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Baby Blue Vest

18 Aug

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My nephew will be born in the next couple of weeks. Even though babies can’t comprehend the time and effort that goes into hand-knit items, I hope all the affection I poured into these stitches will sink into his soft little body and help him know he is loved.

The pattern, Viggo, is for a little striped vest, but I love this so much more. The main yarn is Araucania Lontue, a thick/thin light fingering weight cotton/linen blend. It’s not as soft as most baby yarns due to the linen content, but it will get softer with wear and washing, and as a vest it will be worn over shirts or onesies. Check out more technical details on my Ravelry page.

I got this yarn on closeout when one of my local yarn shops decided to shut down, and I used about half of one skein for this vest. I will definitely use the remaining yarn to make another baby vest or sweater, because I think this is too cute.

It’s not often that I don’t want to let go of a knitted item, but I’m sorry to see this leave. I won’t be around to see my nephew while he’s a little babe (they live several states away) so I won’t even get to enjoy cuddling him while he wears this. But I guess that’s what you get when you live away from your family.

This also makes a great companion for the striped bonnet I knit this spring.

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Happiness and sadness

15 Apr

bonnet

I write for a living. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned that on this blog before, but I feel like it’s important to mention right now, because it partially explains my absence from posting recently. I’ve been sitting here in the snowy mountains, continuing to knit up a storm while winter sort of petered out prematurely around me.

I’m a public relations writer at a university, the same one where I graduated four years ago after receiving what I believe is the best journalism education in the country. I write a lot of different things, including articles, magazine features, simple newsletters for campus, etc. I love my work and I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to get paid to write, but lately it’s left me with little interest in writing in my spare time, even on this blog, which I also love.

But I knew I’d come back to it eventually, when I had something to say. Sadly, today I do have something to say.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for the past couple years, you’ll know that I knit a lot of baby stuff “just in case.” I finally have a real little person to knit for now, because my husband an I are welcoming a nephew into the world this summer. I’m extremely excited and I’ve been planning very special little knits for the new man in my life, even though he’ll live in Southern California, where knitters dare not tread.

Over the weekend I knit this Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap, a pattern I’ve been in love with for years. I used a dark blue cotton/acrylic and some self-striping sock yarn to make what I think is the cutest little bonnet ever. It’s incredibly soft and light, but feels cool and luxurious in your hand. I took this little bonnet to work with me today, partly because I wanted to take some photos in nice light at my office, and partly because I just hadn’t finished fawning over it yet.

As a former journalist and someone who still works with the media, I keep a news tab open on my computer pretty much all day. This afternoon one word took over my news and Twitter feeds: Boston. I’m a big fan of running, so I was paying attention to the marathon, but my world kind of stopped today when I realized the gravity and horror of the bombings that took place at America’s oldest, most prestigious race.

I have been saddened lately that every time I read the news or turn on the television someone is talking about another mass shooting, stabbing, bombing or other attack. But, I’m sorry to say, I’ve become desensitized to it over the years. I was 14 when 9/11 happened, even younger during Columbine. I’ve grown up in an America of mass violence on a horrifying scale, and although it is sad, it’s become the America I know.

But today something snapped. I’m always saddened by tragedies like this, even if I’m not shocked. But when I read the news about Boston, saw the photos, watched the videos and heard people crying in terror, I instinctively reached over to my desk and grabbed this little bonnet.

I suddenly became scared that my nephew and the my future children will be born into this America.

Many people have said today that the good people always outnumber the bad, and that’s true. But it doesn’t change the fact that I found myself crying at my desk today as I thought of the happiness of the runners, their families and the bystanders who were enjoying the Boston Marathon, and then the sadness and fear that overtook the event and always will mar our memory of this day and the race.

I now live in a country were you can’t safely go to a movie theater, watch a race on a street, go shopping in a mall or even attend school, not only as a teenager or adult, but as a small child.

I can pour all the love in the world into these tiny stitches and hope that my new nephew will feel it, but I am helpless to protect the people most important to me from the extreme violence that has overtaken us.

My brother-in-law, the little nephew’s father, is a sheriff’s deputy in a dangerous county in California. He goes to work every day to protect people and make his community a safer place. I vote for politicians I believe will work to help us stem violence in our country. I listen to my stepdaughter and try to help her work through her inevitable emotions of angst, isolation and disappointment. We keep no weapons in the home, so if talking doesn’t work, no options of mass violence are readily available to express those emotions.

I feel my family does all that it can to prevent these tragedies from happening, but nothing changes the fact that this morning that little bonnet made me happy, and tonight it makes me sad.

Lunchtime Update

3 Jan
The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

The Chevron Baby Blanket by Purl Soho.

I have completed the knitting on my Chevron Baby Blanket. I’m totally smitten with this afghan and I wish it were my size. It could make a great lap blanket, but I think I’d like to save it for a baby.

I say I’m finished with the knitting because I’d like to line the wrong side of the afghan with some cotton fabric. This will make it even warmer and will help keep the ends from unweaving as the blanket gets washed repeatedly.

I think this project is great for both beginners or advanced knitters. The stitch pattern was easy to memorize and the neat design is a great payoff for a new knitter, while the bulky-weight guage offers fast satisfaction to a seasoned knitter who’s burned out on a shawl or more complicated patterns.

This pattern called for seven skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton, which I have used on several occassions. However, this yarn is a bit pricey and the afghan would have cost more than $100 if I’d used it. I opted for Knit Picks Simply Cotton Worsted, which has been discontinued and was on clearance. In total, I paid $21 for the yarn (plus a little stash white cotton I had sitting around.)

The only adjustments I made to the pattern had to do with how much yarn I had. The pattern calls for 20 rows of each color (10 garter ridges), but I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn when I started, so I did 18 rows of each color. To make up for the lost length I added the white cotton stripe in the middle, and my afghan is just four rows longer than it would be if I’d followed the pattern.

I will definitely make this afghan again the future, though I’ll have to find some new yarn. I love the organic cotton feel, but Knit Picks Comfy Worsted (cotton/acrylic) or even the pricey Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton would be great choices.

I did estimate incorrectly on the amount of yarn I had, so I have leftovers of each color. I think I’ll make a matching bonnet!

Stripes

22 Dec

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I tried to post this photo another way, and it didn’t work. I’m continuing to make progress on my Chevron Baby Blanket, and every stripe I add makes it even prettier. After the white comes two greens and a dark gray. I can’t wait to finish this up. The final size will be about 2’x3′ and will weight nearly 2 lbs. I wish I could shrink down to baby size so I could cuddle under it.

Little Coffee Bean Cardigan

14 Apr

Grosgrain ribbon reinforces the back of the button band, keeping the fabric from puckering.

This week I continued my baby-knitting fever and made Elizabeth Smith’s Little Coffee Bean Cardigan. This sweater is meant to feature stripes, but I love the look of the simple brown cardigan with classic buttons.

The sweater is sized for a 6-month old, and is very soft and cushy, knit with about 300 yards of Berroco Comfort Worsted in Coffeeberry.

The buttons are plastic and machine washable, just like the sweater, but look like traditional leather buttons. The button band is reinforced on the back with 7/8″ grograin ribbon to keep the fabric from puckering due to pulling on the button shanks.

This was a fun, sweet project to work on all week. Every day I had another big chunk of it done (the joy of baby knitting!) and it’s so exciting to see a sweater bloom from a pattern that quickly.

The pattern is free and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future projects. You can easily experiment with stripes and colorwork on the blank-slate stockinette of the body and sleeves.

I purchased the yarn on clearance months ago at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula and the ribbon and buttons were less than $5 at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I think I’m officially over my baby craze (for awhile) and I’m back to working on my stripy socks – a project that was delayed by misplaced Addi Turbos.

The yarn is Berroco Comfort Sock in the Dunedin colorway. This yarn is only $8 per skein, and each skein is 447 yards. It's an amazing deal for soft, durable yarn.

I have some yarn coming in the mail this week for a gift. Yes, we’re entering that long birthday season in my family, so many of my big projects can’t be revealed on this blog until after they are gifted. I will try to keep up some little projects and write about knitting-related topics during this time, and I definitely won’t let the blog go dormant this year!

Right now, though, I’m headed outside because it is GORGEOUS and I have a vintage Schwinn cruiser with my name on it.

Itsy Bitsy Knitwear

3 Apr

Tiny Pants and baby socks are a low-commitment project. Side note: This reminds me of sushi!

After I finished socks this weekend I fully intended to wrap up my Easter shawl. However, I sometimes get sidetracked and just can’t focus on my current projects.

The solution for this problem is simple: Baby stuff!

Baby knitwear is quick and easy to knit and a great way to bust stash yarn. I started with a teeny pair of socks – which I finished in less than a day – so I cast on some Tiny Pants by Megan Goodacre.

The Tiny Pants are a little set of soakers (to cover a diaper) of newborn to 1-month old baby. The socks are also quite tiny, so they’ll make a great baby shower gift someday.

I’ll get back on track with my grown-up knitting soon, but I really had a lot of fun adding to my baby stash this week. Having baby knitwear on hand is a great insurance plan for last-minute baby shower invites or general babies-in-need.

The main yarn for the soakers is Knit Picks CotLin in the Loden colorway. Wool is highly absorbent and the fiber generally used for soakers, but this DK-weight yarn is a great vegan alternative because linen and cotton are also highly absorbent fibers. This yarn is a bit rough due to the linen content, though it does soften with washing. To protect sensitive baby bellies and legs, I used the extremely soft Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima DK-weight cotton in Olive for the bands.

The tiny socks are knit with some leftover Kraemer Saucon Sock in Coral.