Sunday, June 12, 2016

The delicate art

How does the most common piece of unsolicited parenting advice go? "Knit while the baby sleeps." (Wait, that's not the advice you remember?)

Easier said than done. When the baby is sleeping I'm usually trying to eat or shower or sleep or do mundane household tasks. Or we're on the way from point A to point B - he often sleeps in the pram. Needless to say I haven't done a huge amount of knitting in baby Bean's* first month of life.

*Not his real name.

I hear some people manage to knit while nursing. I'm not sure I'm coordinated enough, but next time I'm using circular needles, I'll give it a try. At the moment my only active project is Elijah on DPNs, and I'm nervous about dropping a DPN point-first into an ear or something. (See aforementioned uncoordinated nature.) I'm onto the second arm, though, so the end is in sight. A small circumference means that even if I only do a few stitches at a time I make noticeable progress.

So that's where I'm at with my knitting. I do browse Ravelry a huge amount during 3 am feeds (and 4, 5, and 6 am etc), queuing and favouriting things I won't have time to make for the next 10 years, but hey!

Monday, May 23, 2016

FO: Torrent Socks

I did manage to finish something for myself during all the baby knits. Just in time for warm(ish) weather I have a new pair of woolly socks.

Pattern: Torrent socks by Tin Can Knits

Yarn: Yarn Yard Cairn

Notes: I started this with the medium size, realized it was way too big, decreased to the small size and kept going. I really enjoyed knitting these, partly because the back half of the socks is stockinette stitch - really interesting lace on the front, a nice break on the back, never boring. I may seek out patterns like this in the future.

They fit well, but the yarn is not that hard-wearing. After a few washes, it's gone a bit fuzzy. Even with nylon content I don't think it is great for socks. Oh well. It's soft and pretty and if I use it again I'll make a shawl or something instead.

It's taken me three days to write this post because this is my new reality:

Our baby boy was born 8 May, so he's already two weeks old and we're still not sure what hit us!

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Elijah

Just dropping by to show progress on a new WIP. This one has been waiting for an excuse for years - I even bought a matching project bag a few years back.

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Pattern: Elijah by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Katia Cotton 100%

I've made a few things that could be considered 'toys' but never anything for a small person, so I haven't worried much about how they'd hold up with washing. That was definitely a concern for me here - I was less worried about the yarn than I was about how the stuffing would behave in the wash. I don't normally swatch for things that don't need to be a certain size/fit, so I was reluctant to do it for this. But after much avoidance I made a swatch in the form of a small stuffed knitted sausage with the yarn and stuffing I planned on using. Washed it, it held up fine, and off I went! Phew. Swatching vindicated.

Elijah is knitting up quickly so far. I hope I finish it at least by the time the baby shows interest in grabbing things, if not before the birth... we'll see.

Friday, April 29, 2016

More FOs!

Two baby-related FOs to show today - one sewing and one knitting.

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This one is an exercise in upcycling. I try hard not to hang onto things I don't need anymore, preferring to give them to a charity shop or recycle them if I can. Sometimes things are past their best, though - my husband had some old hoodies from university that he decided to get rid of in our attempts to purge the junk room aka baby's room. They weren't suitable for the charity shop since they were a bit faded and awful-looking, but the fabric was still in good condition otherwise. So, I made a floor mat. It's a bit of a weird shape, but I think it will be useful to toss on the floor and put the baby on. It's soft and fuzzy, since I sewed it together with the fuzzy sides out. It is also reasonably thick because there are two layers of hoodie.

I didn't use a pattern - just sewed the hoodie bits together and turned inside out. Then, I cut out shapes and sewed them on through both layers of hoodie. This was the first time I tried to appliqué anything. The shapes are meant to cover the backs of embroidered patches that were on the hoodies, plus a few extra to make it look more balanced. I think it turned out okay - it's no thing of beauty, but then I made it to get peed/puked on, so I'm okay with that!

Next up, a baby knitting classic.

Newborn Vertebrae by Kelly Brooker is a free pattern with one size. (Other sizes are available in paid-for versions of the pattern).

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I'm not sure if an open-fronted cardigan will be useful for this baby, but it might be - I'm told it is great for babies who spit up a lot. We'll see what sort of baby we end up with. It uses a minuscule amount of yarn, so I used some cotton from my stash that just keeps on giving. I've had some Sandes Garn Mandarin Petit in my stash for a long time: first I made Decimal with it, then with leftovers I made a Little Sisters Dress, and I still had enough left over to make this cardigan. Now I truly have a tiny amount left - just enough to make one or two accent stripes in something, probably. Between all these different projects, I forgot that I had two different dyelots of the yarn - for Decimal I alternated skeins every few rows, according to my ravelry notes. I didn't remember this fact until I added a second ball of yarn while knitting Vertebrae... and discovered that in a different light there is a slight stripe visible. I almost wish it was more pronounced, since it would look like intentional colour-blocking! Whatever.

Won't be long now until I get to meet this baby, so I have another baby thing on the needles that might not get finished in time. Then again, I might still have a few more weeks to go, so maybe I will! More on that in another post.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A little sewing

Has it been a month since I finished anything? Apparently. I finished a few things all at once in the last few days, but at the moment I only have pictures of one - and for a change it's a sewing FO.

The Divided Basket, by Anna Graham aka Noodlehead

I've been meaning to make this for ages, and I actually cut out all the fabric a few months ago but stalled because I didn't have the fusible fleece and fusible interfacing required. Then, when I finally went out to buy it my local fabric shop was out, so I stalled again. But! Finally I got all the bits together and it was pretty quick work once I got started.

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I didn't do the optional outside pocket, and I did the fabric handles rather than the covered handles.

Even for a novice like me this was pretty easy, but I had a few difficulties. First, attaching the divider to the lining was super fiddly and I felt like my hands/fingers were way too big to maneuver it all. It worked out in the end, if a bit wonky. Then, the instructions say to fuse interfacing to the fabric first, then fuse the fleece to the interfacing for the exterior of the basket. Fine, except my fusible fleece simply would not fuse to the interfacing. I had to get creative with some extra sewing and it shows through to the outside in some areas. (If you squint you can see it in the seam in the photo below). Next time, I think I'll pick a stiffer fabric to begin with and just skip either the interfacing or the fleece. (I used quilting cotton for this one.) I can see myself making more, since storage is something I desperately need.

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When I found this pattern I thought it would be great to store my knitted shawls/hats/gloves etc by the door, since at the moment I just dump them on a tiny table and they fall off onto the floor and it's a mess. Alas, I think this basket is too small for that task - I underestimated how many shawls I have, haha. There are lots of ways I could use it in my house, though. Maybe diapers, as featured in the pattern photos. Or other baby sundries. Or yarn/knitting - I can always use more places to put that stuff.

Anyway, I'm pleased with this. It's a bit wibbly, but it'll do.

Friday, March 25, 2016

FO Friday! Baby things

Wow, how long has it been since I did FO Friday? A long time.

Anyway, I finally sewed buttons on some tiny cardigans and so I can share them with the world.

Here's Little Coffee Bean by Elizabeth Smith.

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I used Debbie Bliss Cotton DK, which is really more of a worsted weight yarn. This meant using a looser gauge than intended, because the combination of cotton yarn and tight gauge would have made armour rather than a cardigan. As a result, this sweater is large - technically 6 month size, but I'm pretty sure it's way bigger. That's cool. Hopefully it will fit the small one in an appropriate season.

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These are the cute owl buttons I bought at EYF, in action.

I ran out of brown yarn, so had to make the button bands narrower than called for, but I think it looks okay.

Next up: Puerperium by Kelly Brooker

I used Rico Design Essentials Cotton DK, which is quite a shiny cotton. I have been building a small stash of this since it comes in lots of great colours.

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The free version of this pattern is just sized for a newborn, so that's what I made. I added some colourwork for interest, adapted from a colourwork pattern found in Geometric Knitting Patterns by Tina Barrett. Knitting colourwork flat is not my favourite thing ever, but for such a small knit it wasn't so bad.

Yay for tiny knits! I currently have no baby knits on the needles and am trying to make some headway on some knitting for myself, but I hear the call of tiny quick knits, so I'm sure I'll have something else on the go soon.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

EYF round-up

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival happened and I bought many things. Let's see how I did.

Plan: buy buttons for two baby cardigans.
Result: two sets of cute buttons from Textile Garden
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I've sewn on the owl buttons and I'm working on the purple ones today. I find sewing buttons so tedious, but the result is worth it. Look for an FO post for these two cardigans soon!

Plan: buy yarn for Liesl.
Result: three skeins of Triskelion Elmet Aran (this particular yarn isn't on Ravelry yet, link is to other yarns from this company)

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Triskelion Yarns blew me away and were my favourite discovery of this year. Beautiful rainbow colours in really interesting, gorgeous yarn blends. The one I bought is BFL/Masham. I don't know anything about Masham sheep, but the yarn is fabulous - a bit rustic, but also smooth. Looks to be hard-wearing. The colour is a beautiful forest green that matches some buttons I already have - yay for button stash-down! Can't wait to knit with it and I'd love to try some of their other bases.

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Badly lit picture of the fantastic Triskelion stall.

Plan: Wollmeise
Result: So much Wollmeise
I thought I'd go for Lace-garn and DK, but in the end I went for Lace-garn and Pure.

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The lace yarn I bought is the purplest I've ever seen. (Do not be fooled if the photo makes it look blue). Colourway: Der letzte versuch. This will be some kind of cardigan, pattern to be determined. It feels heavy for laceweight - more of a light 4-ply.

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Wollmeise Pure in the Sabrina colourway. This is actually teal, not grey/blue/green. TEAL. SO MUCH TEAL. Two skeins should be enough for a sweater, and I'm thinking of making Low Tide by Tin Can Knits. (I bought the book containing this pattern at EYF last year, so things come full circle.) I got these skeins wound by my good friends volunteering at the yarn-winding station - £1 per skein, proceeds went to the Teapot Trust, a charity providing art therapy to chronically ill children. Everybody wins!

Browsing the Wollmeise stall was certainly an experience.

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So much colour! Gaaah! I stopped there first just because of the location, and I almost didn't leave... I'm excited to knit with the yarn I bought since it's beautiful and feels so different from other merino yarns I've tried. It's very sturdy and tightly-spun. We'll see how it knits up.

Plan: buy a gradient set.
Result: a cake of merino/silk laceweight from Bilum

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This is Pukpuk by Bilum, a Hungarian yarn company I'd never heard of. They had lots of gorgeous gradients, as well as solids available. I'm not sure what this will become, but I've had a running list of gradient-suitable shawl patterns, so will look to that first. I don't often knit with laceweight, but I have enjoyed doing so in the past.

Verdict: it's a miracle! I pretty much stuck to my plans, even if I did go over my suggested budget by a little. I didn't come home with any single skeins of sock yarn this time, though there was much loveliness to be seen and prodded around the marketplace. Guess I'm satisfied with the loveliness in my house at the moment. Though I'd better get knitting if I want there to be space for more EYF yarn next year...