Recently in Projects Started 2008 Category

Finally, Another Baby Sweater

Wow!  Thanks for all the suggestions for the post-zested lemons.  I know I'll be trying this recipe again, so I will keep those in mind -- and also I will suggest to Santa that I might like a microplane in my stocking.  Sounds like a handy tool.  Plus Santa will get better cookies on his stopover at our house!

We had a good deal of fun at our party.  Good friends and good food always make for a winning combination in my book.  I love our party, but it's always a bit of a relief to have it wrapped it up for the year. Then we can take a breather and think about other things.  Like how much Christmas shopping we still have left to do!

Seriously, the knitting product has been low for the past week or so.  Not even so much as a baby sock has been completed.  So I had to reach back into my few weeks ago wayback machine to pull out a few pictures that I hadn't yet talked about: the start of a new project, Z's Zebra Striper Sweater.

20081222_ZebraStriperSweate.jpgLike the Zebra Striper dress, this little sweater features the intersting two color knitting (including that un-memorizable zebra stripe) at the bottom of the sweater and then shifts to single color per row knitting farther along. What makes this garment different than the dress is that the sweater is a cardigan and is steeked after the knitting is complete.  So, having gotten comfortable with two-handed two color knitting on the first project, I'm now moving to the next phase of two color knitting: taking scissors to a garment.  But that will be sometime down the road, as I am essentially knitting a sweater in sock-weight yarn.  So there is much to go before I have to get too worried (and find some way to sharpen my scissors).

20081222_ZebraStriperDetail.jpgWhat I have been very happy with so far on this sweater is my tension.  On the dress, before I blocked it the stitches definitely pulled in.  With this garment, my stitches are laying well and are relaxed and happy.  That makes me feel that I am getting better mastery of two-handed two color knitting. Clearly practice helps ingrain those important rhythms that bring manual dexterity skills together. 

With our holiday party in the history books, this sweater will recapture it's place on our couch and I will plug away at the remaining inches of straight color knitting.  I still have hope that I'll at least be able to try this on Z before it gets too warm for sweaters again -- even though the incredible subarctic weather we're having makes it almost impossible to believe that it ever will be warm again...

"Easter" Baby Socks

For me, apparently, baby socks are like potato chips. I can't knit just one pair!  Talk about instant gratification in so many ways.  First off, they are fast fast fast to knit -- if I had nothing else to do, I could easily get a pair of these done in a day, and still have time to work on something else.  Second, Z gets so excited when she gets a new pair "Sockies!  Sockies!" and she runs off with both in her hands.  Nothing like an enthusiastic recipient to encourage more knitting (and her father likes them, too -- given a chance, he'll put her hand knit socks on her over any other socks in her drawer).  So now Z has 4 pairs of handknit socks in her drawer (there's one more pair I haven't shown you yet) and I think with the remnants from previous projects of mine, we can easily get to 7 pairs -- my goal -- one for every day of the week.

By happy chance, these socks almost match -- apparently Z sized socks are almost exactly one stripe pattern repeat in this colorway (Regia 4450 in Kaffe Fasset "Exotic Color Easter") and there is still at least one more if not two more baby sized socks worth of yarn left from the 50g skein. 

20081207_ZInRegiaEasterSock.jpgPlease pardon the cacophany of patterns that Z is wearing -- we're having some remodeling done right now (as a result of a basement crack, not because we really wanted to) and combined with the cold weather we're getting right now in Chicago, it's colder than usual in the house.  Z loves the butterflies ( "Fly flys" as she calls them) and is resistant to wardrobe changes except when they include clothes she likes.  So to get her to wear an extra layer, we bribed her with butterflies.  She doesn't usally have to be bribed to wear hand knit socks -- not only does she run around with them when she gets them, but she will sit still and let you put them on when you tell her what you are doing.  Put all of that together and you get a big print, a small print and stripes!  And happy warm baby feet.  And happy warm baby feet are really what counts!

20081120_GetAJobSocksInActi.jpgWhen a knitter's husband loses his job at a particularly bad time for both the year and the economic cycle, what does the knitter think she needs to do to make sure he finds another one?

She starts a pair of socks for him, of course!

I know, I know, the world does not make decisions based on whether John has a new pair of socks, but to give myself something more positive to think about, I convinced myself that if John had a lovely new pair of socks to start a new job with, certainly the job would come.  Of course, they couldn't be just any pair of socks, there had to be some more challenging element about them to reflect both the challenge John faced looking for a job, and the supportive sentiments that I had for him.  At the same time, being man socks, they had to conform to John's standards for socks as well, so the design couldn't be too complicated, and the yarn couldn't be too out there.  The yarn also needed to be thick enough to keep John's feet warm during his downtown winter commute.

20081120_GetAJobSocksShapin.jpgThe yarn was the easy part!  It's Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Socks that Rock Heavyweight in "Thraven" -- just about as perfect a yarn as you could ask for as far as this project and John and the knitter are concerned.  The yarn is thick and warm, the colorway is subtle but still lovely and engaging. 

20081120_GetAJobSocksRelief.jpgFor the pattern, I decided to stay simple.  It's a toe-up stockinette sock until it gets past the heel, and then on each side of the sock there's an X and O cable -- my way of sending hugs and kisses along with him to work in a subtle way, since the element isn't very visible from the front or back of the sock.  To account for the extra stitches taken up by the cabling and to shape the sock better to John's calf, there are also two increase rows, one at the start of the pattern and one at the midway point (STR Heavyweight is pretty bulky for a sock yarn so it doesn't take many extra stitches to give you reasonable increases in circumference).  The cuff is about 2" of K2 P2 ribbing, placed so as to make the top of the cable look a little as if it is extending into the ribbing.

20081120_GetAJobSocksCuff.jpgThe socks have actually been finished for a little while now, but I decided I couldn't do a reveal until John actually accepted an offer. Yesterday that happy moment finally came (we found out he was going to get an offer for one of the jobs he was really interested last week, but it took almost a week for all the details to get nailed down) so the socks get to make their appearance.

I wouldn't let him wear the socks until the offer was almost certain. In typical, very sweet John fashion, he played along and once he got "permission" to put the socks on, they have been on ever since.   I think it's fair to say that he doesn't mind the cables, and he finds the coloration of the socks subtle enough not to be worried about the prying eyes of the sock police. 

20081120_GetAJobSocksStealt.jpgSo he's happy that he has a warm pair of socks that actually go with dress pants and I'm happy because there's a special little detail that I know is there, even if no one else does.  Definitely a successful pair of socks -- in more ways than one!

I love you, babe! I know you're going to rock the new job! I'm so excited for you!


Thanks to everyone for feedback, suggestions and general thoughts about the Hemlock Ring Blanket.  I'm definitely going to go ahead and block it and see how that goes.  If I've learned anything as a knitter, it's that until I've blocked something, it's not truly fair to pass judgement on it -- at least not from an aesthetic perspective. 

I've decided I need a backup plan in the baby gift category, so I came up with the idea of making a selection of knitted and crocheted cotton toys.  Ravelry was a big help in helping me locate some projects that I think could work well.  In the past, I've avoided most toys because so many of them have a lot of little pieces to knit tightly on small needles and then there is a bunch of fiddly sewing that always seems hard for me to get to look right.  But I'm going to give a few different things a try and then go with what I like best.  Here's the beginning of the first project:

20081030_3Pentagons.jpgThree pentagons made up in Blue Sky Alpacas cotton (the remnants from the Hemlock Blanket, the Circles Stroller Jacket that I made for Z, and Z's Bobby Bear).  Any idea what I might be making?

20081030_4Pentagons.jpgWhat if I show you 4 pentagons and let you know that this afternoon I added a 5th?

Happy Hallowe'en to everyone!

P.S. to those of you who like to see baby pictures.  John and Z and I had some family pictures taken by the same photographer who shot our wedding.  If you'd like to see some of them, he's posted a few to his blog.  To anyone in the Chicago area who is looking for a good photographer for family portraits or family candids, I recommend Roger highly.  The pictures on his blog are a small sampling of what he took and don't even include all of the good ones.  He was definitely able to capture some lovely moments with the baby. 
I've been busy with my swift and ball winder lately.  In the past two weeks I've gotten prepped for 4 new projects.

20081009_NewProjectYarn.jpgThis rather motley collection of yarns starts on the left with the Dream in Color Smooshy that I am using for my Francie socks, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton that will become a Hemlock Ring Blanket, Blue Moon Socks that Rock Heavyweight (color: Thraven) destined for man-sockliness, and Dale of Norway Baby Ull that is kicking off the beginning of the Zebra Striper sweater and will be joined by a whole host of other Baby Ull colors.

All the yarns but the STR have moved past the contemplative phase of the project into the active phase.  This afternoon's nap was dedicated to starting the Hemlock Ring Blanket.

20081009_HemlockBlanketStar.jpgThe bright sunlight that I took this picture in washed out the color quite a bit.  The actual colorway is called "Periwinkle".  It's a bit more blue and lacks the purple tones that I normally associate with periwinkle (based on growing up with that 64 box of Crayola Crayons), but it's still a fine color for a baby blanket for a new baby boy.  This very special baby will be making his entrance in the southern US, so a wool blanket, while more up my alley given the array of lovely superwash merinos that there are to work with now, didn't seem very practical.  I opted for this Aran weight cotton because it's held up fairly well in the little jacket that I made for Z, and because, as cotton yarns go, this is really several cuts above anything else I've knit with and reminds me much more of silk than of cotton. 

What helps to creat that lovely hand is relatively low twist, making this a somewhat impractical fiber for a baby.  But since this baby will be the child of a very important person in my life, I have decided that I am allowed a touch of impracticality and indulgent luxury. 

I haven't gotten very far yet, but at this point this blanket lives up to its positive reviews.  It's definitely the sort of project that makes you want to do row after row, just so you can see how the pattern is going to evolve into a blanket.  And if it continues to speed a long as it did this afternoon, I could definitely imagine putting this into my "go to" pattern collection for blankets for new small people.