maddy’s sweater, take 3

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After knitting most of the body on M’s sweater, even past the point where I joined the top of the kangaroo pocket, I realized that I’d cast on the wrong number of stitches, and would have to rip it out. Again. So I did.

And then I had an epiphany about the design, and realized that it would work even better top-down. So this is what I did today:

yoke and yarn

I was able to do the i-cord cast on and knit through the short-rowed section (which raises the back neck) while M napped this afternoon. I am still just madly in love with this yarn, and so eager to watch this sweater take shape.

Maddy's sweater, take 3

The yoke is split at the front (sort of a henley-style placket, but I’m not planning to add buttons or a zipper), so as to make this an “easy-over-the-head” sweater. I’ll knit down to the underarms, then hold the upper sleeve stitches on waste yarn and cast on some extra stitches to knit down the rest of the body in stockinette – I’ll be joining to knit in the round at that point. Then, when I reach the bottom, I plan to split it again at the sides (for my split hem), and create the pocket by continuing to knit down past the bottom hem in front, and folding it back up, sealing everything up with i-cord. Going top-down will make it easier for me to have an option in the pattern I’m planning to write for a version without sleeves – you can either pick up the stitches held at the bottom of the yoke and knit a sleeve down, or you can pick them up and bind them off in i-cord to create a cap-sleeved pullover/vest thing. I promise, it works in my head.

yoke in progress

I’m actually a little bit further than this, now – but it’s too dark to take another picture! Here’s hoping that the 3rd time’s a charm with this sweater – I don’t relish the thought of ripping AGAIN!

On a totally different note – I’m trying to decide whether to submit some designs to Wool People again (they sent out a call to Wool People alum yesterday). I really want to – I have ideas aplenty, after all – but I need to make sure I’m being realistic about the time commitment involved. The last thing I want to do is make a commitment I can’t actually keep (without breaking myself); I came closer to doing that than I liked the first time around (between my first trimester of pregnancy and the shock and grief of losing my nephew, that time was…not a good time for me). We’ll see, we’ll see.

maddy sweater, take 2

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In my last post, I mentioned that I might rip out the sweater I’d started knitting for M, after rediscovering my sketch from last year and wishing I’d used the construction method I’d originally planned.

So here’s Take 2:

maddy sweater, take 2

This time around, I used split hems, which meant knitting two garter bands flat and then joining them, rather than knitting the garter band in the round. I really like using split hems in general, but especially with garter stitch, which (for me at least) sometimes looks weird when I use it for hems in the round.

Before I joined the bands, I knit a kangaroo pocket – the final row of garter on one of the bands, I actually did KF&B in each stitch (doubling the stitch count), then slipped every other stitch onto waste yarn to hold for the body, then continued on my merry way with a garter-stitch kangaroo pocket. When I did join the garter bands at the hem, I used those held stitches, and they became part of the body, behind the pocket.

maddy sweater, take 2

I’m planning to edge the garter bands with i-cord at the end for a neat finish, and to make space for that at the split (and to accommodate the fact that garter stitch tends to be “wider” than stockinette), when I joined my two bands, I cast on a couple extra stitches between each band, and then decreased them away over the next few rounds. I’m going to keep a small band of garter running up the sides, but nothing like the wide bands I had on the first version of the sweater – I just think that with a garter kangaroo pocket and a garter yoke, I’ll have hit the right amount of garter stitch for the sweater. I do love squishy garter stitch EVER so much, though!

maddy sweater, take 2

I’m really excited about this design, and am thinking about writing it up as a pattern. If I were to do that, I think it’d be nice to collaborate with a yarn company somehow, but I don’t really know how that works, since my only experience doing that (with Wool People) was by invitation – I didn’t seek it out. Any advice?

(Gosh, wouldn’t a garter-centric baby/kid sweater be lovely in SHELTER? I swear I could probably put a whole book together of baby/kid designs in LOFT and SHELTER if I only had the time…)

matchy matchy.

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I started a new project this weekend:

matchy matchy.

Awhile back, my friend Cathy sent me a couple of gorgeous skeins of Fleece Artist BFL Aran, and they happened to be a near-perfect match for the BFL Aran I’d knit my blue Cobblestone sweater form several years ago (I wear this sweater near constantly in the winter – it’s basically a handknit version of a warm comfy sweatshirt for me). As y’all know, I have a bit of an obsession with knitting miniature versions of my own sweaters for Madrigal, so of course, that’s what I wanted to use this yarn for.

new project

Hers will be a bit different, though – those held stitches on the front are for a garter-stitch kangaroo pocket, and I plan on creating a split placket at the front of the yoke, so that it’s easy for her to get on and off (also, so that I can knit the garter yoke flat rather than in the round!). Basically, I’m trying to make the sweater I sketched out a little over a year ago:

Because when I'm overwhelmed, I plan sweaters.

Of course, now that I look back at the sketch, I’m noticing that I originally intended to do split garter welts instead of a solid garter band at the bottom hem – and I’m kind of kicking myself for not doing that, so even though I’ve now knit almost the entire body, I might have to just rip it out and start over (I’ll probably add a few stitches, too, since it’s looking a bit narrower than the Extra Yarn Sweater and I want the fit to be similar).

Because that’s the sort of knitter I am, after all – I’d rather knit something 3 times than to have it turn out less than what I intended. But still…fneh. One of these days I’d like to just get something right the first time again. I used to have such a knack for that, but that’s something that seems to have been lost (along with quite a few other things) upon entering motherhood. C’est la vie.

things *we* make for maddy: roly-poly pinafore

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I think this will wrap up the little backlog of projects that accumulated towards the end of last year – and it isn’t a knitting project, but a SEWING project! I say “we” made it, meaning my husband and I, because while I did all of the stitching, he took care of setting up the machine, which for some reason just intimidates me. But to him, the mechanics of the machine make perfect sense. And he also helped me with laying out the pattern and cutting. We’re looking forward to doing some more sewing projects together.

So anyway. We wanted to make Madrigal something cute to wear for her school’s Holiday Concert, and I’d had some cute printed flannel and a deep red corduroy fabric laying around for awhile, and to me they were just BEGGING to become a roly poly pinafore. So, we decided that we’d make one for her to wear.

topstitching done!

It was a bit of a comedy of errors. See that pocket on the front? I had plenty of the flannel left over to cut pockets from the scraps, but I wasn’t checking when I grabbed it and saw the cute bird I wanted to feature on the pocket and cut it out. It turns out, that pocket was cut out of the lining. And here’s where my husband REALLY helped, because I was in tears over it and just wanted to give up, but he convinced me to try to patch it up. It’s obvious, but since we weren’t really planning on this being “reversible” anyway, it’s ok:

the lining.

The pinafore has a really clever design, where the straps cross over in the back:

the back

M has a storebought top much like this one, and I’m really excited to have a pattern that I can use to make her more like it. I hope I can improve my stitching on the next one, though – this one doesn’t look so hot close-up:

pocket

the straps

I am pretty proud of the pleat, though!

closeup of pleat

I ran into another problem when I went to put in the buttonholes, the night before M’s concert. I studied my machine’s manual, and was all set to stitch a buttonhole, but when I tried – I broke my needle. This has actually happened every single time I’ve tried to do a stitch that involves lateral motion on my machine. Of course, I’ve only got an N=3, because I haven’t sewn very much at all lately, but still. If any of you folks who know more about sewing than I do (which is probably ALL of you!) have ideas about what might be going wrong, I’d love to hear them!

I came up with what is probably an even better solution, anyway – I just sewed the buttons on through both the front and back strap, so it looks like it’s buttoned shut, but it’s actually sewn together:

Cheater buttons

Since the straps cross in the back, it’s easy enough to get on and off without the buttons, anyway. Speaking of which, M *did* actually wear it for her concert. It turns out that despite the fact that M’s been solidly in 3T sizes since well before her 2nd birthday, we should have actually made her the 2T; it came out too big. But that means it might fit her again next year. I don’t have any good photos of her wearing it, because she was just too darn wiggly. Here she is, crawling across the stage in attempt to make a break for me (once she spotted me in the audience, it was ALL OVER):

She spotted me in the audience and made a break for it. Ah, mama's girl.

This led to a super embarrassing moment for me. During the next group’s songs, M’s teacher motioned to me to go out of the auditorium and get M, because she was basically *freaking out* that mama was in the audience and she couldn’t be with me. So I obliged, attempting to sneak out between songs (except they started the next one quicker than I expected), but it was dark, and I managed to trip (in spectacular fashion) over the legs of the tripod the school was using with their video camera to record the concert. EVERY SINGLE OTHER PARENT was staring at me. I think most were sympathetic, but a few were, uh, glaring just a bit, and I felt so awful. I mean, I wrecked the video, and to anyone who didn’t see me signing back and forth with her teacher (so, pretty much everyone), I just looked like some jerk trying to skip out after her own kid’s stuff was done, which I know isn’t cool. Anyway, I kind of wanted to melt into a hole in the ground after that. Instead, I had to hang out for an hour while wrangling a very overstimulated toddler. Good times! I did get one other photo of M wearing her dress, playing around after the event with a couple of her classmates:

The dress is cute, but I actually should've done the 2T instead of 3T.

So, we made M a dress! And it’s cute, and it kinda fits, and it really does make me want to sew more things for her. Here’s hoping we can find the time. We aren’t off to a great start this year…I actually currently have pneumonia, and M got her very first ear infection (both are the result of secondary infections following a particularly aggressive cold that all 3 of us had). So our days look a lot like this:

We don't feel good :(

If you’re interested on what I’m up to on a day-to-day basis, I’m keeping a daily photo blog with a group of friends of mine this year – you can see my entries here. But so far, it’s mostly just me being sick.

WIP Wednesday :: Maddy’s Blanket

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I don’t know if this will become a regular thing (probably not; I’m going to be VERY busy this semester), but it’s Wednesday, and I actually have pictures of a work-in-progress, so: WIP Wednesday!

the blob.

That green blob is a blanket that I started for “the munchkin”, and then stuffed in a drawer shortly before M was born and forgot about for 2 years. I hadn’t even completed one repeat of the pattern (which is Kirsten Kapur’s Abby’s Blanket). I rediscovered it and decided it might make good car knitting for our epic roadtrip, and it did indeed – though the moments when I actually could knit in the car were limited to those when Madrigal was sleeping AND it was still light outside, so weren’t too numerous. I was able to do a bit more knitting during some of the family gatherings while were away – more eyes on M mean that mama can sometimes knit while she’s awake!

M's blanket.

The lace pattern is knit from the center out, and it’s pretty simple to memorize. I’m using Cascade 220 Superwash, and have just joined the third skein of yarn – I’m planning to finish out that skein, and then join a fourth skein in a slightly darker green for the garter edging. Perhaps I can finish it for M while it’s still cold outside!

Things I make for Maddy: Extra Yarn Sweater!

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I promised in my last post that I’d have a post up soon about the sweater M was wearing in many of the photos. I never did get a great “Finished Project” photo of it, but she wears it ALL THE TIME, so I figure I should actually write about it!

January Maddy

Ravelry Project Page
Project Details:
Pattern: from my head – just a basic yoked sweater with some design details I’ll talk about in the post
Yarn: Fleece Artist BFL Sock in “Sugar Plum” (held double; every last inch of 2 skeins)
Needles: Size 8
Time to knit: Several months of trial and error!

So, the Extra Yarn Sweater. I first wrote about the inspiration for it back in August, and I started knitting it back in September, but as I referenced in the Project Details above, I hit some bumps in the road. My first attempt came out too small, and when I frogged it and reknit it with more stitches, I suddenly had HORRIBLE color pooling (I never took pictures of this, it seems, but trust me – it was not good). So I started over AGAIN, this time alternating skeins every row or two. This finally did the trick, and though it was frustrating to do so much ripping and reknitting for what should’ve been the simplest sweater ever (I mean really, a plain stockinette yoked sweater? Can it get any easier?), it was worth it for the end result.

"Extra Yarn" sweater plus litterbox.

(What, you don’t take your FO shots in a bathroom, next to a litter box, wearing no pants?)

It got pretty dicey towards the end, though – when I say I used literally every last inch of the yarn, I mean it! I was so nervous while I knit the yoke that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to do what I planned to do for the neckline – but it just barely worked out. The neckline was created by knitting in 1×1 rib twice as long as I wanted the collar to be, and then picking up stitches from the base of the ribbing. I folded the ribbing towards the front of the sweater, and grafted it to those picked up stitches (in rib). The result as a wonderfully sturdy-but-stretchy collar that had the look I was aiming for:

"Extra Yarn" sweater neckline

(Secret trick to getting a neckline closeup? Let your toddler tackle the camera! Actually, don’t do that – but that IS how I achieved this photo!)

The hem is a knit-in folded hem; I knit the facing on smaller needles, and did a purled turning row, from which I picked up stitches to create an attached i-cord edge. (This is the same trick I used on my Sullivan design.) I did a few rounds of decreases in the body to create a slight A-line shape; this is really a great shape for infant/toddler sweaters, especially for those of us who cloth-diaper, as cloth-diapered bums are delightfully round!

Here she is with the book that inspired the sweater:

With the book that inspired the sweater.

The sleeves came out a bit long, but I was kind of aiming for that, as I’m hoping this sweater fits her for a good long while. I aimed for measurements on the larger end of 3T (M’s been solidly in 3T since a little before her 2nd birthday – my big girl!). For now, she can roll them up.

Reading together.

(That evil yarn-stealing archduke!)

I’m really really pleased with how this sweater turned out, despite all of the troubles I had along the way with it. And Madrigal loves it – she wears it all the time, and when I offer her a choice of what to wear, she often asks for “Extra Yarn Sweater?”. I’ll happily oblige her desire for knitwear – she loves her “Button Sweater” (the garter rib cardigan I made her) a lot, too, and her “Stripe Sweater” (babyStripes!, v.2). I have several other sweater ideas in mind for my not-so-little one, too – now if I could just find the time.

Farewell, 2013!

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Well, I sure didn’t mean to go without posting for a couple months, but boy, this has been one heck of a year. 2013 isn’t going in the books as a favorite year by any stretch, but there WERE things to celebrate, most especially the birth of my niece, Emma. We got to meet her this weekend:

I love Emma!


She snuggled happily with me for quite a long time, and it was just so wonderful to hold her. I love Emma!

My beautiful niece!

We’re currently in the middle of a massive car trip, during which we’re visiting both sides of the family; we spent Christmas in Ohio with Andrew’s family and are spending New Years in Minnesota with mine; then we’ll briefly stop in Ohio again on the way home. Basically, it’s a 7 hour drive from our house to Andrew’s parents’, then a 12 hour drive from his parents’ to my parents’. So all told, we’ll be spending 38 hours in the car during this trip. And if you think that sounds unpleasant, you’d be right! But driving is the only way we could possibly afford to do this (plane tickets for 3, around the holidays? Big fat nope!), so we’re doing it! Being M’s backseat companion for this whole trip is…well, better than the alternative, which is a very unhappy M, so there’s that :)

Hitting the road.

Before we left, we celebrated the Solstice, and baked some delicious gingerbread cookies (which we cut with snowflake cutters). It was wonderful to include M in our baking! (Oh, and note the sneak peak at the finished “Extra Yarn” sweater – I’ll have a post about that sometime next year, by which I mean probably tomorrow!)

Making gingerbread snowflakes together.

M got a really great Solstice gift from my brother and his wife (who are both Math Ed professors) – a game called “Inchimals” that helps to teach number concepts!

Maddy and daddy, playing with her Solstice gift from Uncle Ryan and Aunt Jenny.

Then M got to celebrate Christmas at her paternal grandparents’ house:

Christmas at the in-laws.

She got to play ball with her cousin Scarlett:

Cousins playing ball.

We wore our matching sweaters for the family Christmas party:

Me and my girl (in our matching handknit sweaters).

M had a great time snuggling with her grandpa:

On her grandpa's lap :)

And she’s having a really great time hanging out with her other grandpa here in Minnesota:

Getting ready to snowshoe with grandpa!

The first day we were here, we went out snowshoeing – M got to ride on grandpa’s back!

On grandpa's back.

We spent a lot of time out in the snow the first day here, which M loved – and it’s good we did, because the temperature dropped a LOT the next day and we’ve not been able to go out (I don’t want little miss “I won’t wear mittens” getting frostbite!).

Snow! (Maddy was so thrilled to get to walk in the snow today)

Then we went up to Eau Claire, WI, to visit my brother and his wife and their little Emma! M go to play guitar with her uncle:

Playing guitar with her uncle.

And she had fun opening up her present from her grandparents:

"Open myself!"

These are the coolest alphabet blocks – they have braille and fingerspelling on them, too!

Hooray, blocks!

She built the most AMAZING tower – it was taller than she was. This picture was taken one block before the one that brought the tower down:

Another block!

We gave Emma a Skwish for Christmas, and she seemed to really like it! She held it while we took pictures of the granddaughters with their grandparents.

grandparents and granddaughters

We still have a few more days here in MN, and then we’ll be back to OH, and then back home. I didn’t really meet any of my goals for 2013 (remember My “8 in 2013″ goals? I accomplished exactly zero of them – though I did sew something for M, and that will be another post soon!), but 2014 is due to be a big year: I’ll be (finally!) finishing my dissertation, getting my Ph.D, and starting my first “grown-up” job (as a full-time Lecturer in the writing program at my university – I accepted the offer a few weeks ago!). So here’s looking forward. We’ll see what life brings. Happy New Year, everyone!