Archive for the 'children' Category


Not quite what I hoped for

p6251658sweater.jpgHere are the results of my second attempt to lengthen Sylvia’s sweater.

The first time, I followed the advice of a friend with loads more knitting experience than I have. They suggested I pick up all the stitches around the bottom, then do a K2P2 ribbing while decreasing on every tenth stitch on the first round and no further decreases the rest of the way. I could tell after six or seven rounds that the ribbing was going to be a lot “gappier” than I’d like. (I suspect this is because I’m using size 6 needles for yarn that usually takes a size 3.)

I showed it to my friend, who agreed that the ribbing wasn’t working and suggested I try again, using the same ten-percent decrease on the first round and just going with straight stockinette the whole way. I like how the stockinette looks, but I’m not keen on how the sweater pulls in at the bottom.

So I’m going to rip it again and try picking up all the stitches, doing no decreases, and knitting stockinette. (Fortunately, this is a little sweater, so reknitting this part won’t be a big deal. And the yarn—Baby Cashermino—is just lovely to work.)

Third time’s the charm, right? Stay tuned…


Knitting updates

p6131272socks.jpgAfter cranking through one pair of toddler socks, I felt like I was on a roll. So I decided to knit another pair—this set for the soon-to-be one-year-old son of a friend. I used Wildfoote (in Master Grey), which was just lovely to work with. I knit the legs extra long, because socks almost never stay on babies’ feet once they are mobile (I used to find Sylvia’s little socks scattered throughout the house). Also, an extra-long leg can help prevent the “gap-itis” (particularly unpleasant in the winter, when it’s cold) that occurs when pant legs get scrunched up. These took just eight days to knit. I think I have toddler socks out of my system for now, though. My next sock project will be something for a grownup.

p6131271sweater.jpgFirst, though I’m going to work on this sweater. I knit this a few years ago out of Baby Cashmerino left over from Sylvia’s baby blanket. I followed the Simple Boatneck pattern in Baby Knits for Beginners by Debbie Bliss.

Sylvia loves this sweater. She can put it on and take it off all by herself, and it has purple in it. Originally, the arms were way too long, but now they’re just right…and the body of the sweater is way too short. So I’m going to add some length to it by picking up stitches and knitting downward. It doesn’t have to look perfect (have you seen the seaming job I did on this thing?). Luckily, my friend Beth just happened to have two balls of Baby Cashmerino in a color that looks very much like one I used in the sweater!


Toddler socks

p6041112sylviasocks.jpgI received a lot of wonderful comments to my post about which sock yarn to knit up first. (Thanks, everyone!) The suggestions were great, and I agreed with them all—even when they didn’t agree with each other!

I decided to start with the Trampoline yarn. This was given to me as a gift, and it definitely falls into the “these are so not my colors” category. But Sylvia really liked the yarn, so I set out to knit a pair of socks for her.

I followed the Ann Norling pattern for baby and kids socks. This pattern is written for three different gauges and is clear enough that even a sock n00b like me had no trouble following it (until I got to the Kitchener stitch instructions at the end, which made no sense to me, so I looked them up elsewhere).

These socks knit up pretty quickly, and I really enjoyed working on them! The best part? Sylvia is excited to wear them—as soon as her feet grow a little more and the weather cools. I think they’ll be just right for her this winter.

And now…on to the next pair of socks!


Ladybug Girl!

p5050282ladybuggirl.jpgSylvia turns three today.

One birthday gift she received a few days ago was Ladybug Girl, by Jacky Davis and David Soman. The friends who gave it to her were inspired by a ladybug shirt Sylvia likes to wear. It’s a wonderful book, and Sylvia adores it—so much so that between us Jan and I have read it to her (by request) at least a dozen times so far. Seriously.

Yesterday morning when she woke up she decided she wanted to be Ladybug Girl for the day. She chose all of her own clothes: ladybug shirt, polka-dot legwarmers, orange shorts, ladybug ponytail holders. I substituted a playsilk for the “ladybug wings” (and she’s pretty happy with that).

Here she is, shouting “Ladybug Girl!”

Happy birthday, Sylvia!


Crowdsourcing my knitting

Okay, here’s the deal: Last month, I started knitting a sweater for Sylvia, using yarn that was in my stash. The yarn is Noro New Ruby, which hasn’t been manufactured in at least a decade, as far as I can tell (it’s next to impossible to find information about it anywhere online). It’s a 40%cotton/40%viscose/20%nylon blend, which feels a bit like a cotton-silk blend and also has a bit of a sheen to it.

p4099723sleeves.jpgI’ve just finished the sleeves; here they are, curling like Cathy Overton-Clapham in their unblocked stockinette glory. I love how they’ve turned out, but now I need to figure out what yarn to use for the body.

I’m knitting a simple drop-sleeve pullover (Ann Budd style), and I don’t have enough of the Noro New Ruby to do the front or the back, much less both. (I may use some of that Noro to do an intarsia motif—a big star, perhaps—on the front, or maybe a couple of patch pockets.) I don’t mind using different colors for the front and the back, but I think that each surface ought to be a solid color (i.e., no stripes or all-over intarsia or fairisle). The sleeves were knit on #2 needles (my friend Pat says the Noro is sportweight yarn that would have done well on #3s, but I liked the tighter fabric that #2s produced), and I’d like the body to be knit on #2s or #3s, too.

I was thinking that a sock yarn might work, and so far that only place I’ve really looked is KnitPicks. None of their sock yarns (and sportweight yarns, too) have the same “jewel tone” quality of this Noro New Ruby. I have no objection to mixing and matching yarns, but I do want the parts of the sweater to look like they’re meant to go together. My friend Gina thought that Baby Cashmerino (which I lurve might work, but the colors in that line are too subdued for this project.

Help! Suggestions, anyone?


My toddler can knit

Well, sort of.

I give Sylvia most of my yarn scraps, and she likes to pretend that she’s knitting with them. Lately she’s been saying that she’s “knitting pants for Mommy.”

Today she finally finished those pants and wrapped them up with a piece of ribbon. Her version of wrapping entailed weaving the ribbon through the holes and loops of her wad of yarn, a task she undertook very carefully. After about fifteen minutes of “wrapping,” she proudly gave me the present–and watched with glee as I “unwrapped” it.


What I’m knitting these days

I’ve been in a bit of a knitting funk these past three weeks or so, ever since I did the cast off for the Artisan Vest. (It’s not quite finished yet, though. I do not crochet but my husband does, so I’m waiting for him to finish crocheting the edging.)

I decide on a project, find yarn for it in my stash, do a gauge swatch, knit for three or four hours, realize that the project just isn’t working out, then frog it. Rinse and repeat.

I think I’ve started—and abandoned (though these don’t count as UFOs ’cause they’re getting frogged immediately)—four or five different things this month.

The other day it occurred to me that perhaps I was going about it all wrong. So instead of thinking “I’d like to knit a hat/sweater/whatever,” I went stash diving with the goal of finding a yarn that I wanted to knit with…and then figuring out what to do with it.

I surfaced with four skeins of Noro New Ruby, which is a lovely 40%cotton/40%viscose/20%nylon blend. (This yarn came from a local knitter’s stash, which was divvied up among my local knitting group about two years after she died.) This stuff has been long out of production—and there’s practically no info on it anywhere online—so there’s no way I can get more of it. So what to do with not a huge amount of really neat yarn?

p3209463noro.jpgSleeves, of course! Not for me, but for Sylvia. I’m sure there’s enough of this stuff for two little sleeves (and maybe a pocket or two). I’m going to use solid-colored yarns for the front and back of the sweater. I don’t have a plan yet for those parts (same color? one color in front and one in back? cardigan? pullover?), but I figure I can sort it out later. I’m using the drop-sleeve pattern (26″ chest) in Ann Budd’s sweater book, so there are all sorts of ways to tweak this.

For now, I’m really enjoying knitting these sleeves. This is only my third experience with Noro, and I can see why people drool over the stuff. The colors are just gorgeous, and I love how the yarn feels. I’m knitting this stuff on #2 needles, but it’s surprisingly fast going.

And no, I’m not going to try to match the two sleeves. Let the colors land where they will!


Thank you

Thanks, everyone, for your very kind words about Britty. We miss her a lot, but we know she’s in a place where she’s not suffering—and where there are lots of yummy snacks everywhere, no doubt. (She did love to eat… I kid you not, that cat knew how to open tupperware in her relentless pursuit of food!)

Here’s one last photo of Britty to share with you all. This one gives you an idea of how she got the nickname “St. Britty.” Sylvia spent about half an hour carefully arranging these toys atop a napping cat…who didn’t mind one bit.



I can’t wait to see this

Girls Rock!


Indeed they do!

Wow, doesn’t this look like an amazing film? The trailer alone is impressive. How fabulous to see adolescent girls feeling confident and empowered—and not because of what anyone else tells them but because of what they accomplish and how they themselves feel about it.

Here is the website for the film (which hits theaters on March 7), if you’re interested in more info.


Holiday traditions

Throughout December, lots of bloggers wrote about their families’ holiday traditions. One person (I can’t remember who, unfortunately) even ran a contest on the subject, promising yarn to one (randomly selected) person who posted a comment about their own traditions.

Some families have pretty unusual traditions (like sending the same Christmas card back and forth for thirty years, or hanging the Christmas tree upside-down from the ceiling). But my family’s traditions were pretty mainstream: decorating a Christmas tree, opening presents on Christmas morning, and eating a big dinner (usually roast turkey or ham, though we did do barbecue spareribs one year, but never the pizza I always longed for) that afternoon.

With a two-and-a-half-year-old around, Jan and I find ourselves thinking harder about holiday traditions and actively deciding which ones we want to adopt, change, or abandon.

pc258914luminaria.jpgOur neighborhood sets out luminaria on Christmas Eve. Not everyone does it, but I’d say over half and perhaps as many as three-quarters of the several hundred homes in this forty-year-old neighborhood put them out. We didn’t know about it the first Christmas we were here, and then we were out of town or completely forgot for the next three. But this year we managed to get our act together and set out white paper bags with sand and tea lights at the bottom, just like most of our neighbors, and the effect was absolutely beautiful. By morning, the candles were long spent, but the paper bags remained as reminders of the previous evening’s loveliness.

pc258873cinnbuns.jpgI’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but my husband is quite an accomplished baker. (Look here to see a gallery of some of his recent work.) Last winter he baked a lot of bread, and the year before he decided to perfect his croissant and pain au chocolat technique. Two years ago he also made Rose Levy Beranbaum‘s caramel sticky buns for Christmas for the first time. We didn’t have them last year because we were in Illinois visiting my parents, but this year he made them again, and we’re all decided that they are a permanent addition to our Christmas morning. They are amazing. The brioche dough takes two days to prepare, and the buns are stuffed with toasted pecans, cinnamon, and raisins (optionally soaked in rum), and the whole thing is smothered in homemade caramel sauce. I think I just had a sugar rush and gained five pounds just by describing them.

pc258899smcookieplate.jpgAnd of course there’s Santa. Jan and I grew up Santa households, and we are telling our own daughter about him, too. Our across-the-street neighbors have a near-life-sized animatronic Santa on their porch, which only adds to Santa’s mystique in Sylvia’s eyes. We haven’t gotten into the “good children, bad children” thing with her—I’m hoping we can avoid such morality tales altogether. She knows (from reading books and seeing pictures) that Santa has a list of the children he will be visiting, but in her mind “Santa loves all children,” and as far as she’s concerned everyone is on his list. I like that way of thinking, and I have no plans to discourage it.

When we started baking Christmas cookies a few weeks ago, she was very adamant that some be saved for Santa. Because the title character in Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas (one of her favorite holiday books) drinks some hot cocoa before going to bed, she decided that Santa would get some hot cocoa with his cookies, too. So on Christmas Eve, before going to bed, she helped make a batch of hot chocolate, then carefully—oh so carefully!—chose a selection of cookies to leave out for him. The next morning, she was delighted to discover that he’d thoroughly enjoyed her gifts to him!

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