Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sweater for Kassidy

Pattern: Five-Hour Baby Sweater (a more ornate version than I used before)
Yarn: Tatamy Tweed in Cherry
Completed: mid-October 2007

I heard from my neighbor in September that the neighbor on the other side of her house (that is, two houses down from me) had just had her baby. "Crap!" I thought. "That's right, she's pregnant. Was pregnant. What can I knit in a very short time?"

Never fear, the five-hour baby sweater (FHBS) is here! This is a more elaborate version I found via Ravelry that seemed more appropriate for a little girl (unlike the recipient of the last FHBS I made, this little girl is not being raised as a tomboy). In protest I made this in red, not pink. She has a bunch of dark hair already and red will look great on her. I passed over cute buttons for the more stylish and classic black ones.

I'm kind of meh about Tatamy Tweed. It's a cousin of Little Lehigh, cotton/acrylic, but seemed much rougher than LL once knitted up. Plus once I finished the sweater, it seemed way too big (I have all these other baby sweaters lying around the house to compare it to). So I popped it in the washer and dryer with warm water and a medium high heat. It shrank up just enough to make a denser fabric and got a fair amount softer. Still, I don't think I'd go for Tatamy Tweed again, especially for a baby's stuff.

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Tulip Sweater (and hat) for Abigail

Pattern: "Tulip, a colorful cardigan for baby" from Dream in Color
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Cool Fire, Giant Peach, Strange Harvest, Spring Tickle, Happy Forest, Blue Lagoon, Some Summer Sky, and Visual Purple (yes, the names are one reason I wanted to knit this)
Completed: mid-October 2007
New skill: Attached I-cord; knitting sleeves in the round

I squealed about getting this kit, and it lived up to its reputation. The yarn is superwash wool, hand-painted with beautiful shadings even in the less varigated shades, and reasonably soft and squooshy. It was fun to add each stripe and see how it transformed the whole thing. The I-cord finishing on the edges thoroughly charmed me. And it was really, really nice to not have to sew a single thing when I was done knitting!

Had plenty of yarn left, so I knit the matching Tulip hat that I found courtesy of Ravelry. Pity it was written by somebody for their much older child--next to the sweater, it looks like a hat for a child with a freakishly large head. But it will be cute for Abigail to wear when she gets older.

I almost don't want to send this off. I want it sitting around my living room as a decoration. That must sound sad. But I've gotten rather attached to it.

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Sweater for a baby who cannot yet be named

Pattern: Pea Pod Baby Set by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Little Lehigh in Playtime
Completed: early October 2007
New skill: Lace from a chart (not by instructions)

This project was born rather unexpectedly--I had the pattern, I'd been meaning to try it in order to build my lace skills and use a chart for the first time--and in the flurry of packing to go to England, I tossed the pattern, the necessary things and two skeins of Little Lehigh in my bag. Not my first choice of yarn (it's cotton/acrylic instead of cotton/cashmere as the pattern recommends) but it was all I had and I didn't have time to hit the yarn store on my way out of town. Nor did I feel like buying yarn for this at British prices with the weak dollar.

Well, I ended up casting it on to see how it worked, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's not cushy when only worked with a single strand, but it's not rough at all, especially considering the fiber content. It shows off the lace well and was reasonably easy to knit something challenging with. It makes a nice light sweater, and I'm pleased with how it turned out. (Granted, I made some wonky mistakes...I think I knit one side longer than the other, just by a few rows...relying on blocking and the collar to make things right after I found the mistake.)

I'm a little concerned the neck is too small. Don't babies have thick necks? And it took forever to make myself sew on the dumb buttons and snaps. Snaps was a good idea, except that it takes three times as long to sew the buttons on when you make them snaps.

Now I'm making the hat to match. Cute!

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's Tulips kit

The Peapod is almost finished. I sewed up the last seams last night and it just needs to be blocked and have buttons and snaps sewn on. I'm hoping the blocking will resolve a few small issues--I can see now where I made a few mistakes. I should've knitted a bit longer on the non-lace front half. It doesn't quite match up with the other side. Maybe it's a gauge thing with the lace too? Either way, one side needs to be stretched out some to match up with the other. The neckband helped things out a lot, but it doesn't quite come together, so I'm debating having it just stand up like a small collar of sorts (Peapod Baby Pastor!). And somehow the armholes were bigger than the sleeves, so I sewed up a bitty seam there as well.

Now, I was quite obliged that a baby had stepped forward (figuratively) to claim this sweater, since I began it without a clear recipient in mind. Elissa and Justin are due to give birth any day to their daughter. But...the more I thought about it...the more it didn't seem right to give Peapod to a girl baby. Peapod is unisex, to be sure, but surely a girl deserved something more...well, not necessarily girly, but something different. Something more festive and bright.

Something like Tulips. (Note: I DID NOT MAKE THIS. Yet.)

Keyboard Biologist has one of the best photos of this out there.

Tulips' popularity skyrocketed when the Yarn Harlot sang its praises, and now yarn shops who make the cute little kits (essential unless you are making a bunch of them) have trouble getting the stuff in stock. Most have a waiting list--I'm on a list that is 4-6 weeks long right now. Problem when the baby is due any minute! But surely, I thought, if I can find a place that can get a kit to me relatively soon, we'll be fine. This is superwash wool--the baby won't be able to wear it in August, surely. Perhaps not even in September.

Enter Arcadia Knitting in Chicago! Happened to stumble on their shop blog right after they got the kits in stock, and so one is now winging its way to me, hopefully to arrive on Saturday (???).

The more sensible side of me is disdainful, knowing that to a certain extent, I'm rationalizing the human desire to have the latest, greatest, most popular thing. I know in my heart of hearts that it is just a kit, and it just has yarn, and it will not be the Holy Grail of knitting, after which everything is pale and boring. But the "ooh, shiny!" side of me can't stop thinking about Tulips. Mmm, Tulips.

Peapod will be finished, and then laid away for one of the December babies coming. Surely one of them will be a boy. If not...well, that other Tulips waiting list may come in handy.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

I, too, have fallen

I got my invite to Ravelry. It's exactly as addictive as everybody who's joined it already says. I just can't recommend it enough. It was nice to be able to use material from Needlin' to reconstruct my projects for Ravelry (as best I could).

I'm currently working on a project that Ravelry informs me happens to be the eighth most popular baby pattern that Ravelers are working on. It's the Pea Pod Baby Sweater. I started this with Little Lehigh because it's what I had on hand and I didn't have time to shop for something nicer before I left on my trip (and just couldn't bring myself to buy a lot of nice yarn at British prices). Some measure of regret there, but I still think it will be a nice light cotton sweater.

I started it knowing that two friends were due in December. Lo and behold, I just found that another friend is due in a week or two, and yet another friend is due in April, so there will be a steady stream of baby sweaters proceeding through here! Thank goodness for Ravelry's queue.

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