WIPWed #124: Actual Knitting Content

As I mentioned in my come-back post last week, I’ve finally managed to work on some knitting while juggling my 5-month-old. By the by, props to the people who teach themselves to knit while they’re pregnant or after the baby arrives, I don’t know where they get the energy for that. I’m a seasoned knitter and when I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was sleep. And now that the Hatchling is here… sleep is still a hot commodity. However, he’s starting to settle into a routine and I’ve finally weaned off pumping in the evenings which means I get occasional hands-free time to dally with yarn again. Yay!

Green Gathered

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Cephalopod Yarns Traveler, colorway Wolcott . Click for project page.

This photo is something of a lie as this hat is done and has been worn already, but I haven’t had a chance to take good finished photos yet so I’m still calling it a WIP.🙂 The pattern is Gather by tincanknits and I loved it. The stitch pattern is easy-peasy but fun to work. I knit the toddler size for my kiddo because he has a big head and it fits perfectly with some stretch for future growth.

Wine Toast:

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Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Something-or-Other. Click for project page.

Speaking of easy-peasy, this project couldn’t be simpler. I’m knitting the Toast armwarmers by Leslie Friend, which are basically just plain stockinette tubes knit in the round. I often wear 3/4 length sleeve sweaters to work and my arms get cold, plus I’m always warmer with my wrists covered, so these will be a big luxurious (worsted weight Merino-cashmere-nylon yarn, yum!) treat for me. I’m making them a bit longer so they go all the way to my elbow, wider to accommodate my larger forearms, and adding a thumbhole (but no actual thumb) so they can also serve as fingerless mitts when needed.

Hatchling’s Sky Blanket:

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O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in various colors. Click for project page.

I’ve been making very slow progress on my Sky Blanket (<– scroll to the bottom of that post to read the history of this particular project). In summary, I’m knitting 360 square that represent the sky each day (minus 5)  in the first year of the Hatchling’s life. That strip represents the first couple of weeks in July. HAHAHAHA I’m soooooo behind. The worst part is, I stopped recording the weather during the first couple of weeks in November, at least before that point I’d had everything written down. So now I’m going to have to get creative with the almanac or something to figure out what to knit for the missing dates. I WILL COMPLETE THIS BLANKET.

Is there a particular project you’ve been dragging your feet about? Holiday knitting, perhaps? Speaking of, check out the Knitter’s Gift Guide on the KnittedBliss blog. It’s a great collection of gift ideas, including a little shout out to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe sheep-shaped soaps in the stocking stuffer section (sooooo many S’s in that sentence)!

 

The Dark Side of Love

I am sorry for the long silence, friends. Last we spoke, my little Hatchling was only 7 weeks old, and he’s now tripled in age. At 21 weeks old (almost 5 months) he’s become a curious little boy who giggles, watches everything, and gives sloppy, full-face, open-mouthed kisses. He’s basically the cutest thing ever and I absolutely love being his mom.

But I’m not going to lie, parenthood hit our family like a ton of bricks. Our feeding issues (he never latched) caused a lot of stress for me, personally, and impacted my marriage as well. I won’t recount the whole sad story here but suffice it to say that we saw endless lactation consultants and doctors and had multiple incorrect diagnoses before it was finally confirmed that Oliver had a tongue tie AND a lip tie, both of which prevented him from latching on and breastfeeding successfully. We had the ties released (with lasers!) which vastly improved his ability to suck and eat from a bottle, but by the time we had the procedures done, it was too late for our nursing relationship. The little guy was too smart, he knew his food came from a bottle and there was no way we could convince him otherwise. So I pumped as much milk for him as I could and cried oceans of tears over this. It is difficult to explain to anybody who is not a mother but breastfeeding was immensely important to me and I definitely grieved the loss.

At the same time, I was dealing with some lingering postpartum complications, including hormone-driven anxiety and depression, as well as trying to get back on the same page with my dear Fiasco. Time has healed most of the postpartum complications, and new parent couples counseling has done wonders for the communication issues that the Fiasco and I were experiencing. I’m telling all this to illustrate that a whole hell of a lot changes after you have a baby, and I think it’s important that it doesn’t get glossed over and buried under the cultural narrative of cute onesies and sweet lullabies. It’s also important (to me, politically) that parenthood remains a choice. Having a baby is an incredible responsibility and it will directly (and permanently) impact your health, your finances, your relationships, and the course of your entire life. It should not be entered into lightly or because a distant politician has ideas about the autonomy of a blob of partially-divided cells.

It’s not just a ‘transformative experience’, as I’ve heard it described. I’d call it obliterative. It takes everything you think you know, and everything you are, and shakes it all down to your foundation. Then it makes you slowly pick up the pieces, rebuilding each bit with new corners and edges where the baby fits in. And through it all, there is intense, spellbinding, all-consuming joy. And pride. And fear. And doubt. And hope. And a deep, dark, breathless love.

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So much love.

Now, finally, it’s also starting to get really fun. Around three or four months old, he started interacting more and it’s wonderful to get some feedback from him. To know that he’s ok, that we’re fulfilling his needs, that he recognizes us and wants to be with us. It’s amazing to watch little pieces of his personality developing. Our boy is a wee bit demanding but also persistent, and has a somewhat low tolerance for frustration. He’s also super smart, pays attention to everything, and he thinks being surprised is the funniest thing. We’ve even developed a couple of ‘private jokes’ of a sort. He gives me a special smile whenever I sing a certain part of his favorite lullaby, and he giggles like a fiend when I say “suck suck suck!” during his suck training exercises.

All of this is to say hello again, I’ve missed you, and here’s some of what has kept me away. It’s also to say I’m here, if you are a new parent and are maybe feeling alone or like you need help. And that it gets easier. I am now back at work again, I have even been knitting a little, and am finally feeling ready to  rebuild a few more lost bits of myself. I hope you’ve all been well.

The Five S’s

In our birth class, we learned about the Five S’s for soothing a newborn: side-lying, shushing, sucking, swaddling, and swinging. Now that Oliver’s been here for nearly 7 weeks, it feels like life is settling into a whole new series of S’s.

There’s snuggling:

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Sleepy baby snuggles are the best.

Stretching:

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He loves his swing (thank goodness).

Sitting to pump:

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Darwin always wants attention when I do this!

Smooching:

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Gorgeous crocheted blanket courtesy of my mom.

And most adorably, smiling:

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This is a new skill he’s just starting to try out.

These past 7 weeks have been a whirlwind and I can’t believe how fast the little guy is growing. We still haven’t managed to breastfeed and I’m starting to accept that pumping milk for him is the only way he’ll get any milk from me. However, I also have an undersupply (can only produce 10-12 oz per day) so that has been frustrating. The only way to increase supply (besides some herbal supplements) is to sit and pump more frequently. I manage 6-8 times a day for 20-30 minutes a session… which means 3-4 hours a day hooked up to that machine. You’d think this would lead to a lot of knitting time but most of that time is spent doing breast compressions to produce more milk. I’m not sure how long I can keep up this effort, especially since the Fiasco will be returning to work soon. I’ll be solely responsible for the kiddo at that time and I doubt his naps will coincide with my pumping schedule.

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I suppose ‘super cool sunglasses’ could be another S.

That said, I’m also beginning to accept that whatever I can do is good enough. I’ve read about women with an oversupply who can pump 60 oz in a day in just 4 sittings, or women who manage to get their infants to accept the breast after several months of bottle feeding. Hearing that, it’s difficult for me to be ok with only providing 1/3 of Oliver’s needs with breastmilk, since my brain weasels immediately chime in with “if they can do it, you should be able to do it, too” and boy, are they persistent. But if I’ve learned anything from my pregnancy and labor and very beginning of motherhood, it’s that I am not actually in charge here. I don’t get to choose how all of this goes. I can try my hardest for what I think is best, but it may or may not work out that way, and as long as we’re all happy and thriving in the end, that’s ok.

In other news, I have managed a wee bit of knitting here and there. I’m re-knitting the feet of some awesome socks my Verdant Gryphon friends made for Oliver, since he’s already outgrown them! These socks match an adorable hat and cardi set, so they obviously must live on. And I’ve finally sorted out my Sky Blanket dilemmas. I had debated several ways of knitting this project, including everything from an individual stripe to represent the sky for each day of the first year of Oliver’s life, to a patchwork of month-long stripey squares. In the end, I realized the stripey squares were going to be a pain in the butt (too much untangling of multiple yarn balls to contend with) and I went with tiny mitered squares instead (as many of you suggested). These squares are a mere two inches wide so about 360 of them (15 across, 24 tall) should make a decently sized baby blanket. There will be a trillion ends to weave in, but I’m not planning to leave it all for the end. After much debate, I’ve decided on the following color combinations for different weather:

  • yellow with light blue edge = sunny, cloudless sky
  • dark grey solid = overcast sky
  • dark blue with light grey edge = thunderstorm
  • dark blue and light grey stripes = drizzle
  • white and light blue stripes = blue skies with white clouds
  • white solid = snow (not yet knit)
  • light grey solid = fog (not yet knit)

That should cover the majority of a year’s weather in New England, we’ll see if anything else pops up. I’m knitting individual diamonds as pictured above for the first row, then will join them together by picking up stitches between two of the diamonds to knit a third, following the Sock Yarn Blanket method. Just 5 more to go before I can begin joining them together! I’m hoping I can catch up on all the days I’ve missed sooner than later and get into a rhythm of kitting one square per day as this project grows.

Oliver Hatched!

I have been attempting to find time to sit at my computer and write a blog post for 3 weeks. This has not happened, so I’ve given in and am doing my best to post from my phone. The reason for my blogging delay is currently asleep on my chest, making adorable infant snuffling noises. Oliver Sam (formerly known as the Hatchling) was born at 5 am on June 28 after 30 hours of not-so-fun labor. But he’s here, he’s healthy, and he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

We’ve been struggling with breastfeeding, in that we haven’t actually managed it. Oliver refuses to latch (that’s a nice way of saying he screams bloody murder) even though we’ve spoken to every doctor and lactation consultant out there. We’re still working on it but in the meantime he’s growing well on formula and the breastmilk I’ve been able to pump. The whole feeding thing has been a lot harder than I’d expected but I’m trying to keep in mind that of all the problems we could have, this is a manageable one.

We’re a tad tired but the Fiasco and I are really making a pretty great team and are enjoying learning the ropes as new parents. We had lots of visitors in the beginning and are gearing up for lots more in the near future. Routines and all sense of time have pretty much gone out the window!

I have knit just one thing in the past 3 weeks: the crown of the green gradient hat for Oliver. I started his Sky Blanket also but didn’t love my color combination for certain weather so I’m starting over. I’ve been writing down the sky every day and I’ll probably end up just knitting my square all at once. Don’t worry, Oliver isn’t hurting for knitwear. My spinning friend Christine knit him/us a gorgeous bamboo and cotton lace blanket/shawl and generous members of the Verdant Gryphon group on Ravelry made a Newborn Vertebrae cardi and coordinating hat, socks, and mitts that fit him perfectly (blue set). Unlike my knits, where the hat and socks are way too big and the cardi is nearly already too small. I’ll have to get cracking on some more knits now that I have an actual baby to measure!


Guys, I can’t believe I’m somebody’s mom. I could just stare at his perfect little face all day (and basically do).

Still Chugging Along

I’m still here, still pregnant, still slowly working on tiny baby knits. Thus, I finished a pair of (rather large) baby socks!

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Not-so-tiny booties.

I made these socks to match the Newborn Vertebrae cardi I finished last month. I took a wild guess at the number of stitches to cast on (40) and the lengths of all the various bits. I figure if they’re too big, they’ll fit eventually, and I used them basically as a gauge swatch to figure out how big to make a coordinating hat.

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Coordinating hat.

Since my gauge on the foot of the socks was 8 sts/in, I cast on 104 sts for the rolled stockinette brim of the hat, then increased to 112 sts for the body. This should give me a 14″ circumference hat when all is said and done. That might be a tad large for a newborn head, which is said to be about 14″ and I usually like negative ease in hats, but he should grow into it in time for cooler weather in the fall. Knitting for someone who doesn’t yet exist in a measurable way is hard, yo.

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Calypso demonstrating her impressive size.

Speaking of measurable sizes, at 39 weeks the Hatchling is supposedly the size of a domestic shorthair cat. How freaking terrifying is that, right? Let’s hope the cat in question was not quite as chubby as Calypso above!

Sky Blanket Plans

Last month, I started scheming up a Sky Scarf-style baby blanket that I’d like to knit during the Hatchling’s first year of life. Shortly thereafter I found the perfect yarn for my idea and have been sitting on it ever since. Well, over the weekend I pulled the preggo card and my dear Fiasco kindly wound up all six skeins for me while we watched an excellent documentary about African wildlife on Netflix.

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Best husband ever.

That man is a trooper… Due to his tireless efforts, I was finally able to swatch and do some math! I cast on 26 sts with 2 skeins held double and knit a bit of garter stitch and stockinette on size US 6 and US 7 needles, then washed and blocked.

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Swatch and scribbles.

It quickly became apparent that if I wanted to knit one square representing the sky for each of the approx. 360 days of Hatchling’s first year (I gave myself 5-day wiggle room to fail at knitting), the blanket would be either GIGANTIC or comprised of itty bitty 1-inch squares, which would  be a horrible pain to seam together and probably look awful. After some finagling, I think I’ve decided on seaming together 12 squares, one for each month, with each square comprised of 2-row stockinette stripes that represent the sky each day. The details of the math can be found on my Ravelry project page but if I cast on 44 sts and knit 2 rows per day, my squares should be come out at 9.5″ x 9″, resulting in a blanket about 30″ x 36″ in size.

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O-Wool Fingering Merino

Now I need to figure out which color combinations represent which types of sky, and remember them for a year. I also might add a border to each square, I might border the whole thing, I’m not sure yet. I’m a little disappointed that this plan won’t result in a clearly patchwork-looking blanket, what with all the striping within each square, but if the weather each month is variable enough the squares should look fairly different from each other.

What do you think? Would you do something differently?

 

Riding the Waves

Oh friends, I can tell these final weeks of pregnancy are going to be a rollercoaster ride. Lately it’s been a mix of time moving super quickly, and ridiculously slowly. Of busybusy things to do and waiting, waiting, waiting. Of running around with errands and appointments and falling asleep almost immediately after work. Of feeling prepared and ready for it all and suddenly feeling anxious about labor and delivery. Of buying the remaining bits and bobs of things we need for baby and pinching pennies to cover my reduced salary over maternity leave. Of wondering about every new ache and pain to just trying to be patient and let my body do what it will. So many contrasts!

This is such a crazy time, the adventure is certainly beginning.

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Tiny bits of progress.

I have not been knitting too much lately. The cardi I finished last week is blocking and awaiting buttons, and I’ve just made a wee bit of progress on the coordinating gradient hat and socks set for Hatchling.

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Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap

In other news, I made some delectable Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap for a Sweet Sheep vending event and there are still a few bars left. I’ll be closing shop for the month of July so if there’s something you’ve been keeping an eye on, you should grab it now! Have no fear, though, I’ll be back in action by August. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list or follow the Sweet Sheep Facebook page to stay up-to-date with comings, goings, sales, and updates.