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)!

 

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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.

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?

 

All The Pretty Fiber

The RI Fiber Festival and Craft Fair was this past weekend and it was a lovely time! The weather held out (chilly but no rain) and there were more vendors present than in previous years. Even though we didn’t have time to prep as much as we would’ve liked, Sweet Sheep had a pretty great show, thanks to everyone who stopped by!

There were sheep being shorn and fuzzy bunnies to admire (but not touch, sadly).

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to squish my face into those baby bunnies… *ahem* Anyhow, I made it out of the festival with only two purchases, which showed some serious restraint on my part.

New to the show this year (I believe, unless I missed her last year) was Amanda from Classy Squid Fiber Co. I had just recently purchased a batt from her Etsy shop but still couldn’t resist the brightly-dyed braid of Polwarth in the Snow Cabbages colorway #noregrets. And I knew as soon as I touched the pretty pale blue gradient of Superwash Merino/Cashmere/Nylon in Chrystee’s booth (Play At Life Fiber Arts) that it was coming home with me. Concrete Sky is going to be the next thing on my wheel, for sure. SO SOFT OMG.

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O-Wool skeins for Hatchling’s Sky Blanket.

This wasn’t a festival purchase, but I recently wrote about Knit The Sky and the sky-themed blanket I’ve been inspired to make over Hatchling’s first year of life. I debated yarn choices for a while until I remembered that O-Wool sells gorgeous superwash fingering weight yarn at a great price, and I already had two grey skeins stashed that would be perfect for cloudy days. Snagging a skein of the white, yellow, pale blue, and dark blue to round out the sky possibilities was a no-brainer. I appreciate all the suggestions on my previous post of how to go about knitting this blanket. I’m feeling anti-mitered squares at the moment since I’ve had a mitered square blanket on the needles for years and I feel weird about starting more than one of those monsters at a time. Audry had a helpful suggestion of coloring in squares on graph paper to remember what days each individual square represented so I could join them appropriately, which was a concern of mine. I think I’ll do a little swatching and measuring soon so I can get a sense of whether I want to go with joined squares or stripey garter stitch.

All told, my stash is very happy about its fluffy new members and I’m feeling inspired to get on with new projects!

Sky Inspiration

Have you heard of the Sky Scarf pattern designed by Lea Redmond of Leafcutter Designs? It’s a simple but utterly charming and whimsical idea. You essentially knit a basic garter stitch scarf with alternating stripes of color that represent the way the sky looked on a particular day for a certain length of time. I love the concept, and she has an entire book of similar ‘free-form’ knitting patterns that I’ve been enjoying flipping through.

One pattern in the book I wish I had seen earlier, Bundle of Joy, is similar to the Sky Scarf. Instead of stripes on a scarf, you knit squares of a blanket for every day of your pregnancy and you end up with a lovely newborn-sized blanket for the wee one that represents the time he spent in the womb when he couldn’t see the sky for himself. HOW SWEET IS THAT, AMIRIGHT?!?! While I missed the boat on the pregnancy record, I think it could be equally sweet to make a blanket representing the first year of baby’s life, starting it near the date of his birth and giving it to him on his first birthday.

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Colorway ideas, The Loopy Ewe Solid Series

I think it would be a fun way to incorporate mindfulness into my inevitably busy and hectic days as a new parent: notice the sky and take just a few minutes to knit it. Here are some options I’m mulling over:

  1. I could knit the pattern as described, as little squares, but then I’d have to join them all later and I’m not sure I’d love that.
  2. I could weave the squares on a Zoom Loom, which would provide justification for owning a Zoom Loom, and might be faster than knitting a little square… but I’d still have to join.
  3. I could make a sky version of a Hexipuff blanket, which is rumored to have an easy joining technique, but each little puff would need to be stuffed.
  4. I could essentially just make a larger version of a sky scarf, knitting a few rows in garter stitch across a blanket-sized piece of fabric for each day.

I’m feeling partial to option 4 at the moment, especially since it would likely be easier to keep track of than individual pieces, there would be no joining at the end, and it would preserve the order of the days of the year. However, I do really love the patchwork look of the other options. What do you think would be most doable for a new mom?

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I hate edgings.

Whichever option I choose, it will not have an edging for which I need to pick up stitches, since I freaking hate doing that. I thought I was being all clever by adding a slipped stitch edging to my Newborn Vertebrae sweater, since I heard or read that it makes picking up stitches easier, but it turns out it just made my edging look floppy and messy. I picked up all the stitches around the edge of this wee sweater TWICE and it still looks like crap. Now I need to pick up stitches one in from the edging, because my slipped stitches are leaving gaping holes. Sigh. That’s what I get for trying to get fancy with things.

The Best Gifts Are Handmade

Last week, the Fiasco and I drove up to Boston to spend New Year’s Eve with a couple of our closest friends and their adorable toddler. (My apologies for the lack of photos, she’s seriously the cutest thing.) We had what has turned into our typical, relaxed NYE celebration: yummy food, some champagne, knitting, board games, and barely staying awake long enough to watch the ball drop (all the while wondering who the heck all those newfangled pop stars are). This year, though, we were also surprised with a wonderful gift.

03-IMG_2174A whole group of our friends coordinated to knit us this gorgeous blanket as a wedding present. They each contributed a few squares, even ones who learned to knit in the past but don’t regularly do it anymore, and sent them to Bridgit for sewing up.

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I adore the pattern and color palette they chose. Apparently, I made the choice of pattern easy by gushing about the Vivid blanket designed by tincanknits right around the time that my friends were coming up with this secret plan.

01-IMG_2170As you can see, the colors of yarn they used (Vally Yarns Colrain) coordinate perfectly with our couch and the tencel in the blend gives the fabric a lovely sheen. The project took a bit longer than they had expected and I can only imagine all the plotting and scheming that went on behind my back! I was wondering why everybody’s knitting production appeared to have halted. Whenever I asked them what they were working on I got such vague responses as “Oh, that alpaca sweater still” or “Some baby stuff” or “School’s been so busy I’ve barely knit at all” etc.

Dudes, we totally love it.

We love it so, so much. I don’t know if we can ever properly thank them. Handmade gifts are the best, as are our friends, and we’ll think of them every time we snuggle up under this blanket, and I love that.

What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever given or received?

WIPWed #32: Nearly There!

The Zombie Shawl (because it’s been hibernating and resurrected so many times over the last 2 years) is complete and blocking! Not before it gave me a world of trouble, though.

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See how I’m doing a picot bindoff (those fun little green peaks) all around the edge of the shawl? Yeah, my cable needle SNAPPED when I was 90% of the way through picking up edge stitches around the entire perimeter of the shawl. I was not pleased. I had to attach my needle tips onto a new cord and carefully rescue the fallen stitches before I could continue… sometime in the middle of the night, no less, because I have an intense need to finish things when I get near the end. Helpful hint: use a nice long DPN for the bind off maneuvers, it’ll put much less strain on your circular needle. I hope to have finished pics on Friday!

And remember that big idea I was going on about a while ago?

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I’ve been making a bit of progress on my Purple Squishy. It’s slow going because I just pick it up here and there, nonchalantly and at random. It’s working up pretty nicely, though, and you can see I’m through the first (of 5) full skein of purple Malabrigo and onto the first (of 4) full skein of purple mystery wool.

That’s all I have for WIP Wednesday this week, click the image below to read more!