Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!  I’ve been so busy being a Mom that I haven’t spent much time here at my ‘puter of late.  In addition to mothering my two lovely children, my doggie kids have needed a little extra love lately too.  Everyone is healthy and happy now, I’m glad to report.  We’re navigating the hoppin’ busy spring season with enthusiasm – from Easter through several birthdays, school events, and culminating with a Dance recital.  Life is crazy in a good way.  Here are a few moments that keep me going as a Mom.

WinderShe may be small but she loves to help!

DancePracticeShe has boundless energy, passion and enthusiasm to dance…

RockOn… and rock ‘n’ roll any ol’ time. (And she can create chaos in my living room in 20 minutes or less.)

DaddyHugsShe loves her Daddy as much as I do.  They went to the Father-Daughter Dance together recently and she had a blast.

DanceReadyAnd that sparkle in her eye makes me smile no matter how crazy things get.  She even makes her grumpy big brother smile now and again.  (Though capturing him on camera apparently is like getting a good photo of Big Foot.)

GrandmaShe adores both Grandma (My Mom) and…

MGnLilNonna (My MIL).  Grandmothers are a wonderful thing!  They are both lovely, affectionate ladies who have so much to share.

I am so thankful to my Mom for giving me a great upbringing, and so much love, that I can now turn around and share with my Lil One and Big Bro.  I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Again – Happy Mother’s Day!

 

One thing at a time…

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My Lil One is very used to my motherly refrain “One thing at a time.”  So many times we try to squeeze things in, skipping from one thing to the next, but at the end of the day I always feel like nothing got done, because nothing individually is truly finished.  I am trying to teach my daughter that sometimes you need to slow down and focus for a bit to really savor the task and do your best.  My knitting has often been crazy like that, but for a couple of months I kept knitting just one thing.  Lil One kept asking “When will that be done?  It’s taking forever, and I need leg warmers!!”  I kept repeating, “One thing at a time.  Your little leg warmers will be next.  I promise.”  And so it went for two months.  What colossal, grand, large-scale knit was this?  Actually, it was a quite modest sized scarf.  A commission, from a gentleman with excellent taste in yarn, and a rare recognition of the beauty of a handmade item.  Here is the tri-color harlequin diamond scarf I made for him:

Tricolorscarf1

Size zero needles and lace weight yarn made this project long-winded, but the result was just heavenly.  I would have loved to keep it for myself, but alas, it had to move on.  The three yarns were Art Yarns Rhapsody Light (just spectacular!), Jade Sapphire Silk Cashmere 2-ply, and Isager Alpaca Merino 2.  It’s hard to see in the photos, but the green just shimmers against the other colors, and the halo of mohair is just enough to lend a kitten softness without getting fuzz everywhere.

So, naturally, when that was done, I went to work immediately on those leg warmers.  Those became the “one thing” for a couple of days, and they knit up really quickly.  She was over the moon when they were done, and put on quite a show to let me know how happy she was!

LegWarmerTriptik copy

They are another pair of “Button Top Leg Warmers”, this time in cobalt blue Madelinetosh DK that she picked out.  Lil One also has excellent taste, and definitely appreciates handmade accessories.

sidecobalt

So, now that customers and kiddos alike have been satisfied momentarily, I’ve moved on to some peaceful knitting for myself, and feeling very accomplished for sticking to one thing at a time… except for the socks I started… oh and that tunic that just needs sewing up… and I couldn’t help but swatch out an idea for a new tee.  Well, as that other Motherly motto goes:  “Do as I say, not as I do.”

New Year, New Stories!

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Happy New Year!  I don’t know where the last few months went, but they sure went fast.  I begin this New Year with many resolutions in mind, one of which is to get back to blogging. I’m eager to share new stories of knitting and all things creative.  So, as my first new story of 2014, let me share something special that happened in the past few months: Lil One is now officially a knitter.

NewKnitter

For whatever reason, on Thanksgiving Day, after the hustle and bustle of our family celebration, she decided it was the right time to knit.  I have never pushed her to knit, but she has decided now and then to try it out.  That day, after casting on a few stitches, I sat down to help her by supporting the needles a bit and coaxing her along as I had in the past, but she said “No, Mommy.  I want to knit all by myself.”  She literally pushed me away with a “talk to the hand” gesture.  Then she took up the needles and yarn and started the chant, “In through the front door…”  She struggled a bit to figure out how to keep the needles and yarn under control, but to my surprise, in no time at all, she was indeed knitting all by herself.  At just four and a half, she was sitting quietly (which is perhaps the best part of this story) knitting carefully but fluidly on her very first scarf.  She seemed in that moment like a miniature of my Grandma.  She sat neatly arranged, with her straight metal needles clicking, concentrating so hard and making faces just like I remembered my Grandma making when she was hard at work knitting.  One day, when I’m a Grandma, I can just hear me telling her little ones, “Your Mother knew how to knit before she could read!”  I guess it’s genetic! :)

knitheldhigh

Have to

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I was just sitting here listening to Lil One chatter and she was reading out what she imagines my to-do list to be for today:

You have to feed the dogs
You have to pick me up from school
You have to pick up my brother from school
You have to check your e-mail
You have to fold the laundry
You have to knit my socks
You have to sort the mail
You have to do your work
You have to make dinner
You have to do the dishes
You have to ….
 

Oh my.  She’s right.  It seems like lately there have been vast lists of “have to’s” and little room for the “want to’s”.  She hears me say it all day long.  “We can play a game but first I have to _________ .”  The running around and keeping up has meant scarce time with the camera, and less time for knitting and writing.  Fortunately not all of the have to’s are unpleasant or tedious, and I did manage to whip out the camera for a few fun moments of late.

On Saturdays, we “have to” take Lil One to her dancing class.  She loves it, and she’s blossoming into quite a little ballerina.  Here she is last Sat. in her Tiny Tea Leaves sweater I knitted for this fall.

DandiBallet

This was the sweater to replace the one she left at the zoo.  Lil One picked out the yarn herself, Berroco’s Maya, and I happened to have these lovely vintage buttons from Dusty’s Vintage Buttons at the CT Sheep and Wool Festival.  I ended up adding a few button holes, just so we could use a few more buttons.  I love the sparkle centers:

balletdetail

She has decided it’s pretty much ideal for dancing and loves the 3/4 sleeves so she can move and pose.  I modified the neckline a little to bring it in by crocheting in sc around the neck.  I think I did 1 sc, 2 sc tog, around to reduce the size by about 1/3.  It has worked out well and stays in place better than the first one.  Tell me this doesn’t seem like a 1920′s picture postcard:

Austen

So, even though life is busy, plenty of things make me smile. I am happy that I do have to do so much.

Jump – Double Dutch Style!

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The chill of fall is in the air!  We’ve been getting up to cold temps in the morning, and gratefully still enjoying lovely warm afternoons.   So, in the spirit of back to school knitting and little girls who can’t quite part with those lovely dresses despite the cooler temps, I’d like to share a newly published pattern today.

Introducing “Double Dutch” children’s Knee High Socks!

3IGMAdHatter1

This pattern has just been published by the colorful yarn dyer Three Irish Girls.  For the sample, they sent me the fantastic and colorful “Mad Hatter” colorway in Beckon Stretch Merino.  The name inspired a bit of an “Alice” moment to the photoshoot…

Alice3IG

And Lil One was literally jumping for joy that she had new socks…

jumpup3IG

That is, until I told her they had to go back to the yarn company.

This was my first collaborative effort with a yarn dyer, and it turned out patience was the most important aspect of getting this out.  These photos were taken late last summer, and only now I’m able to share them, so I’m super excited to finally share the fun.

The pattern was inspired by my Lil One’s love of skirts and dresses, even in cold weather.  I created this pair first:

shoeskneehigh

Then to my delight it was accepted as part of the collection being created by Three Irish Girls, and I got to work writing, editing and sampling in the exciting new colorway which was also unreleased at the time.

So, the details:  I went with toe up, and a twisted stitch pattern to satisfy my love of cabled knee-highs without having to break out an actual cable needle.  The accordion structure of the ribbing makes them stay up nicely, and a smooth stockinette gusset on the foot makes them comfy and fit into shoes nicely.  For a unisex look, all you have to do is stop before the calf gusset and you’ll have great basics for all your little ones.   For the size shown M (7-11 children’s shoe size) I used just about half of one skein of the Beckton Stretch Merino.  The pattern is sized for babies to pre-teens, and is mostly written with charts for the calf gusset.  You can find out more (including pictures of the construction details) on Ravelry.

I love the Three Irish Girls yarn, but if you’re looking for a more basic yarn, the classic solid version made with the easy to find Cascade Heritage Sock.  In my own LYS we just got a fantastic selection of Claudia Hand Painted sock yarn in that would be a fantastic substitute for this pattern.  Check out the delicious bins of colorful choices!

claudiayarn

Just in case you’re interested, I’m teaching a toe-up beginner sock class this month – it has been rescheduled, so contact Knit New Haven for new dates and details.

We’re Back!

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Back from vacation, back to school, back to the blog, and ready to jump into fall with both feet!

happyprek4

Lil One headed off for her first day of school yesterday, and happily she wanted to wear one of her handmade things as part of her outfit.  It makes me so happy that she likes what I make her, and in this case I am particularly proud of the design – Purple Pinafore.  I created it on the fly from a stitch I found online, and a sketch no bigger than a post-it note I penned one afternoon last spring.  I used the shiny and durable Cascade Ultra Pima yarn, and a small D hook to get a tight but lacy fabric.  Despite the detail in the main pattern areas, I think my favorite thing about it is the belted waist.

Pinaforeclose

I hope to someday write this one up, but for now I’m just pleased that it worked out so well.  Here’s another “look” she created earlier this year:

frontpp

I just can’t get over how fast she’s growing up.  I’m so proud of her, and just the littlest bit tearful that time flies by so fast.

beyond

I’ll be back next time with more back to school fashion and patterns!

It’s good to be back. :)

New Hat Tricks

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My Lil One and I are huge fans of the hat.  We both have many, and somehow there’s always room for one more, or five or six!  A hat is easy on the wallet, and the schedule, so I love putting one on the needles and having something to wear in just a couple of days.  It seems I’ve been on quite a bit of a hat making spree lately, and we’re both thrilled to have so many new styles to try out… if only it weren’t hot outside!

So here’s a little review of the latest FO hats:

First up, the Purple Asbury, for Lil One.  This one I made just for her.  It is based on a Spanish Doily pattern, and I thought it would be a great fashion hat for her to dress up with, even if it isn’t very warm.  The pattern is Asbury Beret, adapted by Beth Nielsen, and I worked it up in String Theory’s Bluestocking.  I do like the yarn, but it’s halo didn’t yield a super crisp texture to show off the lace work.  I think if I made it again I might try a Cascade Heritage Silk or String Theory’s Caper Sock instead.

purpleasbury

Then we move to the other extreme – warm and wooly.  I’ve had the privilege to sample knit a few patterns recently.  The first one I have to show you is from Jocelyn Tunney, over at O-wool.  The pattern is called “Picholine“, and this one is made up in a lovely dark red shade called “Pomegranate” in O-wool Legacy Bulky.  It is warm and cozy, but the slouch keeps it from feeling stuffy.  I plan on making several more of these.  They are one day knits, and would be great last-minute gifts too.  Alas, samples have to go back to the yarn company, but I always try to grab a quick picture before I send them on their way.  Lil One begged to model it, so she got the job of course – who could resist those dreamy green eyes?

redsidepich

The third hat is also a sample, this time for Manos del Uruguay.  The design is by Melissa LaBarre, and called “Peasleeville“, and the yarn is called Maxima, from Manos of course.  I loved the color they chose, “Zinnia”, and the yarn was soft and squishy.  The cable band was engaging to knit, and then the top of the hat gets picked up and knit up in seed stitch.  I got to wear this one for my photos, and I have to say, I think it would make a great hat for me this winter.  Again, just in love with the color!

frontmanos

Here’s looking forward to hat weather!

Yarn Along: Clearing the Decks

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Joining in for the “Yarn Along” over at small things:

YA Quote

So, the knitting and reading for the past few weeks has been varied and plentiful!

YAVerity

I guess my goal at the moment is to kind of “clear the decks” so I can get back to one nice involved project at a time to relax with for the summer months.  I have been “multi-knitting” for weeks now.  In progress right now are a gift knit (nearly done), two sample knit hats, my “omg this is taking forever” plum cardi, and a lovely cheerful crochet shawl that I’ve been toting around as my portable project.  Oh, and I’ve swatched to begin another Tiny Tea Leaves for my Lil One who LOST the one I made her!  (I just keep reminding myself it never would have been lost if she didn’t love it so much and take it with her everywhere.)  I’ve also finished up several things that were in the way of my summer agenda, so I am actually making progress on getting to summer knitting.  Here’s the thing – I’m absolutely chomping at the bit to start a new sweater project just for me:

anzulalace

The yarn is a delicious, soft yet textured yarn from Anzula called “Oasis”. What could be better for a relaxing summer knit?  The pattern is from a recent issue of Interweave Knits, and it’s called the Open Eye Tunic.  I’m still on the fence about the little side bits, but they are sewn in at the end, so I might make it as just a tunic and see how it looks.

OK, one more little “WIP” – I am creating a new knitter!  No, seriously.  My Lil One got the book “Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf”, by Alana Dakos and Neesha Hudson, for her birthday.  We’ve been reading it now and then, and she’s been inspired to learn to knit, as well as learning that “practice and patience” are the key to learning anything new.  Now, she’s only 4, so progress is slow.  It will be a while before her little hands can really control everything, but none the less, she’s been sitting in my lap and repeating the little rhyme from the book:

“In through the front door,
once around the back.
Peek through the window,
and off jumps Jack!”

She knows exactly how the yarn moves and just needs me to help steady the needles and sometimes pop the stitch through the “window” for her.  We had cast on just ten stitches about a month ago, and every week or so she’ll say “can we practice knitting”, and so we do.  Sometimes it’s only been three stitches, sometimes we’ve gotten all the way across the row and she proudly exclaims “Look!  We made a whole row Mamma!”  So, now I present you with Lil One’s very first FO – a little tab necklace in Malabrigo Silky Merino:

TAbnecklace

As for the reading list, I’ve been taking time when deadlines are not looming to really indulge in reading my new novel, “Code Name Verity”, by Elizabeth Wein.  I love the writing, and the women in the story are so captivating.  I really recommend this one!  In addition, I’ve indulged in a couple more knit lit. purchases including more Alana Dakos in the form of “Botanical Knits”.  I want to make every single thing in that book this fall.  Oh dear, I’m gonna need more yarn money… better get back to work!

So what’s on your summer reading list?

Around and around I go!

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About a month ago I began a journey of exploration quite innocently by grabbing a hook and attempting a nice simple crochet hat.  The pattern I began with had some issues, which I am hopeful the designer will correct, so I won’t tell you which one it is to give them a chance to fix it up.  In any case, it set me off on a mission to figure it out for myself, of course.  I based my hat on a five section increase repeat, and since the pattern I had tried used a slip stitch and chain up to work in the round, I followed that method.  I added a narrow front and back post “rib” and made my first version of a basic, but elegant, hat.

bibaside

I was very happy with the result, and with the pink shades and wispy hair poking out it reminded my of the “Biba” style from the 60′s, and so it got dubbed the “Sundara Biba“.  I got to use my Sundara Yarn leftovers in “Arabian Nights” so that made it squishy and wonderful.

Of course, Lil One wanted one too, so I almost immediately made a second version for her in periwinkle Berocco “Comfort” and found the top down method allowed for very easy sizing.

whoosh

For my hat I had concealed the chain risers in the work with a duplicate stitch method I had worked out before when doing hdc in the round, and it did very well to blend the chains in.   But Lil One was impatient, and I handed off her hat before I got to this step.  You can see the holes on the right side in this shot created because the chain lacks bulk compared to the hdc stitch.

periwinklehatside

Whenever I design I do a “fit crit.”, and in this case I decided that there was ever so slight a point at the top that I didn’t care for, and that for an easy-going pattern I would have to use a different technique to work in the round to make the hat good-looking from all sides without the fuss of duplicate stitch at the end.

Research ensued.

I visited my local library, and fortunately for me they had a couple of new crochet books in.  I snapped them up to check out how many ways you could work in the round.  I knew about a few already.  Miss Adler’s Cowl uses slip stitches and chains to connect and turn to work back and forth in rows while creating a joined round, and my Pink Petals Tee used slip stitches and chains to raise each row for a shell pattern in the round.  Lastly, I was aware that like knitting, you could use a spiral method simply working around and around without any row height adjustments, and then blend out the height at the end.  That’s where I went next.

hatwind

This version was definitely the best yet for this project.  I modified the starting disc to be a little flatter, and the result was just perfect.  I’ll be choosing a final yarn recommendation (Malabrigo?) and publishing the pattern early this fall.

But, always being the curious stitcher, I endeavored to find out if a method existed to create truly stacked rows, without spiraling, and without holes.  It occurred to me that just like knitting, stripes and patterning might not work out so well worked as a spiral, yet crochet has the unique feature that you can indeed join a row and then rise up to begin the next one.  Enter the Noro Crochet Basket.

basketoyarn

This pattern called for a slight hybrid of the other techniques.  It is worked in single crochet, but I’m sure the method could adapt to half double easily.  You join with the slip and a chain, but then you work the first stitch into the same space you chained up from.  At the end of the round you slip stitch to that first stitch (not the chain) and do it all again.  This method creates a way to cleanly change colors, yet the stacked bulk of the chain and stitch into one closes the gap nicely.  I figured out to make the color changes the sharpest: I needed to draw up the new color in the last part of the last full sc st of the previous made. (i.e. yo with new color, pull through last 2 loops of last stitch in previous color).  Once I have the new color up, I go ahead and slip to the top of the first sc of the previous round, chain, and then place my first sc in the same stitch I joined to.

The basket was fun even if I wasn’t studying the color changes, and the Noro Crochet book is full of great crochet projects.  I played with scraps of worsted weight yarn, and tried a little true color work while I was at it.  My basket did not take advantage of the lovely Noro yarn, but I am planning on trying that out too!  I can’t wait to get started on a granny square handbag!

She Never Stops Moving!

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I’m sure I’m not alone when I say – where do little ones get all that energy!?!?  It’s spring finally, and my Lil One never stops moving (or talking) it seems!  I went outside to grab a few pics of my latest FO on her, and it seems like the phrase “action shot” applies to nearly every one!

FairyRun

She is wearing a shop sample I made for Knit New Haven in a new favorite yarn – Spud & Chloe “Sweater”.  The design is from Kirsten Kapur, and it’s called “Turtle Pond“.  Of course, I couldn’t resist the little duck buttons we had in the shop, so this one is named the “Duckie Pond Cardigan“. It was easy knitting, and pretty easy to follow the pattern.  I did change the sleeves from working in the round to working flat.  I cast on 2 extra sts. for the seam, then seamed them up (and effectively removed the 2 extra sts.) before setting aside the underarm sts. and joining to work the yoke section.  I’m not sure if it was totally necessary as the sleeve “jog” wouldn’t be very visible, but it was good for me to do the mental gymnastics.  The seams came out very neat, so it made me happy to know that if they did show, they’d look fabulous.  Good practice.

Even though it’s still a little big for her, she put on her favorite fairy princess layers, and away she went!

Runaway

I did manage to get her to alight on a bench for a moment, and the forsythia provided a lovely spring backdrop for us.

DuckTalk

In moments she was off again.  I wish I could bottle that up!  If you’re thinking about making this pattern for your little energizer toddler, keep in mind that it’s designed for the long and thin toddler, which was ok for Lil One.  She’s a size 4T, with a 20″ chest, and the sweater is the size 6.  If I were to start again, I might shorten the sleeves just a touch for the body size.  I think when the sleeves really fit it might be too small around.  If she weren’t wearing a shirt to kind of stick the sleeves to, you wouldn’t be able to see her hands!  All in all, a fun project.

Happy Spring!!

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