Kidlet Knit Part II (Or, the Gateway Sweater)

I’ve been lax in posting my recent projects. I blame the end of the term grading madness, the beginning of the term disorientation and the deeply satisfying and lazy holiday break in-between.

This project, which I made for a certain Little L, is made from my go-to-pattern. I’ve now made three of these sweaters, and it was also the first sweater I made that got me back and knee-deep into knitting. This is probably the easiest sweater to make for those looking to dip their toes into knitting garments. It’s a top-down construction, seamless and easily adjustable. Prior to making this, I was knitting scarves and all I knew were purl and knit. But the ease of the garment and the realization that sweaters need not be so intimidating hooked me in. If ever there was sweater that is the equivalent of a gateway drug, this would be it.

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And while comparing this sweet little sweater to banned substances might be a bit inappropriate, especially as I imagine adorable Little L, with her plump rosy cheeks sporting this sweater in the natural beauty of Vancouver Island, my husband V–in looking at our bank account, the neglected state of our home and my constant distracted state as I count my stitches–might find the comparison completely apt.

Now that I’ve taken up spinning, it’s opened up a whole new world of things to learn and obsess about.

Below is my first ever hand-dyed and hand-spun skein, which I used to knit Little L’s sweater. I’ve wanted learn how to dye fiber ever since I started spinning. In fact, that was one of the reasons we drove as quickly as we could to San Antonio last year. I needed to get there in time to take a percentage dyeing class for fabric (which was one of the most informative and amazing classes I’ve taken!). It was a nice bookend to our time in San Antonio that in the last couple of weeks we were there, we drove to Austin so that I could take a fiber dyeing class at Hill Country Weavers, an amazingly stocked yarn store.

This time, I got to just play with color and focus on how to prep my fiber so I don’t felt it. Luckily, I also had some blue-faced leicester top which doesn’t felt as readily. And so I just used whatever color combinations were provided. What I ended up with is the color of a Disney Princess, a connection I didn’t make until we went to Disneyland on our road trip back to Portland.

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Dyeing my own fiber has made me also realize the importance of color placement in a way that I didn’t quite appreciate. As you can see the dyed colors of the top are more distinct, and after I spun the top, the colors became slightly less vibrant. The fact that the yellow was next to the gray/blue resulted in a slightly green tint to the yarn. I am going to be more mindful next time about how I spin as well as what color combinations I will juxtapose against each other.

In any case, I can’t wait to try my hand at more fiber dyeing. Next up for me is working with natural dyes!

 

 

The family that paints together…

Recently, our apartment complex organized one of those drinking and painting parties that have become so popular.

V thought it would be fun to do it and signed us up. However, being totally clueless about what it entailed, we only signed up for one easel between the three of us. It worked out in the end as we realized it was best if we divided up the fun.

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Little A was the designated painter.

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Dad did the drinking.

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Mom volunteered to do the eating. Little A is not sure about this division of labor.

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The result of our collective effort.

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Little A and her fellow Pinot’s Palette painters.

 

Homemade glue

Maybe it’s because of attachment parenting. Maybe it’s because she’s five. Maybe it’s because she’s an only child. Maybe it’s because that’s just who she is. Whatever the reasons, rarely a minute goes by without Little A calling, “Mamamamamama” and needing some attention.

Yesterday she was sick at home, and for a brief spell, she was in the living room, entertaining herself by drawing little rabbits on newspaper and cutting them out. I was in the bedroom, absorbed in the delicate unraveling of a cowl knitted with SweetGeorgia’s Silk Mist.  “Mama,” she called out from the other room. “We’re out of glue.” The “little” error I was trying to fix was threatening to become a catastrophe, my fingers untrained for the surgical precision and skill needed to untangle cobwebs. I tried to brush her off.  “We’ll get some next time we go out.”

I had knitted many rows of this Welted Cowl, but somehow I miscounted the rows, alternating four rows of reverse stockinette instead of five. Even though this is a gift and I won’t have to see the mistake, the perfectionist in me would wince every time I thought of it.

The next thing I knew, Little A was in the doorway. “Mama, I just found a video that teaches us how to make glue.” I followed her out of the bedroom, and lo and behold, she had gone to the computer and Googled “how to make glue.”

Parenting can be mind-numbingly boring, but it can also lead you out of the habituated boredom of your own thoughts. As someone who tries to live simply and to make instead of buy, it never dawned on me to make my own glue. But this little girl of mine, who is always tugging and pulling on me, understood better than me, the sychronized rhythms of our beating hearts.

When I was little, there was always a cooked pot of rice ready to be served. Whenever she needed to glue paper, my mother would scoop out a little bit of rice, mash it between her thumb and middle finger, then spread it on the spots she wanted to bond.  I had forgotten about that until now.

I put my tangled project down, and we went to the kitchen to cook up some glue.

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Missing from the recipe: Cook on stove for two minutes while stirring.

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Homemade glue. A grain of rice. Smiling rabbits holding hands.

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Running: From different angles

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This weekend was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, with the children’s races on Saturday and the adults’ on Sunday. V had signed Little A up for it a while back and as the date approached, she alternated between excitement and fear. Little A had been at home sick with asthma and allergies for three days, and we weren’t sure if she was going to be up for the challenge of running 1/2 mile.

V ran with her, just to make sure she would be OK. It was wonderful that parents were able to join in on the fun too. And the moment the race began, she took off like a shot.

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I’ve never seen her so determined, and she completed the whole course without stopping. Her favorite part of the race, besides getting a medal for participation? Beating Dad.

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Here they are crossing the finish line. Where did she learn about the lean in?

Early the next day, we could hear the preparations outside. We live right on the marathon route and Little A decided that she was going to go down early and get a good seat.

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Little A made sure to wear her sparkles and, of course, her medal, and she also brought down her art supplies. The first thing she wanted to do when she woke up that morning was to draw the event. We’ve been talking a lot about how drawing is not just about being able to control the pencil but also about learning to see. I think that really resonated with her as she is such a curious and observant little person, and drawing has become a way for her to take it all in.

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Sitting in our chairs, with me sipping my morning coffee, we watched over 26,000 people bike, run and walk by. (The man in blue is V’s friend.) It was inspiring to see so many people run, and it looks like Little A and V have caught the running bug. V is now going to run a 1/2 marathon in March and Little A also wants to run too.  As for me, yarn crawls are more my speed.

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Here’s her picture. It is actually a time line of the event–the police officers setting up the barricades and the orange cones, the cyclists who set off first and the runners who came after. The lady with the dog is the neighbor below us that we finally met.

Narcissistic Unicorn

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I’ve dated some narcissistic unicorns in my time–men who were legends in their own minds. But this “Narcissistic Unicorn” from Nest Fiber Studio is prettier and way more satisfying.  Nest fibers and colors really live up to the hype. I’ve never seen a more devoted group of spinners on Ravelry, and now I can see why. This is probably one of the most amazing top I’ve ever spun, the kind that makes you seem like a better spinner than you really are.  The superwash merino slipped through my fingers, feathery light and silky smooth.  The photo above does not capture just how crisp and vibrant the colors are.

This 4oz worsted spun 2-ply will probably become leg warmers for Little A. She was so excited about this yarn because it had the word “unicorn” in it. Someday soon I’m going to have to break it to her that unicorns are not all that.

Toque Cute

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This was an incredibly fast knit (for me). Inspired by SouleMama’s recent post “27 hours to a hat,” I wanted to see how quickly I could knit a hat up too. I was definitely in the mood for instant gratification. This is probably closer to a 35 hour hat, and it did involve staying up past 2 am both nights, but it was totally worth it. Is it possible to be wired from too much knitting? Even after staying up late, I had to read Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic novel MaddAddam to ease me into asleep.

The details:

Yarn: Handspun worsted 2-ply sport/DK weight Finn from Hello Yarn in “Winter Storage.” Fractally spun. Details about how I spun this yarn linked here.

Pattern: Brier Toque by Cecily Glowik MacDonald from the book, Weekend Hats: 25 Knitted Caps, Berets, Cloches and More, edited by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre.

Gauge: 22 stitches per four inch swatch.

Modifications: Since my gauge was different from the pattern (the knit would have been too stiff otherwise in my opinion), I cast on 110 stitches using US 2 needles for the ribbed brim then switched to US 5 for the rest of the hat. Knitted 8 inches and then proceeded to decrease.  During the decrease sections, I alternated between decrease row and one knit row, but towards the final four rows, I decreased every rows.

As you can see in the fractally-spun yarn, the larger bands of colors (most notable in the pink and green sections) are from the large length-wise section I spun across the top. And the smaller stripes are from the four smaller length-wise sections.

While I wasn’t entirely sure what I thought about spinning Finn because of the slight compression that made it sometimes a bit difficult to draft, I can say without a doubt that I loved working with it. This Finn is silky and soft  enough to be worn next to the skin. I still have quite a bit of yarn left and I will be making some fingerless mitts to go with this toque.

These photos were taken at Old Oaks Ranch and Fiber Center, one of our stops on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl. Little A was a good sport to pose in the 85+ degree weather with a toque but, of course, had to inject a bit of attitude at the end.

Late night

I love staying up and knitting when everyone is asleep. Everything is quiet and peaceful, and I can immerse myself in what I’m doing. I make a cup of tea or have a glass of wine, and I knit until I get my fill.

Last night was extra special: I got to hear my daughter giggle in her sleep, her joy my soundtrack as I finished knitting her handspun hat.