Posted by: jinniver | May 12, 2010

Handspun Pinafore

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  If so, I hope one of my friends from the Three Irish Girls group is feeling sufficiently flattered.

A few months ago, she posted one of the most adorable tops I’ve ever seen.  It was a lacy top meant to be worn over t-shirt or tank top, with just one button at the top to give the top a nice A-line and lots of swing.  But what really caught my eye was the yarn she used (not an uncommon occurrence when 3IG yarn is involved).  The main yarn was a gorgeous variegated red, orange and yellow, and the trim was a deep, bright red.  The colorways turned out to be Fiona and a coordinating semisolid in crimson.  I immediately headed to the website to put in my order…

…and then realized that it would be a good idea to actually have the pattern in order to figure out how much yarn to buy.

The pattern was the Handspun Pinafore (or, for those not on Ravelry, you can see it here).  $9 is a bit more than I usually spend on a single pattern, especially one that really is fairly simple (the lace pattern is just Feather and Fan) but in this case I thought it was worth it because of the large range of sizes (1-12) and how cute and flexible the top was.  And I liked the method used to get that A-line look, so I was quite happy with my purchase.

With the pattern in hand (or more accurately, on my computer), I zipped back to the 3IG site.  Based on the yardages given, I did follow the designer’s advice to err on the side of caution and ordered 2 skeins of Fiona to make sure I had enough.  But at this point my brain had finally settled down from the inital “I have to have that!” frenzy, and I got to thinking.  Fiona would be gorgeous on my niece, who has beautiful golden brown curls.  But my little blue-eyed blonde would look great in blues…and I got to wondering if Sharon has a green/blue/purple colorway to finish the rainbow started by the red/orange/yellow Fiona.  And she does:  Irish Sea.  After some thought, I chose the purple for the coordinating semisolid.

I loved the yarn as soon as it arrived, but I had to put it aside to finish a few other projects first.  Late last month, I cast on for Stella’s Flaming Pinafore.  As always, I had to go up a couple needle sizes to get gauge, and since the shaping of the pinafore is dependent upon sizing up the needles as you go, I realized my needle collection was lacking.  The span of needle sizes I needed, using the needles I had on hand, was US10, US10.5, US11, US13, and US15.  But that meant I was going to increase my needle size by .5mm (from US10 – 10.5), then by 1.5mm (US10.5 – 11), then by 1mm twice (US11 – 13 – 15).  That bugged me.

Fortunately, I was using my KnitPicks Harmony interchangeable circular needles set, and KP sells a US10.75–which, at 7mm, is .5mm larger than the 10.5 and 1mm smaller than the 11.  Adding the US10.75 would make for a much smoother increase in stitch sizes.  So I ordered 2 sets of the US10.75 and cast on with the Fiona Crimson on my US10s.  I figured if I reached the point where I needed the US10.75s before they arrived, I could just go ahead and cast on for Lexie’s Waterfall Pinafore…

…and that’s what ended up happening.  Fortunately.

It wasn’t until I was halfway through the yoke on Lexie’s pinafore that I realized I’d screwed up Stella’s.  I’d missed just one line in the pattern, but it had resulted in a yoke half as wide as it was supposed to be.  And at this point, I’d already knit the entire bodice of Stella’s pinafore.

At this point, I said several of those words I don’t say in front of my children (not since Jeffrey, at age 2, repeated something I thought I’d said under my breath) and found myself facing a dilemma: accept the thinner straps created by knitting half the yoke, or rip the whole thing?  I chose option c:  finish Lexie’s pinafore and then decide.  The same day I reached the point where I needed the US10.75 needle tips, they arrived in the mail, which I thought validated my decision.

Five days after I started, I had a finished top…and my answer.

Waterfall Pinafore (9)

Waterfall Pinafore (10)

Project: Waterfall Pinafore
Pattern: Handspun Pinafore
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Springvale Super Merino, in Irish Sea, approx 210 yds, and Irish Sea Purple (custom coordinating semisolid), approx 75 yds
Needles: US10, 10.5, 10.75, 11, and 13 KnitPicks Harmony circs

It was clear to me that the straps were just too thin on the other pinafore.  So I took a deep breath and undid all of my knitting.  I got the yoke and one of the fronts done and then headed to my Monday knit group.  I started and finished the back there and was trying to figure out where to cast on the the other front when I realized…I’d put the back on backwards.

Fortunately, the kids weren’t around to hear what I had to say then.

It took some more undoing and redoing, but it was all worthwhile.

Flaming Pinafore (8)

Flaming Pinafore (1)

Project: Flaming Pinafore
Pattern: Handspun Pinafore
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Springvale Super Merino, in Fiona, approx 210 yds, and Fiona Crimson (custom coordinating semisolid), approx 75 yds
Needles: US10, 10.5, 10.75, 11, and 13 KnitPicks Harmony circs

The only thing I was missing was a button for each of them.  I knew I wanted coordinating buttons, and for some reason, I really wanted flowers.  I found exactly want I wanted at the local Jo-Ann’s.

sunflower and pansy button

Waterfall Pinafore (14)

Flaming Pinafore (9)

Now, I only had one problem.  I knit the blue one for Lexie and the red one for my niece Stella…but Lexie looked beautiful in both of them.  Fortunately, that problem was easily solved.  I’d bought 2 skeins of each variegated colorway…and I used less than one.  So I have enough to knit 2 more pinafores.  Usually the idea of knitting the same pattern multiple times would be off-putting…but I really can’t wait to cast on.

Posted by: jinniver | May 6, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2010, part 2

So, if you read Part 1, you might have been left with the impression that my MDSW experience ended at 9:20 am Saturday at the Cloverhill Yarn Shop booth, and the only yarn I bought was Three Irish Girls.  Oh, not so…

At that booth, I ran into a friend from the Three Irish Girls group on Ravelry, Lyn.  We’d known the other was going to be there, but I don’t think either of us expected to run into each other that easily.  She was just about to head out to the hospitality tent set up by Columbia Sip ‘n Knit right outside the gate, so once I was done with my purchasing I headed out there to join her.  There were a few more ladies there as well, so I dumped out my yarn on the table to be admired by all.

“Have you been to Brooks Farm yet?” I was asked.

I had to admit I’d never heard of Brooks Farm, and Lyn was adamant that I had to go right now and check them out.  I respond to that kind of urgency by moving quickly and pulling my wallet out as I go.

I could have spent every dime I had left right then and there.  The colors were glorious and I loved the way they had the yarn displayed; it was like walking through rainbows (very carefully, and saying “Excuse me” every foot or so).  But I was very good–I limited myself to just another 5 skeins.  I found a gorgeous wool, silk, and mohair blend, Riata, and finally settled on a deep blue with a bit of green running through it for me:

Brooks Farm Yarn Riata blue and green

It had been pretty warm when I first got to the fairgrounds, but by this point it was hot and sticky. I was having a bit of trouble enjoying the feel of all that wool, so when I saw a great wool/bamboo blend that was cool to the touch, I knew I needed some of that Willow for Lexie.  I spent quite a bit of time standing there dithering between several great colors, but finally settled on a blue/green and a pink:

Brooks Farm Yarn Willow blue and green

Brooks Farm Yarn Willow pink

Since I was already back in that part of the fairgrounds, I decided to look around and see what else was there.  There was another booth nearby that had a pretty sizable crowd…but what drew me over where some on the samples hanging outside.  There was the cutest little dress that appeared to be drawing the mothers of little girls in like moths to a flame.  Unfortunately, none of us could find any indication of what the pattern was or what yarn it had been knit with, so I finally found someone to ask–she was handing out price lists.  Price lists?

Turns out none of the yarn at Tess’ Designer Yarns had prices marked on it, so you had to figure out what yarn you were looking at and then find the price on the list.  I also learned that all of the patterns were available online (which is fine, and I actually prefer PDF downloads to hard copies)…which would have been more helpful if the name of the pattern were marked.  And I didn’t know what yarn to buy without the pattern.  So I was about to leave when I saw a great rainbow dyed skein with enough yardage to make a nice little sweater for Lexie.  I had to have the Superwash Merino:

Tess' Designer Yarns Superwash Merino Rainbow

(Unfortunately, I never did find the pattern on their website–it might have been the one with no picture, but with no picture I wasn’t going to buy it to find out.  Nor did they have enough information on the pattern; I had no idea what the sizes might be or what yarn it was knit in, so I crossed them off my list for future purchases.)

That was the last yarn I bought on Saturday; the rest of my time there I spent looking around and meeting up with friends:  Bonnie, a friend from the NASCAR group whom I’d met the first time at Rhinebeck; and Trish, a local friend whom I’d met at the Bowie knitters meet-up.  We had a great time catching up as we headed around different parts of the festival, but I ended up having to leave sooner than I’d planned.  Despite generous application of sunscreen, my arms were turning pink (around the freckles) and the heat was just getting worse.  So I decided to call it a day a bit early.

On Sunday, my focus shifted from buying yarn (no, really!) to seeing some of the sights, because I had Steve and the kids along.  We knew it would be a short stay, because we couldn’t expect a 5-year-old or 2-year-old to wander for hours.  So we headed straight for the main attraction:  the sheep.

MDSW 2010 (6)

There were a couple people set up to do some handshearing and Jeffrey was fascinated.

MDSW 2010 (2)

MDSW 2010 (1)

(Yep, that’s my boy in his Kyle Busch t-shirt. Jeffrey was quite thrilled that his favorite driver had won the race the day before, so when Daddy suggested the shirt, Jeffrey was all over it.)

Then we stopped by the tent where a group had a great spinning and weaving display set up.  Since we’d just watched sheep get sheared, I tried to explain to Jeffrey how Mommy’s yarn started as fleece on a sheep, then was cut off, cleaned and spun up.  I think he was more interested just in watching the ladies work.

MDSW 2010 (3)

MDSW 2010 (4)

We walked around a bit more, but mostly it was Lexie interested in what we were seeing at this point–Jeffrey was about ready to go.  But before we did, Lexie and I went into one of the sheep barns.  She was a bit scared of the sheep–they are rather big and loud from a 2-year-old’s perspective–but she really enjoyed seeing them all and even relaxed enough to pet one of the sheep with me.  He clearly expected it, seeing as he was standing with his front feet on the botton rail, shoving his head out at anyone who walked past.  We also saw some cute little baby goats that Lexie adored.

MDSW 2010 (5)

At this point Jeffrey was definitely ready to go, but we had to do some shopping.  Remember how I said that I’d gotten Lexie orange yarn and Jeffrey blue to break out of their usual color rut?  Well, Jeffrey fell in love with the orange…and unfortunately I only got 2 skeins of it, not enough for a sweater for him.  We had stopped by the Cloverhill Yarn booth very first thing (and like Saturday, we arrived as the festival was opening, to avoid the traffic and minimize the heat) in a very forlorn hope that they might have just one more skein…but by this point their Three Irish Girls stock was reduced to a couple skeins of Wexford.  So I’d promised Jeffrey we’d go some place where he could pick out some yarn of his very own.  So we headed to Brooks Farm.

The minute we walked into the booth and I indicated some nice worsted weight wool, Jeffrey grabbed the first skein hanging there.  “I’ll take this!” he said.

“Jeffrey, you haven’t seen all the colors yet,” I pointed out.  Plus, the yarn was mostly green, which is the color he wanted to get away from.  It took some coaxing, but I finally got him to look at all of the colors of the Solana that were available…and his eyes lit up when he saw the reds.  There were several shades available, but he eventually settled on a bright red with some deeper red running through it.

Brooks Farm Yarn Solana Red

I picked up 2 skeins and started towards the register, thinking we were done, and then I heard Jeffrey yell, “Mommy, wait!”  I turned around and saw him holding a skein of shaded pink in his hands.  “This is for Lexie!” he enthused.

I was going to point out that I’d already bought plenty of yarn for Lexie the day before, but before I could say a word, he’d handed the yarn to his little sister, who grabbed it with a look sort of like this:

MDSW 2010 (9)

What kind of mom says no to that face?  Or tells her son that we’re not getting the yarn he personally picked out for his little sister?

Brooks Farm Yarn Solana Pink

I didn’t have a chance.

MDSW 2010 (8)

We left after that–so Jeffrey wouldn’t find any more yarn that was just perfect for his sister, if for no other reason!–and I came home to tally up the damage.

MDSW haul 2010
Top row: Tess’ Designer Yarns Superwash Merino in Rainbow
Second row (l to r): Brooks Farm Solana in Pink (2), Brooks Farm Riata in Blue/green (3) Brooks Farm Solana in Red (2)
Third row (l to r): Brooks Farm Willow in Blue/green, Three Irish Girls Wexford in Georgia Peach (5), Three Irish Girls Roslea Organic in Curagao (3), Brooks Farm Willow in Pink
Bottom row (l to r): Three Irish Girls Roslea Organic Rainbow Bright sampler pack (2 sets), Three Irish Girls Roslea Organic in Mimosa (2)

This is why, while I might be ready to it all again this weekend, my wallet isn’t. So I guess I just better start planning (and saving) now for next year.

Posted by: jinniver | May 4, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2010, part 1

I’d like to do this again. Who’s free next weekend?

Ok, ok–I’ll have to wait until 2011.  And frankly, that’s a good thing…because while I am nearly recovered, my wallet isn’t, quite.  But we’ll get to that later.

I’d been looking forward to MDSW ’10 since about March of ’09.  That’s when I learned that the timing of Steve’s Navy assignment and transfer were such that we weren’t not going to be in the area in time for me to attend MDSW ’09 like I thought I would a few months earlier.  I was disappointed, but since that meant Steve wasn’t going to be out of the country for several months without us, that more than made up for not going to a fiber festival.

However, we were in the area in more than enough time for me to attend Rhinebeck last year.  It was my first fiber festival, and I had a really great time.  I met up with a couple friends from Ravelry whom I hadn’t met in real life previously, and the four of us enjoyed the whole weekend.  I also did some pretty awesome shopping.  In fact, one of my friends was getting a little exasperated, because it seemed like I would walk into a random booth and find the perfect skein of yarn…and then the very next random booth I walked into I’d find the perfect buttons to match that perfect skein.  In one case, I’d found the perfect buttons, but there were only 2 of them on the card when I wanted 3.  I decided to buy them anyway, and while I was standing in line, I happened to look down at a bowl of random buttons on the table in front of the register…and right on top I found a 3rd matching button.  I had a bit of a Midas touch.

So, with that as my baseline, I wasn’t sure if there was a chance that MDSW could live up to my Rhinebeck experience, especially since I was going solo.

As often happens in my life, I was wrong.

I had an absolute blast.  Having been warned how crazy crowded it could get, and remembering the traffic at Rhinebeck, I set off 2 hours before the gates were supposed to open…which gave me a 30 minute cushion, since I live about 90 minutes away.  I heard a lot of horror stories from people who came a couple hours later, but I didn’t hit traffic until I actually turned on the road right before the Howard County Fairgrounds.  Traffic control and parking was very nicely done, unlike Rhinebeck where we sort of figured out where to park on our own.  As I hiked to the gate I was surprised not to see a line…and then realized it was because the gates were already open and people were streaming in (also unlike Rhinebeck, admission to MDSW is free).

I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Sharon from Three Irish Girls had let us know that the Cloverhill Yarn Shop would be carrying some of her new spring colorways. I’d gotten even more motivation shortly after parking: I saw that Sharon had tweeted about a new blog post, and when I clicked over to it quickly, I found a preview of the goodies that had been set to MDSW. Page down to the rainbow bundles. I think you’ll understand why I walked in the front gate, stopped at the info booth for a vendor directory so I could check a map, and then headed off as fast I could walk to the Main Exhibition Hall.

My urgency was increased by sights like these:

mdsw 850am

This picture was taken at 8:50 am. Clearly, even though the festival had not officially begun, shopping was happening. I needed to move.

The Cloverhill Yarn Shop booth was right inside the door on the right. It was pretty obvious to me when I was there; others may not have seen the rays of light shining down from above or heard the angels singing in chorus, but I did. And they led me right into temptation:

mdsw temptation

The bundles were in the baskets on the right of the entrance to the booth, and the crowd already gathered ’round told me I needed to stop there first. I quickly found 2 bundles on her Roslea Organic base, a 100% organic merino wool. These will become cardigans (or maybe shrugs) for my daughter and niece:

3IG Roslea Organic Rainbow Bright (2)

I love the Roslea base. It’s incredibly soft and squishy, and it’s not one of the bases that Sharon carries on a regular basis, so if there was some there, I needed to take advantage of that opportunity.

There was.

I did.

3IG Roslea Organic Curagao

3IG Roslea Organic Mimosa

The top color is Curagao, the bottom is Mimosa. I’ve fallen into a bad habit of buying lots of blue for Lexie and lots of green for Jeffrey to match their beautiful eyes:

032510 (3)

Jeffrey's 5th birthday (12)

So I was trying to branch out. I was more successful with Lexie–the orange is for her. The blue for Jeffrey wasn’t much of a reach, but it was the color I thought he’d like the most that was available on that base.

But in addition to the Roslea, there was a lot of beautiful Wexford Merino Silk. Now, Wexford is a standard base…but these weren’t standard colors. Many of them were limited edition colorways, and one of them was one I’d loved since I’d first seen it: Georgia Peach.

3IG Wexford Georgia Peach

When the colorways were first released, I’d bought some Georgia Peach on a different base for Lexie, but when I saw it I had to admit I was jealous. And then someone posted pictures of hers on Wexford…and I was really jealous.

It wasn’t until I had it all in my arms that I realized just how Three Irish Girls happy I’d gone.

mdsw temptation 2

But that’s ok.

3IG MDSW haul 2010 (2)
Top Row (l to r): Georgia Peach on Wexford, Curagao on Roslea Organic
Bottom Row (l to r): Rainbow Bright sampler set on Roslea Organic, Mimosa on Roslea Organic

Posted by: jinniver | April 26, 2010

Purchase a pattern to help a puppy

When I first saw the pattern, it was in a tweet from my friend Mary-Heather.  “Cute new baby cardi!” she said, with a link to a pattern on Ravelry.  I think my last few posts have made it obvious that anything baby is going to catch my eye, so I clicked over.

And it was really cute.  The basic cardigan was nice and simple, but the part that makes you say, “Awwwww!” was the little intarsia wiener dog that wrapped around the bottom of the hem–with the head on one front side and the tail on the other.  My first thought was, “Jean needs to see this!”  My friend Jean has an adorable little dachshund of her own, Penny, and I knew she’d love this sweater.  So I directed a tweet at her about the sweater

A few hours later, I saw some tweets from Jean, but not ones about the sweater.  Her first said, “Ravelry friends: help a wiener dog out.”  Naturally, I clicked on the link before reading the next tweet…

…and was surprised to find myself on the same pattern page.

I clicked back to Twitter and read Jean’s second tweet, which explained that proceeds from the pattern were being used to pay for surgery for a puppy who’d had a serious leg break. I flipped back to the pattern page but didn’t see anything about a puppy, so I clicked through to the link to the designer’s blog–and found the full story.

The designer’s little puppy, while shopping with her puppy sitter, suddenly jumped out of the shopping cart she’d been sitting in, and broke her leg.  The break involved the growth plate, which made the injury very serious…and the surgery to fix it very expensive.  So, while her puppy Crush was waiting for surgery, the designer had whipped up a pattern to help pay for Crush’s care.

I’d already decided I was buying a copy–after all, the pattern was adorable, and since it’s sized for 6 months to 6 years, incredibly useful for only $6…even if it wasn’t to help a little puppy.  But then I realized the blog I was on looked familiar.  I paged back up, saw the title Flint Knits, and immediately knew who this puppy belonged to.

Pamela Wynne.  Designer of the massively popular (and free) February Lady Sweater pattern.

So, I have a suggestion.

If you’re a dog lover…
if you support dog lovers…
if you’ve knit a February Lady Sweater…
or if you’d just like to help out a pattern designer who has given of her own time and imagination for free…

…please consider helping Pam and Crush out. Or just buy the pattern because it will be adorable for the babies and small children in your life!

Thanks.

More people are giving to help Pam and Crush. Shepherd Susie of Juniper Moon Farm is offering a giveaway in their 2011 CSA–visit the blog for more information!

Posted by: jinniver | April 23, 2010

Late night knitting

It’s after 1:30 am, and I should be in bed.

Instead, I’m knitting.  I’m working on a Handspun Pinafore for my niece, and I’m loving it.  One of my fellow Three Irish Girls fans posted a picture of one that she’d knit, and I knew immediately that I needed to knit one each for my niece and daughter. And for my niece, I needed to copy the colorways that my fellow 3IGer had used, because the reds, oranges, and yellows of Fiona would be gorgeous on my golden-brown haired niece.

But this story isn’t about the pinafore, it’s about late night knitting. I took a break from my knitting to check out any new posts on Ravelry, and found one from someone trying to figure out a math mistake that either she or the designer had made. I’m not bad at math, so I thought I’d hop over and see if I could help. Turns out she was knitting an Eyelet Yoke Cardigan, which is a pattern I’m quite familiar with.

Turns out it was just a matter of a slight misread in the pattern. Several of us posted at the same time with help, and one of the other responders joked about the dangers of late night knitting–she’d noticed that the original poster was also from the DC area, so she knew they were in the same time zone.

Also? So it turned out that 3 of the 4 posters in that thread–including me–are all from the DC area…and all up late knitting…and we “met” through a worldwide website. Apparently DC area knitters share the tendency to stay up too late knitting…and make mistakes reading patterns. Guess that means it’s time to go to bed!

Posted by: jinniver | April 21, 2010

It’s a boy! Again!

Yes, I know–I already told you all about my nephew.  This isn’t about him.

My youngest cousin is expecting.  She’s actually due about a month after my sister-in-law is, and she and her husband learned today that they’re having a boy too.  I’d thought Lexie and my niece Stella would be the cousins with the closest birth dates, but my nephew and my 2nd cousin will have them beat.

So now, I’ve got some more boy knitting to plan!

Fortunately, I’ve already gotten some done…

…like the Log Cabin blanket I blogged about:

Log Cabin for My Nephew (3)

Project: Log Cabin for my Nephew
Pattern: Easy 4 Colour Log Cabin Baby Blanket (modified)
Yarn: Spud & Chloe Sweater, in Moonlight (blue-green), Lake (blue), Toast (tan) and Firefly (yellow), approx 240 yds of each
Needles: US8 KnitPicks Options circs

I didn’t use the pattern exactly as written; I really only used the color sequencing that the pattern called for. I made my center square larger and then kept the logs the same width as that center square for the first couple layers. Then, as the yarn started getting a little more scarce and the blanket started reaching the size I wanted, I halved the width for one round, and then halved it again for a last round as a border. Definitely a modern twist to the traditional log cabin, although I did keep up one tradition: the yellow center. Traditionally, the centers of log cabin squares are either yellow or red, to represent the home; yellow for the light shining from the window, and red for the fire in the hearth.

I did have about half a skein of each color left when I finished the blanket. I love Spud & Chloe sweater; it’s a 50/50 mix of cotton and superwash wool, which makes it warm without being too warm; nicely weighted without being too heavy; soft without being prone to a lot of pilling; and machine washable. For me, it’s the perfect baby yarn. So I definitely didn’t want the leftover yarn to go to waste.

My first thought was that I could knit a little sweater for my nephew with the Toast, Moonlight, and Lake. I thought about adding the yellow but decided that I preferred the more classic color combination of tan, blue-green, and blue. So then I had to find a pattern. Initially, I was going to use the Eyelet Yoke Cardigan variation I’d come up with for a boy (no eyelets), but I couldn’t get gauge with the yarn I had. So instead I took the schematics from that pattern and determined my own pattern using the Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan recipe. I ended up not having quite as much yarn as I expected, so my planned long-sleeved cardigan became a short-sleeved version, and I had to break into another cache of Toast in order to finish off the button band…but I loved the outcome:

Manly Stripes for a Baby Boy (3)

Project: Manly Stripes for a Baby Boy
Pattern: Incredible Custom-Fit Raglan
Yarn: Spud & Chloe Sweater, in Moonlight (blue-green), Lake (blue), and Toast (tan), approx 80 yds of each
Needles: US8 KnitPicks Options circs

And again…you have to love the buttons:

Manly Stripes for a Baby Boy (4)

Of course, this left me with half a skein of the Firefly, which I had to do something with…and I’d already planned to knit him his very own bunny…

His First Bunny (6)

Project: His First Bunny
Pattern: Knitted Bunny
Yarn: Spud & Chloe Sweater, in Firefly (yellow), 60 yds
Needles: US6 KnitPicks Options circs

I’d been wanting to knit this ever since I saw someone post about it on Ravelry. The trick is that it’s a very simple knit–just a square. Seriously. No shaping is done with the knitting–you knit a square, and then follow the schematic to sew it into a bunny shape. The ears are knit separately and sewed on, but that’s the trickiest part (as long as you just trust the pattern. Don’t think about it; just follow it). My only concern was the tail. The pattern called for either sewing on some stuffing or pulling some from the inside through the knit fabric, but this is a present for a baby. I didn’t want loose stuffing that he could chew and choke on.

So, originally I’d planned to leave bunny tailless…but then I looked at the finished product, after the sewing was done. Turns out bunny is a little…um…wide hipped. He really needed a tail. I briefly considered a pom-pom, but that would be just as problematic as stuffing–loose pieces of yarn could just as easily be pulled out by a baby. Then it occurred to me that I could start a pom-pom and just not cut the yarn. I wasn’t sure how it would look, but I’m pretty chuffed with the outcome:

His First Bunny (7)

My only problem has been keeping the bunny out of the grasp of my children, both whom have tried to claim him as their own. So I see a lot more bunny knitting in my future, once I’ve got these babies taken care of!

(Note to my non-Ravelry followers: my project pages are now available for public viewing, whether you’re a Ravelry member or not!)

Posted by: jinniver | March 20, 2010

Babies on the Brain

I haz it.

Not that I would ever say that to Steve.  He’d turn pale and start making plans for permanent medical procedures to foil me…which is entirely unnecessary.  Don’t get me wrong–babies are still one of the most awesome things ever.  It’s just that I’m comfortable with having reached the stage where any baby I snuggle from now on is one I’ll be able to hand back to the parents when I’m ready.

No, the babies I’m obsessing about right now are the future son of my brother and sister-in-law (whom I’ve mentioned) and future child (gender unknown) of my “baby” cousin and cousin-in-law.  Of course, my cousin Allison isn’t exactly a baby anymore, and is even a fellow military wife, but it still took some doing to get used to the idea that she’s going to be a mom soon.  In fact, she’ll be a mom right about the same time she and Paolo celebrate their first anniversary; they decided that they wanted to get started on adding to the family early, especially as Paolo has already done one tour in Iraq and they have no idea when there might be another.

I won’t get to see as much of my nephew as I would like due to distance–but we’re a lot closer than when my two kids and my niece were babies, so I’ll have to be happy with what I get.  My cousin lives much closer, so I should be able to get more time with my baby second cousin…if Allison lets me, that is.  She was a little irritated with me for moving to Texas just after finally having a baby…

Guess I’ll have to try bribing her with knitwear.

Shouldn’t be too hard, since that seems to be all I want to knit right now.  In fact, I just started another beautiful Simple Things with one of the many skeins of fingering weight yarn I’d stocked up recently. I adore the yarn, a wool/bamboo blend from Three Irish Girls in a gorgeous variegated green, and it’s knitting up so nicely…

Climb Every Mountain (1)

So why is it sitting forlorn and ignored on the table next to me?

Well…because I’m working on this:

Log Cabin for my Nephew (1)

Apparently, the teddy bear and hat weren’t enough to get it out of my system. I’m knitting my nephew a baby blanket. And as soon as I know the gender of my cousin’s baby and can pick out colors, I’ll be knitting her one too.  I’m not following an exact pattern; I’m using the Easy 4 Color Log Cabin Blanket just for the color sequences. Rather than using doubled fingering weight yarn, I chose a worsted weight yarn (Spud & Chloe Sweater, which is soft, warm, and has a bit of weight without being too heavy, and more importantly can be machine washed and dried), I changed the size of the middle block, and I’m knitting the first several “logs” to be the same width as the center block. I’m aiming for a larger blanket than called for in the pattern (22″ x 24″) and have twice as much yarn to work with.  Once I don’t have enough yarn of a color to knit a full width block, I’ll add some half-width blocks as borders to maximize my yarn.  Maybe once this is done I can get back to non-baby knitting.

But I’m not getting my hopes up.

Posted by: jinniver | March 18, 2010

I’m gonna have a NEPHEW!

Steve and I had just driven out of the parking garage at Walter Reed, where we’d been discussing my upcoming cancer treatment with my endocrinologist, when my cell phone rang.  I was surprised to see it was the older of my twin brothers, Joe–he’s been keeping close tabs on how things are going with me, but he hadn’t known I had an appointment, so I wasn’t sure why he was calling.

He didn’t leave me wondering for long.  “I just have a second before I go back in and talk to the doctor so I wanted to call,” he said, a bit breathlessly.  “It’s a boy!”

It’s a boy!

I would have been delighted with another beautiful little niece…but I was really hoping for a nephew.  My younger twin brother and his wife aren’t planning to have kids, and I’ve no idea what my sister-in-law and her husband are planning…so I wasn’t going to have many chances for one.  Now Jeffrey won’t be the only boy!  And now I’ve got another little boy to knit for.

I didn’t knit for Jeffrey when he was a baby.  I’d planned to.  I even bought my first yarn and needles when I was expecting him–the quilting store I bought some of my fabric from carried knitting supplies as well–and then we found out we were moving to Texas.  It was not pleasant news for a number of reasons, and I completely gave up any plans to learn to knit during the 18 months we were going to be there–who needed knitted clothing in south Texas?  Obviously, my plans changed, and I did finally learn to knit while I was carrying Lexie, who had some of my first knitting creations inflicted upon her (fortunately, she was too young to remember, so those won’t be added to the list of things causing her teenaged angst in 11 or so years).

But now I’m a reasonably skilled knitter, capable of creating attractive things…and I want to knit them for my nephew.

Of course, I do have to admit that there are a lot more cute patterns out there intended for little girls than for little boys, but that just means I need to accept it as a challenge!  I’ve already picked out and received approval from my sister-in-law for a few patterns:

  • Mossy Jacket – I’m not usually a big fan of asymmetric patterns, but this one is just so charming in its simplicity, and without the asymmetry, it would be too plain.  I haven’t figured out what yarn I’m going to use yet, but fortunately I should be able to find coordinating trim pretty easily either through a swap or from some of the yarn spawn I’ve got stocked up.
  • Snug – Another very simple yet very classic looking pattern.  This one will take a bit of work and thought though, because my sister-in-law discovered that hoods were trouble than they were worth to her with my niece, so I’ll need to figure out how to size it up, and it’s a sideways knit.  But the designer kindly included some links to either places where people did just that.
  • Henry’s Sweater – If you haven’t discovered Petite Purls yet, and you knit for little ones, you’re missing out!  I think of Petite Purls as being a sort of Knitty for little ones–both are knitting ezines that come out seasonally with gorgeously worked free patterns and informative feature articles. Henry’s Sweater looked like just the thing to put on my little nephew.

(Of course, the downside of checking out Petite Purls to find things to knit for my nephew was that I found even more things to knit for my daughter and niece…but that’s another story.)

In the meantime, I’ve already done some knitting–I just couldn’t resist.

Part of the inspiration was that I’m doing a Stashdown KAL right now, where we get points for how many yards of yarn we knit…but we can’t count a skein as “knit” until the entire skein is knit.  I’d finished a sweater for myself that took 3 1/2 skeins of yarn, so I had a half skein left.  So I went looking for patterns that would take 125 yds or less of worsted weight yarn…and I found the Button Beanie. I loved the faux buttoned brim and immediately set about looking for the perfect button.

Beanie for my Nephew (1)

Project: Beanie for my Nephew
Pattern: Button Beanie
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Springvale Super Merino in Toffee, 75 yds
Needles: US8 32″ KnitPicks Options circs (via magic loop)

Despite my husband’s emphatic pronouncement that boy’s hats should not have buttons on them, I think it looks adorable.  And my sister-in-law agrees, meaning Steve is out voted.  The only problem I had with this pattern was that I’m not sure it’s physically possible to get the gauge called for, certainly not with the yarn/needle combination the pattern used (4 sts to an inch with US7s on worsted weight yarn).  I got up to US10s while knitting gauge swatches and decided I didn’t like how loose the fabric was becoming.  Also, when I posted about this on Ravelry in one of my groups, someone pointed out that the listed gauge and cast on number didn’t match up with the given dimensions anyway.  So I modified the pattern by adding 18 sts to the cast on to get the dimensions I wanted with the fabric gauge I liked.

Beanie for my Nephew (2)

Tell me that’s not the cutest button for a boy’s hat ever.  Go on–I dare you.  It took some searching, but I found that one at As Cute as a Button.  Of course, shipping for a single button was more expensive than the button itself (which, really, is ridiculous since they could have slipped that button in a standard envelope and put a stamp on it), so I took the opportunity to stock up on some more cute child buttons for future projects.

Now, the hat pattern claimed to use 122 yds, and I had about 125 yds when I started.  I finished with…50 yds.  Back to the advanced pattern search on Ravelry, this time looking specifically at baby patterns for something to coordinate with the hat.  Socks?  Thumbless mittens?

Bubby (4)

Project: Bubby for my Nephew
Pattern: Bubby
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Springvale Super Merino in Toffee, 30 yds
Plymouth Encore DK in Royal Blue (for trim), 15 yds
Needles: US7 and US6 (ears only) 6″ bamboo DPNs

How about a tiny teddy bear?  And yes, he’s pretty small!

Bubby (3)

But he makes the perfect size teddy bear for a baby’s fist…and a baby’s mouth, because dear Bubby is going to get chewed on a lot, I foresee, in the year to come.

Posted by: jinniver | March 16, 2010

When knitting isn’t an option…

“I got your pathology report back today, and unfortunately, it’s cancer.”

What my endocrinologist said in the minutes immediately following that statement, I couldn’t tell you.  I’m pretty sure whatever it was, he repeated it later in the phone call if it was important.  I got the sense during that call that he knew I wasn’t ready for any details or anything important–well, anything else important–and we both knew I had an appointment with him in two days to follow up on my thyroidectomy.

The first thing I did when I hung up was call Steve to let him know–follicular thyroid cancer, which, fortunately, is one of the two most common and most curable.  Then I let my family know.  Then I got on Ravelry.  My friends in both the go fast. knit left. and the Three Irish Girls groups were waiting on this update too.  As I had with my family (Steve knew this already), I told them that about 6 weeks after my surgery I was going to have to go back in the hospital to receive radioactive iodine treatment.  The reason FTC is so curable is because it can be targeted so precisely.  Only the thyroid–and the cancer cells, in the case of FTC, even if the cancer has spread–absorbs iodine, so by giving me radioactive iodine, only those cells will be affected.  It’s a fairly quick treatment, a one-time dose (although repeated if needed down the road), and I won’t get sick from it the way I would from chemotherapy or standard radiation treatment.

However, I was going to have to stay in the hospital for at least 2 days, in isolation, because I’ll be giving off radioactive isotopes that could damage someone else’s thyroid.  I have to admit–that caused a few jokes.  I’d promised my mom to take my camera to the hospital with me in case I glowed in the dark.  But as I talked with my knitting friends, we all ended up focusing on a very important point.  I was going to be spending at least 2 days in isolation with nothing to do.  I needed to plan my knitting now.

So, I spent the 2 days before my appointment planning my projects.  Steve wants socks, which I’ve started on, and there’s a lot of things I have planned for my new nephew (have I mentioned him yet?  I don’t think I have.  More on him later!).  It was very helpful, because it kept my mind off the appointment and the what ifs and the who knows.  I’d done enough reading online to freak myself out a bit, but I at least had a good list of questions for my endocrinologist, Dr. A.

Both Steve and I went to the appointment, and Dr. A was great as always, especially with answering my questions.  He has the gift of being completely honest with a patient and being able to impart bad news in a way that it’s just a fact, rather than something to panic about–reassuring without being condescending or minimizing the truth.  So I learned that there’s a chance my cancer has already progressed to Stage II and spread to my lungs and bones, because the tumor in my thyroid did invade some blood vessels…but that was just a fact to accept and move on with.

After we discussed the pathology report and my prognosis, we moved on to the treatment.  Dr. A told us a lot about how the treatment was done at Walter Reed–lab work one day to make sure my body’s ready for the treatment, then a dose of slightly radioactive iodine the next day (non-toxic) in preparation for a full body scan the third day (to see where there are thyroid/cancer cells as a baseline).  Finally, the next Monday, I’d go in for the actual radioactive iodine treatment and be placed in isolation.

“And don’t bring anything with you that you want to keep,” he added.

Um…what?

Turns out I can’t take anything into isolation that I want take back out (with the sole exception of my glasses).  Well, that’s something none of the websites had mentioned.  Naturally, all my knitting plans were out the window.  Now what?

Steve (and some others) suggested I take some yarn I don’t care about and some cheap spare needles in with me and just knit to keep my hands busy.  Now, I do knit in part to keep my hands busy…but only in part.  I’m a product knitter as much as a process knitter, and knitting a bunch of garter stitch I’ll be throwing away wouldn’t keep me content–it would drive me so far up a wall they’d have to pad my isolation room.  I’d just feel like I was wasting my time if I didn’t gain something from the knitting.

I moped for several days…and then I had an epiphany.  Someone had mentioned practicing knitting patterns I liked, but then I’d have to take the patterns somehow, and I’d rather practice on a scarf or washcloth I could keep and use.  But there is something I’ve been wanting to learn, for which everything I took could be disposable:  crochet!

I have a lot of dishcloth cotton, purchased back before I knew of the existence of LYSs.  I have several crochet hooks that have become spares now that I have a nice pack of several sizes complete with carrying case.  And I have The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knitting and Crocheting that, while handy when I first started knitting, is no longer a reference I use.  So, I can take all of these items into isolation with me, and cheerfully leave them behind to be disposed of…or, if they keep these things for others who go through isolation, maybe even for another future crocheter.

Lemons, meet lemonade.

Posted by: jinniver | March 2, 2010

The definition of insanity

I succumbed to insanity during the Ravelympics.

Just as in 2008, I had 3 projects planned–this time, 2 hats and a scarf. The first hat gave me a bit of trouble, just on the brim. The second hat was a breeze–and it should have been, since I was knitting the same pattern. The scarf…

The scarf…I’ll let my project notes tell the story

***

2/17/10, 1000 – Cast on! Shifting to Team Sheepnuts! Knitting My So Called Scarf.

2/23/10 – And, halt! Temporarily, at least–this is going so slowly I’ve got no chance to finish on time, so I’m moving to the hat so I can at least get one medal for Team Sheepnuts.

2/24/10 – Still working on the hat, but that’ll finish up early tomorrow…and while I was working on it, I had a brainwave. Not only am I never going to get such a long scarf knit in time, I don’t particularly like long scarves. What I do like are cowls…and I love the ones that button in the front–very classy looking. Well, the cloche is going to have a button on it, so why not add buttonholes and matching buttons to my scarf and make it a cowl instead?

2/25/10 – From Scarf Super G to Aerial Unwind…sigh… Right before I broke to knit the hat I’d made a mistake in a purl row and came up a stitch short. I tried to tink back to the beginning and made a bigger mess (it’s just so hard with this stitch pattern to see where the stitches are), so I tried to push on and wing a fix…but the next row was looking worse. Tinking wasn’t an option, and I quickly learned that the yarn was too sticky and the stitches too confused even to frog back a few rows. So riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip! And cast on again…

2/26/10 – My So Called Scarf 2, Jen 0. And I was already almost back to where I’d to rip the first time when I realized I was once again missing a stitch…

…but I will not lose to a scarf.

2/27/10 – Scarf 3, Jen 0. This time I just cut what I had done off the ball; it had been frogged so many times it was getting fuzzy.

(later) – Scarf 4, Jen 0.

(still later) – Insanity: repeating the same actions over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Scarf 5, Jen 0.

I’m finding a new pattern.

2/28/10 – Just after midnight. I have a new pattern, and I’m not going to bed until I’ve got several inches knit. Darn it.

I’m using the stitch pattern from the Yarn Harlot’s One Row Handspun Scarf, but to turn it into a buttoned cowl I’m using the length and button instructions from the Herringbone Neck Warmer. I really liked the look of that pattern…until I realized it was the exact same stitch pattern that was already kicking my butt.

Here’s some irony. I posted on Twitter:

This is not a surrender. I’ve ordered a tactical retreat and an operational pause to regroup and develop a new plan of attack.

My youngest brother responded:

Is the enemy the yarn or the pattern? If it’s the pattern, just do a different one and claim victory! If it’s the yarn…

How come my non-knitting little brother figured it out so quickly, and it took me 3 days and 5 tries?!?

My So Called Olympics Sheepnuts Scarf (2)

***

There’s perseverance…like Lindsey Vonn, who after her initial success struggled on the slopes and added new injuries but kept getting back up that mountain. And then there is bull-headed stubbornness. I knew which side I’d landed on.

Fortunately, the stitch pattern in the One Row Handspun scarf proved to be one I could tackle…and fix, when I found a few mistakes a couple rows back. In fact, I made such good time on it that Sunday found me calculating just how many hours of knitting I had until the Ravelympics were officially concluded. The ending time was 11:59:59pm PST (GMT -5), which meant I had until 2:59:59am the next morning. Problem was, I had to up at 5am that morning to get to a doctor’s appointment…so there was no way I could knit until 3am. So, about 10pm, Steve and I both decided just to record the rest of the Closing Ceremonies and hit the sack. The scarf came to my doctor’s appointment with me instead.

And so I finished my buttoned cowl as Steve and I watched the rest of the Closing Ceremonies last night (although I have to admit that the giant beavers and flying moose made us regret that decision a bit)…but as I sewed the buttons on, I didn’t feel as though I’d failed. Ok, so I finished out of medal contention. But like Benjamin Koons, the New Zealand cross country skier who crossed the line 46th in the 50K, smiling and waving to the cheering crowd, I’d finished what I started.

And that’s a victory in itself.

My Insanity Olympics Sheepnuts Scarf (2)

Olympics Sheepnuts cowl and scarf (1)

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