Recently in Lollipop Category

Wow! Thanks to everyone who left all the great advice in response to my post on Friday. I've read each one and am beginning to get a good idea of what I should have ready and waiting. I would never have thought of some of the things that came up. Hopefully John and Z and I will be well prepared!

In the meantime, I've finished up the Lollipop sweater. Just to show what a difference a little trim makes on this small garment, I thought I'd provide the before and after shots relative to applying the edging.

Pattern: Lollipop
Book: Rowan Classic Yarns, Mother & Baby
Yarn: RYC Cashcotton 4 Ply in "Seafoam"
Needles: US Size 2
Size Made: 6-12 Month

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Untrimmed Lollipop in the Petunias
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A Lollipop with a Little Edge

Overall, this is an easy garment to knit if you don't mind small yarn and small needles and the occasional simple bobble. If I were to do it again I might consider substituting that bobble for a yarn over and just having a lace diamond. But the bobble does help to make the motif a little more floral and add to the decidedly sweet little girl quality of this cropped infant wrap sweater. I like the final result and am looking forward to putting it on my baby, even though the size I picked means that it will be quite large for her and probably won't be of much use until next spring. Even so, once it was finished, I held it over my belly to let her know that something else hand made by her mom was going into her little treasure cabinet -- the place where I am keeping all the lovely things (hand made and not) that she's been gifted with.

I didn't find any mistakes in the instructions for the size I made and I thought all the instructions were fairly clear -- though there are a few places where you need to read ahead through more than just the next sentence. The finishing work is simple, though I did choose to set in the sleeves. So much less time consuming in a baby garment!

The pattern called for the sweater to be assembled and a knitted edging to be knit and attached to the sweater. I knit a couple of intervals of the edging to see if I liked it. It wasn't anything special enough in my mind to merit the work of knitting separately and attaching to the sweater (while I like Rowan patterns, this knit and attach approach to edging is one I find generally tiresome and irritating because of the tedium of the extra finishing work and the fact that they often don't end up looking very polished after I attach them), so I decided to work from the general idea and look for a crochet edging that I could apply directly to the little garment.

A few closeups of the edging and how it looks in the final garment:

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Lollipop Front, Detail
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Lollipop Tie, Detail
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Lollipop Back, Detail
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Lollipop Cuff, Detail

The crochet edging is a simple one. There's a foundation of chain stitches followed by loops created by chaining several stitches and then making a single crochet into the foundation chain at regular intervals. If you want to build it out, it's easy to add any number of rows to it, but I thought simple was best for a baby garment. Inspiration for it came from one of those books that I bought a while back, and that I refer to a lot when I am looking for possible interesting finishes -- Interweave's Compendium of Finishing Techniques

I like this book a lot because it has finishing techniques for more than just knitting. Crochet, sewing, weaving, braiding -- there's a lot of food for thought in this book, and the techniques are well illustrated. You don't have to be an expert in any of the techniques to understand the instructions. Another plus for this book is that it's hardcover and it's spiral bound -- so it stays open to the page you are trying to work from.

36 Weeks

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Today is a big day. Thirty-six weeks. The Z baby and I have made it into the "safe zone" -- any time from here on out that she wants to make an entrance, she should be fine, developmentally. And any time from here on out that my body starts to show signs of not being able to safely deal with carrying a baby any more, Ms. Z can be brought into the world without too much worry. It's a nice place to be, all things considered, given that the start of the somewhat distressing portion of my third trimester began when Dr. Serious told me I was dilated and needed to be worried about pre-term delivery at 32 weeks (I should note that since then, I have not really dilated any more and I have not had any labor signs). Even if it is Friday the 13th, it's nice to have achieved this milestone. At some level, no matter how it goes now, I've been relatively successful as an incubator.

In fact, at my OB appointment yesterday, my doctor seemed to be getting almost optimistic for me. My blood pressure is higher than optimal, but stable, and as long as I am resting, it is not dangerously high. Still no signs that pre-eclampsia is imminent, although I'm still on the regular blood work plan to make sure that if anything changes, it can be dealt with quickly. And it's clear to my doctor that the baby is growing and that she is still strong. I've had 5 nonstress tests and she's done well in all of them. If things continue to hold, I might get to go into labor without assistance. Though I get the impression that my doctor would prefer that, if my body wants to do it that way, that it not wait until the forty week mark.

And on balance, while I am still not thrilled about bed rest, I'm getting better at dealing with it. Every time I get to leave the doctor's office and we haven't seen signs of pre-eclampsia or set a date to induce I feel like I've scored a little victory for me and the baby. I know I don't have much control over how this stuff is going to progress, but at least getting to this point makes me feel like the bed rest has been worth while.

While I was resting yesterday, it seemed like a good time to get serious about seaming up Lollipop.

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Only the Sleeves to Set In

I figure, I wouldn't want to hold up any important baby arrival queues by not having this little sweater completed -- even though it's likely to be too big for her for quite some time. At the rate I'm going, I'll probably be lucky to get the sleeves set in this weekend, and then I'll still have to decide what kind of crochet edging I want to attach. But that's okay. We don't need any arrivals to happen that soon...

After hearing what y'all had to say about the notion of nice socks at the hospital, I was wondering if I could ask for advice about what to pack in my labor & delivery bag? It seems like now might be a good time to get this ready to keep in the car -- just in case things happen before I expect them to. What should a new mom have with her for the hospital experience? What sorts of things should I bring along for the small person when for her first trip home? What kind of creature comforts did you enjoy having with you after delivery while you were recovering in the hospital? And what were your absolute necessities for you and the baby once you got home?

John's already promised to help out with the shopping to make sure that we're good to go. Not sure what I would do without him right now. He's really been an incredibly sweet and wonderful guy in the face of a lot of inconvenience and extra work.

A Little Bit of Finishing

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Blocking a Lollipop

When you're a little bit activity restricted, some parts of the knitting process become a bit more challenging. Blocking is one such activity. Usually I am on my hands and knees on the floor pinning things down or leaning over a table with my blocking board on it. While I could probably get John to help me take pictures, asking him to block tiny sweater pieces isn't likely to work out so well. So I put my blocking board on the floor and sat down on the floor next to it and pinned things down. Not really bedrest, but nothing too aggressive either. I figure if I'm allowed to move around my house and fix myself lunch, this was probably okay too (and after I did it, I laid down and watched some TV... bittorrent might just be a mental health saver for me right now).

I'm not the only one doing some finishing work. My dad is working on his first sweater project and I got to give him some pointers about mattress stitch.

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Dad Seams a Sleeve

A certain baby is going to have a very nice hand knitted wardrobe, I think!

A Little Sweater Starts to Form

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Fourth of July in Chicago is like no other place I've ever lived in before. Even though I've been in the city for most of the years since 1991 I'm still amazed by the sights and sounds in my neighborhood this time of year. As the sun begins to go down, the activity begins to go up. First it starts with firecrackers and other noise makers. Then things ramp up into the realm of real-live fireworks. And not just your garden variety cheap fireworks, either. Some of my neighbors put on shows that rival some of what you see and nice suburban fireworks displays. And the noise is just amazing. Once it gets dark, it sounds like what I imagine a war zone might sound like -- albeit a safe and friendly war zone. And it just keeps going like that until midnight or so.

Normally, John and I walk up and down the street, seeing whose doing what, and enjoying the pyrotechnics from a safe distance. This year I will just be listening. It's a little bit of a bummer for me, because this is one of my favorite civic holiday times. I love going down to be with the huge crowd in Grant Park on the evening of the 3rd for the Chicago city fireworks (yes, Chicago has it's display the night before the 4th) and then getting to watch our neighborhood light up with celebration the next day.

While I'm missing out on the traditional festivities this year, I'm enjoying a visit from my parents who came bearing gifts from Zingermans, some very sweet baby gifts from the people my mom works with (who I also worked with when I was in high school and college) and a 10 lb box of genuine fresh Michigan blueberries. I may be biased, but if you have only ever had blueberries from your grocery store.... you might never have tasted what blueberries should really taste like. If there is one thing I can go face down in it's fresh blueberries.

I appreciated everyone's comments on Monday. It's interesting to hear the comments from folks who didn't feel well when they were dealing with elevated blood pressure. Truth be told, at a physical level, I feel pretty good. My sciatica seems to have receded a bit, and except for some tiredness when I tackle stairs (which I figure is going to happen when you put on 30 lbs in 8 months) I don't have too many things that make me feel bad.

Where I am having difficulties is more at the level of my mental game. I go back and forth between feeling okay dealing with the confinement to being a little depressed that just simply going out to dinner with my husband has been taken away from me during our last few weeks with no need for child care. (The husband is doing an excellent job of being sweet and wonderful, however. Last night he came home with roses and a pint of my favorite gelato from Cafe Gelato on Division. It is hard not to feel better in the face these sorts of treats and thoughtfulness).

No doubt things will even out for me as I get more used to the situation. Certainly it is true that I feel more rested, and it's nice to not have a real time table in which I have to get up and go to work. Not to mention that I am taking a distinct pleasure in the fact that my ankles now consistently look the way they did before I got pregnant and that I have an actual excuse to spend time uploading all my old knitting projects into Ravelry. I am sure that you are all right, and that in a relatively short period of time, I'll be wishing that I had sat back and enjoyed this ride just a little bit more.

Since I still have some stuff to do for the office (working from home is not proving too difficult even from my bed) I haven't done as much knitting as I would like. But Lollipop still does progress. Now all the pieces are complete.

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Completed Lollipop Pieces

All that remains now is some blocking, seaming and a border. I tried out the one with the pattern, but it involves a bit of fussy knitting and then sewing the border to the sweater. And, truth be told, I did a few intervals to see what it would look like (the pictures with the pattern aren't that clear) and I don't care for it all that much, and I think a baby could catch her fingers in the openings. So after I seam the pieces together, I think I'm going to pick a simple crochet edging for the sweater.

Well, ring the bell to end the match. The Keyboard Biologist is down for the count. The blood pressure is still up, so I get to lie down. I am going to be bonding with the concept of the horizontal so that my baby can continue to work on her very personal developmental biology project

Strangely enough, I am less disturbed by this than I would have been a week ago. I am not sure if it is because of the warning flag that got thrown last Thursday, or because my primary OB took the time to help me understand what we're dealing with and why trying to fight it wouldn't be in my best interests. Perhaps it is just that the big heart is listening to the rapid little beats of the small heart beneath it. Pregnancy seems to be a real caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis for me. I feel like the woman who I was in the fall is not quite the same woman I am now... and that bringing my baby into the world will take that transition even farther. Becoming a mother is a much deeper experience than I ever imagined it might be.

Hearing from so many of you about your own experiences really made a difference, too. There is a good deal of strength to be gained from the feeling that I am not alone and knowing that others have made similar journies to mine and that some of you are walking down the same path at almost the same time.

Which leads me to an apology. Not for being whiny on Friday, but for an overactive spam filter that seems to have decided that many of my comments do not deserve to make it onto my blog, and, thus, for the past several weeks I seem to have been losing words that I most certainly wanted to read. I forced Movable Type to cough up what it had incorrectly caught in its filters, and I will be watching closely in the next couple of days to make sure it stops it's bad behavior. In the meantime, if you left a comment with a question and didn't hear back from me... please comment again or send me an email. Or if you just had a comment disappear into the ether, my apologies. Even though I've restored them all, and I've read as many as I found, it's likely going to be difficult for me to respond to most of them from earlier than late last week. So please know that your words are always appreciated, even if you don't hear back from me directly.

Finally, a little more knitting -- some of the fruits of my weekend bed rest activities:

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A Little Bit More Lollipop: The Front Left Side

Since my current situation has the potential to lead to a baby a bit earlier than expected, I clearly need to finish up this little garment soon. Not that she'll be big enough to wear it for a long time, but the little pieces of sweater help me visualize her and being with a healthy baby in the future.

Lollipop Back

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It was nice to hear so many stories and supportive voices for my post on Friday. I have to admit, I was kind of surprised by how many of you commented to say that bed rest wasn't such a bad thing. And, in principle, I don't have a whole lot of problems laying around on my bed knitting, playing with my computer, and digging into a few novels. I think, for me, it's just the idea of having someone else impose the confinement on me. Not always so good at taking orders or good advice from other people, you know? The funny thing about this is, that, because I'd been feeling a bit more tired, I'd been imposing some couch time on myself already. See, if I my doctors could somehow convince me that bed rest was all my idea, then we'd be cooking!

And I did try to be pretty good this weekend. There was a trip out to dinner with John on Friday, my facial Saturday morning (nothing is more relaxing than a facial, so I figured it was in the spirit of resting) and a trip to the quilt store on Saturday afternoon to drop off the Groovy Stack N Whack to be machine quilted (I still have hopes that the quilt will come back before the baby arrives). Sunday saw a trip to our favorite breakfast place. A girl's got to eat, after all! And I've never been good at eating and reclining... it's usually a recipe for wearing more of my food than I would like!

Today I'll get to see my OB again and find out if this prescription is going to be a long duration one. Hopefully I will get more of a "take it easy" than a "complete rest" suggestion.

For the next couple of days, it's going to be about Lollipop. No promise of exciting pictures for a while, more like a bit of photo blogging as the pieces come together.

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The Back of Lollipop

So many bobbles....

One Sleeve, Two Sleeves..

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Two Sleeves for Lollipop

Thank you to everyone for the encouraging comments about my starry quilt top. I think that my sewing machine is going to be a little quiet for a while as I work on some fiber projects that need my attention, such as Lollipop. I'm finding knitting to be a very pleasant pursuit right now, as I can put my feet up, be still and let my fingers travel over my needles while the baby does her little dances. I thought that as she got bigger, she'd settle down some, but she's still as active as ever. And as she gets bigger, those motions get somewhat more distracting. Knitting also has another benefit -- my belly doesn't get in the way. Funny how sometimes I just forget that it's there and bump it into things!

This little sweater now has two sleeves. Even on tiny needles, when I sit down to work on them, the baby sweater pieces just seem to fly. A whole sleeve in a few hours in an evening? Certainly a first for me, if you don't count any of my sweaters worked in bulky yarn. The Cashcotton is a nice yarn to knit with in the summer, as well. It stays fairly cool to the touch and doesn't get that slightly sticky feeling wool sometimes gets for me when I knit with it when my hands are warm -- and right now my hands (an the rest of my body) are almost always guaranteed to be warm.

Onto the back of this sweater!

Lollipop Sleeve

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The First Lollipop Sleeve

I decided to approach the next sweater for my upcoming arrival from the same perspective I would if I were making a sweater for myself: get the sleeves out of the way first, so as to avoid second sleeve syndrome later on. You see, I figured that even though the sleeves in question would be much smaller, the yarn and needles would also be scaled down. And the pattern had a small bobble.

Even though this little sleeve took me longer than almost he whole Tulips sweater seemed to, it was a pleasant little knit and once again helped me appreciate the allure of knitting for small people. Smaller person = smaller sleeve (the book is in the picture for perspective) = less time spent on the dreaded Sleeve Island. And while I haven't yet cast on for the second sleeve, I don't feel any particular boredom issues arising as a result of that thought, so I think there will be more sleevage for this little sweater soon.

So far I also like working with the RYC Cashcotton 4 Ply. It has that same somewhat dry but not unpleasant feeling of RYC Cashcotton DK and it creates a nice fabric without too much stitch distortion in places where decreases and bobbles were present. It does seem a bit fuzzier than the DK weight yarn, and it is shedding some little short fibers, but since it's been a while since I worked with the DK weight Cashcotton, my memory may be failing me here.

This will be the last post of the week. I'm off to Ann Arbor to spend father's day with my favorite Dad and a very special Dad-to-be. There will be some brewing of beer, a good deal of food from Zingermans, some planting of trees and probably a bit of mom and daughter shopping time. I'm only packing two knitting projects: Lollipop and my Sprung Sock. With luck, maybe I'll actually get that darned sock finished so that I can write up that pattern for everyone!

See you all on Monday. Happy Father's Day to everyone celebrating it this weekend!

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