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?

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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!

WIPWed #125: Back to Socks

I’m starting to feel more like my old crafty self again: I have an active pair of socks on the needles!

Waiting for Hatchling

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering, colorway Royals. Click for project page.

I have been trying to turn the above yarn into socks since before my wedding and honeymoon in 2014. (Yikes!) I knit an entire plain stockinette sock that I then had to frog because it was too small. I did not account for the fact that BFL has less stretch than Merino wool and I should’ve increased my cast on more. This time, I’m using a pattern with texture and ribbing (Aramis by Caoua Coffee) and cast on more stitches which should loosen things up. I started these while I was pregnant but my hands and joints were always tired and sore then and I hated fiddling with the small needles. Things feel back to normal now, though, so here’s hoping I get to actually wear these socks someday soon!

Wine Toasts

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage. Click for project page.

These are super simple armwarmers that I’m making extra big and toasty to wear with  3/4 length sleeve sweaters in my chilly office. I am currently in a game of yarn chicken with the deep wine colorway. A friend of mine has a backup skein if this one is not enough, which is a good thing because it appears that The Verdant Gryphon is no more. Gryphon herself is now living and working on a commune with her daughter, and the people she left the business to were not able to keep it going. I feel like a chapter of my knitterly life is ending! I’ve been deeply in love with VG yarns since I discovered them in 2010, when they were still teamed up with Cephalopod Yarns as The Sanguine Gryphon. My first skein was Bugga in the Cowkiller colorway that I knit up into one of my favorite shawls.

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This was 5 apartments ago… ha!

Looks like I’ve always had a thing for Gryphon’s reds. Sigh. As with CY, VG yarns will be missed, but man am I glad I have a nice stash to sustain me for a while. #justified

Tropical Merino

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun project page.

I started spinning this fiber way back in 2014 as well (wow, have I completed anything in the last 3 years!?) on a tiny Turkish spindle. Even though the Women’s March on Washington is over, I’d still like a Pussyhat of my own (I donated the others) and since I am out of pink yarn, I figured I’d make some. To speed up the process, I’ve also started spinning this fiber on my wheel and on my new Bosworth Mini spindle. The singles are very thin so I’m thinking I’ll 2-ply and then chain ply that 2-ply yarn to get a bulkier 6-ply. We’ll see how that works out!

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Current reading.

I haven’t tracked my reading in a while but since I’m finally starting to read things OTHER than parenting-related, get-my-kid-to-sleep, what-should-his-poop-look-like type books, I figured I’d share. And since the March for Science has got me all fired up, I’m doing some science-y reading for fun. (Because #scienceisreal! It’s not made up! Experts know what they’re talking about! The world around us can be understood!) This book is all about the different forms that sexual reproduction takes within the animal kingdom, so that should be fascinating. It’s refreshing to read a work written just because the author was curious about something, so they went and researched and figured it out.

What have you been reading these days? Linking up for the first time in a LONG time with Yarnalong.

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 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.

WIPWed #114: Win Some, Lose Some

I feel freeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Freeeeeeeeeeeeee! My huge work deadline is over, and while there’s another one next week, for the moment, I’m freeeeeeeeeeeee! Just in time, too, as this weekend is my [final childless] birthday, and I could really use a break.  My parents were supposed to visit but it looks like that plan may fall through due to impending snowstorm making travel less-than-safe. If they don’t visit, I’m going to try to:

  • Go for a walk outside, despite the cold, because I miss nature;
  • Go shopping for some things I’ve been meaning to get (boots, Lush products);
  • Cook a delicious meal with the Fiasco, perhaps with some pots de creme;
  • Watch some movies / play some games;
  • Join the new gym I’ve been eyeing up since we moved and go for a swim (due to the blood clot, doc has advised against most exercise but swimming should be ok and quite frankly, I need to do something or I’ll go insane);
  • Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit all the thingz; and
  • Spin all the thingz.

My plans are not particularly fancy and they involve mostly alone or one-on-one time but honestly, I’ve been so busy since Thanksgiving (basically) that I’m looking forward to some quiet time doing simple things that make me happy. What would you do with a suddenly free (and snowy) birthday weekend?

Now for WIPs and books…

Christmas Katniss Socks:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

Same ol’ socks as last time, just a few repeats further along. Lack of knitting time has somewhat impeded progress…

Skunky Fidra:

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The Verdent Gryphon Odyseey in Atomic Skunk, click for project page.

I really wanted to love this hat, but unfortunately, I think I hate it. The pattern was fun, and the yarn is delicious, but together they look pretty awful. Part of me is holding out that blocking would help but really, I don’t think so, I think this sucker is getting frogged. In fact, I already ordered different yarn to knit this hat with instead… what would you do?

Merino Mind Bullets:

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Spinning progress! Click for handspun page.

I’m holding true to my goal for 2016 and spinning more than I had been. In fact, I’ve been reaching for this wee spindle more often than my knitting, and I have a fat little turtle of yarn to show for it. I still feel like I’m not even making a dent in the fiber, but at least I’m working on it.

Reading:

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Books, books, books.

I know it’s only January, but “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler is the best book I’ve read all year. I absolutely loved it. She’s funny and charming, as expected from seeing her comedy, but she’s also really smart and emotionally deep and poetic in her essays. She wrote a lot about pregnancy and motherhood which resonated with me right now, and it was all-around fabulous. I think I read it in 3 days, I couldn’t put it down. “Cooked” by Michael Pollan is less wonderful, but still interesting. He’s exploring 4 different modes of cooking (fire = grilling, water = stews, air = bread baking, earth = fermenting) and he’s getting quite loquacious over the symbolism of these kinds of cooking, their roles in human development and society, and their impact on gender roles in the kitchen. It’s a little… pretentious? Honestly, it’s boring at times and his metaphors and social philosophizing area a bit of a stretch. His other books were much better, but I still like to read about his cooking experiments and there are some interesting bits in there.

That’s it from me this week! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

Finally, Some Light

Despite all the snow on the ground, I can feel the winter starting to fade. Birds are singing in the morning, the temps are forecast to be above freezing this week, and the sun is a welcome friend returned. Not only for its warmth, but for its light… because I can finally take some decent FO pictures. (Priorities!)

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Deep Dark Stellaria, click for project page.

When I first finished knitting the Stellaria shawl, designed by Susanna IC, I was a little bit dismayed. I had modified the shawl to be deeper/taller (by leaving fewer stitches between short row wraps) but I had not fully appreciated how long this sucker was. It’s a really big shawl, and I was concerned about its wearability.

At first I thought the shawl would only look ‘appropriate’ worn with a fancy dress to a winter wedding or gothic gala of some sort. But after a few weeks of wearing it as depicted in the second photo above, I’ve decided it works. It’s a bit larger than other shawls I wear kerchief-style, but the layers of garter and lace wrapped the neck around make for a nice cascading effect (plus, they’re super warm). I won’t be wearing this shawl much into the spring, but for the winter, its coziness is much appreciated.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

After my quick blocking of this Tonic Water cowl, designed by Thea Coleman, I decided that it definitely needed another repeat. I was tempted to leave it be, but the extra repeat was totally necessary.

With 8 repeats, the cowl falls to a nice length worn open, and just barely fits comfortably doubled up since it’s such a wide piece of knitting. I love that contrasting stripe (and the way it coordinates with my Lucy hat!) more than I can say, but it gave me the devil of a time. When I first saw the design, I thought Thea had done something really clever with beginning and ending the cowl in the contrast color and invisibly joining in garter stitch somehow. Instead, the directions were much simpler, and just involved adding the contrast color at the end and seaming the edges together using the main color. Since I dislike seaming and was feeling lazy, I decided to finagle a different way to close the cowl. I spent an entire hour messing around with it, trying and abandoning ideas like knitting the edges together or doing a three needle bind-off. Eventually, I settled on doing a garter-based kitchener stitch using the contrast color. You can see the contrast color poking through a little on one side of the join, but trust me, it’s much better than it was. And truthfully, I’m so in love with this cowl that it doesn’t even matter.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorway Winter Slant of Light

While I’m thrilled about spring, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this winter colorway from The Verdant Gryphon. Blues! Greens! Greys! All of my favorite things! And since I love my newly finished cowl in the same worsted weight MCN base so much, I think these skeins are destined to become a cowl, as well. Now to find the perfect pattern…

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe on Etsy

New lip balm flavor: French Macaron!

Spring scents are popping up over at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, too! I’ve just added a brand new lip balm flavor, French Macaron. It’s delightfully sweet, sophisticated, and indulgent. I’ve also restocked a good number of my other lip balm flavors that had sold out (Toasted Coconut, Lavender, Lemon Lime, Winter Clementine, and Vanilla Mint) and added Spring Meadow and Sea Moss lotion bars back into the rotation.

What would you knit with just under 400 yards of dense and colorful worsted weight yarn? Is spring popping up in your part of the world?