Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina 1 year later

A ball of yarn that survived the house gutting.
It stayed there until the cleanup crew came to rid us of mold.
Somehing about this silly ball of yarn just cracks me up.
Knitting will get you through just about anything.

It is almost impossible to imagine that this time last year I was at my parent's farm watching the wind blow like crazy from their hurricane proof (we hoped) house. PeeWee was so little, Big Brother was kind of bored and we were amazed, watching the wind blowing like something on TV instead of real life. We were with My One and Only's family, who really hadn't wanted to evacuate. In fact, he would have stayed behind with them if they had not come, kicking and screaming. I'll give it to him that he had a feeling about the storm and told me to get all our papers together and brought some things he's fond of upstairs. He even rolled up the rugs and put them up high. He knew. Not sure how, but he definately knew.

What he and no one else didn't know was that our lives would change forever. Yet again. We'd already had a year to remember, with PeeWee being born early and travelling to California for her open heart surgery and the long slow recovery, not so much of her, but of the rest of us. We were pretty battered from the beginning but somehow we've come out on top. A little moldy, a little shattered, a lot more cynical. Many more grey hairs for both of us.

We came out intact, a lot closer, more guarded, and less likely to take things for granted. We learned that it really does change overnight. We'd learned that from PeeWee's entrance into the world, but I think this whole thing shook our world in a different way. I had planned to drive around the city today and take pictures of the evidence that still exists on my daily route of the damage and destruction, but since I can't escape the Thing, I now feel like documenting the damage may not be the thing to do. Maybe in a few days, but today I am sort of reeling from the fact that it's been a year and there is so little progress here.

I know it'll come though, because this place is a place that just shouldn't be here and somehow it survives everything. Near me, on my block, everyone's home. Two blocks over is gutted and boarded up, waiting to see if we can count on the government to provide us with real protection or if we're going to have to live with things the way they always are in Louisiana. I hope that we can keep up the momentum and get this city back. It's home, and I'll be staying here.

The debris pile in front of the house.
This is the third pile to be hauled away.
The first pile was the furniture that could not be salvaged.

The kitchen as I saw it when I finally came home to the gutted house.
You can see some counters piled on the floor- granite's heavy so it stayed there for weeks.
The dangling potholders have since been lost.

The kitchen today
Progress is good.

Friday, August 18, 2006


I got a reminder today from Lynda that there are days when we should just sit back and let the urgent things slide while we take care of the important things in our lives. I tend to get worked up in the urgent things, rushing around killing myself to get things done while ending up exhausted and cranky and unwilling or unable to do the things that are really important to me. I want my husband and children taken care of and happy and if I am miserable, that's not going to happen.

Most of the small stressful things in my life can be avoided by thinking beyond the next half an hour. I spend a lot of time avoiding the big picture, when the big picture is pretty nice around here. Sure, the last 2+ years have been a rollercoaster ride, but if you look back, it's been incredibly interesting. We've been through things we never in a million years thought we'd have to. We were given a lot to handle and it seems like we've come out on top. We've met facinating people and become good friends with some of them. We've gotten a lesson in what's truely important.

So, I'm going to go take care of the kids and my husband now and try not to let them annoy me too much. I have a hour before Big Brother gets home, so maybe I'll go finish one of those preemie hats.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Okay, I have seen double knitting, but really didn't understand how it worked. So, watching Knitty Gritty on TV while PeeWee was napping they were doing a double knit project. So incredibly cool. So, my day off from preemie hats was not wasted. Wow, it is so cool. I forgot to twist the first few rows, but realized what I was doing when it was actually 2 pieces of knitting. What genius came up with this? Knitting is cool.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A lesson in duplicate stitch

My brain reached it's limit for fair isle. Hat number 21 is a mess. I think it may be salvagable with some duplicate stitch. I've never done it before, but I did some embroidery in 3rd grade. I may need a break from tiny hats.

I think the real problem here is that the only paper I could find for the printer was green and I made a color copy of the blue pattern from the book and it's pretty hard to read. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Could not possibly be me making mistakes.)

It's Big Brother's first day of school. The Episcopal school he goes to has a new policy for middle school and the kids now have to "dress" for chapel days. I think it's good they teach them to dress nicely. They have a pretty tight dress code for regular days too. And we don't have too many events around here except holidays where he would otherwise dress up, so at least the jacket we had to buy will be worn more than once before he outgrows it. We have a closet full of jackets to be passed down to his cousins as they get big enough.

Since he has gym today he had to bring a bag with his shoes and socks. Those are some very big shoes. And poor kid, the only bag I could find was one for plastic cups. He has endless patience for me. He will have lots of good stories to tell his family one day.

Poor kid also has a lazy mother who makes him ride the school bus (more misery stories for the future kids) so he had to be up and ready to go before 7am. He had a few minutes to rest. It was really early. He had to get up and cut the mohawk off this morning too. Kid has a rough life.

I for one am glad he's home and school's starting again. We need a schedule around here. It's been a good summer, with Big Brother and PeeWee being very busy. I think if we looked at the calendar, Big Brother was probably gone more than he was here! And when he was here it seems like there was a pack of boys with him. I think he had a good summer.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Almost halfway there!

I am not entirely sure how it happened but when I recounted the hats I now have 20 finished. I guess I got more done this weekend then I thought. And there are some pretty cute ones too. You can see the dish full of them behind my trusty model. (And those watercolors are from a trip to Russia several years ago if anyone's curious.) I may reach my goal well before PeeWee's second birthday. (I do know that I have just called out to Karma to see if I am worthy of actually finishing this project. Hopefully being for the good of innocent babies, all will go without a hitch.)

I have gotten about halfway through the Kool-Aid sweater too. And I like the way the colors are showing. I need to finish the sleeve I have on the needles and another side of the front, then it's just blocking and assembling. All right, edgings too. I left off the edging on the sweater because I was unsure just how much yarn I had. I would rather have someone take my needles away then ask me to rip out ribbing, so I decided it was safer to knit the body first. It's probably a good thing I did tha because there's an awful lot going on here and it is even bright for a 2 year old. I was first thinking I would add edgings when I knew how much yarn I had left. (As you can see, there's going to be no shortage of this yarn! Maybe PeeWee will also have a matching hat, mittens, earmuffs, socks, a teddy bear and a little ball of yarn to play with. I do overestimate the yardage required. I live in fear of running short.) Seeing the actual fabric I'm making, I think I may go pick out on of those bright happy sock yarns I have been seeing around town.

Of course, I needed a portable project other than hats, so I also started some socks. I took them with me to get my hair um, "cut", and since all that cutting (not color, oh no no) takes such a long time, I needed something mindless and quick. I usually bring a preemie hat, often enough that the stylist asked me why I was knitting two identical hats. She's just adorable and keeps asking to learn to knit. I told her they have a drop in at the yarn store near where she lives, 'cause, I'm spreading the word.

Friday, August 11, 2006


So, in my good intentions, I called my friend the neonatologist at our hospital to get a head count. 45. 45 hats! I thought I was doing so well and I counted the hats in the pile and it turns out I have 13 finished, one on the needles. It may take a month to get the other 31 I need! It'll keep me busy. (Not that I need anything to keep me busy these days.)

I was told it would be really nice if I could do blankets too. I laughed out loud. His wife knits hats so he was teasing.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Aside from the pink and blue hat on the left these were what I knit over the week. My goal is a hat for every head in the NICU. I was so incredibly grateful for what we were given that I get everything from giving these back. Hopefully it'll inspire some extra acrylic/hypoallergenic/baby yarn stash use. I'll be doing a NICU Knit-a-long from September 29th until October 8th. Nothing but NICU knitting for those 10 days. It's the time I spent in the hospital before, during and after PeeWee was born. I figure if I got all this done in a week without devoting myself to it, I ought to be able to reach my goal for my hospital.

My basic preemie hat pattern is to find a suitable yarn- I really love the Plymouth Dream Baby. I have lots of it because my mother went on a buying spree at the LYS when PeeWee made her early entrance to the world and let me tell you, one ball of that makes a LOT of hats. So, little bits of stash work great for me. I use a lot of Cotton Tots, too. Bigger gauge and soft as can be. I've used that for blankets that knit up quickly and get softer with every wash.

Once I've found the yarn I cast on anywhere from 48 to 72 stitches- depending on my mood and on the yarn and stitch pattern. The neonatologists and NICU nurses at my hospital have told me they have kids from 24 weeks to 6 months there and they all need hats to keep them warm. They have their little NICU hats, but they love the look on the parents' faces when they come in and see a handknit hat on their baby's head. I remember when we arrived one morning to find all the little babies had blankets that a retired nurse had sewn. It was incredible to look around at all the isolettes and cribs and see them all covered up in matching blankets. We have ours (and everything else we were given) still. Perfect baby doll size!

So....... I cast on then knit in the round- I find it's easier and I don't have to worry about a very flat seam so no chance of irritating delicate preemie skin. I work my edging for about 1/2 inch to 2 inches- again my mood dictates this completely. I continue with whatever stitch pattern I want to use- sometimes just plain stockinette, a lot of fairisle (fun with something so tiny!), and anything I am trying to learn- cables, twists, anything. When I have gotten to where the hat, minus the edging is just a little taller than a square I start decreasing. Sometimes I'll go longer, make a rectangle and put tassles on the corners- cute jester hat look. Sometimes it gets an i-cord on top tied in a knot- I really like that- it gives me a giggle. Sometimes a pompom. Soem of the hats turn out pretty sophisticated, some are really silly. The occaisional hat looks a little wonky, but seems fine when I try it on my PeeWee model.

Once I've woven in all the ends, I wait until I have a few (or 30) to run them through the wash. I use a small amount of baby detergent, Dreft because it's what we have here, wash the hats with extra rinse on the cycle, and then- this is important! wash my hands before I put them into the dryer. No fabric softener, no dryer sheets. When they are completely dry I wash my hands again and put them straight into ziploc bags. They stay sanitary that way. I know when they get to the NICU at the hospital, no one with a runny nose or dirty hands or anything like that has gotten ahold of them.

Join me from the 29th of September to the 8th of October and lets see how many heads we can get a hat on!

back in town

Well, I am recovered from my family vacation to the mountains. The weather was incredible! Cool and breezy and really nice. The kids were kids and kept me on my toes. (interpret that as you want)

Lots of family time and hiking and PeeWee took nice long naps to give me lots of knitting time. I spent it mostly making preemie hats for the NICU. I worked on the fuzzy blue sweater, ripped it back 3 times when I kept making mistakes and am finally almost finished with the front top. It was nightmarish ripping all that fuzz back. Oh well. It is still soft and fuzzy and should be cozy for the two cool days in New Orleans. Maybe I'll just crank the A/C and enjoy it this fall...