Archive for the ‘gifts’ Category

AccessoryFest 2010: Ladybug Picnic Mittens

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

These mittens take their name from the Sesame Street counting sketch about a ladybug picnic. You know you know it. Don’t remember it? Click the link. I dare you. Here, I’ll share it again. You’ll be singing that goofy song for the rest of the day.

(You’re welcome.)

Oh, come on, it’s not so annoying, is it? I think it’s kind of cute! Elizabeth Mitchell does a wonderful rendition of it on one of her children’s albums.

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

Once I got the idea to knit some ladybugs, it bounced around in my head just as relentlessly as that silly song will in yours. I swatched them on a white background on the way to Washington, D. C. a few weeks ago, but the dark floats really showed through. Unfortunately, I did not have any other appropriate yarn with me so the idea had to kick around my head for a few more days before I could actually do anything about it!

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

I made this pair of mittens for JulieFrick, who claims to be incapable of stranded knitting. I don’t believe it. Have you seen her knitting? It is categorically not the work of the knitting skill-challenged. Nevertheless, I thought the lady needed a pair of stranded mitts because I know she’s never going to make herself any!!

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

Pattern: Ladybug Picnic Mittens (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport in Limestone, Red Fox, and Pepper

Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) and US 1 (2.5 mm)

I tried so hard to get this pattern to come out with only twelve ladybugs – like in the song – but in order to maintain uniform tension, the adult sizes required fifteen ladybugs. I made sure that the child-size mitten, the XS, only has twelve. After all, why call them Ladybug Picnic Mittens if there were not twelve ladybugs? That’s the entire point of the song! The mittens feature a picot cuff and red and black braid at the cuff, a peasant thumb, and a rounded top. The ladybugs are knitted into the mitten; however, the bugs’ spots and feet are duplicate stitched on afterwards.

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

I am especially pleased with the palm side. I did not really want to put ladybugs on the inside, but I needed a way to carry the yarn across. I love this effect. I might see about using the stitch pattern in other designs.

Ladybug Picnic Mittens

Now that the Fricknits family is outfitted with stranded knitwear, they can start shoveling out from under all that snow!

AccesoryFest 2010: The Hat Edition

I did say that I’ve been busy knitting, did I not? Let’s start with a major stashbust of winter accessories. I love knitting hats. That much is abundantly clear, is it not? I rarely make hats for members of my household because we have so many already. However, Beatrix outgrew her hat from last year so of course, she needed a new one.

A hat for Beatrix

I whipped up a child size Min Ulla because I wanted to have made all four versions of the hat by the end of the winter. This is Version C.

Inside lining, Min Ulla Hat

I love the 8-point star decrease, don’t you? I would use it in every hat if I could.

Min Ulla Hat, Version C

Mr. Frick, of Fricknits fame, received Version B of Min Ulla. When visiting the crafty Frick household a few weeks ago, I learned that Mr. Frick needed a warmer hat for his commute.

for Mr. Frick

What an excellent excuse to make another one of these!

for Mr. Frick

Better yet, the hat arrived in the DC Metro area with two feet of snow for the true Nordic experience! I hope it comes in handy during the great snowmageddon of 2010.

Pattern: Min Ulla Hat, Versions C and B (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Cardinal and Winter White for Beatrix, Turquoise Mix and Winter White for Mr. Frick
Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Kirsten Kapur published her Wood Hollow hat and mitten pattern just days before a dear friend lamented her inability to find a decent winter cap. I promised mittens too, but they will need to wait until spring because I’m back in the throes of deadline knitting until then.

Wood Hollow Hat

Pattern: Wood Hollow Hat (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Harrisville Designs New England Highland in Midnight Blue
Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Finally, I dropped some unexciting, stashbusting hats in the mail to add to Liz’s campaign for kids in Nepal.

And that was just hats! Just wait until I tell you about the mittens! I will have two new mitten patterns for you this week. I will publish them as soon as I’ve made the final revisions to my drafts and cleaned up the tutorial photos.

Stay tuned!

The kindness of knitters

Thank you so much for all of your many kind comments, notes, and emails! It is wonderful of you to share in our excitement about little Odysseus. The last few weeks have been great fun, if a bit tiring. I intend to be back and running by the end of the week because I have lots to show you! As it turns out, feeding a baby in the middle of the night makes for great knitting time. Indeed, knitting is a good way to keep myself awake long enough for the little guy to have his early morning snack.

If you slept more at night,

Before I tell you what I’ve been knitting, let me show you what everyone else has been making. For weeks, the Exercise Before Knitting household has been flooded with lovely handmade welcome gifts for Odysseus and big sister presents for Beatrix. Aaron and I are both stunned by and grateful for the kindness of knitters. You are good people.

Kathy made this beautiful striped raglan with Shibui sock yarn just before O was born. He is not quite big enough for it yet, but since he is quickly outgrowing his newborn sweaters, it will not be long before he can wear it. I love the stripes! And the blue buttons!

Baby knits!

And then, he arrived and she sent another sweater! A vest, actually – the Archie vest – made with Madelinetosh and Lorna’s Laces sock yarn. It is so adorable that I wish he could wear it forever.

The little old man

Diana knitted the little nipper the cutest little bonnet. I took this picture weeks ago and his cheeks have since filled out the sides of the bonnet!! Our little guy is quite the chubby baby these days!

Sweet baby bonnet

My local knitters from Knit Lawrence have been busy too! Dee Anna whipped up some soft, Kanoko Pants (Ravelry link) for his big cloth diapered butt out of some Queensland Kathmandu Tweed I’m pretty sure I talked her into buying a few years back. See, Dee Anna? It wasn’t enabling, it was foresight!

Longies by Dee Anna

Sally resurrected and rewrote a vintage pattern, creating a beautiful, warm, zipped baby bunting out of Lanaloft that will be useful both this winter and next. I would love to know what magical substance she knitted into it because Odysseus falls asleep the moment I pop him in.

Sally's magic baby bunting

For example, when I tried to take a picture of him in it, I put him down on the sofa. He’s out. It’s magic. Sally, you should bottle this and sell it for a mint!

Sally's magic baby bunting

Danielle started by test knitting Pam’s Elf Slipper pattern (Ravelry link) in a child size for Beatrix. Then, she got carried away and made a matching stocking cap! Beatrix is, as you can clearly see, dressed here as a big sister elf princess. What? Never heard of one? I guess you have not traveled to the North Pole where big sister elf princesses live…

Elf princess

The elf slippers are so popular that we had to impose rules governing their use: no wearing them outside, no running in them, no playing basketball in them. It is hard to be three.

Danielle also made Odysseus a sweet baby bonnet and a kimono sweater, complete with Peter Rabbit buttons! He wears this a lot because it is so easy to get on and off.

Made by Danielle

Finally, a box from Larissa arrived yesterday with an absolutely gorgeous baby quilt and several burp cloths. Isn’t that striped binding beautiful? I am in love with it.

The quilt that Larissa made for O

I actually had a hard time getting pictures of the burp cloths because they went into immediate circulation and were, well, a little dirty. This was the only clean one remaining! They are really lovely, useful cloths from a mom who would know.

Burp cloths by Larissa

The little man made great use of his new quilt, rolling over for the first time (to his great displeasure) the moment I pulled out my camera.

The quilt that Larissa made for O

Thank you, all of you, from the four of us. We are not worthy of such outstanding handiwork. Your affection, kindness, and generosity mean a lot to us!

The waiting game

Waiting for babies to be born is not my strong suit. Oh, who are we kidding? Why qualify it? Waiting is not my strong suit. I decided to devote some of this interminable wait to knitting up a long overdue gift. I settled on knitting a stole (recall that around here, we don’t call them shawls) for a woman who has helped me enormously with my medical school applications. After much deliberation, Muir seemed the perfect combination of easy and interesting. I feel a bit too absent-minded these days to work on anything complex; thus, I needed a pattern I could not easily mess up!

So, the knitting is done

I used some stashed Classic Elite Yarns Fresco for a heavier weight stole. Consequently, I only cast on 93 stitches for 2 (instead of 3) pattern repeats across. I stopped after 11 full repeats in length, although I probably could have eked out a 12th repeat if pressed. After blocking, the stole measures 24″ x 66″, although I think it will stretch quite a bit more in length when worn.

So, the knitting is done

Pattern: Muir by Rosemary Hill (Ravelry link)

Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Fresco, #5334 Cool Raspberry, 4.5 skeins

Muir was the only knitting project I really wanted to finish before Baby Brown’s arrival. While I am working on several other projects on post-baby deadlines, here are two that I hope to finish in the coming months.

First up is i heart you (Ravelry link) by Mandy Powers. I have admired this pattern ever since Mandy published it and I thought it would be a great way to use up some Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport scraps in a sweater for Beatrix.

Hearts

Beatrix liked the idea too. So much so that she wanted to “help knit”. Fortunately, the knitted fabric remains intact after her assistance; the small skeins of colored yarn for the hearts are piled up in a tangled mess. At first, I thought I would spend an evening untwisting the yarn. Now, I think it would probably be best to find more. So much for a stashbuster. Thanks, Beatrix!

The other project I’m working on is a cabled pullover for me. I have not yet decided if I will write up a pattern for this or just knit it for myself. Much will depend on how easy the shaping proves at the shoulders and neck. I worked furiously on this for a few weeks, but set it down once I reached the armholes, as I now have some more math to do before proceeding.

Suddenly sedentary

They say babies only come once the knitting is done. Well, it’s done and I’m waiting. Less and less patiently, but I’m waiting.

Hedge Fence Pullover

Center cable, Hedge Fence Pullover

For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the perfect cabled pullover. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the real reason I learned to knit. I have very strong opinions about aran-style sweaters. As far as I am concerned, they must

1.) feature symmetrically placed cables;

2.) be heavily cabled, but not be so overwrought so as to include bobbles or a waffle stitch cable;

3.) include some kind of set-in sleeve (no matter how traditional the drop shoulder, I find it sloppy and droopy looking)

4.) not include a mock turtleneck;

5.) not be knit with 10″ of ease;

6.) not make me look 30 lbs heavier.

Is that so much to ask of a sweater? Off the top of my head, Lucy Sweetland’s Lillian and a bobble-less version of Kim Hargreaves’ Demi are the only ones I can think of that come close  – both are in my queue to knit! I have yet to make a sweater that satisfies all of these criteria, but I think this new pattern comes close to meeting my standards.

Front view, Hedge Fence Pullover

Aaron owns and wears more sweaters than anyone I know (knitters included). Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a store-bought sweater to properly fit a very tall, thin man with monkey arms. If something fits in the chest, the arms and body are 4″ too short. If the arms and body are long enough, the body is impossibly wide. Consequently, most of his sweaters are ill-fitting and gigantic. He has been asking for a cabled pullover for years and indeed, I have always wanted to make him something that actually fits. However, I could not find the right pattern. More importantly, I doubted whether he would actually wear what I made him. After all, he has been wearing too-big clothes all his life. Once, when I convinced him to try on a 40″ shirt, he reacted like a cat with tape on its paws. “It’s so tight, I don’t think I could concentrate,” he protested, as he squirmed around in 7″ of positive ease. Sometimes, I wonder if he thinks my clothes fit like spandex. I refused to knit him a sweater as ill-fitting as anything he could buy. But after years of listening to him talk about wanting a handmade cable sweater, last summer, I decided it was time to give it a go. I took some cable patterns from stitch dictionaries and put them together until I found a combination I liked.

Side view, Hedge Fence Pullover

I measured his favorite sweater and found it to have a 46″ chest, 13″ larger than his 33″ chest measurement. We split the difference, and I planned a 39″ size. With still 6″ of ease, I had to aggressively decrease at the armholes to achieve a fitted shoulder width. We are both delighted with the result. I know this pullover will enter Aaron’s winter sweater rotation. And if it doesn’t, there’s always divorce.

Hedge Fence Pullover

Pattern: Hedge Fence Pullover

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk (which is really Briggs & Little Regal, don’t ask me why there are two different names for the same yarn) in Brown Heather, 7 skeins

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

I am happy to offer the unisex pattern in 12 sizes: 31 (33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 46, 49, 51, 53, 55)”. The garment takes its name from Hedge Fence Shoal, a shallow sandbar on the far west side of Nantucket Sound, just northeast of Martha’s Vineyard. I have been contemplating a series of fisherman-style sweaters and I decided to go with a naming scheme based on the waters I sailed so much as a child.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $8.50.

The body and sleeves of the garment are knit in the round to the armholes, after which point the knitting is done back and forth. The only seaming required is the sewing in of the sleeve cap. The shoulders are joined by a three-needle bind-off, the underarm stitches are grafted together, and stitches are picked up around the neck for the neckline ribbing. The pattern comes with text instructions, a set of body charts for each size, and a set of sleeve charts for each size. None of the cable instructions are written out – they are all charted. In addition, I have included several pages of notes on how to modify the pattern to achieve the best fit for your body while maintaining the integrity of the center cable panel. Fortunately, the side cables are small enough to allow for quite a lot of flexibility in terms of sizing. The only real challenge in modifying the pattern is to ensure the center cable still flows cleanly into the ribbing at the bottom edge and neckline.

Hedge Fence Pullover

More information about the pattern and a detailed schematic can be found on the Hedge Fence Pullover page or on the Ravelry pattern page.

More photos of the finished garment here.