Friday, May 25, 2007

Our New Babies

This is what we've been spending most of our time watching lately.

It's a repeat performance by this robin family, which first nested in the rafters of our back porch several years ago, then came back this summer and built a second-floor nest on top of the old one. For weeks we've been watching Mrs. Robin sit in near-frozen stillness, waiting and waiting. Then suddenly on Sunday -- just afterthe chicks hatched at Auden's preschool and the falcons hatched atop Kodak Tower -- two babies! Babies are in the air, and it's endlessly fascinating.

From the ground, we mostly see their beaks, ALWAYS open, poking out of the nest like pointy flower buds. For several days I hardly saw them at all and never saw the mother. Then just when I was sure they were all dead, they poked out again (and just when I was sure they had been abandoned and were going to die, the mother appeared too. Overdramatic, me? I believe my husband was prompted to take these beautiful pictures in part by the need to prove to me that the mother was in fact around.:)

There's another great picture on Will's website and I believe they will be in the paper tomorrow too. Our babies! *sniff*

The kids love watching them. So do I. The babies seem to spend absolutely every waking moment with their beaks wide open, hoping food will magically drop in. I watched one fall asleep today. It was waiting with its beak open, pointing straight up toward the sky, then its neck drooped, beak slowly closing, head plopping over the side of the nest.

They are scrawny and strange-looking, but already much bigger than when we first saw them. There is ruffling of wings and jostling for position, soon they will be taking their first flights and then ... gone. And we'll hope for a return visit later in the summer, and next year, if we're lucky. I can't explain how heart-warming and moving I find it to have them back – to have another mother bringing up her babies in this house. We have a new baby oak tree in the front yard too, growing roots and growing up, and it all just makes this feel like home.

The part of me that still means where-I-grew-up when I say "my house"? This is the other part.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Page Two ...

the rest of my birthday story.

This is what Will, AKA my husband, gave me for my birthday. A ballwinder and beautiful beautiful swift. The swift is made out of wood that reminds me of really nice children's toys, smooth and soft and fresh-smelling. I used it today, with the Socks that Rock that I bought with my birthday money. (And is gorgeous!!!) What a great invention! No tangles, no fuss. And best of all, the kids loved doing it, so I won't have to wind any wool anymore.

I stopped one of Rochester's many yarn stores on Friday to pick up a contrasting ball of Blue Sky Alpaca Organic cotton for the baby sweater, only to find that the store – not one I normally frequent – is going out of business. And everything was 50 percent off. I -- *sigh* -- came home with two more books (Nicky Epstein's Knitted Embellishments and No Sheep for You, which despite having a very unappealing (I think) cover, has some really nice patterns.) And a ball of Lana Grossa Mega Boots Stretch, or whatever it's called. Not too bad considering what I could have come away with. Auden was pushing the cashmere and alpaca. But yes, I have a shopping addiction. Particularly when it comes to yarn stores, and sales. A yarn store sale ... I am lost.

For some reason my preview function is not working, so I have to publish every time I want to see what this looks like. Too annoying; I'm just going to stop here. (Did I mention I love my ball winder and swift?:)

Monday, May 14, 2007

They're heeeeeeeeeeeere ...

What thoughtful parents I have. How did they know I wanted the Options needles? And a sock book too. It's like they read my mind. And they even threw in a ball of KnitPicks Shine for me to try. It's really too much! Except for the skein of Socks That Rock that might *cough* just maybe also be on its way here. Thank you thank you, parents.

In closing, a gratuitous princess shot. I wasn't the only one who enjoyed my birthday. (Or the cake.)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's My Birthday

and I'll Cry If I Want To ... my Options needles haven't arrived. Not that I was really expecting them to be here by now, but it would be fun if they were. Also, the longer I go without them of course the clearer it is that I could manage on straight needles (these are Susan Bates from my mother's long ago foray into knitting) ... but the pattern calls for circulars! I have to do what it says, right? :) It will be nice to have this shawl spread out on circulars instead of jammed together as it is now. And I'm sure I will find many more uses for my new needles.

My birthday was very low-key but pleasant. I took Eli out to buy an expensive new bike and a new mitt. Auden gave me a very sweet little pin she made at pre-school, and Will brought me flowers and chocolate cake. Yum. My lovely sisters-in-law gave me a cover-up and sandals for our beach vacation this summer we were treated to delicious gourmet leftovers for dinner by No. 1 (chronologically – I could NEVER rank my sisters-in-law!) Sister-in-Law.

And now, having done almost nothing all day, I am too tired to do anything but sit and knit. And it's my birthday, so I'm gonna.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Next Big Thing

My new project: a Cozy shawl for my Great-Aunt Fran in Cascade 220 Superwash.

Fran has always been one of the most vibrant and caring people I know. She and my Great-Uncle Matt, who died not long before Will and I married, hold a very special place in the hearts of everyone in their extended clan. Fran, who I believe is 90-something, remains lovely and engaged and has given me (and my children) many many thoughtful gifts over the almost 43 years we have been on this planet together. It's about time I returned the favor!

I probably should not have been surprised (but I was) that the Superwash gauge changed not one bit when washed*, unlike its non-Superwash sibling, the regular Cascade 220. Maybe that's why they call it Superwash. *lightbulb*

It's very soft and I think it will make a nice warm wrap. Of course, it is summer and Fran lives in California ... but air-conditioning can be chilly and wool just seemed like the way to go.

When I bought the wool Monday I was pleased that for once I did not need to purchase new needles for a project. But as soon as I started knitting last night I realized that the regular Addis were not going to work – way too dull – and that I was close to insane using them for just four rows. So I ordered not just new needles but the whole Options set from Knitpicks. (Because that will save me money in the long run, right?) It was a BIRTHDAY present. My parents sent me BIRTHDAY money, and I didn't even spend half of it, even if a sock book did sneak itself into my shopping cart. And I've been eyeing interchangeable needles for a while. Now I just want them to get here!

*Yes, I washed my gauge swatch, for the third project in a row! It's the new me.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Two Socks Make a Pair

Finished, just in time for warm weather. Apparently a spring tradition on my part. :) I still love love love them. They're beautiful and the yarn is beautiful. I made the cast-on looser this time (I think I went up TWO needle sizes, though I learned from Sally Melville that that doesn't make any difference with the long-tail cast-on; it's all about how tight you pull the yarn.) It may have helped to do the first two rows on a much larger needle, but apparently I neglected to write down exactly what I did. That was short-sighted, since I definitely would make these socks again. Oh well.

My only significant modification, other than not doing the complicated cast-on that I couldn't figure out, was not breaking the yarn when I got to the heel. I can't figure out what the difference would have been if I had done that (I'm sure there's a clever reason -- I just don't know what it is) -- they seem fine this way.

Now I am desperately in need of a new project ... or maybe I should get back to work on the Striped Sweater. *Sigh*