a lazy weekend.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend too!

How My Garden Grows

I love playing in the dirt.  Digging holes, planting seeds, pulling weeds, it’s all fun to me.  We bought a new house last spring, and I had a great time planting things in our yard and side garden.  I learned a couple of hard lessons about the harshness of full sun exposure, but I think I’ve got the major kinks worked out now.

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That said, I was a miserable failure at planting fall bulbs.  I went out and bought them, sure.  There was even a color scheme and everything–red, yellow, and purple tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth.  I just never got around to planting them at the ideal time.  So when I was reorganizing the storage table in my garage a few weeks ago, I was saddened to find the paper bag I had brought them home in.  There they were, patiently waiting to be put to earth, sun, and water so that they could do their little bulb jobs and grow.  About 75% of the bulbs had sprouts, and since the weather seemed to be evening out a bit I took a gamble and planted them.

I know, I know.  March is not the ideal time to plant bulbs.  Heck, I already had some daffodils coming up out of the soil!  But with a little bit of hope and a gambling spirit, I planted those babies and sat back to see if anything happened.

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The hyacinths seem to be struggling to get their bearings as they bloom while still coming up out of the earth.  Other than that, everything I planted seems to be thriving!  And thanks to the April showers and a weekend of warm, sunny weather the first flowers started blooming.

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I also planted some perennial seeds in an incubator at the beginning of April.  Lavendar, echinacea, and coreopsis.  They seem to be thriving as well, and I am looking forward to transplanting them to larger containers soon.  For now they’re still babies and need to stay in the nursery!

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We also splurged this weekend and purchased a new deck lounger with a lovely pear green cushion.  I can see myself relaxing outside with my knitting and a cool drink nearby.  Of course, I might have to fight Maxwell for it; he’s barely moved since we set it up!

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Time Flies When You’re Knitting in Flight

Well, I’m happy to report that no travel plans were thwarted by bad weather or airline mishaps.  I made it safely to and from Idaho.  As usual, I was in awe of the vast openness that is the West, with seemingly endless expanses of land and sky.

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This is a view of the Snake River Canyon from Bliss, Idaho.  This is what it looks like where I grew up, and only after leaving it and living in a land of trees and tall buildings cans I truly appreciate all that open space.

Outside Mountain Home, ID

Outside Mountain Home, ID

I had a lot of quality time with my family, and in a strange turn of events, I didn’t feel like knitting all that much.  The most knitting I accomplished was on the flights back and forth across the country.  Pointy needles and an iPod do wonders for maintaining sanity and a safe distance from strangers while travelling.

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On New Year’s Day I cast on the Waving Lace Socks by Evelyn A. Clark in Favorite Socks.  I am using the absurdly cheerful Holiday Yarns in Bubble Gum that I purchased at Rhinebeck back in October.  As some of you noted in the comments on my last post, this is just the cheerful, optimistic type of yarn to get this new year started.

I knit on it a little bit last week, but again, made the most progress on my flights home.  There’s something about listening to back episodes of Cast-On while sipping a Fresca and knitting pink socks that really helps the whole experience fly by (pun intended, as they all should be).

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I have been experiencing an inconsistency with my yarn overs.  Can you spot it?  The first repeat has a yarn over right after a purl stitch, followed by knit stitches.  This creates a small, neat looking yarn over.  The second repeat of lace is a yarn over just before a purl stitch.  To do this, I bring the yarn forward, around the needle, and back to the front before purling.  This leaves more yarn for the yo stitch, and creates a bigger, less neat looking hole.  I’ve played around with different ways of doing both types of yarn over to achieve more similarity and continuity throughout the sock, to no avail.  Do you have any tips or suggestions?  I’ll probably just keep doing it the way I have been for the rest of this sock and its mate for continuity reasons, but I would love to know a different way of doing things.

And, because I’m a sucker for cats and I just met my sister’s 2 cats for the first time:

Poncho

Poncho

Chloe

Chloe

Aren’t they pretty kitties?  I knew I had a problem when I started showing Sweetie the pictures from my trip and there were more pictures of cats than anything else.  Those of you with cats know that they’re hard to photograph, right?  I had to work for these shots!

Bad Kitty

I’ve been making pretty steady progress on my 2nd Embossed Leaves sock:

I’ve been knitting on it monogamously for the past several days. It’s amazing how quickly knitting grows when you work on one project at a time! That used to be the only way I knit, then slowly I got enticed by more and more projects and pretty soon–well, you know the rest.

So I got home from my knitting group a little while ago, ready to start thinking about dinner and the other mundane at-home activities one must pay attention to when not knitting. I put down my keys, then walked into the dining/living room to put away my knitting bag. That’s when I saw it.

Looks like my cat Spike got into the potted plants again. He does this on occasion when he’s bored or frustrated.

Today he must have been really pissed.

I understand. Today was a beautiful day, he wanted outside, and no one was around to open the door for His Royal Feline-ness.

The worst part is that I watered those plants yesterday. So it’s not just some dry dirt to sweep up. It’s wet, and HRF left muddy little footprints all over the house. I keep finding paw prints in interesting places; apparently he likes to go into the bathtub, circle around in the middle of our bed, and walk across the back of the couch.

Anyway, the plants are okay, I have a freshly-swept dining room floor, and there’s plenty of daylight left for him to whoop it up outside and out of my sight!

This is a little something I made this weekend for my friend’s daughter:

You can read more about it here on my new baking blog.

The recipient was the same little one I knit the kitty hat for a couple of weeks ago.

I think she likes it!

Wrap Your Kitty in Noro

This scarf was started out of a desire to indulge my need for color, texture, and an improvisational knit. I also wanted something I could work on without employing too many brainwaves. Mission accomplished.

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  • Yarn: Noro Iro, Color 56, 264 yards
  • Needles: Size 11. I experimented with smaller needles but found the resulting fabric too stiff.
  • Pattern: Cast on 17 stitches and work in seed stitch until you run out of yarn.

This is an incredibly generous scarf in terms of its length. I can wrap it around and around my neck and still have ends left over. When I stretched it out on the floor to measure just how long it was, Spike came to investigate.

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He is just so good at the yoga standard, Downward-facing Dog. I’m a little jealous…

In retaliation, I decided to wrap him up in the scarf and see what would happen. He didn’t like it.

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I think I’ll sleep with one eye open tonight.

On the Bench

I generally have a very low tolerance for hearing people’s excuses as to why they haven’t done something they’ve been intending to do. You know the ones: “I’ve been meaning to call, but things have just been so crazy” or “I wish I had the free time to blog, I’m just too busy.” Well make time, I say! If it’s of value to you and your wellbeing, make the time.

This is what I have had to remind myself of this week. Because I have been busy and unable to get to some of the activities that bring me peace and comfort during the rigor of daily life: knitting, writing, and reading. And if you bear with me through a couple of anecdotes as to why I haven’t been writing for this blog, I promise to talk to you about knitting.

1. Last night I was trying out a new recipe that my friend Katie passed on to me in response to my pleas for new recipes. It is Chicken Vesuvio from the ever-perky Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame. It basically goes like this: brown up some chicken thighs and potatoes, add wine and broth, then bake for 20 minutes. Sounds good right?

Everything was fine until I took the whole shebang out of the oven. The recipe asks that you remove all the meat and potatoes from the pot, then add artichoke hearts and butter to make a sauce. In doing said activities, I forgot that the pot had been in the oven at 450 degrees and proceeded to grab ahold of its handle. “Ah!!! I burned my hand!” My thumb and first two fingers were brutally singed, and as I rinsed them in cold water I reflected on the recipe’s title. Isn’t Vesuvius a volcano? As in molten hot, flesh-melting lava? I couldn’t type or knit at all last night; I was benched from Team Knit! Dinner was delicious, however.

2. This morning, during my favorite hours of the day, those in which the house is quiet and my office is reasonably sunny and perfect for writing and knitting, my cat decided to bring a bird into the house. I thought it was dead at first, and I immediately went to fetch a paper towel to dispose of the body. When I came back, the bird was flopping around against the window and Spike was seriously excited. I had to quarantine him in the bathroom while I tried to convince the bird to let me lay hands on it in order to set it free. The bird was not cooperative. The next couple of minutes passed as I put on some rubber gloves and followed the frantic bird from room to room making promises. I could be heard saying things like “I won’t hurt you, little bird” and “That’s it…come here…dammit!” as Mr. Bird repeatedly fled my grasp.

The good news was, the bird could fly, and I had to take a moment to appreciate the sheer strangeness and wonder of having a wild bird flying around my living room. Finally I was able to coax it out the open front door where I got to watch it fly across the street and land in a tree. Free at last, free at last!

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Hunting is such hard work. Is he smiling with satisfaction?

Finally, to the knitting!

I just purchased Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book, Knitting Rules! for her chapter on socks. While I have knit 3.5 pairs during my short knitting career, I feel like there is a huge gap in my knowlede of sock construction. McPhee’s approach is part make-it-up-as-you-go and part explantation of how all the components come together. I feel it’ll help make me a more confident sock knitter. I had a moment of clarity when she explains that a heel flap should be made up of half the total stitches. Knowing this, I feel entirely comfortable knitting away on a pair of socks without following a pattern. And that is so liberating!

So here’s my night to come:

peacock sock

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  • Pattern: Yarn Harlot’s Generic Sock Recipe
  • Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in Peacock
  • Needles: Harmony double points, size 2.5