Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunny Days

Silas likes to go for walks - they instantly calm down a very fussy baby like nothing else.  The temperature in Iowa has been soaring of late, which makes for great walking weather, but also great sunburn weather.  What's a mom to do when it's too hot for her collection of wool and acrylic baby hats, and the summer hats fit like this?

Obviously, design a cotton bucket hat.  There probably exist patterns for baby bucket hats, but I decided to challenge myself a little.  

So, here it is - my first pattern:

Baby Bucket Hat for Sunny Days


One skein of 100% cotton worsted-weight yarn - I used Peaches and Creme Denim
H hook. I crochet very tightly, so if you are a loose crocheter, try an F hook instead
Tapestry needle to weave in ends


Make 6 single crochet in a magic loop

The crown is worked in continuous spirals without joining. You can use a stitch marker in the first stitch to keep track of the rounds' beginning, but I just count stitches

Round 1: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sts)
Round 2: Sc in first sc, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (18 sts)
Round 3: Sc in next 2 sc, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (24 sts)
Round 4: Sc in next 3 sc, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (30 sts)
Round 5: Sc in next 4 sts, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (36 sts)
Round 6: Sc in next 5 sts, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (42 sts)
Round 7: Sc in next 6 sts, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around (48 sts)
Round 8: Sc in next 7 sts, 2 sc in next sc, repeat around, sl st in next sc to join (54 sts)

Round 9: Chain 2 (counts as first hdc), working in back loops only, hdc in each sc around, join in second ch of first hdc
Rounds 10-14: Ch 2, hdc around, join


Round 15: Ch 2, working in back loops only hdc in same st, hdc in next st, *2 hdc in next st, hdc in next hdc, repeat from around, join
Round 16: Ch 2, hdc around, join
Round 17: Ch 2, hdc in same st, hdc in next two sts, *2 hdc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, repeat from * around, join
Round 18: Ch 2, hdc around, join

Fasten off, weave in ends

Options: For a larger hat to fit an older baby, add one or more rounds to the crown and body of the hat, or use a larger hook 
Crochet the last round or two before the brim in a contrasting color for a classic hat-band look
For a more ruffly, girly style, change Round 15 to “2 hdc in every st,” and replace Round 17 with Round 15's original directions (increase every other st). This would look very cute with a flower embellishment sewed to the body.  All girls' hats should have a giant flower tacked onto them.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday at last!

 I accomplished things today.  I went grocery shopping, paid my insurance, set up an installment plan for those pesky hospital bills, fixed an issue on Silas's coverage, and set up an appointment to meet with a possible daycare provider.

As for finished objects for the week, you've seen the bag:

And the bookmark:

Both of which leave me giddy with feelings of fulfillment.  I need to put my beloved kindle aside for a while and read a real book so that I can put the bookmark to use.

Other than that, I have only finished these:

I'm torn between naming her Wilhelmina and calling her Billie for Billie Piper, or naming her Elizabeth and calling her one of the 30 odd nicknames that would provide.  Anyway, real quick dress and shrug pattern so that she's no longer running around naked, made from more leftovers of the Great Knitted Thing of 2006.  The shrug came out a little odd and doesn't fit her at all well, but shrugs are like that anyway, in my opinion.  While crocheting it I watched the first few episodes of the second season of Dark Shadows.  Soap operas were different in the 60's, weren't they?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wrapping up

This edition of WIP Wednesday is brought to you on Thursday courtesy of fussy babies everywhere.

I restarted the Belle Ruffle gloves in blue and white, since I have lots and lots of Caron Simply Soft leftover from when I cosplayed as Rinoa way back in 2006, a time when I believed I could knit anything, no matter how big and crazy.

Also when my hair was long.  I miss my long hair.  Right up until I remember having to wash it.

I cast on enough stitches to make one more ruffle, which gives me a little more wiggle room for my giant hands.  Once I'd finished the ruffly portion, I showed it to my husband, who said he didn't like it.

He said it had been better in the pink and gray, more feminine.  I agreed that I wasn't in love with the new colors, but decided to ask Ravelry just to be sure.  Ravelry said my husband is crazy, so trusting the goodwill of random internet strangers, and the fact that we were on the golf course and I don't golf, I plowed ahead.

It is pretty darn cute, I think.  Reminds me of Disney's Alice in Wonderland.  Blue dress, white pinafore, all that.  Back then, blue was the color for girls, while manly red-shades like pink were for boys.

I also started another dishcloth (crazy, I know) for the sake of Ravelry.  It's a nice balance of mindless and complex.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled UFO Thursday.

I finally finished the Everlasting Bagstopper.  The handle is nice, sturdy single crochet, the ends are woven in, the cats approves.

If you look closely you can even see the second cat in those shots.  Camera-friendly Jiji is not.

Finally, all in one day I managed to finish the crocheted bookmark.

 Thread crochet is a bit tedious when it isn't lacy; it takes forever to see any length appear.  The end result is very nice, however - imagine squashing a worsted-weight bookmark in between the pages.  Yick.

 On the non-crafty side of life, Ryan and I celebrated our 2-year anniversary.  He bought me flowers.

Then we opened our hospital bills, agreed never to buy flowers again, and told Silas he was going to have to get a job.

Anyone know of any openings for a professional milk-taster?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Something to squee about

I feel like I had a productive weekend.  Stuff got done.  Not the vitally important stuff, of course, but stuff.  Laundry, shopping, pumping.  Stuff.

I finally bought some doll eyes so that I can continue working on the Basic Amigurumi doll.

Why not brown, after all?

While I was a it, I bought a doll stand!

Now Mirasol, who I am debating on renaming Marigold, can stand up, in a head-lolling kind of way.

And to her left, you can see my last squee purchase.  In my quest to provide Ravelry with as many pictures for its pattern database as possible, I came across several Barbie patterns and was charmed by the idea.  However, I haven't owned any Barbies since I reluctantly donated my collection before going to college.  I really adored those dolls, silly as it may seem, and I can't wait to have a daughter some day so I can start buying them again.  These patterns, so desperately in need of pictures, gave me an excuse.  After all, Barbie can be a valid craft project, and I am a crafter.  And it's garage sale season.  My husband can not object to one Barbie, bought for a quarter, with no clothing or accessories.  She hardly takes up any room.

Here she is, yet unnamed (perhaps Ella?), clothed in the latest from MS Paint, because apparently I'm a bit prudish about doll nudity.

I'm absurdly pleased to have her, because evidently I'm five years old at heart.  You know what?  I'm okay with that.  I just love dolls.

Friday, May 11, 2012

FO Friday

Time to roll out the projects I've finished in the last week.  I can't imagine that this will be a terribly regular feature - I'm not so fast a knitter as to warrant even one FO every week, and once I go back to work I'll be lucky to get a blog post per week.

Of course there was the dishcloth.  I really haven't subscribed to the dishcloth madness that seems to have all of knittingdom in its clutches.  I don't quite 'get' it, though I understand why so many others flock to them.  The more decorative ones I don't mind making, though.  These star-shaped ones (and matching coasters) I made a couple years ago were fun.

They make TERRIBLE dishcloths, in my opinion.  Or maybe it's just the way that after I've used them to scrub the dishes (or the baby) and throw them in the washer, they come out looking dingy, misshapen, and a little ratty.  It really kills their appeal, considering I originally made them more as something pretty to put a hot plate on, and only used them for cleaning because all of my real dishcloths were in the wash.

It was a bit of a lark, but when I discovered that this pattern for barefoot baby sandals didn't have an action shot on Ravelry, I whipped one up quickly and put it on Silas's unsuspecting foot to remedy the problem.  As another Raveler put it, "Without the baby foot in them it’s kind of like a photo game of “Guess What This Is."  They're just about the cutest things ever.  I might just get it in my head to devise some sort of masculine version, though it will be a shame to lose the pretty little pink flowers.  There must be some kind of adorable boy-friendly appliques out there!  Little bear faces, perhaps.

The little hat that I made for Silas was such a hit that my cousin-in-law's wife asked me to make one for her son.  I thought Henry was a year old this month, but apparently I'm dazed and confused, because he's only nine months.  My fears that the hat was turning out too large were allayed when I saw the size of the kid's noggin, but I won't rest completely easy until I see a picture of it on his head.  For now, here's a picture of it on a large ball of yarn balancing on a custard cup

Finally, another photo-adoption - a doll-sized Christmas hat for the much-neglected Heather.  I'd had all these aspirations of creating an entire wardrobe for her that I would one day be able to share with a daughter, but so far, this is it.

I have several sewing, knitting, and crochet patterns stockpiled, but somehow I just never get around to it.  Maybe if I do have a daughter in a few years, I'll be better motivated.  Ah well.  For a supposedly Christmas hat, it came out awfully strawberry-like.  It does make me want to find more doll clothes in need of photos; unfortunately most of them are for Barbies.  I have a dangerous inclination to go buy a Barbie . . .

I frogged the pink glove, may it rest in peace.  I have the yarn for a second attempt lined up in front of me on the desk, but I'm leery of being burned again.  I might have to do a gauge swatch.  And math.


The knitting stops here, so those not on board with crazy ramblings should depart.  Of course, I say knitting when everything pictured is crocheted...

If there was one thing I needed to worry about (like I didn't have enough red flags as it was), it's probably this - that an outside party would express an interest, and like Katniss Everdeen the world would suddenly find her desirable.  The world is one man, and it really isn't fair.  I ask you, when weighed against progeny, how does the damsel in distress measure up?  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

UFO Thursdays

Thursdays are for flying saucers.

Or so it would seem.  Any knitter will tell you that a UFO tends to lurk in project bags and closets rather than the depths of space.  I have a terrifying collection of UnFinished Objects cluttering up various corners of the house, and my resolution to finish them this year has been off to a rocky start.

Enter Ravelry again, and the group One Day a Week for UFOs.  From now on Thursdays are dedicated to those looming half-finished projects that I steadfastly ignore the rest of the time.

Today I finally ironed and trimmed off the ends of a dishcloth that I actually started back in March.

It's a knitting pattern off of a Sugar and Cream label.  It packs a nice punch for a really simple pattern, though it was agonizing on my hands to knit so tightly with unforgiving cotton yarn.  I'm experimenting with taking better pictures, or at least finding more interesting backgrounds.  I've asked Ryan a couple times for advice, but despite almost having a degree in commercial photography he doesn't seem interesting in photographing knitwear for his wife.

I also pulled down the Everlasting Bagstopper that's been hanging in my kitchen collecting bags of chips for the past two years and finally wove in its ends and started crocheting a handle onto it so that it can finally fulfill its destiny as a reusable shopping bag, assuming I ever remember to bring my reusable shopping bags with me when I go to the store.  Heaven knows I'd miss all the plastic bags, though, since they line the various garbage cans upstairs and also come in handy for cleaning the cat boxes.

Ryan is contemplating giving the cats away as a money-saving measure.  I can see the logic, but I can't bear the thought of their ending up put to sleep in a shelter or mistreated somewhere.  I couldn't let them go unless I knew they were going to a good home.  Fingers crossed that it doesn't come to a head for a while yet.

How can I possibly let these poor dears go?  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WIP Wednesday

Next on the agenda is Works in Progress, wherein I'm supposed to talk about what I'm working on at the moment.  Whee!

I started the Belle Ruffle fingerless gloves, found them to be very engaging and uniquely constructed, and slowly  came to the realization that they were just going to be too darn small, and I don't have enough of the yarn I'm using to make them bigger.  OF COURSE it's a discontinued colorway.  I just don't have the heart right now to rip them out, nor to continue and keep them to give as a gift for someone with more femininely-sized hands.  At the moment I'm holding a tiny little grudge against all women with tiny little hands.

Someday, when I'm feeling less emotional about it, I'll try again with a different yarn.  Maybe.  They'll probably just make my arms look fat.

Bitter?  Me?

The ruffles were so much fun to make, too.

I have two more projects in process for my volunteer editing on Rav - the first being a lady-bug inspired doll dress.  I'm using scraps of Caron Simply Soft and Vanna's Choice instead of Red Heart yarn, and a smaller hook, so it should fit Heather pretty well even though it's designed for the chunkier American Girl dolls.  I just now realized that the first bits of red yarn I used were from the Scarlet colorway that I used for Ryan's Rooster Hat, and the rest is from the remnants of Laura's hat and scarf (still haven't sent them to her, need to get on that . . . ), which is Cranberry and a couple shades darker.  So for no reason at all the dress will have a bright red waistband.

The pattern doesn't give any clues as to how the back is supposed to be fastened.  I may just improvise some kind of button and loop.  Heather has enough hair that it won't make any real difference.

The other photo-adoption is Beth Ann Webber's Basic Amigurumi Doll.  So far we have the head, torso, and whites of the eyes.

I have no idea where this yarn came from or what it is, but it's probably some variety of Red Heart.  The doll is smaller than I thought, but that's okay because I'm not confident about the yarn holding out.  I went to Ben Franklin's to buy the animals eyes so I can finally finish the head, but I entirely forgot to check what size I needed, and as it turns out they only have them available in orange or brown.  I'd prefer green or blue (or purple or hazel), and while orange or brown wouldn't be terrible, I would then be stuck with two more sets of orange or brown eyes and no intention of ever using them.  I'll have to see if I have some plain black shank buttons instead.  The pattern calls for #8 perle cotton, which I'd never heard of before, and which Ben Franklin doesn't carry.  They have #5 and #3, but not 8.  A bit of googling suggested that it would be equivalent to #20 crochet thread, but as I don't care for this doll to have ecru eye whites, I just crocheted very tightly with #10.  She'll have big eyes.

And finally, a bit of fun stash-busting - the beginnings of a cat bed.  8 strands of yarn, one giant hook.  It's a bit of a pain, but the idea is so much fun that I don't mind.

Fortunately cats are color-blind.

On the non-knitting side of things, I actually got out of the house and accomplished some things today, so my self-esteem is a few notches higher.  Adding to that is the fact that I managed to shower for the first time in nearly a week.  Once I got into the shower, I wanted to stay for the rest of the day, too.  Ryan wouldn't have appreciated that much, though since I actually have some milk frozen now, he would have survived for a few hours.  

I've been very lazy about pumping.  It's a messy, mind-numbingly boring, uncomfortable business.  But if I plan on going back to work, or going anywhere without Silas, there must be milk for him.  It takes some of the convenience and affordability out of nursing, I tell you.

We're counting down the days until we have the go ahead to resume our favorite extracurricular activity.  That should improve my mood vastly.

Monday, May 7, 2012


You know what's really annoying?  Trucking along with a fun pattern, seeing how cute it's turning out, discovering you're going to have just enough yarn, realizing that the finished product is going to be too small.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Becoming Xanga

My mother-in-law and I were talking about photographing FOs last night.  She said she used to, way before Internet even existed, until it finally got out of hand and she quit.  She didn't elaborate as to whether out of hand meant she was using up too much film and energy on something she no longer saw the point of, or if it meant that too many projects were slipping away before she could get a photo and she got too discouraged, but I told her that Ravelry is a big motivator, and that blogging is another, though I'm not very good at blogging.  Ryan asked what I meant, and I said that it's hard to find new things to say about knitting - I don't have any new techniques or patterns to share, so it's just a FO gallery, and I don't always know what to say other than, "Here is something I made."  Ryan replied that it's not always what I say so much as how I say it.  I mumbled that I haven't figured that out, either, and he expressed disbelief.  He told me that I'm a really good writer, and if I need any proof, just look at my xanga.  When I wrote regularly on that, it was zany and colorful and interesting, even when it was impossible to tell what I was talking about.

There's a long story behind why I stopped writing after college, and one that I'd rather not get into, but it's a big part of why I feel like half a person anymore.  I used to go through about three journals a year, fill up our computer's hard drive with stories and poems, and I'd just itch if I wasn't writing something.  I was never good with plots, so most of my creative writing was fragmented unless it was for a class, but I had a voice, it was unique, and I had enough positive feedback from teachers and friends to make me believe that yes, I was a pretty good writer.  So it makes me sad to think how dry and dull this blog is.  "Here is a picture of my baby/cats/crocheted bunny."  I want it to be more than that, but it means unlocking my writer, and frankly, she isn't always nice, she often doesn't make sense, and she never, ever stays on topic.  She asks a lot more questions than she ever manages to answer, and frequently she says things that she doesn't necessarily mean or feel to the full extent that she expresses them; there's just a root of a thought growing in her mind that she plants on paper and expands upon as best she can imagine it, whether or not it's actually affecting her as much as the writing implies.  Just because I'm moved to write, for instance, a poem about a person committing suicide from a first-person perspective, does not mean that I want to die.  It's more of a thought-experiment than anything else.  "Here is something to write about, let me find out if I can."  The mountain is there, so I climb it.  Or maybe, for a split second, I do want to harm myself.  I write it out, and that bleeds the poison out of my head, onto the paper (or screen), and that in itself is cathartic enough.  The writing may make the split-second thought a hundred times longer than it actually was, but again, I'm climbing a mountain.

The point of my ramblings here is that this blog might take a different turn.  It was originally created as a knitting blog, as something to do to help distract me from the pain of Gabriel's death, and because knitting is such a big part of my life now that naturally, I want to write about it.  However, there's obviously been more than just pictures of knitting.  Plenty of posts are just random bursts about Gabriel, about my fears and sadness, and whatever pops into my head.  A lot of it is heavily censored, as compared to how I would have written it in my xanga.  From now on, this is my xanga.  I don't know if anyone is reading it now, I don't know if anyone will want to read it, but no more censoring.  I want to get my writer back.

I also want to write about knitting from time to time, which I did on my xanga anyway, so expect to see pictures, and uncensored opinions about them, bwahahahaha . . .

Of course, I may as well warn you that it's going to get pretty crazy here, but at the same time, it may take a while to become anything like what it used to be, so if it's still peppered with boring, "I knitted this, I used yarn, I'm pretty happy with it," you'll just have to bear with me.  I'm still healing, and I'm still trying to figure out what I think about anything.  You'd be surprised how well a person can lock away their opinions when they feel they're not wanted, or that they're too dangerous to share.  It can be be very difficult to break them back out, and they may cringe away from the sunlight even longer than it takes their eyes to adjust.

They may also make laboured analogies to describe them and use British spellings for words like 'labored' for no reason at all, and without even realizing it until spellcheck spits out a bit of red rickrack to underline the fact that Blogger can't quite cope with the amount of British literature the writer reads.

Tally ho!

In other news, the Ravelry blogging group suggests that this should be Squee Sunday, wherein I 'squee' about something new and knitterly.  I'm not sure how to go about this, though I can be squeeful with the best of them.


Squee!  I now own a Q sized crochet hook!  It is ridiculously massive, but surprisingly lightweight!  Boring color, though.  I'm debating ways of jazzing it up, though I also feel that it really isn't worth the effort when there are a hundred other things vying for my attention, like writing long overdue letters to my penpals and thank you notes.  Speaking of which, now seems like a good time to start a list.

Cargill: Automatic Sprinkler onesie, Dr. Seuss burp rags
Aunt Ann: Quilts, hat, bunny, teddy bears, diaper bag, vintage pattern book
Aunt Veloy: Quilt, hat, teddy bear
Uncle Willis and Aunt Phyllis (I think?): $25
CSM Kris: $15 gift card
Wal-Mart: flowers
Susan: Blankets, sweater, booties, hat, mittens, towel/washcloth?
Karen and Reuben: Where to even start?  Everything?
Judy and Alan/Allan/Allen?: Bibs, outfits, whatever else I'm forgetting
Aunt? Nancy: Photo album, sleeper, sippy cups

I hate writing thank you notes.  I'm always worried that my gratitude will sound insincere or insufficient, which apparently it was in person because I'm still expected to write these darn notes.  Keeps the postal system in business, at least.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Finished Object Friday

Yeah, my son is pretty much a rockstar.  

 My husband, bless him, took Silas downstairs last night and through some kind of fatherly magic and a pacifier, kept him quiet for four or five hours - the most sleep I've gotten in one go since March.  Between the lack of sleep, the irregular meals, the postpartum hormone shift and the mandatory dry spell, I've been a bit of a basketcase, but things are looking up today, with a decent amount of sleep under my belt, a slice of pizza in my hand, Silas down for a nap, and the weekend around the corner.

 I joined a blogging group on Ravelry, so expect to see a little more structured activity around here.  Regular,  perhaps not.  But inspired by it, Fridays are now for FOs.

This week, we have The Bunny, aka Mr. Bunny, Sir Flopsalot, Buster, or Poly-fil Pete

 He's made of various odds and ends of yarn from my stash, and stuffed with yarn scraps, which gives him a nice weight.  He can hang off the edge of the changing table where Silas can see him and hopefully be a teensy bit distracted from screaming his head off during diaper changes.

It was a lot of fun going through the stash, picking out yarns to match the colors recommended in the pattern, and remembering the projects that came before.  The brown is from the messenger bag I started to make for Ryan one year while we were dating.  It never got off the ground, but has lived on in his mittens, Andy's scarf, and a few random baby items that turned out way too small and thus were never finished either.  Cycle of life.  The orange is from Ryan's Half-Pipe Hat, which still needs to be blocked and brimmed, someday, when I find the brim that I cut out ages ago that disappeared and may in fact have been thrown away . . .  The tan yarn was from another aborted project for Ryan, a beard hat that I tried and tried to make but that only frustrated me and was shoved in the closet until Ryan granted me leave to frog it.  The burgundy featured prominently in my Harry Potter scarf at the right down there, and the color-coordinated mittens that followed and might fit Hagrid and have been featured enough times in this blog to not warrant a reposting. The red is from the leftovers from the infamous Rooster Hat, the pink is from the monstrously pink hoodie I started in my last year of high school and finished during my first year of college.

The light blue, yellow, and green were from a collection of odd balls of yarn that I bought at a garage sale from my late friend Bernice - she mentored me in crafts when I was in my tweens.  It's funny to think of her now, how close she was to my mom, how I used to cat-sit for her and help her baby-sit her grandsons; she was a big part of our lives for several years after we moved to Marion.  Then things changed, as they do, and she moved to Cedar Rapids to be closer to her sister, and we lost touch for years.  I think the garage sale was the last time that I saw her, until I stumbled across her obituary in the paper a couple years ago.  That was a bad year.  Two of my high school classmates committed suicide, which was why I'd taken to reading the obituaries - who knew who would be next?  And there she was.  We went to the funeral, and no one remembered us.  I'll never forget her, though.  There's too much of her in my craft box for me to ever forget, and now she's in the bunny, too.

My other current finished object is a wee crocheted angel that I made for the sole reason of giving the pattern a featured photo on Ravelry.  Very simple, as long as you're comfortable crocheting with thread, very cute.  I like the ones I made for Gabriel a bit better, but this one requires no sewing or stiffening, just a bit of scrap yarn or ribbon to gather up the skirt.  I may replace the pink yarn with a bit of white ribbon if I can find some and retake the picture (possibly not on my cell phone).

Anyone out there having a baby girl before Christmas?  I have an ornament for your tree.