Halloween, 2017

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So, remember how I posted about our Halloween plans back in the beginning of September? It took a lot of work, but I made them real!

Maddy as “Peg(+Cat)” and me as “Peg’s Mom”
M as Peg(+Cat) and me as “Peg’s Mom”

M’s green “Peg” cardigan turned out perfectly! It’s technically still not quite a finished object, because I haven’t sewn in flannel pocket linings, so the “side pockets” are really just slits:

It fits! (Still gotta make pocket linings, of course!)

Both the pocket openings and the front openings were created with steeks, which I’m getting more confident about doing!

Ready for steeking!
All ready for steeking!

I’m finding I have a strong preference for knitting the button bands before cutting the steek opening (I did this for my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan, too) – I’m just less nervous about somehow making things unravel while picking up stitches when I do it before cutting.

Snip snip.
Snip Snip!

I used 1×1 rib for this buttonband, and bound off with a 2-stitch i-cord, which created a beautiful, firm, same-on-both-sides finish. I edged the pocket openings in i-cord, too, before I cut them open:

The pockets open up now! Still gotta sew in fabric pockets though.

Cat was more of a challenge – I’ve never actually created a stuffed animal like this before, but somehow it all worked out! I started out by looking at a picture of Cat and drawing it much larger on some of M’s easel paper:

Working on a pattern for Cat.

I totally surprised myself with how well I was able to capture Cat’s shape and features! Then, it was time to actually use my drawing as a pattern, and cut out shapes from blue and grey fleece – two identical body pieces (for front and back) and two identical tail pieces (to make a 3D tail). I stitched on the grey parts (eyes, mouth, and tail spots) by hand before sewing any of the body or tail pieces together:

Stitching the spot onto Cat’s tail at LEGO club storytime.
Stitching at the library

But my plans for sewing everything together with my sewing machine were thwarted by the fact that my machine just sucks (and I also don’t really know much about how to use it, but I do know how to read a manual and I just could NOT make it work without jamming constantly and breaking the thread!). So…handsewing to the rescue! I sewed the entire body together by hand over a couple of evenings:

Making progress on Cat (by hand). I need better progressive lenses (my close-vision is fading hard, so I end up looking over the tops of my glasses and holding things 3” from my face which ain’t good for my neck!!)
I really need better progressive lenses!

When I had it all stuffed and finished up, I almost cried – I couldn’t believe how well it had turned out! I made a Cat! And it really looks like Cat!

Cat!!!

Maddy was SO delighted with her Cat!

Happy Peg+Cat

She’s been carrying him everywhere with her, just like Peg would:

Peg+Cat on a walk around the neighborhood

Seriously, I still can’t believe I made a Cat that looks so much like Cat!

Peg+Cat!!

And a kid who looks so much like Peg! (Isn’t she adorable?? I’m really happy with how my pompom turned out for her hat, too!)

Oh, kiddo, your sweater, pompom, and Cat were a lot of work but you’re so stinking cute as Peg that it was totally worth it!

And if you want even more unbelievable cuteness, here’s a video (you’ll have to click the image to go through to Flickr) of M singing the “Peg+Cat” theme song in costume:

Singing the Peg+Cat theme song. I can’t get over the cuteness!

Peg+Cat were SO excited to go trick-or-treating with friends this evening!

Peg+Cat were SO excited about trick-or-treating!

I’d call Halloween 2017 a huge success! But I’m definitely a crazy person for committing to a costume that involved a handknit sweater, a pompom, and a hand-stitched, self-designed Cat…though the awesome thing is that every single piece of her costume is something she can wear or play with again and again! M and I agreed that next year, she will take the lead on costume-making; I’ll still help her, but I won’t be a 1-woman sweatshop again!

I hope you all had a Happy Halloween this year!

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Rhinebeck, 2017

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Long time, no posts! So far, Fall Semester has been pretty brutal on a whole lot of fronts, including a nasty respiratory bug (or series of them?) that started in late September and which I still haven’t fully kicked. But thankfully, I wasn’t TOO sick to go to Rhinebeck!

But before I jump ahead to the festival, I’ll start with the “traditional” photo of me and M on the Walkway over the Hudson:

Our traditional Walkway Over the Hudson mama+M photo. #latergram

We love the Walkway, and the past two years, we’ve driven down early enough in the day on Friday that we’ve been able to walk it in the early evening, and it’s just so beautiful!

Another Walkway photo from the real camera. I love this kid so much! #latergram

This year, we were able to ride the elevator down to the base of the bridge, which M *loved* – my little engineer was so excited to get to see the underside of the bridge!

She was fascinated by the elevator on the Walkway. She loved getting to see the support structure under the bridge. I love my little engineer!

I even got a rare photo of my husband and I!

Us.


Such a beautiful place!

The view from the Walkway over the Hudson

And ain’t my kid beautiful, too?

Beautiful girl in a beautiful place on a beautiful day. #latergram

(I know, I’m super biased!)

Now, for the festival. Here is the SIXTH photo of me and my girl on the benches on the hill (though this year, they had fenced off most of the fences, so we missed out on having the lovely wood background):

Our usual benches were fenced off, so this is as close as we could get to our “traditional” Rhinebeck photo this year! (OMG, M is getting so big!!)

Madrigal wore her red vest and the cowl she’s adopted as her own, and I wore my Fiddlehead Yoke cardigan. It was cool enough in the morning that it wasn’t TOO crazy to be wearing a Lettlopi sweater, but by midday, it was pretty darned warm! The very bright sunlight made it tricky to get good photos, too, which was a bummer because I was just so excited to be able to show off my pretty pretty sweater!

FIddlehead Yoke at Rhinebeck

I got a lot of compliments both on my cardigan and on M’s red vest, and it was pretty fun to be able to say, “I made it up!” when folks asked me what the patterns were. Someday, someday, maybe I’ll actually get my act together and write up those patterns for other people to knit, but for now, I’m happy with our “bespoke” handknits.

Maddy and the llamas

Madrigal was very excited about seeing llamas and alpacas this year, so our first stop was the “Camelids” area, where she said hello to the llamas. Our next stop was the Bartlettyarns booth, where M snuggled yarn…

Snuggling yarn in the Bartlettyarns booth.

…and picked out a llama friend of her very own, which she named “Ellie”:

Maddy + Ellie + pan flute band

(My lone purchase of the day also came at the Bartlettyarns booth – I got a cone of brown sportweight to use with the Swirls packs I’ve picked up in previous years.)

We didn’t actually make it into many of the vendor barns this year (which is fine, because I have so much yarn in my stash that bringing much more into our tiny home would be insane, though I wouldn’t have minded looking!), instead spending most of our time visiting the animal barns. Here are my favorite “sheep”:

My favorite sheep ;)

And here’s my favorite alpaca (or llama? I know they’re different but am not sure which this is!) – ain’t that the best hairdo?

Best hairdo on the one in the back!

Maddy really enjoyed snuggling all the wool she could – she even snuck herself in between sheepskins that were hanging on a rack! Isn’t she just the cutest?

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(That one’s totally gonna end up framed in our house, I think!)

I didn’t do a great job of taking photos of people this year, but I did get to hang out with my “knitternet” friends, and even got to meet a few new people in person for the first time, like Sonya Philip and Jenn Steingass (I, um, may have been an awkward yoke-design fangirl at Jenn, whoops!).

All in all, it was a lovely trip, though I’m back to feeling sicker again now that we’re home, so I’m afraid I may have overdone it. My car project was M’s “Peg” cardigan (for her Peg+Cat costume), which is all done except for the steeking and the insertion of fabric pockets, so expect a post about that soon!

Halloween approaches…

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Yes, it’s only Sept. 4, but that means that Halloween is less than 2 months away, and since we are “make it yourself” people as far as Halloween costumes go, it’s time to get cracking! This year, M’s Halloween costume plans actually involve a handknit, so it’s especially important to get an early start. The yarn arrived on Saturday, and just like her mama, M enjoyed huffing the wool fumes:

Huffing wool fumes, just like mama. (The yarn for her green "Peg+Cat" cardigan arrived. It's from Beaverslide, because I'm very predictable!)
(The yarn is Beaverslide Worsted, which is pretty much the best yarn on the planet – M’s a lucky kid!)

So, what is that green yarn for? I’m super excited about what Madrigal wants to do for Halloween this year: she wants to dress up as Peg (from Peg+Cat)! It’s not really a secret how much I love that show, and M is already so Peg-like that a costume isn’t even a big stretch. If you’re not familiar with the show, here are Peg + Cat:

Peg+Cat

As you can see, Peg wears a green cardigan over a green dress, and M wanted hers to be handknit by mama! We sketched out a design:

Planning M's Peg+Cat cardigan...I'm debating whether to add any little knitterly details (e.g. a mini cable or nupps up the center front on either side of the button band) but the inspiration sweater (Peg's, from the show) is really basic/featureless so m

It’s a really plain/basic sweater, and I’m so tempted to fancy it up a bit, but I’m trying to restrain myself. I’m knitting it in the round from the bottom up for speed, and planning to do seamless set-in sleeves (the way I’ve done on the Garter Rib cardigans in the past, for example). M wanted side-pockets lined with flannel, so I’m gonna be not just steeking the front of the cardigan open, but also steeking pocket openings as well. (I may want advice re:creating sewn flannel pockets for a knit garment, and how to attach them!)

The beginnings of the Peg(+Cat) Cardigan
1×1 rib hem, with 5 steek stitches added to the body

Pocket Steek
And 5 more steek stitches for each pocket

I’m also going to be sewing a Cat for M from blue fleece (thankfully Cat is fairly blob-shaped, so I think I can manage it!). She wants *me* to dress up, too, as Peg’s mom, which shouldn’t be too hard, since I kind of already do dress like Peg’s mom:

Peg-Mom

I don’t have a purple turtleneck tunic like the one in the picture, but I do have my purple Little Wave cardigan, and I figure that, plus a purple skirt , plus blue leggings, plus brown boots (all of which I already have), is a pretty good match! M is insistent that I make myself a necklace like Peg’s mom’s, and I’m thinking wool felt balls could do the trick.

Here’s hoping I can make everything come together before the end of October! Last week was the start of the semester for me, so I’m VERY busy again (but happy! I love my job!). And tomorrow, M goes back to school – she’ll be entering the Elementary program (basically 1st-3rd grade) at her Montessori school. Exciting but very busy times here!

Happy September, everyone!

and sometimes things just work out!

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Earlier this week, I was able to knit with some friends of mine from knitting guild, which was a lot of fun. The only thing I had left to do on M’s cardigan was the button band, and of course, the thought of counting stitches and doing a bunch of math while knitting with my buddies didn’t seem too appealing, so instead, I just decided to wing it (yes, I know, this was crazy). I started knitting the row in which I’d be putting buttonholes, and just eyeballed it. I figured 5 stitches in from the bottom looked good, and thought a 4 stitch buttonhole looked nice, and thought that they looked right if I put them 12 stitches apart. And guess how many stitches I had left over when I knit the 6th buttonhole? 5 stitches! I couldn’t have gotten more perfect spacing if I’d tried!

Almost done! Just gotta weave in ends and block. (And find 6 hot pink buttons.)

I don’t actually recommend the “just eyeball it!” approach – I’m not sure what part of my brain thought that the ripping and reknitting that would likely result would be LESS fun than doing a bunch of math while chatting with my friends (the better plan would’ve been to bring a project in a state that did not require full attention!), but I’m super delighted that it worked out this time. It’s kinda neat to see that my intuitions about spacing are actually pretty solid.

Very happy with the reknit bottom hem and the garter stitch button bands w/i-cord edging.

Before knitting the button bands, I implemented the bottom hem reknit plan that I described in my previous post, and it worked great. More stitches, a bigger needle for the corrugated rib, and a smaller one for the standard rib/tubular bind-off. The whole thing lays flat now – there’s no awkward pulling apart at the fronts. Hooray!

Now all that’s left is weaving in ends, blocking, and finding 6 hot pink buttons!

two steps forward, 3 steps back?

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Sometimes that’s the way of things, ain’t it? I finished sleeve number one on M’s Stripes! cardigan, but the entire time I was knitting it, I had a sinking feeling about the bottom hem on the body:

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See how it’s pulling in at the bottom? It’s not supposed to. The corrugated rib at the bottom is pulling in even more than I anticipated, and there’s also some weirdness at the tubular bind-off, which has a larger effective gauge than the rib.

It’s even more obvious in this photo of the opening at the front (I’ll be adding a button band):

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And you can get a better sense for the gauge compression that happens in the corrugated rib but not the standard rib/tubular bind-off in this photo, I think:

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And yet, the sleeve cuff seems to be working out quite lovely:

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Why the difference? I think it’s a few things: for one, the cuff is in the round, which doesn’t provide as much opportunity for weird “flipping”. The other thing that I think is affected by it being in the round is my corrugated rib gauge in general – I strongly suspect that I knit that particular sort of rib tighter when knitting back and forth than when knitting in the round on DPNs, so there wasn’t as much compression. But also, there’s the fact that you kind of DO want a sleeve cuff to pull inward, just a bit, whereas that’s less desirable in a bottom hem (I mean, it can be a deliberate design choice, but it isn’t, here).

So, I’m going to rip back to just before the vikkel braid and reknit. Here’s my plan:

1. On the final row before the braid, increase MORE than I did last time. I had used the increase ratio that I’ve used in babyStripes!, both those are different yarns at different gauges on different needle sizes, and clearly I need to increase a bit more here. I increased after every 7 stitches before (turning 7 stitches into 8) but I think what I actually need is to alternate increasing after every 5 stitches and increasing after every 6 stitches (turning 11 stitches into 13)

2. Use a larger needle for the vikkel braid and the corrugated rib, before switching back to the “normal” needle size for the regular rib/tubular bind-off.

Wish me luck!

another sweater for M

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Man, poor Skógafjall keeps falling by the wayside (I’ve got the body and most of a sleeve already knit, at least) while I knit sweaters for smaller people. I just finished one knit for my daughter, and already there’s another one on the needles (it was literally a matter of hours between finishing her red Cobbler and casting on for this):

new Stripes! cardigan for M!

Yep, it’s a Stripes! cardigan. M picked the colors herself from yarn that I had in my stash: Cascade Eco+ in Summer Sky Heather, and Noro Kureyon in color #95. I’m loving how they look together!

Color + Texture.

I can’t get enough of the texture created by doing the contrast color stripes in garter stitch in the yoke. So great!

Already finished with the yoke!

I’ve already finished the yoke, and am knitting the body down first, before knitting the sleeves. I really enjoy making these top-down – not only do I get more of a say over what color is closest to the face this way, but I can also let her try it on as I go, and it makes the way I add the pockets possible.

One of these days, I want to go back to my own top-down Stripes! cardigan. I realized kind of late in the game (like, after knitting the entire body and part of a sleeve) that the proportions just weren’t working great on it, the yoke wasn’t fitting all that well (too baggy, but awkwardly so) and I didn’t like the bind-off I used on the bottom hem either, so I really need to rip it back pretty much to the very beginning. That’s a bummer, but I’m always going to vote for “rip and reknit” over “finish a sweater I won’t actually wear”. And I’ve gotten better at doing top-down yoke math (it’s just the inverse of bottom-up yoke math, but somehow that confounded me initially!) and figuring out the best spots for short rows for my body, so the next go at it should be better.

things i make for maddy: a RED vest! (plus a design brain-dump)

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I mentioned in a previous post that I was not going to be buying any yarn for myself for the forseeable future, but would make an exception for yarn for my daughter, especially RED yarn, which I had none of in my stash. I’m not a fan of red, but it’s M’s favorite color, and she’s such an appreciative knitwear recipient that I can’t say no to her requests! Here’s the red item she wanted most:

Doing a pocket quality-control check.

It’s a bigger version of her “Cobbler” Vest, so named because it was inspired by Jared Flood’s Cobblestone sweater. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Ravely Red, which I can attest is VERY VERY red – so red that it’s actually hard to get the camera to focus!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: from my head, but hopefully will be published sooner rather than later
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in “Ravelry Red”, just a touch over 2 skeins
Needles: Size 7
Time to Knit: 11 days (some of which I was injured and not able to knit)

I’m so delighted with how it turned out – it fits her perfectly! (I don’t know why I’m always so surprised about this, given that I measure and do math and whatnot, but still it’s always a delight!)

She saw her new vest drying on the porch and wanted to put it on while she checked the mail :)

As you can see, the bottom hem is split at the sides, and the back extends lower than the front does. The front actually gets folded up to create a kangaroo pocket, thanks to i-cord:

Hooray for squishy kangaroo pockets!

Here’s the whole thing, not obscured by my daughter’s hair/hands/etc:

It's blocking!

As I mentioned above, I’m really hoping to publish a pattern for this design. What I’d really like, though, is to put out a collection of “Parent-Child” knits, because I’ve actually knit quite a few things in both me-versions and M-versions, and when I counted them up yesterday, there are something like 8 different designs, most of which I’ve already knit a test version of for me and/or M, that I could put in that collection. My problem, though, is that I’ve not actually published a single pattern since 2011 (observant readers will note that as as the year M was born, which is not a coincidence!) so I don’t really know or remember how to take a design from my brain to publication, and I *certainly* don’t know how to do that with a whole collection of them! There’s also the time factor – I can knit and design a fair amount in the summer, but once the school year starts and I’m teaching full time, that kind of goes out the window.

Basically, here’s my list:
1. Cobbler Vest (which also could have a long-sleeved variant)
2. Garter Rib Cardigan (which also could have a pullover variant and needs a better name)
3. Stripes! Cardigan, top-down (this one could go all the way down to baby sizes)
4. Bohus Yoke Pullover (needs a better name; I’d base the colorwork of the grown-up version on what I did on M’s sweater because I like it better than my original one!)
5. Top-Down Set-In Sleeved Striped Pocket Pullover (*definitely* would need a better name! Also still torn on whether to do adult version in sport weight or worsted, though I suppose if I do variants on other patterns, why not both?)
6. Curvilinear Hat + Mittens (this pattern is virtually ready to go; it also would pair really nicely with the Cobbler pattern, I think)
7. Sullivan (adult version already published through BT’s Wool People but I retain rights to it; I have ideas both for a sport-weight kids’ version AND a worsted-weight tunic with a kangaroo pocket)
8. Vahtralehed (I’ve already published the adult version; my thought for kids’ version is to do maybe one with a single maple leaf at the back and top-down set-in sleeves, in sport weight?)
9. I also have a design that I’ve never had a chance to knit up that involves roositud and nupps.

So looking at it, I have things that involve garter stitch or garter rib (1, 2, 6), I have things that involve yokes (1, 3, 4, 8, 9), I have things that involve top-down knitting (1, 3, 5, 6), I have things that involve Estonian techniques like nupps and roositud and vikkel braids (3, 7, 8, 9) but these are all intersecting sets. I also notice that all but the last 3 are potentially unisex patterns, which I think is super cool. I’m open to any and all advice about how to make these things a reality!