Sweater for Mom

When searching for the right pattern for a sweater for my Mom, I was way more particular than I probably needed to be.  But, I mean, come on!  This is my Mom we’re talking about here!  She’s also a knitter, so the pattern needed to be complex enough to impress but still something I could begin and complete over the summer.  To find both the right pattern and the yarn, I went to my new local yarn store, Anacapa Fine Yarns.

I chose the pattern during a morning visit with Patrick in tow.  Not the most productive or enjoyable way to shop in a yarn store.  He had only just turned two, and was so excited to be on an outing with me.  He was really good while I found the perfect pattern — “Dean” by Manos del Uruguay, with great cables and sides in double seed stitch — but once I found that and started looking at yarns, he wanted to explore the store.  Not, however, in the same way I wanted to explore.  Patrick took his first opportunity to run between one of tall yarn shelves and the window all the way to the far corner behind another shelf where I couldn’t reach him but he could see me through the crack between the shelves.  “Momma…I SEEEEEE you!”  A good time to leave.

So I went back during nap time and found an extremely helpful clerk — friendly, knowledgeable, excited to help me find the right fit.  Together we picked Lamb’s Pride Wool in the color Orchid Thistle for the pattern.  When I was younger, my mom and I made the same cabled sweater pattern in cotton yarns — mine in white/blue variegated and hers in a pastel pink.  I thought I remembered that her sweater was on its last legs, so it seemed like she might be ready for another pink to be pretty in.

I didn’t start the sweater until we had moved — I was still finishing Las Vegas scarves in the meantime — but as soon as I did, I worked quickly and diligently on it to make my due date.  Once Patrick was in day care, Drew and I would spend our afternoons on campus, watching Netflix on our computer while I knitted in the University Center.  I drew some stares from the uninitiated, but haters can hate — this sweater was for my mom, and no amount of skanked-up undergrads giggling at me was going to deter me from my mission.

I am VERY happy with the final product!  There came a time, midway up the front, where I worried that it wasn’t as complex as I wanted.  Gulp.  But now, looking at the pictures, and seeing how great it fits her, I know I worried in vain.

It’s so nice to work with wool again, too.  I’ve put wool aside while living in Las Vegas, and, obviously, there’s no problem making a wool sweater for my Minnesotan Mom!  But in a cooler climate now, I hope I can make myself a nice wool something-or-other soon, too.  It’s so nice to work with, and it takes to the cables so well, and….well,…I really love cables.  They are so fun to make.  In, out, around!  Love it!

And I love my mom!  I hope she gets lots of cozy wear out of her sweater!  It’s like a portable hug she can take back with her to Minnesota!  It really is the least I can do to say thank you and happy birthday to such a special woman!  I love you, Mom!



Scarves for Las Vegas friends

Leaving Las Vegas was just as difficult as the Sheryl Crow song makes it sound.  Although neither one of us had any kind of gambling addiction, so I guess not quite as bad.

But we made some wonderful friends in Vegas, people whom we hope to keep in contact with for years to come!  For some of those folks, I was able to make scarves before we moved, so those are the scarves I’ll share here.  All of the scarves were made from yarn straight from my stash, and most of the patterns were ones I had either been waiting for the right time to try or were patterns I already knew would be perfect.

First there was our favorite family, the Wiks!  Jenn was my “neighbor” at Liberty, and was the first person I met when I was new.  She was (and is) one of the most hospitable and genuinely friendly people I’ve ever met.  She also has a fabulous sense of style, so I wanted to make a scarf for her that would hopefully go with outfits she already had.  It’s called a Golden Threads Boa, and I made it with a black ribbon yarn from Berroco, black Fizz yarn and black sequined thread.  The pictures don’t do it justice — I think it turned out very elegant, and it had a great drape to it.

Then for Josh — the funny man and all-around friendly guy.  It’s always tricky to find a pattern for a dude, but luckily I had just bought a new book called One Skein Projects, and the book had some really nice simple cable rib patterns that would work well.  I used a yarn made from camel hair that was soooo soft and lovely to work with. I had two skeins of the yarn in two different colors — teal and white — and thought rather than trying to create stripes that were evenly spaced, I’d just split the scarf in two colors — right and left side.  Sort of a wrong-colored port and starboard. The end result is the scarf I think I’m most pleased with.

Then for the Wiklets!  Gavin has been Patrick’s buddy in daycare since they were born, so I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to make for him, and Emma has been Patrick’s little “momma,” so she needed a scarf that would be glamorous and delightful.  Here’s what I made for them:

Gavin got a Gator Scarf.  This is one of my favorite scarves ever — a Morehouse Merino pattern that has so many different options to it!  This one is made from a green wool blend, perfect yarn for a little kid.  I also took out a couple rows of scales to make it a little shorter. 

Then Emma got a scarf made from acrylic yarn with fun little kernels of color in it.  The base kernels were pink, so I thought that would appeal to a lovely lady like Emma!  The pattern is meant for bulky alpaca yarn, but I think it works pretty well as a working kid’s scarf.  Sturdy, washable, and ready for a chilly day!

After making scarves for the Wiks, I made this scarf for “Auntie Ro-Ro.”  Ro-Ro is a waitress at Amore’s Taste of Chicago, the best pizza place in Vegas, but she was so much more than that to us.  We’ve known her since we started going to their restaurant on Friday nights, and she was so excited for us when we became pregnant.  And Patrick loved her so much — she lavished attention on him!  She would always threaten to bite his cheeks someday — which is a tempting proposition, seeing how apple-y they are.  But she helped organize his baptism party at Amore’s, always brought him his own soup in a little bowl, and treated him like the special little guy he is!  We already miss seeing her once a week, and will be sure to visit her when we are in town. It’s a horizontally striped scarf in red and white Lily Chin wool with an extra stripe of red sequins.  I really like how this one turned out — no pattern here, just cast on for about how long you want it to be, and then knit like crazy in garter stitch!

And last, but not least, is a scarf for someone who has been a mentor to me in many senses, but most as an ELL teaching guru — Connie!  I have missed her when she got transferred to another school, but now I’ll miss her even more when I’m in another state!  She was so helpful with all of the applications to grad school, and with great ideas for teaching, and also just for life in general.  For Connie, I made the Golden Threads Boa also, but you’ll see that the effect is very different.  I used black Fizz again, but for the base yarn, I used a novelty ribbon yarn with some really pretty colors in it.

We will miss all of these friends and more dearly, but we are so excited to be starting up again here in California!  I’m already on the next project — it’s a big one, so go ahead and start feeling the suspense now!

Labyrinth Scarf for Karen (“Kah-nin”)

We have been so blessed during our time in Las Vegas to find such wonderful, caring people to help us with Patrick.  First, there was Patti, who was so fantastic as a daycare provider.  We were so sad to see her go, and so was Patrick!  It was difficult to believe that we’d be able to find someone else who would care for Patrick with just the right amounts of love, humor, knowledge, and boundaries.

But Karen was definitely that person!  It made me feel so good at the end of the day to pick up Patrick from her house, where he was excited to see me, but so bummed to leave her.  He learned so much from his time with her — manners, how to be a good friend to others, and of course, the fist bump followed by the elbow bump followed by a kiss or a hug (that’s my favorite thing).  It’s difficult to quantify your gratitude to a person like Karen into a farewell gift, but all I knew for sure was that a farewell/thank you gift was TOTALLY necessary.

So here it is!  Karen’s Labyrinth scarf, made with Lily Chin wool yarn in an amazingly regal purple and bright white.  The yarn was a DREAM to work with — super strong but soft and pliable — and the pattern was really fun.  On the close-up picture you can probably see how the pattern gets its name, but it’s just a simple knit or purl stitch all the way through.  It took a little while to get the rhythm of it down, but once I did, I was able to keep my eyes off the pattern.  Loved it!

If I’d had more time, I would have loved to have done more for this amazing lady.  But I just hope, as with all gifts, that the scarf will remind her about how much we appreciated all she did for our little guy this year.  AND I hope it will keep her warm — that’s important too.  🙂

Hobbyhorse for Patrick

So this present is already a hit, although not always in the way I had anticipated.  It’s a hobbyhorse, made from a plain sock pattern in Lamb’s Pride wool yarn and then felted in the washer.  It turned out PERFECTLY, and I had wondrous Mom-visions of Patrick neighing around the apartment, pretending to be a cowboy while I sipped lemonade and laughed jauntily at how imaginative my little man was.   Or something like that.

But he plays with it traditionally only half the time.  This half is extremely rewarding, and totally worth all the “hair plugs” that make up the mane of the horse.  (For the mane, I had to cut an insane amount of 6 inch pieces of yarn, and then thread each one into the felted material with my yarn needle — the powers that pattern wanted me to use a crochet hook, but that proved nigh on impossible.  So I improvised, but it was still putzy and the most time-consuming part of the whole thing.)  The rest of the time, he puts the reins around his neck, and drags the horse around behind him, saying, “Horse coming!”  I’m not sure what kinds of crazy Westerns he’s been watching, but whatevs.  The main point is that he likes it.

I sadly don’t have a picture of him riding it yet — every time he takes it out, we’re not camera-ready, and he’s put it away before we can capture the moment.  But my intrepid mother-in-law caught an adorable shot of him on his pony, so perhaps when I get my paws on that, I’ll update the post to include it.

On a partial side note, since this was a present for his second birthday, I can’t believe he’s 2.  Nuts!  He’s so old!  Totally old enough for a pony.  Now he just needs a cowboy hat, and he’ll be out on the range in no time.


Latitude and Longitude Sweater for Beth

Southwest-y sweaters are actually hard to come by.  You’d think they’d be a dime a dozen, but you’d be wrong.  Northeast wrong.  When I was searching for a sweater pattern to make for my mother-in-law’s birthday, I really wanted something that had a little bit of a southwest flare to it — just a little Zia action.  Maybe, at bare minimum, a touch of turquoise.  But all the patterns I could find were very opposite — Northeast, indeed.  Tons of gorgeous, fair isle patterns.  Millions of ganseys!  Oodles of intricate cables!

But fortune was on my side, and helped me find this fun pattern from an archived Knitter’s magazine.  The sample picture was made in colors similar to this, except they flipped the gold and the brown.  But I really liked the POP of the vertical stripes against the horizontal — and it was absolutely just a TOUCH southwest-y.  Their vertical stripes were a deep turquoise too, so I did something I rarely do — I set out to find the same colors.  Really!  I never do that!  But it was so perfect for what I wanted for her, that I scaled back my usual mismatching craziness and went for it.

Aunt Jane helped me pick out the yarn at The Yarn Lady in Laguna Hills, CA, a great little shop with a fantastic selection.  The yarn is by Berroco, and is called Lustra — great name for it, since it does shimmer just a tiny bit.  It’s a 50% Peruvian wool/50% Tencel blend that is strong when knitted, but caused some frustration because it would tear when I was working with it.  Eventually, I learned not to pull too much on it, and to roll my balls with the bitter end on the outside instead of coming from the inside — that actually helped a lot.  Took the pressure off it, I guess.  The pattern was fun — easy to memorize — but, as always, I got a little putzed out on the sleeves.  They are my frenemies, sleeves are.

So here it is!  A few pictures of the final product, and then of course, the lovely Beth herself modeling the sweater!  I am so glad that she likes it, and hope it will go well with some cozy nights in New Mexico!

Flamingo Scarf for me

Working through the stash…now I can be honest about this.  I’m furiously trying to work through the yarn I have WITHOUT buying anything new in order to skim the fat from the top of my stash so that it will fit in storage when we move onto the boat come July.  Got to, got to, got to slim it down.  Actually, right now, I’ve got it pretty slimmed down already — but there are several small project amounts that I want to use up before we move.

So here was another one!  The Flamingo Scarf, from Morehouse Merino again (my favorites) and another past Christmas present from Patrick and/or Drew.  If you’ve ever been in my classroom, or had to share a dorm room with me in college, say, then you know that I really do like these awkward birds.  It started because of Fantasia 2000 — the yo-yoing flamingo:

One of the friends I went to see the movie with thought this lovely little purple flamingo was just like me — it became a karaoke nickname, Madame Flamingo, and then turned into a little side-obsession after that.  Now I have stuffed flamingos, flamingo artwork, flamingo ornaments, and even flamingo bookends in my classroom — all very tastefully done, I assure you.  But what was I missing?  A flamingo scarf, obviously!

But not any more!  It was lots of fun to create — you start at the beak, then work down the neck to the body and then the legs are made separately and sewn on.  It was fast, and cute, and is a perfect funky addition to my wardrobe.  Ta-da!  Take that, all you line-dancing, conformist flamingos!  Ha!

Maxi Cape, Failure, and Tidal Wave Socks for me

Ah, knitting.  You wonderful little microcosm of life.  I turned 31 this year, and it seems like more things bother me these days — my step-dad used to say, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down,” but it feels like the turkeys are multiplying at an alarming rate.

But knitting is always my comfort — until failure strikes.  I bought the yarn for a Maxi-Cape from Morehouse merino farm with my birthday money, and when the yarn came, I was so excited.  It’s like rope — bulky, thick, a wonderful shade of oatmeal brown — and I couldn’t wait to start.  So I did.  Knitting and knitting and knitting, row after row — it was a big project.  Then sometime in November, I realized I wouldn’t have enough yarn.  Being frugally minded, I waiting until 2 weeks ago to reorder two more shanks.  When they came, I finished it up in a snap.  Imagine my dismay when I sewed on the buttons, wove in the last little ends, and put it on.  I looked like the Pillsbury dough boy, but did not feel like giggling.  It was bumpy and lumpy, and “we were not amused.”

Knitters, Crocheters, Craftsfolk, lend me your ears. I come to bury this cape, not to praise it.

But this does happen to me every now and again.  I get very excited about a project, I imagine it one way in my mind, and the end result is far from my ideal.  It can be difficult, especially after a long haul like this cape, to keep your emotional bearings about you.

This was the noblest yarn of them all...HA!

What’s that, you say?  Poor Liz, conquered by her own knitting, wrapped up in a knotty mess?  No, my dears, no, no.  This turkey will not get me down.  No, sir.  I ripped it to shreds, debasing it into its former evolutionary state as 11 odd shanks of yarn.  I have plans to make this yarn pay, and pay it shall.  Someday it will be my Retro coat — I’ll mark the date I conquer it for you.  Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war…this yarn’s day will come.  I will bide my time. (Can you tell I’m teaching Julius Caesar right now?)

My socks doth bestride the yarn like a giant Colossus.

I did, however, finish my Tidal Wave socks which have been in the making for6 years now.  They were a Nevada day project with my Mom and Aunt Jane.  I think both of them finished years ago.  I finished ONE sock at the time, and have let the other one languish until now.  So this year, for Christmas, I will have “Socks de Triomphe” to wear.

Maybe that is what I like best about knitting.  Not the steady pace of it, or the concreteness of a repeating pattern.  Not the beautiful colors or the pride of making your own clothes and accessories.  The feeling that, no matter what else in your life is outside your breadth or your control, yarn is always ready to be conquered.  It can put up a hell of a fight — but I will always emerge victorious.


Fingerless Basketweave Mitts for me

I have been an ANIMAL at knitting lately…or really, I am successfully making it look that way on this blog.  Actually, the truth of it is that I have been working on many projects at the same time, and not finishing any of them until…right now!

Modeling my mitts while smiling like an Anime character over drinks at Tommy Bahamas

When my mom (hooray for mom!) came to visit, she was making these little mitts, and I thought they were super cute.  Not to mention that they only take one DK weight skein of yarn, and I have plenty of yarn sitting around waiting for its purpose in life.  Perfect!  They are just the right amount of warmth for your hands on a cooler Las Vegas day – or really, on a super windy Las Vegas day.  I’ve found that they’re perfect for evenings or afternoons, but are still a little too cool for mornings, when my fingers need more coverage in order to shift without chattering their teeth.  They only come up to my wedding ring, but they go down below my wrist.

The yarn is a DK weight cashmerino from Debbie Bliss — dreamy.  I have a feeling these will see a lot of action, and will turn quickly from a lovely creamy shade of eggshell to a little dingier shade of grey.  But they will still be awesome!

Reversible Frog and Turtle for Godson

It was so thoughtful of my awesome friend, Emily, to have a baby this time last year so that I could make a toy for his first birthday.  I’m sure that was her motivation. 🙂

So, happy birthday to my beautiful, wonderful, happy godson!  He has the best parents ever, and I knew he needed something special to celebrate his first year of life!

This Itty Bitty Toy book I have by Susan Anderson may be the best knitting book ever.  The projects can be a little putsy, but they are the cutest things EVER.  This little guy is no exception.  It’s a reversible frog and turtle.  So you start off by making the frog’s body, then his head, and then you add his spindly little limbs and then give him a cute little face.  All along, you sew the pieces together as you go, so it really is like the toy comes to life as you make it.

Then you rinse and repeat for the turtle — make the body, make the head, make four little stubby legs, and a short i-cord tail.  THEN you get to make all the little squares and shapes for his shell — the top of the shell makes a super cute flower pattern.  If I made this one again, I might consider using scrap yarn and make a little rainbow flower on the top instead of sticking with the mono-chromatic style.  But I have a feeling that my godson has the one and only toy like this in the world — or at least, the only one made by me!

Then you sew all the shell pieces onto the body, which took a little time.  Enter the adjective “putsy.”  But it was a great thing to do while Patrick’s Grandma was in town for the weekend — he played with Grandma, and I sewed a turtle.  Ha!  And then lastly, you make the turtle’s sweet little face — always a little smile on a toy, I’m told!

Then, the grand move — you crochet them together.  This part was much easier than it sounded.  I am not a crocheter, so I don’t know exactly how to use each stitch to my advantage.  I had read these particular directions several times, but never felt like I understood…but when I actually did it, it wasn’t as confusing as I’d anticipated.

So there they are!  A smiley little frog and a happy turtle for a very special, happy little guy.  Happy 1st birthday!  Hooray!

Amanita Hat for me

For my birthday this fall, I got an awesome present from Drew — a Concertina.  That’s right — a Concertina.  So now I too can join the ranks of sailors who shanty about sea-wise.

I also got….CASH!  A great birthday present!  So what did I do?  I visited my favorite yarn website — Morehouse Merino Farms.  Their yarn is so awesome, and their patterns are unique and fun to make.  So I got two things — one which is almost done, but for which I need at least one more skein of yarn — it’s a cape, actually! — and the other, the Amanita Hat.

The Amanita Hat was designed to look like a mushroom from Wonderland.  The sample on their website was in bright red and white, making it loot EXACTLY like this:

But since I had just bought the Cape too, I thought I could color-coordinate it a little better, and got the yarn options called Henna and Sand.  While in Taos, NM for Christmas, I had ample knitting time (hooray) thanks to the heroic grandparenting done by Beth and Steve.  So the hat went fast!  One week and blam-o!

There it is!  It’s cozy and warm and I love the slight cloche feel to it.  The yarn is soft but hardy, like all the Morehouse yarn.  I think this hat will see a lot of wear, whether with my Cape or with my Coat — it matches perfectly with a pair of Sherlock Holmes mittens I made in college.  Another one to add to the winter wear!

I got to wear it during our New Year’s in Ventura, CA, too.  We always try to stay at hotels with balconies, because then after Patrick goes to sleep, we can hang out on the balcony, enjoy a bottle of wine and chat it up.  We didn’t have this mountain view on New Year’s — an awesome marina view instead — but the view from Beth and Steve’s house is breathtaking.  Whenever I see I picture of it, I always wish I was looking at it right then and there.  Beautiful!

Previous Older Entries

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 358 other followers