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.

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Oliver Hatched!

I have been attempting to find time to sit at my computer and write a blog post for 3 weeks. This has not happened, so I’ve given in and am doing my best to post from my phone. The reason for my blogging delay is currently asleep on my chest, making adorable infant snuffling noises. Oliver Sam (formerly known as the Hatchling) was born at 5 am on June 28 after 30 hours of not-so-fun labor. But he’s here, he’s healthy, and he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever made.

We’ve been struggling with breastfeeding, in that we haven’t actually managed it. Oliver refuses to latch (that’s a nice way of saying he screams bloody murder) even though we’ve spoken to every doctor and lactation consultant out there. We’re still working on it but in the meantime he’s growing well on formula and the breastmilk I’ve been able to pump. The whole feeding thing has been a lot harder than I’d expected but I’m trying to keep in mind that of all the problems we could have, this is a manageable one.

We’re a tad tired but the Fiasco and I are really making a pretty great team and are enjoying learning the ropes as new parents. We had lots of visitors in the beginning and are gearing up for lots more in the near future. Routines and all sense of time have pretty much gone out the window!

I have knit just one thing in the past 3 weeks: the crown of the green gradient hat for Oliver. I started his Sky Blanket also but didn’t love my color combination for certain weather so I’m starting over. I’ve been writing down the sky every day and I’ll probably end up just knitting my square all at once. Don’t worry, Oliver isn’t hurting for knitwear. My spinning friend Christine knit him/us a gorgeous bamboo and cotton lace blanket/shawl and generous members of the Verdant Gryphon group on Ravelry made a Newborn Vertebrae cardi and coordinating hat, socks, and mitts that fit him perfectly (blue set). Unlike my knits, where the hat and socks are way too big and the cardi is nearly already too small. I’ll have to get cracking on some more knits now that I have an actual baby to measure!


Guys, I can’t believe I’m somebody’s mom. I could just stare at his perfect little face all day (and basically do).

Still Chugging Along

I’m still here, still pregnant, still slowly working on tiny baby knits. Thus, I finished a pair of (rather large) baby socks!

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Not-so-tiny booties.

I made these socks to match the Newborn Vertebrae cardi I finished last month. I took a wild guess at the number of stitches to cast on (40) and the lengths of all the various bits. I figure if they’re too big, they’ll fit eventually, and I used them basically as a gauge swatch to figure out how big to make a coordinating hat.

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Coordinating hat.

Since my gauge on the foot of the socks was 8 sts/in, I cast on 104 sts for the rolled stockinette brim of the hat, then increased to 112 sts for the body. This should give me a 14″ circumference hat when all is said and done. That might be a tad large for a newborn head, which is said to be about 14″ and I usually like negative ease in hats, but he should grow into it in time for cooler weather in the fall. Knitting for someone who doesn’t yet exist in a measurable way is hard, yo.

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Calypso demonstrating her impressive size.

Speaking of measurable sizes, at 39 weeks the Hatchling is supposedly the size of a domestic shorthair cat. How freaking terrifying is that, right? Let’s hope the cat in question was not quite as chubby as Calypso above!

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?

 

Riding the Waves

Oh friends, I can tell these final weeks of pregnancy are going to be a rollercoaster ride. Lately it’s been a mix of time moving super quickly, and ridiculously slowly. Of busybusy things to do and waiting, waiting, waiting. Of running around with errands and appointments and falling asleep almost immediately after work. Of feeling prepared and ready for it all and suddenly feeling anxious about labor and delivery. Of buying the remaining bits and bobs of things we need for baby and pinching pennies to cover my reduced salary over maternity leave. Of wondering about every new ache and pain to just trying to be patient and let my body do what it will. So many contrasts!

This is such a crazy time, the adventure is certainly beginning.

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Tiny bits of progress.

I have not been knitting too much lately. The cardi I finished last week is blocking and awaiting buttons, and I’ve just made a wee bit of progress on the coordinating gradient hat and socks set for Hatchling.

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Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap

In other news, I made some delectable Coconut Lime whipped goat milk soap for a Sweet Sheep vending event and there are still a few bars left. I’ll be closing shop for the month of July so if there’s something you’ve been keeping an eye on, you should grab it now! Have no fear, though, I’ll be back in action by August. Be sure to sign up for the mailing list or follow the Sweet Sheep Facebook page to stay up-to-date with comings, goings, sales, and updates.

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:

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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.

An Active Hatchling

Our Hatchling is having an exciting week. Tuesday afternoon, we went for a walk and then spent the rest of the evening experiencing a series of what I assume were Braxton Hicks (non-productive, ‘practice’) contractions… all. night. long. That night we also went on a hospital tour and got a glimpse of the labor & delivery rooms. (Eeeeek.) Then yesterday we had an ultrasound to check out his growth and turns out that the little fella is doing just fine… too fine, in fact. At 35 weeks and with another month of growth to go, he’s already measuring at 7.1 lbs which is above the 99th percentile. HAHAHAHAHA GIANT BABY, HERE WE COME. Those measurements can be off by a lot, though, so I don’t think any birth decisions will be made off of them at this time. And finally, this morning we had our regular OB checkup and Hatchling’s heartrate was higher than they liked so we got to sit hooked up to a monitor for an hour because he just wouldn’t stop kicking and hiccuping and rolling around, which kept his heartrate elevated above 170 bpm, when they wanted to see it around 150 bpm.

Exciting times. I also finished a baby sweater.

This is Little Green Peanut, my gradient version of the Newborn Vertebrae open-front cardi designed by Kelly Brooker. The body went super fast and I enjoyed the whole thing. I had a little trouble picking up stitches for the edging cleanly, but it looks just fine in the end, and the sleeves were a breeze. This knit took me less than a month start to finish, which is pretty quick for me. The worst part was weaving in the ends! Because I used a sweet little gradient set by Black Trillium Fibre, I had 26 ends to weave in, which took hooooours. I have enough yarn left to knit a matching cap and booties, here’s hoping the whole set will still fit the not-so-little fella when he’s born!

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Sherbet Baby sweater, click for project page.

Finishing one baby sweater has inspired me to get back to the Babycakes project I’ve had on the needles since February. This week I’ve knit the neck edging and one front band, I’m working on buttonhole placement for the remaining front band now, then I’ll just have the sleeves left. This will be another many-ended-stripey-sweater when it’s done, but at least this one is a 6 month size so it should DEFINITELY fit the kid at some point!

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Waiting for Hatchling, click for project page.

Inspired by all the waiting around I’m bound to do over the next month, I started a new pair of simple textured socks to keep my hands busy. This is the Aramis pattern by Caoua Coffee and it’s a lovely, elegant, simple knit. I think it will be just the thing to work on when I’m frazzled in busy doctor’s offices, being surprise!monitored, and waiting for labor to really kick in. Some of you may recognize the yarn (BMFA BFL Fingering in Royals). I knit with this yarn for some of my wedding pictures and during my honeymoon. Sadly, the resulting sock was way too tight (BFL has a lot less stretch than Merino, duly noted!) so it’s been frogged and is getting new life now as we wait for our baby to arrive (poetic, no?).

 

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!

WIPs, SIPs, Books, & Destash

The Free Time Gods have been smiling upon me, as I’ve been able to squeeze in a little more time for crafting here and there, lately. Thank goodness, as things were getting dire. My main WIP at the moment is the Newborn Vertebrae cardi I’m making for the Hatchling:

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Black Trillium Fibres gradient set in Pease, click for project page.

For my third attempt at picking up edge stitches, I moved one stitch in from the slipped stitch edging and made sure to twist my stitches. I still had a few funky gaps but ended up just picking an extra stitch up and knitting it together with the one on my needle and that closed the holes well enough. I’m nearly done with the edging and then just have to decide what I want to do for sleeves. Full length? Half length? How should the gradient go?

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Praise the Free Time Gods, she’s actually spun something. Click for handspun page.

I made it to a spinner’s guild meeting over the weekend and since I’m way too pregnant to lug around my wheel, this SIP was revived. I started it during Tour de Fleece LAST JULY so I’d like to finish it up here soon. At this point, I think I’d be happy to finish just ONE SKEIN OF HANDSPUN before the baby comes. I had only been using my small green Turk but released that I could get a lot more done if I spread out to other tools. Turkish spindles are great for spinning on the go but I prefer supported spindles for spinning relaxed on the couch. I’m making decent progress and think I have less than half the braid of merino left now.

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Current reading.

We’re getting down to the wire here (< 6 weeks to go!) so I’m doing my homework and continuing to mentally prepare myself for The Upcoming Ordeal. This book is really great for that, it even illustrates different comfort positions and has a handy table of all the stages of labor, what I might be experiencing, and how the birth partner can best help during each stage. It’s laid out really nicely. I’d also recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a Bradley Method course. Husband-Coached Childbirth is an ok book, but it was first written in the 50’s by Bradley and… you can tell. It’s a little like sitting down with your grandpa listening to him explain to you how to give birth. I think his methods are solid and he did revolutionary things for the attitudes of doctors towards laboring women, and the book is interesting from a sociological perspective, but I think the one pictured above will be more directly useful for me. Ina May’s book is great for taking some of the fear out of the whole process, it’s full of inspiring natural birth stories that do a good job of illustrating how different labor can be from woman to woman.

In accepting that I will have even less time for crafting in the near future, I’m destashing some of my unused equipment. (Hover over images for name and click picture to zoom.) All prices include US shipping, I’m happy to ship internationally at cost. Either get in touch with me on Ravelry, leave a comment here, or send an email to alicia at woolendiversions dot com if you’re interested. I also still have plenty of yarn up for destash, as well.

  1. TexasJeans polka dot drop spindle – $50 – birdseye maple, purpleheart, redheart, osage orange, and dymondwood. Whorl diameter 2 9/16”, length 10 3/4”, weight 1 1/4 oz / 37 g.
  2. Spanish Peacock support spindle bowl – $40 – Cocobolo bowl with dimple for spindle tip, 6″ maple base.
  3. Fringe Association Fashionary Sketchbook – $20 – Completely unopened and unused, total impulse buy!
  4. Schacht Zoom Loom – $35 – Used only once or twice, all pieces included, slight tear in lid of box.

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If you’re local (RI, MA, CT, NH), you should totally come check out the RI Fiber Festival and Craft Fair this Saturday! Sweet Sheep will be vending there and it’s a great expose to get outside and explore the beautiful grounds of the historic working farm.

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.