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Projects on My Needles – May 21, 2018

Hi hi! You guys, I think I’ve got my knitting enthusiasm back! I’ve cast on 2 more projects since my last update. They’re small, but I’ve made significant progress on my Zweig sweater in that time too, so I’m feeling pretty good. There are still so many projects in my queue that I’m itching to buy yarn for, but that is going to have to wait until the money fairy puts yarn under my pillow. Or some other more elegant metaphor/joke.

In the meantime, I’m working on something free, just costs time. I’m compiling a list of yarns that are in the realm of “natural” – no superwash and no synthetic fibers. I didn’t realize how many yarn brands carried bases that were compliant in this regard, so the list is EPICALLY HUGE. It’ll be available to download when I’m finished; you’ll get to organize and Ctrl + F your preferences. It’s either going to be very helpful, or else I’ve just added a major aspect of analysis paralysis to your lives. Sorry, but you’re welcome?

The first two projects here I’ve already written about in my previous WIP update post, but the next two are new!

1. Zweig

I have finally finished the body of this sweater and the left sleeve! I’ve got the second sleeve cast on. I think I’ll focus on this project as my priority so that I have it as a garment to wear. The other WIPs aren’t really things that’ll get use in the next few months anyway, so they can take longer to achieve FO status. Oh, and I’ve got plenty of yarn to finish the second sleeve at full length, never fear :).

Pattern: Zweig by Caitlin Hunter
Yarn: Swan’s Island Natural Colors Merino Fingering in Teal and Oyster
Ravelry Project Page: Zweig

2. Okanogan

These may not look any different from my last post, but I promise they grew 1-2 inches. I think I’ve still got another 1.5 inches or so of the leg to knit before I start the heel flap. I’m actually excited to work on the heel flap since I’ve never done one before, I just have to slog through the boring legs first!

Pattern: Okanogan by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends 4-Ply in Ladock Woods and Metherell
Green Mountain Spinnery Meadow in Natural
Ravelry Project Page: Okanogan Socks

3. Kitty Hat

Every now and again, my cousin will ask me to make something adorable for her daughter, and of course I’m happy to oblige! She settled on wanting a little dusty rose beanie with kitty ears on it. Since it’s spring now, and we live in Ohio, I made it in a size that’ll fit her come fall when little Frankie turns 1 (!). I used my free stripey baby hat pattern as the guide for measurements for the beanie. And I completely made up the ears on the fly! I did write down the rough pattern in the notes of the project page though, if you’re interested! All I’ve got to do is sew on the ears and give it a bath.

Pattern: See Project Notes!
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend in Shale
Ravelry Project Page: Kitty Ears Beanie

4. Tristan Newborn Cardigan

I finally have a reason to use my skein of Pichinku baby alpaca yarn that I received from their Kickstarter! We’re expecting another baby boy in October this year :). I knew I wanted to use this yarn for something small and compact since alpaca can grow and stretch with time if the piece is large, heavy, or drapey. This little sweater will have snaps down the side opening, maybe with some buttons sewn on top for funsies. I did totally miss a cable early on, but I figure I’ll just cinch it up on the wrong side to make it look like a cable? I guess? Whatever, babies don’t care what they’re wearing.

Pattern: Tristan Newborn
Yarn: Pichinku Baby Alpaca (Iksay)
Ravelry Project Page: Newborn Cardigan

So, what with these projects, the garden, the toddler, and general mom-life, I’m keeping busy. I think maybe we’ll decompress with a hike or a bubble-making leafblower later.

ttyl love you bye

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FibreShare

Although it hasn’t been something I’ve been actively working towards, I would like to make more friends and connections through the fiber and knitting world. I’m very lucky that I stumbled across the FibreShare yarn swap on Instagram. For a small fee, you are paired with two people: one to send yarn to and one who sends yarn to you. It’s so dang exciting to get your matches. You get to peer into a new friend’s life a little to learn about what they like to make, what kinds of yarn they like to use, what environment they like to knit in, and a bit about their personal lives (if they’re so gracious to share!). You can choose your preference on whether you’d like to send to someone domestically or internationally, but I think your other preferences take precedence over shipping. Full disclosure: I chose domestic solely based on shipping costs, but both of my partners were international – and it was awesome!

Sending to My Netherlands Friend

I had a lot of fun putting together a package to send all the way to the Netherlands from Ohio! My FibreShare match loves to drink tea, bake, has cats, gardens, and most importantly is a vegan who only uses vegan yarn! That means I had almost everything in common with her. Obviously the big challenge for me was choosing yarn that was plant fiber only. This meant no wool, mohair, cashmere, silk, etc. But really, there are actually a lot of vegan fiber options that are natural fibers: cotton, hemp, linen, lyocell, soy, banana silk, nettle, etc.

All wrapped up!
The goodies!

7. A bar of chocolate from Trader Joe’s – organic and fair trade, is so smooth, but NO dairy! Score!
6. Cat toys – I sewed these up with organic cotton fabric that I used to make Scottie and Maggie’s jammies and stuffed them with cotton balls and organic catnip. Now our fluffy friends are practically pen pals.
5. Seeds for the garden – Some veggies and some flowers. I hope they grow okay in her climate :).
4. Graham cracker bunnies – I asked what kind of snacks we have in the US that she doesn’t have in the Netherlands that she wanted to try, and graham crackers were on the list. If you’ve had them, you know a common ingredient is honey, which is decidedly not vegan! However, I did manage to find some snickerdoodle-flavored gluten-free graham cracker bunnies that did not have honey in them. Oddly, the same-ish flavor of the original ones did have honey, but the gluten-free did not. Strange, but tasty!
3. Chai tea sample pack – I have several loose teas that I like to add my homemade chai spice blend to, along with some little tea bags. I think I included English Breakfast and Green Rooibos since my new friend likes to drink tea in the morning and some herbal in the afternoon. I’m obsessed with this chai spice blend.
2. Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme DK Seaspray from my LYS – I really wanted to support my local yarn shop The Artful Yarn and find something that couldn’t be found in the Netherlands. It’s a DK weight, which is bulkier than she usually knits with, but I was intrigued by the way it was dyed and how it knit up.
1. Vegan Yarn Regulus Lace – This was the one item that she was drooling over lately, and I was happy to oblige! It’s a laceweight yarn made entirely of Tencel. And I personally really loved the beautiful dark red color.

I so hope my recipient was as pleased as I was to put this together. And now that I’ve done it once, I’m definitely going to spoil my next partner even more!

Receiving from My England Friend

I was so excited when my other FibreShare partner reached out to me from across the pond in London! The anticipation was really exciting since she only knows as much about me as I wrote on the FibreShare preferences form (and of course social media stalking, which is encouraged in FibreShare <3). Despite my mailman not telling me my package was at the post office, I was so blown away when I opened my package.

Yay!

She explained to me what everything was in a typed out note. I totally don’t deserve her.

  • Hand lotion – This immediately went into my purse and I use it practically every day.
  • A coaster with my initial on it – Such a nice personal touch, though Scottie keeps hiding it in the couch cushions!
  • A postcard from London – I love this and need to put it somewhere as a keepsake.
  • Green & Blacks orange and almond chocolate bar – This was so tasty! And Scottie definitely took a giant hunk of it as a morning snack one day.
  • Gleener – I was so excited to get this to remove pills from my knitwear and other clothing!
  • Handmade project bag – She made this with special fabrics she had bought in India and Japan.
  • Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends 4-Ply – This was on my list of yarns to try this year – she did her homework!
  • Cotswold 4-Ply – This is the deep magenta yarn. I’m really excited to incorporate this into a project as a pop of color!
  • Stylecraft Ethical Twist – This is the deep blue skein. It’ll be perfect to incorporate into a sweater that I need several colors of DK weigh yarn.
  • Gotland handspun (!) – This one is the big light gray skein. I feel so special to receive a handspun gift, and I can’t wait to choose a project to honor the work that went into it.

There was a tiny snafu during shipping. If I may direct your attention to the photos below, it would appear that a critter of sorts chewed all the way through the box, HANDMADE BAG UGH, and wrappings to get to the bar of chocolate. I just snapped of the affected parts of the chocolate bar and kept the rest, but of course, OMG HOW COULD YOU, CRITTER?! It gnawed a giant hole in the project bag. I have plans to sew a patch on it, but I am a total novice at sewing, so we’ll see how it goes. It even ate through the goddamn zipper, I mean really.

Chomp
Box >bag > chocolate snack

So silly. But the yarn is okay. And now I have a story – a cautionary tale of treats flying across the Atlantic.

Anywho, if this sounds like fun to you, DO IT! I can’t recommend it highly enough. <3

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Gifts for Baby Maggie

When I found out one of my best friends Mary was pregnant, I immediately  started noodling on what gifts I could make for her. She made me a hand-crocheted blanket with Scottie’s initials on it, which was so thoughtful and useful. That last part was definitely one of my main considerations. Making tiny booties with a monkey face on them or a little pea pod shaped sack blanket are cute as a button for approximately as long as a newborn photoshoot takes, but then they just end up laying around. I also definitely wanted to make sure I was making something appropriately-sized. When another of my friends was pregnant several years ago, she was the first of my peers to have a baby. I was so excited, I made like 8 little hats for her kiddo. However, I wasn’t super into checking gauge and they all turned out omg so small. I felt like an idiot for sending them something that they couldn’t even use.

In the end, I decided to make both knitwear and something that I sewed. Since my friends didn’t find out the sex of the baby until she (!) was born at the end of March, I also aimed to make the items relatively gender-neutral, even though babies couldn’t care less how they’re dressed.

Flax

The one piece of knitwear I made was a little Flax sweater sized 6-12 months. Even though I remember not receiving anything newborn or even 0-3 month sized at my baby shower and had to scramble to shop for little clothes that would fit Scottie when he was born, I didn’t think a super tiny pull-over-the-head sweater was practical for a newborn. Plus, by the time baby Maggie is old enough to fit into it, the weather ought to be cooling off again.

I had a ton of partial skeins of Quince & Co.’s Lark leftover from various things, so I used a bunch of different colors. I alternated colors every 2 rows which resulted in soooooooooo many ends to weave in. But it’s cute AF and I’m just going to die when she wears it for the first time.

Jammies

The other handmade item I made for Maggie was a pair of jammies that matched the pair I made for Scottie. The pants are the Cuff Leggings and the top is the Raglan Tee by Brindille and Twig. Now, let me tell you about my sewing experience: I suck at sewing. Using knit fabric is difficult AF to sew with. I don’t own a serger/overlock sewing machine so I was stuck attempting to use a zig-zag stitch for the whole thing which…. Look, these are as jammies as jammies are going to get. They turned out quite well by my standards; they’re cute and useful! However, I cannot make any promises on the structural integrity of the seams. At least I made them as a size 6-9 months so she won’t be jumping off of furniture or doing other similar fabric-straining activities.

These two items made it to the baby shower along with some necessities from their registry – in this case a diaper-changing pad with two covers. I am VERY adamant about buying specifics from a registry. I know how annoying it is when your long-researched list is ignored in favor of cutesy useless crap.

Failed jumper attempt

The edging that’s supposed to be in the shoulder seams shows the raw edge – oops.

This last item has not yet been delivered to our new tiny friend. Like I said earlier, I am complete trash at sewing. The other things I’ve made at least were passable even if they’re not skillfully made. But this was another story. I tried to make a little onesie short-sleeve Romper that had edging on the neckline, arms, legs, and crotch with a snap-closure at the bottom. If I’m going to be able to resurrect this thing, the seam ripper is going to need to be involved heavily. And I’ve got to get a move-on because I think I was making either a 0-3 month or 3-6 month size for her to enjoy in the summer months.

Mary’s care package

This last thing isn’t something that I hand-made, but something I cobbled together when remembering what I needed and would have killed to have when Scottie was first born. I put together a care package for mom & dad since their little 7 lb bundle of joy takes precedence over things like remembering to eat.

First, I brought over some homemade food, frozen so that they could choose to eat at their leisure. I don’t cook with gluten because I have an allergy, so everything was gluten-free. I made sure to make everything dairy-free, too, since some nursing moms temporarily have to stop eating dairy if their baby is colicky. Here’s what I brought over frozen:

  • breakfast sausage patties (these can be heated in the microwave and eaten with one hand)
  • lemon blueberry muffins (can also be eaten with one hand, and are great nursing snacks at 3 in the morning)
  • chicken dumpling soup (pure comfort food, but it does have secret pureed cauliflower for creaminess and extra veg)
  • frozen spinach (microwave, add butter and garlic powder – ya been veggied)

And I also brought over several things that just seemed like a good idea.

  • diapers & wipes (the disposable brand that we use – I figured why not try as many brands as you can)
  • a book with an inscription from our family (I did NOT have my shit together enough for her baby shower to include this item at that time, so this was tardy if anything)
  • all 8 Harry Potter DVDs (because holy crap I remember how long it takes newborns to nurse – I watched Parks and Rec twice in like 3 weeks while trapped on the couch for hours)
  • a big box of Lärabars (one-handed snack/MealLet’sBeHonest, non-perishable, can stow them in the nursery for aforementioned 3 am starving chow down)
  • aaaaaaaaaaand a bottle of wine because you guys deserve it (and it’s organic *adjusts monocle*)

The newborn phase is so fleeting and special even if it is HARD and sort of the worst and energetically expensive for everyone. This won’t be the last of the things I bring to Mary, Mark & little Maggie, even though they said not to bring them more food. I’m going to anyway, free up some fridge space girrrrrl.