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Life is Messy

April 9, 2014
by Erin B

In the next couple of weeks I need to work on:

Organizing Electrolysis tank Mark II

- Giving T time to build it

- Digging out those garage sale cast iron pans from last year to run through it

- Deciding which pans to cut from my collection.

Knitting more socks

Finishing knitting the grey sweater without end

Visiting my Mom

Building the Ana White Laundry bin three wide, not six

Organizing for Easter

Having Easter

Crocheting a blanket (or two)

Building Garden Beds


Parenting Goals

April 1, 2014
by Erin B

I have some weird parenting goals.  Or at least they aren’t the kind of goals that I hear other moms talking about.  I want all of my girls be grow up to be the kind of person who:

-  has empathy

- has a sense of honour and a strong, personal moral code.

- have a sense of humour

- can take responsibility and admit they are wrong.  I struggle with this, everyone struggles with this, but it is an important skill.

- can cook a meal or seven

- can clean up after they cook a meal.  Actually, properly clean up.  My mom went away for a month when my sister and I were grow up and self sufficient and the day before she came home, I spent three hours washing every dish, every pot every cup that my dad had used that month then left growing mould in the sink.  And the other sink and on every flat surface in the kitchen.  I work in health care, I deal with bodily fluids on a regular basis, I have run the 72 hour fecal fat test where you test everything EVERYTHING a person has pooped out in three days.

Washing those dishes is still number one on my list of most disgusting things I have ever done.

I love you, mom.

- will put the dishes into the dishwasher, not just near the dishwasher and will unload the dishwasher when it is clean

- will clean up their spills

- will walk, bike or take the bus when it is the most reasonable option

- can do their own laundry

- can find something productive to do instead of just expecting the world to entertain them.  Don’t turn on the TV, play with or clean up your toys, ride your bike, go for a walk, knit, sew, bake cookies, fold your laundry, unload the dishwasher, wash the floor, anything!  There is always something that needs to be done.  ”I’m bored” is an invitation for me to pick a job for you instead of you figuring it out on your own.

- I want my kids to grow up self supporting but to also understand that there is always more to  buy then you have money to spend.  No matter how much income you have, you can always spend more than you make.  With care, you can live quite comfortably with not as much as you would think.

I have worked a lot of jobs I wasn’t happy in or that weren’t ideal.  I have been a night phelbotomist, a bar waitress in a very short skirt, a sushi production like worker, I have worked multiple jobs with long drives and short time between them, I have gone more than 200 days without a day off while working three jobs that translated to be more hours than two full time positions to pay off my student and car loans. I want my girls to know that if they need to, really need to, it’s ok to take what job you can get to pay the bills.

I want them to be able to support themselves, but also know that it is ok to occasionally be underemployed to balance money and time and family.  I could take one of those 10 days on, 4 days off jobs or go back to nights.  Either would pay a lot better than my current one, but I would be out sourcing the raising of Little Girl at that point.  Money is tight, but there is always home made dinner on the table and someone to help with homework.

We don’t have much money and we don’t try to hide that from the kids.  Right there, that seems to have prevented a sense of entitlement.  Family budget night is open to anyone who is interested in attending around here.

Yes, we have a budget. I want them to learn how.  We live close enough to the line that we need one.  A major car repair could have serious implications around here.  We would deal, but if we didn’t watch our money, we wouldn’t be able to handle something unexpected like that.  I want my girls to understand credit cards and how banking works and why credit is like mining the future.

- I want them to be respectful to people who are doing necessary but unpleasant jobs.  Calling me a phlebotomist, well, that’s my job, or part of it.  Calling me a vampire is completely unoriginal and not funny and now I still have to not hurt you as I poke you with a 2  inch needle that I could very easily hit bone with, but I didn’t, so don’t complain about that either.  You have the right to refuse.  Either refuse or let me do my job.  I am good at it, I care about not missing.

- I would like my girls, if they are medically able, to be blood donors.  Only 3.5 percent of the eligible population give blood and there are so, so many people who aren’t even eligible.  If you have a chromic disease that requires regular medication, you likely aren’t eligible.  Men who have sex with men are still not eligible to donate in Canada, even though they are 10% of the population and that the HIV risk in their population has pretty much evened out with the risk to anyone who is sexually active.  To have a comfortable supply of blood products we would need to increase that to at least 6% of eligible donors.  As it is, sometimes we have to triage who gets blood when two or more major events come in at the same time.  I am very happy to have a job where I no longer have to watch that decision being made.  I can’t image what it is like to have to make it.

For a long time now, our family has been just trying to get past the next hurdle on the horizon.  The current one is getting V through the last couple of months of high school with out her breaking under the stress.  When I look at the long term list above, so far, we are doing pretty well.

In the long run, being able to budget and cook for herself will be more valuable than getting an extra 3%  in high school physics.

You are going to be OK, V.  This is just one hurdle in the long track of life.

New Book By The Yarn Harlot

March 31, 2014
by Erin B

I’m sure I have mentioned Stephanie Pearl-McPhee on the blog before.  I quite like her writing.  That may be a bit reserved, but she already has one internet stalker.  In terms of My Favourite Authors the list currently goes:

1. Terry Pratchett – I will buy everything that man publishes, but I have to admit, I have started rationing his last couple of books.  He has Alzheimer’s and is advocating for the right to die with dignity.  If you are interested in starting to read PTerry, don’t begin at the beginning, I feel Colour Of Magic is the weakest book in the series.  Start with Wyrd Sisters or Guards! Guards! or Moving Pictures if you like golden age of Hollywood.

2. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Until now The Yarn Harlot has always written about knitting.  Knitting humour, but still knitting.  I read her blog (all ten years of back posts) in January when the month of weather that was so bad school children were not allowed out side.*

Her latest book is not about knitting.  She mentions knitting, but it isn’t the primary focus.  A non-knitter could read this book and not feel left out of the club.

Written as a series of short essays about her life, this book has a lot I can relate to.  There are stories about parenting that I manage to relate to both as a parent AND as someone who remembers being a teenager and attending gym class.  There are stories about biking as a middle aged woman, about being afraid of the dentist, about writing and attending a writers’ support group.  Actually, I wish that one was required reading for every high school student I know.

The one that is most resonating with me at this exact moment is called “Low Self Esteem and Other Symptoms of the Chicken Pox.”  No one here has the chicken pox but after a whole week of Little Girl being… not quite her self, she crossed some line into actually being sick yesterday.  I somehow turned up crabby for the world yesterday morning and still feel grumpy and irrational this morning.

But I digress.  If you have kids, have been a kid, have ever felt awkward or battled with mess, this book will have to snickering along.   One of my non-knitter friends, L, also bought a copy and powered through.

This may very well be the book that everyone gets for Christmas this year.  I read the whole thing all in one go.   I adore this book, but then I have enjoyed all of her books.

Or, for those of you who also read The Yarn Harlot blog, I enjoy her bookbookbooks.


* I don’t know how the kindergarten teacher survived a whole month of indoor recess.

Knitting Goals

March 27, 2014
by Erin B

1.  I want to get my current socks off the needles by the end of the month (sorry for the crappy picture.  It’s OnLine SuperSock 100 Jupiter).


2. I want to finish the palindrome scarf and the Adam’s Rib sweater before Good Friday.


3. I want to crochet this blanket over Easter break, using the yarn I just bought.


4. If I can actually get through that, I would love to knit a pair of April Socks, but….  I want the other projects off the needles first.  That said, if the sweater starts to go bad again, the socks are coming back out.

5. Stop obsessing over the Manos of Uruguay Alegria sock yarn.  I have already more than spent this month’s yarn budget.  But it’s kind of dreamy:


Sock Jag? Or just comfort knitting?

March 26, 2014
by Erin B

I remember reading something by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee about being on a knitting jag and having it end as soon as you go out to buy extra yarn for whatever it is you are working on.  I bought a couple of extra balls of that sock yarn I am so enthralled by and, sure enough, things have happened and the sock knitting has become less single minded.

Remember this sweater?  It’s back.  I only have a little left.  Two sleeves from the elbow to the wrist to be exact.  I had the first one complete, but didn’t like how the decreases had worked out, so I ripped it back and am knitting both sleeves at once the way I would two at a time socks.   Two at a time is something I hadn’t ever done before the sock jag took over my life in February.

I honestly don’t know what to say about that sweater.  The designer is clearly brilliant.  Carol Sunday.  Check her out.  The design is amazing.  But I am knitting above my weight class here.  I have three years of knitting but there are people my age who have 30+ years of knitting under their belts and…

I have never successfully completed a sweater for myself before.*

The Effortless Cardigan – failed the sleeves.  Twice. Frogged the project

Sweat Shirt Sweater – Had significant gauge problems, it fit my husband who is built like a drill sergeant.  He would have kept it too, if it hadn’t been such a lovely lilac colour. Frogged it, it is being reborn as a hat, scarf and some arm warmers.

Simple Summer Tweed – Ah, yes.  My first ever knitting project.  I knit it, all the way to finished.  It fit.  But I chose the wrong yarn and the drape was terrible and I hadn’t quite figured out the “combination” part of combination knitting so half my stitches were twisted and looked funny.  Frogged.

I am worried.  I am worried about that extra ball of yarn I needed to buy.  I am worried it is going to hit the water and grow like the sweatshirt sweater did.  I am worried I am going to completely cack up the sleeves.

Socks are easy.  They are my comfort zone for knitting.

But spring is coming and I want to wear a sweater, damn it!



* OK, so the sweat shirt sweater was successfully completed and did fit someone in my family (even if it wasn’t ever going to be worn) and Little Girls zippered sweater jacket worked out OK, but I have nothing I can wear and say, “Oh this?  Yeah.  I made it myself”  and people just look at you funny when you start whipping off you shoes to show off your socks.

Winter is back

March 21, 2014
by Erin B

Last week was lovely and warm.  Sort of.  Well, it was above freezing.  It was above freezing during part of the day.

Look, it’s Canada, I’ll take what I can get, OK?

The Big Bike made it’s first trip out.  I picked Little Girl up from school and we biked to the good grocery store to buy milk and what not.

The Before Christmas Sweater was dug out and I frogged back one of the sleeves, again.  I picked up the stitched and am knitting the sleeves two at a time style to make sure they match.

The Jupiter Socks came off the needles on Wednesday.  I wore them yesterday and they are going into the wash.  They are a little itchy around the ankles.  It reminded me why I like my favourite sock yarn (Cascade Heritage Paints) so much.  They are just softer.  I wish Cascade sock yarn came in as many  colour choices as ONLine.  Or that ONLine had the texture of the Cascade.  But it doesn’t.

Today is -19C (Feels like -30C) or -2F (Feels like -22F).

I kind of just want to hide in bed today.  Working the late shift instead.  Not looking forward to coming home in the cold and dark.  Still, a girls gotta eat.

Speaking of which, have you tried adding a little celery seed to your ranch dressing?   I buy Johnny’s X-treme Dill Ranch (not an endorsement, it just happens to be the one I like) and a little sprinkle of celery seed on top of my salad really sells it.

It’s Official! I’m on a sock jag.

March 14, 2014
by Erin B

Despite having frogged and reknit the pink socks twice, to the point where I don’t even want to wear them any more, there is no sign of the current sock jag ending.



It’s ON Line Supersocke 100 in their new Jupiter – Color pattern.  It’s so new, I can’t find it on Ravelry.   I love it so much I bought four balls.  One in each of my four favourite colours.  I spent a little time on Sunday updating my stash of Ravelry, so check it out.

Sweet Tomato Heel is a favourite.

23 gram problems

March 6, 2014
by Erin B

I finished those pink socks using a Sweet tomato heel that worked really well.  I made sure to add extra rows to make up for there not being a gusset.   The heel might be my new favourite heel.  I tried them on and…

They are too short!  Like an inch of foot length!   Crud!

Frog, frog, start over.

That may be the end of the sock jag.

I have discovered The Bee Keeper’s Quilt.

23 Gram Socks – The On Going Saga

March 1, 2014
by Erin B


Besides stash busting, there are some really nice things about those 23g socks.  They are so fast as to pretty much be instant gratification…at least  by my knitting standards.

The first pair, I completely followed the Chocolate Vanilla Sock Pattern.  That was the pair in the Regia, Kaffe Fasset yarn.  The second (the first official 23 gram pair) I added ribbing after the gusset reduction on the Chocolate Vanilla pattern and reduced the foot length since the first pair were too long.   The third pair, I completely changed the after heel deduction to what I posted last time.

Now I’m on pair number four and I am changing to the Cat Borhi Sweet Tomato Heel.

So, let’s pause for a moment.  Crazy work all month long.  Only one hour of knitting group all month.  One knitting  circle where mostly I knit mom’s scarf in between helping others with their projects.  One major chest infection.  Very minor knitting time….

Three and a half pairs on socks in less than four weeks.

My word!  I do not knit that fast!  It takes me more than a month to knit a pair of socks….  Doesn’t it?

Well…. no…. I usually pick complicated socks with lots of lace and maybe some cables.

The best part of 23 gram socks is that I get to try out all kinds of new things.  This is great.

23 Gram Socks

February 25, 2014
by Erin B

I am knitting a lovely lace scarf for my mom.  No, really!  I am!

But it is lace and 300+ stitches in a row and requires a lot of concentration.  This month I am working almost every single day except for the week the kids have off from school and Little Girl has two swimming lessons a day, every day.  Oh, and the three days I took off due to that chest infection.

Not a great set up for knitting lace.

So I have been knitting these:

I’m calling them 23 gram socks, because …  well… I feel a teeny bit cheated.  By the time I take the label off the skien of CoBaSi (I bought six skeins because… well, just because) it is pretty consistently 45-46 grams not the 50 it claims on the band.   This is fine for me, but really an extra four grams would make these socks a little more accessible.

None the less if your feet are a women’s 7 narrow….

The the skein into a ball and place on your Lee Valley Precision Scale.  Frown that you, once again, only have 46 gram of yarn.  Take the outside end and wind it onto your ball winder until the scale only reads 23 grams or half of whatever you started with.

Cast on 24 stitches using Judy’s Magic Cast On and the Magic Loop to do two, toe up socks.  My needle is a 100com, 2.25mm circular.

I cheat and tie a single knot using the tail and the working yarn on the inside, then knit the first round using both the tail and working yarn held together.  This slightly re-inforces the first row and works in my end at the same time.

On the second row, KFB, knit to second stitch before end, KFB, knit. Repeat on second sock, repeat on second side of sock.

*Knit one round. Repeat increase round.

Repeat from * until each sock has 30 stitches per side (60 stitches per sock).

Knit 55 rounds (or until sock is 3″ less than your foot length.  You will likely need more yarn that I use.)

Decide which is the top and which is the bottom of you socks.

On the bottom, KFB, knit to two from the end, KFB, knit.  Knit the top.  Knit next row. Repeat until bottom has 74 stitches.

Use the short row wrap and turn method to turn the heel.

Part 2

At the end, you still have too many stitches (74) on the heel needle, so:

Knit 26, k2tog, knit 20, ssk, knit 26, knit 30 on the top on the sock.

Next row knit.

Knit 25, k2tog, knit 20, ssk, knit 25, knit 30 on the top on the sock.

Next row knit.

Knit 24, k2tog, knit 20, ssk, knit 24, knit 30 on the top on the sock.

Next row knit.

Work as established until both needles only have 30 stitches.

*Knit 2, purl 1* repeat until almost out of yarn.  Cast off using the Jeny’s Surprising Stretchy Bind off.

Ta! Da!

I can knit these socks a couple of stitches at a time without looking and finish a pair in less than a week of hardly knitting at all.  I would suspect they are a Saturday afternoon pair of socks.  Less than 6 hours for sure.

I have knit a pair a week for the last two weeks.  The last pair were knit in 30 minute bits as Little Girl swam.  30 minutes per lesson, 2 lessons per  day, 4 days + a few minutes here or there while she was in the shower = a pair of summer weight ankle socks.

I have another pair just started today.  I am kind of hoping to use up all six skeins and clear out my stash or CoBaSi.  The thing is…. six skeins…. no colour repeats, so summer length socks only.

Plus I was curious, because I usually knit socks to fit and they are 30-ish gram socks.  Which means I get three socks out of a 100 gram skien.  I wondered if a 25 gram sock would be a reasonable length.  I think I will stick with my 30 gram winter wool socks and save the extra to make a sock yarn blanket or something.  23 grams are too short for most of the year around here.