About shoelaceswitcher

My name is Alicia and I’m known as shoelaceswitcher on most knitting-related sites. I blog and publish knitting patterns under Woolen Diversions. Other than knitting I love spinning, poetry, books, music, the outdoors, and science.

Rhinebeck Reminiscing

Only slightly delayed, here’s my Rhinebeck recap! Rhinebeck was fun (obviously) but also super, duper busy. It’s different with a kid, and major props to the Fiasco for being there to care for the Hatchling while I was spending extra time at the festival. It wasn’t quite the relaxing family vacation we’d envisioned, but we’ll just have to plan for another one of those to make up for it.

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IndieUntangled acquisition.

We arrived on Friday, to an incredible AirBnB apartment in Saugerties. (Seriously, it was lovely, we didn’t ever want to go home.) We went for dinner, visited The Perfect Blend  yarn and tea shop (they had a great spread going for knit night), and then arrived for the last half hour of the IndieUntangled Trunk Show and HOLY MOSES was it crowded. The instant claustrophobia kind of crowded, and of course many of the indie maker booths I wanted to see where slammed and inaccessible. However, I did manage to fight my way through to the Spun Right Round booth and acquired a lovely skein of 4-ply SW Merino Classic sock yarn in the neon-and-speckled Caterpillar colorway. (For all pics below, click to embiggen and hover for captions.)

As a super mega epic forever fan, the first thing we did after waiting in line for tickets (where Katy offered an assist in finishing the Hatchling’s sweater in time for Rhinebeck) was rush over to The Fold’s booth to check out the Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns. There’s nothing like seeing a wall of Tina’s colorways in person! Since I have literally every skein of BMFA yarn that I’ve ever acquired from previous years at Rhinebeck still in stash, I refrained from buying more… somehow.

The rest of Saturday was long and filled to the brim with yarn, sheep, beautiful knit samples (at the Fiber Optic Yarns booth), a ridiculously long donut line for closing time, and a cranky toddler in need of a nap. He and the Fiasco went back to the AirBnB but then Katy and I stuck it out through the end of the festival which was a HUGE MISTAKE because there was so much traffic getting back that we missed getting dinner with the fellas and I got a little cranky.

Sunday morning we resisted the call of the festival to go for a bit of a hike, which was a great idea because it was a gorgeous morning and I don’t get outside nearly as much as I need to. We did a quick and easy trail to the Saugerties lighthouse on the Hudson River. It was delightful, many sweet and silly photos were taken, and the scenery was gorgeous.

I rather surprisingly don’t have many pictures of the second day besides the animal-themed ones above. I managed to meet up with a few Ravelry friends (although I missed most of the official meetups) and I think we were all a little wiped out by that point so we mostly just got lunch and speed-shopped that barns that we hadn’t visited yet. Which brings me to…

Besides the Spun Right Round skein from IndieUntangled, other pretties that came home with me included:

  • Six mini skeins from Primrose Yarn Co. to make a Tool Box Cowl (theoretically);
  • a skein of Into The Whirled Shokan Singles in The Cat’s Pyjamas;
  • a Jenkins Kuchulu Turkish spindle (the tiniest one I own!) in tulipwood;
  • an ounce of cashmere fluff; and
  • a little wooly sheep coin purse (courtesy of Katy).

I’m happy that I aimed to fill a niche in my stash that is underrepresented: speckles. These were also all new-to-me dyers, and I didn’t have any cashmere in the fiber stash before now. The only purely gratuitous purchase was the spindle, but I couldn’t help myself! Jenkins spindles are really hard to come by and I’ve been curious about their tiny model for some time. And so far, it’s a pleasure to spin short-stapled fluffy cashmere on because it’s so tiny and lightweight.

Do you shop with a purpose at festivals, or just tend to go with your impulses? I held myself back from many impulse purchases but it actually felt pretty good.

 

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Two more sleeps!

Rhinebeck is so soon, and I am so excited to go! I don’t think I’ve ever needed a vacation more, and even though it’s just a long weekend it’s going to be a great way to escape everyday life. And the Fiasco is coming this time! He’ll finally understand what I mean when I talk about it like the holy-friggin’-grail of the knitting world (maybe). And of course, my Hatchling will be there, too.

I’ve abandoned all plans to finish spinning that pink yarn and knitting a pussyhat with it. For one, I’m out of time. But also, the weather is supposed to be gorgeous! At 70 degrees and sunny, I’m not going to need to wear a bulky weight hat. So instead, I’m hoping to finish the projects I’m currently knitting for my little boy.

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Flax Sweater in Malabrigo Rios, colorway Hojas

I’m nearly done with this great little Flax sweater designed by tincanknits. The pattern is easy peasy and a pleasure to knit. My progress was slightly delayed when I couldn’t find my size 6 DPNs for the cuffs. I realized that I probably hadn’t used those needles in over 2 years and had no earthly idea where they might be. Rather than face the pile of WIPs to try to figure out where they were hiding, I just bought another set. These bamboo needles are ridiculously cheap ($14 for 12 sets of needles!) on amazon and have decently sharp points and last forever (as long as you don’t lose them). I don’t knit with DPNs often enough to care if they’re fancy, I just need them to be there when I want them.

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Dino-Roar! hat with Malabrigo Rios, colorways Hojas and Apple Green

The knitting for this dinosaur hat (designed by Kate Oates) has been done for a while but as with my last project, I’ve been procrastinating the finishing. I finally got around to blocking it and now need to work up the nerve to sew the wee spikes onto the top of the hat *shudder*. I really have no idea how to approach this. The top of the hat swirls around as you decrease, so I can’t even follow a column of stitches to make sure they’re attached in a straight line and that’s as far as I’ve gotten in trying to sort this out. I don’t want them to be wonky! How do I attach these to best guarantee non-wonkiness?

With a little luck, in a few days you’ll see me wandering the fairgrounds with an overheating toddler in his brand new hat and sweater, made by Mama.

Less Blogging, More Knitting

While I might be blogging less than I’d like, I am managing to knit more than I have been! And thus I am rewarded with a finished thing.

This cowl is the Skye Boat Cowl pattern by Judy Marples (I love basically everything she designs) and the ridiculously pretty yarn is some long-gone Verdant Gryphon Zaftig (worsted weight merino/cashmere/nylon) in the Burying Beetle equivalent colorway. I used two skeins and the cowl is a comfortable length to wear draped around the neck, it won’t work doubled up, but the fabric is tall/wide enough that it’s still cozy and warm. The yarn is so squishy and delicious, and the variegated colorway works great with the the stitch pattern.

I also really like that the stitch pattern looks great on the wrong side, as well. The slipped stitch ribbing makes a nice edge, and the three-needle bindoff is a simple finish. Basically, I loved everything about this knit. I actually finished knitting it months and months ago but took a long time to get up the motivation to block it, bind off, and weave in ends. Turns out it’s a lot harder to find time, energy, and floor space for finishing projects when you have a toddler.

Oliver is 15.5 months old now and is a ridiculous amount of fun. He’s a big fan of walking everywhere himself now, exploring outside, and scooping things up with spatulas and spoons. Being his parent is getting more and more fun as he’s getting older. I looooooooved the tiny helpless newborn stage but I don’t think anybody would call it fun. But now there are regular tickle fights and games and goofy gestures and so much dancing and many, many books. He even says “mum mum” in this sweet little voice and I’m reasonably sure he’s referring to me and not the cats. It’s amazing.

Work has been insane since about July, when a coworker left and I took over his projects and it’s been deadline after deadline after deadline. There have been many late nights and weekends working. So many that the Fiasco and a good friend of mine and Oliver and I are escaping for a weekend trip to go to Rhinebeck in < 2 weeks. This knitter needs a vacation and Rhinebeck is the perfect little escape to remind me that I am a creative person who might someday have time for hobbies again. I have an modest yet ambitious goal of finishing spinning that pink yarn that’s been on my wheel/spindles since (hold onto your hats) $%@#ing 2014 and knitting myself a pussyhat with it, since I’ve knit many for others but none for myself. We’ll see if I actually manage it in time…

Are you going to Rhinebeck, or another fiber festival? Do you have any project goals?

Flax and a Finish

I’m happy to report that I’ve held true to my word to put down the phone and pick up the knitting more often, and lo and behold, we have progress!

First, I finished Pussyhat #3 that I’ve had basically done for quite a long time. It was languishing because winter was over, but I recently participated in a swap on Ravelry and I realized my swap receiver would be the perfect recipient so I stuck a Nasty Woman button on there (from Katrinkles), took a quick pic in bad lighting, and off it went to my swap receiver.

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It is the 8th month of the year, and that is my 5th finished object of 2017, and the 3rd Pussyhat. That should tell you something about the rate of knitting around here!

From my swap giver, I received many amazing project bags and gifts that are right up my marine-bio-loving alley, along with some lovely maroon-ish BFL fiber to spin. It was Hatchling-approved.

And finally, I have actually been knitting (even swatching)! This is my Summer Flax sweater for my little guy in a new-to-me colorway of Malabrigo Rios: Hojas. It’s such a great green! I was indecisive about the size, he wears 24 month clothes right now at 14 months old, and the pattern had either 1-2 years or 2-4 years for size choices. When I swatched, I liked the fabric I got with one needle size down and slightly tighter gauge, so I decided to go with the larger size, hoping that my firmer gauge will help snug it up a bit, and if it doesn’t, he’ll grow into it eventually. Length probably matters more than width at this point, so I’ll have to do some trying on when the time comes to make decisions.

Hello Again, Friends

It has been three months since I last posted. I think that’s the longest I’ve gone yet, and I’ve missed writing here. Life has been so full and so busy and other things have been so urgent, that I’ve not often had leftover creative energy or time to post. For the readers who still come to visit, thank you, and I hope I can come back more often now.

To summarize the past three months:

  • My wee Hatchling is now one year old. He walks! He communicates amazingly well through a combination of grunts, points, yells, babbled words, and baby signs. He wiggles his little hips to dance and absolutely loves music. He charms me every day and he’s growing like a weed.
  • So far this summer we’ve thrown a big party, spent our first night camping with a toddler, attended three weddings, and gone to one funeral (for a dear great aunt, she lived a good full life and died in her sleep). There have been many road trips to Connecticut and Long Island. Many weekends away seeing lots of family and friends. And a couple more to go before this summer is done.
  • The Fiasco and I are feeling like we’re really falling into a good groove with this parenting thing. We’re much more comfortable in our roles and are being better partners for each other than we were a year ago and I am so grateful for that.
  • There have been some pretty major changes at my job which have resulted in my workload and level of responsibility essentially doubling. This has been really exciting for me (I love a good challenge), but also really exhausting as I’ve been scrambling to balance the extra work with the summer activities and quality time with my son. #workingmomproblems

Because of all that, I have done NOTHING crafty. No projects. No spinning. No knit night. No spinner’s guild. Nada, zilch, zero. I’ve been two rows away from finishing a cowl and one button away from finishing a hat and stalled out on the heels of a pair of socks since April, but these things all take mental energy I haven’t had the space to find.

However, my goal in these last weeks of summer is to seek out time for myself. Even if it’s a few minutes here, another few there, even if I’m tired and feeling lazy, instead of reaching for my phone or puttering away the time, I’ll re-train myself to use it creatively. It used to be second nature, to pick up the needles in every spare moment, but being pregnant and giving birth sucked all that motivation out of me. I don’t think it’s anything a little extra effort and mindfulness can’t fix, though, and as my baby is getting more busy and independent, my hands won’t be quite as full as they have been.

 

 

On Mother’s Day

May is apparently postpartum depression (PPD) awareness month, and that’s an important thing to talk about. You may hear about it, but you might not realize how prevalent it is or how many different forms it can take until you have a child yourself. I didn’t know that untreated PPD is “the number one complication of pregnancy” or that in some places, 1 in 4 mothers (that’s 25%) experience it. It’s serious business, and it doesn’t always manifest in obvious ways or at expected times.

The “baby blues” commonly occurs during a period of really heightened emotions from hormonal surges in the weeks directly after childbirth. Similar predictable emotional periods occur during “hormone dumps” that can happen at a few specific times: 3 days after birth, when your milk comes in, when your milk supply establishes, when your period starts again, when you stop breastfeeding or pumping. And then there’s more pervasive depression or anxiety that may ebb and flow, or get worse with time instead of better. I didn’t get treatment for PPD until 4 months postpartum and I didn’t begin any medication until 6 months because I wasn’t sure I “needed” it. I wasn’t incapable of getting out of bed, or afraid to leave the house, or having thoughts of harming myself or my baby, or hearing or seeing things that aren’t there, which is how PPD is usually described. I loved my baby and I was happy most of the time. But I was also wracked with indecision, every emotion was heightened, every argument with the Fiasco felt desperate, I had trouble sleeping even though I was exhausted, I was very quick to anger (unusual for me), and was often on the edge of tears (not that unusual). I regularly had “intrusive thoughts” which were (for me) horrible, gory, detailed waking nightmares of the baby accidentally getting hurt in many ways, most of which involved me falling while holding him or dropping him. When I began medication, I was amazed at how much more energy I had. I hadn’t realized how hard everything had been before until it was suddenly much easier. And that’s how insidious depression can be.

And let’s not forget: fathers can experience PPD, too. There are studies that show that hormones change for new fathers as well, and regardless of hormones, it’s a huge life event combined with sleep deprivation, figuring out new roles, changing relationships, having little time to clean or cook or eat, juggling job pressures, and a tiny crying ticking time bomb who will need things from you at any given moment in a more urgent and complete way than anybody has ever needed you before. That’s a lot of stress, and for some fathers it can trigger depression or other latent mental health issues just as with mothers.

So this Mother’s Day, hug a parent. Ask a new mom how she’s holding up, feed her some dinner, hold her baby while she showers, tell her she’s doing a great job, tell her everything will be ok, tell her to trust her instincts, help her find other new mom friends, send her to her doctor, suggest therapy if she can’t fall asleep when the baby sleeps, and check in with her over and over again. Ask a new dad, too. Tell him he’s doing just fine. Tell him the roles will sort themselves out, and if they don’t, counseling can help. Tell him he is loved and needed. Be there, listen, and ask questions. People don’t always ask for help when they need it most, so let them know you’ve got help to offer.

This went deeper than I expected it to, but there you have it. I’ll end on a lighter note, with a poem I wrote that was inspired by my beautiful boy and by a quote that I’ve heard many times but read most recently on the Yarn Harlot’s blog.

Oh Walking Heart

“Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” – Elizabeth Stone

this is so true and because it’s so true i must proclaim in all caps that THIS IS SO TRUE and it’s something i hadn’t realized before. oh my god you tiny perfect incredible being you are my heart, my soul, my love made visible and tangible and vulnerable as the wee bundle of cells you once were in my uterus but now you’re outside, a crawling babbling kissing loving dancing growing galaxy of cells with your own wants and opinions and needs and likes and it is incredible so incredible to see your world develop to see you learn and watch you watch me watch you become a toddling little boy, child, teenager, man. to know that one day you will sometimes hate me and hurt me and probably leave me when right now i hold you and soothe you and rock you is so scary and so normal and so much a part of the deal along with fear, the insidious undercurrent in this ocean of love. because now, after our first mother’s day and before your first birthday, your first steps, your first words, your first day of school, your first test, your first fight, your first car, your first graduation, your first wedding dance, your first day of fatherhood– now, when you’re about to learn how to literally walk away from me carrying all of my desperate love and fervent hopes with you, now i can proclaim that THIS IS SO TRUE while i keep singing lullabies to soothe the glittering remnants of my old yearning heart.

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It’s That Time of the Month

No, not that time, but the apparently once-a-month occurrence of my carving out a minute or two to blog. Honestly, it’s not even a lack of time, but a sheer lack of energy. If I do get time when I’m not working or chasing my little speed-demon crawler or doing things around the house, I just want to collapse and veg out. I don’t always have enough spoons to be organized and creative and interesting. But enough apologizing! Lack of spoons has not meant a lack of yarn in my life, so let me tell you about it.

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Verdant Gryphon goodies

A couple of blog posts ago, I yammered on about Verdant Gryphon closing down. While it’s true that Gryphon herself has left VG, it appears that VG is in fact actually still producing yarn, despite word-on-the-street (a.k.a. Ravelry) being that they were not going to be doing so. Before I knew that, I made one last-ditch acquisition of my two favorite bases: Zaftig (grey, worsted weight MCN) in November Moonlight and Codex (black/green/blue, light worsted BFL/silk) in Verdant Love. For the sake of my wallet, I’m going to just go ahead and pretend like they really did shut down because I could spend entire paychecks on this stuff…

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VG Zaftig in Burying Beetle, click for project page

Guess how many years I’ve been hoarding that lovely little number in my stash? FIVE. FIVE FLIPPIN’ YEARS. I acquired it in 2012, so excited to use it, but it was too pretty, I was too indecisive, and there it sat. I finally found the perfect pattern for it, though: Sky Boat Cowl designed by Judy Marples. The cowl has so much wonderful texture, plays really well with the variegated colorway, and should be just long enough with the two skeins that I have. This I know because another cowl I knit from two skeins of Zaftig is one of my all-time favorites to wear. I’ve been monogamous to this cowl and haven’t knit anything else since I started it about 3 weeks ago. (The photo above is misleading, as I’m over halfway done now.) I’ve been working on it while I’ve thrown myself into the second season of Outlander on DVD, so it’s really felt like the perfect thing to knit lately  (the cowl was inspired by the poem adapted in the theme song to the show, as Judy blogs about here). I could watch that show and dream about a completely romanticized historical Scotland forever. Except I’d miss spending time with this toothy guy:

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❤  ❤  ❤

In some Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe news, a happy customer and fellow knit-blogger has featured my products in the ‘Monday Makers’ post on her blog, as one of a few excellent gift ideas for Mother’s Day. Check it out if you can. Thanks for the love, Jeannie!