Category : knitting


This is it, the Baby Surprise Jacket.

The real surprise, to me at least, was that I actually managed to complete this in a reasonable amount of time, and it still fits him a month and a half later!

The pattern is great fun: just enough variety to keep one awake while knitting, but with simple enough technique that even a relative beginner could do it with a little bravery and concentration. And of course the surprise bit, knitting up this wobbly warped thing that turns into a jacket with two easy seams. The only modification I made was the addition of a very simple straight collar, just enough to keep drafts off the munchkin’s chubby little neck.

For me, the number of seams in a garment is inversely proportional to my delight in knitting it, so the only thing that could have made me happier with it would have been making it with one yarn so as to avoid all the ends to weave in. Of course the upside of that is the satisfaction of using up all those great little skeinlets of yummy yarns.

The jacket itself is genius: the full arms are easy to pull on over long sleeve shirts and short enough that they stay out of the way of busy, grabby little hands. I only got four buttons sewn on on of the six I made holes for, but it seems like it would be fine with any button arrangement one chose to use.

I love this jacket and am sure I’ll have to make another in the toddler size for next winter.

Coming soon: more finished objects, and this year’s Chinese New Year prints!

Stealth Knitting

I’m going to start this post with an apology for the grotty images: the grey rainy day isn’t providing good lighting, and nap time is no time for turning on lights or using the flash. So there you go. Dim, off-colour photos.

But at least I’ve been knitting! It hasn’t been easy. Somehow it seems that although he can sleep through the industrial sewing machine going overhead, the shush of yarn sliding over bamboo needles is just too much racket for the little one, and I’m seldom able to knit more than a couple of rows while he naps. Which leaves furtive knitting in the dark evenings while he’s properly asleep. And I’m exhausted.

So, I’ve chosen simple projects.

#1: Baby Surprise Jacket in orphaned balls of tweedy wool, because he needs a nice wooly sweater/jacket and I’ve been wanting to make one of these for ages, even before I knew Max would ever exist.

Baby Surprise Jacket for Max

#2: Mid-weather hat in leftover sock yarn, because he needs something between the super-wooly one and the light cotton ones.

Mmm, stripy pooly sock yarn.

#3: Then I cast on for Pebble vest, because I’m a masochist and was afraid I was making too much progress on the BSJ and hat and might actually end up with a free moment at some point. And it’s super cute and way more attainable than Cobblestone.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go wrangle a small boy who thinks he can stand on his own.

On Urges and their Fulfillment.

Had an urge.
An urge to make a sweater.
A little wrap sweater.
For wrapping a little baby.
Found a sweater pattern.
Dug some appropriate yarn from the stash (while silently thanking the deity of abandoned holiday gifts).
Looked on Ravelry for caveats regarding pattern and likely-looking mods.
Knit sweater.
Weaved in a whole bunch of ends (grumbling only slightly).
Blocked sweater.
Baby Wrap Sweater
Added ducky and teddy bear buttons (which I may later regret/replace due to fiddly-ness of fastening).
Baby Wrap Sweater
Was nearly overwhelmed by cute.
Had urge to just sit and cuddle sweater for a while.
Resisted that one.

Oh, also had urge for Life Savers, which the OH kindly procured (not as simple a feat as one might think, I guess they’re not that popular anymore).
Consumed entire roll while writing blog post.

Square is the New Round

This would have been done sooner had I not broken my needle knitting it… I guess that’s why it’s important to use an appropriate circular needle length and not try to make a whole Baby Afghan in the round with a hat-length needle.

I used some of the leftover Cascade Ecological Wool from making Mary & Tim’s Wedding Afghan, this time held single and worked in a Quaker Rib pattern.

Baby Afghan Quaker Rib Eco Wool

Of course, having to go get a new needle also gave me the chance to burrow about in the yarn and find just the right stuff for spring socks for Maggie:

Lovin’ the colours. Doncha just wanna stick your finger in those?

Ta-da! (and the scary bit)

OK, I’ll spare you the suspense; the vest is done!

But the scary bit was, well, sort of scary. The scary bit was the steeking. If you’re not a knitting geek, or you are but have never been bothered by seaming pieces together, steek is just a funny word that you may have heard but never bothered getting to know. But for those of us who cringe at the thought of seaming, steeking allows knitting the body of a sweater, or a vest, in one tube and then cutting (yes, CUTTING) the front and arm openings. This is achieved by clever crocheting that keeps the whole thing from unraveling into shreds.

It looks like this:


I know, you’re wondering what’s scary about crocheting. Well, that’s not the scary bit. THIS is the scary bit:
Making the Cut

Gah! Scissors in knitting!

Oh wait, it’s OK:
Post Cut

See those nice edges, curling away from the front and armholes? And not unravelling? They result in little flaps that are tacked to the body, resulting finally in nice clean edges, ready to pick up stitches for the button band and sleeve trim.

Which you can see here, on the finished garment.
Vest Finished

So, you may ask yourself, why go to so much bother (because it really does entail a fair bit of extra work) just to avoid a few side seams? Well, first of all, it’s also very handy when you’re doing colourwork, or using self-striping yarn (so your halves match), or if you’re like me and just don’t want to knit three pieces when you can knit one big one.

So, yeah. That’s steeking in a (very small) nutshell.

I’m fairly happy with how the vest turned out. It’s definitely very soft and warm, and I love the colours (don’t bother telling me about the mistakes in the stripe pattern; I know and don’t care), but I’m a little worried that it won’t actually fit. And since I didn’t slope the shoulders, they have a tendency to kind of wing out like some kind of sci-fi costume. Hopefully that will ease up with wearing.

The moral of the story being that there’s a reason people write and use patterns, and that I should really consider actually following them instead of approaching them like I do recipes and just kind of taking some bits from one and some bits from another and improvising the rest. Then at least if it didn’t fit I could pretend it was someone else’s fault (though it would probably still be mine since most errors are the result of bad following, not a bad pattern). But where’s the adventure, the DIY-ness in that?


But the buttons are cute.

And so it begins.

Well, my friends and relations, I’ve finally finished all the holiday knitting (except one thing, but that’s turned into a combined xmas/b-day present… oh, and the two things I decided to just not finish at all and give other things instead, but those don’t count) so I’ve moved on to personal and, yes, BABY knitting.

I’ve been looking at all sorts of patterns, and decided in the interest of satisfying the bug quickly that I would start with a hat. The Aviatrix Helmet, to be precise:
And just in case you didn’t get a good look at the super-cute buttons:
I’ve actually had those buttons for a while (plus a little ducky and a couple others) but this just screamed for them.

I’m a little leery about the size: I’ve realized I really have no idea how big a new baby’s head is, nor how quickly it will be become larger. I’m thinking the hat may be too big for this year, and just hope it’s not too small for next. It’s pretty stretchy, so it should get some wear. If not I’ll just have to find someone to pass it on to.

The next project (along with the steeking and edging of J’s vest) is a blanket. I’m sorely tempted by the Moderne baby blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting, and of course the gorgeous looking Tweed baby blanket by (yet again) Brooklyn Tweed. Can I help it if everything Jared Flood designs, knits, and/or photographs causes a nearly irresistible urge to make it myself? But lacking appropriate yarn for either of those, I’ve decided on a very simple pattern, of which I naturally cannot now find a picture for you. In fact, it may be that it doesn’t exist yet and I’m just combining a couple of other ones I’ve seen with a general formula for knitting a square. Well, pictures can come later.

I’ve got the yarn all picked out, that lovely unprocessed Cascades Ecological Wool leftover from the wedding afghan. One skein has been wound, with the second waiting:
Of course, I still don’t own a winder, and in case you don’t remember just how big those skeins are, let me show you another picture with the very fluffy cat for size reference:
So it means me with my swift and a wooden spoon for about 1/2 hour of winding. One down, one to go. But I think the blanket will be worth it.

And just to prove I can still think about/do things that aren’t baby-focused, I present hubby’s Turn A Square hat:
Square HatSquare Hat Band
In the interest of keeping his widdle ears warm, I added a band of wool jersey inside. Clever, no?

Lots of sewing coming up too. Mostly baby stuff, but still worth checking in for I think. Like a certain quilt that’s been patiently lying in wait for, oh, many many moons.


I know, stating the bloody obvious.

I cleaned up the community garden plot on the weekend, so now it looks like this:
End of season
That’s a little patch of garlic at the end under the straw. It should sprout up in the spring and deliver one head for each of 8 buried cloves next August or so. And just so I don’t get impatient, I should even get scapes in June to satisfy the fresh garlic need.

That little bit of remaining green at the other end is the sage, which should die down and rest over the winter, but come back as a nice little bush next year.

I’ve been making some headway on the knitting front, but this is the only picture I have so far:

Being a gift, I won’t go into details yet, but it’s pretty fun knitting and nearly done now.

I’ve been spending the rest of my time finding maternity clothes at thrift stores and trying to wrap my head around the inevitability of the whole deal. But apparently I’m glowing, so I suppose it’s all OK.


The chill of fall has slunk in upon us like a damp sheep, the scent of woodsmoke wafts teasingly through the air, and I find myself frequently awake in the wee hours with nothing to do: it must be time for holiday knitting!

To that effect, I have rounded up a nice little stashling of wool and other fibres. Witness:
What will it be???

What’s that you say? Plastic in the way? Yes yes, I know. One does prefer to see a sumptuous pile of yarn in its bare-bunned beauty, but I was too impatient to sort it into tidily Ziploc-ed projects, forgetting to take the yarn pron picture first, and I sure as heck wasn’t gonna desort it all just for that. So we’ll all just have to wait until it’s assembled into lovely mitts and hats and scarves and other mysterious objets de tricotage.

Then, my pretties, then we’ll see the full glory of the Misti Merino and Drops Alpaca and Noro Silk Garden Chunky Oh My!!

Assuming of course that my wrists aren’t too shot by then to hold the camera upright. But that’s what the Xena cuffs are for…

Going to the Other Side

So, I’m semi-determined to learn how to knit continental. That’s where you hold the yarn in your left hand instead of right, and “pick” to form stitches instead of “throwing.” It’s significantly faster, involving less finger movement, possibly easier on the hands as well and apparently (i.e. according to something I read once somewhere on the internet) only fell out of favour in North America around the time of WWII because knitting British style was somehow more patriotic. True? False? Who knows.

Of course, re-teaching my fingers how to hold and move yarn after 30-ish years of doing it one way is taking some work so for now it’s actually slower. So why bother? Well, aside from being faster, it’s very useful to know both methods when doing colour work, as you can hold one colour in each hand, and I’ve been getting a serious urge to knit the Fiddlehead Mittens that so many are having fun with on Ravelry.

So my practice WIP is this fun little top-down raglan shrug I’m making for myself (I know it doesn’t look like a shrug yet – be patient, you’ll see in the end). It’s a pretty basic pattern (well, formula really, more than pattern), helpfully busting up a few loitering single balls in my stash, and should be a nice comfy cosy thing in the winter since it avoids the whole ever-expanding-belly area.


Also I made these fun little cuffs to practice the one-colour-in-each-hand thing. They’re a little silly, but good for keeping my wrists warm while knitting (helps keep them from getting sore). The OH did make a Xena reference when he first saw them, but I’m choosing to just ignore that… (I wanted to show them one on each wrist rather than stacked, but try taking that picture without growing a third arm, or setting up annoying equipment, both unappealing options this afternoon.)
NOT xena

Today it’s chilly outside; fall is here, let’s hear it for silly cosy things…


Oh how I love a sunny deck for blocking knitting…

It did take a fair bit of plucking and squooshing and coaxing and easing and all those things, but the afghan turned out nice and rectangular; you’d never guess that one piece of it was about 20% too big…

EZ Garter Stitch Afghan - Done!

I love it so much, I almost don’t want to give it away! Of course, the recent heat wave does ameliorate that feeling somewhat. Plus half the pleasure of knitting things is knowing that other people will enjoy them. It really is magnificently sproingy and airy and cozy without being in the least bit suffocating. The wool (sorry, I just can’t stop raving about the wool) is just soooo lovely. I’m smitten.

Visually, it makes me think of chocolate cake with vanilla icing.
CorneredEdgyPye Approves but No Can Has

Of course, being the craft dork addict -ista that I am, I made a card to go with it:
Getting Carded
I managed to find a box more or less the right size which I then wrapped it in coordinating paper, and tied it up in a piece of silk from the leftovers from lining my own wedding dress 4 years ago (which I dyed sloppily with some acrylic calligraphy ink since it was far too white).
Put a bow on itWrap it upNo loose ends

I do love a nicely wrapped present… I have to say, this whole process has been very satisfying; I highly recommend it!