Cowl the Midwife

 

 

I was lucky enough to meet our midwife through the yarn shop. There’s something about getting to know a person through knitting.  Their habits are like little tells that give you a small insight into who they truly are.  The things we do for a living, the shapes of our families, the hobbies that fill the gaps in our days; these are all things that show others who we are.  But our preferences for color, texture, challenge, craft, perfectionism (or not) somehow take us deeper.

Knowing someone as a fellow knitter first can help make it easier to take your relationship to the next level, whether as friends or caregivers. This is one of the things that helped make the decision to go with a home birth midwife so peaceful.  I had seen Rachel knit. I had seen her with her children in the shop. I had read how she thinks about knitting and life.  There was a connection before she even listened for this new soul’s heartbeat in my belly.

All of this is to say that of course, I had to knit her a thank-you gift.  Midway through the pregnancy we took a vacation to Hawaii, and I brought this shawl along as my travel knitting.  I worked on it by the pool and thought about our growing baby and my dreams for his birth.  Stitches flew off the needles, and as the shawl grew, so did my confidence that the pregnancy was going to go smoothly.

When that shawl was finished and the baby was still a wip, I cast on a cowl for my other midwife.  This one was fast and perfect for my nervous hands as we went through a false-labor alarm and all the feelings that brought on.

Both projects were finished well before Calvin made his appearance earthside.  It felt so nice to be able to make these important women something special with my hands while we waited.  And that is the true gift on knitting: it helps us find peace and calm when the world is doing its best to challenge us, and it helps us show love to ourselves and to others.

. . . .

Patterns: Shaelyn shawl {Ravelry notes here} and Ribbed for Your Warmth cowl {Ravelry notes here}

Dapper Baby Vest

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One more baby project leapt on and off the needles recently.  After finishing a relatively big project, I like to do something small and quick.  A palate cleansing project, if you will.

I had this beautiful, bulky yarn and pattern in the back of my mind for nearly my whole pregnancy, and just had to cast on.

This was a simple and fast knit, and is so full of charm I can hardly stand it!  The only snag came when I decided to not do a gauge swatch and just cast on.  I had more yarn than the pattern called for!  It’s a baby knit!  I figured I’d take my chances. Heh.

Pro tip: if you’re going to skip doing a gauge swatch, at least stop and check your gauge a couple of inches into the project.

Had I done that, I would have realized how off my gauge was and wouldn’t have had a problem ripping it out.  As it was, I didn’t notice anything was off until I had knit the body and fronts.  Something looked off.  The armholes were not tall enough in proportion to the length and width of the body.  I checked the schematic against my actual measurements and yes.  Things were way off.

Did I mention I was also out of yarn?

I debated ripping the whole thing out at this point.  This is always hard for me, even though it was a small, fast project.  Then I remembered why I had this yarn in the first place: I had knit a cowl with it last year!

After unpicking the seam and unraveling a couple of inches from the cowl, I kept knitting the vest. I was able to make the armholes deeper to match the proportions of the rest of the vest.

In the end, this probably won’t fit my guy for a year or so.  But that’s okay. It will be waiting for him when the time is right.

Pattern: Harold Vest by Courtney Kelley (Ravelry notes here)

Yarn: Tundra by The Fibre Company in Red Fox

Button: reclaimed wood handmade by Wooly Moss Roots

One More Sweater

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There’s something about knitting for babies.  The small scale, the sweet details, the softest of the soft yarn.  And the hope.  The dreams and happy thoughts that you knit into each stitch for the baby as you work.  It’s a very special thing.

With that in mind, I hoped to knit one more sweater for our babe before the holidays, birthdays, and dues dates swept us away in a sea of “where did the time go?”.

I chose this yarn because of the colors, pure and simple.  It is also incredibly, unbelievably soft, perfect for baby.  Each stripe was a pleasure to knit as the soft tealy blues eased from light to dark.  In some light, two adjacent colors looked identical.  Then I’d work on the sweater somewhere else, and the line would be so crisp I’d wonder how I ever thought they were the same.  Hmmm.

This wee sweater knit up pretty fast, and now it waits, in the freshly painted and arranged baby room, for its owner to arrive.  A few weeks to go yet, which means there will most likely be more baby knitting.  Oh yes, I think there just might be more baby knitting.

Yarn: Frabjuous Fibers Cheshire Cat gradient set in Down the Rabbit Hole

Pattern: Sock Yarn Sweater (Child’s Version) by Hannah Fettig (my Ravelry notes here)

Catching Up

I knew it had been a while since my last post, but wow.  It has been a challenging spring, with both Sweetie and PB spending time in the hospital.  Rest assured, both are well now and we are looking forward to a fun and easy-going summer!

Through it all, there has been knitting and reading and gardening and mothering and business-running aplenty going on.  Here are some highlights:

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1. Fiar by Irish Girlie Knits in Black Trillium Pebble sock, Ravelry Notes here

2. Baby Sophisticate knit in Malabrigo worsted, Ravelry notes here

3. A much-needed day of fun at Oaks Park. She rode all. the. rides.

4. Awesome train building with my girl.

5. We recently had a little photoshoot for Stash. I love our merry group of Stash Enhancers!

6. I was featured in an article about crafty tattoos in the current issue (#5) of Pom Pom Quarterly!  What an honor and a treat to be included in such a beautful needle craft magazine!  This special little publication from London is not to be missed. Only a few US shops have it at this point, but you can get a subscritption or order online here or at Stash.

I hope your summer is off to a an easy, breezy start.  See you in this space soon for some wip action!

Off the Needles :: Scraps

It feels really, really satisfying to knit a project and use up almost all of the yarn.  It’s as if it were meant to be, as if the yarn and the pattern were a perfect match.

Occasionally, however, you overestimate the yardage you’ll need for a project, only use a few yards of that extra skein, or inherit someone’s leftovers.  What is to become of all those partial balls of seemingly unwanted leftover yarn?

I usually toss all my partial balls into a bin inside my stash cupboard and let them marinate until a use becomes apparent.  I don’t really worry too much about them. Perfect for stripes, toys, crafts, gift wrap, and baby hats, I know my leftovers will get used up eventually.

First, I knit this:

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Earth & Sky

And used the leftovers for this:

Scrappy Sockhead Hat

Scrappy Sockhead Hat

And then I knit this:

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Tidal Cardigan

And used some of the leftovers for this:

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Little Scallops

Isn’t this a fun game?!  How do you handle your leftover bits of yarn?

You can see details of all of these projects over on my Ravelry page.

Off The Needles

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Jeweled Cowl

Project details and mods here.

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Chambord Pullover

 Project details and mods here.

Last week I finished two projects!

Both the Jeweled Cowl and Chambord Pullover were quick knits, in different ways.  With the cowl, that fresh spring green and the sparkly beads kept me wanting more.  It was definitely a “one more row” type of project.  This is a pattern I probably would not have gravitated toward on my own; I started it as part of a knit-along at Stash, and I’m so glad I did.  Beading with a teensy tiny crochet hook isn’t so awful, did you know that?

I chose to knit Chambord as part of the Stash and Burn group’s Use It or Lose It challenge.  This is a challenge meant to inspire us to use that deep stash yarn in concentrated periods (13 in 2013); if you don’t love it after trying to use it, you get to lose it.  I got excited to use a deeply stashed sweater quantity of Plymouth Tweed, and thus a sweater was knit.  I love the finished result, but the yarn wasn’t all that pleasant to work with.  I can appreciate a sheepy, rustic wool, but for sweater knitting I think I’ll stick to more smooth, plump yarns from now on.

In any case, that’s a ton of yarn out of the stash, and it feels really great to have these 2 project off the needles!

Here are some outtakes from my low-key impromptu play room photo shoot.  It was directed by PB, and she took all the photos of Chambord in this post.  Love!

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Hooray:: A Finished Sweater!

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Hooray Cardigan by Veera Valimaki in Madelinetosh Vintage “Tart”

This post has been a long time in the making.  I excitedly started this sweater back in January of 2012, and promptly put it into long-term time out after a mis-crossed cable episode.  The sweater got some brief attention back in September when I had ambitions to finish it in time for Sweater Weather in Oregon. It got set aside again, in favor of other knits.

It wasn’t until January of this year that an inexplicable spark ignited my desire to knit on it all the time.  I had the body finished in a week.  After that it was simply a matter of persevering through the epic ribbing and knitting against the sinking feeling that I would run out of yarn.  Hence the 3/4 length sleeves with mere yards to spare!

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I also went a little beyond my usually hasty button attachment and followed The Knitmore Girls Couture Button and Grosgrain Ribbon tutorials.  This adds a nice finish and stability to the button band, plus it’s nice to have a little flash of something unexpected peeking out from inside the sweater.

This was a very fun, addictive knit once I got into the rhythm of the pattern.  I love the details of the cables and attached i-cord edging.  It feels really good to get this sweater off the needles and into my wardrobe.    I’ve worn it twice since finishing it last weekend and get lots of compliments each time.  High off the success of this sweater, I’ve already cast on another…hopefully it will join the ranks of Finished Objects a little sooner that this cardigan.

You can read all the details on the project on my Ravelry page here.

Fairy Party Favors

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PB’s birthday falls just a few days into the new year, an inevitably busy, post-holiday blitzed out time of year.  And each year, I’ve felt like a celebration was an afterthought, something thrown together at the last-minute, just as the Christmas tree was starting to get crispy.  Oh yes, it’s birthday time.

This has resulted in over-inviting, over indulging, and generally overdoing it.  I would usually feel like the point of the day was being overlooked in a rush to make things just-so, and the day would end with any number of babies or adults in tears.  This year we chose to keep it small and simple (thank you, Trader Joe’s), and it was a relaxing day.  With the exception of the party favors…

I had so much fun going over the top with these!

We had a very loosely themed Fairy Party where guests were encouraged to dress up. Then at the end of the party, each kiddo got to choose a wand and a vial of glittery pixie dust. Not to worry: I glued the lids on!

I spent a lot more time on these than I thought I would, but once you start it’s hard to stop. And I have to admit: it was fun to get so immersed in a creative project that wasn’t knitting. It’s good to mix things up once in a while.

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Flower Fairy Wand Materials:

  • 1/4 inch wooden dowel, cut to 18 inches long
  • green glitter paint
  • styrofoam ball
  • bouquets of silk flowers, leaves, butterflies
  • ribbons
  • hot glue
  1. Paint the dowels with green glitter paint and let dry.
  2. Separate flower heads and leaves from bouquets.  I had a pile of larger flowers, one of smaller flowers, and a pile of leaves and add ons like butterflies and more elongated pieces.
  3. Put a dab of hot glue on each flower before pressing it into the styrofoam ball until it is covered (there was some styrofoam showing if you looked closely).
  4. When the dowels are dry, put a dab of glue on one end and attach a 6-10 inch length of ribbon.  I put 3 ribbons of varying lengths on each wand.
  5. Press the dowel about halfway into the ball, remove it, and fill the hole with hot glue. Then put the dowel back in and press firmly until glue sets.
  6. Put in a pretty jar or vase to let dry and display!

We also had a craft area for the little ones to decorate cardboard crowns.  I put out some glitter glue, foam stickers, markers and crayons and they were entertained for quite some time.  It’s pretty exciting to be out of the imminent choking-hazard age and into the age of semi-independent crafting!

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PB loved it, and charged herself with decorating all of the extra crowns, and now we’re all royalty.

All in all it was a very fun little celebration. I’m thankful I was able to make time to create something interactive that I knew PB would enjoy.  In a busy season, and a busy life, taking time to create with PB is one of the things that truly helps fill my bliss-cup.

My only problem now: what to do with all those naked bouquets of flowers.

Block Party

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Oh, the needles have been very busy lately. Sometime in late October I decided to knit a certain amount of holiday gifts. My goal was to use existing stash yarn + patterns for all the projects. I ended up having a lot of fun searching patterns in my Ravelry and real libraries.  A few of them had been in my queue for a very long time; casting them on was almost as satisfying as using vintage stash!

I celebrated over the weekend by hosting a block party. We indulged in some bubbly Soak, took a long bath in the washing machine, and then laid out on the table in my crafty room. It was a pretty wild night.

The last gift knit is on the needles now, and it’s only the 10th.  Hubris has me contemplating another gift…surely 2 weeks is enough time for what I’ve got planned!

How about you? Are you working on any gifts?

We had a really fun yarn craft over on the Stash blog last week.  Check it out if you’re looking for a little holiday crafting cheer!

Hurricane Cowl

Lunch at Slice

with Marie Forleo, my biz-lady mentor

Last weekend I went to New York City for a conference for women entrepreneurs striving to create not just a business we love, but a life we love as well.  My goal was to get inspired and map out the trajectory for a few new ideas I have brewing for Stash.  I also wanted to meet some fellow biz ladies and play in the city.  I got to do all of those things and so much more; I ate my way through the West Village, discussed ideas with incredible women (and a couple of men), danced my buns off, and even did some yarn shopping.  I also had some major personal revelations and got inspired to hit the ground running as soon as I got home.

Hudson River at West Side Highway and West 12th

And then on Sunday afternoon, reality hit as news of Hurricane Sandy’s imminent arrival infiltrated the bubble that was my experience so far.  Flights were cancelled, airports were closed, and hotels were evacuated.  Many of us were stranded, challenged to create an opportunity out of an uncertain situation.

When I woke up on Monday morning,  I saw the above view out my hotel window and decided the water was just a bit too close for comfort.  The storm hadn’t even started yet and the Hudson was already level with the West Side Highway!  Through Facebook and Twitter, some fellow conference goers and I were able to stay in touch and I ended up with a fantastic new friend to wait out the storm with.  We promptly moved to a hotel in Midtown and were fortunate to have power throughout the storm.

A bit of blue sky the morning after.

Huddling inside a hotel room with a near-stranger  waiting for a hurricane to strike is an interesting experience, indeed.  We were both anxious, scared, uncertain, and grateful to not be alone.  My heart was aching to be so far away from my wife and daughter; I was literally trapped on an island, and couldn’t get home.  This moment threw my priorities into stark relief, and I couldn’t wait to get home to hug them.

Through it all, I knit on this cowl.  Huge size 35 needles and some extreme thick and thin yarn from Loopy Mango made for good hurricane knitting.  Each stitch was a meditation as I absorbed all I had learned over the weekend, changes I wanted to make in my personal life, and new ideas for my business.  And when the knitting was finished, the hurricane was over and I was wrapped in the warmth of wool and new friendships.

Thank you to my hurricane sisters Catherine, Sarah, Sara, Amy, Ellie, Mari, Ceclia, and Claudia.  I’m so thankful we met!

Please consider taking a moment to donate to the Red Cross; anything you can contribute will help someone in need.