Tuesday, November 28, 2006

What's in a name?

Okay, I've posted about this jumper a million times and I keep recycling the same old photo. I apologize for that. Now, I need help coming up with a name for its pattern. I've been calling it the "fishy jumper," but I don't think that's a great title. The Husband came up with: "Something's Fishy" and "Nuclear fission." I don't think those will work. Any ideas?

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's like having deja vu all over again.

Do you ever find yourself making the same mistakes over and over again? I don't know if I'm a slow learner, lazy, suffering from mommy brain, or all of the above. In any case, lately I have most definitely not been learning from my mistakes.

Case in Point #1: The Too Big Sweater

A big part of the reason that I bought Tricotez Calin was for the cover sweater. In particular, I love the large garter section on the sleeves. It just has that simple, cute, je ne sais quoi, thing going for it.

Actually, this sweater almost wasn't made at all because when I looked at the directions, I only saw the top part, la brassiere, which is sized up to 6 months. Then, after complimenting Aimee on hers and bemoaning the sizes being too small, she politely informed me that the second option (visible right under la brassiere), le pull, was sized 12/18 months (aka the perfect Winter size for Baby Girl).

This habit of not looking carefully enough at the directions would come back to haunt me later when I realized (way too late) that proportionally speaking, the garter section on the 12/18 month size is much smaller than on the other sizes.

Oh, and also, I ignored gauge.

So, the mistakes in this sweater were: not looking at the pattern closely enough, ignoring gauge, and not looking at the pattern closely enough.

Case in Point #2: The Baby Toys

I don't put away the baby toys at night. Or at least, I don't put them all away all of the time. It's usually more like I put some of them away sometimes.

This one, though, is the one I know I have to watch out for. That's because this puzzle has a light-detecting sensor. Every time your little one gets the right animal in the right place, you get to hear said animal's noise. Or, if you don't put all the pieces away, leaving the board uncovered, once you turn out the lights at night, you will hear a cacophony of farm animals. Worse, if you did that and then forgot, went to bed, and woke up thirsty in the middle of the night, you will turn the lights on and think you were in the middle of a barn instead of the living room.

Case in Point #3: The Sweater with the Million Stitch Cast On

Right after I finished the Too Big Sweater, I cast on for a sweater for myself. I'd been going back and forth for a long time about which sweater I wanted to knit from Rowan Denim People. I love Bestitched's Saffy, but I also love Jen's Bomber. I was conflicted for a long time.

So, since they have the same gauge, I went ahead and swatched a while back and determined my needle size for the pattern (US 5). Since I was a little disappointed with the Too Big Sweater and I had already determined that I was on gauge, I went ahead and starting casting on for Saffy w/out looking at the pattern. I cast on about 75 sts on my US 5 straight needles, then looked at the pattern. It said to "Cast on 337 sts". I had my doubts about fitting that many stitches onto straight needles, but I kept right on casting and smashing those stitches together until I had the right number. Then, I looked at the pattern again. "Cast on 337 sts using US 3 needles." Woops.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson about not reading the pattern from the Too Big Sweater. I mean, there wasn't even anything on my needles between this two. Oh well. I decided to leave it as is.

Oh, and making a late entry... Case in Point #4: Trusting blogger.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Why do batteries play such an important role in my life?

Believe it or not, despite the lack of posting, there has not been a lack of activity on this side of the computer. There has been, however, a lack of batteries. The digital camera has been out of commission for over a week (it died shortly after uploading the Baby Girl: Year One photos). Of course, as soon as it died, I had a million things that I wanted to take pictures of.

The first option I entertained was taking out the batteries of something else. The obvious targets were Baby Girl's toys. This was a failed effort. First because, like the Peek-a-Blocks: Sort & Roll School Bus, many of her toys run on D batteries. Second, the rest, like the Discovery Steering Wheel apparently are currently running on these "green" AA batteries that aren't compatible with my camera.

Then, I ordered a ton of cheapo batteries from Amazon. Got them in the mail and they're not compatible w/ my camera either!

So, today I finally decided to walk to the nearest Best Buy and buy some. Great decision, right? Battery shopping with Baby Girl on Black Friday. We nearly got run over in the parking lot about five times and then it took forever to get anywhere in the store w/ the stroller (most of the time I find that walking with a stroller gives you a certain amount of respect from other people... they are more likely to slow down when you're crossing the road... they move to the side when you're in a cramped aisle... apparently, though, all that civility goes out the door when you're competing with door-buster prices). BUT, we got it done... and now I have pictures again!

Before I get back in to my regular posting, though, I have to thank my Secret Pal for an incredibly lovely package. I love all of it. The Austermann yarn I fell in love with as soon as I saw it. Of course, I love everything else too. I've been wanting the Knitter's Almanac for a while, so that I can knit the Baby's Sweater for Baby Girl (is it a bad idea to knit a baby sweater in white?). The Toblerone was eaten almost immediately (and then the empty boxes sat on the counter for a few days because I had to get a picture... the Husband kept asking, "is there a reason these are still on the counter?") The keychain is so cute! And look at the card! She either made it or adapted it to include the sheep - either way, she's clearly very clever. Thank you so much Secret Pal!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Baby Girl: Year One

One of the first things that I made for you after you were born was Anouk. I knew that I had to get something done for you in time for the December holidays because that was when we were taking you to meet most of your relatives for the first time (even a baby has to make a good first impression). Of course, all involved were excited to see that not only were you an adorable 2-month old, but that you also had an incredible sense of style. Thanks to the versatility of Anouk, you will be wearing it this Winter season as well (although, we'll have to come up with something else for visiting the relatives).

Next, I had to come up with something that you could wear to add some warmth, but not too much. You made a little bit of a late delivery and were always a little on the small side. So, we ended up having a ton of short-sleeves tops that fit you perfectly... in the middle of winter. It was clear that what you needed was a Baby Bolero. When I first saw this pattern in Debbie Bliss' Special Knits I thought it was kind of silly for a baby, but you probably ended up wearing it more than anything else that I've made you so far.

Another dress from Debbie Bliss... this one with a note on the bottom... you know just to make it clear to any doubters that Mommy loves Baby Girl.

Two sweet tops because you wouldn't stop pulling on the ribbon on the first one.

Finally, the Fishy Jumper. Okay, it's a little silly, but you look so cute in it. It's so funny to think about how much time I spent figuring out just how I wanted those bubbles... especially since I made it for a girl who seems to love nothing more than pulling her dress up.

There have been a few more odds and ends (hats and soakers and such) along the way, but these are the things I'll remember you in the most. I can't wait to get some things done for your second year of life!


Friday, November 10, 2006

A Year in Handknits

Dear Baby Girl,

I can't believe how quickly the first year of your life went by. Is it really possible that you are already a year old? I know your birthday was last month, but as I am slow about sorting through all your clothes, it did not occur to me until recently that I need to keep at least a partial record of what I made for you.

It was when I was pregnant with you that I rediscovered knitting. So, in the years to come when you wonder why there's yarn and needles all over the house, I'll remind you that you're the reason. I knew how to knit before you were on the way, but I wasn't a "knitter."

It all started because I wanted to use cloth diapers. After much research, I decided that I should knit some wool soakers for you. I bought some wool yarn from eBay and a pattern from Little Turtle Knits. I started with the Ribby Wrap. I think I must have knit about half a dozen of those. Unfortunately, I don't have them all anymore, so you'll just have to trust me. All I have left is this one. Having finished those with relative ease, I set out to make your more soakers, but in a different style. Next up were the Picky Pants (also from LTK). I made you three pairs of these (two shown). This left me feeling fairly confident, so I decided to try something a little more challenging. Next up was the Flirty Skirt from LTK. It may not look so complicated in the photo, but under that skirt is a built-in soaker. Plus, I had to kitchner for the first time.

At this point, I realized that I had about a ton of wool soakers. Plus, I wasn't really confident that I would actually be able to pull off the whole cloth diapering thing. So, I decided sweaters would be the next logical thing to knit. The Easy Peasy Cardigan was the obvious choice since I was a little hooked on the Little Turtle Knits. All three that I made for you are pictured here. I also made a couple pairs of Oh'Alls, but they are currently missing.

So, all of these items were completed well before you were born. It turned out that I didn't actually use the wool soakers. I did cloth diaper you, but Proraps plastic covers were much more convenient. The pants and skirt got a fair amount of use (particularly the pants). The cardigans were definitely used the most.

Okay, I'm not going to finish this before naptime is over, so very quickly, the following are the last things that I made before you were born. After I finished up the cardigans, I decided it was time to branch away from LTK. I went to a local bookstore and found a Debbie Bliss Book. I ended up ordering a few of her baby books online that night. The sweater, shoes, and dress were done in my last month of pregnancy when I was on bedrest. You never wore the sweater because I was too scared of you when you were a newborn.

Knits actually made during your first year of life next time.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This past weekend was spent largely on the road for our little family. We got news on Sat. that one of my husband's aunts passed away. So, we packed up ourselves and Baby Girl early Sunday morning to head to our hometown. His aunt is the second relative to pass away this season. She was taken away by cancer, so her death did not come as a total surprise. The part that's the hardest... that we knew that she was sick. She was sick for years, but we rarely visited or called or even emailed. The same is true for the other family member who died recently (my great aunt). She was in the nursing home in poor condition for years. I didn't call. I didn't write. I pray that I can take this as a wake-up call. Don't forget family. Don't wait until it's too late. It takes so little effort to make a phone call... to write a letter, but it can mean so much.

Unfortunately, I have no knitting news to report. I wanted to knit in the car and even packed up something to work on, but I didn't even pick it up.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fall = the season of Phildar

This season looks like it's going to be full of a lot of Phildar knitting for me. First up, I just finished a baby sweater for my sister-in-law's new nephew. He was due to arrive around the time of Thanksgiving, but he decided to show up early... six weeks early! She had asked me to knit a sweater and hat for him a while back, but I kept thinking that I had until Thanksgiving to get anything done. Surprise! I didn't even have a pattern picked out when he made his arrival. Fortunately, though, I did have my newest knitting magazine, Tricotez Calin. This is my first time knitting from a French knitting pattern, so I think it was probably smart to start with something small. I'm not entirely convinced that I even followed the pattern exactly. I think it must say somewhere in there something about slipping the first stitch on the button side of each front. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because I'm happy with the finished product.

Pattern: No 4 La Veste from Tricotez Calin (Phildar Automne-Hiver 2006/07)

Yarn: Knitpicks Swish Superwash 4 balls of Dark Navy and 1 ball of Dublin for the smallest, 3 month size.

Adjustments: Well, the pattern calls for 7mm needles and has you hold the yarn double throughout. Okay, so I used US10.5 needles, but I really think there's a typo in the gauge they give you. I mean, is it possible to be using such huge needles and have a gauge of 23 sts x 17 rows = 10 cm square?! I really don't think so. I'm thinking they meant 13 sts x 17 rows. So, I pretty much ignored the gauge. Also, I completely left off the fake pockets.

Besides that, I also made two other major adjustments. First, the pattern has you knit the collar separately, then sew it on. I didn't do that. I picked up stitches, which I think worked fine, but when you look at the photo of their sweater compared to mine, the collar is definitely different. I'm not sure if my mistake was in the picking up stitches or not. Second, I added a crochet border to the whole thing and added a monogram. I felt a little weird added the crochet border since I've been reading EZ's thoughts on such things, but in this case it definitely needed it, plus I didn't have enough yarn to do a hat in navy.

So, I guess overall my first Phildar knit was not a total success, but definitely not a failure either. I'm extremely pleased with the finished product and that's most important. Next up, the cover sweater from Tricotez Calin for Baby Girl. Then, hopefully, I'll have enough Phildar practice under my belt to do this.