Sunday, April 13, 2014

Midnight musings

The new Twist Collective went up today and I was reminded that I'm really not a spring/summer knitter. There was one piece - a square shawl by Robin Melanson - that I liked but none of the other patterns spoke to me. That's fine. I tend not to wear knits n the summer unless it's a chilly evening. So it's not surprising that the image I liked best in the whole magazine was an add for Wool People 7. I eagerly popped over to the Brooklyn Tweed website only to find that WP7 has not yet arrived (and confirmed that I have not been living under a rock, for I never would have missed a new BT publication pre-baby). But I was reminded of one of my absolute favorite BT designs lately: Stonecutter

Why are all of the sweaters I like right now pullovers? This is not a new phenomenon. I felt this way most of the time I was pregnant with sprout. Now that I'm eight weeks post-partum, it will still be months before I am comfortable with my shape and measurements and willing to make the commitment of a complicated sweater. 


So what am I working on these days? Well, there's the exception to my general "I really shouldn't be knitting a sweater right now" policy: Rock Island. An oversized open front cardigan designed to be worn with several inches of positive ease doesn't present the same fit issues as a closely fitted pullover where an inch either way matters. 

I'm also finishing up a sweater dress for Tadpole (the striped piece in the picture up above). In the couple of days since I snapped that picture, I finished up the edging, wove in the ends, and gave the dress a soak. The fabric grew a fair amount in the bath so I'm curious to see how it dries. 


I've also started the first sleeve for sprout's new sweater - my current midnight knitting project. I happily cast on the other night only to discover that I needed to frog my inch or so of work when I looked at it the next morning. Apparently being able to count to 36 is not a skill I possess at 2am. 

Speaking of midnight knitting, my companion is not quite asleep yet and I'm going to get a few rows in before trying to get us both back to bed. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Knitting with Baby

I finished a February Baby Sweater for my February baby the other day:


The yarn is Knitting Notions sport weight that I had picked up a couple of years ago, thinking to make something for Tadpole. That didn't happen so I thought to use the yarn for Sprout. I'd initially tried a bottom-up henley design of my own making (quick pic here) but ultimately decided that I didn't like the way the colors in this kettle dyed yarn flashed across the body of the sweater. So the yarn went back into the frog pond for reincarnation.

After I had knit the garter stitch yoke, I frantically searched through my Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries for a 7-stitch lace pattern to swap out for EZ's choice of gull lace. Nothing caught my eye and an hour later (precious knitting time gone), I settled in for gull lace after all. The knitting flew by - even the sleeves, which I might have complained about just a bit since I wanted this piece to be done - and the gull lace turned out to be the perfect stitch pattern for spreading out the slight variations in the yarn.

Miss Sprout even obliged for a photo shoot:


There she is with her serious face, contemplating the milk she's about to spit up all over her nice new sweater.


Here's how you can tell this is not my first kid: I wiped the spit up off the sweater and then picked the camera back up to continue shooting. Once we were done, I popped the sweater in the sink for the wash and wet blocking I should have given it in the first place.

My new little sweater model has obliged on a couple of other photo shoots, sans spit-up:


My Pomander cardigan fits reasonably well now with room to grow. I know I've said it before but this really is a delightful pattern, well written and full of thoughtful details. The designer has a gorgeous jumper pattern knit using Loft. I'm having visions of knitting coordinating jumpers for the girls. (Note to self: finish your current WIPs first!)

Another favorite: EZ's Baby Surplice Jacket.


These two may be my new go-to baby knits patterns. The EZ pattern has some of the same clever shaping as her BSJ and is also designed to grow with the baby. In other words, you don't have to worry so much about size - it should fit the recipient for a while (i.e. several months, which is quite a bit in baby time).

I've got another sweater for Miss Sprout on the needles right now and I'm making slow but steady progress with mostly middle of the night spurts of productivity. When her sister was this age, I found myself getting frustrated when she wouldn't go back to sleep in the middle of the night (or go back to sleep soundly enough to transfer to her crib so that I could go back to sleep, too). Looking back on that period, I wished that I had just focused on enjoying the snuggles and time with my small daughter. (I also realized that rocking a baby in the middle of the night was prime knitting time and the knitting might have helped me calm down a bit). I told myself that I would do better if there ever were a next time. Now that the next time is here, I can't say that I don't want to go back to sleep but the midnight wakings (and staying awake) are less fraught and I've had some wonderful times enjoying getting to know this new little person in our lives and making something for her to wear while I'm at it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Birthdays

Late winter is birthday season at chez Tinks and Frogs. Mr. Tinks and Frogs and Tadpole share a birthday and collectively turned 34 last week. I made three batches of cream cheese frosting. Let's just say that my taste buds are readjusting to life with a bit less sugar. In addition to three different varieties of cake (chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for Tadpole, chocolate cake balls for her to take to school on her birthday, and carrot cake as requested by Mr. Tinks and Frogs), I also managed to finish up handmade gifts just in the nick of time.

For Mr. Tinks and Frogs, a new sweater.


This is Armas, knit in Tosh Vintage on size 7 needles. The original pattern calls for bulky weight yarn but I reworked the numbers for worsted weight since this was the yarn that called to me in the shop last year. (That's right, for his birthday last year Mr. Tinks and Frogs got the yarn and the promise of a sweater eventually).

How much yarn did I use? Less than I had bought, certainly. I know I have some unused skeins sitting in my desk drawer and, if I remembered how many I had acquired in the first place (which I don't), or looked in the drawer to see exactly how much I had left (a no-go at the moment since I'm holding a sleeping baby while I type this one-handed), then I might be able to give a reasonable estimate. Let's just leave it at "?" for now.


This is a top down raglan cardigan with a henley placket. Note that the placket is not centered in the design - it's slightly offset. Had I noticed this when I started knitting, I would have adjusted things so that the button bands were centered. Of course, by the time I noticed this feature, the sweater was essentially done and I wasn't about to frog a year's worth of work so that the front would be perfectly balanced.


The back, on the other hand, is just fantastic.


All in all, this one is a big hit. Interesting to knit but not too fussy for the recipient. (Actually, Mr. Tinks and Frogs is a big fan of intricate sweaters like these two.)

Ms. Tadpole also got a handmade gift: a quilt!


The points aren't always perfect but I'm still really pleased with this project.


I have a nice sized stack of squares left over that will become a something. And there is a similar collection of green batiks sitting on my shelf, destined to become something for Sprout. I'm thinking flying geese, perhaps. Probably giant geese so I have a chance of finishing before the end of my maternity leave.

Monday, March 3, 2014

New Addition

Two weeks ago we welcomed a new addition to the Tinks and Frogs family:



Sprout arrived on February 17 and was quickly garbed in hand knits. She's wrapped in an Hourglass Blanket and is wearing a hat loosely based on one her sister wore home from the hospital.

We're all home and doing well. I've even managed to finish up a few projects over the last couple of weeks. But more on that later - I've got a diaper to change.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crossing things off the list

I just went back to re-read my list of 2014 crafting goals and I'm actually quite pleased with my progress so far. 

First if all, I'm sticking with my "at least one post per month goal." Now if I can just get back to responding to comments . . . . I really do appreciate them. 

I've also finished one more sweater and a hat for sprout (AND I found my bin of baby knits from when tadpole was small). 


That's the baby surplice jacket from Knit One, Knit All - the EZ garter stitch collection that came out within the last few years. It's drying on the radiator cover (a fantastic drying spot during cold winter months) with a little hat I whipped up to (hopefully) fit a newborn. The sweater grew a bit more with blocking than I had hoped so I ended up casting on a February baby sweater, the next day. I had been hoping for a nice "coming home from the hospital" size but this will end up fitting better in the long run. 


The yarn here is some Knitting Notions merino sport weight that I'd initially tried in a textured henley pattern but stopped working on because I didn't like the flashes of color. Here the gull lace breaks the color variations up nicely and I'm really enjoying the piece. 

I also finished a quilt last night! The top is part of a project that I'd started back in college and set aside because I'd found some of the steps too intimidating, especially given my less than perfect product. 

 

It was easier to work on techniques like quilting and binding when I told myself this was just a practice piece. (You can't tell it's not really square when I prop it up in the chair). You see, I've finished the top of tadpole's quilt and I didn't want to jump into the new techniques - and possibly screw something up - on that one. 


Just in time on that quilt top, too. We put tadpole's big girl bed together the other night so I'd better cut the fabric for the backing and start basting the layers together. 

Other goals? Well, Mr. Tinks and Frogs' sweater is in the same state it was last month. I have to confess that I've been having so much fun playing with fabrics that I haven't wanted to pull his sweater out. Hopefully this week. 

But I did finish this little lovely (the yarn harlot's pretty thing) a while ago and finally wove in the ends today.   


Quiviut. It feels amazing - not scratchy at all. I used about half the skein and am torn between making another pretty thing as a gift with the rest or whipping up something new. 

I haven't even touched the good camera - these are all cell phone pics. When it's bright and sunny out, I just want to knit, spin, or sew. And I end up doing most of my crafting at night so the pics are often quick progress updates that I text to my mother ("hey look, I made binding!"). Phone pics are better than no pics, right?

I'm plowing through WIPs right now so I may even swatch for a sweater for myself soon. But for now, I'm off to bed. I want to snatch a few more nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep while I still can. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Looking ahead

Happy New Year! In the spirit of the season, I've been thinking about what I want to do/accomplish/take care of in the new year (and, in many cases, before baby #2 makes her appearance). This year I'm focusing on setting reasonable expectations for myself. There is always so much on my to do list and I want to be able to take pleasure in what I can cross off it but not feel too guilty when I don't get to something. So I'm trying a new technique -- the list can stay as long as it always is but has two categories: realistic goals and aspirational ones. If I get to the latter, that's great, and if not that's ok, too.

Here goes on the crafting front:

  1. Knit a sweater for me this year.
  2. Finish Armas before knitting that sweater for me (I've told myself that I don't get to cast on for the Rocky Coast Cardigan I've been eyeing for ages until I finish Mr. Tinks and Frogs' current sweater-in-the works).
  3. Finish at least one more sweater, two hats, and a blanket for Sprout (#2) before she arrives. (Maybe 2 hats is aspirational; might need to change this one to "find appropriately sized knits that I made for Tadpole").
  4. Actually complete a quilting project. I've started a couple of quilting projects over the years but have never made it past working on the quilt top and I'd like to change that.
  5. Finish Tadpole's purple pinwheel quilt around the time she moves to a big-girl bed [ETA March-ish].
  6. Make a quilt for Sprout by the time she moves out of our room and into her own room [ETA June-ish].
  7. Spin more. (Hopefully this won't be too hard since today was the first time I had sat down at the wheel since we moved into the new house in August).
  8. Publish another knitting pattern. (This one is aspirational - I'd love to make it happen but I'm not going to stress out if I don't get around to putting the pattern together. And yes, the design is on the needles. Now I just have to see if it is going to work and whether it is worth trying to scale for multiple sizes or just leave as is).
  9. Post on the blog at least once a month. (Again, I'd love to blog more frequently than that but once a month seems like a realistic commitment for now).
  10. Figure out how to take better pictures in low light with my camera. We have a lovely new house but it's winter, which means I have maybe an hour a day (assuming I'm home and not at the office) in which to snap a good knitting shot since there is no obviously sunny spot. It would be really nice to know my way around my camera a bit more so I don't have to resort to the phone to get a shot capturing any kind of detail. For example the pic below shows the lovely soft light reflecting off the snow but doesn't exactly capture accurate color or stitch definition.

Making progress here - I've actually finished the first sleeve and started the second. Unfortunately, I'm utterly distracted by the little crib blanket I started for Sprout last week. Progress on Armas will recommence when the blanket is done.

Here's to a happy, healthy, and relatively stress-free 2014.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A tale of three hats

I've recently rediscovered the joys of travel knitting. Small projects in just one color work particularly well (the mittens I'm working on here and there are a perfect size to stick in my bag but the two colors are too diddly for wrangling on the train). I've got a lovely little baby sweater to share once I get around to taking FO shots. And I'm currently working on a cowl during my train rides to and from work - a great way to start the day. Did I mention I'm using quiviut? Enough said. 

But before that, I knit three hats. The same hat, in fact, three times in a row. It's a good thing I like Jared Flood's Habitat pattern, because three iterations of anything is one and a half times too many, in my book. 

First, Mr. Tinks and Frogs got a much needed new hat for the season. 


Knit out of one skein of Shelter on size 7 and 8 needles (7s for the ribbing, 8s for the body). A quick aside: did you know that Amazon sells addi lace needles? They even qualify for Amazon Prime, which means if you're in a bind and really want to start the hat while on a trip but can't, for the life of you, find the 16" needles you could have sworn you had, you can ship the needles to youself overnight for a very reasonable price. Don't ask how I know that ...

Miss Tadpole needed a new hat, too, and the yellow she picked out at our LYS seemed perfect for Habitat. 


So I knit another one. Version 2 is in String Theory dk weight, a superwash merino. It's lovely stuff but a bit splitty and I had much more fun knitting the cables with a very pointy needle than with the more blunt bamboo circular I started with. 

The main cables on Habitat are a bit uninteresting for me but I absolutely adore the cables on the crown. 



There was just one little problem with this yellow hat (you've probably already noticed it): it's a bit too small. The first yellow hat was knit on 4s and 5s, with the charts for the shorter version. I'm not going to say that my girl has a big head, but it's certainly bigger than I had guesstimated. Maybe next time I'll actually measure. 

So I knit version three on 5s and 6s, with the chart for the longer version and it's a great fit. 


(That's still version two in the picture. I just love this "daddy, let me fix that for you" shot.)

Now that my current travel project (the cowl) is almost done, I'm trying to figure out what next to take on the train. There are a couple of WIPs from the bottom of the knitting basket in the running. Tadpole has voted for the blue socks (Cookie A's Kai-Mei pattern, a perennial favorite of mine) while I'm leaning towards a silver colored scarf (Anne Hanson's fernfrost). We'll see what I feel like knitting next week. Thoughts?