Thursday, March 27, 2008

It's Spring!

It's spring break time in Florida. The streets are full of sunburned tourists, the grocer’s freezer section has been stripped of all microwavable convenience foods, and we're running low on booze...

Our economy is dependent on two things here: tourists and NASA. I love both, but it is disconcerting to run to the grocery store and find it wall-to-wall college students with carts packed with ramen noodles, microwave pizzas, and cases of beer. I just want to buy milk and eggs, people! Come on!

I’m afraid I get especially impatient when I’m on the highway, stuck behind a car with Ontario plates (or Wisconsin, or New York…) driving 10 miles below the speed limit. For goodness sake! The speed limit is 55, buddy! If we were on the beach road or driving through the wildlife refuge, I’d understand, but there are only dingy strip malls on this particular stretch of road.

On the other hand, there is nothing quite like watching people’s reactions the first time they see the ocean. They trudge from their cars, dragging their coolers and umbrella stands across the boardwalks protecting the dunes, and suddenly they stop in amazement. The ocean goes on forever, blending into the sky at the horizon. It takes my breath away too.

On the home front, T-ball has taken a turn for the crazy. I have always maintained that children’s sports are taken too seriously and haven’t wanted to expose the monsters to that. I deluded myself when it came to T-ball. I thought that a game that has no score, no strikes, and no outs couldn’t possibly become super competitive. Yeah, I was wrong.

Suddenly all the T-ball teams have to practice coach pitch, and during the games each batter gets five coach pitches before they drag out the T. Keep in mind that these teams are four to six year olds, and we still have to remind the kids to run to first base…

My boys are still having fun, and we’ll stay until that’s no longer true. Bubba was extremely proud at the last game to have caught a fly ball from first base. I didn't have the heart to remind him that it was his team’s ball and he was supposed to run to second.

I’ve made the Hairy One promise that we would switch to karate after baseball season and never look back.

So enough of my mad blatherings! I know you’re really here to see baby bunnies. These pictures were taken last Sunday when they were two weeks old. You can almost watch them grow.

A big pile of Awww

Look, Ma, I'm all grow'd up!

They’ve begun chasing Mama around, hoping for a meal. She has a baby-free shelf in her cage where she spends most of her time now. We have rabbit pellets mixed with oats (good for baby tummies) and crocks of water where the babies can reach them. They aren't very interested yet, but it won't be long!

Bunny Trance!

The bunny trance is one of the neatest things about rabbits. Under certain conditions, when a rabbit is placed on his back, he goes into a trance-like state, totally zoned out. It is utter bliss to have a bunny trance out on your lap!

More baby pictures can be found here.

One last thing: I promised Miss Fish that I would try chronicle all the funny things the monsters say. With the baby bunnies, I have had to tread a fine line between honestly answering the boys’ questions about the facts of life and having the sex talk with them.

Bubba had been pondering this mystery of life and asked, “Mom, where do baby bunnies come from?”

Me: “Um, what do you mean?” hoping to avoid the “when a mommy bunny and a daddy bunny love each other very much” speech.

“Where do baby bunnies come from?”

“Well, the mommy bunny and the daddy bunny…”

“No, Mom,” eye roll, “where do they come from?”

“Can you ask me the question with different words? I don’t understand what you mean.”

Bubba is quiet for a minute, deep in thought. “Oh, I know. The mommy bunny just poops the babies out of her penis.”

“What?!?!” holding back shrieks of laughter. “No, honey, mommies don’t have penises. Only boys and men have penises…”

“Oh, you mean your penis falls off when you have a baby?”

I had tears from suppressing my giggles. I did explain the differences between men and women (again) with a brief discussion about the womb and the birth canal. I tried to be somewhat vague without being confusing. I absolutely do not want another frantic teacher call followed by the “penis is not a bad word, but it is private” conversation again.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fuzzy Wuzzy Cuddles

We've succumbed to baby love at the House at Two Palms.

The baby rabbits are one week old and starting to show their colors.

My favorites are this red (fawn).

And this black. All of the babies can be seen here. Awwwww!

I have been scolded for not making it clear that these were baby bunnies.... They did look like little rats at birth :^) Mom and Dad are Satin Angoras registered with the ARBA and the NARBC; both are fantastic examples of the breed. We plan on keeping the best of the litter and selling the others. I hope the little black or the red have fabulous wool, because they really are my favorites.

In non-baby news, I have added two new soaps to the etsy shop - Triple Chocolate and a new salt scrub. I've sold out of the kitchen soap, but more is curing in the soap lab! It will be added to the shop shortly.

I've been knitting - I promise. I seem to be stuck in a teal phase. On the needles right now, I have Eiffel in teal Classic Silk, Wicked in teal Inca Alpaca, and a doll's sweater (my own pattern) in teal Lush. Looking at the list, it's obvious that I'm in a Classic Elite phase too! The only problem with this teal phase is I cannot get nice photos of any of these...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Where did the time go?

Whew - it was a whirlwind weekend here at the House at Two Palms. Even if you don't read everything, stick with me 'til the end. It's worth it.

The monsters had their first T-ball game this weekend. There's nothing like getting up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to hustle two boys into uniforms, find gloves and hats, fill water bottles, forget water bottles, forget gloves, forget which field they're playing on, go back for gloves, still forget water bottles, chase down wind-blown hats, and finally find the right field, only to discover that being on-time is apparently considered being early...

It really was fun watching the kids at their first game. None of the kids remembered what to do after hitting the ball, so there were the classic moments of delayed reactions, running with the bat, running the wrong way, and even running to first, then turning around to run back.

In T-Ball, there are no winners or losers: everyone bats and everyone gets to run the bases. I was expecting uber-competitive Bubba to ask who won, but it never came up! Hooray - dodged that bullet.

After the game I finished a little spinning...

This is Blackberries from loop - alpaca, bamboo and glitz. The three ounce batt became roughly 17 yards of two ply, 5 wpi.

Next on the wheel was a Merino & Tussah silk blend from Alpaca Direct. The roving was a blend of red and black with a hint of white silk. I'm leaving this as a single ply at 12 wpi. Four ounces turned into about 103 yards!

Well surely, Eryn, that's enough spinning for one weekend? No, no it's not. And don't call me Shirley!

Eight ounces of superwash merino from The Ranches Angoras in Desert Flower Sparkle. So far it's 105 yards of two-ply; 7 wraps per inch.

I also did a little dying...

Kool-Aid dyes with the boys. If you have kids, know kids, or even feel like a kid, you must do this! It is so much fun to mix and match the packets of Kool-Aid and guess at the colors you'll get. Our yarn ended up with a lot more pink than the monsters were expecting. They've declared it perfect for Sassy's (not yet born) baby girl.

Ta-da! My first "commissioned" yarn! A lovely lady at knit night asked me for kettle dyed turquoise and greens. I've been calling this Pickle because it still smells of vinegar. Nothing a little Soak won't fix!

I did manage to squeeze in a little knitting... I started working on Eiffel from Knitty. Purl three together sucks. It looks great, but it's a serious PITA.

The best thing this weekend? Nutmeg is a mommy! Sunday morning she started serious nest building and was pulling fur by Sunday evening. I bathed the boys, tucked them in, walked back into the living room and...

Babies! Six beautiful kits. I'm guessing three chestnut and three tortoiseshell since those are the parents' colors, but we'll have to wait and see. Of course, I immediately woke up the boys so they could see the babies. They are in love, and so am I!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Delightful Mrs Darcy

She's done, she's beautiful, and she's sweet as candy.

I feel dead sexy!

The delightful Mrs. Darcy Cardigan.


Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport
Baltic Sea
4 skeins

I was drawn to this yarn because of the turquoise and lavender hues; knit up, the main colors are olives and forest greens. It's still beautiful and versatile! The yarn is soft and a joy to work with.

I had five skeins but one went AWOL, and the last skein, even though it was marked as the same dyelot, was lighter than the others. On the front pieces I alternated rows of light stuff and dark stuff, but the front is still quite a bit lighter than the back and sleeves. Let this be a warning to you: never lose your yarn and always check that each skein matches the others before you start your project!


Harmony Options size US 10.5/6.5 mm

I didn't want a bulky sweater - duh! I live in Florida - so I knit the sport weight yarn with size 10.5 needles to achieve gauge (16 sts/20 rows=4" Stockinette). My final fabric is loose and airy - perfect for my climate - but has a tendency to grow. I may decide to felt it a tiny, tiny bit to fight that.

Pattern Modifications:

There were a lot! I have never had a 34" bust, and without major surgery, I never will. As I was knitting to gauge, I simply added two inches to the back and one to each front by casting on a total of 16 extra stitches (8 for the back, 4 for each front). God gave me big boobs and skinny arms, so I didn't mess with the armhole shaping at all.

I didn't want a sweater that framed the girls, so I added an extra button (four total) and started the scoop neck shaping 8 rows later than indicated in the pattern. I also did a less dramatic neckline by doubling the rows of shaping. When the pattern called for "Dec 1 st next to buttonhole band on each of the next 5 rows." I decreased 1 stitch next to the buttonhole band on every other row for 10 rows. I made similar changes throughout the scoop neck.

I completely skipped the crochet edging, as my fabric had very little curl. I promise I didn't skip it because I have never crocheted and am a little intimidated by it!

The buttons I originally ordered were the shank style buttons recommended by the pattern. As beautiful as they are, they are too heavy for this sweater. Instead I used plastic four-holed buttons that are very light and very lavender!

Final Thoughts or What I'd Do Next Time:

I love this sweater. It is sweet and comfy, with a hint of sexiness. If I do make another Mrs. Darcy, the only change I would definitely make is increasing the width of the buttonband by a few stitches.

The sleeves as written are very long, perfect if you have freakishly long arms like me. If your arms are more proportionate, keep an eye on the length and start the armhole shaping a few rows earlier than indicated.

The pattern had a few issues; much of the time I forged ahead, trusting my idea of the pattern and not necessarily what was written. I had to keep very careful notes - which is rare for me. But with those notes, I was able to knit five pieces that matched. To me, anything that creates a sweater that I love to wear is a great pattern in the end.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spinning, Seaming, and... Baseball

Sorry about that; I lost the alliteration.

We had a very busy weekend here at the House at Two Palms. This weekend marked the opening day of the monsters' T-Ball league. We walked to the ball field for pictures, hotdogs, and bouncy things. Whoever designed those blowup bouncy castles is a genius! The boys looked so cute in their uniforms - hats falling over their ears and socks up to their knees. I still have reservations about this whole Little League thing, but they're having fun so far. I only wish Bubba would stop calling his shoes "clits."

I seamed up Mrs. Darcy and started transferring my notes into a legible format. I'm still waiting for buttons - hopefully they will get here tonight! As soon as buttons are on and all ends are woven in, I will post details on all the modifications.

I also took my borrowed Louet for a test drive! I had some "Canadian wool" to practice with.

The spool on the left is my first attempt - very crazy thick and thin two ply. The spool on the right is much more even, although it is obviously overspun. I haven't weighed the spools or checked wpi - heck, I haven't even set the twist yet!

The monsters are very impressed that I can make my own yarn now. The Bug is hinting that he'd like a sweater I "made from a sheep" and Bubba has stated loudly that he'd like to spin. We have plans to break out the drop spindle next weekend. Hopefully it won't be like the "Teach the Monsters How to Knit" night - those ER co-pays add up quick!