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!
Every time I wear this cowl when around people who know me, I get a surprised reaction. People say things like “It’s just not very . . . you.” When strangers see me in it, however, they go out of their way to compliment me and say they love the colors! I stepped far out of my comfort zone with these colors, and it’s been pretty rewarding.
Neon has been a trend lately, and though I’m not one to clamor to follow trends (my trend-following is mostly subconscious, which yeah, I know), for the magazine we highlighted neons recently. And we put some Manos—to me, a traditionally rustic, wooly yarn—in screaming neons on the cover. Which meant I had a skein each of a bunch of highlighter shades. Last summer when I was in Wisconsin, I threw the yarn and a crochet hook in my bag and started on a long chevron scarf. I finished it soon after the trip and started wearing it this past fall, but never got any pictures of it.
I confess I now have no idea what I did exactly but it was nothing special or outlandish as far as chevrons go. I wanted a pretty shallow zig zag, and I worked it in the round. I rotated through the three colors until it seemed tall enough. I might have made it taller. It’s long enough to double up, but it’s not snug to my neck so it’s best worn on transitional weather days, like I’m having while on a trip to the Pacific Northwest. I wore it while sightseeing in Seattle this week—and I have loads of pictures to share with you of all I’ve seen here!
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!
Last October, I browsed the halls of Rhinebeck with nothing in particular in mind. I wasn’t really knitting too much, so I mostly went to spend a day with friends and see some sheep. But then we passed through Oasis Farm Fiber Mill‘s booth and petted their yarn and came to a screeching halt. It was so so soft, despite its rustic appearance, and we all wanted it. I decided it would make a lovely gift for Dad for Christmas. So I called my mom and asked her if Dad is allergic to angora and what color she thought he’d like in a scarf. I debated among their colors for a time before settling on a pretty heathered blue. The yarn doesn’t have labels so I truly have no idea which yarn I bought, but I think it’s the “Classic Bunny” (because I don’t recall picking one with silk content, but who knows).
There was no way I would knit something up in time, nor could I be sure my hands could handle it, so I brought out my little 10-inch Cricket and got to work the week before the holiday. I worried about warping it with this yarn, as it felt delicate, but I didn’t know how to resolve that issue so I just barreled ahead and crossed my fingers—I realize that I’m lucky it held up just fine. I know just enough about yarn to be concerned, but not enough about how weaving works best nor what my personal preferences are to know what kind of fix would be right. (Obviously, choose a stronger yarn for the warp, but how would I find one in just the right color? Would I want warp and weft in different colors? There were just too many variables.) I know confidence and knowledge will come with time, so for now each foray into weaving is another experiment, and blind luck and a hopeful attitude makes up for actual planning. (I could never imagine approaching knitting this way! Egads.)
As I say, my weaving experience is very limited so of course my skills are, well, in need of practice, but I think I did okay. I tried not to beat the weft down too hard (which is my instinct) in order to keep the gauge relatively even in both directions. Truth is, a different-dent reed was probably in order but I only have the one. The edges are not exact but they’re not drastically bad, either! I think dad liked it a lot, and he immediately donned it when we exchanged Christmas presents a few weeks ago. I only wish I’d bought more of this yarn to weave a scarf for myself, too.
So my dear friend Miko is expecting a baby in February, and for her shower I was charged with organizing an activity of some kind, preferably of the not-messy variety. I wasn’t inclined toward fabric paint anyway, because even thought that makes the designs really personal, it also makes them look—let’s be honest here—like crap. While it’s nice, I’m sure, to have a handful of baby garments that feel truly expendable, I figured we could do a little better.
I found some ideas online and followed suit, buying a bunch of onesies (mostly all newborn size; if I were to do this again I’d get more of an assortment of sizes if possible) and also some bibs. A nice long roll of Heat ‘n’ Bond was going to be the key to simple, mess-free decorating. In order to ensure all the designs would match, I bought a charm pack of fabrics (Moda Bluebird Park). I considered bringing scraps from my own stash—and this could be an awesome scrapbuster!—but I’m happier with how it all looks using this matched set. I cut out an assortment of simple shapes (turtle, elephant, ice cream cone, letters, random shapes) in heavy-weight paper for people to use as stencils. I also brought some cookie cutters for tracing.
The process goes like this: Cut the Heat ‘n’ Bond into a manageable square—about the size of a charm square or just the size of the chosen shape. Have a guest pick a stencil and trace the shape onto the paper side of the Heat ‘n’ Bond, reminding them that if it has directionality it needs to be traced backward. Do not let them cut it out yet! Take the square and iron it to the back of their chosen fabric, then have them cut it out of the fabric. They can then peel the paper backing off the shape and arrange it how they want on the onesie/bib (no worries about permanence: it won’t stick until ironed again). Then press it into place! Done! I manned the iron for the most part, but people could certainly do that themselves if the iron were conveniently placed (I was in a corner with a mini board on the floor!).
Everyone really got into it and people had some sweet and creative ideas. The mom-to-be even got in on the action, designing her own martini glass for a bib. I did the “H” on a hedgehog circle (the baby’s last name will begin with H), the ice cream cone, and two jigsaw pieces. I think everyone enjoyed it and the results are super cute! I hope mom gets lots of use out of them and smiles whenever the kiddo spits up on one. (They should last in the wash. I imagine they’ll start to come apart after a few washings, but they’ll have done their job!)