Friday, September 30, 2011

Finished Object: Diplodocus Sweater

Hooray! The Diplodocus Sweater is finished blocking, and most of the puckers and wrinkles from my too tight tension in the color chart are smoothed out. S and I are very pleased.

I made this up in a size 6, one size larger than S's current sweater size. This way there may still be a chance that he'll fit into it next fall. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in worsted weight and US size 4 and 5 circular and double-points.

This was my first time knitting stranded color work, and I learned a lot from this project. First and mainly, color knitting is fun and nothing to be afraid of. I'd shied away from it for years thinking it was too complicated, but it's insanely simple and watching the pattern emerge as you knit is incredibly gratifying and addictive. I can't wait to knit some fair isle hats, mittens and sweaters now.

But the most important lesson I learned was to be more relaxed and a little loose in my tension when working color charts, or you'll end up with lots of puckering and pulling and your pattern will look warped. Then I learned that most of these problems can be fixed with a good, hard, aggressive blocking.

This sweater was so much fun, but the best part was seeing the excitement on S's face when he looked at himself in the mirror in his new sweater.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Week 28

Hello third trimester!

This pregnancy sure is going fast for me. It seems like I was just trying to hide my bump at work, and now I'm already in the third trimester and the final countdown is on.

This was a pretty good week aside from a bit of discomfort. On Monday, I had my first real midwife appointment. I had another one this week as well, and their practice already feels like home. I absolutely LOVE it there. When I walk in the door everyone knows my name, including the front desk staff and all the nurses. My appointments are very thorough and so far have been with the same midwife, whose name is Rachel. At my first appointment she told me she took her midwifery exams in the same small Tennessee town that I'm from. She's probably around my age, maybe a couple of years younger, and has a really comforting and steady bedside manner. On my way out of the office that day, Mary at the front desk took a family photo of me, T and S, something they do for all of their patients, and I noticed at my last appointment that it was clipped to my chart. I can't wait to have a baby with these ladies!

My only complaint this week is that I've been experiencing the same uncomfortable sensations that I experienced only in the very last couple of weeks of my pregnancy with S. I'm already getting that heavy feeling in my belly, and occasionally when I stand up it feels like a bowling ball might fall out. But the biggest discomfort happens at night when I try to sleep. I've been uncomfortable sleeping for awhile now, but this week it got a lot worse. Because of the varicose veins in my right leg I have to sleep in a most awkward position, on my right side with both feet elevated. This feels great for my legs but not so for the rest of my body. My left hip aches all day from sleeping this way. But it's a small price to pay.

T took these photos of me at the park we call the Dog Park. It was a humid, sweltering day. We'd just gotten used to the fall weather when it warmed up again. But starting this weekend, it's back to fall temperatures and blustery days. I can't wait!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Joining Ginny over at Small Things for another Wednesday Yarn-Along...

On the Needles: An earflap hat for Mr. S that will eventually have Stegosaurus spikes on the top. S requested a hat just like I made him last year but with earflaps and in different colors. So I've been consulting a few patterns for size and shape and basically just making it up as I go along. So far it's coming along fast and looks like it'll fit just right.

I'm happy to report that blocking last week's Diplodocus Sweater appears to be taking all the kinks out of my crumpled up colorwork. It's on the blocking board now and should come off tomorrow. I'll post pictures of it and its recepient later in the week.

From the Library: Still working on Faulkner's Light in August, which is really wonderful so far. The writing is so incredible that I want to read it slowly and savor every turn of phrase.

I'm also about to return Vintage Baby Knits back to interlibrary loan but not before I make copies of about a bunch of patterns that I must place in my knitting queue. I know I should just buy the book.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Hiking Sun Fish Pond

Last Saturday we spent the whole day hiking in the Delaware Water Gap with old friends from Tennessee. It was the loveliest fall-feeling day, with bright, cool skies and a constant breeze, and the higher we hiked the cooler it got.

We've known Chase and Shauna for years. Chase and T used to live together in a big, old house with a bunch of other guys. And Chase and I used to work together in a wonderful public library. I can remember when Chase first met Shauna and how in-love he was. The two of us spent many a workday talking about relationships in between patrons at the circulation desk. As luck would have it, we all ended up moving from Tennessee to the same part of the Northeast U.S. around the same time. Chase and Shauna only live about an hour from us in Pennsylvania. And now they too are expecting a baby just a month or so after us! This will be their first babe. We're so excited for them! This will be one lucky baby to have the two of them as parents.

We hiked up to Sun Fish Pond on the Douglas Trail on the Jersey side of the DWG. It was a rigorous few miles up the mountain with lots of rocky trail, but coming down was a piece of cake...such a piece of cake that we got lost in conversation and didn't realize we'd taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up on a parallel trail that landed us 1.5 miles further down Old Mine Road than we needed to be. Luckily, a couple of good samaritans stoped and picked up the two pregnant ladies and little boy and drove us back to our cars. I think Shauna and I were both a little worn out and couldn't fathom another half-mile of walking.

We saw lots of flora and fauna on this hike, but not much in the way of mammals (though we were stalked constantly by chipmunks)...

T and S spend a lot of time turning over rocks and looking for salamanders.

All total we hiked for about 6 hours that day, and S handled it like a champ, many times leading the way, but most of the time meandering behind everyone and looking at every flower and spiderweb and colorful leaf we passed.

It was so still and quiet once we reached the top of the mountain, and we could see the very beginnings of fall starting with a few treetops already turning over to gold and red. There were acorns everywhere. Mr. S filled his pockets with them and then tossed each one into the lake once we reached the top.

This was one of the best weekends we've had in a long time. Great friends, beautiful weather, lots of wildlife.

And I have to say the Gwyns are really turning into an outdoor family. I think living in the city is what did it for us. We've become real hikers with real hiking shoes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Week 27

Hello, hello and welcome to Week 27 of my pregnancy. This week was lovely in every way. The baby continues to move A LOT! Just as I typed that last sentence I felt a little leg stretch against my abdomen. And now that the babe should be over 2 pounds, I'm feeling it constantly. It's so wonderful to rub my belly and instantly feel a little butt or back or head; sometimes I can feel the whole length of his/her shape.

This week was particularly wonderful because we finally got to escape the city, after several weekends in a row of staying put. Last weekend we went hiking with friends from TN on a beautiful trail in the Delware Water Gap. Anytime we get to hike the Appalachian Trail we're happy...reminds us of home so, so much. And it was lovely to be around familiar faces, familiar accents and a happy couple who are getting ready to have their first baby. Look for more on our hike in tomorrow's post.

Even though fall isn't quite here yet, all of week 27 sure felt fallish. I wore sweaters, flannels and tights all week, and enjoyed my cool and windy morning walk to the train.

Speaking of hose rock! Or in my case opaque graduated compression tights rock. I've only purchased one pair so far, which I wash at the end of each day and hang up to dry (brings back sweet memories of my Nana when she was younger and her bathroom full of dripping panty hose). I wear them every workday, and have no pain from my varicose veins whatsoever until the end of the day when I peel them off. They were quite costly but well worth every penny I spent on them. I'm definitely buying an extra pair or two.

T took these pictures of me at the top of Kittatinny Ridge on our hike. That's Sun Fish Pond behind me, a 41 acre glacial lake that is considered one of the seven wonders of New Jersey.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Yarn-Along Wednesday

Joining Ginny from Small Things for another Wednesday Yarn-Along. Check out her linky list to see what everyone else is knitting and reading this week...

On the Needles: I'm just about done with the Diplodocus Sweater. I'd hoped to finish both sleeves and start blocking this past weekend, but the Gwyns spent one whole day hiking on top of a mountain and most of the next day stuck in traffic on a bridge. So zero knitting got done on my days off. But I'm now almost done with the last sleeve and it's coming along nicely. I can't decide what to knit next...more soakers, a new winter hat for S or a new winter hat for me. I wasn't even thinking of a winter hat for me until I saw this one and now I'm obsessing over it.

From the Library: I just picked up William Faulkner's Light in August from my library. There's something about fall that always makes me want to read Faulkner, even though most of his novels and stories are set in the Mississippi summer. Last fall I read The Sound and the Fury for the first time ever. Can you believe I have an advanced degree in literature and had never read a Faulkner novel until last year? (And I went to grad school in Mississppi at a school that happened to have one of the country's best Faulkner scholars on faculty.) I should start a list of all the classics I've never read. It would be incredibly long. Anyway, so far I'm really enjoying Light in August. It doesn't compare to The Sound and the fury, which blew me away, even though it was much, much harder to read. But from what I've read, the story should pick up once the character of Joe Christmas is introduced.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Week 26

Week 26 was a crazy week, not so much as far as pregnancy goes, but work-wise it was nuts! Normally, I'm able to leave the stress of my job behind when I get home, but this week was the second full week of the fall semester and the week that's always busiest for me. In week 26 I interviewed, hired and trained about 9 students aides. And I'm still not done filling all of the vacancies in my department. Don't get me wrong, I love meeting new students and getting to know them, but it is exhausting setting up interviews in between my normal meeting schedule (my library has A LOT of meetings). Between meetings, interviews, training students and setting up course reserves for tons and tons of professors (who always wait until classes have started to put their materials on reserve--even though we requested the materials back in the summer), I have been thoroughly useless when I come home. Luckily, this hectic pace usually only last the first 2-3 weeks of the semester, and I think the worst of it is behind me.

During all this, every member of the Gwyn Family came down with bronchitis. Since moving to the NYC Metro area three years ago, bronchitis is a seasonal ocurrence for all of us, even though none of us had ever had it before. Usually we get it in the spring and fall, although the first year here little S had it year round and had to start taking nebulizer treatments. Usually the guys come down with it first and have it for about a week, and then I come down with it and have it for about a month. And somehow it always coincides with the exact few weeks that I'm hiring and training student aides and have to do a lot of talking. Last year I ended up losing my voice for a few days. This year though it looks like my bronchitis is on the way out after only a week and half, but poor T still has it pretty bad and it doesn't seem to be getting any better. S is almost over his as well. We're all sick of coughing.

As far as pregnancy goes, I can see that my boobs and belly are eventually going to become one; my belly button may indeed pop this time; and it's going to be harder and harder for me to keep up my exercise routine. With the fall semester upon me, I'm a little more stressed out than I am the rest of the year, and being pregnant that means when I should be doing a little yoga or cardio before bed, I'm more likely to be curled up with a book and settling down. I've decided my body needs the rest and I'm only going to exercise a couple or three days a week now.

The baby is still moving around like crazy, even as I type this, and now that he/she is bigger I'm feeling and seeing little feet and fists a lot more. This is what makes me LOVE being pregnant. Every movement is amazing.

This week marked the first real smidge of fall air, then the temperatures went right back to the 90s. We're all excited about fall. S is thinking about a Halloween costume; I'm dreaming of pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread and apple cider; and T has been making a list of age-appropriate scary movies to watch for our family's annual Halloween slumber party. I'm happy to say so far week 27 has been full of fallish days and record low temperatures. I think it's safe to say good-bye to summer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Yarn-Along Wednesday

Joining Ginny from Small Things this week for another Wednesday Yarn-Along; check out her blog to see what others are knitting and reading this week.

On the Needles: The Diplodocus Sweater is nearly done! I've just about finished the body and have only the sleeves left to knit. Last week I mentioned the trouble I had with the colorwork puckering around the dinosaurs, and I'd read that this could be fixed with a good blocking (or two). The ladies in my library knitting circle suggested I just rip it out and start over, but I decided, and maybe I'll regret this, to just keep knitting and see what happens with blocking. The pattern has been so much fun to knit; if blocking doesn't fix it I don't mind knitting it again.

Off the Bookshelf:I've not been reading much for myself lately. I've been so tired during my commute that I knit for awhile and then fall asleep on the train. The only reading I've been getting in is Spiritual Midwifery, which I've been reading at night before I fall asleep, and the books I've been reading to Mr. S. We came across this great book of stories illustrated by Eloise Wilkin in a clearence bin last week. I'd never heard of Eloise Wilkin, but I couldn't resist the $5 bargain especially when I started flipping through the pages.

Her illustrations are amazing. Most of the stories in this collection were published in the 50s. And even though the stories are a little young for S, we both really enjoy reading them and looking at the beautiful illustrations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


We've been enjoying the last few moments of summer, playing outside as much as we can...

digging for fossils...

having epic light sabre battles in the park...

Notice S's Jedi face?

...and taking in the few warm days we'll have for a long while.

You have to enjoy the Jersey summers while you can because they're so incredibly short and fall and spring are just a blink. The rest of the year it feels like winter here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Week 25

Week 25 was great! This week I met with the Midwives at the Childbirth and Women's Wellness Cetner. I loved this practice right away mainly because it's very family friendly, unlike my OBGYN. There were lots of children in the waiting room and a huge toy box full of toys for them all, as well as a shelf of children's books and a big bowl of lollipops. S, of course, loves this place and can't wait to go back. The midwives met with both me and T and allowed S to take a couple of toys back to their office (which was a brilliant idea as it kept him totally occupied the whole time we talked). They asked me about my birth with S and asked what I wanted for this birth, explained their birthing philosophy and one of them told me her birth story. I was impressed by several things: First, a bunch of the midwives graduated from Columbia University and most of them have over 30 years of experience delivering babies; second, while I was in the waiting room there was a pregnant woman sitting next to me and the director of the center came up to her and said she couldn't believe she was seeing the little baby girl she'd delivered all those years ago. Turns out many of the women now having babies with these midwives were delivered by the same midwives themselves. Third, their director is good friends with Ina May Gaskin and is going to visit her on the Farm soon. And last, their director is a knitter. She showed me the hat she was working on and said that she got a lot of knitting done waiting for babies to be born.

Most important, however, I agreed with their philosophy completely. When the time comes for this baby to be born, I'll call the midwives and they'll meet me at the hospital they're affiliated with and stay with me throughout the entire birth (unlike a doctor who only shows up the last five minutes of everything). I'll be allowed to wear my own nightgown, eat and drink as I please, walk around, take a shower and get in whatever position necessary to make me feel comfortable during labor. Also, if an emergency arrises the midwives are affiliated with a doctor who will take over if necessary, in which case the midwives will stay by my side until the baby is born. With this kind of support (and the fact that I no longer have to worry about arguing with hospital staff to be able to birth the way I want) I think I can do this whole natural birth thing. In fact, I'm getting really excited about giving birth. And I'm so glad I got to experience most of the pains of labor with Seamus, even if it was because my epidural didn't work, because now I have a taste of what I'll be in for when this baby comes along. So, I'm happy to say I'll be sticking with these midwives for the rest of my pregnancy.

The only downside about the midwives is their office is not nearly as convenient for me to get to as my OBGYN in Hoboken. There is no train that goes from my town to Clifton, NJ. And with only one car between the two of us, I have to rely on T to take me to all of my midwife appointments or I have to borrow the car while he sits at home, which means in either case he'll be late to work on numerous occasions. But we both agree it's a small price to pay. Thankfully, he has a very understanding boss who lets him make up his time.

The only yucky thing about this week were the varicose veins I mentioned last week, which are getting worse the longer I go without compression stockings. I just haven't broken down and purchase them yet. They're quite pricey--especially since I have to by a special maternity size, and I just haven't wrapped my head around paying $57 for one pair of tights. But I will because these things are painful and I don't want them to get worse, or God forbid, develop clots. Yikes!

T took these pictures of me at our favorite usual park. I'm so happy fall is on its way, but I'll miss all these long weekends playing in the park with my guys. Once winter gets here we'll all be cooped up in the house again.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday Yarn-Along

Joining Ginny at Small Things today for another Yarn-Along...

On the Needles: The Diplodocus Sweater! Ok, so colorwork isn't so bad after all. Actually, I really like it and have been looking for any excuse I can to work on this sweater. I've finished the short rows and the diplodocus chart, and now I'm moving onto the stripes at the bottom. It's a great pattern and I'm having great fun making it, but this sweater is not without its problems. If you look closely, actually you don't have to look too close to see it, you can tell my tension is too tight on the chart part. I was so nervous about leaving gaps or holes between color changes that I must have held my yarn too tight, and now all the dinosaurs are puckered. I freaked out when I first noticed this and worried that I'd have to rip it all out, but from what I've read a good blocking will probably fix it. Here's to hoping. I'd hate to make this sweater twice when there's so much more winter knitting I need to get done for both of my guys, and lots of baby knitting as well.

Off the Bookshelf: I've been consulting The Essential Guide for Color Knitting Techniques for lots of advice the past few days, and reading more from Spiritual Midwifery. Still working on Simplicity Parenting too, but I'm almost done.

On a different note but still related, I've been trying to talk T into a family road trip to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck in October. I know this is one of the better sheep and wool festivals in the country, and it's only 2 hours from us. Anyone ever been to this one before?
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