Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tadpole Tuesday: Texas Edition

Chez Tinks and Frogs has moved to Texas for a family vacation this week. A large extended family makes for plenty of baby sitters and we are taking full advantage.

It's been quite a change for us. We left this

For this

That's right. Sun and new Quince yarn from my sister (and a few other things, too). There are two other colors - a deep charcoal heather and a bright cherry red - but Tadpole only wanted to hold one skein at a time. The new grey heathers from Quince are really lovely and I think they're a limited run so grab some if you get the chance. I'm contemplating another stash diet for next year (I really should) so that means I'm just going to enable everyone else.

Happy Holidays and warm wishes from my family to yours. I'll see you next year.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tadpole Tuesday: almost Wednesday

I was going to put off writing this week's post until tomorrow. Mr. Tinks and Frogs and I were watching an old episode of Lost and I was too enthralled by Stripe Study (ten stripes!) to put my knitting down and write up a post.

But the show has moved from tame expository episodes to incredibly well crafted suspense sequences. And, to be perfectly honest, I'm still too caught up in thinking about the latest cliff hanger that I really don't want to go to sleep on it. So blog post time it is.

I suppose this installment should have been titled "How did she get so big?"

A couple of months ago, I knit up another aviatrix hat for Tadpole. It was way too big on her - so big that it kept falling over her eyes when we weren't looking. So I set out to make a replacement until aviatrix v3 fit a bit better.

This was aviatrix 1.0

I had plenty of Anzula Cricket yarn from the first aviatrix left in the stash so I picked up another skein in a lovely charcoal grey from my LYS to make a colorwork hat.

Three attempts in I realized that not only had I screwed up the short rows on the ear flaps and forgotten to attach the foldover hem (those were attempts one and two) but I just didn't like the color combination. I did the only logical thing - I went and bought yet another skein to contrast with the grey. So much for stash dieting on this project.

I needed a stationary model

The fourth time was the charm. I'm always amazed at how quickly stranded colorwork knits up. Perhaps it's because I just want to see what comes next. Or perhaps it's that I knit with one color in each hand so it feels like I'm doing more with each row.

I finished the hat up in no time and it was a perfect fit.

 All my indoor shots are "take it off!" action shots

Once it gets chilly, hats are fine

But then Tadpole wore it again this past weekend and the hat was already looking too small. Babies grow much too fast! Thank goodness I have so much of that yarn left - I can eaily make another hat in the next size up.

Yes, that's snow (and three teeth)

A quick note about the pattern and then I've really got to get some sleep. (I've linked to the exact pattern on my ravely project page). I got this from the book "Hats Off" by Charlene Schurch, a fabulous collection published by Down East Books. The designs are interesting and look great knit up. But here's my favorite part: the designer never talks down to you. She just assumes that you know what you're doing and gives instructions accordingly. I love that! Sure, I tried a few different ways to work the short rows on the ear flaps, but her directions told me exactly what needed to happen so that I could figure out how I wanted to make that work. The big picture was always clear. I wish more knitting patterns were like that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Stripe study is addictive. Here's the shot from last weekend:

And here is where I am today:

Twice as many stripes! The colors are more accurate in the first pic. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some striping to do.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tadpole Tuesday: Blankets for Baby

My work-life balance has been pretty heavy on the work side lately, so I'm even more behind than usual in responding to blog comments. Replies are coming, I promise.

Rachel reminded me that I haven't even mentioned what colors I'm using for stripe study. I actually have a picture for this one but I haven't gotten it off the camera yet (or double checked to make sure it came out clearly since the battery was just about dead when I took the shot). So I'll just give a quick answer for now: dark blue for the thick stripes and vibrant green for the thin stripes and wide boarder.

And try to distract you from my lack of evidence of stripe study progress with some baby pictures.

Better now?

I knit a bit on my latest garter stitch-based baby blanket for Tadpole during a break from work this weekend (yes it was one of those weekends) and that got me thinking about baby blankets more generally.

I've knit two blankets for Tadpole and we use two handknit blankets for her, but they're not the same two. As I typed that I could have sworn I've knit three blankets for her but I must be counting the one on the needles in that list (or the several I have in my mental queue, although you'd have to discount each queued project by the likelihood of completion in order to have the several equal one . . . but I digress).

I'll start with the ones we use. First up is a great reversible, machine washable wool blanket that my sister made for Tadpole (pictured above). It's mostly a "going out" blanket that we use with the stroller or car seat because it squishes up nicely and doesn't take up a lot of room.

Mr. Tinks and Frogs also uses it as an extra layer of warmth when Tadpole goes out in the Bjorn. It's a fabulous all-purpose blanket. (Thanks again, M!)

Next up is the bear claw blanket that I made a few years ago. I was a bit hesitant to use this one at first because, not to put to delicate a word on it, babies tend to get fluids of various sorts everywere. And I really like this blanket. Yes, I know that Baby Ull is machine washable but I know happened when I machine washed my Baby Ull socks: they shrunk and pilled and got all fuzzy. That's fine for socks that had a too tight-bind off on the cuff to be a favorite pair anyway, but not what I want in a blanket that took me over a year to complete.

So we started off slow and easy: it's tough for a sleeping baby to get a blanket dirty (ok, that's not entirely accurate but we have lucked out on that front).

Then we took her to the appropriate setting - our LYS.

Babies just need more yarn. Or at least their parents do.

The bear claw is still a sleeping blanket.

It's showing a bit of wear - the ends are starting to come a bit loose and fray on the wrong side. That's understandable since there's nothing sticky about a machine washable wool to keep the ends secure. I'm not worried about the piece unravelling. It just looks well loved, as it should.

That's two blankets, one I made and one we received as a gift. The third we've used only for pictures. I'm sure you'll understand why.

The Honey Baby blanket is filed under "baby knit" but it's much more for me than for her. All those yarn overs would be lots of fun for little fingers to investigate, if I were willing to suffer the accompanying distortions to the stitch pattern. I knit this piece as a work of love for my daughter before she was born and it's a beautiful manifestation of the feelings I had for someone who was more of an idea than a reality for me at that point. This isn't a blanket to catch spit-up and drool or cheerios dropped during a car ride home. It's a keepsake that I get to hold onto until I'm ready to give it up; a reminder of the tiny baby who is growing up much faster than I ever expected.

The fourth blanket - the one I inched forward this weekend - falls somewhere in between "keepsake" and "every day." I'm making this one as another crib blanket, something a bit lighter than the bear claw, and as such it can be a bit more intricate than the stroller cover. But I want to make sure we actually use it. So it can't be too delicate.

That's the balance I like to strike with blankets for baby. You really can't have just one. There's the every day, use it anywhere blanket that's your go-to piece as you're heading out the door. Maybe you have another one or two in the same category or a bit more delicate that you use for quiet time. And then you have your heirloom piece that's purely sentimental. And knowing that you have one exquisite piece to represent all of your warm, snuggly, clean, and sleep-filled thoughts about the little one lets you roll on the floor with the everyday blanket and wear it threadbare with use.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tadpole Tuesday: the Turtle Vest

About a year ago I had posted about a quick little vest that I whipped up for Tadpole, using a cable chart from one of the Barbara Walker treasuries. I was taken by the turtle motif and came up with a simple design that used up a not-quite-full skein of Dream in Color Classy that I had in the stash. I had absolutely no idea what size I was making. But now I do - it fit 8 month old Tadpole (yes, these pictures are from a month ago) well with plenty of room to grow.

The turtle really is my favorite thing about this piece. And the fact that it took me something like 5 hours to make, even including frogging the whole thing a couple of inches in and starting over.

I'm thinking of making a second one, probably out of Tosh Vintage, and changing the bottom hem and the border of the turtle pattern to garter stitch. 

So I have a question for you: if I were to knit up another one, would you like me to write up the pattern?

I'm using the word "pattern" here very loosely. I wouldn't include the turtle chart, since Barbara Walker designed and published it (in her third treasury, I believe) and I don't want to violate copyright. Instead, I'd write up how to make a baby-sized vest and include some sort of panel design on the front. 

This girl needs a second turtle vest, right? So I'd better go get some projects off the needles first. Stripe Study, here I come!