Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Apocalypse

It's raining down frogs around here so often it feels like the apocalypse is nigh. And I can't tell if I'm needing to frog back to the beginning so many times because I'm being a smart ass or a dumb ass.

I made a crochet ripple blanket before. I counted stitches on one my grandmother made and replicated it faithfully. This time I am winging it. I am trying to make more undulating ripples, I am playing with size, I am using yarns with very different gauges... In short, I have no idea what I'm doing.

I'm ripping this out again. I now know exactly what to do. I found the right tension, the right hook, the right pattern, and the right number of stitches. Unfortunately the version I have going right now has none of those elements. Every day the Squid wakes up, picks up the smaller-than-ever project in-lack-of-progress and makes this sighing "ugh" sound. "Again? It's never going to be finished."

This will be the 8th time I've ripped this project back to the beginning. Which has shown me one thing: these yarns - Farmhouse Yarns "I'm allergic to wool" and Henry's Attic Inca Cotton both frog very well.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ugh. Biki Hell.

I really really really appreciate all of the support and ideas from my hooker friends. The hand holding is much appreciated!!

So I ripped it out and started with an 8m hook, which is appropriate for the pink Farmhouse yarn. Nice. But then when i got to adding the Ecru Inca Cotton, it was far too loose. Gah. So I ripped it out again and tried starting with the white and a smaller hook and going up to the larger hook for the pink. Yes, I know that's a terrible idea., and I ripped it out again.

So I've started on this thing for the fifth time, using the 8mm hook, starting with the pink, and being super careful about my tension. I've decided to live with the white sections being lacy, and I am doing 4 rows of white for every 2 rows of pink. This makes the lacy sections the same height as the pink.

I have no idea what this will look like when I'm finished. And of course there's the wild card of how much pink yarn do I actually have? No photos today - it looks pretty much as it did yesterday, and I didn't bother taking photos of the 2 versions I made and did not keep.

I do, however, have a photo of this yarn:
which is a beautiful organic Bluefaced Leicester dyed by Mosaic Moon. I'm trying to decide if this will be pants for the Mole or slippers for me. I gave birth all over my last pair of slippers, and so I need a new pair before the cold sets in.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Pink Biki: Take Two

I started in on the pink stripey biki last night. I'm using a 6.5mm hook and it's killing my hands. I'm wondering if i should go up a size. Which means ripping out the 2 rows I already did. But then again, if it makes things less painful, perhaps it's worth it. I'm too new at crochet to have a relaxed hand yet, it's all so tense and tight. I guess I should bite the bullet and go buy a bigger hook, right? Sigh.

In other news I finished writing up the elephant pattern - it's available on the side there with the others. My brain is really fried lately and writing the thing was harder than knitting it, by far. So if you spy errors, let me know. I've had testers looking at it but they've been looking at my insanity as long as I have, now.

Next up is a pink bunny. Because I let The Squid choose which "aminal" got which color. And it seems to be all about pink around here. As much as I thought we'd never escape the all red, all the time of last year... I'm starting to miss it.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Blue Velvet

Oh, my. I made this little elephant using some deep blue Touch Me by Muench Yarns. Never has there been such an aptly named yarn. It's chenille, but velvet, and so much more than either. There's a touch of wool so it felts if you want it to, into the perfect soft fabric. Even the Squid likes this yarn.

I have 2 more bags of this yarn. Look for toy patterns to come soon!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Trip to the Frog Pond

She insisted it had to be a blanket. I insisted it would be so small that she wouldn't like it. She insisted. I decided to attach strings to make it a superhero cape when it wasn't busy being a tiny blanket (Thanks, Pam).

So I made it. It took 3 episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD.

She liked it, she really did. She said "Yay! now go put it in my bed so I can sleep with it."

I showed her the Mole's blanket made from Inca Cotton and told her that I could easily rip out the pink blanket bit and add some white to it. I showed her photos of granny squares. I showed her some knitted blanket patterns. Finally, she decided on a crocheted ripple blanket, like this one.

I think it's an excellent idea. It'll take no time at all. I know for sure she'll actually like it. I know for sure she'll actually use it.

So it's off to the frog pond.

Thank you all very very much for your suggestions. I appreciated each and every suggestion. The Squid enjoyed the little presentation I offered her, made of all of your ideas. As the Squid says when she wants to know more about something, "Let's go look at it on your computer. Your computer knows everything."

I know it may seem like I'm letting a four year old walk all over me, but this is what we do. We look stuff up, we think about it, we talk about it, we try it, we trash it and start all over. I enjoy the incredible challenge of looking for something she will enjoy. I love it when I hit it on the nose. I don't mind when I miss terribly. I guess I just like the thrill of the hunt.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sunday With My Little Squid

So the Squid says to me yesterday "Hey, mamma. Remember that time we went to the grocery store, just you and me?" When I tell you that the grocery store is next door, I mean next door, as in the bricks of my building touch the bricks of the grocery store. And that exciting trip to the store was probably 3 months ago, and it was to run and get milk. I felt immediate pangs of guilt that my Squid sees so little of me without the Mole attached.

I do try. We spend every afternoon together at the park, with friends, at the coffee shop, hanging out. The Mole lives in various baby carriers, just hanging in there while I try to shower attention on the Squid. But you know, after 4 years of spending so much time with her - I miss her. And she misses me, too. Ok. I get it.

So we strapped the Mole to papa for a walk to the computer store while the Squid and I went to the park. Where we had a fabulous time, swinging together, sitting on a bench and talking with no one squeaking, squawking, or latched onto various body parts. On our way home we stopped into the yarn store to pick up buttons for the Squid's cardi, nearly finished.

Yeah, this is what she chose for her beautiful, earthy, yet still purple and pink sweater. My Squid is an enigma.

And as I was paying, I felt this little curly head leaning on my thigh. I looked down and she was hugging a wildly expensive single skein of hand-dyed pink yarn. "I love this yarn," she said. "It's the best yarn ever. Can we buy it?" Wildly expensive. Single skein. No more left in the store. She rubbed her tender, little girl cheek on the yarn, and hugged me harder. "You could make me a biki. A little one." I told her it would have to be really tiny wee and she said "I don't care. I just want it to be this yarn." And then she got me. "I just want something you made for me that is pink and sparkly and soft from this yarn."

Sigh. I am such a sucker. So we walked out with a wildly expensive single skein of this pink and sparkly and soft yarn. "I'm Allergic to Wool" by Farmhouse Yarns. 85% Cotton. 15% Rayon. 150 Yards. Suggested needle, 11 US, 2 stitches to the inch.

What am I going to make with this? Cannot be a toy. Or scarf, hat, mittens, vest, pillow, or legwarmers. It cannot be mixed with another yarn. Which leaves??

Sigh. When we got home, and returned to our lives again, me nursing the baby, her playing at my feet, she looked at me and said "Mamma? I love you all the way up to Canada and all the way down to Brooklyn."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Next up, Zimmermann for the whole family

I have all of these Zimmermann plans. I know that I want to make both a Bog Jacket and Tomten for myself, and I have decided to make smaller versions first, following the original EZ instructions. I know that I want to make some modifications for my own versions - such as short row sleeves and waist shaping. Since the original instructions make boxy garments perfect for children, and I happen to have two sample children on hand, I figured making wee ones first would be a good idea. This way I'll be better able to visualize the modifications - knowing exactly what I'm modifying.

I'm thinking to start here. This is Alpine Cotton from Henry's Attic, dyed by Little Turtle Knits. I'm thinking this will be a good Bog Jacket for the Squid for fall. She has a down vest (she calls it a life jacket - thanks Dora and Diego) which she really likes to wear, and I figure a nice cotton sweater-jacket underneath would be perfect. I'm thinking to double the yarn - I have plenty - making a warmer, thicker garment. Let's see.

The Mole is getting a Tomten. I'm making it from some Rowan Big Wool (in the red marl above with the pumpkin for detailing. Maybe), so I'm going to have to do the math to make it fit. I'm also adding legs to the bottom of it to make a cozy suit. The Squid was a stroller girl, so all of her hand-me-down winter wear is a solid bunting at the bottom. Mole needs something split into legs because he's a baby carrier boy.

My husband? He got his EZ last year. This year he's getting Brooklyn Tweed's Cobblestone. If I know Jared a little bit, I'm sure that his design has enough EZ love inside to make it a fine choice for the EZ Family.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The New Year

I've always liked the timing of my birthday, which was yesterday, by the way. As a kid (and now again as a parent) it's the start of a new school year. It's also when the weather starts to change. I hate the heat so I find myself with renewed energy in September - getting out more, walking more, enjoying my friends and my city. It's also, coincidentally, right around Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which is not, somehow, at the beginning of the Hebrew Calendar. Kind of like my birthday.

Anyway, this new year, this birthday, and this second post-partum period of my life seems to be marked with a reclaiming of misspent youth. So I've dyed the blue bits of my hair fire engine red and bought myself some flowery Docs.

I have also taken the opportunity to take the Ladyslipper sweater out of hibernation. The yarn is Montana Targhee dyed in the "Ladyslipper" colorway by Mountain Colors. It's beautiful and earthy and satisfies the Squid's newfound love of pink and purple with my disinterest in all things gaudy and flashy. Boots and hair notwithstanding.

I'm knitting the neckline now, then all it needs is a button band and some buttons. It's the same EZ/Ann Budd/Me seamless yoke cardi I've been making for the past year, and I'm pleased with the shape and fit. Hoping it gets us through the winter... I've just discovered that all of the Squid's wool socks are too small. Damn. I hate making socks.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back To School!

And not a moment too soon. I don't know who's been acting more like a petulant child lately, the Squid, or me. Whatever the case, she's been moaning and whining about going back and could hardly contain herself this morning. It's only a ha;f day today and I think she'll be miffed about that, so I'll be bringing the just-finished chenille bunny with me as a "happy back to school day" surprise. We'll see if she actually likes it or not.

I used Henry's Attic Pigtail Cotton. This is my first time not using wool for a toy. I was nervous about it but the fabric is actually very nice, though the ears do not stand up, even for a second. I did stuff with wool, because I couldn't handle the thought of sticking icky polyfill inside my labor of love. I did use acrylic eyes and an acrylic nose because I thought it might break the spell of "hand made" that the Squid seems to balk against. The first bear I made her had button eyes. She wasn't crazy about them, either, but she at least carried it around for a day or two. We'll see. I suspect she might complain about the lack of a mouth. I did embroider one on, but I still prefer the bunny without it.

The yarn makes a far softer fabric than it feels wound in a ball. I knit it tightly on 3.75mm needles, and it feels sturdy but not the least bit stiff. I can't get those ears to perk up to save my life. The tail is sufficiently squishy, and all in all I think it turned out pretty well, for a new yarn experiment.

Maybe I should have kept all of it to make a larger throw - We inherited a sofa bed from friends on the move to Canada (Coco, Sabrina and David - we miss you already!). The couch could use a spiffy throw tossed on it. Squid's been lying there every day since we got it suggesting that she might even take a nap! So a cozy something or other wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

I Took a Taxi to the Louvre

My baby barfed on my keyboard. Which is really only a big deal because I have a laptop, which means I can't simply plug in a new keyboard.

So I waited for the kids to fall asleep and headed to the 24 hour Apple Store on 5th Avenue. Holy Louvre Cube is all I can say. It sticks up like a big crystal cube in the middle of 5th Avenue. A cylindrical glass elevator in the middle of the cube takes you down to the store. I didn't take the elevator. I took the stairs. Because I was so embarrassed about the fact that I was moved to take a photo of the place with my iPhone (yes, I am that nerdy) that I couldn't see straight to look for the button.

Anyway, it's midnight on a monday night - Labor Day, no less, and the place is packed. Crazy busy. I go over to the Genius Bar where I discover to my dismay that there are no openings until 4am to meet with a Genius. Damn. I tell my tale of woe ("I had to wait for two kids to fall asleep before I could leave the house! I have to be up early in the morning to spend the day with those kids! I can't possibly stay here until 4am!") to a Genius, who is unmoved until I say "essentially all I need is for you to pop on a new keyboard," at which point he says "I can fit you in right now!"

So I sat and knitted a fluffy blue chenille bunny while sitting at the Genius Bar at midnight on Labor Day. And I wasn't even drunk.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

How Do I Resolve This?

Excuse the utterly insane look on my face. This photo was taken in January at a fundraising award ceremony for the Squid's preschool. I was sitting at a table with Gloria Steinem and had to make a speech praising the director of the school - two women I adore and admire. I was pregnant and emotional and weepy. And I have hideous stage fright. All the time. Especially, apparently, while pregnant and in front of Gloria Steinem.

But let's talk about the shrug, shall we? A friend had loaned me the dress, and though it was January and the dress was sleeveless, I wasn't about to buy another maternity dress no one would wear a second time. So I decided to make a shrug.

The thing is, I'm not really a shrug person. I'm short, tend to have a little belly (even when not pregnant) and they just don't suit me. Of course it was perfect for a pregnant woman who had 3 days to come up with something. But for every day? not so much.

I do love the yarn. It's GGH Soft Kid in the only shade of red I can actually wear. It's soft, airy, warm, beautiful. The sleeves are perfect, I love the way they fit and feel. But as you can see, not being a shrug person, I have no experience with shrugs, and this one falls right off my shoulders. It desperately needs to be reconstructed.

I used 2.5 skeins of the yarn, and have 2.5 more. I knitted the sleeves first and then made a raglan top to it from the sleeves up, knitting only the back. I picked up and knit around the whole thing, adding about 2" all around. It's cute, but not functional at all.

I used size 8 needles, but could probably safely go up a little without making the sleeves look weird, if i needed to stretch the yardage a little.

I'm thinking about some kind of wrap sweater - maybe a faux wrap so there's no double layer in the front. or maybe a deep V neck. not sure how long i can get the sweater to be, though, with so little yarn. And having trouble matching the dye lot. So. suggestions?