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.



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!

Hippo for Patrick

Last project of the summer!  I finished this cute little hippo a few weeks ago.  He is everything I wanted him to be.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces — a donation from Aunt Jane — and I thought this would be the perfect yarn for a hippo.  Turns out it was the perfect yarn for a tiger, but rather than start all over again (lame), I named him “Tippo” and called it even.

He’s also from Susan Anderson’s book, “Itty Bitty Toys,” and, once again, I love that book.  So many fun patterns, so quick to knit up, and so satisfying in the end.

Instead of filling him with fiberfill only, I wanted to give Tippo a little more heft…he is a hippo, after all.  They are not known for being lightweight.  I tried to put some poly pellets in cheesecloth, figuring I would stuff that in his tummy and fill the rest out with fiberfill, but poly pellets are a mess and a hassle.  If I had known that, I would never have purchased a bag.

So there I sat, feeling defeated, staring at my little empty hippo tummy just waiting to be filled.  Then, Eureka!  Beans!  A few months back, I bought a bag of Pinto beans in a flash of excitement to make for Patrick.  After reading the instructions on the back of the bag, once I was actually home, purchased beans in hand, of course, the amount of time and work beans took to cook overwhelmed me, and they sat in our pantry, were packed up for the move, and have sat in the pantry here.  Waiting.  And waiting some more.

They worked beautifully!  You’d think others would have figured out that beans make great toy fillers — I’m probably the first one ever.  (Ha!)  So he has some beans in his tummy and beans are the filler for each hand and foot.  Everything else is still fiberfill.  It’s a great combination, giving him the heft and solidity I wished along with the lightness and flexibility from the fiberfill.

So far, Patrick hasn’t paid much attention to him…which makes me a little sad.  I’ve tried placing him in conspicuous places, hidden places, right in the middle of the floor…  A few days ago, he picked Tippo up from the coffee table, and gave him a big hug and kiss!  My heart soared…success!  And then he threw him in the toy bin with everything else.   

Here you can see Patrick ignoring Tippo to watch one of the cats get clean.  Maybe if I got a live hippo…

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