Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What I Did on My Christmas Vacation

I didn't knit for anyone this Christmas except myself, and as none of that has pictures yet I won't bore you with it.  I did put a few more rows on Silas' Moderne, and toyed with the idea of picking out colors to make one for Ezra (grey, green, charcoal, and white?), but I don't expect either to come to fruition this year, or even next.

I did however make some gifts.  I made a whole bunch of ornaments, a few of which you can see here:

The snowmen come from this recipe for a cornstarch/baking soda dough.  It makes for a lovely, smooth, very white ornament (provided you don't over-toast them . . . ) that almost feels like porcelain.  The black details are Sharpie, and the scarves are glitter glue.  Thank goodness for glitter glue.  Remember the dark ages of drawing your designs with white glue, and then shaking loose glitter over it, oh so delicately pressing the glitter into the glue, shaking the excess off, getting glitter everywhere except where you really wanted it?  Don't get me wrong, that still sounds like fun.

I used the same cornstarch dough to make two of these;

Terribly rough, but the grandparents were enchanted.  I wish I had made impressions of Silas' newborn sized feet, but I remember at the time being way too exhausted to attempt any such thing.  Having done it with Ezra, I can attest that it's almost not worth it, trying to wrestle a newborn into making a good impression.

I tried using salt dough and mitten templates to make ornaments of Silas' handprints this year, but it was a lost cause - it is perhaps unsurprisingly more difficult to get a squirmy two-year-old to make a good handprint than trying to get those feetprints from the infant.

For the cinnamon ornaments, I combined a few different recipes and came up with:

1/2 c. ground cinnamon
1/2 c. applesauce
2 Tbsp. white glue
2 Tbsp. loose glitter
1 Tbsp. cloves
1 tsp. mace (because I couldn't find nutmeg - if you use nutmeg, use a tablespoon)

Mix it all together, wrap it in plastic wrap and allow to sit for an hour on the countertop, knead it a few times on a cinnamon dusted surface, roll it out under a sheet of waxed paper to 1/4", and go crazy with the cookie cutters.  I misjudged my thickness and many of the ornaments were only 1/8" thick; much curling and fragility were the result.  Make holes in the tops with toothpicks or a drinking straw, and bake on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet in a preheated oven at 200 degrees for 2 hours or until dry, flipping the ornaments halfway through.  Transfer to a I used a silver Sharpie decorate the gingerbread men, and more glitter glue on the one little round ornament.  I was tempted to decorate the rest as well, but I really liked the way they looked plain, so I held back.  Next year I may make more, and then the glue may run a little more freely (especially if Silas helps).

I hope you all had very merry holidays!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Catching up on the FOs Friday

Here's to mad one-handed typing skills, brought to you by one of my most recent and highly anticipated FOs:

Ezra Lee, born November 26th, a couple days late as far as the due date and a couple weeks later than everyone expected based on my rate of dilation, but this child won't be rushed on anything.  He was 8 lbs, 10 oz, 21 and 3/4" long, perfectly healthy other than a mild case of jaundice (nothing that a little sunbathing at home in the warm sunny windows won't take care of, I have been reassured), and to my own particular glee, he has my hair:

It may well lighten up as he gets older, but I hope not.  

Of course, he needed a stocking.

I used the same Mason-Dixon Knitting: Outside the Lines pattern that I used for Silas' stocking, and just reversed the red and green .  My fair-isle was much looser this time, making those portions ever so slightly larger than the plain stockinette, which is annoying, but not so much so as to tempt me towards trying to steam-block RHSS.

I also made a couple of headband style earwarmers.

Both are made using the Morning Walk Headband Earwarmer pattern with a few mods.  For the fuchsia band I used bulky weight yarn (Malabrigo Chunky in Fucsia - absolutely delicious) instead of the super bulky that the pattern calls for, which turned out fine as far as gauge went, but I forgot to allow for my gigantic noggin and blithely made it to the length in the pattern.  So now my mom has a spiffy new headband earwarmer.  What is family for but to provide us with a variety of body types and sizes so that when things don't fit us they don't go to waste?  The other mod in Fuchsia's case is that I swapped out the flower in the pattern for the more striking Crochet Picot Flower.  I like picots.

The festive headband is made in Wool-Ease Thick and Quick (color Oatmeal), which while not as buttery soft and dreamy to work with as the Malabrigo, is cozy and warm, and this time I added an inch and half to the length of the piece so it actually stays over my ears.  I was tickled by the idea of a very Christmas-y earwarmer, so I subbed in some holly for this one, using the Holly Bookmark pattern, obviously omitting the bookmark chain and replacing the thread called for with a double strand of RHSS.

Finally (and it only took two years), I finished this little elf ornament from Knit Picks.

The red and white are Sockenwolle, the face and hands are a double strand of Alpaca with a Twist Fino, and the body and feet are Lane Cervinia Forever Jacquard.  I went with jingle bells instead of pompoms, because teensy pompoms were more than I could manage.

I also made a couple of Dorset buttons for a swap, based on directions from Jane Austen Knits Fall 2013, this tutorial, and a little improvisation.  And beads.  If there's an option to add beads, I will always opt for that.  The swap was a simple ornament swap (my partner went a leeeetle overboard and sent me not only an ornament, but also cookies, tea, cocoa, coloring books . . .) with a Jane Austen theme.  Dorset is where Delaford is located in "Sense and Sensibility," so the button idea seemed appropriate.  Finding a ring big enough for the ornament I had in mind was trickier than I expected, though I have since discovered that there are places online that supply exactly what I was looking for, and I ended up using a 2" welded ring that I finally located at the local hardware store.  You can't beat the hardware store for those odd items that you only need one or two of without having to buy a whole package of whatever.  Just need four drywall screws?  You buy just four, and they put them in a cute little brown paper sack that makes you feel like you just left Olsen's Store in Plum Creek.  If only they carried stick candy (which can be had around here at the local apple orchard, which is awesome and made Silas the happiest two year old in September, I can tell you).  The yarn is the same Sockenwolle that I used for the elf ornament, and the beads are size 6/0 (E) glass seed beads, also from my stash.  The button sized button was made from a Boye stitch marker and size 10 crochet thread.  The trickiest thing about making the buttons is figuring out how to hide the ends.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Time-Warp Tuesday

There are a thousand things I could be blogging about (and a thousand other things I SHOULD be doing, particularly as I may be having a baby any day now), but so very few of them have pictures available, so I've decided to start a new segment just for Tuesdays - looking back in time at projects that haven't been blogged about yet.

For instance, the Eleanor Baby Romper:

It was a test-knit for Kate Boswick (she's on Ravelry).  The romper is knitted entirely in one piece from the top down - no seams!  There are, however, lots of buttons.


So many buttons . . .   This is adorable, but entirely impractical when trying to dress the squirming one-year-old.  I am now given to understand that there is a product known as 'snap tape' that vastly simplifies applying multiple closures - instead of trying to line up and sew on, say 12 buttons or 24 snap halves, you just sew on two strips of tape with the snaps already attached, and then if you're so inclined, you can sew on a bushel of buttons over it.  I found out about it here.

More buttons up top:

I had Peter Rabbit buttons that I desperately wanted to use on something.

The yarn is Cascade 220 superwash sport, which is lovely and soft and washable, but at the loose gauge this is knit in, pilled up horrendously with one wearing as the small child scooted across the carpet.

(Yes, this is kind of an excuse to post lots of pictures of my son.  That's what you're here to see anyway, isn't it?)

So if I were to make this again, I would probably substitute a heavier yarn worked at the same gauge or a sturdier sport-weight.  I should mention that the Cascade 220 sport works up fine in a tighter gauge - Silas' mittens are holding up great so far.  Other mods I would make would be to lengthen the legs a bit and possibly shorten the arms, and add some short-rows to the bottom - there wasn't much wiggle room for the diaper.  And definitely snaps on the bottom instead of buttons.


Love the cables running down the arms and the body to the legs - hard to see in these pictures.  I finished the romper right at the designer's deadline, so Ryan ended up taking the pictures at nine o'clock at night.  Cranky baby up two hours past his bedtime + terrible indoor lighting = not the greatest pics in the world, but we managed.  Now the romper is tucked away for the next baby (due in two weeks!), for those nights when I absolutely must dress him in a warm, snuggly handknit.  Ryan flatly refuses to deal with all those buttons.

I should knit more for my little men, but the time commitment required compared to the relatively short length of time that they remain the right size to wear it is daunting.  Making things as test-knits gives me the extra impetus that I need, as well as inspiring me to finish things quickly enough that they can wear them before they outgrow them.

If you're interested in test-knitting (or -crocheting), there are at least two groups on Ravelry that are always recruiting.

Pic dump for swap stuff

No content here, just needing a place I can link pics from . . .

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Bits and pieces

Ryan introduced Silas to Pokemon today.  It was unnerving.  Silas rarely 'watches' TV so much as he occasionally glances at the screen and shouts whatever noun appears for the few seconds that he's looking at it; "Elmo!" "Monkey!"  "Dog!"  "Train!"  However, from the second the episode started playing Silas was glued to the screen, eventually whispering "Pikachu" with each appearance of the character.  At the end of the episode, this being Netflix, the next episode automatically started playing, but I grabbed the remote and shut it off.

"That's enough for one day," I said.

"Why?" Ryan whinged.

"Look at your son!" I said with a gesture towards our progeny.  "It's only been half an hour but he already has the zonked out expression of a child who is watching too much TV!"

Ryan's response to that was a smirk of all-knowing condescension, as he doubtless remembered how much TV he watched as a child, which in no way affected his activity levels or variety of interests.

"Silas," I prodded, "Do you want to go color?"


"Do you want to go outside?" I upped the ante.

"No."  He paused, clearly considering what it was he did want.  "Pikachu!"

I glared daggers at Ryan, who laughed but with an embarrassed expression that suggested he realized the implications of what had just happened.

I am happy to report that a minute or two later it dawned on Silas that he had been given implicit permission to go outside and we had to chase him down to put shoes and a clean diaper on him before he escaped (he's becoming terrifyingly good at opening the front door without assistance), but the incident remains peculiar.

On the knitting side of life, I'm working on a pair of socks for a travelling sock swap, and therefore there can be no pictures without spoiling the surprise for the recipient, but I will say this - a smooth join from cable to needle is really critical to success with Magic Loop, otherwise it's a hair-rending experience that makes me dread working on the project.  Addi Turbos = excellent in this regard.  Knitter's Pride Dreamz = surprisingly and disappointingly less so.  I love my Knitter's Pride needles, but the size 1 I bought for this project is snagging just enough to set my teeth on edge and drive me to other pursuits that I can't talk about because they're for a swap too . . .

There was a bit of crochet, though!

I apologize for the terrible, low-light picture; it was taken at the last minute with my phone around midnight, because it was a very last minute project finished around midnight, because for some reason it didn't occur to me until two days before she retired that my lovely coworker Julie would really, really appreciate having something handmade by me.  I sacrificed a skein and a quarter of my precious Lion Brand Amazing yarn (colorway "Pink Sands"), mainly because except for the odd pale olive drab portions, the colors were entirely her, and slightly because I knew the long color repeats would be an easy way to get the most bang for the time I had to spend on it.  The pattern was a fairly easy pick, too - crochet = fast, crochet flowers = pretty and entirely to the taste of the woman I was crocheting for, pattern that looks complicated while in fact being mindlessly simple (without being mindlessly boring) = best bang for time available, and this pattern in particular = extremely well suited to yarns with long color repeats.  She absolutely adored it, and we both enjoyed showing it off to everyone we thought would have the inclination to ooh and awww over the pretty handmade.  I do wish the thought had occurred to me, say, months ago when she announced she would be retiring in October, so that I could have invested more time and money and perhaps knitted her a shawl, but this scarf was made with all my love and good wishes, and that's what I really wanted to give her.  She may not ever know how loathe I was to part with the yarn, but she knows I was thinking of her when I chose it for this project, because I know she loves pink and yellow and blue and color in general, and I hope when she wears it she remembers the many conversations we had about clothes and color (and Silas and babies and recipes and so many other things), and that she feels fabulous because the woman loves to put together a great outfit!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Trying to get back into the groove, UFO Thursday

Hey, remember when I made that resolution to blog more regularly, and then I disappeared for 9 months?  Yes, I did get pregnant, but that's not why I suddenly vanished.  Our internet source vanished, and while there once was a time when I could go to the library and blog while Silas sat behind me on the floor and played with my keys (those halcyon days before he could walk), those days are long gone.

I'm back now, though!  With internet, with a computer, with a camera!

It's Thursday, so that means focusing on the looming pile of unfinished objects that haunts our house.  This week, I actually finished one of them!  The mittens that I started for Silas way back in February.

In my defense, I started them with the intention of his wearing them this fall/winter, so there was no rush, and they were basically done except for the weaving in of ends, sewing on of buttons, and crocheting of the cord.  I finished the knitting in a bit of a rush back in Feb, because in the rush to get out of town for a funeral, Ryan managed to leave the house with the baby without including a jacket, hat, shoes, or mittens (I was at work all day, blithely thinking that surely my husband could think of those things without prompting, since it was February and all . . .).  I had one and a half mittens at that point, and I managed to finish the second the morning of the funeral, so between a blanket, my hat, and a pair of shoes bought at Target on the way to the service (we made another mistake in sending Ryan in to buy the shoes - they were two sizes too small, but by then we were late enough), Silas was at least reasonably covered, even if ornamented with dangling yarn ends and unable to walk.

The pattern is Heart Strings Mittens by Crystal Guistinello.  The blue yarn is Cascade 220 Sport, color Blue Velvet, leftover from the Eleanor Romper that I test-knit for Kate Boswick, which in browsing through back-entries, I find I never blogged about in any depth.  I will have to remedy that soon!  The red yarn is the same Red Ranch Wool-Ease that I used for the cowl of the previous entry.  The pattern called for a simple chain stitch cord, but I wanted a sturdier line, so I slip-stitched back along the length.  The result is a bit like a two-stitch-wide icord, but less fussy to accomplish in my opinion.

I really like the shape of these mittens, nice and round and roomy.  The pattern actually calls for fingering weight yarn, but even having gone up three needle sizes and using a heavier yarn, I don't think the size ended up too far off.  The cord is buttoned on to facilitate tangle-free washing.

The vest was a thrift store find that I just could not pass up for my train-obsessed little boy, though we are not in general supporters of the puffy vest look.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Silas Monday, on Sunday

Two significant things happened this weekend:  I finished a cowl for Silas, and found him his Halloween costume.  They aren't actually related, but my husband thought they should be.

The cowl is Purl Soho's Bandana Cowl, which originally calls for super-bulky weight yarn on 10 1/2 needles, but Silas' is worked up from Lion Brand Wool-Ease (worsted) on size 6 needles.  It follows the pattern to the letter, except that for the decreases after the short rows, I worked only 3 over the 24 rows instead of 6.  The result fits perfectly, and looks pretty dashing to my eye.  Of course, mine is the eye of the person who made not only the cowl but also the adorable child (with help), so it may not be the most neutral information source.

There is a hat that goes with that jacket, incidently.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Silas Monday, on Tuesday

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2014 is to blog more often; to that end I've been toying with the idea of assigning each day to a certain knitting project. Mondays are for Silas knitting. I've been oddly reluctant when it comes to knitting for my babies. I couldn't tell you exactly why when I was expecting Gabriel, though it ended up seeming disturbingly prescient. After Gabriel, the hesitation was all too understandable. I'm determined to shake this, so I have resolved to always have something on the needles for Silas from here on out, and Monday is the day for working on it.  Tuesday apparently is the day for blogging about it, since I didn't manage to finish writing this until today.

The sweater is complete.  I know I posted about it being finished a couple of Fridays ago, but it wasn't really truly complete until there were pictures of the baby wearing it, complete with yogurt smudges.

A very nice bit of mindless knitting, with stripes for visual interest. I carried the unused color down the inside, despite reading somewhere that one should only do that if there are three or fewer rows per stripe. In future I think I will restrict that method to shorter stripe repeats after all, and just resign myself to weaving in the extra ends. The end result would be neater.

My new project for him is Lottie's Basic Doll Body. I keep stumbling over the advice that it's a good idea to let toddlers have a doll to play with, to practice social play and dressing and etc. I am a big fan of dolls, so I'm game. A friend bought me some Lion Brand Fun Fur in a color reasonably similar to Silas' hair, and I'm using two strands of RHSS Aran held together down together for the body. Of course that means that it's coming out huge, but that's alright.

I'm still working my way through "Rilla of Ingleside," it being my bathroom reading means that it takes a little longer for me to finish it. I've reached the sock knitting! The indomitable Susan says her allowance is one sock a day. I wonder if Ms. Montgomery truly knew someone who dedicated themselves to that speedy of an output of socks for the soldiers, or if it was a bit of creative license on her part. 

Rilla is described as 'knitting four and purling one's and then later in the chapter as 'purling four and knitting one' so unless the author was giving a subtle hint that our heroine was very mixed up in her knitting, it sounds like she knitted the leg flat to be seamed at the end. The same method is alluded to in the American Girl book "Molly Learns a Lesson," wherein Molly's classmates decide to knit socks for the soldiers.  By the time Molly convinces them that they've overreached themselves (sock heels being very tricky to turn, after all), they all have large squares knitted.  In the end they seam them together into a blanket for the Red Cross instead.  As far as I've seen in historical sources this wasn't the common way to make socks, so I suspect the writers weren't sock knitters themselves.  I have seen sock patterns that work this way, but they're usually modern socks designed to allow for intarsia, which doesn't work in the round.  According to Ravelry, "Knitting America" has the original patterns socks written to be made for soldiers in WWI and WWII.  I've put it on my Amazon wishlist.  If you just want a quick sock for any man in your life that has Rilla's 'knit 4, purl 1' pattern, Thuja by Bobby Ziegler makes a nice heavy sock.  The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn.
My brother says he pulls out the pair I knitted for him when it's really, really cold out.  I imagine if that's the case he's had reason to wear them the last couple of days.

I should really pester him for a better picture - bless his heart, he couldn't figure out why I had knit the second sock so differently from the first until I told him that it was inside-out.