I managed to finish up the Koolhaas hat yesterday afternoon while watching You Tubed episodes of Supernanny. Or maybe it was Nanny 911, I’m not really sure. Whatever the program, it went well with my latest Mindless Knitting project, while still providing some semblance of amusement.

I’m afraid this may be the last finished object I have to show for a while – or at least, the last FO cranked out at a rather rapid pace. School begins again on Tuesday, and I’ll have quite a bit of studying to do during the short (five week) summer semesters – especially considering my absence due to the wedding in Germany mid-July. I’ve written to all of my professors explaining my circumstances, and have received positive response from one and nothing from the other two. Fuhh. I may have to re-configure my schedule in order to minimize GPA damage.

Hats are quick to knit! Delightfully quick! I hadn’t made one in ages, and now I think that everyone may be receiving them for Christmas this year. That’s do-able, right? After all, I’m almost done with the 19-repeat Swallowtail shawl I’ve been working on for my step daughter’s Christmas present… Does it really matter that the original intended year of completion was 2009?

After a picture-perfect Saturday afternoon strolling together through a few art exhibits and stopping for a bite to eat at a prime location for making fun of observing tourists, Sunday was a bit of a bore. The Army had The Husbeast up at Way Too Early to go to an all-day shooting range, and I was left to my own devices for the day. After completing most of the requisite weekend cleaning tasks, I settled in for some almost-quality sewing time. Maybe I have a short attention span, but I find it pretty tedious to do much sewing (or knitting or crochet, for that matter) without some kind of background distraction – and, barring the ability to listen to the latest episode of Prairie Home Companion, it was a bit difficult to stay in front of the machine for too long. I ended up making deals with myself: “You can stop now, but if you do, you’ll have to go change the cat litter/start another load of laundry/vacuum the rugs right away” – and it worked like a charm. By 2:30pm, I had multiple projects to show for my time.

First up is the Reversible Sundress from Sew Baby, with matching bloomers. Cute, isn’t it? Friends we knew in Germany have a daughter just about to turn one – I think it’ll make a charming little gift, just in time for summer! It’s a super easy pattern to whip up, too. I had been planning to cop out on making the buttonholes (because I’ve never been any good at it) and just sew on snaps, with the buttons for show, but just couldn’t bring myself to falsify the function of a button. Still intimidated, my next big plan was to take the dress up to one of the local sewing shops today and ask them to make the buttonholes for me. Then I realized I was being a wimp. After reading multiple tutorials, watching every single video about it available on the innernets, and using up several yards of fabric practicing, I sewed buttonholes. And you know what? They totally weren’t that bad. Take that, buttonholes! You are mine! Bwahahaha!

Ahem. I also stitched up some bunting for my craft room, the basic idea for which can be found here – I modified the pattern for a slightly more elongated flag, but stuck to the production stitching and double-fold bias tape for fast and easy results. I absolutely adore the red contrast to the robin’s egg blue paint on my craft room walls. But, I’m wondering if the brown curtains (in keeping with the original turquoise and brown theme) aren’t going to be quickly outmoded by the encroaching red. Not a problem, these changes, aside from the expense of curtains! One week before classes start up again – perhaps a bit of thrifting is in store!

While I usually stick to my knitting, every once in a while I get bitten by the crochet bug – this time, it was Lucy’s Hexagon How-To that did it. How can you resist such colors, such happiness? I might’ve waited a full 24 hours before finally caving in to temptation and sprinting up to Michael’s for some yarn, but I think saying that I was patient for an entire day might be a bit of an exaggeration! And, I’ve been on a crochet binge ever since, sitting for hours watching old NOVA programs on the computer or chatting with my fellow coffee shop girls during lulls in business.

The colors, in my mind, have a sort of vintage-y feel to them. They remind me of cowboys and the Old Wild West, or at least an interpretation of the theme that you might find on a set of kids’ bed linens. Light blue sky, brown horses and saddles, green cacti… You get the idea. The other night I was waxing poetic about my imagined retro western scene to My Better Half, and asked if the colors give him the same impression. Nope. No way. But the blanket does remind him of his grandmother, he says, who, for the record, he wants you to know, was not a cowgirl. Oh, well.

With every new hex, I find myself falling in love with a different and surprisingly beautiful color combination. I’m not world’s best crocheter, but it doesn’t really matter. Hi, ho, Retroblankie! I could do this all day long.

My Better Half has an Army Event this evening, something called a Tactical Dining In, that –  so near as I can tell –  is a military dinner of sorts during which soldiers are free to do ridiculous things (I once heard a story about someone’s shorts being a key ingredient in a so-called grog bowl) and are thus able to fully revel in their Armyness in the absence of spouses and other reasonable witnesses. The Husbeast describes it as follows:

An internal unit function designed to boost morale, honor silly traditions, encourage drinking, and provide a venue for blowing off steam.

Sounds suspect, doesn’t it? Anyway, part of tonight’s festivities involves The Wearing of Aprons, with both enlisted and commissioned leadership from each company dressing up to dish out the food. The aprons are part of a competition for an Esprit de Corps streamer, a little ribbon that the winner is entitled to attach to his or her company’s flag in a playful, prideful display of superiority. While most other companies went out and got creative with pre-fab aprons, I simply couldn’t have that for The Husbeast’s crew, the Hell Hounds. Enter the Manly Apron, complete with duct tape strap (I’m especially proud of the paint job) –

…and its ever-so-dainty counterpart, the Puppy Apron!

Last I heard, the Commander and the First Sergeant were arguing over who gets to wear which apron, which was, incidentally, after I made an emergency run to Michael’s and then sped down to Base upon receiving a phone call requesting last-minute assistance because the XO (the guy who’s second in command) desperately had to have – of all things – five candle holders. Army Strong, indeed.

Here’s the latest Mindless Knitting Project, completed this weekend save for the buttons. I am so digging the surf blue and red color combination right now. I have visions of quilts, afghans, and (of course) baby clothing all styled to colorful retro perfection. Maybe my coveted Airstream will have a blue and red interior, too. Then again, I also have visions of an organized craft/study room, with reality being that my desk is never clean for more than five minutes. Again, I say, hmph.

Anyway, not much to note with regard to the patterns. The cardigan is a top-down raglan, making it nice and easy provided you remember to do things like increase where you’re supposed to. And of course, with top-downs, there’s minimal seaming and end-sewing, which earns this pattern extra points. The booties came out a bit floppy for my taste, but that’s due to my choices in yarn and needle size, not the pattern itself.

Cardigan Pattern: Garter Yoke Baby Cardi from Jennifer Hoel

Booties: Sartjees Fleeglizied Bootie

Yarn: Knit Picks Comfy Sport in Surf

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm)

That’s it! Lots more crafties on the way (including crochet, can you believe it?) but I’ll save those for tomorrow and the weekend – right now, it’s time for “real” work!

The Husband – My Better Half – and I had a very relaxing, very lazy weekend, with lots of time spent doing not much of anything, or, when we were actually out of the apartment, doing not-very-productive things like hanging out at favorite restaurants consuming all sorts of less-than-healthy snacks and beverages while watching baseball and creating strategies for finding The Ultimate Church (a long story, I’ll get to that one later). And, while My Better Half was immersed in a few very exciting rounds of Settlers of Catan online, I was able to do quite a bit of crafting! I will show you this week, I promise – I just need to sew the buttons on to a tiny baby sweater (still drying) and put the finishing touches on an apron before the big photo shoot.

In the mean time, not worrying about homework and studies has provided ample opportunity for other thrilling things. Today, already, I’ve done dishes, folded laundry, tidied up the living room, taken Fredrika (my station wagon) for a wash, sewed a bit more on the second apron, and gone shopping! Not that shopping was particularly difficult, mind you – inspired by Lucy of Attic24’s Hexagonal Blanket (the poor woman is going to think I’m staking her, I’ve clicked on her blog so many times since discovering it last week) and the colors in a piece of fabric we saw the other day, I went to Michael’s and picked up a fine new stash of acrylic delight!

The finished blanket will go in my new caravan. I can’t wait.

I know that technically it isn’t summer yet, but since the temperatures have already reached the low 90s here (not to mention the fact that I’ve worn white shoes) I think it’s safe to say that summer has reached Texas. And, since everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, right now we’re having one hell of a storm. We’re talking about a shaking apartment with thunder and lightening shattering the skies less than a second apart, and torrential downpours that have made even this brave Seattleite frightened of venturing outdoors*. So, I’ve spent the morning knitting. I’m up to the Lily of the Valley border on the Swallowtail Shawl, and am almost done with the latest Mindless Baby Knitting project. Next up I’ll tackle Jared Flood’s Koolhas hat (for coffee shop knitting) and this Rauma pattern for more intricate knitting.

This sudden summer storm also has me smitten with Lucy of Attic 24, who makes me desperate to begin crocheting brightly-colored afghans and run off in the Volvo with a vintage trailer in tow**. Summer dreaming, folks. It’s that time of the year again. I’ve got another two weeks of school-free bliss, to be followed by 15 hours of 4.0 GPA maintenance before diving into a fall of math and science. Is it naive to think that some finished knitting projects, a clean house, cheap afghan yarn, and a road trip will help?

*For the record, I’m not scared of driving in the rain. I’m scared of Texans driving in the rain.

**Someone is snorting at the idea of attaching a trailer hitch and a camper to my station wagon. Someone should know by now that snorting only makes me more determined, no matter how ridiculous the idea. Hmph!

It’s been another good week. We’re nearing the end of the semester, with only one exam left to go – Freshman Comp. While I dread the tedium of spending hours on end writing yet another trite essay describing vague notions of social equality, it’s good to know that by Thursday afternoon it will all. be. over. Until June, anyway, when summer semester starts. Earlier this week, I officially changed my major from Humanities* to Geology, so the coming two or so years will involve many more complaints about clastic rocks than classics. I’m both nervous and excited. I wasn’t really a sciencey/mathy person in high school, but then again, I didn’t really apply myself. Now that science seems cool, we’ll see if I can maintain my 4.0. Gulp.

In addition to finishing the semester, I’ve also finished a sweater and bootie set. There is a young lady who sits in the back of my Freshman Composition class who is pregnant with her first child – a little girl. The sweater is Debbie Bliss’s Hooded Jacket from Simply Baby – it’s a typical Debbie Bliss pattern with lots of seaming, but it turned out well and I’d definitely knit it again. The booties are called Bundles of Love and were designed by Crumgrubber Knits. I adored knitting them – easy, quick, and darling!

Next – finished yarn, spinning in progress, another baby sweater on the needles, and maybe even some sewing to show!

*I chose Humanities as my major because when I initially applied to go to school at Major State Institution as a transfer student, I thought that I’d be seen as wishy-washy if I didn’t have a declared major. Humanities was the most innocuous thing I could think of. Little did I know that I would be attending a school where at least 85% of applicants are accepted. Whoops. Ironically, I decided to major in Geology based on a prerequisite course that 85% of students hate. Go figure.

This week was pretty productive. Rewarding myself for a very full week of term-paper submissions and final-tests-before-finals, I signed up for a private spinning lesson and wound up at one of our local yarn shops — Yarnivore — on Thursday afternoon. Talk about enlightening! Granted, I haven’t been spinning since we landed in Texas, but prior to our move I always spun with the wacky short-draw technique that I’d somewhat impatiently picked up from books and You Tube clips — not bad, but not exactly sophisticated or controlled, either. Check out the improvements thanks to class — the yarn you see closer to center is the bulkier, less exacting product, while the yarn around the edge of the hank is the result of a few minutes’ practice using a supported long draw! So exciting.

The pea-green experiment in control will go to my dear and always gracious friend Susanna, who, despite being World’s Next Greatest Knitter, is always kind enough to find both beauty in and use for my less-than-perfect fiber experiments. Meanwhile, encouraged by the success of the supported long draw (from the fold, no less) I began spinning some Ashford merino that’s been around for a while:

In scholastic news, on Friday a letter from school arrived in the mail. I assumed that it was just another survey or notification of increased tuition and opened it with no small amount of disdain. Turns out I’ve won a small scholarship from the writing department for a Freshman Composition essay that my professor encouraged me to submit. Since my tuition is already covered under the GI Bill and any extra payment is credited to my account, the award allowed me to finance a trip to my high school best friend’s wedding that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford. So, I’ll be in Germany for a very, very brief period of time this June. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it down to Frankfurt during what amounts to a four-day-weekend, but we’ll see. I can’t wait!

Oh! And speaking of excited, The Husbeast and I went for a motorcycle ride yesterday up to the Triumph dealership, where I promptly fell in love with a Bonneville. While it’s not something in the budget any time soon (I’m saving all of my tip money for a piano!), seeing such a beautiful bike reinforced my zeal for riding — pretty darn cool.

…the more leisure we have. I’ve started about half a dozen draft posts but something has prevented me from actually publishing them each and every time. There was the post about the amazing progress my caladium had made since planting the bulbs three weeks ago. I just needed to wait until daylight to take pictures of the beautiful, leafy growth – but one of the cats decided to have a midnight snack and the leaves are no more. Tracking progress in another department, I thought about starting “Fitness Fridays” as I’ve recently taken up running again in an effort to fight the sneaky Texas fat. But that’s vain and boring. Then, there were posts about knitting, accompanied by lots of inexcusably crappy photos.

Finally, some better pictures… Voila – the Wrenna Sweater from French Girl Knits. Made with just over two skeins of Lion Brand Thick ‘n Quick, it was a fun, easy knit. And, it’s actually pretty versatile. I’ve worn it several times since it came off the needles, usually with a broach as a closure since I’m too lazy busy to sew on proper hooks and eyes or find some lacing. The stitch pattern is simple but adds visual interest – even more so had I not knit it in black. But, it’s an incredibly quick project on 15mm needles, so maybe I’ll make another one soon.

Speaking of knitting another, the latest Baby Surprise Jacket is ready for seaming. Few things in the knitting world are easier to seam than Baby Surprise Jackets. Unfortunately, I’ve been lazy busy over the past few weeks and haven’t gotten around it it. Fortunately, the its intended recipient isn’t due until August. There’s already another baby sweater in the making – this time with some lovely Regia (I think) cotton sock yarn – that’s a sleeve and a yoke away from completion. But that’s been on hold since last weekend, as a couple of papers and five finals are looming in the not-so-distant future. I’m finding the balancing act between school, work, and leisure to be do-able, but precarious. Which is why I’m only planning on signing up for 18 credit hours this summer. Cough, cough.