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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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.

Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

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.

Pregnant Thoughts

I am 30 weeks pregnant right now, which is 3/4 of the way through this experience. I have quite a few thoughts about this ‘condition’ and I figured I’d share them here. Before I got pregnant, I tried to understand from a variety of books what being pregnant would feel like, but somehow the message didn’t quite get through. I’ll caveat this entire post with the fact that I think every pregnancy is different, people experience some/all/none of the same symptoms to differing degrees and what’s true for me, might be totally not true for you. I’ll also add that despite what sounds like a list of complaints, I’m grateful that I was easily able to get and stay pregnant. This baby is very much wanted, it’s just the pre-baby stuff I’d rather not have. Some of this can’t help but be TMI, so consider yourself warned. Here we go.

THE GOOD:

  • I like feeling the little bugger move around in there. It feels kind of like an involuntary muscle twitch, except it isn’t you who is moving. FREAKY.
  • Seeing the baby on ultrasound and watching its little heart flutter gracefully like a deep sea anemone was truly beautiful.
  • The relaxin hormone flowing through my body has loosened up hip and pelvis muscles that I’d previously had to go to physical therapy and yoga to fix. Now they feel fine!
  • As opposed to some people who have oilier skin during pregnancy, mine’s been drier. This has been great for my face (no acne) and hair (less shampooing).
  • No period for months is appreciated.
  • The anticipation is really fun. Planning for baby, reading about baby, imagining life with baby… and it’s brought the Fiasco and me much closer together. There’s a whole new level of tenderness in our relationship for which I am really grateful.
  • Perfect excuse to not do something if you don’t want to, play that preggo card!

THE BAD:

  • I basically feel like I’ve had the flu for months. So much mucus, everywhere, all the time. Enough that I gag on it almost daily while trying to brush my teeth. So much. Thanks, hormones.
  • Fatigue… epic fatigue. I’ve never been so tired. Naps are a survival necessity, and I hate wasting time in naps.
  • Digestive issues. Some women get constipation. Some have the opposite. Many get heartburn. Your digestive tract will basically feel completely foreign to you and mostly uncomfortable all the time. Make sure you like your bathroom.
  • Nausea and food aversions. I thankfully haven’t thrown up too many times, but I was queasy for at least 2 months straight, and still have to force down chicken. The food aversions make me super anxious and frustrated since I’ve spent a long time cultivating a healthy diet and now, when it’s arguably the most important time to eat healthfully, my body flat-out rejects many of the healthy staples I relied on. I literally hate eating. Every meal is a chore. WHERE ARE MY FUN CRAVINGS AND WEIRD BINGES AND EATING ALL THE THINGZ? That just doesn’t exist for me. I get one well-rounded meal in a day and the rest is snacks. This baby is probably 90% dairy products, peanut butter, and apples.
  • Really scary shit can go wrong, so it’s a nerve-wracking time, and everything feels unfamiliar. That is all amplified if you fall into a ‘high-risk’ category. I developed a blood clot and have had to inject myself twice a day with blood thinners for 4 months. I’ve made two unnecessary trips to the ER for normal pregnancy pains because doctors are unhelpful over the phone and it’s hard to know what’s serious and what’s not and WHAT IF IT’S SERIOUS?!?! Other people have gestational diabetes or preeclampsia or other things that land them in bed for the duration of their pregnancies. You just can’t know how it will go until you’re in it.
  • There are a lot of weird pains you wouldn’t necessarily expect: ligaments in the abdomen stretching, foot and calf cramps, sore boobs, headaches, backaches, etc. It’s a fun game of “oooh, what hurts today?” sometimes.
  • I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to go ahead and add labor and delivery in here. No matter how you experience it or what approach you take to manage the pain, I can’t imagine labor being a particularly ‘good’ experience… it’s hard, dangerous, unknowable, stressful, life-changing work.

THE STRANGE:

  • Hair grows everywhere! I had no idea! My belly looks like a giant peach. I am so much fuzzier than before.
  • Shortness of breath. I get this a lot, but especially in the beginning it was a weird panick-y CAN’T BREATHE feeling that is apparently due to your body tripling its blood volume and it taking a while for the number of red blood cells carrying oxygen to catch up. Weird, right?
  • I’m hot all the time. Prior to pregnancy, I ran cold, with a resting body temp usually around 96 deg F. Now I’m consistently 98-99 deg F and haven’t worn a jacket since February. The poor Fiasco froze his butt off this winter.
  • You really will pee constantly. It’s amazing, especially since you’ll also feel like you are constantly dehydrated. Where does all the liquid come from?
  • Bouts of itchiness, everywhere, but especially on the belly. I had to stop using normal soap because my skin became so sensitive. I use some sort of special cleanser for people with cancer. I also had to start using a super thick, petro-chemical-laden body moisturizer because the natural stuff wasn’t staying on long enough.
  • There are a boatload of ‘old wive’s tails’ that surround pregnancy, particularly with regards to guessing the sex of the baby and PEOPLE REALLY BELIEVE THAT SHIT.
  • You will not do nearly as much knitting as you expect!

TAKE-HOME TIPS:

  • Don’t be like me and think “ok, I will have 9 months left to finish a bunch of things before my life changes” when you get pregnant. Think, instead, “ok, I am dedicating the next year of my life to baby-making because everything changes from day one and there will be minimal time and energy for anything else from now on” because that’s more like it.
  • Be pregnant during the winter, it’ll save on your heating bill, and I can’t imagine doing this in the dead of summer.
  • Sleep when you have to. Just do it. You’ll be happier for it. Forget your to-do list. And when you’re really super duper cranky biting people’s heads off? Put yourself to bed.
  • A maternity support belt is worth it, especially if you’re heavier to begin with. It has helped my sciatica pain to wear the belt when I’m out walking around or exercising. You also need a birth ball. I sit on mine at work and it really helps keep my hips relaxed, the change of position is good, and by the third trimester sitting semi-reclined on the couch is super uncomfortable so it’s nice to have around the house. Finally, I wholeheartedly recommend a  snoogle body pillow for sleeping. That thing is heaven-sent.
  • Surround yourself with people who get it. If you have to listen to the media or well-meaning family talk to you about the ‘joys of pregnancy’ and how ‘it’s all so worth it’ while you’re in the thick of it, you’ll go nuts. Find a support group, a chat board, a friend, anything where you can vent to like-minded people and normalize your experience.
  • Take a birth class, I recommend the Bradley method for natural birth. Even if you end up with a medicated birth or a c-section, the class is longer than the typical hospital classes and it makes you stop and think about the birth on a weekly basis. Mental preparation is half the battle, and the techniques and tips we got from the doula who taught it are helping me feel like I can handle things, no matter how terrifying. Our class also had great tips for soothing the baby and breastfeeding. it wasn’t all birth-related.
  • Find a good, caring, supportive partner for this before you do it. That might seem obvious but I’m grateful every day that I’m doing this with the Fiasco by my side. You will have days where you just freak the fuck out and you need someone there to love and care for you. (And then try not to yell at him/her too much during the hormonal tantrum times. Those happen.)

Those are my thoughts! It’ll be fun to look back on this after the Hatchling is born and see if all of it becomes a distant memory like I’ve been told…

Kylie Gusset on Sourcing Ethical Wool

I’ve never ‘reblogged’ a post before but this one is so important, I hope you check it out.

Wovember

Good afternoon, WOVEMBERISTS! Today we have an important BONUS POST from Kylie Gusset, creator of the awesome Ton of Wool project. This afternoon she speaks about sourcing ethical wool and several issues for us to better understand as consumers of WOOL.

How Climate Change Is More Painful Than Mulesing Ever Was.

When we talk about sourcing wool from credible, ethical sources one of the first words to enter the discussion is mulesing. However in terms of the health of animals, planet and people, there is a far more insidious and less well-known problem: Chinese processing. I really wanted to write about mulesing for Wovember because as consumers, we need to be able to make buying decisions with our eyes wide open.

Mulesing: “The process of removing folds of skin from the tail area of a sheep, intended to reduce fly strike.”

I don’t think I’ve seen another word as divisive…

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