Things I knit for other people’s babies: babyStripes!

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I finished another yoke sweater around the same time as finishing Tensho. This one was just a WEE bit smaller!

babyStripes! (the...fifth? sixth? I should really write this pattern!)

I’ve lost count of how many of these sweaters I’ve knit…this might be the fifth or sixth? In any case, I think it’s safe to say I’ve got the pattern pretty well worked-out for the smallest size! Though this one is unique, because it contains no wool.

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: babyStripes! (which still just lives in my brain, supplemented by some notes on the computer)
Yarn: Blue Sky Organic Cotton in “Bone” and Cascade Tangier in “Geometric”
Needles: Size 5 for tubular cast-on and bind-off, size 7 for the rest
Time to knit: Exactly one month, with a LOT of interruptions

I really do want to actually write out this pattern – I just have to find the time. Madrigal is still wearing the Kid-size version (which I apparently never created a “finished object” post for on the blog, but you can see a finished photo of it at the bottom of this post)…in fact, she wore it on school picture retake day last week! I’ve also started adult-sized versions of this (like this one), but so far have been unsuccessful at actually completing one, because my toddler-parent brain wasn’t very good at counting. I think that’s less of a problem for me now, so maybe I’ll tackle a grown-up top-down Stripes! cardigan along with the baby and kids versions. You know, eventually. I’ve considered submitting these patterns to Knitty.com, because they seem like the sort of thing that would fit well there, but I also might just self-publish.

Anyhow, THIS babyStripes! was knit as a gift for a dear grad school friend of mine, who is allergic to wool (hence using non-wool yarns for the sweater, despite the fact that my hands don’t like knitting with them – I want my friend to be able to snuggle her baby!). And because I am a giant nerd, when I saw that one of my favorite podcasts (lingthusiasm!) added onesies to their merch selection, I just had to get one to go with this sweater:

babyStripes! plus lingthusiasm onesie

Isn’t that a perfect little onesie for this nugget to receive from a psycholinguist academic auntie? Now I just need to figure out when I can get to the post office, because this little one is due any day now!

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(Mostly) Finished Object: Tensho Cardigan!

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The end of the semester has been especially busy, and as seems to be normal for me, I’ve been sick for most of it. The pileup of research paper feedback, Thanksgiving, and my daughter’s birthday is always a mess! But somehow, in the midst of all of that, I managed to finish my Tensho cardigan!

With the mug that inspired me
Pictured with the mug that inspired the knit!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Tensho Pullover (which I steeked to cardiganize)
Yarn: Cascade 220 in “Aporto” and “Summer Sky Heather”
Needles: Size 7
Time to Knit: Late August through end of November, with lots of interruptions

As you can see, I ended up deciding to go with a folded rib neckline, just like the ones I knit for Gamaldags, Winter Traveller, and Skógafjall. What can I say, I just really love the way they look and feel!

Closeup

Another thing I did, which has become my norm when knitting yoke sweaters from other people’s patterns, is add a couple of short rows right below the collar in back – essentially, if you imagine where the “raglan” lines would be, I do the wrap&turns about where the front raglan lines would be, which raises the back neckline perfectly for me.

Tensho from behind

I still need to choose buttons. But before that, I need to decide whether I want to fix the fact that I put the buttonholes on the “wrong” side compared to what I normally do – it’d be easy enough to fix, since I did an i-cord bind-off buttonband, so not very much would need to be ripped and reknit. I’d also really like to cover the steek, but need to find a good ribbon or cloth tape to use. I’ve never done that kind of steek-covering before! With really sticky wools like Lopi I generally cut without any reinforcement and just leave my steeks raw, but for Cascade 220, a smooth worsted-spun yarn, I did a crochet reinforcement, and I actually would feel most comfortable with a ribbon covering, I think.

Tensho on a snowy deck

I didn’t get the best pictures, because trying to take self-portraits in a rush before the sun sets, when it’s cold and your deck is covered in snow, is just not ideal! But the snow does make for a nice contrast in the background.

Tensho, cardiganized!

I’m really pleased with how this turned out, though in knitting it, I found myself wishing I were knitting with Lopi, or Beaverslide…something a bit more toothy and wooly than Cascade 220…and I think I’m feeling that wish when wearing it, too. I wonder if I’d feel the same way if I’d knit it as a pullover (you know, as called for by the pattern) – I think I might want something a little “denser”/less drapey out of my colorwork cardigans than I do from a pullover. I’m sure I will still wear this one a bunch, but I wanted to note this for my future knitting self…I’m just a wooly-wool sort of person! But I’m glad I was able to put the leftovers from Andrew’s Seamless Hybrid to good use!

yokestravaganza!

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I currently have 3 different yoked sweaters in the works…well, two in the works and one still in yarn form, but definitely next up in the queue!

Let’s start with the one that’s furthest along…my Tensho sweater! I’m about halfway through the yoke chart now, and I love the way it looks in the combination of dark and light blues that I’m using!

Tensho progress!

The yoke chart seems like it’s going to be a bit on the “tall” side for me, so I might need to alter it a bit…or perhaps this will be a sweater that I choose to do an i-cord collar on rather than a ribbed one. We’ll see!

The other yoke-in-progress is yet another babyStripes! (I swear I’ll write this pattern up someday!)

babyStripes! (in cotton + silk)

This one is a bit different from all of the others I’ve knit, though, because there is no wool content. You see, this baby’s mama, a dear friend of mine, is allergic to wool, and I really want her to be able to snuggle her baby. I had zero non-wool yarn in my stash, so I had to go shopping for good substitutes:

Non-wool yarn for babyStripes!

I got a couple of skeins of Blue Sky organic cotton in “Bone”, and a skein of Cascade Tangier, a silk/cotton/rayon blend, that came closest in color range to the bright rainbow colors of Knitpicks Chroma that I usually use for these sweaters.

Yoke closeup

As ever, I’m madly in love the the corrugated rib, the vikkel braid, and the garter ridges that I put in the yoke. It looks really nice in these yarns, too…but my hands really aren’t loving knitting with non-wool! I’ll stick it out for my friend, but I’m eager to get back to my bouncy wools afterward!

Speaking of which, I used my most recent payout from my BT Wool People pattern to get another batch of yarn, this time in *colors* I don’t have in my stash rather than fibers. It’s actually one of my very, very favorite yarns…Beaverslide Dry Goods Worsted!

Future Octopus Yoke cardigan

As you might guess from the colors, this is for a sweater for my daughter, the lover of all things red and pink. Remember when I knit her this sweater? Well, she very nicely requested another one just like it, except red and pink, and a cardigan…and I think it’ll be a nice excuse to work on the pattern a bit. I’m hoping to finish the sweater in time for Winter Solstice, but that might be overly optimistic. We’ll see!

As for the pattern…gosh, I realized the other day that I haven’t actually published a pattern since M was born, despite having developed several new designs in that time, and also having had a backlog of things I could write up dating back to before M was born. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get my feet back under me as a designer, but I’d like to try. Maybe if I plan ahead a little better, that can be a goal for Summer 2019?

Happy Halloween from Rainbow Dash!

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Rainbow Dash!

Back in like, January, M decided that she wanted to be Rainbow Dash for Halloween. This kid, when she gets a Halloween costume idea? She doesn’t budge from it. (Which is quite nice, actually – I’ve heard plenty of horror stories about last-minute costume idea changes, so I guess that’s one upside to a kid who hyperfixates on things!)

So this summer, I started planning, and I took advantage of sales at Joann to pick up the fleece and other supplies. I wanted to minimize sewing, because my machine is currently nonfunctional. One of these days, I’m going to get a new one; it’s just not worth it to put any more money into fixing up my crappy old one. Anyway, my plan was: Primary.com sweatsuit (in “pool”) + rainbow fleece + safety pins + foamcore + glue gun = Rainbow Dash! And I have to say, it worked out pretty well!

I’m a Rainbow Dash costume-making machine tonight. So much fleece-cutting! So many safety pins!

I finally got around to actually MAKING the costume last week. It was a LOT of fleece to cut up into pieces for the mane and the tail, and SO MANY safety pins, but it all came together with no sewing!

Rainbow Dash’s cutie marks are pins that I stitched from fleece. I pinned them on the pockets of M’s hoodie.

Well, I take that back – there was a tiny bit of handsewing, to make the “cutie marks” (which are actually pins that can go on the pockets of her hoodie).

Gluing fleece to foamcore to make Rainbow Dash’s wings.

The wings were made by glueing fleece to foamcore that I cut in the shape of wings; I had thought about possibly just painting the foamcore, but the fleece was so deeply on sale at Joann it was actually cheaper to just get a yard of it than to get paint. I’m really pleased at how well I was able to color-match the fleece to the sweatsuit! I was also able to use the extra light blue fleece to create a strip to which I pinned all of the mane pieces (before pinning the strip to the hood) and then a tie-on “belt” to which I pinned all of the tail pieces, and “straps” which I created by making slits in a strip that I fed though a slit in each wing. Here you can see the wings from the back:

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I wish I’d made that wing strip wider, to keep the wings from folding in over each other so much, but c’est la vie.

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She had such a blast running back and forth on our deck creating “Sonic RainBOOMs!”

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So much running!

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It definitely looks “homemade”, but that’s how I roll when it comes to Halloween costumes, and I’m pretty charmed with how stinking cute my little Rainbow Dash is!

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You might notice that she’s also wearing some (almost-)matching mittens in these pictures. She insisted that she needed blue mitten “hooves” to complete the costume, and, well, I had some leftover Cascade Eco+ in Summer Sky Heather, so I whipped together some quick top-down mittens. They’re a little big and I’m not super happy with how the tops turned out, but stay tuned – I’ve been playing around with it and have a cast-on that I’m really happy with for top-down mittens, and I hope to share a tutorial for simple single-color top-down, ribbed-cuff mittens here on my blog sometime soon!

I hope everyone has a wonderful last day of October, and if you’ll be trick-or-treating, I hope you have a better forecast in store than we do! (It’s supposed to be very cold and rainy on Wednesday night – good thing M can fit a sweater and leggings underneath her sweatsuit, and good thing she has those mitten-hooves, eh?

One year later…pockets!

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Hey, remember this?

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!

Last year, I knit a sweater (and sewed a cat, and made a pompom) so that M could dress up as Peg + Cat. I never actually sewed pockets for her sweater, so she’s just had steeked slits on the sides for an entire year. (Thankfully, she mostly wears the sweater over dresses that have side pockets, so the slits serve as dress-pocket access).

Anywho, one year later, the sweater still fits, and I decided that maybe I should actually put pockets in it. So I borrowed some time on a friend’s sewing machine, and stitched up some flannel pockets:

Pocket!

I did french seams, which is why I wanted to borrow a machine – doing TWO sets of seams per pocket by hand just seemed too much, and that’s what I’d need to do right now because my sewing machine is defunct. Then, I stitched the pockets to the inside of the steek by hand, mostly while I was at work:

My students have a work period today, so I’m stitching in the other pocket. (They already know I’m a knitter!)

(The nice thing about being a writing professor is that sometimes your students are working on writing during class, which means you can work on sewing. My students already know I’m a crafty person, so they weren’t shocked at all when I pulled out this sweater and started stitching!)

We’ve had nothing but rain recently, which has made getting photos a bit of a pain, but here is M’s Peg sweater, in its now TRULY FINISHED glory!

She has real pockets now!

I really like the way the polka-dotted flannel fabric looks with the color of the sweater:

Peeking in the pocket.

The year for school, she’s supposed to dress up as a character from a book for their Halloween celebration, and since Peg + Cat actually started as a book series, and her costume still fits and is easy to wear to school (and Cat fits nicely in her backpack), that’s what she’ll be dressing up as!

She’s got a DIFFERENT costume in the works for Trick-or-Treating, though: I’m turning her into her beloved Rainbow Dash, from My Little Pony. I’ll share photos of that once it’s ready; I’m still working on the wings at the moment. I’ve got a few other things to share, too, if the weather will ever cooperate with photo-taking: progress on Tensho and a recipe for top-down mittens! Rain, rain, go away, please!

Tensho-in-progress, and the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival

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I didn’t manage to turn as much yarn into sweaters as I’d hoped to this summer, mostly because it was just SO hot, and without air-conditioning in our new house, knitting with wool was a bad idea. But we’ve had a couple brief bursts of cooler weather, and I’ve been able to make some good progress on my next sweater: a cardiganized Tensho sweater.

I’m making a cardiganized Tensho out of some long-stashed Cascade 220. Finished the body and started the first sleeve at Knitting Guild last night!

I’m using yarns leftover from the sweater I made for my husband nearly a decade ago, back before I had a good sense of how much yardage husband-sized sweaters actually needed. When I saw the Tensho pattern, I immediately had the idea to use these yarns. The inspiration was this mug:

The mug that inspired my color choices for my Tensho cardigan.

I bought that from a local Fair Trade shop where I’d been performing Bach as part of a fundraiser for my daughter’s school a few years ago…I just fell in love with the colors and the design. So I’m looking forward to having a sweater that matches it!

I went back and forth about whether to knit Tensho as a pullover (like the pattern says to do) or to cardiganize it, but ended up deciding that a cardigan would probably be more useful to me, especially if I ever get serious about learning to sew, because I want to make a bunch of dresses and cardigans definitely work better with dresses than pullovers do.

Making progress on Tensho sleeve number one.

I’m now getting close to finishing the first sleeve, thanks to some knitting time at the first Rochester Knitting Guild meeting of the year, and more of it in the car on the way to the Finger Lakes Fiber festival:

Knitting a sleeve on the way to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival! (With a super-classy paperclip stitch marker, ha!) We can’t go to Rhinebeck this year, so this is our local substitute. We’ll stay through lunch and then head home - much easier when it’s on

We haven’t been to the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival since Fall of 2011, when I was pregnant with my daughter! All of the years since then, we’ve gone to Rhinebeck instead, but we just can’t make that happen this year. It’s much, much easier to do a 35 minute drive than a 5+ hour one!

At the festival, we got to say hi to the alpacas:

Alpaca says hi.

And my daughter fell madly in love with an angora bunny:

Maddy LOVED this angora bunny. She pet it for like, 15 minutes straight.

She pet that bunny for a good 15 minutes straight! I didn’t end up buying anything at the festival…between the current over-full state of my stash, and being too frazzled by the heat and managing my daughter’s impulse-control challenges to make any decisions, purchasing yarn just wasn’t in the cards. It was lovely, though, to get to touch and explore yarns that I previously only knew from the internet, especially Jill Draper’s yarns. We did end up making a couple of small purchases for my daughter, though…

Showing off her haul (a peacock feather and a bunny toy to commentate her encounter with the angora bunny). I actually didn’t purchase anything - my stash is out of control. But it was lovely to get to pet yarns I’d only seen on the Internet.

A peacock feather, and a bunny toy, to commemorate her encounter with the angora bunny. Her bunny, which she named “Bunbun”, joins Ellie the Llama and Baba the Sheep in her collection of fiber-animal toys purchased as fiber festivals.

We’re having what I hope is one last blast of heat, and by the end of the week, we should be in more knitting-friendly temperatures. Thank goodness!

things I make for Maddy: a weighted kitty

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So, I didn’t intend to go quite so long without posting, but with the beginning of the semester, and a string of unpleasant illnesses for me, I just haven’t been able to DO very much lately. But look what I made this weekend!

Happy kiddo with her weighted kitty.

So, as background, we’re big believers in Collaborative Problem Solving, and one persistent problem we have with our dear impulsive sensory-seeker is that she LOVES to pet our cats and try to pick them up and put them on her lap, and, well, our cats are less than enthused about all of that. So, during one problem-solving session where we were discussing this issue, a proposal emerged: I would try to create a weighted kitty toy that she could carry and hold in her lap, and it needed to be soft like kitty fur, so I’d make it out of minky.

This was our sketch:

A sketch of the weighted cat-pillow that M wants me to make for her out of red minky fabric with embroidery. She thinks it would help her bother our cats less if she had a heavy, soft cat pillow she could pet on her lap whenever she wants. And she has a v

As you can probably tell, the end result was a bit, um, wonkier than the original sketch, but let’s just say I would be very, very happy to NEVER SEW WITH MINKY EVER AGAIN, OMG. I was a bit crazy to commit to this project knowing that my sewing machine is currently non-functional – this is 100% hand-sewn, including the inner pockets containing the weighted beads. I probably stabbed myself at least 100 times in the process.

Closeup of “Sweetie Heart’s” kinda wonky face. Embroidering minky is...not fun! The nose and eyes are from minky swatches, and the embroidery was done with couching (the only way to make it show up!); I couched down a double-thick line of Lett-Lopi (grey

Here’s a closeup of the kitty’s face. I used scraps of minky for the eyes and nose, and couching to do all of the rest of the embroidery, because it was the only way I could figure out to make the embroidery actually stand out on a minky background. I couched down a double-thick line of Lett-Lopi (in grey for the whiskers, and red for the mouth and other features) using embroidery floss (white for the whiskers, and hot pink for the mouth and other features). This was incredibly hard to do because of how slippery the minky was. Hence the wonkiness. But hey, it’s kind of charming, and the recipient?

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She could not possibly be more delighted with her new weighted kitty, who she has named “Sweetie Heart”, and she says she wants to throw me a “thank you party” for making it for her. That’s pretty darned gratifying! (I still would like a LONG moratorium on minky-based sewing projects.)

In the end, Sweetie Heart weighs about 5 pounds, and is stuffed with a combination of poly pellets (which are inside pouches that are also made from the red minky) and regular poly filling, and I have to say, it feels pretty darned amazing on my lap, too:

I finished the weighted kitty for M! It’s nowhere near as cute as my sketch, but handstitching with minky is...let’s just say there were a lot of curse words, and also I stabbed myself about 100 times. But it’s so soft and it weighs about 5lbs and it feel

When this kitty is on my lap, I feel this incredible sense of calm and peace in my body. I don’t think M got her sensory processing disorder from nowhere – I’m definitely an SPD person, too. And feeling the incredible difference it made to have this in my lap makes me wonder if I should get myself a weighted lap pad to use while I’m working. I’d also love to have a weighted blanket for sleeping, too. I think I’ll let someone else make those, though!