Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A New Beginning. Again.

It got suddenly cold here. Tomten and Arwen were placed on hold for a second while I get to work on a poncho for the Squid. She needs one for riding on the back of her father's bike on the way to school every morning.

I've had this Black Forest Naturwolle for years . Four skeins were given to me as a gift and I have been looking for the right project. The yarn is beautiful. A mess of color without being garish. thick thick thick and bulky - I'm knitting it on 10.5s but could probably stand to go up to 11s. And the Squid says "hm. yeah, it's soft enough."

Speaking of Tomten, I've joined this fledgling knit-a-long for Tomtens of all shapes and sizes. I think you should, too.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I think I mentioned that my Squid wants to be a unicorn for Halloween. And her friend has decided she wants to be whatever the Squid is going to be. Well, being my Squid, she insists that her costume be made out of yarn. And so I make two.

I bought a bag of "alpaca" boucle on ebay a couple of years ago. It cost next to nothing and was far too expensive for what it is. If there's any alpaca in it I'd be very surprised. It feels like shredded shopping bags. And I have 10 balls of it. So I started by coupling it with some rainbowy yarn from Mosaic Moon. Big tassels make lovely tails.

I made a gazillion smaller tassels from oddments + "alpaca." I'll be knitting bonnets from the white and attaching ears and these tassels to make manes. Not sure about the horn yet. I'm picturing a cone of paper painted with glue and wrapped with rainbow yarn in a spiral around the cone. Or maybe crochet. Not sure.

I'm also holding the "alpaca" doubled with some of the rainbow yarn and knitting wristbands and ankle bands. The rest of the costume consists of white unitards, so I thought the fuzzy, rainbowy echo at the wrists and ankles would be cool.

And here's what happens when you put a sleepy baby in a high chair to play with a block while you have a staff meeting at a coffee shop. He falls asleep in the middle of chewing on the block. Kind mothers take photos with cell phones before rescuing their children from naps in high chairs using blocks as pillows for their gums.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Arwen is kicking my A...

But it's my fault. I'm trying to be all clever but I'm not reading ahead. I decided that my backwards loop cast on looked like garbage so i did a cable cast on for the arms - then realized i couldn't graft the cuff together that way. sleeve be gone. Then I decided that I'd be clever and end the body cable in the middle of the repeat so that I was doing the same part on the cuff after the short rows and miscalculated.

Anyway. I've ripped back, STILL miscalculated the body vs. cuff cable thing and added 2 extra short rows in the arm to make the cables balanced.

I really shouldn't knit with a cold.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Shades of Green

The Squid found the Surprise Jacket and put it on. She loves it. She loves the short sleeves. She loves the cotton yarn. And it actually kind of fits her. If I had more yarn I'd take out the bound off edge and add more to it, giving it a bit more length and width. Alas. So I think I'll just add buttons, let her wear it for a bit, and then when she's done with it I can add the extra length that the Mole needs to make it a long-sleeved sweater. I have enough yarn for about 10 more rows on each sleeve.

I have to say this color is perfect for the Squid. She has these mercurial color-shifting eyes and this olivey-sagey-green is the exact match of one of the colors they sometimes become (and they fixed color they were before they started changing this past spring).

Oh, and I have no idea what the Mr. Roboto pose is in the photo. you should see the others.

I also got back to work on Arwen a bit, taking some time off from the Tomten. It'll be January before it's cold enough for such a heavy jacket if this weather keeps up. And I wanted to work with more reasonable sized needles for a bit.

I got a big ahead of myself and made some "improvements" which resulted in tearing back to before the sleeve cast on a total of three times. I'm taking notes, though, and I hope my "improvements" do indeed turn out to be useful. Remind me to check the knitalong notes for future projects.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007


It's time for my daily photograph of black garter stitch.

I know you're all thinking (I know I am), "When will she finish that thing?" Soon, I hope. I tried it on the Mole this morning and the sleeve length fits him perfectly. I have a few more sets of decreases to do per EZ and I will do them. Cuffing the sleeves means the jacket will fit for a while. And I like the look of a garter sleeve with a garter cuff.

I miss working on Arwen. I miss the delicious yarn (Big Wool reminds me of those yarny ribbons my mother used to put in my pigtails, obsessively matching them to my outfits, when I was a child in the 70s.). I miss the cable. I'll be back to it, soon. I'm thinking to make just the Tomten for now and go back and add the bottom later, when (if?) it actually ever gets cold.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

My Little Tomten

I tried to take a photo of the Tomten-minus-sleeves on my baby to showcase his newfound sitting skills (and the adorable hood on the Tomten). But my baby wouldn't cooperate, yanking it off so violently (uh-oh. this is a bad omen.) that he fell over, banged his head, and wailed. repeatedly. So I'll have to make do with two separate photos.

I have to say that when I grafted the hood I thought "oh, this cutting all measurements in half thing was a bad idea. this will never fit. look at that tiny hood! and those huge armholes! and there's almost nothing to the darned thing before those armholes appear!

But, as always, EZ is a genius and it fits perfectly. Or at least it seemed to, in the 2 seconds my kid had it on before falling over.

Monday, October 15, 2007

A Productive Weekend!

Well, I didn't frog the starting of the black cardigan, I snipped the yarn and just started on a Tomten. Because my gauge is 2.5st/in I'm following the "baby" instructions, but cutting everything in half. So far, so good. I'm finished one front, and am halfway through the back. It's flying by, though I can't stand knitting with the big needles (I'm still using the 13s, thinking this will make a nice, dense fabric for a snowsuit). Then I put the Tomten aside as a not very portable project. Because this weekend, I needed a portable project.

I have enrolled in the New York School of Homeopathy, and in a mere four years I will receive my diploma and be ready to sit for the certification exams. Whew. This is something I've wanted to do for quite some time, and I was waiting for the right moment. I came to understand that there would be no right moment, so I just went for it. The bulk of the classroom hours take place in monthly weekend seminars of 8 hours per day. So I brought some knitting.

I should point out that I have ADD and the thought of sitting in a classroom is horrifying to me. Really, it should be called Attention Excess Disorder, as I have no deficit of attention, but a surplus. Knitting busies my hands and counting takes just enough of my mind that I am able to listen and remember the lecture. In the moments in which I put down my knitting I found myself cloudy and lost. So I kept on knitting.

I made some more EZ bootees for the Mole. I made these following the instructions for the newborn size at a slightly larger gauge, and they are a bit large. I'm sure they'll fit any day, though. I ran out of yarn on these and had to do the last three stitches of the graft and the ties in solid purple. It matches perfectly and is completely undetectable. The yarn is a domestic organic Merino from Mosaic Moon.

I made another pair, in Treliske Organic Merino in a Marle blend of natural colors. Also too big.

I also put in a good amount of work on Arwen. I'm ready to cast on the extra stitches for the first sleeve. I love this pattern. I love this yarn. If it doesn't fit I'll be most disappointed. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.


Friday, October 12, 2007

What am I Thinking?

What the--?

Ok. So in a fit of something yesterday I got out this huge ball of Rowan Big Wool (4 skeins - i started making myself a Tomten from it and then frogged it all into one giant ball) and decided that the Mole must have a black garter cardigan immediately. I decided a simple, jackety drop shoulder with zipper would be best.

My big needles are all Knit Picks Options and I could only find one 15 and one 17 but I was able to find both 13s. So I used those. The fabric is dense, but actually fine for a fall jacket.

But now that I see the back complete, it's a bit stiff and I'm thinking a modified drop shoulder would be better. Then I thought - why don't I just make a Tomten? I had planned on making the Mole a Tomten with legs out of some red Big Wool. Why not make it black?

So now what I'm wondering is this: I've finished the back and half of one front for a basic drop shoulder cardi. Do I simply rip back the last few rows of the back to where the armholes should be, and continue knitting the front in pieces, and make a seamed Tomten? Or is that actually more work than ripping the whole thing out and starting over completely? Or should I just finish this cardi as I started it and make the Tomten in red as intended?

Why do I always cast on impulsively and then overthink things?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Undone. Continuing.

You know how some people have those eyes - the ones that change color based on what they're wearing, or their mood, or the weather? I have those eyes. They're mostly olive green but can go from grass to grey depending on a lot of factors. I think this yarn is the same way. Today is a stormy day and the yarn is taking on a steelier, bluer hue. I like it a lot.

Remember my lemon tree? Well, I live on the ground floor, surrounded by community gardens. Nice. But it also means mouse central. One got in and got to a Dagoba mint chocolate bar I had sitting by my knitting. I like to have a nibble or two late at night. The thing is, the mouse also got at my projects pile and ate a hole out of my pixie's head. The thing ate my knitting! AND my chocolate. I am displeased.

But then I have this face grinning at me while I scurry around taking pictures and it makes it hard to be angry about anything. His little half-open mole eyes squinch up to almost nothing when he smiles, giving him the appearance of such beatific joy that it's hard to not smile back at him.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Progress Report

So the problem with the Cardigan for Arwen is that I can't just pick up a row here and there - I lose my place in the chart. So I only work on it when i know i can sit down and do all 8 rows of the cable. Which makes for slow going. I'm liking the fabric of the Wool Cotton very very much. And I find the cable beautiful. I'm not crazy about how the bottom of the cable looks. I'm following the pattern to the letter (except for gauge) and using the backwards loop method of casting on for the cable is making the bottom all wonky looking. I might have to go back and add some kind of icord edging or something, which makes the whole hem thing in the rest of the sweater rather pointless.

Anyway, pretty soon I'm going to need to stop working on this and knit two unicorn costumes. The Squid and her friend insist on being unicorns, and they insist that they are yarn unicorns. Ever eager to please, I said "sure!"

Hey, look what I see right outside my Manhattan window on this rainy finally-fall day. Lemons!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Nearly Finished

The Surprise Jacket is nearly complete. It actually fits the Mole pretty well. I am going to add a couple of rows to the sleeves to make them full length, and then it will join the Squid's Ladyslipper cardigan in the pile of things awaiting buttons.

I did have some traveling decreases at the beginning, but I think it's fine the way it is.

While waiting to finish the Surprise Jacket, I cast on A Cardigan for Arwen for myself, using that Rowan Wool Cotton. There is not a lot of shaping so it's easy enough to change gauge without even having to think much. the cable band in the front is going to be narrower, but not significantly, and I don't think it will take anything away from the sweater. I love the reversible cable.

This was in Interweave Knits a couple of issues back but didn't impress me because I generally prefer a more fitted sweater, and the open front seemed not so useful to me. But now, I'm still all post-partumy doughy with a big rack and bigger belly. I know I won't be built like this forever, so i don't want to knit something fitted in a bigger size. But I figure even if i make this nice and big I can still wear it when i am shaped smaller than I am now. I'm thinking that the DK yarn will keep it swingy and not simply huge.

The open front that seemed silly before seems practical now - I'll probably most often wear it open over a baby carrier or wrap strapped to my front (I get hot easily so I'll like a sweater I can wear over a carrier instead of something I will find myself trapped underneath).

And yes, I've already made a mistake in the cable pattern. And yes, I've already decided not to care.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A Surprise Grows in Manhattan

It's growing. And it is, as EZ says, it is starting to look quite odd indeed.

I tentatively did its origami fold to see the size and it will most certainly swim on the mole. I'm seriously thinking that i could just add sleeve length and make it a cropped sweater for the Squid. I'll have to see what it looks like when it's finished.

In the meantime, I had a wonderful experience last night. Some friends opened a restaurant and I went to the opening party. He's a chef from Mexico. She's a chef from Tuscany. They created a menu that is an absolutely perfect blend. Like the quesadillas with prosciutto and basil. Or the pesto made from cilantro. The place is named after their daughter, Matilda (who also happens to be a perfect blend of Italian and Mexican) and is on 11th and Ave. C. You should seriously consider going to eat there as soon as possible. We're actually scrounging to find a last minute sitter so that we can go tonight and just gorge ourselves on wonderful food in peace.

I might even bring some knitting.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Surprise Continues

Plugging away at the Baby Surprise. Every report I've read is true - you just can't stop knitting this thing in anticipation to see how it'll end up becoming sweater-shaped. It's like rushing along to the conclusion of a gripping novel. I've finished the decreases; I've started the increases. I think I get it, but I'm not really sure.

The pattern is easy enough. The only problem I've been having is due entirely to my addled nursing-mother brain. I can't seem to keep track of the stitches, even with the stitch marker, and my decreases traveled some. I ripped back a few times, and just decided to not care other times. So if you closely inspect, my decreases do not follow a straight line. I choose not to closely inspect.

I do think it's going to be too big for the Mole right now. Oh well. It'll fit by spring. And I have to say I am in love with the feel of this yarn in garter stitch. The drape is amazing and there is just the right amount of squishy tossed in. I'm wondering how it will block.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Surprise! I loved the bootees so much, that I've finally decided to take the Baby Surprise plunge. I have 3 skeins of Elsbeth Lavold Cotton Patiné that I'm lukewarm about, so I figure that's a good test run. If nothing else it'll work for an over-the-jammies extra layer at home.

I'm knitting on 5s and getting 5.5 stitches to the inch, which is exactly halfway between the gauge cited for "baby" size (6 stitches) and "1 year and more" size (5 stitches). The Mole is 6 months old, so halfway should do it. If not, he'll grow into it. And cotton will work year-round. I've incorporated the extra arm stitches into the cast on, and plan on picking up and knitting down to extend the sleeves to full length. I have to say the 3/4 length sleeves on the Baby Surplice we have are a very practical length, but if I get this right I'm going to want to make another one knit tightly with wool as a jacket, and I'll want longer sleeves.

The yarn is fine, not so splitty. Soft enough. The color is fine. It feels a little weird in garter, so we'll have to see how it drapes and wears.

Oh, and for everyone who asked: the bootees pattern is from The Opinionated Knitter, page 108. I cast on 43 instead of 51, picked up 10 on each side, and only did 3 "ridges" of plain garter before the toe decreases. My gauge was 4.25/inch using worsted weight yarn, and they fit perfectly.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Heavenly Bootees

Took a break from that evil blanket. Made the Mole some bootees, Zimmermann style. Yarn is Mosaic Moon Organic Bluefaced Leicester. I modified the pattern for the worsted gauge (4 st/in in garter) by casting on 43 and only doing 3 "ridges" before the decreases at the graft. They came out sized perfectly for the Mole, who is 6 months old.

The shaping is perfection, the construction unique and interesting to knit. These were super speedy. I particularly like the high ankle - babies' clothes ride up, especially when they have big cloth diapers like the Mole, and ride around in baby carriers. I made modified legwarmers (shin warmers) for the Squid, but I think these bootees might do the trick.

The photo is a bit blurred (taking photos of spazzy kicking baby feet is no small task) but you can get a pretty good look at the garter graft at the toe. I love these booties. Especially in crazy variegated yarns, I think they're wonderful.

Monday, October 01, 2007

It's October

And time to think about Halloween. The Squid says she's going to be a black cat wearing a rainbow dress. Luckily she already has the rainbow dress so all I need to make are the ears and tail. Phew. She's also thinking that the Mole should be a mouse. And while I was in the consignment store dropping off all of the newborn clothes when I found some ears.

Now I need to make the Tomten-with-legs I was planning. I have some black Rowan Big Wool so it would be speedy. But what if it's too warm for that? Maybe I should make a Baby Surprise out of some lovely charcoal merino I have lying around. He does have a pair of charcoal fleece pants... I could make booties to match the sweater - That's probably more practical. (Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmermann, the Mole is sporting a Baby Surplice made for him by our good friend Kim. It's so lovely and the fit is insanely great. I love the 3/4 length sleeves. It's perfect for keeping him warm but not getting tracked through grossness all day long. And I love a wool sweater for a baby. Many people don't. I have no idea why. Wool is perfect for soaking up baby gooey messes. And washes quickly and easily. I love it.)

Anyway, PapĂ , The Squid insists, must be a vampire. Me? What do I get to be? Cheese. So the Mousey-Mole can eat me.