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Friday, February 12, 2010

Unemployment, delayed anniversary celebrations, and Ravelympics

Okay, first let me say that tonight I'm going out with my husband (a week late) to finally do something for our anniversary. We're likely going to watch Wolf Man, and continue our long-running tradition of watching a horror/suspense/thriller movie for our anniversary, lol. Very romantic. This means that I'll be missing the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, which Aaron could care less about, but I enjoy.

Second, I spent almost four hours last night swatching for my Ravelympics sweater. What I discovered is that I needed to go down a needle size...twice...and that Ultra Alpaca will not show the cables to their greatest advantage. Why would I bother to knit a sweater covered in cables if they'll hardly show? Why did I wind every single skein? I can't return them now. Thankfully, I have six skeins of Cascade 220 in off-white that will work better for this sweater. The cables will pop beautifully, and the color is more traditional as far as Aran sweaters go. On the other hand, the sweater is off-white. Dante is a 12-year old boy. Off. White. So in about a week, the sleeves will be soiled beyond repair and this yarn is not machine washable. I thought about knitting a plain raglan sweater for him with the gray/green Ultra Alpaca (which wouldn't show dirt if you dropped it in the dirt), but he likes this pattern. I weighed the options, and asked Aaron's opinion. To my surprise, he told me to knit the Aram sweater with my off-white yarn, and trust Dante "not to get it dirty"... So I guess I'll be over-dying it blue or black after it gets stained up.

Lastly, I've been trying to reach the Rhode Island dept of Unemployment for the better part of a week now. I tried to report in (per usual) and was told that I had to call and speak to someone in the call center first. That was Monday. The last time that I had to speak to the call center it took three days to reach them. That was months ago. It's worse now. They were closed Wednesday and Thursday, so even though it's been three actual days of calling, today is the worst day so far. Please believe me when I tell you that this is not an exaggeration...I have called them over 450 times today and only got through once, only to be told that "due to high call volume, we cannot take your call at this time", but not before I was made to listed to all the prompts and jump through all the hoops. I know exactly how many times, because my cell phone tells me how many times I've called a number. Tomorrow the center will be closed. Sunday I should be reporting my unemployment for a second time since being told that I have to talk to someone. I will definitely have to talk to someone now...because if you fail to report for a week, you can't until after you talk to someone. So now I'm stuck in this limbo for reasons unknown to me and I'm just ticked off about it. I know that more people are on unemployment in this state than ever before, but calling and hanging up, and calling back, for days upon days (only to be placed on hold for 90+ minutes once I finally get into the que) is just UNACCEPTABLE, especially when I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing and I'm just arbitrarily told to speak to someone before they'll pay me. I have a small savings put aside (but it's meant to pay for my car insurance for 6 months). I'll be paid by the shop tomorrow, and I'll be paying bills with that. I guess we'll be okay for a little bit, hopefully for as long as it takes me to get through.

Oh, and here's a long overdue photo of my mom's socks that I finished last month. They're waiting for another pair to be finished, and then to be mailed out.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shop Sample #1

This is the Knitting Pure & Simple pattern #9730 knit in Queensland Rustic Wool in color #28 (green). I knit this in size 2-4 with five balls on US 10 (6mm) and US 7 (4.5mm) circular needles. I actually used about 4.5 balls. As you can see, this pattern runs big. Alex is 3 1/2, and tall for his age (typically wearing size 4 clothes) and this is big on him too. I think if you wanted to go down a needle size you would still do well, or you could knit it just as written at the suggested gauge, and know that your child will be able to wear it for a while.

The yarn is nice to work with, washed up pretty soft, didn't pool in any strange ways, and it machine washable. I chose green to knit this pattern in, because the photo shows the sweater on a girl, and I wanted to show that it works for boys too. I might actually make one of these for Alex because it was very simple (great tv knitting) and he seems to like wearing it (at least for the photos, lol).

We're all hunkered down here waiting for the snow that hasn't come yet. Aaron had to go to school, but Dante's school was canceled. I got out today before it picked up, hit the bank, the post office and my rental office in 30 minutes! It helps when other people stay home. I have school work to do today, and I'll be making soup with a recipe from Bees Knees (which I love). Last night I made veggie broth for this soup from a simple recipe that Natalie told me about, involving some carrots, celery, onion and garlic, a bay leaf or two, and a crock pot. I added a few mushrooms and some time leaves to it, set the pot for 10 hours, and woke up at about 6am to stock. I have about 3 quarts for the price of 3 cups! Now that I know how to do this...I'll be doing it more often. Who would ever have thought to use a crock pot for stock?.. (obviously someone did, because there's a recipe...but I think you get it.)

I'm getting ready for the Ravelympics which start on Friday and I'll be knitting a sweater for Dante. I had to pull out of Team Twilight, as I'm captain of two other teams and I don't have a lot of time. I'll be knitting Aram from Berroco's leaflet #284 family comfort in Berroco's Ultra Alpaca in Lichen heather #6299 (dye lot 801). I have five balls all wound up and ready to go. I never knit a sweater for The Boy, and I believe I promised him one, a long time ago. He's approved this sweater and yarn combo, and this will be my first Aran-ish sweater so it's certainly a challenge. I also have to try to get this in while still finding time for school work, and work-work. I guess if it was easy, it wouldn't be an Olympic inspired event :)

Currently, I'm knitting the Elizabeth Zimmerman February Baby Sweater from my newest book The Knitters Almanac in Ultra Alpaca Fine (a beautiful heathered-tan) for a friend who will not be named here as they sometimes read this. I'm using sock weight yarn with 3mm needles to scale this down small enough to fit a newborn (according to advice from the EZ group on Ravelry). I bought some Cascade 220 superwash paints (#9867) in a worsted weight (the most beautiful shade of pink with some lilac, very baby) for a baby surprise jacket, but I decided to go with the FBS because of the delicate lace. This sweater will need to go on the back burner starting Friday, if I don't finish it before then.

The kids are well again so we should all be at church on Sunday. I've missed the last two weeks with Alex, but his cough seems to be gone, and he's starting to sleep again so I think he's over it. He seems to like the bed, even though he hates sleep. Eddie likes it too, and Aaron's caught him asleep on Alex's bed a hand full of times. At least someone likes it!