Monday, April 27, 2009

In Your Sleeve, People!

Everyone at work is worried about the flu that's going around. The nurses here are scurrying to calm people down and check that they have their flu shots. Someone posted THIS video on the work website. Hilarious! I recommend it to anyone - good family fun!

It is only 2 weeks until the Sheep & Wool Fair. I can't wait. Even though there is no yarn or fiber I could conceivably need, I still look forward to it with an unparalleled anticipation. Every year I'm eager to visit the Vermont Spinnery, Foxfire Fibers, Zeilinger's Wool Company, Grafton Fibers, and Spirit Trail yarns. Not only are the yarns, fibers and tools beautiful but the people are so nice! It's amazing that they recognize me every year, even though we only meet once and they see so many people in the course of their busy fiber-y lives. As you know (If you been following my blog for a few years), I like to slip in anonymously and early and spirit my way through the fair quietly. We'll see if I succeed this year.

I'm almost finished with the Baby Wrap Sweater. It almost reminds me of wrapping sushi, the yarn is so slippery and soft!


As you can see, I decided to go with button wraps on the sides instead of the big bow in the back or front. I thought ties wouldn't be quite so comfortable for a wriggly baby. Next steps: sleeves and cute buttons.

This post wouldn't be complete with a flashing of the stash! Woolgirl had a sale recently on some selected sock yarns and I bought a skein of Dancing Dachs in the colourway, Toadstool. Isn't it lively and vibrant? I don't know yet what it's going to be, but I have high expectations of a yarn called Toadstool. It will definitely have to be something fun.


PS - You won't understand the title of this post unless you watch the video.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yesterday's excursions...

I thought that, today, I'd take you with me on my weekend rambles. You'll get to see a little bit of what my town and area looks like, as well as a typical Saturday. It's probably pretty much like your Saturday...

The plan started with the Natural Market which was holding it's first Organic Farmer's Market of the year. The day was warm, but cloudy and overcast, looking like rain, but even so the streets were crowded. I circled the square several times and finally had to park down the hill and walk a couple of blocks. The good news is that this took me past some of the lovely old buildings in that part of town.

The first one that caught my eye was the Art Gallery:


It's been there for a while and Jule worked there before she went to college. One time they had a painting of our house in the window - a local artist had thought it was pretty and, unbeknownst to me, painted it: "Yellow House on X Street"

This week's art is abstract and I found it very soothing:


I stood at the window and admired the paintings for a while, and then continued up the hill, past this little enchanted alcove:


All those bricks! There used to be a brick-making factory in this town in an early time, and there still is a huge granite quarry in the hills outside of town. That's why we all have so much granite - posts, steps, and foundations - in and around our houses, and why so many of the downtown buildings are built of granite and brick.

The market is at the top of a little rise and across the main street...

Photobucket Photobucket

Being the first one of the season meant that this market day was an incredible bun fight! But there were lots of samples (artisan cheese, macaroni and cheese with mushrooms, lemon and artichoke ravioli, freshly made fried potatoes, Greek yogurt, ice cream...) and free giveaways - I got two new re-usable shopping bags, a green one and a yellow one! I bought a loaf of Oatmeal Bread that had been baked that morning, a container of the Mushroom Macaroni & Cheese, some Greek yogurt (with honey), a package of ice cream sandwiches, and a fresh-baked scone (which has just this minute been eaten while I type)...

With my groceries in my new shopping bags, I made my way back downhill to the car, passed the Mexican Restaurant:


and passed a beautiful old barn that has been renovated for offices:


I particularly liked the big black crow who decided that the very pinnacle of the cupola was his special spot for surveying the entire town.

My next stop was a yarn shop nearby that was having a big sale before closing for their spring vacation. This shop is in a pretty college town at the top of a small mountain:


The houses and the town green are typical of my state where there are many places that go back to the 1600's, 1700's and 1800's. I know that's young by European standards...


The yarn store, Knit New London, is a tiny little store packed full with a wonderful collection of special yarns that I don't see everywhere else... lot's of locally produced yarns (including a baby camel yarn from Cape Cod) and most of the Rowan booklets, which I love.


Of course, the shop was super-crowded because of the sale. One mother-daughter team was pushing in front of everyone else to snatch up the skeins they wanted and spreading the yarn from the shelves all over the floor to choose their colours. The women working the sale were kept very busy putting everything back on the shelves in their wake!

As usual, the shop owner and the others there were very friendly and helpful. At 30% off, I did collect quite a lot for my stash:


1. Malabrigo Silky Wool 2. Namaste Crocheted Flower Tape-measure 3. Rowan Kidsilk Haze 4. Blue Sky Alpacas Silk & Alpaca 5. Classic Elite Premiere Cotton and Tencel

The Premiere cotton is for this little sweater from Greetings from the Knit Cafe, a book I already have in my pattern stash.


But that will have to wait. After yesterday's excursions, I have to spend this sunny day raking the back yard and staking the blackberry bushes...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Successful Living

Some time ago, I came across a stack of books from the 40's in the thrift shop, that had evidently been donated by the same person. It was the "Successful Living" series, "Books For Every Need". The titles included Successful Living (probably the first written, and when the publishers saw how eager everyone was for information on how to live the good life, they jumped right to it and published quite a bit more), The Home Mechanic, The Book of True Stories, How to Control Worry, Home Book of Party Games, New Book of Etiquette, Why Be Tired?, Calm Your Nerves, Lo, The Former Egyptian!, The Book of Indoor Games, How to Write for Money, and Sewing for the Baby.

Guess which one came home with me?


I'm sorry my photos today aren't very good. I was actually rushing to get to work for a meeting and quickly snapped all of them in the kitchen window for some sunlight - weak, spring sunlight. If you look closely, you can see the reflection of my face, hands, and camera in the shiny cover of the book!

Interestingly, Sewing for the Baby is a lot about Knitting and Crocheting for the Baby! After the introductory chapters that tell you what you'll need for baby clothes and accouterments, there are lessons on embroidery, knitting and crochet, and then each chapter addresses patterns for clothing and bedding.

There are good size charts:

4-month old

chest = 20 inches
waist = 20 inches
waist to ankle = 17 inches
length for sleeper = 31 inches

2-year old
chest = 21 inches
waist = 20 inches
dress length = 18 inches
romper length = 22 inches
neck to ankle = 33 inches

There is even a list of "necessities for the first 6 months":


3 flannel abdominal binders (apparently worn to cover the umbilical cord stump until it dried up and fell off)
4 cotton knitted vests
4 shirts with sleeves (cotton, cotton & wool, or wool & silk)
3 to 4 dozen diapers
6 to 8 soakers (diaper covers)
4 to 6 baby pants
4 nightgowns
2 kimonos
2 cashmere or wool wrappers (!)
1 wrap with hood or bunting
1 dress coat with bonnet/hat
2 short sweaters, jackets, or sacques
2 knitted bonnets
2 fabric bonnets
4 to 6 bibs
4 - 6 pairs of bootees
3 - 6 dresses or rompers
2 cotton receiving blankets
2 - 3 wool wrapping blankets
1 carriage blanket


2 quilted cotton pads (18 x 34 inches)
6 quilted cotton pads (18 inches square)
1 waterproof pad or sheet (17 X 18)
4 cotton percale sheets
2 large bath towels
3 face towels
3 knit washcloths
Bed blankets and comforts (toys)

and...for the older baby 4 months to 2 years....


3 knitted creepers or rompers
1 knitted play suit
1 knitted snow suit
3 fabric rompers
2 pullover sweaters
2 overalls or Sunny Jim play suits
1 butcher-boy jacket
1 corduroy coat
1 flannel coat with matching hat
4 shorts and 4 pants
1 jacket sweater
knitted gloves and mittens
knitted cap
knitted hood for very cold weather, with or without ear flaps

They recommend using bright colours for these clothes - "bright red, Kelly green, bright blue or strong orange" because "children react happily to bright colours>"

I have these bright colours for my baby knitting:



Both of these are from the wonderful SockPixie whose colours I think would delight any age! These particular yarns are from her recent ocean series.

The patterns included in my Sewing for the Baby book are divided equally between knitting and crochet, and most of the patterns have both a knit and a crochet version.

One of my favorites is for Knitted Shoes that have a little flap like old-fashioned loafers.


materials: #3 needles, 2 sm buttons

8 st and 10 rows to 1 inch


Starting at the sole, cast on 8 st and work in garter st (plain knitting) for 3 inches. Then dec 1 st at end of each row until 4 sts remain (toe). Bind off and set aside. For the upper, start at top, cast on 8 sts and work in garter st for 1 and ¼ inches. Dec 1 st at end of next 2 rows and bind off. Cast on 18 sts, pick up 12 sts across one long side of piece just completed, 8 sts across toe edge, and 12 sts across other long side, cast on 18 sts (68 sts). Work 1 inch strait in garter st. Bind off. Sew up back seam.

Place the upper against the sole and sew together with over-and-over stitches. For the strap, cast on 44 sts and k 4 rows. Next row: make a buttonhole 4 sts in from end by casting off 2 sts, and on next row cast back on 2 sts above those cast off. K 4 rows and bind off. To make the tongue, cast on 10 sts and work 1 inch in ribbing of p2 k2. Then work as follows:
1st row: *P 2, inc in next 2 sts. Repeat from * across ending with p2.
2nd row: *K 2, p 4. repeat from * across ending with k 2.
3rd row: *P 2, inc in next st, k2, inc in next st. Repeat across row ending with p2.
4th row: *K 2, p 6. Repeat* across ending with k 2.
Continue increasing thus every other row, always having 2 sts more between increases, until there are 8 sts in each stockinette section. Work strait until piece measures 2and ½ inches. K 4 rows and bind off.

Sew cast on edge of tongue to top edge of upper slipper, bring tongue over strap and fasten with snap. Sew button on strap.


If you make these, please leave a comment and a link to your photo!

Monday, April 13, 2009

from Space to the Library

Now that Flash Kelly has opened his birthday present (he couldn't wait until Wednesday), I can show you what I made him. This is the Space Invader baby hat, made man-size (and a big, brainy head it is, too!). I used the recommended yarn, Cascade 220, in black and cream. I know it's late in the season for a wool hat, but it's what he wanted and I have to admit, I wore a furry ear-flap hat when I was walking the dogs yesterday so perhaps he'll get some use out of it before next winter.


This was my first intarsia knitting ever!!

The pattern, which is written for baby size, doesn't give directions for up-sizing. I used my One Skein Top-Down hat pattern to make this hat, using just the charts for the intarsia space invader guys from the original pattern. The hardest part was figuring out the size of the ear flaps (I had to redo them when one came out smaller than the other) but it worked perfectly in the end. The opening between the ear flaps is twice as wide in the front as it is in the back. If you want to make one, my hat pattern is on Ravelry (button on the left takes you to the download) and you will need the original pattern for the space invader charts and placement directions. I suggest figuring out your maths for positioning the ear flaps on this adult size before you actually start them, but after you've finished the body of the hat.

Of course, as soon as I finished this I had to make one for the baby too:



I learned some things about intarsia while knitting these hats and was so chuffed to have learned a new technique that I wanted to apply it again immediately! I chose the baby sweater pattern Baby Sophisticate (you can find this free on Ravelry) and designed my own intarsia pattern on it. I think it looks like a sweater that a college professor would wear in the library:


The yarn is Sublime organic merino, just a little over 1 ball and a bit of a second colour. This yarn is very loosely plied so it knits up like a single ply yarn. It was such a pleasure to knit with and so soft!


The pattern itself is super easy and took just two days to complete (good Masterpiece Theater knitting). The pattern is plain, but having just learned intarsia, I had to try it out again. I graphed a school of fish and applied it in blue. They don't look much like fish really - I toyed with the idea of embroidering details on them, like eyes, to try to make them more obvious but rejected this as over-kill. With the blue fish buttons, I think the suggestion of fishes is subtle but works okay...


If you make this sweater pattern, I found that it ran very small. I used the 3-6 month size but at gauge it came out a small newborn size. I hope that it will last a while; babies grow fast! The good news is that the pattern is so fast and easy I can make another in the larger size with no trouble.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Stitch in Time - We have touch-down!

I took a trip to the Elegant Ewe to view the new books, A Stitch in Time, in all their beauty...


They have them on the shelves behind the counter, with one out on the counter for people to look through. The stack is quickly diminishing...both to local folks and to Ravelers calling or emailing or have one sent to them. The Elegant Ewe told me they are charging $6 for shipping within the US.

The very first copy was bought by a famous knitting person, Stitchy McYarnpants! HERE she is, looking very happy to have snagged a copy.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating - Arbour House Press and Knit on the Net did a fabulous job with the production of this book. The choice of patterns, the updated yarn, needle, and sizing information, the large and gorgeous photographs combined with original photos and illustrations from the 1930's, all perfect.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Inspiration day

I have to admit that I'm an easy sell for knitting and crochet patterns. I have enough to last two lifetimes even if I made something new every day. And yet, when a new pretty crosses my path I find myself reaching and wanting... It's not the actual belief that I will knit every one... it's more about the way the patterns make me feel in terms of inspiration. There are some patterns and pattern books that just make my creativity soar when I thumb through. They are like my own art board and their pattern pictures people my imagination.

Here is a good example:

Kim Hargreaves' two latest booklets, Amber (on the right) and Breeze, this season's stylebook.

The designs in Breeze are lighthearted and, well...breezy. I can easily see them (on me) as I walk along the ocean sands with bare feet and a brisk wind tossing salt-water spray...



Amber is more moody and suits my style perfectly:

almost vintage...






I don't know if I'll stop my baby knitting for long enough to actually make any of these, but I'll be inspired all summer.

warm hearts and handspun bums

I am almost done with knitting diaper covers. This week's edition is the Plain Wrap from Warm Heart Woolies.


This style is a more modern and convenient update of the vintage "Pilch" patterns that are knit like a triangle and fasten in the front with buttons. I can only imagine how difficult little buttons would be while trying to diaper a wriggling baby.



These fasten quickly and simply with a very soft Velcro. I had to search around in the Velcro boxes and packages to find one where the hook side was as soft - or almost - as the fuzzy side. It can be found! It just takes some time and searching. It's marked "extra soft". The sales ladies at Joann's Fabric Store thought I was nuts. But I did find it eventually.


This yarn - on both of these - is from a fantastic Etsy seller, Shunklie. The yarn is handspun and dyed in beautiful soft colours. I was in love with these skeins. There is a lot left in each skein so I may make some baby sweaters, too. There's nothing like a handspun natural yarn for some precious baby knits...


So, really, I'm done with this end of the baby - at least for a little while. What should I make next?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Embroidered Baby Diaper Covers

I've had a handful of queries about the embroidered diaper covers in my last post. Although I did use a vintage pattern from my collection, I added the short row back shaping and leg ribbing from a lovely pattern that you can use to use to make something very similar. This is the "Diaper Covers" pattern from The Expectant Knitter by Marie Connolly of StitchDC.



And speaking of Stitch DC, I had a chance to visit both Stitch DC stores when I was in Washington on a work trip last month. They were lovely! I was looking for local "souvenir" yarn, and was able to get some beautiful handspun, hand-dyed lace weight yarn made by one of the women who works there. The Georgetown shop has since closed, but I hear that the Capitol Hill shop is expanding! You can read all about it on Marie's blog, linked above.

The yarn for the Diaper covers was KnitPicks Risata cotton and elastic sock yarn. It comes in bright colours, is machine washable, and extremely soft and comfy for baby clothes.

The embroidery was a unique feature that I added. Everyone who has mentioned it to me says they love the dinosaur. Well.... this green dino was supposed to be a giraffe! At least, that's what I started out with, but by the time I finished the head, I was thinking that it was more like a dinosaur with the green pearl cotton, so I changed the body and legs and tail and...Dino it is! I did the embroidery freehand, but after the fact drew up the chart to share with you:


The elephants were totally random - I wanted to do one elephant but made it too small so I added another beside it and then decided I wanted a bit of colour, so I added a third elephant in the light blue pearl cotton! I'm not sure they're completely successful, but they're cute so I've charted them out for your use too:


The swallows chart is from a 1920's crochet sweater pattern and can also be found on Ravelry as the 1920 Retro Bird Filet Square, though the link leads to the same online sweater pattern with its flying swallow charts.

So there you have it - Cushy covers for cheerful babies! I've just finished some brithday knitting and will show that after it's opened byt he recipient next week. In the meantime, I'm working on some wonderful natural wool soakers (another Vintage concept!) with handspun wool.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

bluebirds, and elephants, and dinosaurs - Oh My!







Yes, that's right. A baby boy is coming into our family. We're so excited and happy! Little Jule is going to have a little jewel of her own! That's why all my knitting has been preempted by baby-knitting. Yesterday, at a work meeting I just made a list of all the things I'm going to make while others were talking. I have a list for now and a list for later!


1 silk bonnet (done)
3 vintage undershirts
2 sleeping buntings
1 buster brown booties
1 Baby Surprise jacket
3 diaper covers (done)
1 soft cotton blanket


2 bear head blankets
1 hooded sweater
1 navy blue Navy coat
1 navy blue sailor pants
1 Dokumon pants
3 pairs socks (1 done)
2 cardigans (1 BSJ done)
2 hats (1 done)

In other news, my local yarn store had a sale last weekend and I had great fun browsing the shelves and chatting with the friendly staff. Here is a picture of the lovely Lori and Kelly showing their new shop aprons!


I was quite taken with the aprons and mentioned that they would be great for knitting - a place to put all the little tools you need for your project, as well as your center-pull ball of yarn. When I got home and opened by bag I found one nestled slyly under my sale yarn!! How nice is that!?!? I love my LYS - the Elegant Ewe.