i wrote a pattern (or 4?) yesterday!

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I finally had a Wednesday when I did not have any meetings scheduled with students, so I worked from home instead (Wednesday’s the only day that I don’t teach any classes, but it’s still been filled with meetings this semester!). I didn’t get a lot of “work” work done, but my mind was stuck on the hat and mittens, so I drafted a pattern for them. It’s off with test-knitters right now, so I don’t know when it’ll be ready to publish, but still…progress!

One thing I needed to do was create schematics for my pattern. Here’s the sketch that I ended up tracing using GIMP (to create the digital schematic):

Sketching a schematic for M's hat pattern. Wish I knew how to turn this into a "real" (digital) schematic!

I bet you can tell whose face I was using as the model, eh? That’s my kid’s nose, for sure :) I finally figured out how to use Layers in GIMP, and was able to turn that sketch into a fairly decent schematic for the pattern. It took me forever the first time, but I got better and better as I made the other schematics (a front view of the hat, and a schematic of the hand-tracing I use for the mitten pattern).

taking pattern photos

I also took some pattern photos of MY new hat with my (now rather ancient) DSLR, since all of my existing photos were iPhone/Instagram photos. It cracked me up to be taking pattern photos, because I was having a spectacularly bad hair day (I forgot to rinse the conditioner out of my hair in the shower…which may have had something to do with the toddler who was trying to pull the shower curtain down while I was in there!), but since I was modeling a HAT…who cares! I think the shots turned out pretty good. In this one, I was deliberately trying to imitate the “grinning” picture I took of M at Rhinebeck (the two photos are side-by-side in the pattern):

i was imitating M in this one

I think you can tell we’re related :)

I say “(or 4?)” in the title of this post because I ended up combining the hat and mitten in both kid and adult sizes into a single pattern (well, I mean, a set of two patterns, really…you can’t actually knit a hat and a mitten from the SAME pattern!). I did the math for 5 kids sizes (infant, 1yr, 2yr, 3yr, and 4yr) and then gave instructions for creating your own “recipe” using your own measurements, which could either be used to create a custom/in-between size for a kid (kids are highly variable, after all!) or to create an adult size. I still haven’t tested using the recipe to create an adult-sized mitten, but that’s the next thing on the docket for me, as soon as I find that skein of light green Malabrigo that I *know* is somewhere in my house!

taking pattern photos

It was nice to sit down and write a pattern yesterday. Gosh, though, I’m feeling a bit rusty on that front – I haven’t actually released a pattern since before M was born! But I’m finally pulling out of the very dark days (due to PPD and PTSD related to childbirth) that were my reality for the first 18 months or so of M’s life, and the creative gears are turning again, so it’s exciting to get back to it. I’m still hoping that this coming summer, I can release a series of “mama + kiddo” matching patterns (some of which have already been seen here, just haven’t been written up), and maybe now that I’m settled into my new career (I haven’t mentioned it here, but my Lecturer contract just got renewed for 3 more years, and my boss says she intends to keep renewing it forever unless I decide I want to leave, so I think it’s safe to call “writing instructor” my career now!), I’ll be able to put out patterns at a semi-regular pace. Nothing like a “real” designer, but that’s ok…I don’t have to be one to still create good designs now and then.

i made myself a hat!

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And it isn’t the Bronntanas hat I mentioned in a previous post – I actually ended up ripping that out, because the stitch pattern just didn’t look good in the yarn I was using. No, instead, I made myself a “grown-up” version of the hat I’ve been making for M these last couple of years:

I finished my hat and the fit is perfect!!

The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, and the pattern is simply an upsized version of the same “recipe” I use for M’s hat. I finished it on Friday, knitting away during the break between my two recitation sections:

Knitting during the break between my recitation sections.

I still haven’t taken “real” FO shots of the hat, but I did snap some photos in my office that afternoon:

Happy with my new hat! (Same top-down recipe as M's hats. Really am gonna write this up soon, along with the mittens!)

And one with my girl in her matching hat:

Matching hats.

I do so love having matching knitwear :) Having worn the hat for a few days now, I’ve decided it’s actually a bit too big (I wasn’t exactly being careful with my measurements and was just kind of winging it – I obviously would pay more attention if I were to write up a pattern!). If I knit another one (and I almost certainly will), I’ll aim a little smaller/shorter. But it’s still quite nice to have a hat again now that the chilly weather is returning.

I fully intend to write up a pattern/recipe for M’s hat and mittens, and I may as well write one up for a grown-up version as well. So, I’ll probably knit myself a pair of mittens like M’s, and another hat, to test out the up-sizing. But then I have some other decisions to make:

1. Do I release everything (kid’s hat, kid’s mittens, grown-up hat, grown-up mittens) as a set? I’m a lot closer to being ready to release the kid’s hat and mitten patterns, and they’re such quick knits that I think it’d be cool to get the pattern out before the end of November (if possible) as a “last minute Holiday gift” sort of thing. But I don’t think I can do that if I try to release all 4 things at once.

1b. If I don’t release kid and grownup sizes together, do I still release the hat + mittens in each size as a set, or individually?

2. What the heck do I name them? I’m leaning toward something curve-oriented (“curvature”, “curvilinear”) because the curving lines of the garter stitch are really the design feature in both hat and mittens. But then I’m also wondering if I could give them a name associated with something about the drive to Rhinebeck, since the hat was born (and knit, and reknit, and reknit) on that drive. Taconic? Hudson? I don’t know!

2b. How do I handle naming the kid and grown-up versions? If I were releasing the grown-up version first, it’d make sense to just name the kid version “wee X” or “little X” or “X, jr” or “babyX” or any number of things…but if the kid’s version is first, then I don’t know what I’d call the grown-up version. “grown-up X” sounds goofy, I think. You’d think that as a linguist, I’d be good at naming things…but I’m not. (With the exception of my kid, whose name is perfect, of course! Though gosh, we’re lucky she was a girl, because our list of boy names was…not perfect, I’ll say that much.)

3. Do I want to write them up as a pattern, or a “recipe”, or both? I’m leaning toward both. Well, in all honesty, I’m leaning towards “recipe” (by which I mean I’d give a tutorial with the recipe and math for figuring out how to make the hat and mittens the right size for any particular recipient) rather than “pattern” (by which I mean having just a few “standard” sizes that I’ve worked out in full), but I imagine most folks would like a pattern. I did both for my Stripes! pattern and I think people liked that, too? I can’t help it, I’m a teacher at heart, and writing patterns without sharing the process just goes against everything in me!

See, this is why I’d never make it as a “real” designer. I dither way too much!

i have wonderful friends.

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(Yarny Old) Kim is the best!

Remember right after Rhinebeck, when I was sad because I’d not bought myself anything (in particular, a mini-skein set from Bartlettyarns), and had just endured a hellacious 6 hour drive as a toddler punching-bag? Well, Yarny Old Kim decided that I needed one of those mini-skein sets after all, and sent one to me, along with a super-sweet card! Thank you, Kim!

And not only that, so many of you left supportive, kind, and helpful comments on that post, and I’m oh-so-grateful for them. We’ll definitely be trying some of those suggestions the next time we have a long car trip, and it helps me so much to know that I’m not all alone in finding some of this stuff immensely difficult. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

The wool fumes on these mini-skeins are heavenly…

enjoying the wool fumes

That sheepy, lanolin smell is something I’ve loved ever since I first knit with Bartlettyarns, back when I knit Rogue (gosh, my hair was so BLONDE back then!). I’ve only ever knit with the worsted weight yarn before, so I’m very excited to get to try out the sport weight.

bartlettyarns miniskeins

And the hand-dyed colors are gorgeous! I definitely want to use these in something amazing, and the wheels are already turning in my mind over how I might design with them – paired with a light sheepy grey or oatmeal sort of color, these would be pretty gorgeous in a yoke design, no?

a kind of hilarious “FO” photo…

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Look what arrived in the mail today! #officiallyPhD

A couple of weeks ago, my diploma arrived in the mail. Since I defended in the summer, my official degree conferral took place at a board meeting in October, though I can still walk in the Commencement in May (and since I still live here, I probably will, if my advisor’s interested in participating!)

So, here it is. That piece of paper I worked long and hard for. I think the disinterested toddler and cat walking through the background of the photo really do a lot to capture the reality of my life. I may have a Ph.D now, but to the kid and the cats? It’s just a boring (if strangely enormous) piece of paper. Way less exciting than a cup of milk and the prospect of dinner :)

things i make for maddy: mittens!

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modeling the mittens for mama

I decided to use the leftovers from M’s hat to make her a pair of matching mittens. I traced M’s hand, and used it as a “template”, knitting the mitten from the top down:

Making a mitten for M from her hat-leftovers.

They were a really quick knit…I was soon onto mitten #2:

one mitten down, one to go.

The mittens have a row of eyelets above a short-rowed garter stitch cuff. The eyelets aren’t simply decorative – I intended to run a string through them so that I could tie the mittens together and string them through the sleeves of M’s jacket.

The thumb was created by casting on some stitches using the backwards loop method, and then picking up the cast-on loops and knitting upward – you can’t even tell where the picked up stitches are, I swear!

a pair of mittens for M

The short-rowed garter stitch cuff was designed to mimic the short-rowed garter stitch brim of M’s hat, and it’s split on the side to make for easier on-off. The cuff is edged in i-cord, just like the hat that inspired it.

She loves her mittens, and wanted to wear them all the time this weekend!

modeling the mittens for mama

Sadly, one of them has already gone missing – I (stupidly!) let her wear them to school yesterday morning. I’d meant to thread the string through them first so that they couldn’t get lost, but just plain forgot…and she came home with one last night. The missing one may still turn up somewhere, but for now, I think I’ll knit a third one…and she definitely isn’t going to get to wear them anywhere until they’re tied together! Actually, I think I’ll treat mitten #3 as a test-knit for writing up a pattern – I’d like to publish a pattern of “recipes” for the hat and mitten set, because they’re super cute, very practical and also quick knits!

Important last-minute addendum: the missing mitten has been found!

They found the mitten! (M had stuck it in her teacher's bag!)

It was in her teacher’s bag – M must have put it in there yesterday. Sneaky kiddo! I’m so relieved that I don’t need to knit her a third one – tonight I’ll make up a crochet-chain to attach the mittens to each other (and thread them through her jacket sleeves) so that we don’t have a lost-mitten scare like this again!

Super Madrigal 2.0 gets a cape from mama!

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this kid. i love her so.
This kid. How I love her!

Madrigal decided a few weeks back that she wanted to be “superkitty” for Halloween. She was very particular about what this would involve: kitty ears, and a purple and red cape. We took her to Joann fabric, where she picked out the particular purple and red fleece colors that she wanted, and we found the most perfect clip-on kitty ears:

Went to Joann to get fleece to make her "super kitty" cape, and found clip-on cat ears. Perfect!

I made up a pattern, basing the size on one of M’s jackets, and drew it directly onto the fleece before cutting it. I also freehanded a “logo” based on her initials (MW – she has the best initials, doesn’t she? Same upside down as rightside up, and always a cool zig-zag!), which I sewed onto the cape:

Sewing M's cape.

(For the record: this was probably the first time I’ve ever sewn an entire project without any crying! Go me!)

I also stitched a red “collar-lining” around the loop at the front, both for added decoration and to make the neckline a bit sturdier.

Finished cape! (With cat)

It turned out that the neck opening was quite a bit too big, but nothing a pair of hairclips couldn’t fix! (And the clip-on kitty ears worked perfectly as add-ons to her hat!)

Super Madrigal 2.0 enjoys a mini-apple at Wegmans.

She wore her costume at the Museum of Play on Halloween:

Superkitty enjoys trains :)
Superkitty enjoys trains

And all through the weekend, by which point she’d decided that instead of “superkitty”, she was “Super Madrigal 2.0″:

Super Madrigal 2.0 ponders the car headlights.

Super Madrigal 2.0 has no need for pants (but she did insist on wearing her superhero undies – she picked out the “Wonder Woman/Batgirl/Supergirl” undies set after she earned them by mastering the potty!):

super madrigal 2.0 has no need for pants

I asked her to smile for me, and got this crazy face:

super madrigal 2.0 interrupts the photo session

I think she’ll get a lot of wear out of this cape (especially with the unintentionally oversized neck opening!), and I’m really proud of being able to throw it together with my honestly fairly meager sewing skills!

things i make *with* maddy: roasted potatoes!

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Oven-roasted potatoes, made by M (with just a little help from mama). I hope we baked them long enough - I was kind of winging that part!

Madrigal recently moved up into the Children’s House community at her Montessori school. In her last few months in the Toddler community, she started taking on a lot more responsibility in her classroom, and doing more challenging work, as one of the “big kids” in the room. One of the activities she especially loved was making roasted potatoes for her classmates. Yesterday afternoon, I decided to give the activity a try at home with a couple of potatoes we had sitting around.

First, I set up M’s table in our kitchen with a tray, a bowl of water, and a colander nestled into a dry bowl. She used her Mini Vegetable Brush (link is to “For Small Hands”, an excellent resource for child-size tools of all kinds) to scrub the pair of potatoes clean. Very clean. My girl, she loves scrubbing!

Potato-scrubbing!

(Quite a bit of water ended up on the floor during this part, but hey, that’s what towels are for!)

Then, I used the “big knife” (our chef’s knife) to slice the potatoes into ~1cm slices. I gave them, along with the cutting board, back to M, and she used her Wavy Chopper to cut them into (rough) quarters.

Potato chopping!

Then, we got put a bit of olive oil into a small prep bowl, along with a pastry brush, and put some Lowry’s seasoning salt in another prep bowl. We took turns “painting” the olive oil onto each side of the potato pieces, and then sprinkling them with salt before placing them on a cookie sheet.

(There are no pictures of that part, because oily fingers plus iPhone camera = bad idea!)

Then we put them in the oven. (M knows to stay back when the oven door is open; when she’s older, we’ll teach her how to use it safely, but she’s not quite there yet in terms of her impulse control and coordination.) I was kind of winging this part. I’d heated the oven to 475F, and then put the sheet in for 15 minutes. Except I forgot to press “Start” on the timer, so I don’t actually know how long they were in, because M and I had started doing dishes together (she’s really good at this, too!) before I realized there was no timer. Then I took them out, flipped them (a few stuck because they hadn’t been sufficiently oiled), and stuck them back in for another 15 minutes, this time actually remembering to start the timer. Then we took them off the pan with the spatula and divvied them out onto our plates to eat with omelets for dinner. Speaking of which, I bet omelet-making is something that M is almost ready to try!

They were totally delicious, by the way! And M and I had a lot of fun (and made a lot of mess, and cleaned a lot of mess) together, and we both got to feel useful, and that’d be worth it even if they hadn’t turned out as yummy as they did.