Monday, April 21, 2008

Change: Brought to You by Spring

It is finally Spring here in the Northeast and I am so happy. This past week was full of sunshine and temperatures in the mid-60's to low-70's. In other words, we are in the midst of that glorious two weeks before the summer heat and humidity start.

In honor of spring, there are going to be some blog changes. First, there probably won't be a lot of knitting content. I just haven't been into it lately. I gaze at all my lovely yarn but I can't think of anything I actually want to make. In its place, there may be some sewing content. I am teaching myself to sew by making a pair of pants for Gub. So far I have sized and cut out my pattern (making adjustments for her teeny waist and long legs). Tonight I hope to actually cut out the fabric and maybe even start a little sewing. Of course, I also want to do Pilate's tonight so we'll see what actually gets accomplished.

My other big focus these days is *drum roll please* fitness. Yes, you read that right, fitness and healthy eating is what is consuming me lately (no pun intended). For those who know me, I am sure you'll agree that this is heresy. For those who don't know me, let me lay it out for you real simple like... I. LOVE. FOOD. I love everything to do with food including talking about it, reading about it, looking for recipes, cooking, and of course, eating it. I love to try all kinds of different foods and new recipes. I love going out to dinner and hosting dinner parties. My way of making people feel better is to cook for them. Hub is equally into food so the two of us have managed to put together a delicious but not-exactly-low-calorie lifestyle.

The thing is, since turning 31 earlier this year, I have just been so darn tired and not feeling all that well. I was lucky enough to lose the 20 lbs I gained while I was pregnant with Gub by about 10 weeks postpartum and I had managed to keep it off while still eating like I was pregnant until she was about 18 months old (side note, breastfeeding is the best weight loss plan ever!). Then I noticed about 7 weeks ago that the scale had crept up about 5 pounds to the highest, non-pregnant weight I have ever been. That combined with the fact that Gub is at the age where she eats what we eat made me decide to do something.

So, I have completely overhauled what I eat by cutting out nearly all sweets (except for one sweet something every couple of days), most processed food, all fast food, and by dramatically increasing my veggie intake. I have also started logging and limiting my daily calories and measuring out proper portions of food. It has been 7 weeks now and while it was a little bit of a shock to my system at first, I am now feeling better than I have in a long time. Plus, I have lost 11 pounds, yay! Hub isn't exactly "dieting" with me but I think he has lost some weight as well. In the past week I have also been adding in exercise, namely walking 2.5 miles a day and also doing some arm exercises with dumbbells and Pilate's.

It is some crazy times over here in the Marinoswools household. The thing that I am most proud of, besides actually sticking to these lifestyle changes that I have made, is that fact that I am modeling healthy eating and exercise behavior for my Gub. If she sees her family eat fruits and veggies instead of chips and other junk, then hopefully those choices will be ingrained in her when she sets out on her own. At the very least, she will have that foundation.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Sometimes simple is so nice

Last night, instead of working on my sweater or finishing those darn baby booties, I knit this.

Mohair-y Goodness

The Back Story: Years ago when I first started knitting, I purchased two balls of mohair (I can't remember the name of the yarn and the labels are long gone) to knit a scarf for my mother. I had planned to knit a simple garter stitch scarf on large needles. I cast on what I thought was the appropriate number of stitches and proceeded to get uber frustrated. Knitting mohair was hard! I think I ripped the stupid scarf three times before I finally found my groove. The fluffiness of the yarn made the stitches hard to see and I was adding and dropping stitches all over the place. Plus, when you work with what is essentially a fingering-weight yarn on large the needles, the large stitches look rather confusing when you are new to knitting. Thinking there was too much space between the stitches and that I must have dropped one, I would pick up extras. After much frustration and swearing I did manage to complete the scarf. I have no idea if my mother ever wore it or where it is now and I haven't knit with mohair since.

Yesterday when Gub was emptying my yarn drawers she tossed the left over mohair yarn on the floor and I was suddenly overcome with the desire to knit it again. With more years and complicated knits under my belt, I wanted to see how it felt to knit mohair on large needles. So last night I grabbed my size 13 bamboo straight needles and in about an hour I knit up the rest of the yarn. I was gratified to find that this time, it was easy and fun... it makes me feel like I have learned something over these last few years.

Of course, now I have this rectangle of garter stitch mohair fabric and I have no idea what to do with it. One option is to add other random yarn to both ends and make a funky scarf. My only concern with that is that pretty much any yarn I add will be heavier than the mohair and drag it down. Another option is to try to felt it (does mohair felt?) and make some fuzzy coasters for my desk at work. I kind of like this idea but I am not sure how felting is going to work in my new front loading washing machine. What ever I end up doing with the fabric, the act of knitting it was what I really wanted to accomplish. I don't do much in my life without a goal in mind and that gets pretty stressful. Aimless knitting like I did last night is just what I needed to remind myself that not everything needs to have a purpose to be worthwhile.


Monday, February 04, 2008


I think there are people in this world who are born creative and those who are not. I have always envied those people who seem to have creativity flowing from them. I was kind of a geek in high school and lots of my friends were the musical type. I was always so jealous of those who could sing or play an instrument or create artsy things. I have just never been that good at it. That's not to say that I don't need a creative outlet. On the contrary, I have always really wanted to excel at something "creative". I feel like I have all these cool ideas in my head that want to get out, but I am just not skilled enough to make it happen... it is actually kind of frustrating. I suppose in some respects, knitting is definitely a creative outlet for me. The thing is that when it comes to knitting patterns, I am great at following directions but not so great at coming up with my own.

To break out of my rut, I have decided to dabble in a little designing. My first idea was a skirt for Gub. I have the design and the swatch but I can't keep the little bugger still long enough to get her measurements so that is on hold for the moment. My other project is a sweater for me. It is cropped with long sleeves and raglan shaping. I am using the proportions from EZ's Kitting Without Tears which is great because it makes the math much more straightforward. I am determined to make something that really fits me, no matter how many times I have to frog my knitting! I doubt that I will be making anything high fashion but if I can design and make a sweater that really fits, I will be very proud of myself (even if it is just to wear around the house). So far, I have about half a sleeve done (and have frogged and restarted once). I will keep you posted on my progress.

Speaking of creative, there is nothing like a child's mind for real creativity. Here is a picture of Gub doing her new favorite thing... taking all the yarn out of my storage bins and sitting in them. In this picture, she is trying like the dickens to open the plastic bag and touch the yarn. She totally cracks me up!

If I just keep trying...


Monday, January 21, 2008

Is it me or is it Monday?

I am really tired today. I don't know why, except that maybe I stayed up too late on the weekend nights and am now paying for it. I also have a headache that has lasted for two days (no mom, I didn't do any drinking this weekend) and it is getting a little old. I don't know, maybe I need my thyroid checked.

Anyway, I have pictures of the finished baby blanket. I am pleased with how it turned out. It is sweet but not too babyish. What do you think?

Cozy baby blanket

And a close-up of the edge:

Crochet edgings look so neat

I didn't really use a pattern, just a waffle texture that was created by alternating 3 double crochets and 3 front-post double crochets across the row, and then doing the reverse on the way back. Actually, Hub designed it for me... he is stellar with a crochet hook. This is one of the main reasons why I love him so.

The final texture of the blanket is soft and springy with a pleasant thickness that makes it seem like it will be nice and warm. The blanket was knit in Plymouth Encore (75% acrylic, 25% wool) and it is machine washable and dryable (just in case you didn't know, this is an extremely important feature when knitting things for messy creatures like babies). I hope that the recipient likes it.

I am cruising along on the Ugg booties. I have one bootie finished except for the seaming and am ready to shape the foot on the second one. I will hopefully have the set finished by the weekend. I am glad that the work day is almost over. I think I need to go lie down.


Friday, January 18, 2008

More baby knits...

I have been finishing things at a mean clip these days. First, I finished the set for the new baby of my coworker. Little Baby Girl arrived on Dec. 23 but I haven't had a chance to see her yet. I am hoping that her mom brings her into the office for a little meet-and-greet sometime soon. I did take a picture of the set before I packed it up.
So tiny, so shimmery

The hat is from the same pattern that I posted about the other day. The mitts are my own pattern (that I still need to polish up and share). The booties are from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight. I have no idea what the yarn is. It is something I don't even remember purchasing and the label has long since disappeared. All I know is that the yarn is 100% acrylic (read: machine washable) with a shimmery pink strand through it.

I also finished the blanked I was crocheting for the sick baby from my message board. I haven't taken any pictures yet but I will before I mail it out.

Last night I started a new project for yet another coworker's baby-to-be. This woman is having a baby girl in early March and to celebrate, I am knitting a pair of Ugg Booties. I love this pattern. I made a pair for Gub when she was little and they were super cute. She got compliments every time she wore them. Here is what I have so far.

These Uggs are bootie-licious

I have decided to do the colors in reverse. In the original pattern, the light color is the top of the bootie and the dark color is the sole. I think the darker yarn shows off the Plush trim better so I am reversing the colors. They are knit with Berroco Suede which is kind of a pain in the butt to work with. The yarn has a yucky tendency to split and my needle tips keep snagging it. Oh well, the finished product is cute enough to make up for it!

Off to have an early dinner with some new friends and our kiddos. We haven't really spent a lot of time with this couple so it should be interesting (and hopefully a lot of fun).