Recently in Finished Projects 2009 Category

Little Socks

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In spite of my current computer game crush, I've managed to find a little time to finish up the socks I started for Ms. Z.

20091122_SensationSocks.jpgPattern: My Own Standard Sock
Yarn: Sensations Bamboo & Ewe Pattern, Color #1434
Needles: US Size 1 DPs


Please forgive the poor lighting.  I hate taking pictures this time of year, because if I don't get to them before 4 pm, it's almost too dark to take anything that I think is good.   Luckily, the color isn't really all that off -- perhaps just a little more yellow than they would have been in natural light.

The small recipient was happy to put them on -- she yanked off the socks she was wearing as fast as she could when I told her they were ready.  They are a little roomy in the toes still, but not so roomy as to cause problems for her, so I'd call these socks a win in the size department.

The sock on the left is the second sock -- and now you can see where the pattern repeat picks up -- right after that big block of orange.  Fraternal socks didn't seem to create any issues for Z and I like how the couple inch shift makes them look different but clearly related.

This yarn was pleasant to knit with, so I'm going to be interested to see how it stands up to active baby wear and washing.  At $6/skein, it's very affordable.  I don't think there's another whole pair of socks in there for her (at this point she wears about a size 7 toddler shoe size -- she has small feet for a kid her age), but there still is a fair amount left for something else.

On a different note, I really appreciated all the comments I got on Friday's post.  I think one of the best things about living in a technological world, as opposed to a fantasy world, is that we have the magic of communication far beyond our immediate social circle.  It will never cease to amaze me how the Internet allows me to meet and talk and share ideas with people who are so geographically separated.   Right now I'm bobbing up and down in the ocean of immersion... moving back and forth between worlds.  Admittedly, I'm a little OCD about it at the moment, but it's been a long, long time since I had a game pull me in like this -- and no doubt it will be a long time before I find another one that has the same impact.

Zebra Striper and Ms. Z

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20091115_ZebraSweaterUnworn.jpgProject: Zebra Striper Sweater from Dale of Norway "Favorite Baby Designs"
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull, Various Colors
Needles: 2.5 and 2.0 mm Circular and DPs


I now have an incredible appreciation for people who have to photograph clothing on small children.  It's so hard to get them to face the right direction and look at you at the same time.  I chased Z around for the better part of an hour on Saturday -- lucky for us the weather was stunning and the little sweater actually got some sunshine to go along with the baby action.
 

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As you can see, it's quite large on her.  The sleeves are much too long, and the shoulders are quite broad.  But loose is good when you're a toddler on the move.  And large means that it could possibly last beyond this season.  Which would make this momma knitter very happy indeed.

20091115_ZebraSweaterCuffs.jpgOf course, during our "photoshoot" the one place she wanted to be was the dirtiest place in the park -- the baseball diamond.  She's fascinated with dirt right now, and drawing in it.  I guess it's a good think that Baby Ull is superwash wool.

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One thing that makes me quite pleased, is that you would be hard pressed from a distance to tell that the sweater is handmade.  I think I did a bang up job with neat seaming and weaving in ends.  About the only thing that would make you notice (if you got up close) is that the motifs aren't quite centered on the front.  This was one of those "read the instructions" bits that I didn't do as well as I should have (because they were in the front of the pattern section, not with the pattern), but, in the end, marks the sweater as something made by a loving person and not a machine.

I don't have a lot more to say about this little sweater than I already have in the series of construction posts.  I'm very happy with the black buttons.  This was a fabulous introduction to both colorwork and steeking.  In fact, steeking was in no way as scary as I thought it was going to be and I can't wait to try it out on a larger sweater project.

As far as this pattern is concerned, I found it quite easy to follow.  I think the instructions are clear, but sometimes you need to read very carefully to make sure that you follow the whole train of thought.  I did have to refer to some internet tutorials to help with the steeking process -- mostly I wanted a few more visuals to make sure that I was handling the machine stitching the right way.  While it can get a bit tedious knitting a sweater on tiny needles with tiny yarn, if you want to try out colorwork and/or steeking, this is the perfect sort of project to get your feet wet on.  The amount of colorwork is actually quite small relative to the rest of the sweater and, since it is a small project, I think there's a little less fear when it comes to the "cutting your knitting" part.

Before I had children, I could never understand the point of knitting them anything complicated. What was the point when the recipient wouldn't really understand the work that went into it and would grow out of it so quickly.  When I see Ms. Z in this sweater, it makes me so happy inside, I forget all about how much time it took me and the fact that there will be a time that this little sweater will be relegated to the "outgrown" pile -- and then I start trying to figure out what I am going to make for her next.

Little Kroy Socks

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20091101_KroyStripesLittleS.jpgPattern: The Keyboard Biologist's Basic Toe Up Sock*
Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks Stripes in "Mulberry Stripes"
Needles: 2.5 mm Darn Pretty DPs


On my last trip into Joann Fabrics, I took Ms. Z back into the yarn section.  While Joann's is not my usual locale for yarn shopping, lately I've been surprised to find some pretty decent yarn tucked in and amongst the acrylic.  In something that I took to be a show of remarkable education on Ms. Z's part, she ignored most of the fuzzy acrylic stuff and got very excited when we came to a patch of self-patterning sock yarn.  Since she had been good the entire trip to the store, and since the yarn was on sale, I told her that she could pick two skeins (all of the last batch of socks I made for her are now too small) and I would make her socks. 

The Kroy was the first skein she grabbed at.   The yarn is 75% wool, 25% nylon and is a little thicker than most sock yarn that I knit with (but not by much), so I cast on to US 1.5's instead of my usual 1's.  It's not completely obvious from the picture, but these socks are almost exactly identical twins.  It was nice to knit with, and I got a very nice, warm, thick fabric, perfect for baby feet.  At this point, Zosia just barely wears a size 7 child's shoe, so socks for her are still a quick knit -- especially in this yarn.  Because the yarn is a bit thicker, there's a bit less in a 50 g ball.  I'd estimate that this little pair of socks used up about 2/3rds of the skein. 

She was very excited after the first one was finished -- and then a bit disappointed that she didn't have two to try on.  So I cranked the second one out as fast as I could.  She got them on Thursday, and they've been on her feet more than they've been off since then.

I think the patterning in these socks  is quite nice -- almost wouldn't mind having a pair myself.  But the real proof will be in the washing and wearing to see how the yarn and the colors hold up. 

I've started on the second pair... baby socks seem to be like potato chips for me!

* Magic cast on, 8 stitches.  Increase 4 stitches every other row until 40 stitches around.  Short row heel down to 8 stitches, straight stockinette leg, about an inch of K2P2 ribbing for cuff.  Stretchy bind off.  

 
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Pattern: Elijah, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby
Needles: US 2.5 (3 mm)


I have finished the sweetest little elephant.  And he definitely has kid appeal, because the second I finished seaming the second ear, Ms. Z wanted to make him her own. 

By now, I'm getting pretty accomplished with French knots -- and I almost feel good about how mine look.  In the past, I've considered French knots to be my embroidery nemesis.  I think I will be less concerned about them in the future. 

Elijah, like Sophie and Otto, comes from a well written pattern.  The only tricky bit,  in my opinion, is picking up the stitches for the ears since there are no easy to follow guide stitches.  My Elijah's ears are a bit off-center from each other, but I don't think the average toddler would notice, and I like to think it gives him a little extra charm.

Of the three patterns, I would rate the difficulty (from easiest to hardest) as Sophie, Elijah and Otto.  Most of the difficulty has little to do with the knitting, and all to do with proper stuffing and the embroidery.  That said, all of them are very approachable and knit up relatively quickly if you need a present for a special child in a hurry.

20091022_ElijahOtto&Sophie.jpg Here are my trio of toys enjoying a brief respite from the rain on my deck this afternoon.  Soon they will be making their journey to Madison, WI where they will be keeping company with a sweet, tiny new person.  What more could a toy ask for?

I'm pretty sure that I have enough yarn left to make at least one of these toys for Z.  I've been thinking about doing Sophie in some kind of patchwork manner (I don't have enough of one color left to make a whole toy), but have to think about how to do it so that it comes out cute and not just rag-bag looking.

Otto

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Pattern: Otto, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby DK
Needles: 3mm (US 2.5)


Otto is finished -- I am now two toys down and one to go... this gift is definitely going to be late, as the baby they are destined for decided to put in an early appearance. 

After knitting the body and limbs, I went back and shortened the nose up a bit (I took out the last three straight knitting rounds and just left the decreasing rounds.  I also did shift the stuffing around to round things out a bit more.   That made a great deal of difference.  Unfortunately, I didn't get quite as much stuffing in there as I thought, and my embroidery skills are still a bit lacking, so his nose did not really the way I would like it to be.   I think I really do best when I avoid needlework on knitting projects.  Lucky for me that Elijah only has French knot eyes to worry about!

But even with his slightly less than perfect nose, I think he now looks more like a polar bear than a strange, mutant polar anteater. 

I under-stuffed him just a little bit to make him an easier grab for little hands.  Also, the legs are joined to the body differently than Sophie's were, and if I'd stuffed them a lot, sitting would have been hard for my Otto.  I think if I were to make Otto again, I might close the bottom of the toy the same way Sophie was closed and attach the legs in that manner, too, as I prefer the look of that and it would prevent Otto from having those little wrinkles around his middle.  And what self-respecting polar bear wants love handles?

As with Sophie, this pattern was very well written and easy to follow.  I do like that she took the time to link to references for things such as the cast on for the head and the French knots (which I always forget how to do), and her images make picking up stitches for the limbs a good deal easier than if she just provided text and left it up to my imagination.

I think Thursday will be casting on day for Elijah -- and I'm looking forward to it. Which surprises me a bit, since every other time I've worked on toy projects I get tired of the fiddly bits and just want them to be over. 

JaWoll Socks

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20091011_JaWollSocksFlat.jpg
Pattern: My Own Standard Simple Socks
Yarn: Lang JaWoll Color, Color 82.0067
Needles: U.S. 0, 2.0 mm


The JaWoll socks, they are finished.  Clearly these socks are fraternal twins.    Little I could have done would have diverted them from that path. 

20091011_JaWollSockHeel.jpgThese socks follow my standard, toe up (square toe), short row heel, ribbed top.  The heels are possibly the only sort of matchy things between the two socks. 

20091011_JaWollSocksFront.jpgThis yarn was interesting, because even though the color intervals didn't seem to change throughout the skeins, the heathering did.  At the beginning of each skein, the yellow and reds had a purple thread that was very dominant, causing a very marled look (see the right sock).  But towards the end of the skein, the yellow and red and blues lost the marling and were more clear colors (note the toe of the left sock, which I started with the last part of the first skein).

20091011_JaWollSockTop.jpgGiven that, it amused me no end that when I got to the bind off, the socks were almost an exact match -- and this picture is a pretty accurate read of the brightness of the colors -- these socks are not shrinking violets.  I think I shall enjoy wearing them when I need a little extra confidence boost -- a reminder to keep my outlook and attitude bright even when the my personal or actual weather is a little gloomy.

20091011_JaWollSocksSide.jpgIn addition to this rather elaborate photo shoot, the socks also got their first wearing and passed with flying colors.  They did a great job of keeping my feet warm while we took a certain small person out to the Chicagoland version of a pumpkin patch (which is to say, fun, but not very authentic) in 40 degree weather.  I'm hoping that the fact that they were knit on 2.0 mm needles means that they will wear well -- even though they were knit on small needles, they don't have that stiff-as-a-board feeling that many socks I have made on zeros do before washing. 

With these socks finished, new TV knitting will have to be identified.  I've decided that the heir apparent to that position will be the second sleeve of Z's Zebra Striper sweater since all the ribbing in my second Francie sock isn't conducive to actually paying attention to what's on screen.  And with the cold weather already here, my baby girl definitely needs a new sweater soon!

Sophie

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20090909_Sophie.jpgPattern: Sophie
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft Baby DK in "Cloud"
Needles: US2.5 (3 mm) bamboo double points

Labor Day weekend was a lovely one for me.  A nice weekend with my family and plenty of knitting time while the kiddo enjoyed time with her grandparents and a whole array of new toys and books.  I, of course, brought about 12 more projects than I could possibly work on. And the only projects that actually saw any new stitches added were the Dragon shawl and Sophie.

Sophie is a lovely little knit -- and doesn't take that long to work up if you're dedicated.  I finished almost all of her in Ann Arbor (and the only reason she didn't get finished on the ride home was because I got drawn into a game of Civilization Revolution on my iPhone -- and it's almost as addictive as the desktop version).  She's constructed out of RYC Cashsoft Baby DK in the colorway "Cloud" and stuffed with polyfill so that she's washable.

I really love that the toy is made as one unit, with additional body parts added by picking up and knitting stitches on existing parts.  So much nicer than knitting pieces individually and then trying to sew them together neatly.  One full ball got me the head, body, both arms, both legs and about 1/3 of the way through the first ear.  And I used a little bit from a second ball for the rest of the first ear and the second ear.  I'm thinking that after I finish all three toys, I'll probably have enough left overs to put together a patchwork animal for Z.  Who kept coming up to me and letting people know "Momma is knitting!" and "That's a bunny!"

I was much lighter on the stuffing than I have been in the past -- I wanted my Sophie to be soft and squishable and easy for little hands to grasp.  This also had the side-effect of not distorting any of the body shapes in  bizarre manner.  And I absolutely love the final resul. 

The thing I was most worried about with this project was the French knot eyes.  French knots and I, generally speaking, do not get a long.  But we worked together just find on this project.  Must be the good karma that comes from knitting for a baby.

Overall this pattern was easy to follow and the instructions, including the images guiding the picking up of stitches, were quite good.  I think Otto will be next.  But not before I cast on for Ms. Z's second Zebra Striper sleeve. Can't forget my own baby as I'm knitting for someone else's!

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First off, Ms. Z and I would like to say thank you for your birthday thoughts and compliments.  She has been asking for socks, so it is likely she will be modelling for me again sometime soon!

The reason she has been asking for socks, is the socks you see in the picture above.  Every time I pulled these out to work on while we were in Kauai, she would say "Mama is knitting socks!" John or I would ask her if she liked them "Yeahyeahyeah" she would say.  She was very interested in all the colors, I think. 

These socks are pretty much identical twins of each other except for a few things so minor you wouldn't notice unless I told you.  Interestingly enough, I did not do any measuring for the second sock -- I just started elements like the heel at the same place in the color progression as I had in the first one.  It's a testimony to the quality of the dyeing in this yarn that the 4 repeats that I used of each color for the first sock were pretty much exactly the same length as the 4 repeats in the second. 

This yarn is also a true pleasure to knit with.  It has a lovely soft hand and is generally not very splitty.  Of all the sock clubs I would consider joining, I think this one would be highest on my list.  I already have a second Wee Skein kit and a couple other skeins of Vesper waiting in the wings to be enjoyed -- though I think I might try to do something with a chevron sort of thing going on in my next pair to mix it up a bit.


20090730_WeeSkeinSocks2.jpgThese socks aren't quite knee-socks -- they come up to about mid-calf.  I wear a US women's size 8 shoe (my foot is about 9-3/4" long), so for me this is excellent yardage as well as a demonstration of why knitting toe-up socks can be a good way to maximize your yarn.  I had only a few inches left after binding off the second sock.  Repairs may be hard, but, given the striping, they would have been hard no matter what, so I just decided to use it all up and enjoy some stripey goodness.

I did some minimal shaping to accommodate my calf.  In the last two color strip segments I increased from 64 stitches around to 80 and the ribbing is pretty snug at the top, so they should stay up pretty well when they get their first real wearing.   

Rigid Heddle Waffle Weave

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Yesterday I finished up a project that has been lingering on my rigid heddle loom for a while: a waffle weave towel worked in striped Sugar n' Cream (worsted weight cotton).  I've been interested in waffle weave and started this project to see the results in large gauge yarn.  In my weaving class, I'm starting another project, doing double weave waffle weave in 10/2 perle cotton -- fine yarn at the very other end of the spectrum.  What I thought would be most interesting about my rigid heddle project was seeing how the fabric changed from right after coming off of the loom to after it was finished (washed) under normal handling conditions. 

20090726_PreFinishedWaffle.jpg This is a close up of the pre-finished fabric.  There is visible texture and you can see how the threads move around and bend in areas near the warp and weft floats. 

20090726_FinishedWaffle.jpgThis is a close up of the fabric after finishing (which involved a regular trip through my washing machine and dryer).  The fabric is much more compact. It shrunk both width-wise and length-wise. Interestingly, the warp floats have spread apart, while the weft floats have gotten closer together and the overall texture is more indistinct.  The fabric feels think and thirsty.  After I finish up the ends, it will likely make a serviceable dish towel. 

You might remember that I used the same yarn in the warp as in the weft, hoping I would get interesting striping effects.  In this respect,I was mostly disappointed.  The warp stripes are hard to distinguish and the weft stripes are wide enough that you have to be looking for them to see them.  The overall effect is a pleasant mottled pastel fabric. 

This may be my last rigid heddle project for a while -- not because I don't enjoy it, but because my class project is large enough and challenging enough that I need to focus my weaving brain energy on it  for a while.  I also have couple of big knitting projects that need attention.  Now that Lotus is done, I've promised myself that I will get back to Z's Zebra Striper sweater so that she has it for the fall.

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Lotus on the Island

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Pattern: Lotus from Rowan 45 by Marie Wallin
Yarn: Rowan Fine Milk Cotton  (Snow and Shrimps)
Size: Small
Project Archives: Lotus Archive

After an afternoon nap's worth of seaming, Lotus is now complete.  When I first tried it on after those final stitches, I admit to having had one of those let down moments. Something didn't feel right.  I put Lotus down on the bed and figured I'd come back to her later and test her out again before I got disappointed.  Sure enough, fresh from a dip in the ocean with John and Z a few hours later, I slipped back into Lotus and decided that I'd been overly critical of both myself and the sweater earlier in the day.  So I grabbed my camera and headed back to the beach. If any sweater deserves a beach photo shoot, it's Lotus.  To me, this sweater's airy quality, cotton foundation and lacy details speak to breezy afternoons in the sun. 

20090708_LotusSide1.jpgThe light on the north side of Kauai in the late afternoon is perfect for a photo shoot.  All these pictures were taken by John, who did an admirable job of having one eye on the camera and the other on a happy toddler.  The styling, as it were, is intentionally informal and meant to evoke both wind swept and apres swim (and to hide my post-baby untoned belly).

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20090708_LotusFront2.jpgAll these pictures might lead you to believe that I have confused Lotus for Narcissus.  Perhaps that is so.  Certainly the sweater makes me happy, and it was more than a little bit wonderful to get to celebrate it's completion with my family on a stunning beach front.  And John did a nice job, I think, of capturing both me and the sweater, I felt it deserved a few extra  victory dance steps. 

I'm not sure what else there is to say about Lotus that I haven't already said. We're I to make it again, I think I would shoot for just a little bit larger diameter. I wouldn't go up a size, but I would probably add a little more width to the fronts.  As you can see from the pictures of the back, the sizing there is perfect, but, in addition to the post-baby tummy issues, I also seem to have experienced a post-baby boobal area size increase that made the front coverage not quite as perfect as I would have liked it.

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Overall, I'm pleased with the sweater.  I have yet to make a Rowan garment that I have design complaints about, and Lotus is no exception.  I believe this is my first "3 skein" Rowan sweater, so completing Lotus gives me another merit badge to add to my knitter's sash.  I made no modifications other than to knit the crochet lace for the body of Lotus directly on to the garment and in the round.  In spite of its small gauge, this sweater didn't really seem like it took all that long for me to knit.  I like the texture and the hand of the Fine Milk Cotton, but found it somewhat fussy to knit and crochet with, as the plies in the yarn become easily untwisted and separated. Given it's light color and special care needs, it's unlikely that Lotus will see constant daily wear, but with those fabulous bell sleeves and neutral coloration, I suspect this sweater will see it's fair share of summer for seasons to come.
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Last Socks of the Winter

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I always know when spring is really here, because it's usually right about the time that I get motivated to finish up a pair of socks, lingering from the winter.  And even though socks are easy to knit and I like to knit few things as much as I like to knit socks, it also usually marks a time when I stop thinking about wooly foot gear for a while in favor of warmer weather projects. 

20080505_SchaeferAnnSocks.jpgThe pattern for these socks is just my basic toe-up sock.  Wedge toe, short row heel, ribbed cuff.  Nothing special.  What will make these socks memorable for me is the dreadful pooling of the second sock (the one on the blocker).  It's literally half light blue on one side, half dark blue on the other.  While the first sock striped in a more or less appealing way.  Schaefer Anne sock yarn will go into my books as strange stuff, indeed. 

And in truth, I will probably never buy Anne again for knitting socks.  This yarn is splitty, splitty, splitty and needs to be knit on tiny tiny needles in order to make what I think will be a marginally durable fabric.  It would probably be better used in some garment of a simple lace persuasion, meant to be worn for less trying service than socks.  Hopefully it will surprise me -- I've had more than my fair share of bad estimations of sock yarns, and I'd be happy to have this pair be with me for much time to come.

20080505_SockModel.jpgA certain little someone grabbed the sock right after I shot the first picture.  And, for the first time ever, when I asked her to hold a knitted item while I took her picture, she did so!  Isn't she a lovely sock model? (I know, she looks a little tired... it was the end of a long day for her).  Perhaps the leftovers will have to become socks for her.  I never get tired of her saying "Mommy made it! Mommy made it!" or asking to wear her handknit garments.   


Fuzzy Pink Baby Socks

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Since today is Ms. Z's 21-month-iversary it seems only appropriate that she should make it into this post. She's in a wonderful developmental sweet spot right now where she is absolutely lovely to be with.  The kind of baby that makes you want to make things for her.  And so over the weekend, I discovered the kind of yarn that I can't imagine in my own wardrobe, but is just perfect for her: Regia Softy.  Happy soft fuzzy sock yarn that knits up a fabric almost as soft and fuzzy as her blankie. 

20090416_FuzzyPinkBabySocks.jpgAt first blush, this yarn looks a lot like standard Regia sock yarn, just with soft fuzzy bits.  However, it is much happier at on larger needles than you m ight expect.  These little socks were knit on 3 mm double points and were only 32 stitches around.  I  did two stripe repeats for each sock and I think I have at least one full repeat left on the skein.  I purchased a second skein in a different colorway, but this is the one she picked, so it's the one i started with.  And a perfect colorway for a slightly-belated Easter present, I think!

20090416_FuzzyPinkClose.jpgThe texture of these socks reminds me of Muppets.  Soft, fuzzy, almost fleecy.  Ms. Z likes to pet them.  Heck, I like to pet them -- and the yarn, too, even if I wouldn't wear it on my feet.  These socks are the first pair of socks I've knit for her where I used my "adult" template that doesn't include any extra gathering in just above the heel.  She doesn't try to take her socks off any more and her little body is transitioning past the baby shaping into little person shaping. 

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I had no problems convincing her to wear them, but, couldn't, for the life of me, get a decent picture (at least not in the time I had before work).  She loved them even if I couldn't capture that love well.  They aren't good for playing on slick surfaces, but they are great warm snuggies for quiet play.

Finished Rivolo

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Pattern: Rivolo
Yarn: Alpaca With a Twist, "Baby Twist" in the colorway "Bark"
Needles:4mm (US 6) Harmony Circular

This poor scarf has been completed for a little while, but lacked blocking because I was unable to find the long carpet runner that I use to block scarves and other long knitted items.  I'm heading to Ann Arbor this weekend so that we can treat Ms. Z to an Easter with her grandparents.  Since my aunt is also there it seemed like a good time to find where that carpet runner had gotten to and get the scarf blocked.

One of the only real decisions I faced for blocking this garment was how much to block out the lace.  This yarn is fuzzy and soft and even with aggressive blocking, the pattern is going to be more subtle.  So I opted to block it out so that the pattern had definition, but wasn't too stretched out.

20090407_RivoloPattern.jpgGiven that I had a pretty super-sized skein to work with, I knit far past the recommended number of repeats.  The scarf is somewhere northwards of 7 feet long so it's got potential for plenty of neck wraps -- which, given the softness of this yarn, it's going to call out for. 

I enjoyed knitting the Rivolo pattern.  The lace is simple and easy to memorize and it's the sort of pattern that will work well with a variety of yarns.  Most lace patterns I can knit once and pretty much be done with.  This one I could knit again.  And maybe I will, with the tencel-blend yarn from Briar Rose Fibers I originally bought to go with it!

Woven Spring Dishtowels

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In spite of a weekend with weather that reminded me more of February than the end of March (can you say waking up to snow on Sunday morning?), it was a good weekend for taking a deep breath and letting my mind and hands wander.  There was knitting, weaving and baking and a bit of reading (often while knitting), so both mind and hands were happy with the weekend.

I've had these dishtowels finished for quite some time.  On "problem" I have with posting about weaving, is that because I am learning, I have all these things that I want to talk about.  Color, texture, technique, weave structures are all possible discussions for even a simple project.  Often, it's the pictures that I take (or forget to take) that end up shaping what I talk about.

These cotton towels all came from the warp I talked about a little while back.  My original plan was a set of 4 identical towels for my kitchen, but after weaving the first towel and getting a good handle on what it would take to deal with all the color changes, I decided that I would rather use the rest of the warp for experimentation and that my experimentation would get divided into towel shaped parts at the end.

20090323_CottonTowels.jpgThese are three of the towels before they went through the washing machine.  The one to the far left was my original design.  The one in the center was my bastardized "basketweave" attempt and the one on the right was an experiment in warp and weft faced "lace" patterns on my rigid heddle loom (achieved with the help of the pick up stick).

20090323_OriginalTowelPatte.jpgThis is a more up close and personal look at the first towel.  While I like the pattern a lot, after a while, I got tired of fiddling with 4 shuttles and hiding the ends with a thick cotton yarn.  My design did not work well for carrying the unused colors up the side.  So after one iteration of what I wanted to try I moved onto something else. (Yes, there are the same number of picks in the center square as in the ones to either side of it, somehow my beating got uneven).

20090323_ModifiedBasketWeav.jpgThis is the modified basketweave.  Since I couldn't lift two side by side warp threads at once, I did two warp shots into each shed (the fabric is rotated on it's side so that the warp is horizontal in the picture).   But after a bunch of inches of this, I got bored with it, too, and decided to pull out my pick up stick and play with woven "lace".

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20090323_YellowLace.jpgHere you can see how different the fabric looks when I use either the white, blue or yellow yarn as the weft for an extended period of time.  In the white and blue examples. you can see that there are warp threads "floating" over a group of weft threads.  For the yellow example the opposite is true: the weft threads are floating over the warp threads.  Of course, these fabrics are not the same on both sides.  If you were to flip them over, the blue and white fabrics would have floating weft threads while the opposite side of the yellow area would have floating warp threads.  I really liked the look and texture of the white and blue "samples" so I extended them for longer regions.

20090323_PullingIn.jpgThis picture (taken before I cut the towels apart) illustrates another property of woven cloth: plain weave is "wider" than weave structures where you go over and under two or more threads (this has to do with how the threads can pull together, and I'll probably talk about it more some other time when I can show some better examples).  So if you're going to have a project like this one, you want to make sure that you maintain a similar number of warp threads that you go over and under during the course of one unit in your project, otherwise the edges will get wonky -- not unlike matching knit ribbing to stockinette. 

Just like the original project changed, even the final location of the results changed.  I didn't really know how much this cotton would shrink (yes, sampling would have good for this) and it ended up shrinking more than I anticipated (measuring before and after would have been a good idea, too...) so the final towels were smaller than I expected.  So rather than dishtowels, I'm going to use them as hand towels for my powder room.  Their different sizes won't be so obvious used that way, and I'll get to enjoy the woven texture more, too.

Celestine

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Project: Celestine, by Nora Gaughn and Berroco (free pattern)
Yarn: Regia Kaffe Fassett Color 4451 and Regia Kaffe Fassett 4350
Needles:Grafton Fibers Darn Pretty Size 0 Double Points

I don't think I ever mentioned this project before now, even though it's been in my rotation since Christmas time when I decided I needed an excuse to buy some of the Regia sock yarns with the Kaffe Fassett colorways.  I picked two colorways that I thought co-ordinated a little bit -- one more easter eggy and one more boy-like in hopes that I would get a nice balance of colors.  I alternated points so there are 6 of each colorway.  I am almost 100% sure that I could get another Celestine out of what I have left over, but I think the remainders will become socks for Ms. Z since she is in need of some more socks.

When I started knitting Doddy, my original intention was that it be for my new nephew.  But when it became clear that Doddy was going to be quite large, I decided that it would be better as a toy for Ms. Z and I would find something else for Mr. C.  Celestine worked in sock yarn is just right for a smaller baby (size 0 needles gave me the perfect firm structure and let me stuff the thing relatively densely without having to worry that the polyfill would sneak out), both in size and washability.  And I hope the bright colors will be intriguing for a young baby as well.

20090310_CelestineClose.jpg This project is an easy knit, though it does take a little while -- I'd estimate that each point took me 45 minutes to an hour.  Which means that a dedicated person without a lot of distractions could probably knit it in a weekend.  The only fidgity part is the last point, which requires that you pick up 55 stitches around the last opening after you've stuffed the body of the toy.  But now that I've finished, if I didn't know which point I'd knit on last, I wouldn't be able to tell. 

Even though I've been enjoying seeing the completed version of this toy, and I've been tempted to take it to work to sit on my desk and make me smile, I've high hopes of getting it off into the mail so that it can get into the hands of the little person it was made for. 

o w l s in Flight

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Pattern: o w l s by Kate Davies
Yarn: Jamieson's Chunky Shetland in "Eider Duck"
Needles: KnitPicks Harmony Interchangeables, US 11 and US 10.5

Originally, I was planning to post a book review today, but after sewing on all those button eyes over the weekend and giving the sweater a soak Monday night and finding it ready to wear on Tuesday morning, it was clear that the Owls were going to have their day earlier than planned. You might think that these pictures were taken by my regular photographer, but, lucky girl that I sometimes am, my dad is here in Chicago this week, and was able to sit in for this shoot.  My dad has been looking at me from behind a camera since before I can remember and I think he did a great job making both his daughter and the sweater look good.  And the Chicago weather helped out too by giving us a sunny (if cold) morning. 

20090303_owlsSide.jpgThis sweater marks two firsts: the first yoked sweater I've made for myself and the first sweater knit from the bottom up in the round.  I think that I will have to try out a few more yoked patterns, because the yoke, in combination with the waist shaping created a very flattering (I think) sweater for my body type.  Especially considering that this sweater is knit in a chunky weight yarn -- and heavy weight yarns rarely do much for me when it comes to being figure flattering. 

20090303_owlsFront.jpgThe design was meant to be form fitting and I chose the medium size (the third size) which has a bust measurement of 36".  I probably would have also been fine with the small size as well, but I wanted to make sure I could wear a turtleneck underneath the sweater because the yarn isn't quite soft enough for me to wear against my skin. 

When it comes to yarn, this sweater was incredibly economical.  I used just a little under 5 skeins of the Jamieson's Chunky Shetland, so it didn't even take 600 yards.  This is one of the few sweaters for which being short waisted is something of a benefit as I didn't have to knit must past the waist shaping before I was ready to put the body together with the sleeves and knit the yoke.   I will also say that, so far, after a day of wear, I am very happy with the yarn -- it softened up nicely after a warm bath and while there is a tiny bit of fuzzing in the areas that rub, it's not really pilling at all -- if it still behaves this way after a few more wearings, this will become one of those yarns that I continue to reach for when I want to make a quick winter sweaeter.   Not only did I use relatively little yarn, but this thing knit up very quickly once I got rolling.  If you want an instant gratification sweater, this one is right up there.

20090303_owlsNeck.jpgThe owls are a real hoot to knit, a simple motif that keeps you knitting just so that you can see your owls come to life.  Putting on all those button eyes (36 of them!) seems like it would be a real trial, but those buttons create magic for those owls and I found that I just wanted to keep going until I had them all sewed on.

I only have one (minor) criticism of the sweater -- I think that there's probably one too many increases after the waist shaping -- at least for me -- and its a little gapey in the back.   I probably would have been better off evenly distributing those increases around the whole sweater instead of just at the back.   Of course, if I had done that, I would have had to make sure to position those increases so that they didn't change how the owls were centered on the front. 

I  loved wearing this sweater.  It's whimsical without being childish -- one of those garments that you just can't help smile at when you look down or see yourself in the mirror.  It's shaping and use of bulky yarn makes it flattering for those of us still dealing with a little more post-holiday  cushioning than we would like and it's just perfect for a cold day in Chicago.  With a heavier shirt underneath, I could almost have worn this outside with out a coat. 

The pattern itself is easy to follo,  but make sure that you get the latest version, as Kate, who kindly has made this wonderful pattern available for free, has updated it since she first released it into the wild.   I'm looking forward to the children's version.  Not only so that I can make a similar sweater for a small girl who loves owls, but also so that I can say thank you to Kate for her design with some actual cash.    I would happily have paid for this sweater, given the quality of the pattern and the results!

A Baby Surprise for My Baby

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Pattern: EZ's Adult Surprise Sweater, Modified for Small Person
Yarn: 2-ply "Cotton Candy" Corriedale (CMF) Handspun

Once I got it all cast on, this project really seemed to fly by.  At times I found myself doubting that this would fold the way it was supposed to, but clearly EZ can be trusted not to lead a knitter astray.  Even though things strictly in garter stitch tend to get boring for me, I never found myself tiring of this project.  Maybe it was the handspun, maybe it was the construction.  Maybe it was getting to see it on the intended recipient.

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Speaking of handspun, even though the runs of color in this yarn were not long enough to really create any pronounced striping effects, I do think this project was a really lovely use of this yarn.  It avoids the pooling and wierd color effects and the changing colors instead create depth in the garrment and help to emphasize the ridgy texture of garter stitch.


20090226_BabySurpriseStraig.jpgWhile I've knit socks and scarves from my handspun, this is the first full on (albeit small) sweater that I've ever knit from it.  Every time I knit with my own handspun, I find the whole knitting process to be richer.  I enjoy touching the yarn more, watching the color.  And, if I do say so myself, even though I am a novice as far as spinning goes, I still think my yarns are better constructed that most commercial yarns I buy.  And that gives me some extra pride as I turn it into something.

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This yarn was just a little stiffer than most I've plied, making it perfect (I think) for stretchy loosey goosey garterstitch when it comes to helping the sweater keep its structure.   I think the fit is reasonable on Ms. Baby -- I wanted something closer to a 2T in the hopes that she'll get a spring and a fall out of it.  She's definitely got a couple of inches of sleeve to work with, so hopefully it will be roomy enough and long enough as well.  (BTW, I love the soulful look on her face in this picture.  She is a sweetheart, but she has many serious moments.  It was nice to catch one of them.

20090226_BabySurpriseSleeve.jpgI trimmed up this sweater with the little hearts -- I like the contrast of the dark red heart with the greens and yellows and pinks. 

20090226_ZSleeve.jpgIt may sound funny, but often, in my head, I think of Z as "my heart baby" --  the whole process of bringing her into the world was such an emotional ride, and by the end, I feel like my heart has become a bigger place because of her.  So the hearts seemed perfect for the buttons.  My heart baby wearing the gift of my hands, a handknit, handspun sweater.  It makes me happy in a deep warm place, and has helped keep me a little warmer in the last cold days of February.

The Sampler Scarf and the Samples

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I originally meant to put everything together in one post on Friday, but as I started going through the pictures, I just felt like it was too much information for one post -- and I knew I wouldn't have time to put it all together well all at once on Thursday night.  So I decided to break the post into two parts: what I did to set up the project and the results.  Without further ado, here's the results!

20090219_SamplerScarf.jpg First of all, I'll start out with the finished product.  Here it is basking in the cold light of morning after I finished it.  It is not completely clear, but the selvedges on this project are light-years better than those of the first project I tried.  And this is basically because in the first project I was trying to work out the technique for making it happen without any reference.  With this project, I had the help of good reference materials and I took advantage of them.  It's easier to describe what helped with pictures than it is in text alone, so I will save that discussion for the next project that I work on -- but you can definitely find information about how to have nice selvedges in Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom-- her pictures are very good and her discussion of this is very helpful for beginners.

20090219_SamplerScarfEdges.jpg Ok!  Onto the sampling.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the warp I set up alternated two ends of my orangey-red and two ends of purple, beginning and ending with two ends of the orangey-red.   My goal with this project was to see how different combinations of weft threads looked in combination with the warp.  I wasn't very systematic about this in the scarf itself (I just did whatever entertained me at the moment, but made sure that I tried all the combinations that I could think of.  I'm putting them in better order here to make the progression more clear.

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These are the results for using all orangey-red weft threads (top) or all purple weft threads (bottom).  Consistent with how I understand color theory and using warm and cool colors together, it doesn't surprise me that sample with the all purple weft still reads as very orangey-red while the sample with the orangey-red weft hardly reads purple at all.  Cool colors tend to recede and be dominated by wram colors, and that really played out in this case!

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This swatch alternates picks of purple and orange-red.  So when the heddle is in the up position, you are always using one color and when the heddle is in the down position, you are always using the other.  I can't remember which color went with which heddle position for this particular sample, but I can tell you that if you were to swap the colors used for the two different heddle postions, you would get the opposite pattern where what you see as orangey-red now would be purple and what you see as purple would be orange red.  This was the only one of my tests that really worked out this way.

20090219_2x2x2.jpg This is the hound's tooth check pattern.  Two orangey-red weft threads alternate with two purple weft threads.  Because each pair of threads gets used in each of the heddle positions, you don't see any real variation when you alternate with pair you start with. 

20090219_2x4x4.jpg In this case I did 4 threads of purple followed by 4 weft threads of orangey-red (I did try an intermediate two threads of purple and three of red, but it ended up looking kind of muddy and not all that interesting).  Here you can see what I think of as almost a little space invader pattern... but when you back up, it starts to look like stripes.

20090219_2x8x8.jpg Finally, I ended the scarf with 8 threads of purple followed by 8 threads of orangey red.  This pattern definitely reads as wide stripes! (See the sample on the bottom left side of thes scarf in the picture below)
20090219_SamplerScarfInActi.jpg When I first took this scarf off of the loom, it was on the stiff side, and I was a little concerned about whether it would actually work as a scarf.   However, just like most hand knits benefit from a little bath, so do woven materials.  I soaked the scarf for about 1/2 an hour in luke warm water with Eucalin and some mild hair conditioner and the resulting fabric was much softer and more scarf like. 

I ended up tying groups of warp threads together and trimming them to a reasonable length for the finishing of the ends -- this was because I didn't pay attention to the instructions for hemstitching, and, in my excitement about having a finished project, I took the scarf off of the loom before I did the hemstitching, which makes it pretty hard to do that.  But for a simlple scarf, the tied ends are a completely acceptable and durable finish. 

Not only has my scarf seen photographs, it's also seen actual outdoor in the winter action -- I wore it to work on Friday.  Definitely a different feel from a hand knit scarf, but still awfully nice to be wearing something I made.  I am now thinking about what I have in my stash that might be man-friendly, since I think that John might take to a scarf like this (albeit in one regular pattern) better than he does to handknit scarves.  I'd also like to find some chenille yarn to make myself a plaid chenille scarf with.  I have some "Touch Me" in my stash, and I'm wondering if the combination of Touch Me, weaving, and a bit of fulling would make for something very yummy to wear indeed!

So now the thinking about what to try next begins.   I took the plunge and ordered an 8 dent heddle so that I can work with some slightly larger yarn that I have in my stash.  The funny thing about weaving?  I am actually dreaming about it.  I don't think I've ever had dreams that involved knitting.  But with weaving, I wake up with pattern images floating around in my head.  So clearly some part of my brain is absolutely taken with my new craft.  But that said, I still don't really have any firm notion of what is going to be on my loom next.  I'm thinking a little more stash diving might help the process along.

First Woven Project

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After I got the header on my warp, wild elephants crashing through my living room couldn't have stopped me from working on it! 

20090216_RunnerFinished.jpgOriginally I was going to do it with olive warp and maroon weft, but after about 3 inches of the red, I decided that it would be fun to change colors and I alternated between 3 inches of red and one inch of olive.  A little Christmas-y perhaps, but the colors go together better than I would have predicted at  first.  You can see that my edges are kind of wonky.  I really didn't understand what I needed to do to keep my selvedges neat, so I tried all sorts of things and none of them worked really well.  You can also see at the bottom of the project where I didn't get my shed quite right and some of the weft threads ended up above warp threads they should have been under.  It took me a bit to realize that ripping on a loom isn't all that hard, but, after I did, I corrected those kinds of mistakes.

20090216_RunnerPattern.jpgIt's remarkably easy to get nice, even results.   I did not measure to make sure that the fabric was completely balanced (i.e. the same number of warp and weft threads per inch) but just by eye I'd say it looks reasonably close.  The number of optimal ends per inch (e.p.i.) is determined by figuring out wraps per inch (something that most spinners will understand) and dividing by two.  I think I measured something in the neighborhood of 18 wpi for this yarn, so my 10 dent heddle was pretty close to what it should have been to give me a balanced fabric.

I was surprised when I wove with the olive thread to see how much I liked the way it looked against the olive warp.  The tweediness of the yarn really stood out and the subtle color variations showed up.  It might be acrylic yarn, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a nice coloration.

20090216_RunnerFolded.jpgThe whole project wasn't very long -- just over three feet or so (no I didn't measure...).  I began and ended the project with a wide stripe of red.  I haven't taken care of the ends properly yet, but I will probably just group and tie them in an overhand knot, since this item won't be used in any heavy-duty way.

20090216_RunnerInAction.jpgIf John will permit, this will become it's final location.  If not, then I will tuck it away until some other use presents itself.  I think it does a reasonable job of being a masculine table runner -- a much better job than the yarn would have done as socks, I think!

I am, of course, extremely excited about having accomplished my first small project on my loom.  Fortunately for me, the two books I ordered arrived on the day that I finished this project, so I was able to take advantage of their tips and wisdom as I thought about my second project.  It will probably not surprise anyone that my loom was warped again less than 24 hours after finishing this project. 

That project will be the subject of Friday's post -- apologies to anyone who is concerned about the wanton enabling I am engaged in right now.  I'm having so much fun with this thing!  Things come together so quickly.  If I'd knit something of this length it would have taken me several days and been deadly dull.  But this project really came together in a handful of hours -- something that makes the idea of giving hand-made gifts much more approachable.    And like knitting with self striping yarn, I kept finding myself wanting to do "just one more pick" so I could see what the pattern would turn out like.

Socks that Grawk, Ready for Action

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By Sunday afternoon, with the last of the good light, I had made reasonable progress on John's socks.

20090120_SocksthatGrawk1.jpgPerilously close, as the saying goes, but no actual cigar.  I knit the second sock using my newly acquired Darn Pretty needles from Grafton Fibers.  I found out about these needles via Claudia
and must say that I wish I'd been paying attention earlier because buying these needles is not only great for my knitting experience (they are beautiful, have a lovely finish and come in a 5" needle size) but also great for my sense of supporting small craftsmen and women.   They definitely deserve a better picture and I will endeavor to do that with the next sock project that I can photograph in good light!

But even in the waning light, I persevered and before the end of Sunday, John did, in fact, have a new pair of socks.

20090120_SocksthatGrawk2.jpgBecause I wanted to add a little extra oomph to these socks, and to keep myself from getting bored knitting the second sock, I had the cable on the second sock twist in the opposite direction.   I also used the heel of the second sock to try my hand at Japanese short rows. I think the assessment that these make for a neater, less gapped short row is probably true, but since my current reflexes are already hardwired to the PGR method, it slowed me down because I had to think about the process more carefully.   The results were good enough to make me want to try it again some time soon.

20090120_SocksthatGrawk3.jpg  These last pictures were all taken in the light of my office with the help of my 50 mm f/1.8 lens.  It's pretty good for eking out the last bit of light and helping you create good pictures of still objects.  The colors in these socks reflect light better than the black, so the green and purple show up much more prominently than they would if you were actually holding the socks in your hand.  If they were really this vibrant, man rejection would have been certain.

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But, in fact, they were happily accepted and modeled by the man, who is looking forward to having a new pair of heavyweight STR socks while I repair his Mudslides. 

Fortunately, I have a fair amount of Grawk left over, so should holes appear sooner than expected, repairs will be able to be made.  I'm hoping John will be a little gentler on these, since the patterning would make them somewhat more difficult to repair. 

I didn't quite meet my challenge of getting him a new pair of socks by Thursday, but I definitely finished them in a week, and there's still plenty of cold weather left in the forecast

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Tah-Dah!  One finished top-down raglan baby sweater. This small sweater was knit from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in the colorway "Irving Park".  I used the Kniting Pure & Simple "Babies Neckdown Cardigan" as my framework for the pattern, but changed the sizing and converted the ribbing elements into seed stitch.  I also opted against a hood.  If you are looking for a worsted weight yarn sweater pattern model for the under two set, this is a good basic pattern to start from and the instructions are easy to follow. 

20090115_TopDownNeckline.jpgThis is the first time I have actually sewn buttons down on a sweater.  Amazing, eh?  I selected these little butterfly buttons because I thought the yellow made for a nice contrast with the sweater without stealing the show completely, and, of course, because Ms. Z loves butterflies.  She was remarkably patient with me, while I spent what probably seemed like an eternity to her, picking the final buttons (and, truth be told, I ended up coming home with several options because I was feeling very indecisive).

20090115_TopDownBack.jpgShe is getting increasingly hard to photograph, and the lousy weather of the last couple of weeks really limited my picture taking opportunities, but John and I were finally able to capture the little sweater in action. 

20090115_TopDownFrontNotBut.jpgBefore I headed out to buy the buttons, we had some good light in the house, so these pictures came from my first photoshoot.  Little doll, is she not?  I love some of the sweet and innocent looks she has.  You'd never believe she was really starting into those temper tantruming terrible twos, would you?*

20090115_TopDownFrontButton.jpgAnd here's the sweater fully completed and buttoned on to her.  Buttons, as I discovered, are not a toddler's friend.  Especially when there are 6 of them.  A zipper might have been a better call -- but she did like the butterflies.  I knit this sweater to be a little larger than most two year old sizes in hopes that it would also see some fall action.  I think it fits her well and still has a reasonable amount of growth room.  Will it make it to fall?  Only time will tell. 

20090115_TopDownBabyFace.jpgThis isn't really much of a sweater shot, but it's one of those photos that makes me smile -- she's smiling and reaching for the camera and her crazy fine hair is all over the place (she has her father's hair and hairline in spades).  It's so very Ms Z, so it seemed like a good way to wrap up this post and head into the weekend.


* She's actually not that bad so far, behavior-wise.  She's definitely trying to test her limits, but she's still a lot of fun to be with.

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