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!



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!

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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