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?

Advertisements

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:

img_20160814_134333.jpg

Sleepy baby snuggles are the best.

Stretching:

img_20160814_140840.jpg

He loves his swing (thank goodness).

Sitting to pump:

img_20160814_140533.jpg

Darwin always wants attention when I do this!

Smooching:

img_20160814_140733.jpg

Gorgeous crocheted blanket courtesy of my mom.

And most adorably, smiling:

img_20160809_041218.jpg

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.

img_20160807_181833314.jpg

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.

WIPWed #123: More Baby Things

Things have been all baby all the time around here lately, and I expect that will continue now that I’m in my FINAL MONTH OF PREGNANCY, HALLELUJAH. Over the weekend, our generous friends threw us a lovely baby shower and Hatchling received so many wonderful books, toys, and clothes… this kid is all set. We’ve gathered the last of the odds and ends we need, all new items are washed, dried, and folded, and our hospital bags are in the process of being packed. Things are getting exciting! We played a fun game at the shower where we matched up baby pics of our friends to the correct adult… it was harder than it sounds! Here are pics of the Fiasco and me as infants:

I feel like we look SO DIFFERENT as babies that I can’t really imagine what our kid will look like. I’m excited to find out soon.

Sherbet Baby:

I’m 99.9% finished with Hatchling’s 6-month size Babycakes sweater. I am so in love with it, even though it took me three evenings to weave in all 42 yarn ends. I’m pretty sure that’s a new record for me. I don’t usually care much what my finishing looks like on the wrong side of a project, I just do what needs to be done to make it look nice on the right side, but I was charmed by the neatly woven sections on the inside of this cardi. All that’s left now is a good soak and finding the right yarn for embellishing and attaching the ridiculously cute turtle buttons.

Little Green Accessories:

IMG_20160601_123116

Using up gradient leftovers.

I’ve started some baby booties and am planning a wee hat to match the newborn sweater I finished last week. The sweater used up more of the lightest and darkest portions of the gradient, so for the socks I’m going to use the three middle hues in a reverse colorblock style. Both socks will use the middle hue for the heel, but they’ll reverse light and dark for cuff and foot. The colors are so similar the changes will probably be barely noticeable but the plan makes me happy nonetheless. And then the hat will use all five shades.

As for reading, I just finished Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch, which is one of those ‘not sure how this ended up on my Kindle but I guess I’ll read it anyway’ types of books. It was interesting, and different. It falls in the fantasy genre (wizard on the police force set in modern-day London) and involved ghosts, river spirits, and some sort of lizard demon thing. It piqued my interest, event hough I feel like the storytelling was a little scattered. Now I’ve completely switched genre to Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. It’s a series of short stories that have (unsurprisingly) started out both beautiful and heartbreaking. That woman is a genius with words that hit me right in the solar plexus every time. What’s your favorite Margaret Atwood book/story/poem?

Linking up with Yarnalong this week.

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.

skyproject

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?

img_20160516_143344.jpg

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.

I Miss Time

I do not have nearly enough time, lately. I miss it. Time and I have never had a really great relationship, to be honest. Once in college before a deadline I lamented to my friend “Why does time hate me?!?!” and he very sagely replied, “Time does not hate you, dear, it’s just indifferent to your plight.” That stuck with me. Time and I have been so rocky in the past that I actually tattooed a quote from a poem about time onto my body as a reminder that it is not my enemy, it is a gift, and it connects us all.

fb_img_1462548917895.jpg

“That which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.” – Kahlil Gibran

That said, I could really use a little more time to knit, spin, and relax. Seeing everybody’s pretty bobbins or knitting projects on Instagram and blogs is just making me sad these days because all I can think is WHEN DO THEY FIND THE TIME?! My life has been work, home, dinner, an hour to do things, sleep, then repeat for a while now. I squeeze in a little knitting here and there but if it’s anything that requires thought, the project stalls out waiting for me to have time to pay attention.

img_20160506_112551.jpg

Newborn Vertebrae, click for project page.

Since this tiny baby cardi was all stockinette, I made great progress on it early in the week, finishing the body and the bottom hem. All that remains are the sleeves and picking up stitches for the border. It’s been like that since Tuesday, since both of those actions require a little thought on my part, and I just don’t have the energy for it by the end of the day…

All I’ve managed to do after work this week is wash and fold the gigantic mountain of clothes we received for the Hatchling at our first baby shower last weekend. Both cats showed quite an interest in the proceedings, it’s going to be hilarious to watch their reactions when the kid is actually here. We are having another shower this weekend, and another at the end of May, and while we are extremely lucky to receive so much love and generosity, I’m getting a little worried about where we will possibly store all the baby stuff. IT’S SO MUCH STUFF, GUYS. We should’ve rented a bigger apartment…

So apparently all I want out of life right now is a little more space and time. You know, just the basic cosmic stuff of the universe. Easy peasy. And I’m sure there are experienced parents out there laughing their heads off at my bemoaning a lack of time before the kid is even here. I know, I know, it’s just going to get worse…

WIPWed #112: That’s More Like It

Things are starting to settle in at the new apartment, and I had a wild burst of activity earlier in the week that allowed me to both 1) knit stuff and 2) make stuff for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Hooray!

Speckled Sockhead:

IMG_3902

BMFA Socks That Rock MW in a speckled mill end that I love. Click for project page.

My sockhead hat is progressing slowly but surely. Just about the start the stockinette portion now.

Hot Pink Galicia:

IMG_3916

Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts Big Squeeze in Cherry Blossom. Click for project page.

As you can see, I abandoned my mitten plan for this lovely yarn and cast on a gratifyingly-quick hat instead. I realized that I might be a bit short on yardage for the mittens, and I was definitely short on brain power for them. I wanted something to knit for which I wouldn’t have to stress about sizing, and for some reason mittens always stress me out, so hat it was. I’ll post a review of this yarn after I finish and block the hat (still searching for darning needles…).

Sweet Sheep Updates!

I’ve been hard at work trying to get a few last-minute holiday scents up in the shop. Our ever-popular sheep-shaped goat milk soap is now available in sweet-and-decadent Peppermint Cocoa, elegant-minty-floral Winter Gardenia, and bright-and-herbal Orange Rosemary.

A few other favorite scents have just been added to the lotion bar inventory, including Gingersnap, Sweet Almond, Fresh Snow, and Jingleberry. I’ve also added a READY-TO-SHIP custom gift set option, where you can choose three sample sized lotion bars from the list of available fragrances to be packaged in a cotton-muslin bag, perfect for gift-giving. Order this week to ship in time for Christmas! (Last day to order will be Friday 12/18.)

And as for reading this week, I’m back into the second of the Lord John Grey sub-series of Outlander. Not as good as the main series, but entertaining nonetheless.

Wishing you a merry and un-hectic last week before the holidays! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat

With the wool festival occurring this weekend and the crazy stressful time we’ve been having over at the Morandi house, I’m finally admitting defeat: I will not finish my Rhinebeck sweater in time.

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat | Woolen Diversions

Progress to date.

If I were someone without a full time job, it might have been possible to finish, as there are just the right and left fronts, right and left sleeves, giant ribbed collar, and seaming left to do (hah!) but that’s just not going to happen in the next 5 days and I’m not even tempted to try. I will, however, aim to finish it shortly after the festival, as it will be wonderful to wear in the coming months.

I’m admitting defeat with Spinzilla this year, too. Between my Polwarth sock yarn and Louet merino/silk, I didn’t even fill one whole bobbin! Based on my yards per pound calculations, I spun a paltry 3.2 oz and 380 yards, but it’s not nothing, and the spinning was soothing.

Check out my interview with Subway Knits!

I’ve also had to give up on my plan to vend at the pre-Rhinebeck IndieUntangled Trunk Show this Friday as Nana’s funeral is scheduled for sometime on Friday, and I need to stay home and be with my family. However, Cheryl and Jenn of June Pryce Fiber Arts  have generously and graciously agreed to bring some of my items up with them and man my booth for me. So if you were hoping to sniff some Sweet Sheep scents in person, it will still be possible thanks to those two wonderful ladies (and you should check out their lovely fiber, yarn and notions while you’re at it)! I’m sad that I won’t be there in person myself, but you can hear me chat about my business with Maria over at Subway Knits in her Road to Rhinebeck podcast series. (I haven’t even had the chance to listen to it yet, fingers crossed that I don’t sound like a weirdo!)

Rhinebeck Sweater: Admitting Defeat | Woolen Diversions

My new Rhinebeck goal.

In more uplifting news, I am still going to attend Rhinebeck, as my dear Fiasco reminded me that after all of the stress lately, I could really use a vacation. So I will be heading up sometime Saturday and since it wouldn’t be Rhinebeck without a lofty knitting goal, my new challenge will be to attempt to finish my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl in time to wear to the festival. This shawl has been hibernating since May of 2014 because I used the wrong color yarn to pick up the border stitches and then I just abandoned it. I resurrected it last night, fixed my mistake, and have gotten into the rhythm of the border now. I have 43 more border rows to complete, in addition to the bind-off, and some fiddly bind-off business along the top. All this needs to be completed in 4 evenings, if I want time to block the thing. Challenge accepted!