This summer, family beach week is going to be a little quieter, because we’ll be missing a whole chunk of our family. They’ll be staying home, anticipating the birth of my cousin’s baby, the first of our next generation! So while I’ll be laying on the beach, catching crabs, and eating my fill of fried oysters, they’ll be putting the finishing touches on a nautical-themed bedroom for the little one.
And to go with that, I knit him a sweater.
Though our family is much more crab-oriented, I thought little whales and anchors would be more easily graphed; I charted out the band of them and put it on a slightly modified Child’s Placket Neck Pullover by Joelle Hoverson. I’ve knit this sweater before, and I know it comes together fast; this was helpful because it took 3 tries before this finally worked right. First I didn’t like the charted pattern—too spread out—and second it was gigantic (a friend with babies saw it and balked, then I looked at the measurements and that one was more like a 2 year old’s!). I did tweak the stitch counts of the sweater to fit my chart as well as the CYC-given measurements for a six month old. Now, I don’t know the first thing about babies, but it looks super small, so here’s hoping it’s a very cool fall in Georgia, because I’d been hoping he could wear it in the winter!
The yarn? Good ol’ Cascade 220. Sorry to my cousin: you’re going to have to hand-wash this garment.
I’d never participated in a mystery knit along before, and with the added “choose your own adventure” element of Ysolda’s Follow Your Arrow, I quickly decided to join the masses. I opted to remain unspoiled about each clue after it was revealed, only looking at photos of Arrows-in-progress after I’d committed to a clue. A few of my coworkers also participated, and it was fun to check on their progress and debate each option at lunch. Between the three of us, we all were making completely different shawls—a two-color kite start, a one-color kite start, and a lace start!
My choices at each juncture were pretty consistent, I felt: I chose the one that would remain a surprise until I was done knitting it (if this was a choice). Bonus if it seemed like the “harder” of the two options. Why take the easy way out? So I did what turned out to be the “kite” for Clue 1, because there was no chart to show me what it would look like. For Clue 2, I of course opted for the short rows because that was definitely something you couldn’t visualize just from reading the pattern. Clues 3 and 4 each had two lace charts, so sadly I couldn’t remain in the dark on what they would be like. I chose relatively randomly (they were quite similar, after all). I’ll admit I broke with my “rule” by Clue 5—I chose the one that seemed simpler and easier to execute, because I was ready to have an FO. Also I peeked at some of the finished ones (I didn’t tackle Clue 5 until after several people had finished entirely) and I didn’t like the way the other choice looked.
In the end I’m not really sure I ended up with a cohesive piece. But just as I used the yarn despite its quickly-recurring patch that didn’t get hit by the dye, I told myself that when a scarf is scrunched up around my neck in the way that I always wear them, no one will notice or care. The yarn was of course lovely to work with, as all Periwinkle Sheep yarn is, but I bought a sweater’s worth of it at Rhinebeck a few years ago without realizing just how prominent that undyed patch was going to be. I don’t mind the effect so much in this shawl, but I’m not sure what to do with all the rest of it in my stash.
Anyway, I’ve thrown this shawl into my bag this spring a lot—the lightweight yarn and the more open gauge make it perfect as a little something extra around my neck during transitional weather. I really like it when it’s all wrapped up. So who cares that the kite and short rows don’t really “go” with the lace sections?
One really good thing about this project was it definitely got me back in the knitting groove. Will I ever join in a mystery knit along again? Unlikely. I realized that I often see finished MKAL pieces and know I would never have chosen the design if I’d know it would look like that from the start. By nature a piece that goes in chunks is not going to be as cohesive looking as one that’s designed as a single thing. But did I enjoy this experience? Immensely! How fun to all be working on the same thing at the same time. It fed into the same part of me that likes to watch TV shows when they air, so I can participate in online chatter.
Regarding the little photo shoot I had for this with Caro of Splityarn: Why are we always shooting on incredibly windy days!? For this we went out in front of the Indianapolis Convention Center before a day on the show floor at TNNA and battled a blustery change in the weather. Also the grass was full of sinking spots that I kept falling into, so it was a hilarious time, as well. I love having a professional photographer friend at my beck and call!
A visit to two adorable babies requires an equally adorable gift, does it not?
On my Pacific Northwest tour, I got to stay a night with Julie, Andy, and their twins, Emmett and Malcolm. They’re nearly a year and a half old and walking around like gangbusters. They’re also into hugging things, so a pair of squishy, soft hedgehogs knit from a pattern by the Purl Bee blog were just the thing!
I used a silk blend from Brooks Farm (I think it’s “4 Play”?) in blue for the faces and bellies, and then Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (leftover from this YMN cover!) for the bodies. US 5 for the DK weight yarn, US 8 for the big stuff. These were such a cinch to make and completely satisfying, with their lack of seaming and thus instant gratification.
Plus the babies took to them immediately, hugging them and discovering that they bounce quite nicely when tossed to the floor! Julie and I tried to think up names for the hedgehogs and realized that our naming skills are of the most bland variety, leaving us with a set of “white hedgehog” and “brown hedgehog” or, perhaps, if we’re feeling saucy, “hedgie” and “hoggie.” The kids don’t seem to mind their namelessness, though. There’s really nothing better than giving someone a gift and watching them immediately incorporate it into their life, you know? The boys adopted the toys right away!
A long while ago, I knit Jason a hat in a simple rib in a charcoal Cascade 220 to match the first scarf I knit him. But it tuns out he wants his ears COMPLETELY covered by hats, so it was slightly too small, and I set it aside to redo. I finally unearthed that project recently and decided he deserved a better pattern than a boring rib. Enter the Tweedy Honeycomb Toque.
I have a newish sweater from the Gap with a honeycomb pattern on the front that immediately became my favorite sweater of the year (I wear it at least 2 times a week). So I was perfectly happy to make him a hat that matches, ha. The pattern is fine but the resulting hat is too small for a man—I actually increased the stitch pattern part by 16 stitches in order to get it to fit him. This meant some finagling in the decreases, and they’re not quite as neat as the written directions, but it works! I cast on 96 stitches, increased to 112 (k5, kf/b), and went from there. I knit it in a few hours on a Sunday (I’d knit it as written in a few hours on Saturday, and then we realized we’d made a hat that fit ME perfectly).
Knitting someone a hat in March might normally seem like past the season, but this winter… I think he’ll still get plenty of use out of it!
This long weekend, my best knitter friends and I met up at a former barn-turned-meditation-center-now-airbnb-rental in rural Connecticut—it is our ninth such get together in six years! We played in the picture-perfect snow a little, but we mostly sat in our claimed spots on the couches, knit, and watched the Olympics. Oh, and we ate our weight in cheese and homemade bread. It was nothing short of perfect, except half of our group couldn’t make it this time.
I knit on my Frankenshawl—I mean, my Follow Your Arrow. I finished Clue 4 but had forgotten to bring another ball of the yarn along. We also shot a quilt I finished and brought with me, but I can’t show you that yet!