Spindle Happy

Goodness knows I have an abundance of spindles. (Remember that time I thought I’d clear all my spindle spinning projects off in the few months I had before the baby was born? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m so funny.) But when I learned that Journey Wheel (a.k.a. the makers of Bosworth spindles) were going to be at the Knitting Weekend market, I knew without a doubt that I’d be adding to my collection.

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My new friends.

Bosworth drop spindles are among the best of the best. They’re prized by some of the most prominent spindle spinners in the business, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, perfectly balanced, and have a long, smooth spin. I’ve been wanting one for a long time but have been reluctant to order online because I didn’t know how to tell which one I wanted based just on a description of the size and type of wood. I really needed to see them in person and actually try a few out. Some I liked the look of didn’t spin as nicely as I wanted. One of my spinner friends was right when she said you have to find one that clicks for you.

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Blurry pic of the Midi spindle and Rag Hill Fiber batt.

I first clicked with a Midi size spindle made from Monkeywood. (I admit, I half picked it on name alone.) I purchased a batt from Rag Hill Farm(we’ve vended with them a few times, they’re lovely people!) and started spinning then and there. I’ve been using this batt to practice plying on the fly, and it’s been a lot of fun turn fiber into 3-ply yarn at once, instead of spinning it all into singles, winding it all off, then plying it in a separate step. (Google it, there are lots of videos out there.) Then I came home with a second spindle the next day (a Mini in Heart Pine reclaimed from the roof of an 18th century cabin) because how am I expected to hang around the pretty spindles and chat with the friendly and kind Bosworth couple without buying another?

All in all, it was an excellent show, preceded by a flurry of activity to prepare for it (and to meet some work deadlines) so I’m looking forward to spending my birthday (today!) going out to dinner and relaxing with my Fiasco. My parents are visiting this coming weekend, which should be fun, and I’m planning to spin with my new pretties every second that my hands are baby-free thanks to grandparent occupation.

(Have no fear, all the leftover product from the show will be updated to the shop over the next few days. Just not tonight!)

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Sweet Sheep O’Clock

We’ve been working ’round the clock over here to prepare for a big event this weekend where Sweet Sheep will be vending. We did this marketplace last year, and it was pretty amazing. And the year before, I attended the classes, which were really great. I’m talking about Knitting Weekend, part of the Trad Arts Studio programming at Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI.

knitting-weekend-2017-palm-card-front-96dpi-web-e1477511253609And we really have been going out of our minds making enough lotions, lip balms, and sheep-shaped soaps to sell at the two-day event. Last year we underestimated what we needed, hopefully this year we’ve overestimated! Major props to the Fiasco, who has been doing much of the production while I’ve been working crazy deadlines and wrangling the resident Hatchling. (Turns out, kids really suck up all your usual side-business time!)

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Who, meeeeeeeeeeee?

Bonus: if you come to the marketplace on Sunday, you’ll get to meet the little guy! It’s crazy to think that at the last show, I was pregnant. 0_O I’m much happier with my buddy on the outside, even if he is teething at the moment and preventing me from sleeping more than 2 hours in a row at night. (#teetharetheworst)

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Pussyhats, finished.

In other news, my pussyhats have left the building. It turned out that one of my coworkers was heading to the march in D.C. with her daughter, which is pretty awesome. I was happy to donate hats to the cause but I’m even happier that I know the awesome ladies who will be wearing them. I used the KitKat pattern by Andre Sue for mine (I much prefer to work in the round). The hot pink hat is in Malabrigo Chunky (colorway Cactus Flower) on size 10 needles with a 68 st cast on, my old standard for a quick chunky hat. The pale pink version is in a new-to-me yarn: Blue Sky Fibres Woolstok in Quartz Crystal, that I picked up at The Mermaid’s Purl in Wickford (#shoplocal). For this second hat, I held the yarn double and used size 9 needles and a 72 st cast on. I really liked the yarn, it’s a thin worsted weight 2-ply wool that has a bit of a rustic feel, and lots of energy when knit held double. Both hats fit really well. I recommend doing the little stitch in the middle of the ‘ears’ to make them look more ear-like, as this pattern suggests. I did so after I took the photo of me wearing it and I liked it much better.

March on, sisters, and I hope I see some of you this weekend!

Pussyhats, Ahoy!

By now, you’ve probably heard about Donald Trump’s alarming enthusiasm for grabbing women inappropriately and without their consent. It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of blatant misogyny, and the Women’s March on Washington is a demonstration against this lack of respect for women’s rights and the rights of other marginalized factions of society.

In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.

If you are unable to attend the march in D.C. for whatever reason, there are over 280 regional sister marches, as well. If you can’t make any of the marches, there’s another way to make your support known.The Pussyhat Project is aiming to collect over a million handmade pink hats as a show of solidarity and support for women’s rights. It’s even causing a pink yarn shortage.

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As a woman who believes she matters just as much as any man, this election cycle has been ridiculously hard to watch. I’m sure for others who live in fear of half of their own countrymen and its imminent leader, it’s been even harder. Some people think that we ‘bleeding heart liberals’ should just ‘get over it’ and get behind our new president, and those people are frankly missing the point. We are not protesting our future leader because of some vaguely laid-out political plan or long-held bipartisan views. We are protesting him for his blatant lack of respect for the majority of human beings in this country. I, personally, am horrified by his lack of due diligence in understanding international and environmental affairs, his lack of level-headedness in speech and manner, and his disregard for science and the education. I am worried about the kind of damage that a scientifically illiterate person can do in a place of power at this point in our planet’s climate history. Our society’s future is nothing without a firm grasp of science and appropriate education and based on his ignorant tweets, he just doesn’t get it. Even worse, he is surrounding himself with inadequate advisors and lashing out at individuals who oppose his false statements.

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Such a meta pussyhat.

And so I knit a couple of hats. I’m demonstrating in the most personal way I know right now that I support the rights of all people, of women, of myself. I am important, in and of myself, and not through the lens of men. Much of the societal shame surrounding overweight people is a perceived lack of sexual attractiveness to men. We are told we shouldn’t take up so much space. We should look a certain way. We shouldn’t be loud. We should always seem happy. We should always look pretty. We should sit back and let the men take care of business.

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Future feminist (and maybe knitter!)

If we take up space, if we make our presence known, if we show our anger, if we ignore societal standards of beauty, we are disregarded or attacked. If we take charge and excel at our jobs, we are called ‘nasty women’. If we get pregnant, our identities shrink to fetus-carriers. We are encouraged to have those babies (no birth control, but also no abortions), and then are further marginalized once they’ve arrived (no maternity leave, no affordable child care, no health services for the poor). There are so many things wrong with society’s treatment of women, and so much of it is subtle and ingrained that it’s almost a reflex. We need to learn to recognize everyday misogyny (locker room talk), and fight it.

It’s not the only issue and it won’t solve problems on its own, but in solidarity and hope, I’m making some hats.

New Year, New Plans

No matter what’s going on in life, January always feels like a breath of fresh air. A time to come down from the holiday rush, reflect on what I’ve done/been through the year before, and jot down some Grand Plans that may or may not come to fruition but that at least make me feel motivated to get the year going.

It turns out that 2016 was not a great year for my knitting or my blogging, but hey, I grew a human so I’m ok with that. In years past I liked to tally up my projects and make pretty graphs and generally nerd out over the data. But since I nerd out over data all day long for my job and the opportunity to sit and write is rare, I’m not going to get lost in spreadsheet land right now. This year, we’re just doing a list, because there were only 10 completed projects anyway (about 20-25% of past output (<– data intrusion)):

  • 6 hats (3 for baby, 2 for friends, 1 for me)
  • 2 baby sweaters
  • 1 pair of baby socks
  • 1 shawl (that I still need to blog about, oh my).

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If you’re on Ravelry, you can view all my finished items in one place here. It is clear that I am an instant gratification knitter, yes? And I love me some hats. And apparently the color green, as 80% of the items contained green! (Damn, I can’t resist data analysis.)

Now onto the new plans. My new favorite place on Ravelry, the LSG Parents board, is doing a completely casual “17 anything crafty in 2017” style KAL so I’m going to roll with that. Since my crafty time is limited, I’m going to make the most of it by knitting 17 completely luxurious, indulgent projects. I’m going to be using my best stuff, the stuff I can’t wait to knit, make, or wear. Here are about 20 stash items I’m planning to choose from over the course of the year:

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Laceweight – Fingering – Sport

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Sport – DK – Worsted

I am highly amused by the ubiquitous presence of green/teal/blue hues here. WHATEVER, I LOVE THEM. There will be lots of yak, silk, cashmere, fine merino, and handspun in my knitting future and I’m excited about it. The O-Wool Fingering is already in progress for Hatchling’s Sky Blanket and the aqua Yaksi DK is involved in my hibernating Yaksi Cancan. The Westminster was started but I’m frogging that shawl, so it and the rest will be used in new projects. This theme of ‘indulgence’ will carry over into my spinning, too. Whenever I carve out time for it, I will be spinning my favorite stuff first. (Let’s not talk about how I finished zero skeins of yarn last year… *sob*.)

What’s on your list of crafty goals for the year?

The Best Rainbow Sweater

I have no idea how 29 days have passed since the triumphant return of my WIP Wednesday posts. I blinked and a month disappeared! Not ok, Universe, not ok. I originally wanted to write this post after I had measured the finished object so I could report the juicy knitterly details but let’s be real: if we wait for that, we’ll be waiting forever. Plus, we just took some family portraits for our little Hatchling’s 6 month milestone, and the sweater played a supporting role, so I have to show it off. With no further ado, I give you The Best Rainbow Sweater Ever Made.

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That’s his “Oooh, shiny object, can I have it?!” face.

LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL THING, AMIRIGHT? The sweater’s nice, too. 😉 I used the Babycakes pattern designed by Laura Aylor. I modified the length of the arms and body a bit to make the stripes work out how I wanted, but otherwise followed the pattern for the 6 month size. It fit well when my kid turned 4 months old, and is still wearable now, although I find myself wishing that the armholes were just a little deeper as he’s getting bigger. Warning: if you decide to stripe like I did, you will have 42 ends to weave in. FORTY-TWO. It’s worth it, though, because he’s worn this thing all over the place.

The pattern is simple but customizable and I really like the square neckline and asymmetrical fronts. I opted against the scalloped edge and added buttonholes. The buttons are adorable little turtles from Katrinkles. I think I tried 4 different ways of embroidering them before Katy herself suggested doubling up the embroidery floss and doing a simple backstitch at knit night. Doubling up the floss made the pattern stand out much better.

The yarn is a DK-weight pastel rainbow gradient from Play at Life Fiber Arts, with a some deep green Cephalopod Yarns Traveller used for the edging. This is a great weight for baby sweaters, especially if you use them for outerwear as we do (puffy jackets + car seat = no no). It is substantial and keeps him plenty warm but it’s not so thick that it looks tight or uncomfortable. In short, I love the sweater to bits, and will be so sad when he grows out of it. Also, how did my baby get to be six months old already?!?! I am flabbergasted.

What is your favorite baby sweater? I’m thinking of knitting another Newborn Vertebrae in DK-weight yarn and larger needles to upsize it, but would love to hear other suggestions.

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 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.