Oh Baby!

This is the first is a series I’m going to call Oh Baby! for all the baby knitting I’ve been doing of late.  It seems like I’ve got a friend having a baby every month for the next 5 months or so, which means many mini knits.

The first is for a little girl due in July.  As much as I think I want to fight gender specific colors when picking out baby gifts, this yarn was just too good to ignore.  It’s been in my stash for a bit, and seemed like the perfect colorway for a baby girl born in the heat of summer.

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Pattern: Baby Stuff, free Ravelry download

Yarn: Shibui Knits sock yarn in color 4201, approximately 160 yards

Needles: US size 2 double points

Mods: Made an i-cord topper with the last 4 stitches.  Because babies need funny things sticking up off the tops of their hats.

This is a quick and fun set to make.  The mitts were especially fast, and I hope they come in handy (hehe) for the little one.  The whole thing took about 1/2 a skein, so a great use of leftover bits of sock yarn.

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So, one baby gift down, 3 or 4 more to go.  And then there’s this:

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My Peaceful baby is due on New Year’s Day.  I feel like one lucky knitter to be having a winter baby!  Bring on the wee hats, sweaters, and booties!  Any suggestions for great gender-neutral knitting patterns?

Summer Camp

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Words are not quite managing to describe the experience I had last week at Squam Art Workshop in New Hampshire.  There were amazing artists, beautiful scenery, and fun people to meet all around.  The lake, trees, and chipmunks delighted me every day, while the people provided constant inspiration and support.  Treating myself to a grown up artsy-crafty summer camp experience was the best thing I’ve done in a long time.  And if you weren’t tempted already, know that there’s another session coming up in the fall…

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I focused mainly on knitting classes with Annie Modesitt which were incredible.  I learned how to make an invisible left decrease, bobbles,yarn dreadlocks, and so much more.  Mostly I enjoyed her sense of humor, clear explanations, and general attitude about knitting.

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Even though my heart belongs to knitting, I think my favorite class was with painter Marisa Haedike of Creative Thursday.  She creates the most interesting and adorable creatures in her work, both on canvas and in fabric.  Her class taught us how to take a character sketch and turn it into a Creative Character.

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Thankfully I had spent the past couple of months getting to know my sewing machine because there happened to be one almost exactly like it in class.  So I was able to focus on my critter and not how to work the machine.  This was a very playful, creative exercise, one I can see myself repeating over and over.

Here’s my finished Love Bunny with her friend Beaver, a classmate’s design:

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A special thank you to my lovely and generous cabin-mates who helped make my experience even better.  A couple of them even have some amazing work you can go look at here.  It was a true pleasure meeting all of you!

Burk-n-socks

Do you remember when I used to talk about the things I was actually knitting?  Yeah, me too.  So I’ve got a treat for you today: a real finished object!

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  • Yarn: Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fassett, 1.5 skeins

  • Pattern: Basic Sock Recipe, ravelled here

  • Needles: US size 1/2.25 mm Magic Loop

  • Mods: Cast on 72 stitches for boy feet!

I knit these socks in April for my dear friend Burk.  We’ve been friends since we were younger and wilder, back in college.  Actually, I’ll have to speak for myself there, because I believe he can still get a bit wild, especially if there is karaoke involved…

He has been a great admirer of my knitting career and of hand-knit socks in particular.  So when I saw his birthday approaching on the calendar, I knew I had to cast on a pair of socks as fun and interesting as he.

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While the yarn wasn’t my favorite to knit with in terms of texture, the colors were a lot of fun.  As you can see, I chose not to match up the stripes on these socks, instead letting the colors meander on their own.  This kept me entertained as I knit row upon row of stocking stitch!

This was my first time knitting socks for someone with feet larger than my own, and that presented some challenges.  Burk kindly sent me his foot measurements, and with the help of Knitting Rules I was able to come up with a 72-stitch cast on and estimates for length of leg and foot.  But I’m used to being able to try socks on and customizing the fit as I knit, and that didn’t really work in this scenario.  So Burk, I did the best I could without having your actual feet to fit them onto.  I hope they fit!

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Twee Bootees

I recently whipped up these wee & twee bootees out of leftover sock yarn.  I had two little balls left over from my Spring Forward socks, and figured it would take the whole lot to make these little bootees.  Not true.  I only used up one ball!  Great way to use up tiny bits of leftovers.

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There were so many good button choices!  These booties are for a babe of unknown gender, so my strategy was to make them as fun and bright as possible.  I am not one to tote a basketful of pastel to a baby shower; in fact, if you invite me to your shower, be prepared to get shocking colors and hand knits!

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There was a fair amount of finishing to be done after the knitting was complete.  They’re so small though, that the time spent sewing them up was nominal.  I used the yarn tail from each strap to make a button loop.  Simply tack the yarn to the opposite edge of the strap to create a loop, then secure by weaving the tail into the strap.

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  • Pattern:  Saartje’s Bootees, Ravelled here

  • Yarn: Shibui Knits sock yarn, color 4201, 10 or so yards

  • Needles: US 1 1/2, 2.5mm dpns

  • Mods: Used one color instead of two.

To block, I lightly dampened each bootie and then stuffed it full of plastic wrap.  This evened out the shape and straps nicely.

The only trouble with this little stash-busting project is that I still have leftovers!

Beaded Beauties

Another component to hosting a knitting party is to invite talented and generous friends.  Everyone brought delicious vittles to share, highlights of which were the largest tiramisu I’ve ever seen, a caramelized onion quiche, delicious breads and cookies, chili, pizza rolls, and veggies with dips.   Mmmm…  And I have leftovers!

Lady’s Slipper brought Ravelry name tags for everyone, which was a huge treat. Nutmeg Knitter brought a book and some llama yarn for the raffle.  There were several other raffle prizes donated as well; thanks to everyone who brought something.  I think just about everyone went home with a prize!

Pixisis brought her stash of beads, many of which were handmade. She taught people how to make their own stitch markers, and some of us were fortunate enough to have her make them for us.

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Turquoise beads were handmade glass, red and yellow beads are Swarovski crystal.  She doesn’t mess around.

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We’ve been nagging at her for ages to set up an etsy shop to sell her beaded wares, so if you like what you see, go nag her here!

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I may have to cast on a new project just so I can put some of these beauties to work!

Magic Carpet Hat

Do remember last week when I tried to knit while standing out in the hypothermia-inducing cold in Washington D.C.?  After trying to knit and failing to complete even one row, I begrudgingly put the project away.  Driving home the next day, however, provided much more favorable knitting conditions and I was able to make good progress.

A friend of mine just had a baby boy last month, and I knew immediately that I wanted to knit something sweet and tiny for him.  I love to make baby things, so I need very little incentive to do so.  This worked out especially well because I had a leftover skein of Knit Picks Felici from the Pom Pom socks; its color, texture, and machine washability meant it was perfect for this project.

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When lacking an actual baby to model your knits, paper towels are extremely handy!

  • Pattern: Magic Carpet Hat as improvised by Me.

  • Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Atmosphere, approximately 105 yards

  • Needles: US size 4 12-inch circulars

I cast on an odd number of stitches, did one inch of 1×1 ribbing, then knit until the stripe repeats looked good and another mother in my knitting group said it looked big enough.  The nice thing about baby hats is that if you make them a little large, the babe’s head will surely grow into it.  I then did a 3-needle bind off to give the hat a square shape since I planned to attach pom poms or tassels to the corners.

Have you ever made tassels before?  I hadn’t, but somewhere in the depths of my mind I remembered seeing a diagram or reading about it once.  So I just winged it, setting out on a Macguiver-like adventure with my yarn, scissors, a memo pad, and a tapestry needle.  They turned out pretty well, I think, and they are darn cute.  If you’d like to make tassels but need some inspiration, check this out from Techknitter.

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When I paraded the hat in front of Sweetie hoping for praise, I got confusion instead.  “It looks like half a magic carpet.  What is it?”  “It’s a baby hat, isn’t it cute?” I said.  “Oh, I see.  Yeah, that’s great.”  Sweetie was thoroughly unimpressed.  Could it be that she is growing immune to my knitterly powers?  Is she saturated with custom hand-knits?  Fortunately my friend received the hat with more enthusiasm!

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Hmmm…I suppose it does kind of look like half of a magic carpet after all…

Staying Warm

Speaking of hand-knit gifts, I neglected to mention that back in December I was the lucky recipient of a sweater.  This is a piece I saw grow at Stitch ‘n Bitch, a sweater that I petted and admired throughout its construction.  Then one day, Pixisis asked if I would model it for some photos on her Ravelry page.  Never one to shy away from a photo opportunity, I agreed.  After our shoot, she decided that it looked right on me and gifted it to me then and there.  I protested mildly, but inside I was thrilled.  Knitters are a generous bunch, aren’t we?

Yesterday, as The Big Chill hit us in full force, I knew exactly what I had to wear to keep warm: alpaca…hand knit alpaca.

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This is the Gathered Pullover from IK Winter 07 in Burgis Brook Alpaca, Ravelled here.

If you didn’t know otherwise, you would think this sweater was made for me. It fits me in all the right places and happens to be in a beautiful shade of my favorite color.  Thanks again, Pixisis!

I hope you are staying warm this weekend.  Or cool, as the case may be for those of you experiencing summer right now!  Either way, have a great weekend.

Sister Knits

A trip to Idaho also meant that I got to exchange holiday gifts with my family.  My sister and I each knit something for the other, and now that she has received her gift I can write openly about what a pain in the neck it was.  But first, her gift to me:

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Remember when V was first learning to knit?  She was immediately a fearless knitter, and her transition into knitting in the round without a pattern has impressed me to no end.  I am proud to be the recipient of such fine handiwork, and have been wearing this hat daily.  It’s doing a fine job of keeping the wind out of my ears on my daily dog walks.  Did you know hand knit hats were so effective at that?  Really, I should knit some more.

Before Christmas, I decided that I wanted to knit V a garment of some sort.  Time was running short by the time I was actually ready to get started, so I decided to knit something based on what I already had in my stash.  This may have been my first mistake.  You see, I do not really keep large quantities of a single color or type of yarn in my stash.  So you would think that if I were intending to make a garment, I would have considered that fact and gone yarn shopping.  But no.  I thought I knew better.

When contemplating what to knit, I thought back to the summer when I knit up a little shrug for myself.  I remembered my sister admiring it.  I had a skein of Malabrigo in Cuarzo, a lovely variegated purple, one of her favorite colors.  That’s it: knit her a shrug like mine!

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I loosely of followed the pattern for the Cropped Raglan Sweater (available free here), casting on 90 stitches on size 9 needles.  I followed the recipe for the increases, knitting until the sleeves seemed “long enough”.  Very precise, I know.  Then I put them on waste yarn and started knitting the body of the shrug.  This went along fine for a bit, until I noticed that my ball of yarn had diminished significantly.

Uh-oh.

The sweater was only about 2 inches long from the underarm, and I knew I wanted it to have a little more substance than that.  I Estimated the amount of yarn I had left, leaving me with the certain knowledge that I would not have enough to make this a reasonable shrug.  Remaining stubborn about buying yarn, I searched the stash for a comparable yarn that I could use to accent the ribbing on the hem and cuffs.  After trying different color combinations, I decided to go with some Paton’s Jet in color 203, a close match to the pink hues in the Malabrigo.

I knit on the body until I was very nearly out of yarn.  Then I switched to the contrasting color and knit a ribbed band.  The colors seem to work well together, but where the real rub comes is the difference in texture between Malabrigo and the Jet.  One is like marshmallows, the other granola.  Both are good individually, but together they only seem to take away from each other.  In any case, it was still a wee shrug.

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So I blocked the hell out of it!  It only grew about an inch at most in any one direction.  And when I tried it on, my denial was no longer able to convince me of success.  Sure, I had a finished object, but at what cost?

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I like to wear a funky piece of clothing now and then, but I just couldn’t see how this was going to fit into my sister’s wardrobe.  I decided to give it to her anyway, letting her decide what to do with it.  Perhaps there’s a small child she knows.  Or, if she loved the yarn, I could help her take it apart and rewind it into a ball.  Anything to have it off my hands.

V received the shrug-ette with grace and said she liked it.  Of course, she never tried it on in front of a camera…

These disappointments are bound to happen from time to time.  They occur as a way of challenging us to listen to our knitter’s intuition.  There were several points where I knew I was not going to be satisfied with the end result, and yet I knit on.  I spent time knitting something I wasn’t proud of, time I could have put to better use.  How often do we do this in other aspects of our lives, I wonder?

On The Needles: An Update

A shift has occurred in my knitting this week.  I went from unsure about what to knit next to over-concerned about completing a few Christmas gifts.  This is why I didn’t want to knit for anyone this year!  I will admit that it feels very nice to have my knits requested by people, it also puts a certain amount of pressure on me to deliver.

So I have tried to set myself up for success by choosing projects that are achievable in the mere 20 days before Christmas.

Project #1

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I am knitting these ankle socks with some Knit Picks Felici in Atmosphere from my stash.  You may remember that about this time last year I was attempting to knit the same yarn into a pair of Jaywalkers.  You can see how that ended up.

So far the pattern is clear and simple, with instant gratification from the beginning when you turn the heel.  It felt like I was halfway finished when in fact I was just starting!

Project #2

We will call this “Project V” for my sister Veronica.  She reads this blog and so I cannot post any pictures of her mysterious and wonderful gift.  I was told to not even post a picture of the yarn because she wants to be completely surprised!  But between you and me: if you want to see what it is, you can check out my Ravelry projects.

Project #3

bramble-neckwarmer

  • Pattern: Bramble by me.  Free pattern coming soon!

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Bobby Blue, 110 yards

  • Needles: US size 8

This was a leftover neckwarmer from October’s craft fair.  When my sister in law requested something handknit, this immediately popped into my head.  It is super soft, a little bit funky, and a beautiful shade of tealy blue that should match the Fetching wrist-warmers I gave her last Christmas.

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Project #4

This probably won’t be finished in time for Christmas, but it is a gift so I thought I would include it.  If all goes well with the aforementioned projects, these could have a chance.  Fingers crossed!

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  • Pattern: Undulating Rib socks in STR lightweight, Pebble Beach

These socks have been resting comfortably in my knitting bag for a couple of weeks while I worked on my sweater.  I’m not happy with the stitch pattern, so with my mom’s permission I am going to rip back to the cuff and try something a little more flattering to the yarn.  You don’t mind, do you mom?

Project #5

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Pattern: Improvised garter stitch border with stockinette stitch.

Simple, comforting, and satisfying, this has been my “knit in the dark at a musical performance when you think you;ll fall asleep otherwise” project.  I’m not proud of it.  But something happens to me when I hear some music performed live.  Broadway tunes, specifically.  I get indefensibly sleepy and yawn incessantly while trying to stay awake.

I know Sweetie will never forgive me for the time she took me to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and I fell asleep.  You may not either.  But let me tell you this: if I knew how to knit back then, and was permitted to bring a small, discreet project to occupy my hands and brain during interminable musical numbers, I may have stayed more alert.  Just saying.

Anyway, this isn’t intended as a gift, but it’s officially on the needles and this post is all about airing out what’s in my knitting bag.  So there you have it.

With any luck things will start flying off the needles.  Maybe I could catch a performance of Phantom this weekend and secure some additional knitting time.

P.S. I just scrolled through the post to change the font and noticed that all of these projects have blue in them.  I appear to be in a blue phase, and I suddenly want to cast on another project in hot pink just to combat the blues.  Who knows: after this weekend I may have another project to add to the list!

Have a good one.

A Good Mail Day

It hasn’t been a particularly good hair day, but the mail? Yes, the mail was very good to me indeed.

First there was a little something from the UK. Looking at the envelope, I couldn’t imagine who would be sending me something from England. I have been doing a teensy bit of shopping on etsy, but I was pretty sure everything I ordered was from the US. There was a brief moment of hope when I thought maybe some knitterly treat was on its way to me from a fellow knitblogger (don’t ask how this would have been possible since she doesn’t have my address!). Then, as I was tearing the envelope open, I saw a little white box inside and remembered: Moo cards!

I saw my first Moo card when I met Nutmeg Knitter last summer. At that time, I didn’t have a blog and hadn’t heard of Ravelry or Flickr yet. I wasn’t a complete techno peasant, but I hadn’t yet incorporated technology into my crafting lifestyle. Needless to say, I’ve come to my senses and now spend way more time online than I probably should, but it’s definitely been a compliment to my life.

These are basically little calling cards using your own photography; tiny, cute, and so fun seeing my own photos on such a professional product! You should try it.

The next package was instantly recognizable.

I saw this necklace when I was perusing the bowels of the reviews and recommendations section of the summer issue of Knitty. Since it has been out for a while, I assumed the artist, Cupboard Scraps, would probably be sold out. When I got to her etsy website, I was delighted to find a whole array of vintage-inspired delights. Look: it’s double sided!

I may have also purchased a couple of vintage buttons last week…I’ll be sure to share those as they trickle in. What is your most recent impulse/indulgent/for-no-good-reason purchase?