Saturday, November 28, 2009

Long Overdue

No, not the baby. She's due in another 16 days. Rather, I'm referring to this blog post. Pregnancy exhaustion combined with a holiday week have combined in the past several days and made it impossible for me to get to the computer. I've had at least three posts planned for the past week, but none worked out. Because Rainbow could theoretically make her grand entrance at any moment, I don't want to chance spacing out the posts just in case, so you're getting a parade of finished baby knits all in one go.

First up, the sweater I've referred to on Ravelry as "Matchy Matchy":

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (aka February Sweater) by Elizabeth Zimmermann, in Knitter's Almanac
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway Go Go Grassy, less than one skein
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Turbos
Started/Completed: November 7/November 19
Mods: widened the neck (see details in this post), worked only three buttonholes, and slipped the first stitch of every row

This adorable little sweater was knit precisely to match my February Lady Sweater. I used the same colorway for the yarn (in fingering rather than worsted weight, of course) and similar buttons. I probably could have found a closer match had I had the time and inclination, but these seem close enough to me. I am usually not one to go for mothers and daughters wearing matching outfits, but I couldn't resist it in this instance. The sweater should only fit Rainbow for a limited period of time, anyway, and I think that by the time she outgrows it, I'll probably be over the matching look.

As with the Classy, the Smooshy comes in very generous skeins -- 450 yards. I had a significant amount leftover after finishing the sweater, so I made a matching pair of socks to go with it (the usual pattern, size 0 needles).

There's still yarn leftover, so perhaps it will show up in a future square for the ongoing baby blanket project.

As long as we're talking about using leftovers, here's a little hat I whipped up using Crystal Palace Merino five left over from two previous sweater projects.

This is the Berry Baby Hat again, this time masquerading as a tomato, using size 7 needles. This needs a good blocking still, but it was a quick, fun knit -- I think about two hours of knitting time total.

Hats are, in my opinion, going to come in handy quite a lot, considering Rainbow will be a winter baby. I loved the Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap from the last time I knit it but wanted to make the next one a little smaller. I dug into my stash for some luxurious yarn for this iteration -- Jojoland Quartette, an 80% merino/20% cashmere blend that I received from Blogless Dee in a Hurricane Knitters holiday swap a couple of years ago. I used a size 1/2.25 mm needle for the whole thing.

I had at least half of the skein leftover after finishing the hat, so of course I had to make some matching socks and thumbless mittens. These accessories are so, so soft -- they should be perfect for newborn baby skin!

And finally, the resolution to the Baby Ugg problem.

Pattern: "Suede" Booties by Candi Jensen, from Knitty Gritty
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Twig and Bark, held double, less than one skein each, plus a couple yards of some white novelty yarn
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) and US 1 (2.25 mm) Knit Picks circs
Started/Completed: November 8/November 16
Mods: went down several needle sizes to get a bootie that will actually fit a baby

These may not be quite as devastatingly cute in a non-suede yarn, but I'm much happier with the fact that they're the right size. They were a little bit of a pain -- literally -- to knit because they were knit at such a tight gauge, but the finished booties are nice and cozy. I used a small crochet hook to do one row of single crochet of the novelty yarn around the top to put on the finishing touch.

So, was that enough baby knitting for you? I'm not planning on starting any other big projects at this point (just some socks to fill in the time), so this is the last big baby knit post for a while. I'm hoping that soon there will be a finished baby post!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Last Skein

I'm well aware of the fact that my spinning time is very limited. I may be able to sneak in some knitting here and there after the baby is born, but I think it's going to be very difficult to get behind a wheel for some time (not least because the wheel will be going upstairs very shortly to be replaced in the bedroom by the bassinet). So, I wanted to get in one more skein of sock yarn before then, and I decided to make it count. I got out my last braid of All Spun Up superwash merino -- my favorite fiber to spin for sock yarn -- and got to work. I'd been saving this one because the color combination was a little outside my comfort zone, and I knew it'd be a real surprise to see how it would spin up.

Starting with 4.2 ounces, I did a traditional three ply and got a final skein that's somewhere in the range of 352 yards.

I'm really very happy with the results. Right off the bobbin, the skein looked mostly blue, but after its finishing bath, it skews much more green in person. I love the little specks of burnt orange and yellow that pop up from time to time.

One day, I'll knit this up, but for now, it's joining the other skeins of handspun. I think that small stash I have built up will be a real treat to break into when I have time to knit again.

I'm not putting the wheel away just yet -- I'm finishing up some spinalong fiber right now -- but this is the last "complicated" yarn for quite a while. I'd say I'm going out on a high note with this one!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

For a Little Pumpkin

There must've been something in the water or the air in Western Pennsylvania this past spring, because it seems like everyone is having babies, among them some good friends of ours, who are expecting a little girl about 3 1/2 weeks after Rainbow is due to arrive. Naturally, though I've been plenty busy knitting for my own kid, I had to whip up something in wool for this little one. After seeing this post on Lolly's blog, I knew exactly what I wanted to knit.

These projects were not only adorable and fast to knit, but they were good stash busters as well. The orange yarn was leftover from the felted pumpkin bag I made a few years ago, and the green is the same yarn I used for my Central Park Hoodie. Here are the details:

Pattern: Berry Baby Hat by Michele Sabatier (PDF link)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool in color 7824 (orange) and Cascade 220 Heathers in color 9461 (green)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Knit Picks Options, magic looped
Started/Completed: November 15/November 16

I followed this pattern pretty much as written. I think I joined the green for the leaves in when the hat measured about 4.5" from the cast on.

Pattern: Saartje's Bootees, smaller size, with saganaga's modifications found here
Yarn: Cascade 220 Wool in color 7824 (orange) and Cascade 220 Heathers in color 9461 (green)
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: November 17

Obviously for these I used only one color for the bootee part, and I finished the second one with only inches to spare. (I was even ready to cannibalize some yarn from my New Pathways learning socks.) I whipstitched the I-cord with the leaves to the back of the bootee and used a few running stitches in the leaves to secure them to the front. Easy peasy, and well worth the effort of having to weave in what seems like a lot of ends for something so small.

I'm so enamored of these projects that I just about cast on right away for a hat for Rainbow, in a "tomato" version, until I discovered that I'd lost my printout of the pattern. It must be with the sleeve for my size 2 Addis and the two pairs of black socks that disappeared from last night's laundry. Pregnancy brain strikes again!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Still Here

For those of you who may have thought that my silence on the old bloggity-blog may have meant that Rainbow made an early arrival, well ... sorry to disappoint. I'm still pregnant -- four weeks to go until my due date!

I've been remiss in updating because I've been very busy, and not just with knitting (though I'll get to that in a second). We got back last night from a long weekend in D.C., where my oldest friend -- my mother would instead want me to say "my friend of longest standing" to avoid making her sound old -- got married. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding, which meant that it was a very busy weekend for me. I did, however, get in some good knitting time during the drive down and back, and I'm close to having another completed sweater for Rainbow.

If this looks familiar, it's because it's meant to. This is another February Sweater, and I'm knitting it in Dream in Color Smooshy in Go Go Grassy -- the exact same colorway I used for my February Lady Sweater. Yes, I'm going to be that mother who dresses her daughter just like herself, at least while she's young enough not to put up a fight.

I also recently finished up a cute little hat for her. (Did you know that a partial skein of sock yarn stands in very well for a baby head?)

The pattern for this came from the same Sirdar booklet as the cabled shawl-collar cardie I knit in the middle of the summer. All that's missing from this "helmet" is a button to fasten the chin straps. The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill Supersock DK (the colorway is called Monet) that I received in a swap -- I think -- a couple of years ago. Full details are on Ravelry.

I am doing my best to get as many baby knits done as I can in the next few weeks, including some gift items. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Miniature and a Do-over

I've made Rainbow quite a few sweaters and pairs of socks, but lately I've been focusing on outwear for winter. I thought I'd start things off with a hat so that we can match (sort of) when it's time to go home from the hospital.

Pattern: Koolhaas (Ravelry link) by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Super Sport (100% superwash merino), colorway Winterberry, approximately half a skein
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) Knit Picks circs, magic loop
Started/Completed: November 2/November 5

I'd seen a couple baby-sized Koolhaas hats on Ravelry, so it seemed possible to size it down. I followed the pattern exactly for the woman's size but knit the whole thing with a size 1 needle. As far as I can tell, it worked out perfectly -- though I think it'll look a lot cuter on a baby's head than it does on a pair of my socks!

There was plenty of yarn left over (this was a skein I'd received in a swap several years ago that had been sitting in my stash ever since), so I thought some thumbless mittens would use it up. I ended up making three sizes, the idea being that Rainbow can grow into them in her first few months.

The "pattern" for these was totally off the top of my head -- twisted 1x1 rib for the cuff, stockinette for a certain number of rounds, and then decreasing every round as if for a sock toe and grafting the last few stitches together at the top. I still have some yarn leftover, so perhaps there will be a matching pair of booties in the future as well.

Now, as to the do-over. I know many of you thought that I should make a mate to the enormous Ugg bootie, but I'm not sure you realized just how big the thing was. I seriously don't think it would have fit Rainbow until she was well into elementary school, at which point I don't think she would want to wear baby booties. I also wasn't very happy with the floppiness of the fabric; it just wasn't what I had in mind. But I still liked the pattern, and I remembered that I had some yarn leftover from my Ivy League Vest in similar colors. I got it out, along with some much smaller needles, and I think you'll agree that the result is much better:

These booties will actually fit a baby! Much, much better.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Can You Spell FAIL?

Some time ago, I came across a pattern for baby booties that look like Uggs. I printed out the pattern and filed it away. About a month ago, I found some Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille at Natural Stitches in the perfect colors, and this past weekend, I decided to try to knit up a pair.

I started out using the specified needles for the small size but found that the resulting fabric was way too loose. So I went down a couple needle sizes. A few hours of knitting later, I had this:

Looks cute, right? Unfortunately, there's one small problem. It's not so small. Here, let me show you what it looks like with my cell phone for scale:

These are so not the size of baby booties. Needless to say, I'm not going to make the second bootie. Heck, I didn't even weave in any ends or do the ornamental stitching with the fuzzy novelty yarn.

Fortunately, the other baby knitting finished up in the last couple of days went much better:

Pattern: Baby Genius Burp Cloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Lily Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton) in colorways (from left to right) Strawberry, Playtime, Landscape, and Natural Ombre, one skein each
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: October 25/November 2

These are a little smaller than specified in the pattern (the ombre skeins of Sugar'n Cream have less yardage than the solid skeins), so they may be a little small to serve as burp cloths. If they don't work out in that function, I think they'll make some excellent washcloths.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Little Girl Green

You all know how much I love green, so it's probably not surprising that I had to knit my daughter a green sweater.

Pattern: Helena by Alison Green Will, summer 2008 Knitty, 6 month size
Yarn: Crystal Palace Merino 5 Solid (100% superwash merino), colorway Lichen, approximately 3.5 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: October 10/October 31
Mods: omitted one repeat of the lace patterning and substituted buttonholes for ties

I wasn't terribly excited by this pattern the first time I saw it, because I didn't care much for the ties. Then, though, I saw Jess' version, in which she omitted the ties in favor of buttons, and I knew I had to knit it for Rainbow.

I'd used this yarn for an earlier sweater I'd knit for the baby and really enjoyed it, and when I found it marked down for clearance at Natural Stitches, I couldn't resist. It's squishy and soft and has excellent stitch definition, and I just love the color.

As for the mods I made, doing one less repeat of the lace was both because the sweater was measuring where it should be without it and because I was worried about running short on yarn. Because I'd gotten the yarn on clearance, I knew it was very unlikely I'd find more. It turned out to be a good move, because I had enough to knit both sleeves (I finished the body first) but probably not enough for another lace repeat. I also worked three buttonholes into the button band, although only two of them are meant to be buttoned. The top is meant to stay open and be purely decorative.

My favorite part about this sweater? The picot hems. I grafted the hem at the bottom using the live stitches off the needle, but I bound off the sleeve hems and tacked them down afterwards. The latter method seemed to work a bit better in getting the edge to lie flat, but a good blocking helped immensely.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sort Of

There hasn't been much spinning talked about here in the past month because I spent nearly all of it working on one yarn. I started with this yummy braid, 4.2 oz. of 50% merino/25% silk/25% bamboo that I won as a prize in the Tour de Fleece. It came from Kristin, so I knew it would be good. It was even more delicious to spin up than I expected.

Because of the shininess of the bamboo and the strength of the silk, I knew I wanted this to be a two-ply laceweight yarn. I resigned myself to many, many hours of spinning in order to get the yarn I wanted, and in the end it took several evenings' worth of plying to finish it, even to the point of staying up past my bedtime this past Thursday to finish the last of it. Despite the sore back and the occasional boredom with spinning the same thing, I did get the yarn I wanted. Well, kind of.

The colors blended really nicely and my spinning and plying were fairly consistent. My only complaint? The yardage was not nearly as high as I was hoping -- only approximately 538 yards. I was hoping I'd get somewhat closer to (if not more than) what I got the last time I spun laceweight. I guess I didn't spin my singles nearly as thin as I thought. Still, though, it's a very pretty yarn, and I'm happy with everything else about it.

Up next on the wheel? Another three-ply sock yarn from some superwash merino, also from Kristin. This braid is a bit wild, so I'm excited to see how it turns out.

I spent most of yesterday at Natural Stitches with my wheel and managed to get the first bobbin done (incidentally, while the Mister and my father were painting the nursery!). I'm hoping to get this yarn done before the fiber for the next All Spun Up spinalong shows up in about a week. Perhaps that's a bit ambitious, but I'm running out of spinning time and am determined to get as much in while I can!