Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bound Off: Wee Austin Hoodie

Wee Austin Hoodie
Why are you always sticking that thing in my face?

It's true, I finally finished knitting something! It only took me 3 months for this little bitty sweater. At this rate,  I should finish an adult cardigan sometime next century.

Wee Austin Hoodie
Hold my head up like this? Are you sure?

Pattern: Wee Austin Hoodie, by Connie Chang Chinchio
Size: 6 months
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll in Rainforest Heather, 2 skeins, ~450 yards
Needles: sizes 4 and 5
Mods: none

I started this in January, back when I was still expecting a 9 pound baby, thinking I would finish it in February (ha!) and it would fit him more or less right away--I didn't bother with a gauge swatch, I know I'm a tight knitter, and figured it would come out a bit smaller than 6 months.

Of course, I instead had a 6 pound baby, who is now nearing 13 pounds, and while fortunately the sweater does more or less fit him, it's nearly May, and summer is right around the corner.

At least I got some cute photos.

Wee Austin Hoodie
OK, got it!

The sweater is knit in one piece until you divide for left front, right front and back, as well as the hood. It's fairly simple, mostly stockinette with a band of woven-look stitches across the chest.

I've never done a hooded sweater before, so I was intrigued by the construction. The hood is knit up from held stitches from the front, then a central stitch is bound off to create 2 sides, which are grafted together.

I found the buttons in my stash, an old Etsy purchase. I think they were the only 6 matching buttons I had, and fortunately they work perfectly.

Wee Austin Hoodie
I love my sweater!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Single Serve Edition

It's almost never a good idea to make a batch of brownies or cookies. Because then you eat a whole batch of brownies or cookies. And then whine about the fact that you ate a whole pan of brownies or 2 dozen cookies. And cry when you step on the scale.

For these reasons, mug desserts are my new thing. A small smattering of ingredients, and you have a single brownie or cookie or what have you, conveniently "baked" in a mug in your microwave in a matter of minutes. No extra baked goods lying around to tempt you, and no messy clean up either.

Here's a selection of tasty things--even some real food!--you can whip up in a mug.

I made this chocolate chip cookie last night, and it was great. 

Anything with Nutella is a good idea.

I think I'll try this oatmeal cookie next!

Breakfast! Eggs Benedict in a mug.

Or hearty oatmeal.

Cheesecake?? Yes please!

Apparently you can even do meatloaf.

Do you have a go-to mug recipe?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

WIP Weekend: Coolbreeze Cardigan and Wee Austin Hoodie

I am still finding some time to knit, in stolen moments here and there: when baby naps (which seems to be for either 30 minutes or 2 hours; but I never know which one I'm going to get), when CP is home in the evenings and on weekends to help with baby wrangling, or when JJ is sufficiently distracted by his playmat. It doesn't seem like much, but it has allowed me to make some progress on two projects.

First, my Coolbreeze Cardigan.

Coolbreeze Cardigan

I just adore this one. Tanis created two sweater kits for this design, and I picked the warm one. The color selection is amazing, and while the yoke looks somewhat complicated, it's actually an easy to memorize slipped stitch pattern that works up quickly. Lots of ends to weave in, but I think it will be worth it.

My hope is to knit JJ a reverse version of this cardigan, using brick red as the main color, and then maybe the matching hat for CP, so we can be disgustingly cute for holiday cards this year.

I've also nearly finished the Wee Austin Hoodie for JJ, just in time for it to be too warm for him to wear it:


I've just got one sleeve left to finish, and buttons to attach--the primary concern being I don't think I actually have any buttons suitable for this project. 

I'm knitting the smallest size, 6 months, which will probably fit JJ sometime in July . . . sigh. I suppose it might come in handy for over-air conditioned places.

I hope.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Warm Weather Yarn

If you're like me, your knitting takes a nosedive as the weather warms up. Lap full of wool and all that. The answer to this problem is probably to knit with non-wool yarns.

Unfortunately, I don't like most of them.

Wool yarns are so cozy and inviting; warm weather yarns just seem so . . . cold. 



Which is probably why my most recent warm-weather knit still looks like this, 9 months later:


And that's yarn I like!

(Full disclosure: I started that project in my 1st trimester, which I basically slept through. I had no knitting mojo to speak of.)

So, I'm on a quest.

A quest for non-yucky warm weather yarns.

Apparently they won't necessarily lead me to knit more, but there's always hope.

Let's see what we find.

Knit Picks recently released Billow, a 100% pima cotton yarn that looks pretty snuggly for cotton.

I've heard good things about Be Sweet Bamboo, though it seems a little pricey at $12/110 yards.

Valley Yarns Goshen is a blend of cotton, modal and silk that I've actually used and enjoyed.

That unfinished blob at the top of the page is being knit in Comfy Sport, also from Knit Picks.

This Ultra Pima from Cascade comes in fun handpainted colors.

And this Panda Silk might be nice for lighter weight socks.

What non-wool yarns do you love?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wittle Wednesdays


It's true, I've been refusing to nap, I'm still nowhere near sleeping through the night, and I fuss a lot when I'm tired, even though it's totally my fault--but look how cute I am, holding my giant head up!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesdays with Dory: Deranged Wildlife Edition


Dear Dory,

A mentally disturbed robin has been flinging himself at my windows all day long. It's loud and annoying, and can't be good for the robin either. What should I do?


Disturbed in Detroit

Dear Disturbed,

Ideally, you would let your kitteh out to eat the robin. But since you seem to be worried about the robin's health, I doubt you'll go that route.

I asked Kristen to do some research on this issue, and it turns out that the robin is probably seeing his reflection in the window and thinking it's another robin. During mating season, robins are very territorial, so he's likely trying to chase the intruder off, with poor results. 

You could try covering your window with paper or cardboard, which would eliminate the reflection, but be very ugly. It might also bother your home owner's association. And of course, you're out of luck if the windows in question are out of your reach, say, in your entryway with the lovely high ceilings and decorative windows 20 feet above your head. And your robin may just find his enemy lurking in another window--I'm certain you don't want to cover all your windows.

So basically, you're going to have to wait until mating season is over, mid-summer. Good luck. :-/

Maybe you want to reconsider letting your kitteh handle the matter?

Have a purrrrrrrfect day!


Monday, April 8, 2013

Follow up: Online Classes

Speaking of online classes, it has come to my attention that I am currently enrolled in an absurd number of Craftsy classes.

I'm not sure how this happened.

It's just that there are so many good ones, and lots of coupons/sales to take advantage of (I don't think I've ever paid full price for a class). There are even some free courses!

The result being that I am currently enrolled in:

Online Knitting Class
It would've been really helpful to finish this one before I tackled my most recent design; I kinda winged it on the grading.

Online Knitting Class
Shawl construction remains a mystery to me.

free short rows knitting class at
Mine never look good, I'm sure this will help.

PLUS, Shoot It!, an Online Product Photography Class, and a class on teaching others how to knit.

Clearly, I'm insane.

And worse, I'm tempted to also enroll in Anne Hanson's Button Bands and Buttonholes Class, which looks great--I'm always lazy about button bands, but done well, they really add a professional look to a sweater.

The really sad part is, I'm mostly ignoring all of these classes at the moment, because they're very hands-on (a good thing!), and my hands are full of a baby. Fortunately, the classes never "expire," and you can learn on your own schedule.

So when I finish all these classes in . . . 2015? . . . I'm going to be a knitting genius.

 If your hands are baby-free, you should definitely check out some of the courses being offered--especially since every single class is on sale TODAY.


(Fair warning--they have classes about things OTHER than knitting too--quilting, sewing, spinning! And, oh, FOOD CRAFT! I try not to look. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saturday Sampler: Online Classes

I always loved school--so much that I have a marginally useless Masters Degree in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies. That's how long I stayed in school. I love the whole environment (I even spent 6 weeks as a substitute Spanish teacher--I'd probably stay a teacher if it paid more than peanuts), and learning new things. Also, school supplies.

Unfortunately, I don't have much time for classes and learning right now, and I'm sure many of you are in the same boat. Busy busy busy.

I've recently discovered the world of online classes. Of course, there are some classroom elements that just can't be replicated online, but these classes are a cheaper and more flexible substitute when you can't make it out of the house regularly or commit to a set schedule.

Photography workshop

Tune up your blog!

Learn just about anything--free!

Colorwork and--eep!--steeking.
(Craftsy is having a spring sale right now!)

With Livemocha, you can brush up on that language you studied in high school, or learn a new one!

Get in shape!

Learn something artsy, like watercolors.

Found any interesting online classes recently?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wittle Wednesdays

I've decided to (try to) condense all baby-related content in one weekly post, so those less interested in babies can just skip it. So, ta da! Wittle Wednesdays!

Unbelievably, my sweet little chanchito turned 2 months old yesterday!


It just doesn't seem possible.

This morning we went to the doctor for his first round of shots, which I think may have been worse for me than for him. He got Tylenol, at least. No one offered me any booze to calm my nerves, which I think should be standard practice.

He also tried to embarrass me by peeing on the weigh station AND the exam table in the office.


At two months, JJ is now smiling, napping less, sleeping (slightly) longer at night, and starting to show some interest in his toys.  He can hold his head up for short periods--and when it starts to wobble, he raises his eyebrows, thinking this will help keep it up. Super adorable.

And look, those socks I knit him months ago actually fit now!

Two months also means my maternity leave is almost at an end--of course, I'm not going back to the office (hurrah!), but I have been taking it easier with blogging and designs for the last couple of months, ultimately planning to pick things back up when my maternity leave ends.

We'll see how that pans out!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesdays with Dory: Building your Reference Library

Can I go outside, where there's no baby?

Dear Dory,

I use the Internet a lot to look up knitting stuff, but what if the zombie apocalypse comes and I lose Internet access?!? What knitting reference books should I have on hand to see me through those dark times?

Offline in Omaha

Dear Offline,

I'm not sure what a zombie apocalypse is, but you never know when the Internet will crap out on you, so building a reference library is a good idea. Here are some books I found on Kristen's bookshelf:

Everything you ever wanted to know about knitting. Everything.

Harmony Guides, like this one, are great for finding new stitch patterns.

An in depth look at finishing techniques and tricks.

A book solely dedicated to cast on and bind off techniques (who knew there were so many?)

A must-have for colorwork.

And a sock knitting bible.

Have fun stocking your library!


Monday, April 1, 2013

Bound Off: Super Secret FO Edition

It's no secret that JJ has put a rather large dent in my knitting time, but I must confess, the other knitting time suck has been a design I've been working on.

Last year, when I was still pregnant but in denial about the end result of pregnancy being a real live baby that eats all your free time, I submitted a design proposal for an upcoming pattern collection. The response I got wasn't quite what I was expecting--it turned out my design didn't work for that particular collection, but they wanted to include it in a different upcoming collection!

I said "Woohoo!" and got to work.

On Thursday, I sent the finished pattern off. The collection won't be published until October--which sounds like a million years away, but will almost certainly be here before I know it. Until then, the design is a secret, so I can only offer these wee peeks:

This is my first real garment, with sizes and everything. The sample currently resides on my dress form, Amelia, where it's waiting patiently for me to lose the rest of my pregnancy weight so it fits (I say, as I gobble down a Cadbury Creme Egg).

My pattern will be given to test knitters and tech editors, so there's still work to be done, but for now, I can put it out of mind, and with no other deadlines rapidly approaching, can devote more of my meager knitting time to personal projects. I've cast on my Coolbreeze cardigan, and am working on a few pair of socks/booties for JJ, as well as a sweater that I really ought to finish so he can wear it at least once before the weather warms up.

Last week I also caught wind of Quince and Co.'s new yarn, Owl, a rustic-looking wool/alpaca blend, and thought it looked perfect for a Twigs and Willows cardigan, so I ordered a bunch in a gorgeous, earthy yellow shade. Of course, I still have to wind it, so I won't be doing anything with it anytime soon.