Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Reason for the Season

Being this enormously pregnant at this time of year has led me to think quite a lot about the reason for the season. Such a trite, overused phrase it is – ‘reason for the season’ – bandied about by almost every church message board in the days leading up to Christmas, yet it’s a reminder that all the pressure to shop, shop, shop and spend, spend, spend is just a cultural holiday. There’s more to this particular day than just that, and we should take pause to remember it.

I was pregnant with my first son during the Christmas season, too, but only about six months in. Large enough for knowing smiles in the grocery store, but not nearly huge enough for overly-kindly Southern women to pull me aside and express what a miracle a Christmas baby would be.

At this point, I don’t care if he’s a Christmas baby, you see. I just want him out. I’m enormously uncomfortable, the Gestational Diabetes is a pain in the rear end during the carb laden Christmas season, and I just want to get on with the joy of being a mother instead of lugging my not-so-aerodynamic belly up and down the stairs while being unable to keep up with my toddler. I feel like I am so, so done with this, and the little guy is taking his time making his appearance.

Two thousand years ago, a heavily pregnant woman was also making preparations. Not for the Christmas season. It didn’t exist, yet. She was preparing for a journey to a different town to do her civic duty at the side of her husband, the man who loved her so much that he stayed with her even when told her child wasn’t his. An angel messenger is a pretty good pregnancy test, one that comes with an accurate due date, unlike what women at the time must’ve normally done to calculate when a child might arrive. Still, she probably had no idea when setting off on her trip that her child would be born outside of her home, in her husband’s hometown, not hers.

As the tradition goes, Mary and Joseph made their way from the Galilee to Bethlehem with Mary riding on a donkey. Nine months pregnant and riding about 100 miles, 158 kilometers, on the back of a donkey. I’m so huge that I can barely sit up straight in my car. And add to that the problem of lodging – a whole city filled to the brim for the census, leaving hugely pregnant Mary forced to sleep on a bed of hay, no matter how uncomfortable it must’ve left her.

And so that night of all nights, a new baby was born. A hundred miles from home, she labored without her friends or midwife, with only her new husband to hold her hand and guide the baby into the world. Women did, and still do, die in labor, especially in those conditions. She must’ve been so scared that night, giving birth on a pile of hay surrounded by animals instead of her loved ones. There’s more than one miracle to celebrate on Christmas morning: Jesus was born, yes. But his mother made it through, too, despite all the terrible conditions and hardships she had to face. Alone in a stable in an unfamiliar city, a baby was born, and a family gained a member, regardless of who that baby would become.

Tonight, I’ll no doubt sit in church and get all sorts of knowing smiles and parades of people asking when I’m due. It’s uncomfortable to me, being the center of that attention when all I really want is to be at home with my feet up and tea in my hands to keep the constant late-pregnancy swelling down. But tonight, I need to keep in mind what another woman went through long before me.

Will it be a pain for my son to share his birthday with a season so full of hype? Will he complain about joint birthday-Christmas presents, and a birthday party overshadowed by Santa? Yes. But he’ll also share his birthday season with the Son of God. That’s pretty special. It’s my job to help him understand that.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Spinning: Black Hills Gold

Something scrumptious off of my wheel. 4oz. of merino/bamboo/silk, dyed by Miss Babs.


260 yards in worsted weight.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gestational Diabetes

I haven't used this forum to talk much about my current pregnancy for various reasons, but I wanted to take a moment to jot down some notes about my experiences with gestational diabetes. I wish I'd found a post on a blog somewhere when I was first diagnosed as it scared the crap out of me and I didn't know where to start.

I didn't have GD with my first term pregnancy. My GD has nothing to do with weight -- I actually weighed less at the start of this pregnancy than I did at the start of Jr.'s. This particular placenta is producing hormones that make it tough for my body to produce enough insulin to compensate. As a result, my body is going nuts trying to make enough if I eat too many carbs, and poof. Baby is on a constant sugar high if I don't control what I eat.

The good news is, in most cases, diet DOES fix the problem. Granted, I'm very, very borderline for GD. I've had absolutely ZERO problem getting my blood glucose numbers to come back as they should be if I just pay attention to what I'm eating.

This is where I had trouble before taking a class, however. I couldn't find enough info in a form that was helpful to me to make an informed change of diet immediately. So here it is, a list of what I'm allowed to eat (and generally what guidelines most people are given) and a short meal plan for a single day.

Breakfast: 30g-45g of carbs total
I usually have a piece of whole wheat toast with PB on it and a smallish serving of fruit. I've noticed that if I err on the 45g edge of the range, my blood glucose readings are usually on the high end later. This is the only meal that tends to give me this reaction.

Snack 1: 15g carbs
A piece of string cheese and a 100 calorie pack of crackers. I was glad to find that the prepackaged 100 calorie packs often have at or about 15g of carbs in each pack. I hate the extra waste, but it's a very, very easy way to take my snack with me and not be guessing about serving size.

Lunch: 45g carbs
A sandwich and a small piece of fruit. The more protein on the sandwich the better!

Snack 2: 15g carbs
I'm boring, so I eat the same thing as snack 1. Sometimes I'll have a pudding cup instead, but it's not usually substantial enough to keep me from being hungry before dinner.

Dinner: 45g-60g carbs
Salmon (grilled), asparagus, fluffy dinner roll. Or chicken wrap with whole wheat tortilla, salad. I've been able to push the carb limit here and not have adverse reactions, but I know others who have had terrible problems.

Snack 3: 15g-30g carbs
Pudding cup and crackers and cheese. Definitely needs something protein oriented. This snack is super important -- if I don't eat enough carbs here, my morning readings go wonky as my blood glucose crashes in the middle of the night and the pancreas shoots out extra glucose to compensate, which triggers the weird placenta response. I've noticed I can tell if I don't have enough snack at about 2am -- the baby gets a sugar rush from the excess glucose my pancreas decided to make and wakes me up with a dance party.

The hardest part of GD in my experience is making sure I eat enough protein so that I'm still gaining as I should be. My first few weeks after being diagnosed, my weight plateaued and at one point I actually lost weight, not something I'd recommend for a pregnant woman. Couple that with the holidays approaching, and I've been pretty miserable, food-wise.

Only a month or so to go, and he is here, and the GD should simply disappear once the placenta is out. I can't wait to drink orange juice again. Nothing like some wasted delicious carbs.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Hats and Hats Abound

This Christmas seems to be all about hats, for me. And a few other things I can't share yet, as the recipients might happen upon the pictures, but here are just a couple of the things I've been up to.

Four Minnesota Wild hats, though in various shades of forest green. The top beret is handspun, the earflap hat with the Charlie Brown zigzag is Cascade 220, and the two cabled children's hats are Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (and are some old, old leftovers. Feels nice to be done with the yarn!) These hats will soon be making a trip to the snowy north to live with some dear friends and hockey fans, and I'm hoping to get a picture of them watching a game in the hats!

And then, the little hat I'm most fond of: a gift for Durham Knits, Jr. in Misti Alpaca Worsted.

The pattern is Kate Oates' Plaid Hatter, and I can't wait to make it again in an adult size for me. I LOVE it! The little mittens are leftovers in a basic toddler mitt pattern.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tis the Season

... well, maybe it isn't quite yet, but it's been the season for knitting presents for Christmas. As I have an Impending Arrival right around the holidays (and it's entirely possible that Little Brother might make his appearance on December 25 or so), I've been trying to get all of my holiday preparations out of the way as early as possible. Of course, that makes for no pretty pictures for the blog until after gifting.

Instead, here's a cute cat.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sun Yarn

After experimenting with dyeing in my crockpot, I decided to try dyeing using Kool Aid in the sun, inspired by a thread in Ravelry's A Kool Way to Dye group.

This is what I came up with:


A couple of my friends asked for me to write out the instructions for this mottled sun yarn, so here it is for future use.

I supersaturated Kool Aid in lemon lime and blue raspberry ice in boiling water, 2 packets of each in separate pots. After it cooled somewhat, I poured it into an ice cube tray and let them freeze into super colored dye cubes overnight.

The next day (forecast to be 100F+, though I've heard it's possible to do this at a much lower temp) I filled a dark casserole dish halfway with clear water and my 4oz. of yarn, just covering the yarn in the pot, then let it sit for an hour in the sun until very warm. I then randomly placed dye ice cubes on the yarn. This created the brightest spots of green and blue. I left the yarn in the sun for the rest of the afternoon to be sure it set.

There were still large amounts of white left after the ice cube treatment, so the next afternoon I mixed another 2 packets of lemon lime and replaced the water in the casserole with the newly mixed Kool Aid solution. I again left the yarn in the dye for the afternoon in the sun.

When I removed and washed the yarn, I was left with this lovely mottled effect. I'd love to try it again with more dye cube colors!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Finished yarn: OBX Sunrise

This summer has slipped away completely. Where did it go? Most of a month tied to my sister's wedding and a beach vacation will do that, I suppose.

I just realized that I never posted pictures of the completed fiber dye experiment, so here we go:

Dried fiber in braid.


Spun up on bobbins.


And the spun and set yarn!


I ended up with a bulky, squishy yarn that I expect will end up as a hat once I'm done knitting Christmas presents.

Monday, July 11, 2011

6am Wakeup Call

Or perhaps I should call this post "6am Wakeup Screams."

It's just after 7am, and I've been awake for more than an hour, ever since hearing the dulcet wails of Knits Jr. over the intercom. I try not to complain too much about his sleeping habits, considering he's probably the most laid-back baby ever (well, toddler, technically), but 6am is just too much. Mama needs more sleep than that, especially when Mama is working on a sibling for the little monster.

I had so many plans for today - the pool, shopping for a present for a friend's baby shower. Instead, I'm just waiting for naptime. Ugh.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dyeing Fiber

Yesterday, I decided to experiment with using McCormick dyes and the crock pot for dying. I soaked my 4oz of Cormo wool for about an hour in the crock pot before beginning.

The three colors I used are Sunset Orange, pure yellow, and Dusky Pink, all drawn from the back of the McCormick box. I poured the dye (3x the icing amount listed on the back mixed with 3/4 cup boiling water and 2 tbsps of lemon juice) over sections of the wool in the pot, which was full of water, then put the crock pot on high. I let the dye soak for two hours on high, and it was completely exhausted.

Here's the fiber washing in the sink post-crockpot:


And drying in the sun on my deck (yes, that baby gate makes a fantastic rack for hanging fiber):


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Triangle Restaurant Review: Bread and Kabob's Glorious Return

I'm a foodie. There, I said it. And the Triangle area of NC is full of fabulous food options, including some restaurants to rival the "big cities" - and I know, as I've eaten my way through Chicago and Washington, DC. There are certainly blogs out there devoted to food in my area (Carpe Durham is my go-to for new restaurants), but every once in a while, there's a restaurant that deserves special attention.

Bread and Kabob, located inside the 1013 bar on Main St in Durham near Duke, is one of those restaurants.

I should start with the full story. Bread and Kabob used to be its own restaurant, in the same location, when my husband was in high school. He's a native of the area, I am not. When we lived in Chicago and DC, we loved to frequent Persian and Afghan restaurants, and almost every single time we tried a new one, he would compare it to Bread and Kabob.

To his great sorrow, Bread and Kabob closed just before we met, and he never got to introduce me to his favorite college meal. The story goes that the owners went back to Afghanistan to start a business. Their children remained in America and opened the 1013 bar in the former location of Bread and Kabob.

Fast forward to Wednesday. Carpe Durham announced that Bread and Kabob was back. We went immediately, dragging along Knits, Jr., and tried their brand new buffet.

For 7 years, I've listened to the other half extoll the virtues of Bread and Kabob. It lives up to the hype. The buffet had a chicken curry, two rice dishes, and three veggies (spinach, potatoes, and green beans), though the selection is subject to change. The curry was top notch, the beef rice dish was something I'd never had before and was amazing, and the potatoes were so good as to call for multiple visits to the buffet. The buffet also had rice pudding - perfect rice pudding, with the rice still identifiable instead of mush, and bits of almond adding crunch here and there. Also brought to the table was a big basket of delicious, fresh bread.

It was so amazing, in fact, that we went back on Thursday. My husband went for the buffet, again. I decided to order chicken kabobs with rice off the menu. Again, perfection. The chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked, the rice generously sprinkled with sumac spice, and two chargrilled tomatoes on the side.

We'll go again, and again, and again. Welcome back, Bread and Kabob.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wedding Shawl

I have a project on a deadline. I'm never, ever good with deadlines, but we'll see how it goes.

I'm knitting Triinu from Knitted Lace of Estonia in the pink yarn I overdyed last year to wear at my sister's wedding on August 13. That's a whole 2.5 months away. I can do it, right?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sort of Finished?

After 9 months of knitting, I've finished my Featherweight Cardigan - an entire sweater knit out of laceweight yarn. I'm thrilled. So proud!

But you'll see there are no pictures.

I've finished 9 months of knitting... and I can't talk myself into blocking it. See, in order to block, I need to clean the toys off Knits Jr.'s floor. I need to put up with Knits Jr. screaming like the devil in his crib while I pin the piece out. I haven't been able to get up the nerve to do it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Today, I learned how to knit left-handed.

I've been teaching knitting lessons for a few months, now. I've had no fewer than 3 people ask for directions on how to knit left-handed (not holding yarn in left hand, which is knitting continental, but actually knitting from left to right instead of right to left) and now, finally, I've given in and learned to do it myself. I'm sick of being stumped by questions. And though I'm still figuring out a few of the kinks, I did it all by myself.

How will this help beyond helping other people to knit? If I can get proficient at it, I'll be able to replace purling entirely with simply knitting back the other direction. Pretty cool, if I do say so!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ready, Set, Knit

It's amazing how children take up every bit of time without leaving a whole lot to say about it. My little boy is almost a year old. In the past weeks, he's learned to stand free of objects, cruises along the couch and chair and tables, will take a step (but only one step) before falling down to his knees. He's a truly amazing little man, and despite all the work involved, it's worth it to be staying home with him.

And I've been knitting, but not as much. Here's what's in the pipeline, though:

Clara Shawl

Clara is a shawlette worked from the center out, but can easily be sized up for a full shawl. She is named for the daughter I lost in March 2009 at 11 weeks gestation. Grief is a very long and personal process, and the design of this shawl mirrors the path of my recovery: the center is a soothing, repetitive garter stitch - the only thing I could bring myself to knit after losing her - while the border becomes more complex, as my grief changed over time. The shawl is designed in honor of the ladies of Ravelry’s Healing After Pregnancy Loss group: the strongest women I’ve ever met, and whom I have the great honor of calling friends.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Today, I picked up my new Ashford Joy spinning wheel. It's a double treadle, portable wheel, and I am in love. She's small, she's quiet, and (perhaps best of all at the moment) she's babyproof, thanks to her traveling case.

Sadly, this means I'll be parting with my dear Kromski Minstrel. I haven't found a buyer, yet, but I'm sure I'll be able to - the Kromski is a wonderful wheel, just not babyproof enough for my home. I'll miss Magda, but I'm thrilled to welcome Joy.

My inaugural spin is an Abby Franquemont batt in Shiraz, a deep purpley burgundy, merino/tencel mix. It's delightful to spin, as any Abby batt always proves to be, and I'm easily managing an even long-draw on Joy's smallest ratio. Joy's a fast one (probably faster than Magda, as I don't have the lace flyer for the Kromski) and is proving to be just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why so many question marks, eh?

Dear Person on a forum I read,

Why so many question marks and exclamation points? We understand your point with just one of each. Why end each question with three??? Or even four???? And omg four exclamation points!!!! Adding so many detracts from the points you're attempting to make. I won't even touch on the point of your poor spelling or very odd emoticon faces. What the heck does "=S" mean, anyway? It's not a smiley. It's not a frown. I am befuddled.

Learn how to type.

No love,
A former editor

Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 In Review

2010 was pretty good to me. A significant improvement over 2009, which can still bite me in the rear.


BOOK: This is going to embarrass me beyond belief, but Abigail Renold's "The Last Man on Earth." It's a Jane Austen sequel. I'm a tad obsessed with them at the moment. I happened to finish the whole book in one day.

PLACE VISITED: Asheville, NC with my hubby and son

MEAL COOKED: It might be silly, but I made one kickass meatloaf this year! I've been trying to improve my cooking. Meatloaf is easy, but GOOD meatloaf can be difficult.

MEAL EATEN: At Bamian in Arlington, VA. Hubby and I used to live there, and went back to our favorite restaurants when we were up for a meeting. I really, really like this restaurant.

MOVIE: Harry Potter 7a.


ITEM BOUGHT: BFL/silk from Maryland Sheep and Wool. OMG soft. I also succeeded in my first spinningwheel laceweight using it.

MOMENT: My son's birth. Yes, it's cheesy. It's still true.