Wee Envelope! And some other things!

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I blocked Wee Envelope this weekend, and it looks awesome!

Wee Envelope!

I am pretty darned pleased with how my little nupp-star motif came out…and it makes me so happy that nieceling’s Wee Envelope is personalized.

Wee Envelope in the window

It is so WEE!

Wee Envelope is finished!

The added star is a pretty obvious modification, but I made a few others (because I just can’t stop myself from modifying patterns – it’s how I roll). I ran a purled faux-seam stitch down each side, and then split it to form the hems, which I edged in i-cord:

another mod to Wee Envelope

I’m a sucker for a split hem, particularly if it allows me to knit garter stitch flat. I just think garter stitch hems look better when split (I think this is a preference I first developed back in my gansey-obsessed phased, several years ago). They lay better, to my eye. And I just can’t NOT edge garter stitch with i-cord. It’s like, a law or something. So I’m pretty tickled with how that mod worked out, too.

I have a decent amount of yarn leftover (since I knit the newborn size), and thinking about stars and nupps and eyelets got some gears spinning in my head, and, well, sometimes when I get a bee in my bonnet about something, I just can’t think about anything else (like, say, the stack of Portfolios I need to grade) until I try it out. And this time, the figurative bee was about a literal bonnet:

Sometimes I get an idea and can't think about anything else until I try it out. (Star, knit from center out, to become a baby bonnet, I hope)

See, I had this idea about knitting a star from the center outward, and how that would result in a pentagon shape, and how a pentagon shape was basically exactly the sort of shape you’d want for the back panel of a bonnet, and, well. It turns out I can knit a star from the center out by knitting completely by the seat of my pants, and it looks pretty cute! So…I think the niecelet might be getting a matching bonnet. We’ll see. Because there’s also a couple of hats for nieces in the works, one of which I cast on for this weekend:

Working on S's hat

This is the one for my older (4.5yo) niece, S, whose noggin (assuming the measurements her mama sent me are correct) is not that much smaller than mine! Here’s hoping that my pattern + the measurements in my email go together to make a hat that actually fits her! And ideally, a set of mittens, too, though goodness gracious, Christmas is not far away! And I’d like to knit a set for my younger (not quite 1.5yo) niece, E, too…but hers can be a New Years present, which gives me an extra week.

Have I mentioned the totally insane winter trip we’re making this year? It’s the same one as last year, except this time, after driving to visit my in-laws in Ohio for Christmas, we’re going to hop on a plane, fly to Chicago, and then transfer to a train to get up to Winona, MN to visit over New Years, and then we’ll come back through Ohio, and drive home to NY. We’ll be gone for two weeks. Last year, we drove the WHOLE way, and it was pretty much as awful as you can imagine 40+ hours in a car with a toddler would be, so I’m hoping that the plane/train leg will make things less awful. On the train, at least, we can all walk around, and I think that will help a LOT!

knitting for niecelings

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I have grand plans for gift knitting this year, at least as far as my nieces are concerned:

nieceling gift-knitting!

There’s the Wee Envelope-in-progress for the nieceling-in-progress, of course. I actually picked up the stitches for the body and started knitting it down from the yoke yesterday afternoon. Still tentatively planning to insert a nupp/lace motif in the center front, but I don’t have to decide for a few more rounds!

But I’m also planning to knit hat and mitten sets (from the pattern I’ve written based on the ones I made for M, of course!) for my other two nieces. I sent their parents a copy of the pattern, requested that they send me back the relevant measurements, and asked for the girls’ favorite colors.

Yarn for nieceling gifts!

The purple (Malabrigo Worsted in “Cuarzo”) is for E, and the blue (Malabrigo Worsted in “Blue Surf”) is for S. The two colors look so incredible next to each other, don’t you think? I’m kind of madly in love with them. So excited to actually knit the hats and mittens – they’re quick knits, though I’m a little nervous I won’t actually finish before gifting-time arrives…the end of semester push is here and it is INTENSE. (For example, this afternoon, I have 9 back-to-back meetings with students. I stupidly didn’t even build in bathroom breaks. It’s going to be…uncomfortable.)

Once I’m done with the gift knitting, I do think it’d be nice to knit something for me. And on that note, a very exciting book arrived last week:

knitting goodies

As the founding member of the (now defunct, I think – I’ve been an absentee moderator since M was born, at least) Society for the Appreciation of Yoked Sweaters, how could I *not* get Kate Davies’ new book on Yokes? I am absolutely swooning over the sweater on the cover (and a few of the others on the inside, along with all of the history she’s written about!) We’ll see if I ever make the time.

in which I am smitten with Cormo and a wee sweater…

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The second I saw Ysolda’s Wee Envelope, I was smitten. When I started plotting the sweater I’d knit for my newest niece (due early next year), it was at the top of my list. When I asked about colors, the request was for yellow, and lucky me, I found the perfect yellow in the exact yarn that’s called for in the pattern, “Mohonk” from Jill Draper Makes Stuff (the color is “Straw Into Gold”) – a minimally-processed Cormo wool. I’ve actually never gotten to knit with Cormo before, so I was pretty excited to try it.

yarn for nieceling's sweater

I cast on for the sweater on M’s birthday, and OMG, y’all, Cormo is amazing!

I started nieceling's sweater today. OMG OMG this Mohonk yarn is amazing! I <3 Cormo, apparently.

Seriously, this yarn…oh my goodness! It is just delightful to knit with…perfectly wooly and soft, but not so soft that it seems like it’s going to fall apart. I think it might be my new favorite.

OMG, I love Cormo

The pattern is pretty delightful, too. Such clever construction! I am completely smitten.

in which I am smitten with the Wee Envelope-in-progress

The sweater seems impossibly tiny, though! I can’t remember M ever being this small, but I know she was, at least for a little while. (Not for long, though, my little giant!). Last night, I was able to finish the back yoke, and began knitting the other sleeve. I’m really excited to pick up the stitches and knit the body downward from the yoke…and actually, I might end up “customizing” this Wee Envelope a bit, with a nupp/lace design in the center of the body, to go along with the sweaters I knit for this nieceling’s sisters, Emma, Adelynn and Abigail. There’s a teensy part of me that feels slightly guilty about using a pattern for this sweater instead of designing something bespoke for her, as I did for her sisters (I know it’s ridiculous, I just have this THING about designing)…so that might be a way for me to compromise. I mean, Wee Envelope is just a kind of irresistible pattern, and it DOES have that great blank canvas of a body, ripe for customization. So that’s the plan.

Speaking of plans, Madrigal saw me knitting this very wee Wee Envelope, and I showed her the pattern, and she said she wanted a sweater JUST LIKE it, except blue. Well, the pattern does go up to 4T (and heck, I think I’m clever enough to upsize it if necessary), and I do have a bunch of Knitpicks Telemark (sportweight) in a lovely teal blue…

plotting M's less-Wee Envelope

…so I just might be plotting a not-so-Wee Envelope for M after I finish this one. It’d be really stinking cute on her, don’t you think?

Thanksgiving, 2014!

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This year, we celebrated Thanksgiving at home. With M’s birthday being so close to Thanksgiving (in fact, next year, it will BE Thanksgiving), and the unpredictability of weather along the lake, and the absolutely horrendous timing of the holiday for those of us working in academia…we probably will have quiet Thanksgivings at home for the foreseeable future. I’m fine with that!

We made pretty much the same feast that I posted about years ago, but this year, we had the cutest sous-chef:

Helping us make biscuits.

She loves working with her new rolling pin! And she was good, if slightly impatient, at cutting out the biscuits, too:

Cutting out biscuits.

It was nice to have our simple, low-key Thanksgiving together…

Thanksgiving dinner.

And since we were only serving the three of us, we’ve gotten to have delicious leftovers these past few days. Yum!

Yum.

The remainder of the weekend, I spent giving my students feedback on their 8-10 page research papers. I had an “assistant”, since M wasn’t in school…

Toddlers: not conducive to getting work done :(

It turns out that giving useful feedback to 30 students, most of whom are non-native speakers, over a span of just 3 days takes an AWFUL lot out of a person, especially when combined with parenting an overstimulated toddler. Next year, I’ll plan my class differently, so that I don’t have to spend M’s birthday/Thanksgiving glued to a computer screen…

More feedbacking, this time on the couch. (Out-of-focus is appropriate; I'm having the hardest time focusing thanks to the sleep deprivation regimen M is inflicting on us).

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! I’m so thankful for my life right now – my family, my job, the person I’ve become, my friends, my students…I am just so grateful, for all of it.

my baby is THREE!

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This past Wednesday, Madrigal turned three. I can hardly believe that I am the mother of a 3 year old – but at the same time, it seems like a lifetime ago that we brought our little bundle home from the hospital:

home from the hospital.

And in some ways, it is – I do feel like my life is so completely and utterly different now, as a mother, than it was before. In my darker moments after M was born, I sometimes felt as though “I” had died the moment she was born…and in some ways, that’s kind of true. The “me” who woke up after my repair surgery was forever changed – but that doesn’t mean it was for the worse. Having a child is undeniably, inescapably life-changing, I think. I am a different person now, but I think the me that’s emerged these last 3 years, after all the fighting for dear life I was doing with PPD and PTSD, is a stronger, more capable, happier, compassionate, more “ME” version of me than I’ve ever been before. And I would not be me right now without my beloved Madrigal.

hamming it up for the camera

This kid. Such an intense, curious, creative little goofball! She is growing and learning and becoming the most incredible little person. It is such a privilege to be part of her life.

smiling in the sunshine

Those beautiful brown eyes! I never imagined I’d have a brown-eyed child, given that my eyes are so light (and A’s aren’t brown, either – they’re hazel), but I just can’t get enough of hers. She’s still got those baby cheeks, but she’s looking so grown-up, too.

For her birthdays (and for our Equinox and Solstice celebrations) we follow a “Something to do, something to wear, something to read” system. To do, she received a snow shovel (a RED one, just like she requested) along with some child-sized kitchen tools (because this Montessori kid LOVES her Practical Life activities!). To wear, we gave her a new pair of snowpants and a new winter coat. And to read, we gave her a set of National Geographic books filled with facts about animals, dinosaurs, and the answers to “Why?” questions, because she loves learning about the world. (The facts, however, are a bit iffy. Dear National Geographic, humans are NOT carnivores. Seriously, how on earth did that make it past the fact-checkers??)

She LOVED her snowpants and her kitchen tools:

Birthday girl enjoys her new snowpants and some of her new kitchen tools. #mybabyis3

She even made us orange juice with her new juicer/shredder tool:

Enjoying her new juicer (which has interchangeable plates, and can also be a grater).

And later in the day, she helped to make her “birthday cake”, which was actually a set of miniature pumpkin pies (homemade crusts and all!). We put 3 candles on one of them and sang her the “Happy Birthday” song:

Birthday (Mini) Pumpkin Pie!!

I hope your wishes come true, baby girl!

Blowing out her THREE candles!

The pie, by the way, was totally delicious.

Yum!!

So, I now have a three year old. Wow. Happy birthday, sweet baby!

This was taken a couple weeks before her birthday, but I feel like since I started this post with our first “family” photo, I should end it with our most recent one:

family portrait attempt

Two out of three members of our family are smiling, so we’ll call it a win :)

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!