Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ma mere chantait toujours...

Today was a sleepy day chez annypurls. In fact, we had barely finished eating supper at around 7:30 and all three of us were falling asleep watching Sesame Street in the living room. I didn't think we were awake enough for Julian's bedtime ritual so suggested that Julian come sleep in our bed tonight as a special treat. Daddy didn't object. Julian was on his way upstairs as soon as I mentioned it. While we all slept together in the same bed for Julian's first 18 months, we haven't since Julian resolved to sleep in his own big boy bed this past new year's eve ;0)

Don't be fooled by the photo, there's no actual knitting content in this rambling post but since I just finished my second baby shedir I thought I might as well share it. I knit this one from Dalegarn Baby Ull on a US1 and think it will be sized just right for a newborn this time ;0) See my last post for pattern links.

We didn't read stories like we usually do all three of us crowded in Julian's twin bed. It's probably the first night since we bought it about a month ago, that we didn't read Julian's favourite and most requested book, "mimin" (aka Eric Carle's Very Mixed Up Chameleon). We used to read it to him, but now dada and I just lay back and let Julian turn the pages and tell us what happens. It's just the sweetest thing and I hope I never forget these little moments. I hope to be able to store these little vignettes of our daily life with him so that I can recall them to centre myself when he is a teenager desperately wanting a tattoo!

We didn't even listen to the "la-bie" (aka, lullabies) in his room tonight while chatting about all the things we did today. And we didn't even share our usual pillow talk while he rubs his baby winnie's ears and stares up at the leaf canopy above his bed. That's when I usually indulge in stroking his still fine baby hair and remind him of the wonderful day we had, how wonderful and special he is and how much he is loved and cared for by everyone. I can tell he is thinking about them too and always falls asleep grinning. It is my favourite part of every day.

But tonight we did things a little differently. We were all too sleepy to read (even mimin!) or chat about our day. And since we don't have a cd player with lullabies in our room, I cradled my growing boy in my arms and just sang to him, the whole time thinking about how our family is about to change and how these are the precious last few moments where it is just the 3 of us.

This beautiful old french song popped in my head and I sang it to him as he doze off. It goes like this...

Ma mère chantait toujours
(my mother would always sing)
Une vieille chanson d'amour (this old love song)
Que je te chante à mon tour (that I am now singing to you)
Ma fille tu grandiras (my child you will grow)
Et puis tu t'en iras (and you will go)
Mais un beau jour (but one fine day)
Tu la chanteras à ton tour (you will sing it too)
En souvenir de moi (in memory of me)

It's so simple but so poignant at the same time. This song used to be the theme song for a chicken soup commercial here in Quebec. It was just one of those background songs you never stop to think about too much. But tonight it really tugged at my mommy heartstrings.

One fine day, this growing boy of mine will become a man and, God willing, a dada with a growing child just as precious and wonderful as he is to us. And they'll have their own little loving rituals. And he will feel exactly the same way then as his dada and I do now: that time is fleeting and that you have to revel in every seemingly ordinary moment while you can because that's where all the love and joy is ;0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

S is for Shedir

First, I guess I should start with my newly mandatory disclaimer: I'm not having a baby! Well not yet, anyway ;0) Everytime I call Stephen at work, I can hear the anticipation in his voice and have to reassure him that it's okay, I'm not in labour yet and he can resume breathing! LOL!!! But still, I can't wait...really! I'm soooo ready to have this baby ;0)

In the meantime though, between all the daytime naps to make up for lemon's all night kicking festivals, there's still knitting to pass the time, relax and enjoy. This weekend, between the residual nesting and lots and lots of naps with poor little feverish Julian who's cutting not one but four big teeth, it was a baby shedir.

Actually, I should say my first baby shedir because I enjoyed knitting it so much that I immediately cast on for another. A smaller one. For a newborn. I knit the first one from less than a ball of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere (DK weight) on a size 3 circ using something from nothing's mods and ended up with a 14 inch circumference which I figure should suit a 3-6 month old but would be too big for a newborn.

The hat is surprisingly much so that it fits around Julian's almost 2 year old noggin! Though if you plan to knit it for an 18-24 month old like my Jujube, you should add another cable repeat before the crown shaping so that it covers the ears well but otherwise you don't need to make any other adjustments to the baby adaptation of the pattern.

Check out the crown shaping. As Grover would say, "is it not beautiful?" And this is pre-blocking too so it'll presumably look even better after a little bath ;0) Love it!

I knit it magic loop style and am totally coverted. I'm already wondering what to do with all those DPNs now that all I need are my trusty circs! That's how much I love magic looping. I had tried it before a long long time ago and it was a disaster so I decied it wasn't for me. I think the instructions I was following at the time must have been needlessly complicated because I was able to master the technique in no time flat following purlwise's magic loop tutorial. So simple really. And the best part? No ladders!

Finally, a pic of Julian and his baby in our brand new twin stroller. Now all we need is a little brother and for the snow to melt a little and we're ready for neighbourhood strolls and trips to the park. After being cooped up this long, a neighbourhood stroll sounds real good! Plus, I can't wait to see who else was pregnant all winter!

We live in a very young neighbourhood and there's always a new crop of babies coming...Stephen ran into our backyard neighbours at the donut shop this week and it turns out they're expecting too and are due in May! Yay! Plus, it's a boy too so there you have it, lolo already has a little friend near by ;0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Turns out I'm not slowly going crazy! I found the lost ziploc containing the tiny remnant of yarn needed to finish lemon's socks and got right on it during a hospital appointment on Monday.

The second sock is just one row shorter than the first (that's how close it got!) and of course they both have different heels: one is Wendy Johnson's twice wrapped short-row heel while the other was shall we say improvised ;0)

Check out this post for the deets on how I aapted Hello Yarn's cable twist sock pattern for a newborn.

Other than that, it's been a bit of a crazy week since my last post. I got a surprising (though very welcome ;0) burst of energy last Friday and used it to clean house - a task I've been neglecting since the first pangs of morning sickness and fatigue reared their ugly heads oh about 6 or 7 months ago!

Since I haven't had this kind of energy in such a long time, I cleaned with a fervour this house has never known! I'm talking wiping down the cupboard doors clean. I'm talking organising under the kitchen sink clean. Heck I'm talking every piece of cloth in our house is laundered and put away clean! I even unzipped and laundered all the slip covers on our sofa!

Can you say nesting? I remember getting a similar burst of energy the day Julian was born, so before I crashed, I also took advantage of the opportunity to pack our bags for lemon's birthday: one for mommy and daddy, one for lemon and one for jujube's trip to grandma's when the time comes. So now, I'm really ready to have this baby ;0) Really ready!

It's a good thing I got everything ready when I did too because by the time dada came home from work on Friday, I had hit the wall. I started having semi-regular contractions and my blood pressure just shot up like a rocket. We started to think we were having a baby, but I took a bath, took my meds and went to lie down and what do you know, the contractions went away and my blood pressure stabilised. Dada and I didn't know whether to be releived or disappointed. But since I'm still a month away from my due date, it's probably a good thing things settled down.

Then during a routine appointment at the hospital for a non-stress test on Monday, my blood pressure remained high which triggered a series of tests that had hubby an I bored (and maybe a little worried) silly for 5 hours! And I didn't have 5 hours of knitting with me...again!

The doctor wouldn't let me leave the hospital because my blood pressure was too high. She mentioned the possibility of hospitalisation and I became really emotional and started sobbing at the thought of being away from Julian for even just a day. All I kept thinking was "I can't stay because I need to start knitting a baby shedir and Julian comes home from Grandma's at 6!" I think it was my first seriously irrational pregnancy moment.

I think the doctor could tell being at the hospital was distressing for me and agreed to let me go home on the condition that I return to the hospital right away if my blood pressure goes up again. Deal!

So I guess it's a good thing the house is clean and my bags are packed, because now I really have to take it easy. For the sake of getting to read bedtime stories with Julian and watching Sesame Street together while munching on our cherrios in the mornings...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An anime hat and six weird things

It just occured to me the other night that I have nothing warm to bring lemon home in! I was going to pick up a snowsuit for him during the end of season sales but I think I might have missed my chance: they are no longer listed on the sites of our favourite shops. And since Julian was a summer baby, I don't have any outerwear in a size smaller than 9 months that he can inherit from his brother either. Talk about an oversight. It's -16 degrees celsius in Montreal today an all I have are jammies and blankets! And a hat...

It's Hello Yarn's top down bonnet which I linked to last time. No kidding, I finished the post, decided to knit lemon a hat and when searching flickr for ideas later that same night, I came across the very same one.

I knit it from Phildar Aviso yarn left over from the foxy cardi I knit for Jujube last spring. It looks really tiny so I hope it fits. But just in case, I think I'm going to cast on for another hat right away. Until I can get to the mall for a snowsuit, it's some comfort that I can at least knit him warm accessories! Here's a gratuitous shot of my lazy square knot finishing on the inside...

And now for a little fun, six weird things (I think) about me...

1. My heart skips a beat when I pop off my jujube's socks and find that they have left behind lots of soft and lofty lint between his toes. It makes me so happy to preen those toes clean ;0)

2. I don't actually like the flavour of Fritos Hoops that much but once I start eating them I can't stop. Really, I can't! It's not the flavour, it's the sound they make when I crunch them that I am addicted to. This doesn't happen with any other snacks by the way. Just Fritos Hoops.

3. I hate talking on the phone. Soooo much! Just hearing the phone ring totally ruins my mood. Plus, I suck at it anyway. It's like I can't get the phone speak cadence going and phone conversations with me always sound like your speaking with someone from know when there's that weird pause before you get the reply? I guess I rely so much on non-verbal communication in my everyday life that when I can't read someone's expressions or body language, I don't know what they're talking about or how to respond!

4. Most of my house keeping activities happen between 4:30 and 5pm. This is leftover from being a teenager, chilling around the house alone after school and then scurrying around the house cleaning up and doing my chores and hoping my parents don't get home before I'm done.

5. I don't want to be rich. Even just thinking about what I would do if I won the lottery stops being fun and becomes a chore after just a few minutes. I guess I figure that being rich is a chore. You have to shop all the time and get the latest stuff and then you have all this stuff and you ought to use it cause you have it and then there's no where to store it and if you do find a place to store it, what if you need it you can't find it cause you have so much storage and sooner or later your head explodes. I know that you don't have to become a shop-a-holic when you get rich but I think I would and I really don't want to so instead I dream of having my mortgage paid and having enough RRSP money to enjoy the same standard of living we do now when we are retired. I want to have to work the rest out. I always feel so accomplished when I manage to stretch a buck and get my finances in order. I think I would miss that if I were rich.

6. I prefer bad singing over great singing! There's something about a raspy or nasal voice that occasionally breaks that I find much more appealing. Case in point: Bob Dylan. He is one of my favourites because I love his insight, humour and the way he just cuts through the crap in his songs...but if he sounded like Josh Groban or someone who's voice is very controlled and polished, I don't think I would ever have listened to him long enough to know that I love his writing.

Is that weird?

Monday, February 12, 2007

I am slowly going crazy...

...1...2...3...4...5...6...switch. Crazy going, slowly am I, ...6...5...4...3...2...1...switch!

I've been working on a pair of green cable twist socks for my lemon with the leftovers from my own glorious pair (they're my favourite ;0) and taking the opportunity to teach myself some new techniques like the figure 8 cast-on and all manner of short row heels.

The figure 8 cast-on for the toe is brillant and stunning and Hello Yarn's tutorial couldn't be clearer -- plus how cute is her anime top down bonnet for baby showcasing the technique? Sure it's fiddly for the first couple of rows (the technique, not the bonnet) but it's so fun! Fun enough to convert me into a toe-up sock gal except for one small detail: (cue the tragic music) the short row heel!

I tried 7 different toe-up heel options for these babies including one I think I invented. And I hate them all! Turns out, I'm totally a cuff-down heel flap kinda gal ;0)

I tried Wendy's twice wrapped method, the yarnover method, the Japanese short row method, knit and purl encroachement, afterthought heel , Dawn Brocco's star variation and my own final variation of EZ's afterthought heel: the double decrease (slip two together as if to knit, k1, pass 2 slipped stitches over) on either side every other row.

Then I came back to Wendy's method for the second sock but this time following Cosmic Pluto's awesome tutorial and must admit it is the most successful of the short row methods I've tried. Though I think the afterthought heel is more polished looking though less convenient since you have to cut and rejoin the yarn to knit it.

Anywho, back to my going crazy - as if redoing a heel 7 times in one weekend isn't enough to convince you - I totally lost the yarn needed to finish the second sock! I had it in a ziploc bag with the sock in progress and the finished sock when I came back from a doctor's appointment this morning (baby's doing well and has apparently dropped! Yay!) and now I have everything but the 6 yards of yarn I need to finish the cuff of the second one despite having been sitting on the same spot in the couch since I got back!

$5 says dadda comes home from work and says "it's right there!"

In the meantime, I guess I'm off the hook and get to start a new project... I'm thinking a raglan sweater for lolo made from Elann's oh so soft baby cashmere. The stuff is cheap and favourite combo ;0)

Oh, and in case anyone wants to know how I made my baby cable twist socks: use figure 8 (or your preferred toe-up technique) to cast-on 24 stitches (12 for the top, 12 for the bottom) and increase every other row to 48 stitches. Start the cable twist pattern in K4/P2 ribs as follows on the 24 top of the foot stitches: P1, K4, P2, K4, P2, K4, P2, K4, P1. Work the 24 bottom of the foot stitches in st st until after you turn the heel then establish this pattern on these as well so that it runs all the way around the leg part of the sock. For the left twist, see the instructions in Hello Yarn (can you tell I heart her?) Cable Twist Sock pattern but over 4 stitches instead of the 6 described in the adult pattern. Mine works out to 4 pattern repeats before the heel and 4 pattern repeats up the leg. I used the sewn cast-off to keep the cuff nice and stretchy. Sized to fit a 0-3 month old.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mama's green socks and a rug tale

They're done! I finished my green copycat socks last night and I love them. For a while there I wasn't sure because they don't look so good off the foot. But on the foot, I think they're fabulous...and so me. I love that the pattern is subtle and simple yet fanciful and pretty if you take the time to look at them carefully. And they are really comfy to boot. Just right for lemon's birthday ;0)

Pattern: Hello Yarn's cable twist socks
Yarn: Lorna's Laces in 'carol green'
Needles: Size 0 DPNs
As seen on: Grumperina (I totally copied her socks)
Modifications: I cast on 72 stitches and worked in a 7/2 rib working the cable twist pattern on 7 stitches and then purling 2. I made a partridge eye heel flap like Grumperina (did I mention I totally copied her?)
And don't they look so beautiful with my living room rug? They're just the right punch of colour and have totally inspired me to look for some 'carol green' decorative accessories for the living room. I wouldn't have thought about it but I really love the colour combo.

Did I ever tell you about my rug? Buying it was a great shopping experience...probably the best I ever had!

I always knew I wanted to have an authentic persian rug from the time I was a kid. Weird, I know ;0) My sisters are both much older than I and I was still a kid when they got married and had children. They were also a lot cooler to hang around with than my parents so I spent many weekends at their homes, playing or babysitting the kids, renting movies, eating nachos, yada yada yada.

My eldest sister married an Iranian guy (they've been married almost 17 years already!) and he totally changed my family for the better. We were typical pasty white folk living in the suburbs where ethnicity isn't part of anyone's vocabulary. So my sister marrying this guy was just so cool.

He had come to Canada as a refugee when there was a regime change in Iran and had many wonderful stories to tell of his beloved homeland, its long history and rich cultural heritage. I especially enjoyed the stories about the lengths he and his rather liberal family would go to to continue having fun and leading their lives after the regime changed to a strict theocracy where things like booze and music were outlawed for instance. Things like having false compartments in cars to hide radios and music tapes. Or buying and storing 'black market' vodka in gaz cans...

Every once in a while he would take advantage of my gullability but all in all, having him as a brother in law really expanded my world view and made me a much better citizen of the world than if I had never met him.

Okay, really long tangent I know so let's get back to my rug. When my sister and brother-in-law were married, his parents sent them the most beautiful persian rug I have ever seen as a wedding present. It was cream coloured with intricate blue and burgundy designs and my family thought it was too beautiful to put in a room you actually use, especially since it was so light-coloured. But my brother in law didn't see what we were worried about and he was totally right (of course!) and the rug aged so beautifully and looks amazing almost 20 years later and after 2 kids and countless pets. So I knew that when I got married, I wanted a rug too! And I also knew that it was worth the money because of how beautifully they age and how durable they are.

Sooooo. A few weeks after our wedding, Stephen and I happened to be strolling around hand in hand being all lovey dovey on Parc Avenue in Montreal and happened on a bunch of persian rug stores. And that's how we met the delightful Mr. Khan. He was a no pressure carpet dealer (no, really) and just waxed poetic about his love of rugs and how to tell real from fake, hand-made from machine-made, wool and silk fiber from synthetic... He also taught us about the different rug making regions, the different designs and even about how the rug-dealer business works.

He had his employees unroll rugs for us so he could show us what he meant and then we started talking about what we were looking for more specifically and he showed us more rugs. We spent the whole afternoon in his little shop taking it all in. There were 2 rugs that we really liked but they were more expensive than what we were expecting to spend. We were honest about this and he did show us some things in our price range but we kept coming back to these two more expensive rugs. Seeing that we were needing to think this through a bit more, he suggested we take them home and try them out for a while while we consider whether or not we are ready to take a leap and buy one. No pressure. Just take'em home and think it over.

Now I should mention that the rugs were $2,500 each! Plus they were pretty big and we didn't think they would fit in our little honda. He read our minds and asked his employees to show us how compactly they could roll and fold them. So we decided to follow his advice and take them home. Stephen went off to get the car, the store employees proceeded to carefully pack up the two rugs and I continued my chat with Mr. Khan. At one point I asked him if maybe we should start working on the paper work. He was quizzical and asked me what paper work?

Well, I figured if he was going to let us take $5K worth of rugs home with us to suburbia, he might like to know our names? Or our address and phone number? And some credit card info in case we never returned with the rugs? Each time he chuckled and said he didn't need to know any of that and that as a carpet dealer, the most important thing to him was the trust of his customers and that he was willing to trust us first if doing so would earn our trust! I couldn't beleive it! Can you? That's outrageous and yet totally amazing!

We ended up buying one of the rugs with the money we received as wedding gifts. It graces our family room and we use it everyday. It is in the background of most of our family photos and is a constant reminder of our vows and of the well wishes of our friends and family. I can't think of a better way to have spent our gift money. And I'm sure we'll be back for another rug someday, perhaps for a special anniversary...