Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Friday, December 17, 2010


I have the worst memory.  I don't remember much of my life, actually.  I remember big moments, like getting married, graduations, some key horribly unpleasant social encounters that shaped my childhood and adolescence... But I don't have great memory of the things that I did every day- games I used to play as a child, toys, places I went.  Even in high school and college my memories are vague and blurry for the most part.  There is a part of me that really hates this.  I had a conversation with a friend of mine whose grandfather had perfect memory and that seemed equally unpleasant, perhaps moreso.  But I do really wish that I remembered better the life that I've had.

As a result, it has been really important for me to document my girls' childhood as much as possible.  There are many times where I have been too busy and insane to take photos for weeks at a time and I always regret it.  One thing I'm hoping to do with this blog is to keep a record for myself so I can try to bring up the memories of our daily activites.  I live in hope that my brain keeps those memories, I just don't access them that frequently.  I hope these images will work as triggers to bring them to the surface. 

For the holidays my sweetie helped me get a new camera that will hopefully inspire me to take even more photos.  I have a lot to learn, this is my first ever non-point & shoot camera, but the experimentation has been so much fun and I've had it for less than 24 hours!  Here are two of my favorites from this morning.  How did I end up with such beautiful children?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

finally finished

and waiting for Zoë to get big enough to wear it (soon)  I love the monster buttons.  They make me so happy!

I'll start the next little pea soon.  It turns out, knitting 5 of the same sweater back to back is not as much fun as it sounds.  So I'm breaking it up with some other knitting.  If you're super anxious for the pattern, you can test knit for me.  I would love it!  Just let me know the size and I can send you the pattern!  I also am planning an adult version in chunky yarn, and I would be happy to let you test kit that one, too... ;)

Luckily we spend the week between christmas and new year's in Maine, the land of snow and many grandparents, so I have great hopes of knitting massive amounts in front of various wood stoves. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cold Toes

One of the great things about being a knitter, and particularly a knitter with a yarn shop is that when the need strikes your family you can pretty much make anything on short notice.  Last week we had a serious cold snap here in Rhode Island.  We had temps in the teen's, highs not reaching the 30's and WIND!  There wasn't a lot of playing outdoors for us this week, as you can imagine.  But poor Zoë was still cold.  Even in her footie pj's, the fleece ones, with monsters on them, INSIDE.  One morning her thighs were even cold, and that just sent me over the edge.  She needed wool!  Now!

So I went into my ridiculous stash (that I cleaned out this summer and have been replenishing to about 4 lifetimes of yarn every since, sigh) and pulled out the most cheeful color of Hacho that I had and set to work.  Thank heaven for Car Bordhi and the miracle of the baby coriolis.  Best. Baby. Sock. Ever.

A trained eye may be able to tell that they are already pilled and felted a little.  They were finished thursday and spent the next few days on Zoë, next to her skin and underneath her jammies or her new faux shearling boots.  Together the boots and the socks do the trick and her toes have been toasty warm!  We are back to unseasonably warm, so all of our warm clothes will get a wash and a fold and be ready for the next snap!

I have plans for a pair of matching baby leggings that are like the yoga socks we have in the store.  It turns out that I usually keep her leggings over her heel to keep them down and it would be super convenient for her to just have a stirrup so she could have better movement with her feet. Seeing as how she spends most of her time standing and trying to climb things ;)  I've cast on, and they are trucking along. 

I also thought I'd show you the socks I'm working on for the girls out of the Madelinetosh that I wound up with my nostepinne a couple of weeks ago.  They are gorgeous so far:

These are Clara's socks. I would have whipped up Zoë's out of this, but those were emergency socks... so I found something DK weight so they would work up in a jiffy.  This pattern is from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush.  Infant's Fancy Silk Sock.  I've in fact knit this sock for Clara before, out of Misti Alpaca Laceweight handpaints doubled on a 00 needle.  This time I'm on fingering weight with a 3, and they are perfect for her.  I think I'll do the same thing for The Zone, but on much reduced stitches.  It's such a lovely little lace pattern, and Clara is really keen to match her sister.

So we're in the middle of operation warm toes right now.  I have been finishing up a few things for the shop and a few designs, and I hope to have updates for you soon.  Maybe when the sun comes back I'll get some adorable shots of these socks in use! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


It's little things, because I'm a mother and a knitter that make me really happy.  This morning as little zone (as clara has recently nicknamed her) was rocking out at the music table

I noticed something about the sweater she is wearing.  You see, it's a sweater that belonged to Josh when he was a little and I love it desperately.  For some reason I didn't steal it from Josh's mom when Clara was born, only this past summer when we were looking at clothes she had picked up at the awesome resale shop in Blue Hill.  Maybe it was too boy-ish?  But who are we kidding, I dressed Clara like a boy most of the time.  I don't know, but I love this sweater.  It is incredibly soft and very easy on and off and for some reason, just perfect for zoë. 

Anywho, I was admiring how she was finally happy for a moment (after some ibuprofen and a few extra layers... teething and cold weather a bad combo for zo zo) and I noticed this:

A little mistake.  The person who made this (I'm assuming it was Josh's mom, but I have to ask her) did a little absent minded purl 4 on the right side or knit 4 on the wrong side.  Of course, this is on the back, just a few rows past the ribbing so the knitter was still getting the hang of the pattern.  This is why we start most sweaters with the back, so if you screw it up, it's less noticeable!

One of the many things I love about knitting is that it is a person making something for someone.  Whether it is for themselves, for their family or friends, or to donate to someone in need, it is a human spending time to knit each stitch.  One by one they make something that can be (hopefully) cherished by the recipient.  I love the idea of Josh's mom, in the haze of pregnancy (hers were difficult) or in her baby moon knitting away for this little love that became the love of my life.  When he was wee, and cold (or tucked safely inside her) she knit each stitch, one by one, to make him something he could wear and I could treasure.

I remember when Josh and I were ordering our wedding rings I was very specific to the jeweler that I wanted him to make them by hand.  He told me that if he did that they wouldn't be perfect, that it would be better to have a machine make them.  But I want those imperfections.  Life, marriage, these things aren't without flaws.  It is the imperfections that remind us of our humanity and, for me, make these objects special.

These little mistakes are what make these items real to me and they send me through the roof with joy.  Of course, if it were me, I probably would have ripped back to fix it.  I think I'll reconsider in the future.  Maybe one day someone just like me will find the mistake and it will remind them of the person behind the sweater, knitting each of those stitches, one by one.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holidays and Memories

Sometimes it's unbelieveable to me how much has happened in the last year.  This year has been hard for so many reasons and so joyful for many others.  Last year at this time I was pregnant with Zoë, just past my first trimester.  I was still working part time in the store and by January I had switched to working from home for the store.  Big changes were coming. 

Every year since she was born, I have made an album for Clara with photos documenting her year.  I am by no means a scrapbooker, so get the glossy images out of your head.  These are really just snapshots of her doing stuff and some captions.  I've been going through photos recently to get ready to have the magic ones printed for her next album, and to get a good head start on Zoë's.  It has been quite a journey down memory lane, looking at the images that show our transition from working outside of the home to inside and becoming a family of four.  It's amazing how much you forget in the haze of the babymoon, and how drastic the changes in your little ones are when you can see the timelapse photography.

Just look at the difference in Clara... Most of the time, I honestly can't believe it.  Last year, decorating our tree:

And now this year:

okay, not the best photos... how about this for a difference.  Making bread last january:

And just this week eating dinner:

Really, the difference between 2 and 3 is so huge.  She's a big sister now, she uses the potty, she can climb in and out of the car and hook up her own carseat.  Her language development is insane, most folks can understand her fully now.  The decision to not work in the store was as much about her as it was about the store needing me to move to a new role.  She has always been introverted and being in the shop was just too tiring for her.  It's amazing to me just how much she has blossomed this year now that she doesn't have the stress of talking to strangers every day.  It has freed us up to get her involved in some activities, she's in the world's most adorable martial arts program for young children and she's now learning to swim! 

This year the holidays are also really different for Clara.  She knows the deal with hannukah and christmas and our weird little family traditions.  She's very excited about this tree... last year was the first time she had one, and she remembers it.  She's super excited for all the wrapping of presents and the, well, unwrapping of presents.  She is very excited for the giving of holiday cookies and cards and presents for the people she loves.

Which transitions nicely to the knitting news...We really wanted to do something for our amazing babysitter, Shayna, who has become one of Clara's favorite people.  Of course I had to knit something because, well, it's me.  So last weekend on Sunday we went down to the shop for Clara to pick out some yarn for her present.  I had in mind a pair of fingerless gloves and a hat in Misti Chunky Alpaca because that stuff is so warm and soft!  I pointed Clara to the appropriate area and told her to pick what she though Shayna would like.

She did a great job!  She picked out a lovely fuschia and a hot pink that really looked nice together.  I'm not the best at combining colors and my mom-in-law gave me a few ideas.  I worked up the Maine Morning Mitts from The Knitter's Book of Yarn in like 4 hours:

Then I found a slouchy hat pattern on ravelry and whipped that up in no time (I think 2 episodes of x files...)

But the piece I'm most proud of is the cowl I decided to make to tie the whole ensemble together.... I found a little scarf pattern that I thought would look nice in two colors.  It began as a really wide scarf, but I decided after watching some college students walk past one of the parks we visit that it would be better as a cowl.  I really geeked out because I didn't want a seam so I grafted the ends together, in pattern, on the wrong side.  It took several tries to get it right.  Since I'm used to grafting toes, in stockinette on the right side, it took a bit to get the back side (the non-pattern end, oddly) right.  But it turned out lovely and I'm super proud of it.  Here's a shot of the graft:

A close up of the pattern stitch:

And then what it looks like on me:

I'm very pleased with the results.  More importantly, so was Shayna.  It turns out her winter coat is the exact shade of hot pink Clara chose.  Good job, Clara!  The pattern for the cowl (including grafting instructions) is forthcoming.  I want to work up a version for me (single color in heavy worsted) and I'll take photos of the grafting then.  I'll post proper entries at ravelry as soon as I can get Zoë to nap again this afternoon.  The teeth appear to be moving again and hopefully when they finally arrive we'll all get some more sleep!  It's so hard to see her suffer when she has been through so much already.  She's usually so good-natured and she's been so upset!  Keep your fingers crossed for us that this one pops out soon and we have our happy little boo boo back!

Happy Hannukah!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A nearly finished item and a wee little tutorial

I'm still cranking out those little pea samples so I can make sure that the pattern is perfect before I pop it onto the ravelry site....  Here's the 12 month size:

All done except for the buttons!  The pattern is coming along nicely and I'm pretty happy with it!

I'd also like to invite you all to our booksigning on Wednesday 6:30pm - 8pm at the shop.  Naomi and I will be signing Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders.  Naomi has two patterns featured in the book and I have one.  I'll be baking something delish and we'll share some cider or champagne and talk knitting!  Come!

Now for a little tutorial... recently Naomi and I have been discussing bringing in another line of looms and spinning wheels and one company also has really nice accessories including nostepinnes.  They are fantastic little doo-dads that help you wind a center-pull ball.  I know a lot of you know how to wind center-pull balls by hand, and some lucky folks have ball-winders and swifts. But there are a lot of things I like about my nostepinne.  I love that it's small, and portable and I can put it away when I need to.  I can tuck it into my knitting bag and therefore I can wind easily whenever I want, where ever I want.  I don't have the space for a ball-winder and swift at my house.  Since I'm only at the store a couple nights a week the one there is of limited use to me.  But I love having center-pull balls and so I've been using my nostepinne a lot these days.

So let's get this thing going.  First, you have to pick your yarn and put it on something to keep your loop from getting all funky.  My first choice is always one of my dining room chairs:

I'm winding up a little madelinetosh tosh sock for a pair of matching socks for the girls.  Colorway: Tomato.  I'm in love, but that's besides the point.  Now, grab your nostepinne and find the little ridge along the top and tie your yarn around it:

It's time to start winding!  Start off in the center of the winding area and wind a nice big chunk of yarn.  You need a bit to get started, but if you do too much the first few pulls from the ball will tangle, so don't go nuts.

You want to wind the yarn at an angle from the bottom of the ball on the nostepinne to the top of the ball.  Each time you wrap, turn the nostepinne towards you so when you wrap your yarn around the next time you are going over a different part of the ball.  The more you turn the nostepinne the more space you have between each wrap.  I don't tend to twist too much each time because that makes the ball taller rather than fatter.  Here's what it looks like just after you've gotten started:

And once you've gotten a good bit on there:

Now if you keep on going like this you'll end up with a ball that looks kind of like a football.  Nothing wrong with that at all, but I was curious if I could get it to look more like the balls that come off the winder at the shop.  So once I liked the length of the ball, I started to change the angle and wind a little more loosely to make the ball start growing outwards while not getting any taller.  I found the most important part of this was to keep my tension loose.  If it started to get tight the threads would slip and the ball would get messy.  Here I am ready to change angle and tension:

And here I am making the ball fat and square instead of long and pointy:

One thing I love about the nostepinne is that I can get my center-pull ball without needing to keep the darn thing attached to my hand all the time.  As you know, I have a couple of adorable babies and life is often not organized enough for me to, say, wind a ball of sock yarn all in one session.  I love that I can do a bit, and set it down when things like this happen:

Then when all is better I can pick it up again and finish what I was doing.  Winding around my thumb just doesn't cut it these days.  When it looks like I'll be putting it away for a long period of time, I can just twist up the remaining part of the skein and put the whole thing in my knitting bag without worrying about it all falling apart or about the kitties throwing yarn raves with the parts left hanging about.

Now that things are all better, we can pop back over and finish winding!

Secure the end of your yarn back in the ball, and un-tie the knot at the top and pull it off the nostepinne:

Voila!  Keep track of that little piece hanging out the top of the ball, that is where you will knit from.  I generally pull out a bit and wrap it around the ball and I'm done!  Which is a good thing because Zoë is trying to climb the stairs again!  Fun!  Hope to see you at the booksigning!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Previews & Patterns

Well, dear readers, what a week!  More sick at casa de Conterio, another cold on top of the one we're all recovering from.  Sigh.  Sometime in the next decade I'll get to sleep again!  My babysitter hit a little misfortune as well and threw out her back and couldn't stay as long as she usually does, so today's post may be a little on the light side!

I have a little preview for you today of that sweater that I've been working on.  I just finished the 6 month size and popped it on Zoë for a little photoshoot last friday.  I think it's adorable!  Introducing Little Pea:

It took a long time to get the proportions just right and I'm really happy with it.  The sample is out of Cascade 220 Superwash handpaints.  I loved working with it, but I have a few recommendations.  #1, don't put it in the dryer.  I know it tells you that you can, and for sure it didn't felt, but it didn't treat the sweater all that nicely either.  You see, wool that has been made machine washable is very slick (so it won't felt!) and it really needs blocking to get the shape right.  I had to steam it after it came out of the dryer to get the ribbing to look nice.  Also, because it is so slippery the buttons loosened dramatically when it was washed.  I highly recommend not using the yarn to sew on the buttons.  This sweater isn't really to be worn it's just to be displayed at the shop so I didn't bother to redo the buttons.  I just tightened them and moved on to the next thing.  If this were going to spend anytime on my babes, I would have pulled them off and sewn them on with thread.

I'll be working up the next few sizes to check the pattern, so you'll be seeing a few more of these soon.  Some from stash yarn and some for the store.  I'm so glad it's finally working out!  Hopefully I'll have the pattern up for sale soon.  It's a really quick knit!

I also wanted to let you know that Naomi, my intrepid business partner, has a couple of patterns for sale on ravelry.  Introducing the very popular Highway Hat:

Even more exciting, you can buy it without having a Ravelry account (but why wouldn't you want one?)  Click here and it's yours for $5.50!  I've also added links to the sidebar where you can purchase my current ravelry downloads.  The Mountain Colors Swirl Wrap pattern gives you the laceweight instructions written by Naomi.  That has been a very popular pattern in the shop and we're really happy to make it available to everyone online.

That's all for now, I hope all of you have a safe and wonderful holiday.  I have much to be thankful for this year!  I'm really enjoying bringing you a little slice of my knitting world each week and I hope I'll be able to increase the frequency of posting soon! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

a day late...

Oh dear, let me tell you, things have been nuts in our house recently! Lots of crafting, colds, teething, solid foods (and all the resulting digestive fun, poor zoë) and not as much time for the blogging. Sunday night I got a whole hour of sleep (1!) and I was a zombie on monday. Happily, i got to buy lots of yarn for the shop from Berroco... boy do they have some great things coming up! But you'll have to wait a bit to see that (sometime in February...)

So finally, here is a little photo of Clara in her winter coat. She's obviously 3 in this one...

Thank god for blogging or I never would have noticed that the non-buttoning buttons need some serious tightening! Then I got her to show a bit of the lining (she's happier now because we're on our way to watch the sesame street!)

Had a lovely visit with our Berroco rep yesterday (even though I was a zombie) and I was discussing my problems with the Weekend. I've been knitting off and on a sweater for Josh and not loving it. It's the perfect yarn for him, because he's a hot person and all of the wool sweaters I've knit him inevitably end up in the "when it's really cold" pile. Frankly, it doesn't get that cold in Rhode Island (at least not by our standards having grown up in Maine...) so he never wears them.

I really wanted to make him something that he would wear, and so I settled on making him a cotton sweater. I'm no great lover of knitting with cottons, so I had to wait for just the right one. When we got Weekend, I thought it was a good candidate, and the reviews from our customers put me over the edge. So I took a bag home and cast on Lakenvelder:

Well, I hated knitting it. It was splitty and weird and I just couldn't stand it. Now, Josh is no small man either and it was looking like it was going to be a LOT of knitting. sigh. So, into the bottom of the B-list knitting bag it went and I went on to other projects. Josh is a very patient man (otherwise he never would have married me!) and he understood that other things were very important to knit. I had a string of samples that the store needed and the sweater just kind of sat around for those moments where I needed something mindless.
Enter Andra who tells me that I shouldn't be knitting the thing on bamboo needles and try some turbos. She had no problem with the yarn! Well, sitting there during our spring yarn visit I whipped out some turbos and switched over. I'm in love! Which is a good thing because having forgotten what size I was knitting I totally screwed up the armhole shaping and had to frog back to the bind off... just a few hours of knitting!
Oh, and speaking of frogging. Those lovely nereid gloves went into the pond as well. I finished the first one (a thing of beauty!) and weighed the rest of the ball and realized I wouldn't have enough for the other. Seeing as I am fortunate enough to have TWO hands, I had to frog it. I just whipped up a pair of incredibly simple fingerless gloves. I innovated a bit adding some thumb shaping so my thumb wouldn't end up with a floppy little tube. I'm loving the results and I will hopefully pop it up on ravelry soon. I'm definitely planning on going back to the nereid gloves soon, probably with some string theory that I've got hanging around that will be a much better match for that pattern.
That is... as soon as I can put down Josh's sweater! More news soon on some new ravelry downloads and also that adorable sweater I was working on last week. I just need to weave the ends in an put it on my willing model! Soon!
Oh, and do you like the new look/name? That's all that's going to change, promise. We just realized that Naomi is not a blogger and it would be better if the blog were just mine. That gives me a little more freedom to talk about things not so specifically related to the shop (but who are we kidding... nearly all of my yarn comes from there!)

Monday, November 8, 2010

unfavorable conditions

The weather here in Rhode Island has been really trisky the past week. Lots of rain, clouds and gloom. Last night we even had our first snow fall. The weather forecast said this weekend was supposed to be nice with lots of sun and it was cloudy and funky the whole time. So the photography opportunities were less than awesome!

Isn't that a lovely excuse for not sharing with you Clara's Winter Coat? Ahhhh, well, it's not the only reason, dear readers. I kind of hate it. Now, it serves its purpose, it is certainly warm and Clara LOVES it, but it is just not the sweater that I pictured in my head! The proportions are all wrong-o. The sleeves are just right, but the body is HUGE. The neck is way too big so what was supposed to be a turned over collar ended up going all mandarin on me. Also, the lining was an insane job but I finished it. I channeled my Tailor of Gloucester and hand stitched the buttonholes. I am not pleased with my results, but my little girl is. I guess we can call it a partial success. I'm sure that soon I will get over it enough to take a couple of quick shots for you (as soon as the conditions improve!)

So enter take 5? no I had to rip this one out once already... Take 6:

I'm still working on the original vision which is a cross between a sweater I saw on a girl at the farmer's market about a month ago and a peacoat. This one is the 6 month size because I'd like to work out the kinks in the proportions on the SMALLEST SIZE POSSIBLE! I started Clara's Coat I think 4 times and knit all the way to putting the sleeve stitches on holders each time before deciding it was wrong all wrong. I'm still not at all sure what to do about the collar, should I go for a turned over collar or no collar or maybe just a couple of rows of garter stitch to neaten it up... we'll see. I'll be thinking about that while I knit the sleeves.

The yarn is 220 superwash handpaint. We have our lovely inside out blanket in the shop now and it's doing its job admirably but we need to show folks how beautiful the 220 handpaints are... so this sweater is working double duty as sample and drawing board. Also, the gauge will be spot on for my outside in (or should i call it Right Side In?) sweater, so I can start that as soon as this pattern is out of my brain, which can come any day now, please!

In the evenings when I can't stand the thought of working on a sweater that I've tried to knit 6 times, I've been working on a pair of fingerless gloves for me. This is the most selfish knitting I have done in a long long time. a) it's for me. b) it's not yarn we sell in the store c) it's a free pattern off the web!

it's coming along nicely:

details on ravelry. Hands are still cold, but soon, SOON, they won't be. yay!

In other news, Naomi and I will be having a book signing for the newest One Skein Wonders. We both have patterns in the book... Naomi actually has TWO! We're very very proud of it. I'm really excited about a lot of the patterns in the book, not just ours.

So save the date: December 1st @ 6:30 pm. We'll have treats and drinks and we'll sign your book!

Next week hopefully a new pattern on ravelry and some better photos. I'm shopping for a new camera that will help with my woeful lighting conditions and very swiftly moving targets! until then!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inside out turns me outside in!

This time, dear readers, I present to you the Inside Out Baby Blanket designed by my intrepid business partner Naomi Herzfeld. She designed this awesome blanket for a yarn we loved (Cascade 220 Superwash) that wasn't doing as well as we had hoped... and BOOM it starts flying off the shelves! We had the blanket in the shop until the Cascade Yarns rep was visiting and he LOVED it. He asked if Naomi would be interested in selling Cascade the pattern? Well, we love love love being published, so of course she jumped at the opportunity. Unfortunately, they needed to take the blanket, leaving our poor store blanket-less and more importantly sample-less for the wonderful 220 Superwash. So onto my knitting queue went the fantastic Inside Out Baby Blanket.

Now, I have to say, that I had issues with the pattern. Mostly because I am a dork. My partner so kindly fixed them and emailed the changes to Cascade so you wouldn't suffer! They were little things, that if you are me, and you are ridiculous, end up costing you a lot of knitting time.

The main issue I had was that Cascade photographed the blanket (with a white border) on a white background and then cropped the border off. Being the dork I am, I am used to fudging a pattern when I think it's wrong (even when my partner designed it (oops!)) and making it look like the picture. Well, that made me knit the border in a totally wrong color which I had to rip out and then re-do. This normally wouldn't have bothered me but the blanket is knit center out, so I had to rip out 13 rows at 8 trillion stitches per row. yargh!!!!! Even worse, I thought I was running out of yarn (because I was knitting the border in the wrong color!) so it stalled my progress on the blanket until I could get to the shop and chat with Naomi about it. It was then I discovered the weirdness on the photo, which led to my stupidity and the resulting unfortunate frogging. sigh. Not a rockstar moment!

But in the end, it turned out beautifully! You just have to feel it to properly understand. Once you wash the 220 superwash it gets so soft!!! Zoë definitely approves!

Pattern is available online for free here with new photos and corrections! It takes 5 skeins of 220 superwash, 2 in the eyelet/border color and 1 each of 3 other colors. In the time since Naomi designed the blanket we've seen many variations of yarn and color and they have all been beautiful! I tried to do something a little more grown-up with this color scheme so you could imagine knitting it larger for your home (not just a baby) but I was so inspired by the colors that I want to knit an "outside in" baby sweater reversing the colors, have the gray be the stripes and alternate different turquoise colors for the eyelets. That's coming soon. Some teething, a 3rd birthday, halloween and a (sigh) water main leak at my house have seriously limited my knitting time so I haven't finished Clara's winter coat sweater yet (in my LOVE tonos worsted) It's coming... I am on the 2nd sleeve! Last night we gave the Zo some advil and watched some X-files on the netflix streaming. If all goes well I'll have some photos for you next week!


Monday, October 25, 2010

Zoë loves love: an adventure in design.

New Ravelry Download: I heart Silk Garden Sock Baby Sweater

We've had this sweater (in various forms) in the shop for a while. It all started almost 2 years ago when we were writing patterns for the recently released Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders. I love the idea of taking a striping yarn and doing colorwork with it. I remember a Spin-Off cover many years ago that featured two self-striping yarns worked against eachother for a fantastic felted tote and ever since then I had wanted to do it! When the opportunity to design for this book came up, Clara was a little over a year old and I was deeply into making things for her.

The pattern that ended up in the book is the Crazy Wavy Dress that you can see in the shop and soon on Ravelry and in the book, but I had a little time before the deadline so I tried to work up another garment, this time a cardigan and with Silk Garden Sock. The results, sadly took more than one skein of yarn! So I couldn't send it in... But it looked great on Clara:

Version 2 was a quick re-write trying to get the project down to just 1 skein of Silk Garden Sock, I dropped the turned over collar and shrunk it to a 12 month size. The results would have gone to One Skein Wonders but with the re-write, we missed the deadline... but it looked awesome on my friends son!

Version 3 happened when my intrepid business partner Naomi tried to work up the pattern in a 3rd yarn (not self striping) omitting the heart pattern entirely and found the yoke to be nearly unworkable. I had recently added a 2 year size to the pattern and she was working up a sample. She ended up re-writing the pattern to simplify, removing some charts and trying to make the pattern easier! We don't have a picture of that yet, but it did work up very well in the Zauberball 6ply in the blue mix.

Now, I hate it when my patterns make people have heartburn and I had wanted to add a 6 month size at the same time. Enter my next model, Zoë! I took all of the decreasing out of the colorwork, and according to the EPS, took more stitches off under the arms (which make the yoke grand join much more pleasant) and worked all the decreases in 4 rounds. Much easier! I simplified the colorwork pattern further to remove the single color stripes (which is a geeky thing to do on a circular needle, but not the easiest thing to describe!)

The results are pretty fabulous, the sweater was a lot easier to knit and I'm really pleased. I did futz with the yarn a bit to make the sleeves match, because I knew that adding bits later would be no big deal and because I knew I would have to pick up and knit that border anyway and extra stripes make it look cool. I think I have enough yarn left over to make some booties and I would love to put the heart motif on the top of the foot. But that will have to wait for another day, Clara is in need of a sweater for winter and I'm on version 3 of that. I'm almost to the end of the body (it's top down) so I'm getting close. We're going to line this one with polar fleece or possibly some quilted fabric so it can serve as her winter coat. You'll definitely be seeing that one soon because it's really getting cold and she needs it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

you, me, and a deserted island

Everyone talks about what they would take should they ever have the misfortune of getting stranded on a deserted island. Well, frankly, I'm hoping that the island I end up on is in the arctic circle, or possibly that I end up stranded at a deserted ski resort! If so, this yarn is now on the top of my must have list. Misti Tonos worsted. holy cow do I love this yarn. It's 50/50 alpaca wool blend in beautifully tonally dyed colors. gaaaaaaaaah. it's just to beautiful for words.

When I was pregnant with the Zoughut (as we like to call her) she had this knack for picking out yarn by kicking me when i was holding it. (much like my mother reports that I picked the house we lived in when I was born!) Previous to this selection she was really into blues, but when the tonos came in last fall she fell in love with this purple. I knew that it was going to turn into her winter sweater, but I wasn't sure what sweater, or what size for that matter, so off it went into my stash until the time when it spoke to us again.

A few weeks after I returned from my maternity leave, Zo and I were hanging out on the couches teaching a class and she started staring at Cambria's February sweater. Now, the little knitting junky in my mind remembered that that was originally a baby pattern and could it work? Amazingly enough it was perfect! Right gauge, right size, true love! The pattern is found in The Knitter's Almanac and is a little hand-wavy like most Zimmermann patterns. I did have to rip out a bunch for some silly reason, but honestly the thing is so small that it hardly seems worth mentioning it. I love that the sleeves are loose and a little on the short side. She's into everything these days and it's nice that they don't really get in the way of her adventures.

I just barely scratched the surface of the 2nd ball of yarn for the sweater so my mom in law made a hat for her and her big sister out of it. She used the left overs from a hat I had made for the shop in a different color. So cute! That ends up being 3 balls of yarn for a baby sweater, a baby hat, a hat for a 3 yr old and a had for an adult. Great yardage!

This yarn is such a joy to knit and so beautiful that I've already stashed a bunch for Clara's winter sweater (that I'd better get crackin' on!) I have in mind to knit myself a sweater out of this gorg teal we have as well. I think it's my new favorite.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Clara loves green

Early this summer I decided she needed a sweater for the summer, something warm-ish for cool summer nights (like we actually get those in Providence!) or heavily air-conditioned environments. Given my profession I am lucky that I can be picky about what I knit for my girls. Sadly, we don't carry a lot of greens at the shop and Clara's favorite color for a while now has been green. I also wanted just the thing... something soft, bouncy and easy to wear and not too hot. This girl has a thermostat I would kill for and she doesn't want to wear really warm clothes.

Enter Louisa Harding Fleuris with two colors I knew my girl would just love. It's soft and just a little chunky. But that darn label says hand wash only! Now, I'm somewhat famous for making my girls things that are not machine washable.... and yes, I've felted a few items in my sleep-deprived haze. (mostly socks, they are hard to find in the wash!) But I have found that most things do just fine in a cold water wash and as long as I fish them out before they end up in the dryer I have no felting issues. LH Fleuris is one of those yarns that works just fine in the wash, but no dryer please! (we felted a swatch, oops!)

It's funny, Knitting for kids is a little harder than I thought, and much harder than for a baby. Babies are round, and largely immobile and as long as you don't put on so many buttons that the poor mother never gets them all buttoned, life is really alright. Kids MOVE and they don't like fussy things and it has to be just the right color, and there is so much size variation! Clara is normal for height but pretty darn skinny and things just don't fit her very easily. I knew it would be easier for me to do a top down pattern for her because we could try it on as we went, but the ones that we had at the shop were for bulky or for DK.... and Fleuris is a heavy worsted. I tried mucking around with the pattern, changing for the different gauge and I ended up with the top half of an absolutely enormous sweater. So I went down a size by her age for the bulky pattern and tried that. Bingo. A little extra length in the body and the sleeves and it fits her perfectly with a little room for her to get a bit bigger. The great thing about the top downs is that I can easily rip out the cast off edge and make the body and the sleeves longer. Unless she develops a taste for, say, lard in the next couple of months I'm guessing that the width will fit her for a good long time!

And best of all, she really likes it. Her next sweater will be something really warm to be her winter coat (because winter coats are too warm for her!) and she has requested "sky blue" with of all things squirrel buttons (that I have yet to find...) I'm planning on the double breasted sweater on the cover of last year's Berroco magazine, Vintage Family. In a yarn that I'll be blogging about soon...