We took a brief break from our way-too-full schedules to commune with sheep and knitter friends again this year at Rhinebeck. It’s about a 5 hour drive for us, but it’s a beautiful one! Seriously, it’s such a gorgeous drive, it almost makes up for the unpleasantness of traveling with a toddler who has decided her favorite thing to do is squeak/shriek at the top her lungs repeatedly (she sounds like a seagull!).
We stopped at “my” rest stop, and I had to take a picture:
My car knitting for the trip was a new hat for Maddy – exactly like the one I made for her last year, but a bit bigger:
It fits her perfectly!
I decided this time around to put a little mini-cable over the spot where there’d be a jog in the garter stitch, because I was never happy with that spot on the hat I made her last year. I love the way the short rows create a nice ear/neck cover without making the hat sit too low over her eyes! And of course I love the i-cord bindoff. I have a thing for i-cord, you know. One of these days, I’d like to write up a little pattern/tutorial for this hat – and maybe try to work one up in a grown-up size. We’ll see if I can ever find the time.
Madrigal had a blast at the festival, picking up and stomping on leaves and showing off her awesome babyStripes! cardigan:
And her baby garter rib cardigan:
Just before the Ravelry meetup at lunchtime, we had a little photosession with our REAL camera (which is actually a pretty crappy DSLR by current standards, but whatever). And of course, we brought the monster along too, just like last year.
First up, babyStripes!
I seriously can’t get over how cute she is in this sweater, especially in this setting.
After that, we tried to take photos of Madrigal and I in our matching sweaters!
I ended up lightly felting my garter rib cardigan, because I’d knit it too big – I decided to knit a larger size for this second one, which I knit during pregnancy, under the (obviously false) belief that I would be larger post-pregnancy. And then I made it even bigger than I’d planned, because, well, pregnancy-brain. But it turns out that after a trip through the dryer, it’s a nice size for me, and the gentle felting left the Eco wool with an amazing feeling – it’s like a jacket now, and I adore it! And of course, it matches Miss Madrigal’s.
Of course, hers has buttons and mine doesn’t (yet). I took her to Joann with me a few weeks ago and she picked out those yellow buttons, and I have to say, I think the yellow is super cute with the blue! And M’s pretty happy with it, too:
Madrigal loved climbing on the the benches on the hill:
I just can’t get over how beautiful she is:
We saw lots of friends, and lots of sheep and alpacas, and didn’t buy a single thing because we’re SO broke right now. But it was a good trip!
We ended our trip with a walk over the Hudson river…Madrigal wanted to touch the water!
Who knows when or if we’ll make it back to Rhinebeck – we just don’t even know where we’ll be living next year, so it’s hard to plan. We’ll see. I certainly hope it’s not our last!
Well, we’re 4 weeks into the semester now, and it’s been a bumpy ride.
Transitioning to teaching two classes has been a challenge for me (I’ve only ever taught one class per semester before), and the MWF schedule is utterly unrelenting in a way that really hard for me to cope with. I get done with my second class on Friday afternoon and think, “yay, I can take a little break!” except no, I can’t – there’s Monday’s classes to be prepping. Add to that the fact that it’s my first time teaching this Foundations of Cognitive Science class by myself (I co-taught it 4 years ago, so even that experience is pretty well forgotten!), and the first time teaching this particular version of my freshman writing class, and well, 2 new preps on a MWF schedule just ain’t easy. Next semester I’ll be back to teaching T-Th, which I much prefer; I can prep Tuesday’s classes on Monday, prep Thursday’s classes on Wednesday, and have Friday for other things, like, you know, finishing my dissertation. Unfortunately, my dissertation ACTUALLY needs to get (at least mostly) finished THIS semester, which means carving out an hour here and there in between class prep and office hours (which are always well-attended – I can’t complain, because it’s all students who are just SO EXCITED about my classes, but gosh, I could really use some unattended office hours for prep!). I’m just never not working and though I do love working with my students, I’m stretched so thin that it’s wearing me down. And it’s only been 4 weeks. (I did another “Day in the Life” photo challenge documenting a typical Wednesday for me; if you want to see what that’s like, you can find it here!)
The transition’s been hard on Madrigal and me. We got used to spending all afternoon together every single day over the summer, and now she’s doing full school days (and my husband takes care of the pickups, which mean leaving work early, a couple of days per week so that I can stay full days at work). We barely see each other! We’re both adapting, but the first couple of weeks were SO hard. I missed her so badly at work that I’d cry in my office, and she missed me so badly she cried at school. She tells her teachers “I miss mama” a lot. Breaks my heart! But really, she’s thriving at school, and her language skills are just taking off, and it’s amazing to see her becoming her own person.
Knitting hasn’t been going all that smoothly, either. For one thing, I don’t have much time for it – I’m usually spending my evening time, after M goes to bed, working until it gets late enough that I need to just go to bed. (The lack of “me”-time is brutal so far this semester. I should be working right now, honestly, but I’m just going bonkers. I can’t do this, long term, which is giving me serious misgivings about the career path I’m on.)
But I *had* gotten a decent amount of knitting done on the “Extra Yarn” sweater for M…
…only to discover, once I tried the body and the single sleeve I’d knit on M this morning, that it was coming out too small. Off to the frog pond it goes.
In that picture, you can see some of the details I was using – the folded hem, the attached i-cord that I created by picking up the purl stitches on the turning round (I used this technique for my Sullivan design as well), and the “heel stitch” elbow treatments on the sleeve. Unfortunately, I made a rookie mistake (funny, since I’ve been knitting for over half of my life at this point!), and didn’t think about how my gauge might change between a flat swatch and knitting in the round. Turns out, it got smaller. Not a LOT smaller, but multiplied over as many stitches as it was, it meant that instead of a looser, A-line fit, it basically made M look like an overstuffed sausage. Not cute. Not what I was going for. So, out the window goes all of the knitting I managed to accomplish in the past month. Ugh!
I never used to get why knitters would keep going and finish something after it wasn’t working – and I still don’t, honestly. I’ll always put in whatever time it takes to get a finished product I’ll actually use/wear, and I’ll rip and redo a million times if that’s what it takes. But now that my knitting time is cut so short, I at least kind of understand the impulse to avoid ripping at all costs. It’s painful to throw away all that work.
My mind is filled with dreams of sweaters and dresses and pants to knit and sew for my beloved girl, but I don’t know when I’ll ever have the time to do it. I swear I’ve got an entire book worth of kids’ knitting patterns banging around in my brain, and it’s making me crazy not to be able to do anything with that. I hope this stage is temporary – just until I finish the dissertation. We’ll see.
Well, it didn’t take me long to get swatching for M’s “Extra Yarn” sweater:
I’m holding the yarn doubled, and using size 8 needles, and the fabric I’m getting has a very nice feel to it. It’ll be a nice warm sweater, but still fairly drapey.
After I had my gauge (4sts/inch exactly!), I did some math and sketching, and I cast on:
I’m planning a somewhat A-line shape, so there will be a couple decrease rounds in the body. I made a knit-in folded hem, with a purl turning round, and am planning to pick up from those purled stitches to create an attached i-cord finish once I’m done. Basically, I’m aiming for an “all-stockinette” look, just like the sweaters in Madrigal’s book.
Well, it’s September now, and that means it’s the end of summer, and the start of a new school year. I’ve been feeling incredibly anxious about the coming year; I’m teaching two classes for the first time in my life (I’ve only ever taught one per semester before). One is a freshman writing class (the same as I’ve taught the past three years now, though with a slightly shifted topic) and one is a large lecture class, which is a bit out of my comfort zone. It’s not that I get nervous speaking in front of large groups of people (I don’t, as a rule), but more a matter of it not playing to my strengths as a teacher, which are put to much better use in small, discussion-based classes. I’m really good at connecting with students, meeting them wherever they are and helping them get to where they need to be (I don’t know why this is something I’m good at, but I just am). But I can’t connect individually with 120+ students, you know? I’ll do what I can to bring a bit of that into my giant class, though. But oh, I’m so very scared of how I will manage my time; I know how much time my writing class tends to consume, and now I’ll be prepping and giving 3 lectures a week on top of that, and I need to finish my dissertation, and look for a job, and it’s just overwhelming to think about.
It’ll be strange not to spend as much time with my dear Madrigal, too. She’ll be in nearly full-time school this year (two days a week, she stays until 5pm, the other three, she stays until 3pm). On some level, it is a relief – she’s ever so energetic and demanding and I’ve been wearing a bit thin as the summer goes on (I was sick for most of July, and haven’t ever fully recovered) – but I know I will miss her. We’ll just have to make the most of those late afternoons, and hope that mama can find a way to get things done that doesn’t involve spending every waking moment working.
I’ve never been as anxious about the start of a new school year as I am about this one. So many sleepless nights, with racing thoughts full of worries. I hope I can find a way to keep making things, to keep my crafting time sacred, to keep myself more centered and whole during this stressful year ahead of me.
It’s not just yarn and fabric we make things with…
…we made Madrigal a custom-sized shelf for all of her things! This turned out to be quite the endeavor for us. While DIY is very appealing to me, and I’ve got the skills to make it work in terms of cooking, baking, and the fiber/fabric arts, wood and power tools are another story. I’m pretty good at dreaming things up, but actually MAKING them? Not so much.
This is a pretty simple shelf. We wanted something to fit in between the two windows in our living room, and looking online, wooden shelves of the size we’d want were pretty darned expensive. So I sketched out our plans, and we went to Lowes and picked up about $20 worth of shelving wood. Not the most amazing quality, and it was stamped and marked up, but we just sanded it as best we could, and stained and finished it as it was. It’s up on locking casters, mostly because we needed to make sure it wasn’t covering up our cold air return vent. Putting this together took us at least a month, all told, because we could really only work on it while M napped on the weekends, but hey, we got it finished!
I’m pretty happy with how it turned out (it could definitely be better, but our skills with power tools are pretty rudimentary!), and it does exactly what we wanted it to: make it so that each of Maddy’s things has a space of its own, so that it’s easier for her to get her things and put them away by herself, like she does at her Montessori school. We’re very Montessori-oriented, in terms of our parenting (I’d be happy to talk about what that means, sometime, if anybody is interested), but the layout of our house and our limited budget, etc, has made it challenging for us to implement much in the way of a “prepared environment” for M. But we’re getting there, slowly but surely!
Madrigal has started really enjoying reading longer story books. I’ve read “The Cat in the Hat” (all 61 pages!) so many times at this point, I’m pretty sure I have it memorized. Same thing with “The Rainbow Fish”. Another favorite book is this one:
“Extra Yarn” was given to Madrigal by one of my local knitting friends, for her half-birthday. These days, M will often come up to me asking for “yarn”, which I know means this book. She loves seeing all of the animals in their sweaters, especially the bear, which she finds hilarious!
The other day, I ended up on The Loopy Ewe website somehow (followed a link, I guess), and in the process realized I had some store credit that I’d forgotten about there! I haven’t been buying yarn lately (my budget is tight, my stash is kind of ridiculous, and I have so little time for knitting these days), but I’d been toying with an idea, and figured if I could use store credit, maybe I’d actually do it.
So, what you see up there, with the book, is the yarn I found that most closely reminded me of the “yarn of every color” from “Extra Yarn”. It’s Fleece Artist BFL Sock, in “Sugar Plum”:
I’m planning, for M’s birthday, to make her a plain stockinette sweater, like the ones in the book. I’m thinking I’ll hold the yarn double, to get nice big stitches like the ones in the book, and to get more color mottling. Or would that end up looking ugly, do you think? I suppose the only way to know is to swatch, eh?
Emma Aurora Harrison, born this Thursday, August 21st. 2 weeks early, but already 8 pounds! She is my brother and my sister-in-law’s fourth child, but their first to survive. We are so happy to see her and to know that we will get to be a part of her life as she grows up!
There, she’s lounging in a pillow that Madrigal handed down to her. It warms my heart to think of little Emma all wrapped up in M’s baby things. We can’t be up there, but we can still envelop her in our love.
Oh Miss Emma, you have the most wonderful parents, and such a beautiful name, and you have the most amazing cheeks, and I can’t wait to meet you this Winter! You are already loved so much, by so many!
In case it is not completely obvious, Emma is the recipient of the wee sweater in my previous post. My brother has yet to get a picture of her in it, but given how big and strong she is already, I’m not sure it’ll fit for very long! No matter. It’s hers, and it matches her nursery, and when she gets older she will be able to see it and know that her aunt loves her very much.
Oh, Emma, you made it. You made it! I am so happy.
I finally got around to sewing on ribbons for the closure, so now can declare the wee sweater an Officially Finished Object:
Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: my own, with the butterfly lace adapted from a motif in Nancy Bush’s Knitted Lace of Estonia book
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed LOFT, in “Blanket Fort” (a soft purple), well under a skein
Needles: size 4 dpns
Time to knit: About 2 months, but really the knitting didn’t take long at all, I just spread it out a lot!
I’m quite pleased with how it turned out, though I’m sure I could’ve done a lovely job of stitching on the ribbon. My handstitching skills leave something to be desired – they’d be much improved if I could get over my fear of sticking myself with the needle!
It’s a wrap-style cardigan, and it has vented hems – basically, I started with three equally long strips of garter stitch, which I then joined into a single piece (keeping one stitch in garter on each side as a “seam”. At the underarms, I placed a few stitches on waste yarn, and then cast on sleeve stitches using backward loop, then knit seamless set-in sleeves while maintaining the v-neck shaping. After that, I was able to pick up from the backwards loop cast on and knit little garter cuffs on the ends of each little cap sleeve, and then bound them off using i-cord. The entire body of the cardigan is edged in applied i-cord, which gives nice structure to this otherwise delightfully airy piece. I am just enamored with what LOFT does after a soak and some blocking!
I’m so happy with the way the little butterfly motif turned out, especially since butterflies have special significance to the parents of this sweater’s intended recipient. I’ll never stop loving Estonian lace!
One last closeup of that butterfly…
I’m going to be putting this cardigan in the mail next week, and then it’s just a matter of waiting for the beloved little one who I knit it for to arrive. Keep the little one and her parents in your thoughts until then for me, please?
So, I have this quilt. Actually, I kind of stole the quilt from my mom, who won it as a bingo prize as a teenager. I took it with me to college and since A and I moved in together it has topped our bed. Here’s a picture (from when I was 7 months pregnant with M!) where you can see it:
The quilt’s taken some abuse (from the cats, mostly) over the years, and then with co-sleeping, I ended up sleeping on top of it a lot, and this started to happen:
Poor quilt. The final straw came last week, when Stimpy decided to use our bed as a litterbox while I was out with Madrigal. The quilt can’t survive another washing of the sort it would need without disintegrating. We might try, but I suspect doing so will result in a quilt that is literally Resting in Pieces.
So. We need a new quilt. Right now, we have a quiltish comforterish thing on our bed, which I think was a wedding present, and it’s perfectly nice, but not our style, and definitely more on the fluffy comforter end of the blanket spectrum – and I have a strong preference for dense, hefty quilts. So I want this to be a temporary thing. I want to make us a new quilt.
Thing is, I don’t really know how to quilt. I briefly participated in a quilting bee for newbies (which I actually helped create!), but then had to drop out due to a back injury, which healed just in time for me to be pregnant and not able to sew due to the fact that it made me insanely nauseated. So those days were short-lived. I don’t really know where to start.
Any thoughts? My preferences definitely run towards patchwork quilts, especially ones with a white/ivory background and rainbow/colorful patchwork, and a relatively high background:patchwork ratio. Right now I have a Kona Brights jellyroll and a Kona Brights charm pack, and I also have some white fabric, but I don’t know whether it would be enough, and I don’t know WHICH white fabric it is and don’t particularly want mismatched whites. So I may or may not have enough fabric to make a queen-sized top. But I don’t know what to aim for – a replication of the nine-patch quilt that’s now out of commission (the jellyroll strips would be easy to cut into small squares)? Something with triangles (which would be easy to make by cutting the charm squares in half diagonally)? Something a little more modern/wonky/asymmetrical? And then how do I start? HELP ME, dear Internet!
I’ve been terrible about keeping this blog updated. I actually had big plans for posting in July, but then I lost most of the month to illness and another basement flood and, well, now it’s August. So my thematically-relevant posts for July will just have to be regular old posts for August and c’est la vie.
First up, though, look what I finished!
Well, it’s not quite finished – I still need to attach ribbons to create a tie-closure, but other than that, it’s done. I’ll give it an FO post of its own once I’ve truly finished it. But I wanted to make sure I wrote about the poor wee sweater’s recovery from my overexuberant yarn-tugging incident. It turned out not to be too difficult to pick up stitches from the applied i-cord after I’d ripped back a bit (and taken a couple weeks break from it to rid myself of frustration), and after that, I made sure to use a delicate hand with the yarn, and it was smooth sailing. Then I picked up stitches at the cap sleeves and knit garter cuffs (finished with i-cord again, because y’all, I love i-cord!), and wove in the ends. Only took a couple of days once I got back to it!
So what was it that I was hoping to post about in July? Well, remember how I used to knit a gansey during the Tour de France? (If you don’t, here are the posts from le Tour de Gansey parts une, deux, and trois.) Earlier this summer, I once again had ganseys on the brain:
I was just doodling around on my graph paper, creating little purl motifs inspired by my lovely Madrigal’s initials (her full initials are MAHW). I especially love how “MW” looks the same upside down and rightside up (and I love initialing her clothes for school because of that!), and I love how when you put them together, you can get neat zig-zags and interlocking diamonds and such. So then I thought, I should make her a gansey! I even had the perfect yarn, a cone of Frangipani I’d picked up several years ago:
And I did a bunch of math and sketching:
And so the idea for a “Tour de Gansey, part quatre” was born. We actually haven’t watched le Tour in a few years now – we gave up cable and I never felt like paying to watch it. But the gansey-cycling connection must be pretty strong in my brain, because even though I didn’t watch a single second of the Tour this year, any time I worked on M’s gansey, I had images of cycling running through my brain. Crazy!
At this point, I’ve finished the welts and the plain area, and am a couple inches into the patterned area. Here’s what it looks like now:
As you can see, I wasn’t content to just have abstract purl-motif versions of M’s initials on this gansey – I also decided to add a seed-stitch “M”!
The construction is one I’ve used before, on the short-sleeved gansey I made for myself the last time I participated in the TdF knitalong. Channel Island Cast-On, split overlapping garter welts, with the overlapping stitches carried up into a tiny 2 stitch mini cable that forms the side “seams”:
Fairly soon, I’ll split that mini-cable open up the middle with increases, and create the underarm gusset.
I’m still not totally sure what I’ll do at the shoulders/neckline. My sketch involves lap shoulders, of the sort you find on infant clothes to accommodate their disproportionately large heads. My darling M has a pretty big noggin (she’s also just plain big, rocking the 90+ percentile on all measurements), and finding shirts that will go over her head now that she’s in toddler sizes (which do not tend to include lap shoulders) is pretty difficult. So it’s a detail I’d like to include – except I’m thinking it might be a bit weird, since (traditionally, at least) ganseys use drop-shoulder construction, and I think having a lap neckline that carries down over her shoulders would be neither functional nor attractive. But I’ve got time to think about it.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to. I really wanted to post along all through July with progress on the wee gansey, but life had other ideas. Oh, life. We’re still struggling mightily to figure out a way to balance everything on our plates especially given the minimal resources we have. I’d like to write a bit more about life stuff that isn’t (even vaguely) knitting related, actually (speaking of which, if you’d like to see a typical “day in the life”, I did a Flickr project a few weeks back, which you can find here), but it always feels a bit weird to do that here, because this is my knitting blog, you know? And if I ever do get back to designing (oh, how I wish to! It’s literally painful to have so many ideas in my head that I can’t play around with and follow up on…and of course I still have a small backlog of already knit samples to write up, too!), it seems like I should keep this space “professional” – but maybe I shouldn’t care. I’m still figuring out what I want this space to be, is my point. There might be more family/life/etc posts coming your way, or maybe not.
But there will definitely be more gansey posts. That much is certain!
I was hoping to be able to show off a nearly-finished wee wrap-sweater today, but then THIS happened last night:
I was working away at the attached i-cord edging (I love attached i-cord!), when I got ever so slightly overly enthusiastic about tightening up the working yarn. By which I mean I yanked it. And, well, if you’ve knit with LOFT, you know that yanking is a no-no. It’s just not the sort of yarn you can yank.
I broke the yarn.
I’m not mad at the yarn. Not really. I love the way LOFT is spun, and I know it requires a gentler hand than a lot of other yarns. But I needed to put this little knit in time out for awhile, because given the nature of the yarn, it sort of felted to itself as I worked the i-cord. Which means that finding live stitches to pick up from was not happening, and I was getting too frustrated to keep at it. I’m setting it aside for a few days until I have a little more patience.
Here’s a sneak peak at the design:
It’s crumpled up (will look much nicer post-blocking) and I still need to pick up and knit the cuffs on the short sleeves, but you can get a sense for the design, at least. I hope it’s big enough! It looks so ridiculously tiny to me, but I’m used to making everything big for my giant girl, so here’s hoping I didn’t go too far overboard in the opposite direction on this sweater.
Hey, remember this post from over two years ago? No? That’s ok, I kind of forgot about it, too!
I’d intended, back then, to write up a post about the design process for Addie, my first non- self-published pattern, but the week that Twist Collective issue came out was also the week I found out I was pregnant with my dear Madrigal, and, well…life’s been a bit crazy since then, to say the least.
So, where to begin? Perhaps with an even older blog post, the one I wrote about this sweater:
This sweater was the inspiration for the design I proposed to Twist Collective – I’d fallen in love with the short-sleeved gansey idea, and thought it’d be fun to try to do a lacier version in a cardigan, with gansey-inspired eyelet motifs. So that’s what I proposed to Twist collective, and to my surprise and delight, they accepted it!
This was my first time working with a magazine, and despite having self-published a few semi-successful patterns, I basically had no clue what I was doing as a “real designer”. I don’t think I took very good advantage of having such skilled folks to work with at Twist – I didn’t even know what sorts of questions to ask! And I think I ended up biting off a bit more than I could chew very well, in the end…
…which is not to say I’m not proud of the pattern I designed, or that it’s bad. (It’s not! I’d love to see more folks knitting it!) More that it’s something that might’ve been better suited to the sort of “tutorial” style patterns I tend to prefer when I self-publish. If you went back and re-read my post about that lovely purple ganseyette, you might’ve noticed my mention of the “sizing nightmare” that lay in store for me if I wanted to write up a pattern. Well…yep. That was indeed a bit of a nightmare. When each of your motifs is at least an inch wide (and some are as much as 5″ wide), and they need to be mirrored around the center on the front and back, trying to get non-gigantic “steps” in the sizing is crazy.
I think I actually came up with a fairly clever solution to the sizing mess, which was to use different subsets of the set of gansey-inspired eyelet motifs in each size. Lots and lots of math ensured that I could get 3-4″ steps in the sizing, but also made for (I’m afraid) a somewhat confusing pattern, once everything was condensed down into the Twist pattern style. (As you might know, I tend, for better or worse, to favor fairly verbose patterns when I write them to self-publish). The result of this is that no two sizes are actually the same pattern; while this isn’t quite the same as a traditional gansey, where the patterns might be selected to create a unique sweater for a particular individual, I thought it was pretty neat.
How about some detail shots? I’m kind of lucky in that 34″ tends to be a standard sample-size bust-measurement, and ALSO happens to be my size, so the 34″ sample I knit fits me perfectly. I took advantage of that to get some photos of what I think are the coolest gansey-inspired design features of the cardigan.
The cardigan (which is seamlessly knit, in one piece) has a split, overlapping ribbed “welt”, and the overlap turns into a tiny 2st cable that runs up each side “seam”. The eyelet pattern that runs up the sides has waist shaping built in.
That tiny cable runs all the way up to my favorite detail – faux gussets! I don’t know why I’m so obsessed with underarm gussets on ganseys, but I guess I just like having fancy armpits. The gussets on Addie are created by splitting that tiny cable open and cabling each arm of it outward while purling the inner stitches. The same thing happens on the inside “seam” of the sleeves.
Speaking of sleeves, they’re seamlessly set in, with the tiniest of “saddle” at the upper shoulder, created using that tiny 2 stitch cable on the outside “seam” of the sleeve:
The neckline is something of a sweetheart neckline – it’s a rounded v-neck, and there are short rows in the ribbing to add to the shape:
Here it is all buttoned up:
The finished knit turned out beautifully. The folks at Twist Collective chose a gorgeous color (which just happens to be pretty much my favorite color, even though I had no role in choosing it!). I originally proposed using Rowan’s Calmer, which is pretty much the only cotton-based yarn my hands/wrists can handle. The Tahki Coast yarn they sent me was lovely, but OMG, it was so hard on my hands to knit. I chose to knit it at a fairly dense gauge, too, which didn’t make it any easier, but I wanted a firm fabric, to keep the eyelets nice and tight and add to the structure of the cardigan (it’s pretty standard to knit ganseys at a very tight gauge, too). Total OUCH, but worth it in the finished product. If I do knit myself another one of these (which I’d like to!), I’ll use Calmer instead.
I still can’t get ganseys out of my head, y’all. I miss my old Tour de Gansey days, and I might try to knit a toddler-sized one for my Madrigal this July, for old time’s sake. We’ll see. It was fun to look back at an old design like this, and I’m planning to give Sullivan the same treatment soon!
I’ve tried to make a little bit of time for knitting in the evenings in the past week, and my reward is a finished swatch! This one is in Brooklyn Tweed‘s LOFT, in the color Foothills, and it features a butterfly motif from Nancy Bush’s “Knitted Lace of Estonia” book. I love looking at Estonian lace backlit against a window like this – the nupps just pop that way. I think, looking at the motif, that for the design I’m plotting, I actually want to change it up a little, to make the bottom wings stand out a bit more, but at least now I have a sense for what Loft feels like at this gauge, and what the size of the motif will be.
Did you catch that mention of a design? Yes, I’m working on something. Something small and sweet, for a very, very special little baby. No, no, I am NOT having another baby. But I know some people who are, and I love them dearly, and I will say no more about that, and just focus on the sweater for now.
I’m planning a little lightweight wrap-style sweater, suitable for a newborn (and one born at the end of summer, at that). The wrap style was something I appreciated when Madrigal was a wee little baby, easy to get on and off. The lace will be at the center front, and the entire thing will be edged in i-cord (as this swatch is. I might have a very slight obsession with i-cord at the moment. I will make no apologies for it! I-CORD FOREVER!)
Ahem, where was I? Oh yes, a little lightweight sweater. And I do mean lightweight – this LOFT yarn is light as a feather!
I absolutely adore the way the yarn blooms after a wet blocking. I knit the swatch at a somewhat loose gauge for the yarn (on size 4 needles), hoping for good drape, and that’s exactly what I got. The texture of this swatch is delightful.
Am I nuts for designing something for a baby in a yarn like LOFT? Well, if it were something for my Madrigal (who isn’t really a baby anymore!), then definitely yes – I think the yarn’s a bit too delicate to handle what my toddler would throw at it, honestly. But as layette for a little newborn, something heirloom-quality? No, I don’t think that’s crazy at all. And I hope to show you!
Thank you all for your kind comments on my last post; I do hope to respond to them, but time management and I haven’t been very good friends lately, so it might take me some time.
I actually finished a sweater, y’all. That’s a big deal to me right now. It happens to be a toddler-sized sweater, and one that I started in November of last year, but it is FINISHED. (Well, not quite – it still needs to be blocked, and it also needs a zipper. Details, details.)
This past weekend, we drove to Ohio to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day. I wanted an in-car knitting project, but it’d been so long since I’d done much knitting I had no idea where to start. Then I remembered that I’d nearly finished a sweater for Madrigal several months ago (before I stopped knitting altogether). My original intention had been to knit a second babyStripes! sweater as a Solstice present for M, but it was nowhere near done for the Solstice, and I worked on it while we traveled for the holidays, but it just sort of languished after that. When I dug it out of its hiding place before our trip, all that remained was the i-cord zipper facings, kitchenering the underarm stitches, and weaving in ends. That seemed like doable car-knitting to me!
I really love doing attached i-cord, and I think it’ll turn out great as a zipper facing. I use a sl1, p1 edge on my cardigans, and then pick up from the back side of that purled stitch when I make button bands, so I did the same thing for the i-cord edge – I knit the last stitch of the i-cord together with one leg of the backside of the purled stitch.
It looks really nice from the front, because that first slipped stitch lays neatly next to the i-cord:
After my last experience knitting a sweater for my girl only to have her outgrow it before it was done, I’d tried to err on the side of bigness (2T size) for my big girl, and fortunately, it fits her now, 6 months after I cast on! And, though it was inconvenient given my poor packing decisions (hello, nothing but flip flops and t-shirts when the lows dipped into the upper 30s!), it was actually chilly enough for Maddy to wear her sweater when we visited the zoo on Saturday. I took several pictures of her wearing it while watching the polar bears:
Isn’t her hat cute? It has PUPPIES!! on it. M loves PUPPIES!!
I’m hoping it’ll still fit her in the fall, but we’ll just have to wait and see. She’s such a big girl! She had her 18 month well-baby visit this week, and she’s still rocking the 90th percentile range for both height and weight. But she’s slowed down some, thankfully. Only on the growth front, though…
…she’s a runner! (Just like her mama used to be). And a climber, too. She’s such an amazingly physical kiddo.
We’ll see if I ever get around to sticking a zipper in this sweater. I hope so – I’ve still never installed a zipper in a handknit sweater, but it’s something I want to figure out.
Perhaps it’s the sunshine, perhaps it’s something else, but I’m feeling the creative pull again…we’ll see where it leads me this summer. Hopefully I’ll have more to share soon.
The last time I posted (on New Year’s Day), I was hopeful that the upcoming semester would be smoother than the previous, and had set some crafty goals that I had hoped to accomplish during this year. It’s now mid-May, and I haven’t accomplished a single one of them. But I’m not beating myself up about it. That’s not what this post is about.
Where have I been? Well, this semester turned out not to be any easier than the previous one. If anything, much harder. There were so many things that made it hard, and I’m not going to go into all of them here. But one of those things is that I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression. I’m not new to depression and anxiety, though depression and anxiety post-motherhood is something I have a much harder time managing (especially since it is exacerbated by sleep deprivation, which has been a huge problem for us – my daughter only very recently started sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, and at the beginning of the semester, I was being awoken every 45 minutes for weeks straight – this breaks you). I also have a much harder time talking about these things post-motherhood, because of the guilt I feel about it, given everything I wrote about here, and given the expectations people impose on parents. But post-partum depression and childbirth-related PTSD are things that should be talked about, not shoved aside because they challenge our idealized picture of motherhood (I’d say the exact same thing about babyloss, too). No mother should ever be made to feel as though she is ungrateful or unworthy or less-than simply because she is honest about the challenges she has faced…and yet, this is exactly what happens, much of the time. I wish for acknowledgement, understanding, kindness, and compassion this Mother’s Day, for everyone who struggles.
Anyway, this past semester, I sank. I’m really good at pretending to be fine when I’m in the classroom, or meeting with someone at work, or whatever – I held it together in public, I think, but behind the scenes, I was crumbling. And that meant, among other things, not blogging here. There’s been no crafting to blog, and I haven’t felt up to sharing this stuff in a more public place (I’ve talked a bit about it in less public places, so some of you reading this know about it already). I’m going to open up a little bit about it here now, though. I’m still in it, honestly, but now that I’m not hanging on by the tiniest of threads while trying to keep myself together for teaching, and am getting to sleep in longer than 2-hour increments most of the time, it’s easier to reflect a little.
I don’t do the best job of describing what depression feels like. Or at least, I must not, since when I try to explain what’s going on, what I get back is mostly “you’re so negative! you should just be positive, your life is better than most people’s!”, and while all of those things are true, it’s not helpful stuff to be told. It’s sort of…missing the point, as far as depression is concerned. Anyway, thankfully, other people on the Internet do a better job than I do of explaining these things. One I’d like to particularly highlight is Allie Brosh. She is one of my favorite bloggers. Her cartoons are just perfect, and I end up quoting them a lot (clean all the things?). She’s been very open about her struggles with depression in recent years (I’m so sorry, Allie – you don’t know me, but I’m always rooting for you). She’s done a better job than just about ANYBODY EVER at describing what depression is like, in her Adventures in Depression and Depression Part Two comics, the latter of which was just posted this week and deserves to be spread far and wide. If you haven’t seen them, go. Right now. Then maybe go read this post at Dooce. Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess) is another amazing person who speaks honestly about anxiety and depression (and is freaking hilarious, too).
And if you do struggle like I do, then maybe the DIY Couturier’s 21 tips would be a helpful thing to read (I related a lot to her post, as someone who has chronic physical health problems – particularly pain-related ones – that exacerbate my ever-present melancholic tendencies). Maybe read that post even if you don’t struggle – it might help to understand that we are trying. And for anyone who is worried about me: I know I worry about stupid crap all the time (hello, anxiety!) and being told not to worry isn’t helpful, so I’m not going to tell you not to. But please know that I am doing all of the right things “behind the scenes” to try to dig out. Some stuff that makes this hard isn’t in my control, but I’m doing what I can with the things that ARE in my control. I have a great therapist. It’d be easier if I had more of a support network (and, um, a bigger paycheck), but the realities of academic life are that I live far from family, and the people I was closest to in my program, all those “honorary aunties” M had when she was first born, have all moved on to faraway jobs post-graduation, while I’m still trying to finish. It’s just the nature of things.
So, let’s go back to crafting, which is what this blog is ostensibly about. Knitting has almost always been part of my arsenal for maintaining sanity. I love knitting, it calms my mind and keeps my hands busy and gives me a vital creative outlet. But this time, in the last month or so – I just didn’t love it anymore. I didn’t feel anything about it. I realized last week that over the course of the semester, I’d basically forgotten how to knit. Well, not exactly – I mean, I still remember how knitting works (making knit and purl stitches and all that – I’ve even been able to help others with their knitting during this time), but I’d forgotten how to, you know, grab some yarn and some needles and actually sit down and knit something. That probably sounds completely dumb, but I literally didn’t remember how to do that; even when I did have a moment of time when I could’ve knit, after M was in bed for the night (which wasn’t often – teaching and tutoring and dissertating with only part-time daycare and no sleep is not for the weak, I’ll tell you that much), I’d sit on the couch and stare into space because I just…couldn’t remember. I basically forgot anything that I used to enjoy. I forgot how to read, in the same way I forgot how to knit (that is, how to actually sit and read something, not how to understand orthographically represented language – boy, that’d be bad, for a writing teacher!). I forgot how to play my violin (hopefully I still remember the mechanics, there – I’ve only played about 3 times since M was born, though). I forgot how to sew – and there, I think I did forget the mechanics, too, because it’s not something I was very good/practiced at. I even forgot how to design things, and that’s just crazy – designing stuff is what my brain usually does when it’s overwhelmed (I could probably put together a whole book out of patterns I designed while I was reading and writing for my qualifying exams a few years back, if I could ever find the time to knit them up), but even that non-stop creative impulse pretty much stopped – there is such a thing as too overwhelmed, I guess?
Anyway, now that I’m done teaching for the semester (and therefore have a tiny bit more time – it might be possible to semi-regularly do something other than work during the hours when Madrigal is sleeping and I’m not), I’m trying to un-forget these things. I’ve felt some sparks in the last couple days, like the creative me might be stirring (I can probably attribute a lot of this to the sun finally making an appearance here in Rochester – SAD being another thing that made “Spring” semester so very challenging). I hope to build off that. I’ll be sure to post, if I’m successful in these efforts. I might even have something to write about this week, if I can find time.
Well, as usual, I’ve been away from the blog for awhile. The whole balancing act that was my first semester back to teaching (and dissertating, and job-searching, and and and) after having Madrigal didn’t really leave me time for much of anything else. But I learned a lot, these past few months, and I’ve got some ideas about what doesn’t work and what might, so I’m hopeful that next semester will be a little bit better.
I’ve actually got quite a backlog of things to write about here – I’ve taken pictures of the two designs I have that weren’t self-published and intend to write up posts about the design process, etc, plus I finished one sweater for Maddy and started another one, and I’ve basically designed over a book’s worth of baby/kid knitting patterns in my head (we’ll see what ever becomes of them). But I’ll save that for another time.
For now: My friend Steph has posted about an idea for 2013 that I really like – 8 in 2013. You should go read her post (and, while you’re at it, follow her blog – she’s awesome and I’m dying to read more of her books as she writes them!), but in case you don’t feel like following a link at the moment, the idea is to choose 8 projects you want to complete in 2013 towards becoming a better you.
I like the number 8. I’ve always liked the number 8, since before I can even remember. I don’t even really know why, but I do. And I especially like 8 as a number of projects to do in a year. So many yearly themes for projects involve doing 12 of something (12 shawls, 12 sweaters, 12 whatevers) and I just…can’t. But 8? 8 seems more doable. A little more than a month per project.
So what are my projects going to be? Well, what I’d really like to do to be a better me is to improve my sewing and embroidery skills. I’m sure the knitting will continue, at its current rather glacial pace, because knitting is just so ingrained in my life that way. But sewing? Sewing is something I have always wanted to be better at, but it’s going to take a push to actually get me going on it. I’ve had a few projects that I’ve planned out in my head and keep saying I’ll make “someday”, and I’d like that someday, finally, to be a day in 2013. Here are the projects I’m thinking about:
1. Celebration bags: I’ve had this grand plan for years now of making little lined bags with a buttonhole on the front, so that I could button on whatever I wanted to “decorate” them. The idea arose because I was trying to think of a way to do “stockings” for our seasonal celebrations at the Solstices and Equinoxes. I wanted to have something special for each Solstice and Equinox, but didn’t want to make a whole bunch of unique bags. Anyway, my idea is to make these 3 bags (one for each of us – or maybe I’ll make an extra just in case), and then embroider little 3×3″ squares, backed in felt, that I could button onto the bag. I’m planning to embroider a little tree on each square, with the colors/etc representing each season. So I’d need to embroider a whole lot of things (4 seasons x 3 of us), instead of sewing a whole lot of things, but whatever. But then I could also make special occasion squares if we wanted to use the bags to wrap gifts for some other celebration, like birthdays. We like not using wrapping paper.
2. A skinny “quilt” to hang in my office: My office has a very long skinny window in the door, and since I pump in there, I’ve currently got paper taped over it for privacy. But you know what would be way prettier than paper? A quilt! What I’d love to do is to take some of the charm squares from my Kona “brights” pack, and sash around them (I think that’s the right term?) with some sort of natural color cloth, maybe linen. So it’d be a column of rainbow squares, edged in natural. I’d do the same thing on both sides, so that way, if I quilted concentric squares inside the rainbow squares, they’d show up that way on both sides. I swear, this makes sense in my head, but I don’t know how to talk about quilting so it probably doesn’t make sense here. I’m totally open to advice/suggestions, too, since I don’t actually know that much about quilting. Anyway, I like the idea of it being reversible and I also think it would look neat, eventually, just hanging on a wall or something in Maddy’s room or wherever.
3. A quilt for Madrigal: I’ve also been wanting to make a quilt for Maddy. I have a jelly roll of those same Kona “brights”, and what I’m thinking would work is to sew a bunch of them together length-wise, and then cut across the other way so that I have a column of squares (does that make sense?). What I want to do is to make concentric rectangular “rings” in these rainbow squares, on a background of linen. I don’t know what I’d back the quilt in, maybe flannel or maybe just linen. I’d make this one crib-sized, since she sleeps on a crib-sized mattress for now (and probably will continue to do so for awhile); also, crib-sized seems more manageable for a “first quilt” for me.
4. Embroidered synapses and other cool cell stuff: Ever since I started learning to do embroidery I have wanted to embroider the little synapse diagrams from my neuroscience textbook. I think I’ve probably mentioned this here before. They just LOOK like embroidery patterns to me, and I think they’d look especially cool in my little girl’s bedroom. I just love the idea of making something that’s both really geeky but also really aesthetically pleasing like that.
5. Lined pants for Madrigal: I really want to try out Anna Maria Horner’s “Quick Change Pants” pattern, and I love the idea of making Maddy some flannel-lined corduroys. If I can get the hang of the pattern, maybe I could also make her some double-thick jersey pants like the ones she has that I love so much.
6. A t-shirt or dress for me in knit: Speaking of sewing with knits, as a Solstice present to myself, I bought Meg McElwee’s “Sewing with Knits” class on Craftsy. I really love wearing knit fabric, and I’m most comfortable wearing knits, so why not learn how to sew with them on my machine? I’m really excited about this, and if I can manage one sewn knit project for me this year, I’ll be delighted.
7. A Geranium Dress or Tunic for Madrigal: I love Rae’s Washi dress (and maybe I’ll make one for me someday) and I was so giddy when I saw she was making a pattern for wee ones! I have some really neat streaky blue fabric (I’m sure there is a better way of describing it, but anyway, it’s pretty!) that I think would look amazing in a tunic or dress for Maddy. I’m kinda scared of trying to sew this but I did manage to make her Big Butt Baby Pants pattern (with a lot of hand-holding from my friend Kris), so maybe I can do it.
8. A tunic for Madrigal from the Oliver+S “Ice Cream Dress” pattern: So, those Big Butt Baby Pants I made for Maddy? I have leftovers of that adorable robot fabric. JUST enough to make a pocketed tunic in the 18-24mo size – I’d use the robots for the yoke and for the pocket trim, and linen for the rest. I can’t get over how adorable this would be, but I’m really intimidated by the pattern because it’s a “real” pattern and I don’t have a clue what I’m doing with it. If anyone wants to virtually hold my hand through this one, I’d love that!
So there’s my 8 for 2013! Happy New Year, everybody!