Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ready for a Wee Noggin

One more project to slash off my list of "nesting" projects -- the Dayton Cabled Baby Aviator Helmet! It's such fun knitting for a baby; the small size means less time between me and that gratifying sense of accomplishment. Surely I'm not the only one who likes that?

I knit this pretty much as-is, using Knit Picks City Tweed DK in Chipmunk. It's a lovely merino and alpaca blend, with a super soft hand (even softer after blocking!). About half-way through I felt a growing terror that one skein would not be enough -- at one point I even weighed my remaining yarn on my kitchen scale to get an idea of how much I'd already used! In the end I had leftover yarn, so apparently my yardage estimation skills are scandalously bad. 

This poor hat sat for quite a while on my needles once I reached the cable section, primarily because I had to change needle sizes at that point. That meant that this project didn't qualify as "grab and go," which is all I really had time for just then. Besides, I had some pressing birthday and Christmas projects to attend to! At any rate, I finally tackled the rest. Why are cables so satisfying? Before trying them, I thought they would be incredibly difficult. They look difficult, don't they? I still love to pore over any knitted item with cables; unlike many things that lose their "magic" when you know how they're done, I think I'm even more fascinated by how the cables twist and weave now than I was before.

I'd love to make this again, as it would be a perfect baby shower present. Though next time I will certainly knit it in the round -- it would require a few modifications to the pattern, but nothing drastic. I might rewrite the cable bit anyway, as I found the organization of that bit slightly confusing (too much "repepat rows 1 and 2" -- it makes perfect sense, but is not the easiest thing to read when in the middle of a project).

At any rate, our little lad should have a warm noggin when he finally makes his appearance in a few months -- assuming his little "helmet" fits (as I think it will). He's been celebrating the start of the third trimester by making sure that I *know* he's there. I certainly welcome his (admittedly pugilistic) reminders!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Birthday Knits for the Boy

As soon as I saw this Minion beanie pattern on Ravelry (for free!), I knew exactly what Little Man would be getting for his fourth birthday! Despite having never seen the "Despicable Me" movies, my littles are excessively fond of minions (remember this project?). 

So with some Knit Picks' Comfy Worsted in "Planetarium" and "Creme Brulee" in hand, I got started. I did alter the pattern to be knit in the round -- a decision I'm very pleased with. Though I did make a mistake in joining, so my stitches are slightly off where they meet in the back. Wouldn't have been a problem if there were no color changes! Oh well, it's not obvious, and a little "cheating" when I wove in the ends disguises it a bit.

This was such a simple and satisfying knit, and also my first experience changing colors part way through a project. I did make a few other small changes to the pattern. I cast on the maximum number of stitches, but used the smallest size as a guide for the proper height. I also increased the goggle band to four rows instead of two, because i wanted it a bit thicker. But probably the biggest change was the crochet the eye  instead of knit it. I just did not like the look of the knitted eyes I saw -- I don't think knitting translates well to circles! Plus, making a grey i-cord and stitching it on seemed unnecessarily complicated. So I did the "less" complicated thing by teaching myself to crochet using the magic ring method (two rounds), with an extra round of single crochet for the goggle rim. Technically, I crocheted a baby hat about seven years ago, but haven't tried crochet since (and was so confused by it that I didn't count that project as much of a "success!"). Oh, and I crocheted a simple chain for the smile, since I wanted something a bit bolder. I don't anticipate taking up crochet any time soon, but it was gratifying to figure out enough for this project.

The cowl was a bit of an afterthought -- Little Man doesn't have a scarf, so I thought I'd use the leftover "Planetarium" to fix that. I used Bernat's free Handsome Scarf pattern as my basis, but obviously modified it for my own purposes. I added ribbing to the edge, and a buttonhole for a wooden toggle.

The stitch used to create the pattern was quite enjoyable (Purl 2 together without slipping stitches off needles, then Knit 2 together into the same stitches) -- not too complicated, and it creates a great texture. I'd like to play around with it a bit, as I think it would work well in a "seed stitch" type pattern. My only goof on this was that I somehow reversed the pattern half way through, which I of course discovered when the cowl was 90% complete! I must have added or omitted a row of regular knit stitches. It wasn't obvious enough to warrant ripping out so much, though. Little Man hasn't noticed it. *wink*

Little Man loves his hat and cowl (which fit him perfectly, thank goodness), and gets quite a kick out of putting them on and looking in the mirror.  Granted, he also likes to put them on other things, such as his longsuffering Winnie-the-Pooh bear...

This particular bear was mine when I was a child -- I don't think it's an official
Pooh bear, but it looks far more like E.H. Shepard's drawings than the more
modern versions. When he's not dressed as a Minion, that is.

Four years already? When did my tiny firstborn grow into this gangly, giggly, curious little boy? He knows so much (and think he knows even more), and talks enough for two. He told me a few weeks ago that "When I am four, I want to do homeschool." So that's what we'll do. At least he's ready, even if I'm not! 

Happy birthday, Little Man.

Friday, December 05, 2014

All Abuzz

My parents recently found an older model Bugaboo Bee in a yard sale, which they very generously purchased as an early baby gift. It's easily the nicest stroller we've ever owned, and I never thought I could love a stroller so much! With a little TLC, it was ready to go. However, it came with a very, very pink canopy -- and while at the time there was still a possibility that our little one might be a girl, I knew I wanted something more neutral. The perfect excuse to indulge in a specific fabric I've been drooling over for ages: Birch Fabrics "Flight" Organic Canvas in Mineral.

 A rare sale popped up while I was hemming and hawing over the price of that fabric -- and a coupon code, to boot -- so I took advantage of that to buy some of the same fabric in knit. I have plans to make several coordinating accessories, including a new Baby K'tan (I love the one I made for Rosa, but was wanting a change from boring brown knit), a carseat canopy/nursing cover/blanket (still mulling over my options for that), and a pair of little baby pants and a hat. And a stroller organizer? Maybe, perhaps?

But first was the stroller canopy:

Would you look at the size of that canopy?! It really keeps the sun out , but it can be retracted for a better view. 

I absolutely love how it turned out! I traced the canopy pieces and did a trial run in some old decorator weight fabric, but in the end decided that I really just needed to disassemble the original canopy and use the pieces as a pattern. The results were much better.

I love the way it buttons on to the stroller in the back:

I ended up lining the canopy with grey linen -- the original canopy had serged seams inside, but I decided I wanted the extra weight and the nicer finish of a full lining. It made a few things more complicated, but was well worth it.

You can catch of glimpse of Rosa in her "stroller coma." As soon as you strap her into
a stroller, she totally zones out.

I couldn't resist attaching the original canopy tag:

I'm so thrilled -- and relieved -- that this worked, and can't wait to use the stroller for our newest addition in a few months, Lord willing (though Rosa has become quite attached to the "twoller," so I'm not sure how she'll feel about being supplanted!).

Stopping for a little chat on our walk

Now to get busy using up the rest of my fabric!

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Simple Pleasures, Simple Joys

I'm relishing simple things.

The beauty of the changing season.

 Fall is the perfect time for impromptu scavenger hunts -- "Can you find a red leaf? Can you find a green acorn?" Stashing acorns in a jar kept the munchkins surprisingly busy while I sat on a blanket with my knitting.

The joy of watching our backyard "visitors" grow up.

This was a solo visit -- I have no idea where its mother was, but they showed up
together a few days later!

The delight of watching my own littles changing and maturing.

How did she get so big? She talks incessantly now.

Sweet and simple.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

This One's a Hoot

I am not going to let myself go crazy with newborn projects, but I can't resist a little bit of fun. In this case, "fun" equates to the Newborn Vertebrae cardigan pattern by PEKAPEKA design studio. I hesitated at first, because an essentially frontless cardigan doesn't seem very practical to me from a warmth standpoint. But when I read why it's designed that way (great for skin-to-skin and also less likely to be soiled by spit-up), I decided it was worth a go.

This was a relatively quick and easy knit (certainly easy for a sweater!). I accidentally knitted a few extra increase rows, but left them in -- partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I'd rather have it a bit too large than a bit too small. 

I made the sleeves a bit shorter than the pattern called for, and also decreased a few stitches near the cuff. I did make a mistake in the ribbing on one cuff (acidentally knit two instead of one, which resulted in a purl two to resolve the problem), but since it was hardly noticeable I left it in. I'm human, after all. 

The yarn is lovely -- SMC Select Extra Soft Merino Alpaca, which I found at Tuesday Morning. They had so many gorgeous yarns, including some English wool that was hard to pass up! But I'm *trying* not to build an enormous yarn stash (so far, I've been only partly successful). It created a unique texture that I haven't encountered in my knitting before, and I'm wondering why? Hopefully you can see in the photo below, because I don't know how to describe it other than that it's not the typical "V" stitch, but more like stripes with diagnoal stitches in between. Perhaps I did something wrong, but I like it!

I mistook the yarn for fingering weight when it is in fact DK. *cough* While it may have knitted up a little tight (it didn't feel tight, though!), the needle size I was using fit into the recommended range from the yarn label, so I'm not too worried.  

The body of the sweater might also be a tad shorter than called for -- I incorporated the owl pattern from Brenna Kotar's Hoot Cardigan (so glad I found one knit top down!), and 5 owls fit in perfectly (perhaps it's a good thing I increased too much at the top, so I had a few extra stitches to work with).

I added a few stitches to just one owl on the back, as a little detail. 

Hopefully this will keep our newest family member cozy when he makes his appearance next year! Still on the menu? A blanket (in the works) and a hat. I'm not going to let myself knit endless hats, as tempting as it is. But I had to do just one -- especially when that one has cables and looks like an old-fashioned aviator helmet. Too much to resist. Not that I'm trying...

Raveled here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


A few weeks ago we had the chance to get away for the weekend -- not far, but enough to feel that we were *away.* 

Spending so much time together was such a treat -- and showing our littles new places is such a delight. They're at that age where their curiosity is boundless (and so is their energy!)

Add to that crisp temperatures and plenty of natural beauty.

As I think more about "formal" home education (Little Man is almost four, after all), I've found myself realizing just how much there is to be learned informally. Every walk, every outing is an opportunity to share something with my children -- the name of a flower, the many uses for trees, the glory of God's beautiful creation. I knew that it would be this way, but knowing is different than experiencing. 

I feel like I'm rediscovering the wonder of life itself as I tell and explain and watch their minds blossom. And I feel like that's a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Anchors Aweigh

Within a few days of our 19 week ultrasound, I placed an order on Knit Picks -- I had restrained myself from placing an order any sooner, which I was sorely tempted to do. But while I'm all for gender neutral newborn clothes (why not be able to use a garment for multiple children regardless of gender, especially considering how short a time they fit?), I knew I'd want to celebrate the gender reveal with a little "specific" knitting.

Not sure why the left neck/shoulder area looks a bit wonky in this photo -- while it's 
not picture perfect, it's not quite as "off" as it looks in this snapshot!

I incorporated the motif from the free Anchors Away (do they know it should be "aweigh?") dishcloth pattern to give it a nautical, masculine flair. Not to mention a little nod to the Navy! I worked up the anchor pattern in a scrap yarn first, and I am so glad that I did -- it was a bit tricky for me and included several new stitches (bobbles, for instance), so the practice was well worth the extra time and effort. I was just glad to find a raised anchor motif! I've never tried color work (and didn't have another color yarn, anyway), so this was actually the easiest option for me. 

Serendipitously, the anchor pattern fit nicely into the Pebble vest pattern. The only real change I had to make was to change the center body panels to purl instead of knit stitches. I actually rewrote the vest pattern with the anchor motif included, just so I wouldn't get confused. Quite honestly, I prefer the way it looks (I don't like the deep "recessed" look of the center area that I've seen in several finished Pebbles, plus I think the purl blends better with the borders), and will probably do the same on any future vests even if I'm not adding the anchor. Oh, I did also reduce the amount of border on the bottom edge, because I needed a few extra vertical rows to fit the anchor.

The shoulders were another area that I played around with -- I didn't think it would work as written, so I adjusted the number of rows. This was also my first time trying Kitchener stitch (joining two sets of "live" stitches), and while it didn't come out perfectly I'm very pleased. My only real disappointment with this project is that my edges are not *just so.* I tried a purl-wise slip at the beginning of each row, but either I forgot to do it on every row or something went wonky when I was taking out rows (which I had to do at multiple points!), because they're not as nice as I'd like. But overall the project turned out as I'd envisioned and the less-than-perfect edges are not very visible, so I'm not going to fret too much over that.

I can't say enough good things about the yarn I used! It's a mix of Tanguis cotton and linen, and has the most delightful hand. It's almost silky, in fact. The finished vest is relatively stretchy, so I think our little fellow will be able to wear it a bit past the newborn stage. The color is perfect -- not pastel, but not too "lively," either. Oh, and it was supposed to require two skeins, but ended up taking only one (with a smidgen left over). I went ahead and hand washed and blocked it, even though it's supposed to be machine washable and dryable. Is dryable a word? Hmm.

I'm so enjoying being able to knit things myself now -- my limited skills are gradually improving, and I feel each project teaches me something new. Even better? Finally learning the identity of the squirmy little one who seems to take delight in rearranging my insides. We can't wait to meet you, baby boy!

Raveled here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Oh Boy, Oh Boy!

If the title of the post isn't enough of a clue, perhaps this photo will seal the deal:

My husband agreed to let me share the gender as long as there was a firearm in the photo. Appropriate, perhaps -- one of the
first outfits our son will wear, along with the first pistol he's likely to shoot!

Our baby on the way is a boy!

We are so thrilled -- especially for Little Man, who was keen on having a brother. When we would ask what he thought the baby would be (long before we had any idea), he would always say "A boy, because I love baby boys." I'm so glad that, Lord willing, he'll have a male playmate relatively close to his own age. On a personal level, I had absolutely no preference, so I was guaranteed to be entirely satisfied regardless of the outcome!

And, of course, finding out the gender was a perfect excuse for more sewing. You may remember the little jacket above from this post -- the "gender neutral" jacket that turned out a bit masculine? Fortunately that won't be a problem. But there was quite a bit of the $1 thrifted Orvis shirt left, which meant that a pair of matching harem pants were in order. 

The pants pattern is self-drafted and very simple. Hopefully we'll find out in a few months if they fit (and what size they are -- I'm hoping for newborn, but I'm thinking 0-3 months is more likely). I used my last scraps of brown knit to bind the cuffs, a little patch pocket for the back, and the front drawstring.

But even after the pants, there was too much fabric left to just throw out. I used Zaaberry's baby hat pattern, adding a little argyle detail that I saw on Make It & Love It. I stitched about 3/8" from the edge (no serging), just to make it a tad smaller. I don't really use knit hats after the first few weeks/months, so I want to make sure it fits while it's still useful!

Those two little brown diamonds for the argyle pattern? They were cut from the very last fragment of brown knit!

It's so satisfying to have something else to tuck away for the baby, and so gratifying to use up every last bit of an upcycled garment. I'd say it's a happy ending, but I'm hoping for a happy beginning, instead.