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!

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.


Stars and Stripes Sweater for Steve

There’s a reason it’s been a long time since my last knitting post.  It was time to make something huge again, which means more time knitting and less time blogging about it!  This sweater is called the “Stars and Stripes” sweater, from Knitters magazine.  But it looks more like an homage to the Southwest than to Sousa — which is actually why we picked it.  I say “we” because this sweater was made for Drew’s dad, Steve, so Drew and I picked out the pattern together and Drew choose the yarn.  He chose so well, I didn’t have to use my one-time veto — beautiful, soft alpaca in three gorgeous shades.  The sweater was a joy to make — just the right amount of thoughtfulness needed for the pattern, with some good moments of mindlessness while making only stripes. AND, every great in-law deserves something warm for winter!

Drew modeled the back before we sent it on its way:

And then here is the lauded recipient himself, modeling it in their lovely home!  I’m glad it fits well!  Happy Birthday, Steve/Pops/Grandpa!


Baby Bear for family

Stuffed animals might be my favorite thing to make right now.  They are so quick, and fun, and lovable when they’re all finished!  Patrick is still not super into Tippo the Hippo (don’t worry, I know he’ll love him later), but I made the mistake of leaving this little bear out after he was finished, and he actually squealed with delight when he saw him.  For real.  Of course, I think on some level he knew that this little bear was not for him, and therefore the forbidden aspect of it was too exciting.

This baby bear pattern is from Itty Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson.  I made him with a striping sock yarn and filled him with only fiberfill — no beans this time.  He’s very light-weight, and will be a perfect companion for a baby — hopefully perfect for the baby I made him for!

My favorite thing about making toys for new or older babies is that they are so quick.  It could be that they just seem quick because of the order you make them in — torso first, which is the biggest, then head, then arms, legs, ears, and little tail.  By the time I’m making the ears and the tail, it takes less that 10 minutes to make a little piece, and voila!  The bear comes to life before you!

I haven’t given this one a name yet — that will be up to his/her new owner.  But if I could name him (and since he’s mostly blue, I do think of this little guy as a “he”) I would call him Cedric or Sir SuperStripes.  Maybe Sir Cedric SuperStripes — although then it should really be spelled “Sedric” for continuity’s sake.

I’m working on two projects right now — one of them as another gift and the other as a commission for my mom.  I reorganized all my yarn and half-finished projects this summer, so I have a very clear idea in my head right now of what I have and what I should be finishing.  It’s nice — after I finish these two projects, I know what I’m moving on to next, and I have a long line up after that.  The only downside is that knowing about all these projects makes me think I can finish them quicker than I actually can.  I have a beautiful black lace sweater — front and back completed — that I remembered on Thursday.  I had a few days where I thought it would be perfect t0 wear to the wedding we’ll be attending soon, and thought I had time to finish two sleeves, a neckline, and piecing.  Yeah.  After about 5 rows of one sleeve, I realized my mistake.  My confidence had overpowered me for a moment, but now “yarn reality” has set in, and I’m back to my more reasonable target of the next two projects.  Once again, clear thinking saves the day!

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