And hello! Thank you for all of the love on the two parentingposts I shared this week. And welcome many new faces to this space. I'm honored to have you here.
It has been an unprecedented few days over here and I'm tickled to see how many of you are sticking around.
Now then. Back to business!
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Our last hard frost of the season was just two days ago. But yesterday it was in the 80's, so I think Longest Winter I've Ever Imagined is over (goodbye, Narnia!). Therefore I'm making the transition to some seasonally appropriate projects in my sewing room and my knitting basket.
Yes, I am knitting myself a thick cowl neck sweater that I won't wear until January (I hope), but I also cast on and quickly cast off a sweet little summer dress for Lupine.
The yarn came from a thrift store for 69 cents a skein (there were two, which I held double), and the fabric was part a new purchase and part from my stash.
She's crazy about it.
And so am I. There is just something about seeing my kids wearing clothes that I have made for them. Yum. And when she wears the hat with the dress? Squeal! (This she did while we were foraging ramps this week. I'm not sure I could have been happier. Seriously. Mostly because of the foraging, but the mama-made clothes didn't hurt.)
My Ravelry details are over here if you need the pattern for your own quick little dress!
What is your favorite summer-friendly knitting project?
So many babies! I'm keeping busy knitting (and sewing) for them all. This lucky lady scored not only an In Threes Cardigan, but also a pair of reversible Quick Change Trousers. Because I couldn't resist.
As you can see, I'm not a knit-in-pink-for-girls-and-blue-for-boys kind of mama. In fact, while I love pink (and blue) I'm not a fan of the color-coding we do with our little ones. I think babies are babies. Not girlie babies or boyish babies.
But I digress.
Regardless of the color palate, I'm loving all this baby knitting. One sweater per baby. It was an ambitious plan, but so far I'm rockin' it.
Pete has seen the size of my knitting "works in progress" stash.
He knows that I am currently working on a baby sweater, a stuffed mouse, two pairs of socks and one vest – and that I'm about to cast on some long-overdue gloves for my dad.
He also knows that the sweater I cast on for him in North Carolina (yes, that was in 2010) is off the needles but still not wearable. (There will be sharp scissors, a nervous expression, and a huge leap of faith by me before that day comes.)
And in his words he didn't want his new hat to get lost in my que.
So he knit it himself.
Pete has been knitting as much as me in the past few weeks. Perhaps more. And unlike my slow, methodical progress over many years from hat (to hat, to hat) to mittens (to mittens, to mittens) and up in complexity, he chose a moderately complicated pattern for a beginner and dug right in. (The pattern is here.)
He's fearless I tell you.
I didn't even know how to do the cast on the pattern suggested, so we learned it together. (Old Norwegian in case you were wondering. Thank you, YouTube.)
Pete has his own knitting personality.
He doesn't make a gauge swatch. he makes a "Montessori swatch". (Yes, he made it up.) Basically he knits his gauge in the round, expecting that maybe it will become something functional in its own right. (Get it, education geeks? Montessori swatch? Heh.)
He swears and fake swears at his yarn. A lot.
And he's a wicked fast learner.
After his cowl and hat were off the needles he moved on to fingerless gloves and is talking about how he would like to make them again but modify the pattern so that the fit is customized. I'm guessing he will.
As for me, I'm just stoked to have such a bad-ass knitting partner. We have a guy friend who calls texting or otherwise messing around on his phone "man-knitting".
But this version of "man knitting" – oh, yes – I so much prefer.
P.S. Here is a post I wrote about Pete a few years ago. He's so much more than a knitter, you see.
The purple is a silky amazing yarn from my local yarn shop and the blue is a handspun that's all my own! (Remember this?)
The vest is my first sizable project from my own yarn. How satisfying!
The pattern is loosely based on Carina Spencer's Handspun Pinafore. But since I am unable to follow any recipe or pattern as it is written (Improvise! Modify! Adapt!) I changed it. A lot. I am utterly unable to silence my inner designer.
And I love how it turned out.
Instead of an open-front style pinafore I turned it into a pullover vest. I thought it would be a little more rough-and-tumble for farm days. And when she came in from chicken chores yesterday morning, caked with straw I decided that was true.
My project is here if you want more details, and the rest of my projects are here.
(For the record, all of Carina's patterns are stunning. Do check them out if you are looking for a new project this season.)
At any given time I have three to six projects on the needles.
I know people who knit one project start-to-finish without straying to something else. I am not that girl.
So last week I set down the two kid-sized vests I've been working on (the abandoned Solstice gifts) and cast on something for myself.
A quick cowl. (Though I'm loving the old-fashioned term "ascot" which makes me feel like I should be riding a horse when I go to town.)
It is a pattern I would not have cast on had a friend not knit this – I don't know – three or four times since fall. By the time she finished the last one she had worn me down. I officially loved it. I had to have one myself.
The yarn, a beautiful hand-spun I picked up for another project, had sat in my stash for long enough.
I cast it on on Tuesday and off on Thursday. So quick!
The buttons belonged to my mother's mother's mother which I think adds to the old-fashioned charm.
Sending blessings this morning to everyone on the East Coast effected by Sandy. Like most of you, I'm anxiously awaiting word from the few friends I haven't heard from yet today.
Check out this wind map to see the wind across the US in real time. Seeing the storm in this context is beyond fascinating for me and also Sage. We've been fixating on it all morning.
We're taking today off from everything productive beyond getting dressed. It's Halloween prep day over here and we're putting the finishing touches on costumes. Oh yeah, and we're vomiting. Again. ("We" would be Lupine).
But we're just going to pretend that didn't happen and count on the Pumpkin Fairy to do away with ALL of the loot if she's still feeling funny tomorrow.
In other news, I cast off a hat that promises to be a favorite. I used some of the Sundara yarn that was leftover from my shawl. Insanely soft. I think it is my favorite yarn ever.
I tried desperately to take my own picture wearing the hat but failed, so I asked Lupine to assist by modeling it for me instead. (The vomiting had stopped and she adores have her picture taken so it sounded like a good idea. Sort of.)
That project didn't go much better than my self-portrait. Ahem.
The pattern is here (by my favorite designer, Carina Spencer) and my notes (and inadequate pictures) are here.
I give up. That's the best I can do today. (Sometimes we just need to lower our standards, don't we?)
Yes, if you must know we still are. (Vomiting that is.)
I thought we were done but as it turns out we're not. We just got an 18 hour break before it started up again. That would be why I'm posting at 4 PM instead of 7 AM. Other things on my agenda this morning…
So I think this is where I say something wise like, "These
things take time. Like gardening, making sauerkraut, raising children,
and – as it turns out – getting over the stomach flu." and pretend it doesn't suck to have puking kids. (Which it does.)
Because we could have worse problems. That much I know.
So rather than grumble about our tummy troubles any more, I wanted to show you this. Because a bit of knitting can even make vomit less horrible.
The yarn is like heaven – 50/50 silk and wool from Sundara. Crazy soft.
The details on my project are here. (If you aren't on Ravelry and couldn't see my projects before, I adjusted my settings so that now you can.)
I love it.
It is (hands down) my favorite knitted project ever.
I fell in love with the pattern and would let out and audible squeal each time I saw it in my Ravelry favorites or on my Pinterest feed. (Really. It was an, "Eeeeeeee!" every time.)
So I finally got the yarn, bought the pattern and cast it on.
Considering how much I loathed knitting Lupine's cowl, my sanity was questioned at least once when I set to work.
But as it turns out, I loved it. I loved thinking about it, knitting it, and now I love wearing it every single day.
The only issue I had was with how it was received by my favorite five-year-old. Lupine sobbed passionately the night I cast it off and said, "I'm throwing my cowl away because mine is ugly and yours is beautiful. Give me that one. I hate mine!"
(In case you are wondering, I told her she could borrow it but that this cowl I made for myself and if she wanted one too she could ask for it for her birthday. I thought she was going to but instead she asked for a sweater. More on that later.)
As another aside, the photos are by my talented sister-in-law Nicole who has been living with us for the past four months. We adore here without reservation. She left this morning, heading back to Washington State and we'll miss her so.
I realized seeing these in here how rarely I show you my own face. So. Here I am.
But all of this really begs the question: do you even knit? Or am I boring you with all this gushing over yarn and needles?
P.S. Sorry if this is all over the map. I haven't slept much. xo
do love it when they grow out of the old, battered hand-me-downs.
Because it cracks open the door to a little hand-crafting, in this case
the knitting up of a pair of gnome slippers for my elf-child.
My project is here on Ravelry. You can find the (free!) pattern there. Oh I do love Ravelry.
These slippers are knitted up big then felted down to for a custom fit.
If you have never made felted slippers before I strongly recommend it. They are satisfying to make and crazy warm for cool days. I have made this more serious/less fanciful pattern for Pete, Sage, and I before but the elf pattern was too cute to pass up. All you need to master is short rows (w&t) and you'll be ready to roll.
It has been ages since I've shared a finished knitting project with you. There has been plenty of casting off, but for some reason I just don't get around to photographing those projects very often.
This spring I cast off my Lupine's shawl.
I've had it in my Ravelry favorites for ages. But I didn't cast it on until a friend (who found it in my favorites) knit one. Hers was stunning so I decided to go for it.
As it turns out I am not a fan of knitting lace on size two needles. (Who knew?)
It was quiet torture for me, by no fault of the lovely (and truly simple) design. But every few rows I'd count my stitches and be off by several on one side. And always the same side! I'm not a perfectionist (thank goodness or I'd have given up on this project just a few days in) so I'd throw a few stitches in here and there to bring it back up the the right number.
But then a few rows later I was off again.
I gave up on the lace one repeat short of what the pattern dictated and called it good enough. I think it looks great as is, albeit shorter (and less perfect) than it was intended. I won't be knitting another one. I just can't do tiny lace.
Oh, and the color! Remember my desire to bust through my yarn stash? This was the project I cast on after this post. An unobtrusive grey sock yarn, varagated with light blue, white, and dark grey.
We dyed it with two packs of kool aid (cherry and raspberry I believe). I had no idea what color it would turn out which was risky/fun. (I know what you're thinking. "She's so crazy!" Okay. Maybe not. Yeah, that's about as wild as I get over here.)
As it turns out, we got a muted cranberry-raspberry color. I like it enough, but didn't go gaga for it.
Lupine, however, did. As soon as it came out of the dye pot she fell in love with it, so I gave it to her. I did make her promise to share it with me, but 9 out of 10 days she wears it, not me.
As for the rest of her outfit (in case you were wondering), it's homemade too.
I sewed these last year when I was on an Etsy kick, selling kids clothes and Waldorf dolls. This was my prototype in fabric that I kind of hated. I was just using it so as to not waste any fabric that I liked.
But somehow that dusty blue and rose has grown on me so much since then then. And now I love it. Truly love it. (The floral print came from my mom's 1980's stash, from something ruffly she made for my sister.)
Unfortunately (for those who are wondering) no there isn't a pattern. There is a slim chance that I could be convinced (someday) to work one up for you but I don't want to promise that quite yet.
The top was inspired by this one and the skirt was inspired by her obsession with twirling when she was four. It is two full circles, connected at the waist and trimmed with vintage thrift-store cotton lace.
Because of the generous sizing she's going into her second year of it fitting beautifully. Two years for one mama made makes me very happy.
What else makes me very happy? That she loves it so much that she squealed when we took it out of the summer clothes box in the basement last week. That's the best reward of mama-made.
And for the record, twirly or not, this skirt is great for wearing while catching barn kittens. I see one now. Run!
I have. A lot. Of yarn. Two or three decent sized baskets of the stuff. Four years ago I don't think I remembered how to knit. I certainly didn't make anything with yarn. I doubt there were three skeins in my house back then. Today? There is an abundance. Observe:
A peek inside one of three bins of yarn in my craft room.
Soft and gorgeous hand-spun that I can't wait to use. I picked it up for me but Lupine has her eyes on it. Edited to say: Because I left it out after I took this phoot the kids just made the pretties trip line I've ever seen to capture Pete. I think its time to cast this one on before it all is used for mischief.
Four surprisingly soft, fine wools. The black is nice. I'm not sure about that '80's kelly green though. (Teal may be the only color I like less than this one for myself.)
Two small skeins of shiny cotton. Tank top or bodice of a dress for Lupine perhaps?
Three blues, one grey. Six big skeins. Sweater for Sage? (It's almost soft enough but not quite.) He just looked over my shoulder and vetoed that idea. Okay, maybe one for me. Overdyed with red to see what magentas/purples I could transform them into perhaps.
Another hand-spun that I love. Not sure why I hoard these. This one is baby soft. Cowl?
Four visually beautiful but texturally nightmarish hand-spun skeins. Like sandpaper on the neck I tell you.
And that's just the pretty stuff. There are dozens of half-skeins, plenty of my spinner-in-training yarn, and lots of other odds and ends.
I haven't been knitting for long. But in those few years I've become hopelessly addicted to yarn, knitting patterns, and the possibility they hold. This winter I've cast off nearly a dozen projects (many I have yet to share with you) and have more on the needles at any given time than I probably should. (I am not a linear project person. Five or six projects at a time suits me perfectly. It keeps things interesting.) Some of this winter's projects (my hat and cowl, Lulu's leg warmers) I bought soft new yummy yarn for, others (Pete's sweater, Sage's cowl, and my mittens) came straight from the stash.
Most of the yarns above I scrounged up second hand (rummage, thrift, various barters, and craigslist), a couple I have bartered for with hand-spinners at shows, and a few I've spun myself. I've lucked out and been able to build a stash for very little money. What a gift to have a box of useful yarn at my fingertips!
Which brings me to my dilemma.
I'm wanting to cast on a shawlette for myself this weekend and I was picturing something in a variegated pea green or perhaps a purple/magenta combination (my favorite colors for the past couple of years).
But, um, I don't have those colors in my stash.
Do I go to the knitting store? Or do I work with what I have?
This is what my sister would refer to as a "first world problem". And it is. For goodness sake I'm not unraveling my children's outgrown sweaters to make them a new one for next year. But oddly somehow that abundance is a bummer in and of itself. Because I don't feel like it's appropritae to buy yarn, yet I really want to. Because I have a magenta hat. A magenta scarf. And I thought: oooh! Magenta mittens. But then I paused. Because if I have dozens of skeins of suitable wool in the craft room, why exactly am I buying new? Damn ethics.
So I found two skeins of single ply black wool in the bin and cast on my mittens. Black is almost as good as magenta, right? And in fact, I love them – largely becasue these pretty mitts were essentially free and this season I'm trying to stay mindful of my budget. (The yarn came with many of the others pictured above from a rummage sale – $25 for a heaping large laundry basket full of wool yarn and roving. For you non-knitters – if you've somehow stuck with me this long – it's not unusual for a single skein of nice yarn to run close to that.)
So I've made myself a promise. I'm not buying new yarn for a bit. (I know. That was non committal. I'm going to try it on for a few weeks and see how I do. This is a big leap you see.) I'm going to work my way through a bit more of what I have first, even if that means changing the projects on my to-do list.
And to you I ask: what would you do with a milk crate full of scratchy wool? I'm open to suggestions.
What's on your needles? Do you buy new for every project or are you a frugal/thrifty stash builder? I'm all ears.