Well, the “Sundays are for blogging” thing hasn’t been going so well, has it? My excuse this week: I was horribly sick. I’m actually STILL horribly sick (sick as in, there just might be a bucket next to me as I type this. It is AWFUL.) I’m sick enough that I have already canceled my class for tomorrow, which is something I basically never do, but when you’ve been unable to keep anything in you for over 24 hours, teaching isn’t really in the cards. But I’m getting stir crazy from spending all this time on the couch with a bucket, so I figured I’d take advantage of having a laptop and actually post about Rhinebeck. Sorry, Rhinebeck, for sullying the post about your awesomeness with this barf-tastic introduction.
So yes, Rhinebeck. I’m so glad we were able to make it our family “vacation” again this year. Though things went right back to being rough when we got home, it was the perfect little break from it all – Madrigal slept wonderfully in the hotel room (during a break between rounds of teething, thank goodness!), the weather was lovely (if a bit too warm for actually wearing knitwear!), we got to hang out with friends on Saturday, and the scenery, as always, was gorgeous.
I didn’t actually take that many pictures, and I especially didn’t take many pictures with my “real” camera, but I’ll try to recap our Rhinebeck in a mix of Instagram shots and “real” photos. We took off Friday afternoon after picking M up from her school. I’d packed some yarn to knit a new hat for Maddy, because the one I was knitting her before, in Cork? It didn’t fit. It was a bit like a yarmulke (with a chinstrap). I started her new hat (in Malabrigo Worsted) in the car:
The drive down to Rhinebeck is so incredibly gorgeous. We go through the Catskills, and the scenery there reminds me so much of “home”, up in the Mississippi Valley in Minnesota – but the bluffs and trees are a bit different. It was a little rainy on our trip down, but that meant rainbows:
Back to the hat. I finished it in the car (turns out I can still knit very fast when I have uninterrupted knitting time!). It was just a simple top-down hat, from a made-up-in-my-head pattern to fit her head circumference, with a short-rowed garter brim that made it cover her ears without getting too close to her eyes (which she HATES), finished off with an i-cord bindoff:
Once we got to our hotel in Poughkeepsie, I tried it on her, and the fit was PERFECT:
The short rows made the back brim longer than the front, and a crocheted chain from either side lets us tie it on her head (a necessity):
I was happy to know my girl’s head would be kept warm at the festival the next day. Turns out I needn’t have worried – it was in the 70s that Saturday! We were knitwear-free most of the day because of the warmth, but Maddy and I donned our matching sweaters to have our pictures taken by Gale Zucker and kept them on for the Ravelry meetup, where Madrigal got to meet a few of her Internet Baby Friends, including little miss Celia:
Maddy was kind of obsessed with Celia – she wanted her to come out of that stroller and PLAY! We also got to meet up with Danielle and Thom and their adorable little boy Henry (I think someone took pictures of Maddy and Henry together, but I don’t remember for sure), and spent some lovely time with Melissa and her awesome little girl Stella.
We also took some pictures of Maddy with her “included for scale” monster from her weekly photos on the benches on the hill. I had to join in the shots because Madrigal was determined to chase leaves even if it meant diving headfirst off the bench. But that’s ok, because it meant we got more pictures of us in our matching sweaters:
After the meetup, we put Maddy in the stroller and rolled her around for a nap, while I knit a couple of swatches that are actually pockets for a Garter Rib sweater for Maddy:
I’m knitting hers in Cascade 220 rather than Eco+, but in the same “Summer Sky Heather” color I used for my second one. We’ll be twinsies! I’m trying err on the side of “too big” for her cardigan, since she actually outgrew her mini maple leaf cardigan before Rhinebeck (you might be able to tell what a tight fit it was in some of those photos).
We drove home on Sunday (because we needed to be back to work Monday morning), but before we got on the way, we stopped at the Walkway Over The Hudson, and took a (very long!) walk.
The weather was still warm, but it was very windy:
The scenery there was SO gorgeous. I ended up having to take Maddy out of the carrier a couple of times, because she discovered that she can pull my hair when she rides on my back. My dear girl is MIGHTY heavy to carry in arms (or on your back, for that matter, at least for the nearly 4 miles we walked that morning)
But at least she’s cute!!
I started knitting Maddy’s Garter Rib cardigan on the way home in the car, and have already finished the lower body and half of one sleeve (maybe one of these days I’ll manage to get in-progress pictures):
Once we were home, it was back to the grind – poor sleep because of some new teeth, and a newfound ability to not just walk, but RUN. Maddy’s such an amazing kiddo. It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a year since I first got to meet my baby girl. We had so much fun bringing her with us to Rhinebeck and I’m excited about the trips our little family of three will take together as time goes on.
Thank you, everyone, for your kind and compassionate comments on my previous post. I’m still having a rough time, but Rhinebeck was a wonderful (if far too brief) break from it all, and I’ll put together a little post about it at some point soon. For now, Miss Madrigal would like to wish you all a Happy Halloween in the guise of her superhero alter-ego, maddySMASH!:
We’ve jokingly called her maddySMASH! for a long time – our girl definitely loves to hit, bang, and otherwise impose her will upon anything she finds (and she’s got the size and determination to impose it HARD). But it turns out that maddySMASH!, while fond of smashing, is not so fond of masks:
I made the mask for her out of a square of black wool felt I’ve had sitting around forever, along with scraps of the bright colored rainbow felt that I made her nursery pennants out of, some bright green wool to stitch it all together, and a bit of neon puff paint for added superhero style:
We were big on the handmade, slightly unusual costumes growing up, and hope to be able to continue the tradition with Madrigal. So far, we’re off to an ok start! I should’ve guessed a mask wouldn’t be the best thing to try to get her to wear, though, but it was worth a try.
Wishing you all a Happy Halloween, and to those of you who were hit hard by Sandy, I send all my good thoughts to you.
I started a hat:
It’s a larger version of the Aviatrix hat that I knit for M last winter, in some leftover Rowan Cork I had laying around in my stash. Gosh, that was a really nice yarn. Too bad it was discontinued (although the clearance sales associated with said discontinuation were the only reason I was able to HAVE any of that yarn, so there’s that).
It’s very nearly finished now, as you can see from the photo, and much like M’s Vahtralehekesed cardigan, it’s turning out none-too-big, but it should be big enough to fit her at Rhinebeck, and that’s what counts for now.
I’m really excited about going to Rhinebeck this year. We didn’t go last year, because it seemed like too much travel a month out from having a baby, and I missed getting to see my knitterly friends there. I’m really excited to get to introduce Madrigal to a lot of folks who’ve been following along online as she’s grown into the nearly 11-month old kiddo she is now.
I hope I’m able to show my excitement while I’m there. If you know me in real life (or on Twitter, which is a weird sort of extension of “real life” for me), you know I’ve been having a hard time lately. The stress of not knowing anything about what next year is going to look like has just been too much for me. I’m on the job market, and my husband is too, and while we know what we WANT (to move up to MN to be close to my family), given the nature of the academic job market, the odds of my being the one who’s able to move us there are pretty slim. My husband might have better odds (he’s looking for a programming job), but we just don’t know, and coordinating an academic and a non-academic job search is the stuff of nightmares. And it’s not like that’s the only stress in my life, but that’s the element I feel like has sent me a bit over the edge lately. My ability to be hopeful and optimistic is rooted in my ability to imagine a better future, and I just can’t really imagine the future at ALL right now. Me and (that kind of) uncertainty, we don’t get along very well.
There’s also coping with very little sleep (Maddy’s the sort of baby who wakes up every hour screaming for 1-2 weeks for each tooth she gets…I’m not even exaggerating, though I wish I were – I wish we could do more for our poor little bug!), trying to teach a very interaction-intensive class and make progress on my dissertation research while in that state of sleep-deprivation and with only part-time daycare, and then for the past month, having some sort of unkickable respiratory bug, which has put me even further behind on my class (I still owe them feedback on a paper they submitted almost 2 weeks ago, but I’m too exhausted to read more than a couple of papers at a time). It’s been difficult for me to reconcile the differences in my teaching that have been necessitated by the realities of motherhood (I’m so distracted, disorganized, and unfocused in class, now!), and I feel terrible about shortchanging my students (even though, based on my mid-semester evals, they don’t feel terribly shortchanged). Maybe it will get easier, someday?
There’s so much that’s wonderful about being Madrigal’s mother, and I feel kind of bad for writing about the stuff that isn’t so wonderful here, but I think it’s better to acknowledge the hard things than to do what I usually do, which is just put on a happy face and pretend everything’s just wonderful. It isn’t, but parts of it are, and I hope I can enjoy the wonderfulness of Rhinebeck despite my current exhaustion and gloominess. Thanks for listening to me vent, dear blog friends.
A rare mid-week post from me, but I’m so excited I can’t help but share:
Having my in-laws visit this past weekend gave me a lot more time than I’d normally have for knitting, and it paid off! After finishing Maddy’s Vahtralehekesed, I turned my attention to the shawl collar of my second Garter Rib Cardigan, and was able to bind off late Sunday night! I still need to block it, and find appropriate buttons, but I’m already in love with it.
Next up, of course, is finding some time to sit and work through the pattern/tutorial I’m writing for this sweater. I started it AGES ago (along with the first Garter Rib Cardigan), but time’s gotten away from me. I’m hoping to get the pattern/tutorial to test knitters within the next couple weeks, and would love to get the pattern released before Madrigal’s first birthday!
Here’s something I’d love y’all’s help with: “Garter Rib Cardigan”, while quite descriptive, is also VERY VERY BORING. I’d love to have a better name for the pattern, but I’m kind of terrible at coming up with pattern names, so I’d love to hear suggestions!
I finished Maddy’s cardigan, which I will for now call “Vahtralehekesed” (thanks to Katrin for the translation of “baby maple leaves” on one of my previous posts!):
It fits (but without much room for growth), so she’ll almost certainly be wearing this at Rhinebeck! I’m really pleased with how well it worked out, especially since I was doing some serious “flying by the seat of my pants” for that yoke.
I put on my Vahtralehed sweater yesterday so that we could take pictures in our matching sweaters. I am just so tickled by how well her sweater works with mine, and I can’t wait to show them off together in a couple weeks at Rhinebeck!
We tried to get some good photos of the sweater on Madrigal, but she was rather uncooperative, so I’m afraid I can’t really show you much of the yoke. You can see a little bit of the “helicopter” pattern in that picture above, but not really. Maybe someday I’ll get pictures of the fronts and the rest of the yoke!
But for now, we’ll have to settle for pictures of the back with that big maple leaf in the middle. I’m so glad it worked out to start the maple leaf before the yoke – I just love having that motif centered on the back of her sweater just like it is on mine.
Now that I know she’ll have a sweater to wear at Rhinebeck, I’ve returned my attention to the second Garter Rib cardigan (and the pattern/tutorial I’m trying to write for it). I’m almost finished with that shawl collar now, so expect to see finished photos soon! And then, a baby version for my M. Such fun!
Wow, Sunday sure rolled around fast! We’ve had a really rough week – poor Madrigal finally succumbed to the nasty, nasty cold that Andrew and I have been struggling with for two weeks now. Add in teething and being on the verge of walking (seriously, she’s already taken a few independent steps!), and we’re not getting any rest. C’est la vie. All babies are different, and while Maddy is so amazingly awesome in so many ways, she seems to be the sort of baby who reverts to newborn-like behavior when she hits a bump in the road in terms of developmental milestones. Up every hour, wanting to nurse constantly, lots of screaming and crying, super clingy – it is what it is, but it probably warrants lowering my expectations for myself for the forseeable future. I’m not super human (you might recall from posts here in years past that I’m actually a chronically ill human), but I still expect myself to be the same teacher I was before Maddy, to be thinking clearly enough to make good progress on my dissertation every day, to do a great job of staying on top of housework and cooking and whatnot, to keep up with my crafty imagination and all of the knit designs I dream up – and that’s just not gonna happen. It’s just scary to be realizing this as I’m embarking on a job search that I hope will move us halfway across the country to be near my family, because it’s definitely raising my doubts about what’s realistic for me to try to commit to, career-wise. But that’s just life. Kiddos are unpredictable and they change your life (and you!) in ways you can’t predict. We’ll see where life takes us – I’m just grateful to have Maddy as part of it.
But anyway, musings on life and priorities aside, I actually did make some progress on Maddy’s sweater last week, mostly because my students did Peer Review during one of their classes, which gave me a full 75 minutes of knitting time. I’ve also taken to having friends from my department over for a couple hours every Saturday for crafting, because with many eyes on Maddy, at least a few of us can get some knitting/sewing/etc done. So, Maddy’s sweater now has a partial yoke:
I did some short rows right after I joined the sleeves, so as to give me more height in the back than in the front. This both lets the sweater lay more nicely across the shoulders (without short rows on a yoked sweater, you end up with a neckline that’s too high/choking in front, and sags in the back), and also gave me some extra rows for that tall maple leaf in the center back:
You can’t really tell in this photo, but I’m using the maple seed “helicopter” motif I showed y’all in my last post around the shoulders. I’m still slightly terrified that the yoke is going to end up too tall. And that the way I’m doing the decreases (built into the “helicopter” pattern) isn’t going to yield a yoke that lays nicely on her shoulders. I wouldn’t normally fret so much over it (it’s just knitting, you can always rip and reknit!), but I really want Maddy to get to wear this sweater at Rhinebeck, and I won’t have time to reknit it if it doesn’t work out. A Maddy-sized sweater at 6sts/in turns out to be about the same amount of work as a me-sized sweater at 4.5sts/in!
Once I finish this sweater, I’ve got a few ideas for heavier-weight (and thus faster to knit!) sweaters for M, and I’d really like to be able to deck her in handknits (as opposed to storebought sweaters) once the weather is truly cold. Here’s hoping.
I’ve got to come up with some sort of rhythm and routine for writing here, or else I’m just never going to do it now that I’m back to teaching and am just so busy all of the time. So I’m thinking I’ll try to post on Sundays. You might remember that I previously declared Sundays to be a “secular sabbath” with no Internet at all, which would seem to preclude blogging, but here’s the thing: I actually got what I wanted out of that exercise already. I’m not mindlessly online anywhere near as much as I used to be. So I’m ok with having some online time every day, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand (and if it does, I’ll go back to the “no Internet” thing). Just by virtue of how our lives work now that Madrigal’s in morning daycare and both of us are working outside of the home, our weekends end up being focused on making food and spending time together as a family, which is really what I want.
So anyway, knitting. I’m sneaking in time for it as much as I can, but it’s tough. I’m now knitting sleeve number two for Maddy’s Rhinebeck sweater:
I cast on for the sweater without a really clear plan in mind for what to do at the yoke. I knew I wanted to place a maple leaf at the center back, and that this would mean starting the leaf motif before the join (since the motif is taller than the yoke depth), and I decided I’d just figure something out for the rest of the yoke. I played around with a few things until settling on this:
In case it’s not immediately obvious what that motif is supposed to be evoking, those are supposed to be maple seed “helicopters”. I’ve always been charmed by those things, and it seemed like the perfect companion to the maple leaf on a baby version of the sweater. Here it is with some backlighting:
(The one on the right got a little wonky because I messed it up while swatching late at night. I’ll be more careful with the actual sweater!)
You’ll also notice that the motif incorporates decreases that I’m hoping (if my math works) will take care of the yoke shaping on the sweater. It is actually very tricky to figure out how to do shaping with such large motifs on such a small sweater, and my poor sleep-deprived brain is struggling mightily with it! Here’s hoping it all works out, though, and Maddy can have a beautiful little sweater to wear when we go to visit our knitter friends at Rhinebeck in a few weeks!
Madrigal wishes you all a happy autumn! Hooray for cooler temperatures, falling leaves, and an approaching first birthday!
…my progress on Maddy’s mini-Vahtralehed, and my new haircut, too:
I really need to come up with a better name than “mini-Vahtralehed” for this cardigan. I should look up what “sapling” is in Estonian – that’d probably be a cute name for a diminutive version of Vahtralehed, yeah?
Knitting a baby sweater at 6sts/inch turns out to be about like knitting a grown-up (me-sized) sweater at my usual 4.5 or 4sts/inch. Considering how little knitting time I can eke out of a day these days, I’m making good progress, but oy, Rhinebeck is feeling awfully close! And I’d like to make Maddy a new hat and mittens before then, too, in case it’s cold enough to warrant them. Oh, knitting time, I wish I had more of you.
Yesterday was Madrigal’s first day of “school”:
It isn’t really school, of course, but she is spending 3 hours every morning in the Nido community at our local Montessori school. It is SUCH a great environment for her, and she seems to be handling the transition as well as we could possibly have expected. Like many Montessori schools, her school likes to have the natural world be a big part of classroom life, and as such, they requested that each family bring a houseplant for their child to keep at school. I hope I never forget the delightfully wacky, hilarious sight that was a bunch of families, all walking towards the school with their little ones, all carrying various houseplants. For her first day, we snapped a picture of Maddy and her houseplant (acquired at the last minute, since we don’t keep plants in the house thanks to our overly curious/destructive cats).
I’ve now taught my freshman writing class 3 times, and I’m really loving the group of students I’ve got in my class. I really enjoy working with first-semester freshmen – they are just so…fresh! Eager! Excited! And I hope I can help them carry that excitement through the rest of the semester. We had a bit of a rocky start with Blackboard (oh, Blackboard, how I loathe thee!), but I think we’ve got all the bumps smoothed over now and I’m just so grateful to my students for making the transition back to teaching easier for me than it could’ve been. Not that it’s that easy even still.
I’m still getting used to balancing things with this new schedule. It’ll probably be a few weeks before we’re really into a good rhythm, and I imagine I’ll keep feeling exhausted for the forseeable future. It’s a little weird, having my daughter spend her mornings with people who aren’t me or her daddy, but I think it is good for her! (Even though I can’t help but be curious what she’s up to all morning!)
The weather has still been horribly hot and humid, but it looks like this weekend we may get a very-much-wished-for transition into more Autumn-like weather. Fall has always been my favorite time of year, so I’m getting myself through these miserable sticky days by dreaming of the cool, crisp weather that lies ahead. Here’s hoping that before it gets TOO cool, I find the time to knit and sew some more cool-weather garments for Maddy – she won’t be able to rock the pantsless look for too much longer! I did get a chance to cast on for her mini-Vahtralehed last weekend, so perhaps she’ll at least have a cardigan to keep her warm in the near future:
Seeing the stitch patterns from my sweater at this new tiny gauge is just unbelievably adorable, and I’m afraid I might just die of the cuteness once the whole thing is finished. Hilariously, the difference in gauge meant that the cast-on numbers for her sweater and my sweater only differed by 2 stitches! But babies are proportioned a bit differently than grownups, so I won’t be able to just follow my grown-up pattern for her sweater. But that’s ok – ideally I’ll be able to put together a pattern in multiple sizes for the baby version to publish and sell alongside the grownup version. We’ll see.
One other big upcoming transition: I’ve made an appointment to chop a LOT of my hair off this Saturday morning. I’ve been wearing my hair long for almost my entire life (with one foray into just-above-shoulder-length just after high school), but it’s just getting to be such a pain; it takes so long to dry, and with Maddy being quite the grabby baby, I always have to put it up while it’s still wet, which means it NEVER gets to dry, and the weight of my pinned-up hair ends up giving me headaches, so I figure now’s a perfect time to make a big change on that front. I’m slightly terrified, but I think it’ll be a positive change! Wish me luck?
I’m still working on the Garter Rib cardigan. Shawl-collared sweaters are deceptive little beasts – you finish the body and you think you’re almost done, but no no, you’ve still got a giant button-band/collar to work up! But progress is progress and I’ll finish it soon. At least, I hope I will.
I’ll be teaching again this semester, for the first time since before Maddy was born. My class starts Thursday. Maddy will be going to a Montessori nursery program every morning (though her school doesn’t start until the week after mine!), but I’ll still be trying to balance working at home with her in the afternoons on the days I’m not teaching (my husband will be doing the afternoon balancing act on the days that I do teach!). I’m sure the transition will be a bit bumpy, but I’m hoping that over the next few weeks we can settle into a rhythm that still has room for a little bit of knitting and crafting time.
Because boy, do I want some crafting time! I have SO many ideas of things to make for Maddy. I got a small start on one of them this weekend, after breaking my toe, which forced me to spend quite a bit of time on the couch icing my foot (and is NOT exactly how I was hoping to start out the new semester, especially since my classroom is all the way across campus from my office!):
That’s the maple leaf motif I designed for Vahtralehed. The yarn is Beaverslide’s 2-ply Sport/Sock weight yarn, the same yarn I used for the memorial sweaters, in a color they call “Lake Josephine Heather” – it’s SO similar (but not quite the same) as the color I used for my sweater, and I’m hoping to make a mini version of it for Maddy to wear at Rhinebeck when we go there this fall.
With all of my foot-icing time on the couch, I was able to finish the swatch this weekend:
I used size 3 needles to get a gauge that worked well for the lace motif, and (as expected and intended, given the finer yarn weight and smaller needles) it turned out smaller than the leaves on my own sweater:
But maybe not enough smaller. I’m not sure that leaf will fit in the yoke depth I’ll need for a sweater that fits Maddy well. But I’ve got some ideas for how to work around that. Maybe a centered maple leaf in the back, and some smaller nupp-lace motifs around the main part of the yoke? I’ve seen some in my Estonian Lace book that look (if you squint at them enough, at least!) a bit like the little “helicopters” that carry maple seeds through the air – maybe with some fiddling I could make something out of those! We’ll see.
First: Thank you for all of your kind, compassionate comments on my last post. I know it is a very difficult topic to think and talk about, but I also know that my brother and his wife deeply appreciate knowing that their children are remembered, and that their losses are acknowledged rather than pushed aside. Thank you all so much for helping me to do that.
I’ve once again returned to knitting on my second garter rib cardigan:
As y’all might recall, I’m hoping to finish up the pattern/tutorial, but to do so I needed to reknit the sweater, because I hadn’t quite taken enough notes the first time around to write the kind of instructions I want to be able to write. And then of course, I got sidetracked with that whole “having a baby” thing, and this poor sweater has languished for WAY too long. I’m glad to be back in the saddle with it.
Last weekend I finally found the time to work the joining row, and then in the evenings this past week, finished doing the seamless set-in sleeve shaping. So now, I’ve just got to work the buttonband/shawl collar, and then I’ll be done…and hopefully the pattern/tutorial will follow soon after!
I can’t wait to finish this sweater. Oh, sure, the weather’s not right for it quite yet, but it will be, and I can’t wait to wear this. The yarn (Cascade Eco+ in “Summer Sky Heather”) just glows.
And once I finish it, I just might have plans to make one for Maddy – I do have some Cascade 220 in the exact same color, for a slightly finer gauge version!
This is the story of two tiny sweaters, for two tiny sisters…
…but it really starts with this sweater for their older brother. If you’ve followed my blog for awhile, you might have noticed that I mentioned, in that post I just linked to, knitting for a “niecephew-to-be”, and then never followed up on it. My nephew Ayden Parker was stillborn on April 18th, 2011, about 10 weeks before his due date, after my beloved sister-in-law was diagnosed with a severe case of pre-eclampsia (and later with a clotting disorder). He had my family’s nose (just like Maddy does), and even had different-sized feet like I do.
This was when I was in the middle of my first trimester with Madrigal, so as you might imagine, I had a very difficult time thinking about what had happened. It is so horrendously sad when people you love so dearly suffer such a terrible loss, and even moreso when you know that, should everything go as you hope with your own pregnancy, you will get to have something they didn’t: a living, breathing child. I was so angry at what had happened to them, and felt so guilty about what was happening to me. When my brother asked me if I would finish Ayden’s cardigan, so that they could have it to remember him by, I did – but I didn’t feel up to talking about it here at the time. But I’m glad I was able to use my knitting skills to provide them with something tangible to remember their first child, their son.
And that brings us to the sweaters at the top of this post. This Spring, we got the exciting news that they were pregnant again. Jenny was on blood-thinners, and her care was being overseen by specialists in exactly the sort of problems that had claimed Ayden’s life. I was so optimistic – well, cautiously optimistic. Then came the news that it was twins. Identical twins. Exciting, but also scary, since with twins comes a whole new set of potential complications.
Like TTTS, a rare condition that only affects identical twins, which I’d never heard of until they found out that they had it. The odds, the odds – the odds of what happened with Ayden are higher than you might think, but still low, and then this? So unfair. But it seemed like we could still be optimistic. The twins would almost certainly be born very early, but it seemed like they would make it.
But they didn’t. Their hearts stopped beating. They were supposed to have a surgery that would have hopefully helped them make it just the tiny bit longer they needed to make it before they could safely induce, but passed away just two days before the surgery was scheduled. So unfair.
My nieces Adelynn Lily and Abigail Iris were stillborn on July 1st, 2012.
I hadn’t started any projects for the girls. I’d planned about a million projects for them, but wanted to wait until they were safely here in the world to cast on for any of them. They didn’t make it safely, but my brother asked if I could knit sweaters for them, like I’d done for Ayden. As soon as I heard their beautiful, beautiful names, I had a spark of an idea, and it turned into this:
It’s a slightly modified motif from an Estonian lace book. It uses a traditional “Lily of the Valley” motif, but the way the leaf motif edges up to it reminded me of the way an iris opens up. Both girls, two flowers, one motif. I used Beaverslide’s 2-ply sport/sock weight yarn, which is a beautiful lightweight version of their worsted-weight 2-ply that I used for Vahtralehed.
It was really important to me, as I was knitting these two sweaters, to make them “real” sweaters. Wearable details, for sweaters that would sadly never get to be worn. The sweaters have split hems:
And teeny tiny seamlessly set-in cap sleeves with lap shoulders:
The end result is pair of beautiful finished sweaters:
for a pair of beautiful little girls whose lives should be just starting, not already finished.
I’m not going to pretend it is easy to knit sweaters for babies who have died. It isn’t. Especially if you’re the sort of knitter for whom part of the joy of knitting for others is seeing them wear the things you’ve knit for them. But that isn’t why I knit these two sweaters. I knit them to remember my nieces. And they will not be forgotten.
These have actually been finished for 3 weeks, I’ve just not been able to find the time to take pictures and blog about them until recently. Oh, life. It’s been totally crazy lately. Anyway, the Maddypants, they are finished:
Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: from my head
Yarn: BC Garn Semilla DK (one skein each in two different blues)
Needles: Size 5 and Size 3 Knitpicks Harmony dpns
Time to knit: About two weeks
It’s been tricky, trying to get modeled shots of these, since Maddy’s gotten quite mobile these days…
But they fit her quite nicely:
I love the subtle striping:
If you’re paying extra close attention to the photos, you might notice the short rows that make the rear part of the wool shorts longer than the front part – the colored stripes are the same height (2 garter ridges) on the front, but one of the colors is 4 garter ridges high for each stripe on the back.
As I think I mentioned in a previous post, I created these pants by knitting the front first, then decreasing for the crotch, then increasing again to a wider width for the back. I essentially knit the back flat, too (which makes garter stitch really easy to do, since you’re just knitting every row), but I knit the final stitch of each row together with the edge stitch I’d created (by doing a sl1, p1 edge on the front) from the front, which gave me a faux-seam that looks like this:
I finished the leg openings and the waistband by picking up stitches and knitting 10 rows in 2×2 rib, then a purl turning row, and then reversing the rib for 10 more rows, finally knitting the last row together with the backs of the picked up stitches and binding off at the same time (whew! Did that actually make sense?). For the waistband, I didn’t join to knit in the round until after I’d done the first 10 rows of ribbing, which gave me an opening into which I plan to stitch a button and insert some buttonhole elastic for extra adjustability (but I haven’t done that yet):
I think these pants would make a wonderful soaker (over a prefold), though for now we’re using them more for cuteness (plus some additional leak-proofing) over her GroVia diapers. I’m hoping to put together a more detailed tutorial for knitting a custom-sized pair of these for any baby. So, keep your eye on the blog for more details on making a pair of these for a baby of your acquaintance – given the speed at which I’m able to work these days, it may be awhile, but I promise it’s coming!
The teensy swatch from my last post has grown up to be this:
No, it isn’t a pair of handknit granny panties (I love wool, but I don’t love wool THAT much!)…it’s a diaper cover for Maddy, minus the leg and waist ribbing. I decided I wanted to knit her a pair of wool shorts that were mostly garter stitch, because I love the squishy soft feeling of garter stitch and it’s got quite a bit of inherent stretch, which is handy when you’ve got a bulky cloth-diapered bottom to cover.
I started out by drawing up a little schematic with Google Drawings:
As you might be able to read (the font size is awfully tiny, sorry!) in the schematic, the idea is to start out knitting the front, do some rapid (every row) decreasing at the crotch, and then some less rapid (every other row) increasing out to a wider back piece. Then I joined the front to the back as I knit, which let me have a “seamless” garter stitch short without the pain of doing garter in the round. (Which isn’t ACTUALLY painful, but I’ll do a fair amount of weird construction to avoid large amounts of purling!)
Mmm, squishy garter goodness! I’m using two fairly close shades of blue, in an organic yarn sent to me by a swap partner. 4 rows (so 2 garter ridges) per color, with the yarn carried up the side. I love it.
(Apparently I thought it would be helpful to have my foot in the picture, for a sense of scale? I don’t know, I blame sleep deprivation for my odd photo-styling choices!) I’ll be picking up (with much smaller needles) around the leg holes for leg ribbing, and then again around the top of the shorts for waist ribbing. I’ve actually already started the leg ribbing:
In fact, last night I finished the first leg, and it’s perfect! I picked up stitches around the leghole in 2×2 ribbing, knit for 10 rows, did a purled turning row, and then reversed the rib for 10 more rows before picking up the back sides of the picked up stitches and knitting them together with the stitches I was binding off. I’m not sure if that sentence actually makes sense, but anyway, the end result was a nice doubled ribbed leg cuff.
My plan for the waistband is to knit the first (outside) half of the ribbing flat, then join and knit a turning row in the round and continue in the round until I bind off. This will make a little “hole” in the ribbing at the side, into which I plan to stitch a button or two, and insert buttonhole elastic to enable some adjustability.
We’ll see how it all turns out, but so far I’m pretty happy with how my initial plan is working out.
I did a bit of swatching this weekend:
Just good old garter stitch. I have an idea for how make a pair of wool “shorts” somewhat like the storebought ones that I love (Disana Wool Soakers) with minimal seams, and am trying it out with some organic wool that was sent to me by a friend in a swap. If my idea pans out, I might put together a tutorial of some sort, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, enjoy this photo of my dear Madrigal teaching her blue monster who’s boss:
My girl is ferocious!