things i make for maddy (but wish i could keep for myself!): a hat

I wanna keep it for me!

Yesterday, I finished the 2×2 rib hat that I’ve been knitting from the leftover yarn from the very first hat I ever made for M, back when she was still known only as “the munchkin”. For those who are interested, I cast on 164 stitches on size 2 needles using a sport/heavy sock weight yarn, and knit for 10 inches, and then decreased in a manner that I kind of made up on the fly but it looks ok, so whatever!

Top of the hat. Not 100% sure if I love the way I decreased but it worked, so whatever.

I’d cast on intending it for M, but 2×2 is so very stretchy, and it fit me so nicely, so I thought maybe, maybe she’d let me keep it for myself, if I plied her with yarn she’d previously squealed with joy over, in the Knitpicks catalog (Hawthorne Fingering Kettle Dye in “Turkish Delight”), and promised to knit her a 2×2 ribbed hat from it.

We'll find out tonight whether M wants this hot pink yarn to be a hat or socks.

But alas, my ploy did not work. Yesterday was the Equinox, and I put both the hat and the skein of yarn in M’s gift bag. We do a “Something to Do, Something to Wear, Something to Read” system for our seasonal gift giving, and she was also receiving a really cool dominoes set from Hape (“To Do”), the book “Rosie Revere, Engineer” (“To Read”, obviously!), and a kid-sized baby carrier so that she could wear her baby doll (“To Wear”). I figured that since the “To Wear” part of the gift wasn’t clothes, the hat and skein could go along with it. ANYWAY, I told M that I would very much like to exchange with her, and keep the hat but knit her a pink hat with the skein of yarn I’d bought just for her, to which she replied, “No, mama, you knit the hat for me, and I want the pink yarn to be SOCKS.” Oh, dear child, I’m glad you are not afraid to assert your wishes clearly, and I love you, so it’s yours…the hat, AND the yarn, which I will turn into socks for you.

Finished hat (in time for Equinox celebrations!), plus the skein through which I hope to "purchase" said hat from M :)

I can’t complain too much – at least I have a recipient who passionately loves the things I knit for her!

199 weeks with M


This morning, M told me she’d do something (I don’t remember what, at this point) in “199 weeks”. I noted to her that 199 weeks was almost 4 whole years – and then realized that M, also, is almost 4 whole years old. I was curious, so I checked the calendar, and she is actually 199 weeks old THIS WEEK! I stopped keeping track of how many weeks old she was when she turned one, so I’m glad she randomly mentioned 199 weeks today because I think it’s a pretty nifty milestone!

Wearing our woolens in the garden after church. Such a lovely cool morning!
In the garden after church this past weekend

I’m so glad that M came into my life 199 weeks ago, even though I’d say the first half of those 199 weeks included some of the darkest days of my life. But. But. The person I’ve grown into, and the relationship I’ve developed with her – those have been the gifts of these 199 weeks of life as parent, these weeks that would be basically unrecognizable as “my life” to the person I was before M was born. And now I can’t imagine life any other way.

I scrolled through Flickr today, inspired by this arbitrary milestone, and laughed at how many pictures I’ve taken of just me and my girl. Child of mine, you bring me so much joy. (And pain and stress and sleep-deprivation, but let’s focus on the joy! Indulge me as I post a million photos, dear Readers.)

"Mama, take a picture of us looking silly together!"  Ok, kiddo!
Giggling on the couch

It's always windy up at the lake.
Windswept at the beach

Huddled up together.
Under your umbrella, ella, ella…

All dolled up.
Dolled up at a wedding

She likes to lay on my back on the bed. She calls it "playing alligator" for some reason :)
Flying on the bed

Getting snuggled :)
You give such great snuggles!

Me and my girl (finally got commencement-day photos off the DSLR)
You and my dissertation grew up together, kiddo!

Yeah, we're weirdos.
I love how wacky you are!

Us, after finishing the "fun run" (M's school had a 5k race today, which A ran, followed by a 1/4mile fun run, which M and I ran, holding hands)
And I love how much you love the things I knit for you

Me and my girl. I love this kid so much.
You can be so unbelievably sweet

Tired ladies.
We’ve been sick together so many times in these 199 weeks

Maddy and mama
And you’ve had so many rides on my back…

2013: Day 31 - a ride on mama's back
…not all of them in the carrier!

Oh, my little MaddySMASH…

Walkway Over The Hudson
You’ve been a wonderful Rhinebeck companion these last 3 years

this kid.
I love you so much

Nose to nose
So very very much

Me and my girl
I remember when your daddy took this photo – as I snuggled you, I felt the first truly intense wave of love for you wash over me, 8 weeks after you were born

Maddy and me in our matching sweaters
We’ve had matching sweaters from the very beginning

Madrigal Alice Harrison Watts, 7lbs 6.8oz, born 10:26am. We are in love!
Where it all began
(though I have no memory of this picture being taken, I’ll always treasure it.)

199 weeks in the books!



Now that I’m back to a regular teaching schedule and M is back to all sorts of activities, I’ve rediscovered my love of small, mindless projects – things I can knit wherever I am, whether it’s sitting at the pool during a swim lesson…

Pike swim lessons - I don't have to be in the water with her anymore and that's pretty awesome!

…waiting for the service to begin at my UU church…

Knitting before the service at my UU church, wearing a shawl because it's SO COLD today!

…walking home from the bus after a long day on campus…

Knitting while walking home from the bus. 2x2 rib is perfect for mindless knitting to keep my hands busy!

…or watching an episode of Portlandia with my husband before bedtime.

8:30pm - knitting and Portlandia before bed. #adayinthelifephotochallenge

This 2×2 rib tube has kept my hands busy for the past week.

A tube! This has kept my hands busy for the past week or so. Leftover yarn from M's very first hat.

It’s going to be a hat, eventually. I’m using the yarn from the very first hat I ever knit for M, back when she was only known as “the munchkin”:

hat for the munchkin

Indulge me, but I’ve got to include the picture of her wearing it after here 2 week well baby visit:

Coming home from the pediatrician

Awww. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was looking at those old photos with M, and mentioned to her that I might have enough leftover yarn to make her a hat that would fit her now. She seemed interested, so I cast on (164sts on size 2 needles using Twisted German Cast-On, for anyone who’s interested in details), and knit away, but as the tube grew longer, I grew more worried that the hat was going to be too small – it’s amazing how much 2×2 rib contracts! So, I tried it on my own head:

I'm knitting this for M. Or at least, I meant for it to be hers. But gosh, it fits me, too, and I kinda want to steal it! #badmama

Well, no need to worry – if I can get it on my noggin, it’ll fit hers. But…gosh, now that I’ve tried it on, I want to keep it for myself! It goes so nicely with my blue-green eyes, after all…

It matches my eyes, after all! (M's are chocolate brown). We'll see.

…so, we’ll see. If I do end up stealing my own child’s hat (bad mama!), worry not, there are more hats on the way for her! I recently ordered some more Chroma from Knitpicks (for making more Stripes! cardigans), and while I was at it, threw in a skein of Hawthorne sock yarn in the bright magenta color that M had squealed over when we were looking at the Knitpicks catalog. So my plan is to give that skein to her with her Fall Equinox gifts, and ask her if she’d prefer a hat in that color. I’m pretty sure I’ll get my way with this one :)

And beyond the 2×2 rib hats, I’ve also been plotting a Foxy hat for M. There’s just one problem…

All those teeny balls used to be a single skein of Malabrigo. Then Ren got ahold of it and snuggled it, with teeth. I salvaged what I could and hope it'll still work for a Foxy hat for M!

All those tiny balls used to be a single skein of Malabrigo worsted in “Natural”. Then Ren got ahold of it and snuggled it, with teeth. And, well, I salvaged what I could. I always boggle at folks who have cats and can leave yarn/projects in open baskets or on shelves…not with this cat! I swear, Ren is a wool-seeking missile. And not just for yarn, but for projects, too – unless I get cabinets with glass doors, I will *always* have to hide away all of my knits when I’m not wearing them. Sad! But anyway, I think that despite the damage, I can get a nice-looking Foxy hat out of this:

Future Foxy Hat for M

And all this talk of hats reminds me that I have an almost-ready-to-release pattern/tutorial for the hat (and matching mittens) I knit for M (and for all of her cousins) last year:

a girl and her leaf.

Just gotta look over it and maybe pester my test-knitters for a little more feedback and then I think it’ll be ready to go, in time for last-minute Rhinebeck knitting, even!

on my needles and on my mind


I had all these grand plans for knitting and pattern-writing this summer, and…well, they didn’t really materialize. I am so very good at doing things in my head (my imaginary knits are incredible, you guys!), but actually doing them in reality is sometimes beyond my grasp. I’m sure it doesn’t help that I spend so much time daydreaming when I could actually be doing, but I’m not sure I’d have any motivation to do if it weren’t for the daydreaming…the trouble, as with pretty much everything in life, is finding a good balance! And then of course there’s the problem of feeling like I’ve accomplished something just by deciding that I’ll do it, and then forgetting to, you know, actually do it. I get stuck at step one. Oh, adulting. It’s hard.

But anyway, I did knit quite a bit this summer, but it was a rather unfocused sort of knitting that resulted in quite a few WIPs and not a whole lot of FOs. But here’s a run-down of the stuff that’s currently on my needles, and if not on my needles just yet, most pressingly on my mind.

Stripes cardi-in-progress for me.

My Stripes! cardigan is still in progress, and now has about 3/4 of a sleeve. I’m really delighted with how it’s turning out, and hope to wear it to Rhinebeck this year. (I’d best get a move on that, since that’s only a little over a month away!) I’m still planning to write up a top-down pattern for both adults and kiddos, and on that note, I’ll be knitting a newborn-sized one quite soon, as a gift to two of the ministers at my UU church – they are expecting their first baby in late November, and I couldn’t think of a better gender-neutral piece of knitwear for two amazing UU ministers than a cardigan with rainbows on it.

Garter Rib cardigan #2 for M

On the knits-for-Rhinebeck front, I also cast on for a second Garter Rib cardigan for M (and, as with Stripes!, have plans to release a pattern once I’ve finished writing/testing it). Her old one was getting a bit snug (though it did fit her for a good long time, thanks to the stretchy garter rib!), so we passed it down to her cousin Emma, along with her old Stripes! cardigan (which reminds me – I’d like to knit M another one of those, too!) Check out the amazing buttons that M chose for her new Garter Rib cardigan (the purple ones were to replace the lost buttons on her old one before we gave it to Emma):

Maddy chose the purple buttons to go on the old garter rib cardi (which she's passing down to cousin Emma) and the awesome octopus ones for her new garter rib cardi (which I'm currently knitting).

I just cast on for the sleeve of M’s new cardigan…gosh, I love tubular cast-ons!

Gosh I just love tubular cast-ons

Other things that have crept onto my needles recently include another pumpkin hat:

Another pumpkin hat (in progress)

And another “padded sweet tomato heel” sock for M:

"Jupiter" sock number one

The colors remind us of Jupiter, so I’ve been calling them “Jupiter” socks. I carried the slipped heel stitch all the way down the sole of the sock, and am happy with how that turned out:

"Padded Sweet Tomato Heel"

I really like Cat Bordhi’s “Padded Sweet Tomato Heel”, though my slipped stitches sometimes do get a little wonky in combination with the short rows. I think it might be because I’m doing the heel over an even number of stitches but her tutorial is over an odd number, so I’m turning on the slipped stitches in a way that she’s not. Something to think about for the next pair!

I also picked up a skein of Feederbrook Farm Entropy (I was getting a skein for my GMDS swap partner, and couldn’t bear not to pick one up for myself, too), which is turning into a Wurm hat for me:

Wurm-to-be (for me)

Those blues and purples just sing to me!

As if all these things aren’t enough, I also really want to knit myself some bootliners, and got a few Pam Powers patterns to get me started. My first pair will be charcoal grey, because that’s a really useful color in my wardrobe:


And I haven’t given up my intention to knit up lots of cowls and other neck adornments, too. And of course there’s my long-stalled Lopi Affection cardigan, the finishing of the Mitered Crosses Blanket, and the never ending and ever-expanding list of both patterns I hope to knit and designs I hope to create from stash yarn, and goodness gracious do I ever have a lot of stash yarn to work through! (And oh gosh, there’s sewing, too…oh, dear brain of mine, there is only one of me!) My fingers can’t keep up with my imagination, but I’m really trying this year to be mindful about my acquisitions, and about actually setting about doing the things I’ve dreamed up. Wish me luck?

back to school!


Yesterday was the first day of school of the 2015-2016 school year for both M and me!

It's the first day for BOTH of us!

As much of a privilege as it was to get to spend so much of every day with M this summer, I’m not going to lie – I found it to be very, very challenging. My hat goes off to the folks who stay home with their kids, because that’s definitely not a life I’m cut out for. I feel so much more like myself when I’m teaching, and honestly, teaching freshmen about writing and thinking comes WAY more naturally to me than parenting a 3 year old does! It’s very good to feel competent at my daily work again. But I’m sure I will miss being able to do so many fun activities, like our trips up to the beach at Lake Ontario,

Out-of-focus toe-dipping at the beach.
dipping our toes…

We rode the carousel together :)
…riding the carousel (aka “horsey train”)…

Making a sandcastle.
…and building sandcastles!

and our afternoon baking sessions,

We're making oatmeal date cookies!
oatmeal date cookies!

and many, many visits to the playground,

So proud of this kid! She decided to learn how to climb a new thing, and kept at it until she could do it without any help from me!
learning to climb a new thing!

and to Highland Park,

In her favorite tree (at Highland Park)
hanging out with her “special tree friend”

and all those walks with the wagon up to our bed in the community garden:

On our way to do some maintenance at our community garden bed.
she LOVES this wagon!

It’ll be much harder to do most of these things, now that we’re back to full days at school for both of us. Not only that, but we’re already losing noticeable amounts of light at the end of the day, and I’ve lived here long enough to know what’s coming: darkness before we’re even home for the evening. But before that happens, there will be time for apple picking, and Rhinebeck, and hopefully at least some weekend visits to Highland Park and our other beloved gardens and playspaces. And there’s a very exciting new activity that will fill our time together on Friday afternoons, when I pick M up at 3pm instead of 5pm – she’s starting violin lessons at Hochstein! She’s been asking to play violin for a full year now, and I think she’s finally ready to pay attention at a lesson, so here we go! It’ll be interesting to be on the “Suzuki parent” side of things, instead of the (older) “Suzuki student” side of things!

So here’s “goodbye!” to summer, and “hello!” to the new school year. I’ll close with a photo I actually took by accident, but ended up loving…all of M’s summer things, strewn about the porch:

Summer Stuff
her rock and stick “treasures”, her sand bucket, her bubble stuff

Happy new school year, everyone!

hey, remember when we used to knit socks all the time?

Kitchenering sock number one, at the playground.

Well, here’s one! I cast on last week for an M-size sock (which, though noticeably smaller than a me-size sock, isn’t as MUCH smaller as you might think!) and was able to kitchener the toe shut while watching M play in the sandbox at the playground yesterday. She was delighted to model it:

All done!

Awhile back, I came across the Cat Bordhi’s “Sweet Tomato Heel” videos on YouTube, and was really interested in the “Padded” version she demonstrated – it has the same slip-stitch pattern as a traditional heel flap, but carried around the short-row heel (which is not a standard one – it’s a series of smaller wedges over 2/3rds of the total stitches). So, I decided that I’d try it out on M’s sock, and it worked great! She says it is very very comfortable.

The rest of the sock is pretty basic – I cast on 56 stitches with backwards loop, and did a picot cuff by knitting 5 rounds, then a *YO, k2tog* round, then 5 more, then knitting the next round together with the cast-on loops. Then 2×2 rib down to where the heel started, and once the heel was finished, I only kept the ribbing going on the top of the foot – all of the stitches that had been part of the slip-stitch heel were just knit in stockinette. (I’m actually curious, if I knit another pair, what it would feel like if I carried the slip-stitches all the way up the bottom of the foot. Would that be like the kind of “padded” soles on some storebought socks?). I really like the 2×2 rib, because the stretchiness makes it easy for M to put the socks on for herself, and the Sweet Tomato Heel also seems to be easier for her than either the heel flap or the short-row garter stitch heels on the other socks I’ve knit for her (which she has since outgrown).

M was having such a blast at the playground that I was able to cast on for sock #2:

Starting sock number two.

And by the end of the evening, I was almost done with the leg ribbing and ready to start the heel. Yesterday made me remember part of the old appeal of sock projects – they’re so portable! Though I’m a sweater knitter at heart, sweaters-in-progress (at least, the way I like to knit them, which is as seamless as possible) are not exactly easy to bring along to the playground. Socks, though? Socks are great. (Shawls are pretty good, too, though!)

I’m not promising a sock-knitting revival here, but it seems that knitting socks for my kid is WAY more exciting than knitting socks for me! It helps that she is such an appreciative recipient of them, but really, I just don’t get much out of knitting socks for myself anymore. For awhile I was really into my Smartwool knee highs, but they eventually wore through. I quite like the inexpensive (certainly cheaper than a skein of sock yarn!) Smartwool-knockoff socks from Costco that I’ve been wearing for the last few years. In the winter, I mostly wear boots, and thus need knee-high socks, and if I’m going to put in the time to knit a pair of knee-high socks, well, I’d rather spend it knitting sweaters. But I do have a bit of a problem, which is that the Costco socks that I love aren’t actually knee-high, and with my boots, I need the knee-high socks to act as a barrier between my boots and my tights, otherwise my tights get shredded. I’m actually tempted to get a bootliner kit from Craftsy and make myself some bootliners to wear with the Costco socks. Perhaps that will be my new portable project of choice (when I’m not knitting socks for M).

things i knit for maddy(‘s baby doll): a wool soaker!


I finished a draft of a manuscript, so had some *actually* free time this morning while M is at camp. Apparently, when left to my own devices, I will follow through on whatever idea pops into my head at that moment, craft-wise, and thus, I created these:

Sometimes I knit doll undies on a whim.

Yep, doll undies. M’s baby doll had a nice little felt diaper, once upon a time, but it got lost somewhere, and she’s been bringing naked baby everywhere with her recently. I thought maybe baby could use a wool soaker, so I got out some Lion Brand Fishermans Wool, some size 6 dpns, and made her one.

Baby's diaper got lost, and I thought she could maybe use a "soaker". Just made it up to fit baby perfectly. I hope M likes it!

No pattern – I just cast on what appeared to be the right number of stitches using backwards-loop (I actually just held it up against baby and guesstimated from that), then knit a few rows of garter stitch for the front before decreasing to make the curve of the leg holes, and then reversed that to make the back side of the leg holes, did some short rows, etc etc…I basically used the same “recipe” as for the diaper cover I designed for M a couple years ago (which I should maybe actually write up someday?). The ribbing at the waist was done using smaller dpns – I think they were size 3s. And the fit is perfect!

I guess now that baby has a soaker, she probably should get a sweater, too, eh? Maybe that’ll be my project for another day :)