February 2008 Archives

Children's Delight Quilt Assembly Begins

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While this week did not bring me a baby who sleeps through the night (I am not sure what sleep regression this is, but I would like it to be over soon, please!), it did bring me a baby who took good naps on Thursday when I had time to quilt.  Now all of the blocks have been converted into 7 strips that each contain 5 blocks. 

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When I lay them out, I can begin to see a quilt coming together.  There's still a bit more sewing to do, but I've started the home stretch.  When it comes to quilting, it seems like after I get my blocks all finished, or get close to the end of having them finished, I have some a-ha! moment that makes me want to take everything apart and start again.  For this quilt, it was figuring out how to deal with squaring the blocks up before seaming them into the strips.  Fortunately, this bit of knowledge is the sort of thing that can be applied to future projects.

With the block layout, I let the chips fell where they may.  The only block that I picked a specific place out for is the one in the exact center.  I did spend a little time trying to play with the order, but in the end, I decided that it didn't make very much difference.  If I'd fussy cut the center squares, perhaps, that would have been less true.  But there were enough similar squares that every time I moved one somewhere to avoid some sort of pattern collision I created another one.  After a while, I just decided to let it be.  It's busy, but it's busy in a playful way and I like that for a baby.

The next step will be to sew those strips together into a cohesive whole.  Now the really fussy pinning and sewing is about to begin.  I predict a reasonable amount of ripping as I work to get those corner blocks to look right...

Little Phil'Onde Sweater

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I love the rhythm of knitting a sweater in the round (makes you wonder why I haven't done more of them, eh?), but I find photographing them to be challenging when they are still on the needles.  My next little sweater project for Z is just flying -- I'm already past the point where the sweater is divided to make the sleeves. 

20080202_PhilOndeBabySweate.jpgTrue to my experience with most Phildar patterns, this one has a couple of clever construction components that I hadn't really encountered before.  This is the first time I have put a pocket that opens on both sides on a garment, and the sleeve construction, so far, is unique (I'll try to explain it better once I've finished it -- right now I'm still watching it come together and I haven't decided whether I think it's incredibly clever or just convoluted). 

For anyone interested in the pattern, it's numbered 405-287 and I think it was in one of the Phildar children's magazines that came out about the same time that the yarn did.  I purchased the pattern as the English only leaflet, and now I wish I had the book as well.  The English instructions are handy, but they lack the diagrams found with the French instructions and without the diagrams, some of the instructions aren't as clear as they might be (Phildar patterns are one of the things that really make me wish I'd stuck it out longer with my French language classes, in general, their patterns are quite elegant and easy to figure out when you can work from the French instructions). 

So far, this garment seems rather large, even for a 12 month old baby (yes, I am still getting gauge, I have checked several times), but since the top construction which will determine how the garment hangs is not finished, I will refrain from too much judgement.  And compared to knitting for adults, one of the things I am truly coming to appreciate about garments for small people is that exact sizing is not all that necessary.  And too big is always better than too small!

Zosia Finally Wears Tulip

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How is it possible that my tiny baby has gotten to the point where she can wear all of her 6-12 month old sized clothes?  Didn't we just bring her home? Where does the time go?  How do I convince my baby to slow down?

20080208_ZosiaInTulip.jpgWell, I probably won't get answers to those questions, but I can still have fun capturing some of that time on film.  To my eye, that little Tulip baby sweater that I made before she arrived looks even more adorable when being worn by the baby it was intended for.  I've been putting her in it as often as I can, knowing that not only will she out grow it, but in only a couple of months it could be too warm to need a sweater.

I realize I haven't really posted about what is going on with Z these days.   Gosh, where to start.  She's eating all sorts of solid foods and is an incredibly good eater.  She figured things out around 5 months and loves to eat like the big people do.  Her favorite is probably her Daddy's hand smashed bananas with oatmeal, but we still haven't found a fruit she doesn't like.  She's a hair's breadth away from sitting up completely unassisted and can get herself up on all fours but hasn't quite figured out how to make the arms and legs move to crawl.  Her pediatrician thinks she might be reading ahead a little bit in the baby development book (bear in mind that while she is 6.5 months old, she was three weeks early).  She is an absolute hoot most of the time.  And it's so much fun for John and I to watch her really beginning to figure out her environment and what she wants to do in it. 

Oh, and she's back to not getting up in the middle of the night again.  Must have been a growth spurt or just some serious brain development going on.  Apparently both can mess with infant sleep patterns.

Today's lovely picture is courtesy of our good friends in Madison, WI.  Thanks Aunt Judy!

Children's Delight Quilt Top Finished!

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It doesn't matter whether I am knitting or quilting, completing a project (or at least my part of the project) always makes me happy.  Can you say "product crafter".  Oh yes, that is what I am.  It's not to say that I don't enjoy the process, but finishing a project, no matter how small, is always like giving myself a present.  And who doesn't like to get gifts?

20080210_B3QuiltTopFinished.jpgSo this is it!  The Children's Delight Quilt, with instructions taken from Quilts from the Quilt Maker's Gift.  Another version of the quilt has a wide border constructed of the focus fabric.  I decided after putting on just the simple border that any more use of the focus fabric would probably be that "bit too much" and stopped with the orange edging.  The final size of the quilt top is 37" x 51", plenty big for a crib or a toddler bed. 

20080210_B3QuiltDetail.jpgWith every project I do, my technique gets a little better.  As far as being a quilter or a sewer goes, I've had a few classes, but most of what I am learning comes from "independent study".  With this project, getting things to line up correctly so that those little orange pieces formed an "x" shape that looked neat took some extra focus and I had to work out for my self the best way to "square up" my squares after completing them.  Of course, I'm showing off one of my better joins, but most of them were actually pretty decent.  Since I am giving this quilt as a gift, I forced myself to be more of a stickler for small details than I might have been if I was just keeping it for myself.  Ultimately, though, it just means that the next quilt I make for me will be that much better from the discipline that I worked out on this project.

Now all that remains is to take this quilt off to Quiltology to have it quilted and bound (yes, I am a lazy slacker when it comes to doing that part -- but I may make a miniature version of this quilt as a doll blanket for the recipient baby's sister, so I will probably quilt that by hand).  I'm going to back the quilt with orange Minkee (how fabulous is it that there is orange Minkee?) and have it bound with the same orange fabric (Kaffe Fasset's Roman Glass) as the outer border to keep it simple. 

And, since I just found out about another baby that is on the way, when I head to Quiltology, I'll be picking out some more fabric to get started on another quilt.  But since that baby has quite a bit of incubating time to go, my Blooming 9 Patch may get another shot at my sewing machine here soon!

Thank you to everyone who said such nice things about the Z Baby.  John and I are, of course, smitten by almost everything she does and are big suckers for those big smiles, of which there are many.  According to my mom, she smiles a lot more than I did when I was a baby.  I'll try to get a few more "Fridays with Z" posts in here and there.  Seems like there's always something to talk about when it comes to being a new mom!

Phil'Onde Baby Sweater Body

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20080210_PhilOndeTopProgres.jpgI've managed to finish the body of the Phil'Onde baby top.  It still falls into the category of "strange looking garment", but at least it's getting closer to the finish line.  This top will have a lot of volume in the back, given where the armholes are placed.  I think it's still going to be pretty large on Z when it's finished, but the farther I get, the more I think it's going to be pretty cute. I just wish I had a few more pictures of the completed garment so that I could be sure that I understood all of the finishing instructions.

True to normal form with Phildar patterns, all the collars and cuffs are knit separately and sewn on.  So that will be the next step in this project, and then I'm going to have to find some pretty buttons.  I'm just dying to get this project finished, because I have a truly spectacular project coming up to work on next, and I also want to work on making Z some hand knit toys.  It seems like we have a lot of those plastic made in China toy store toys coming home to roost at our house, and I would really love for there to be some soft toys that were made with love in Z's own home.

Happy Valentine's Day!

John and Z and I will probably be celebrating by ordering pizza from a local organic pizza place and watching Mythbusters.  Not as romantic as some of our Valentine's Days past, but just as special because this year I have a new tiny Valentine in my life.

Baby Bobbi Bear

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You know a project can't be too hard or too complicated when the mother of a 7 month old can accomplish it in less than a week and before she can post more than once about it!  Lately I've had this urge to create some toys for Ms. Z -- she has plenty of toys of the hard plastic variety, but as she actively learns to crawl (and takes a few more tumbles) I also wanted her to have some soft toys.

20080217_BabyBobbiYarn.jpgThe first ideas that I encountered were patterns published by Blue Sky Alpacas for the Baby Bobbi Bear and One Fish, Two Fish.   As I looked at the yarn requirements (Blue Sky Hand Dyed Cotton or Organic Cotton) and the yardages, I realized that the left overs for the bear could be used as the fins for the small fish (probably the fins for the big fish, too), so I could probably get two projects out of three skeins of nice soft cotton yarn. I chose that lilac purple for the body of the bear because Ms. Z's room is a similar color and I've been doing a lot of things for her in the lavender and sage color range. (The fish, when I get started, will have an orange body and purple fins). The weekend before Valentine's Day, I just started jonesing for some knitting on larger needles that was not a baby sweater.  I pulled out the Baby Bobbi pattern, thought it looked do-able and by Sunday night I had everything constructed but the arms, the ears and the facial embroidery. You just gotta love US size 9 needles and knitting in the round.

20080217_BabyBobbiBear.jpgThis weekend I got all the rest finished up (work and family time ate up most of my evenings last week) and it was even warm enough on Sunday (over 50 degrees F!)  for me to get outside to get pictures of my Baby Bobbi.  I'm not sure mine is quite as cute as the ones on the pattern, and it appears that I could have been a little more generouts with the stuffing, but the ultimate arbiter of hand knit teddy bear acceptability let me know that this project was a success.

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Nothing says lovin' like being gummed by a seven month old baby! If you can't chew on a friend, who can you chew on?  Clearly Z liked her 7-month-iversary present!

As a project goes, this one is simple and could easily be completed in a weekend if you were dedicated and needed a quick baby shower gift.  Stuffing the bear to achieve the right shape does take a little effort, but you certainly don't have to be an expert toy maker to accomplish it.  It's not even that expensive a gift.  This yarn is around USD $10 a skein, and requires 2 skeins, but you will have plenty left over to be part of another toy.  You could easily get two Baby Bobbi Bears out of three skeins of yarn.  I found the pattern to be easy to follow and there's really nothing involved in this pattern that a beginner couldn't take on without breaking a sweat -- and a nice errata section on the Blue Sky website helps explain the construction process if you need more help.  This bear is rather larger than the picture on the pattern might lead you to believe -- at 15" tall it makes a substantial sized friend for a young baby or child (the full sized Bobbi is 20" -- just about the size of a newborn!). 

The small fish from One Fish, Two Fish is going to be on my needles soon -- well, just as soon as I get my hands on some US Size 8 double points.  Can anyone believe that I don't actually have a set of those? 





Is it Thursday, er, Friday Already?

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I am beginning to think that when you have a child, something happens with your personal space-time continuum and everything just speeds up.  Someone of you physics type scientists out there must have done some studies of the localized effects of childbearing on parental quantum physics.  If you have, please send me a link to that manuscript.  This must be the case, or otherwise how could Thursday (and my post) have gotten past me without much notice on my part?

The Phil'Onde top is almost finished, but probably not exciting to look at until it is modeled by a small person, so today I am going to show off some yummy yarn I got not too long ago (well, a month a go, but given my space-time warping problems, it doesn't seem like too long ago to me!).

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The fact of the matter is, I don't buy much commercially produced yarn without a specific purpose in mind -- I have too much of this yarn in my stash right now that I am not sure what I am going to do with, so I've been avoiding places like Elan and Webs unless I have a project in mind.  But I still indulge in special, one-of-kind, made by individual people kinds of yarns from time to time.  This yarn is Sophie's Toes, the Layers of Color collection.  The blue yarn (totally destined for me!) is the Cerulean colorway.  The dark yarn is burgundy over green and is going into my "man acceptable yarn stash" -- and it's decidedly more lovely than my camera was able to render it on the day that I took the picture (what looks vaguely grey in the picture is really much more green in person; the yarn reminds me of end of fall colors).

What made this yarn even more fun and more special, was the response of a certain someone to it. Emily (who actually lives not too far away in the greater Chicagoland area and is an amazing quilter as well as dyer of yarn) sent along some nice words about Z on the invoice, so I had to give Z the opportunity to enjoy Emily's handiwork.  You see,  Ms. Z's given name is the Polish version of "Sophia" and the nickname we use for her is the Polish version of "Sophie".

20080214_ZWithSophiesToes.jpgShe made a beeline for that yarn.  And then thoroughly inspected the label.

20080214_ZWithSophiesToesTa.jpgAh yes, nothing like getting them hooked on the good stuff, early.   And she already likes to watch me knit.  After I finish a few other projects on my list, I might have to get her some of her  own .  Emily has some beautiful stuff in her shop right now.  I think the "Love" colorway would make an absolutely adorable baby sweater!

The Baby Made Me Do It

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20080223_ZebraStriperYarn.jpgLook what fell into my shopping bag on a recent trip to Madison (and a follow up online shopping trip to Webs).  Yep, it's a riot of color in Baby Ull (superwash merino yarn by Dalegarn).  Whenever I visit Madison, my good friend Judy gets me all inspired by multicolored knitting.  She has a baby 3 months older than Ms. Z and on our visit we set off to Lakeside Fibers (a very cool yarn store with it's own coffee shop in the back), wherein we perused the Dale of Norway baby garment pattern books. 

20080223_ZebraStriper.jpgOne little sweater, the Zebra Striper (above) caused me to lose all control and buy up as much Baby Ull as I could find. (And the pattern book, too, which is Dale of Norway, Favorite Baby Designs Nr. 8101)   Of course, they didn't have all the colors I needed, so I had to browse around the web to find the rest of what I needed.  And then, after I got to Webs, it seemed a waste of all that shipping money to buy just 3 skeins of Baby Ull, so I bought enough to do the sweater, dress, hat and socks in the 2 year old size (I may be crazy, but at least I am realistic about finishing times) .  I figure anything worth doing is worth doing in a somewhat obsessive compulsive manner, and if I am going to try out two color knitting, I might as well go for it.  This little garment set seemed like a good start -- all the pieces have some two color components, but none of the garments is entirely two color.  And the dress and had have this sweet lace edge trim on them. 

And I'll be honest, something about the look on the face of the baby in the photo really melted my heart.  She reminds me a little of my own baby, I guess, and the idea of seeing Z in something so precious knit by me inspired everything else.   It's hard to feel quite as grey in the face of such lovely bright colors, so, for that reason too, it was the perfect shot in the arm against that midwinter blues that seem to have grabbed me pretty hard this winter. 

So, crazy or not, here I come!  Baby's going to have some new socks soon (the socks only go up to a 12 month size and it seems like it would be easier to make a pair of socks than to swatch in the round for the project).


Zebra Striper Socks

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Time is short tonight.  So a picture is going to have to provide most of my words.

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Zebra Striper Socks, 6-9 month size.  Dale Garn Baby Ull 100% merino superwash yarn.   I did the two color work holding both yarn strands in one hand (continental style) with the help of a little tool from Clover that you wear over your index finger and it keeps the two yarns separate.  I've tried the two handed thing and English style knitting, for some reason, doesn't come very naturally to me.  As you can tell from the fact that I'm posting them today, this pair of baby socks is a quick knit, and I enjoyed watching the color work come together into a recognizable.  It was a nice warm up for the main event.

We're packing up Zosia and heading for the warmer weather near Naples, Florida next week -- I always like to have a special pair of socks when I get on an airplane, and these little socks will be Zosia's first special pair for a trip (maybe I'll even get a picture!).  I've decided I'm taking a little project for me with me on the trip.  But a little dress will be next up once I get back.  A happy healthy next 10 days or so to everyone.  I don't think I'll have much Internet access while we're away from home.

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