I feel it is only fair to warn you that the blog may be rather heavy on Baby for the near future and light on Knitting. Victoria is just much more exciting and the best thing I’ve done thus far in my life. I just want to hold her up to people and exclaim, “LOOK WHAT I MADE!”

One project (see, there will be some knitting) I knew I wanted to knit was the Leaf Blanket by Susan B. Anderson in Spud and Chloe Outer.  It is in cream instead of green because I had enough skeins in cream in the stash and I’ve been trying to knit out of my stash rather than buy yarn (babies are expensive).

LeafBlanketIt was a very fast knit, on size US 15 needles.  Thank goodness it was fast because needles that size make my hands hurt. I never got around to putting the button on, but it didn’t really matter.  When we’ve used the blanket, we’ve just wrapped her in it while we’re holding her. The yarn is super-soft and squishy, although it does have a tendency to leave a little bit of fluff behind if you pull on it.

LeafBlanketSideShe’s 9 days old in these photos and just as adorable as ever.

LeafBlanket close upAnd one of her with Jamie when she’s just two days old – so tiny!

Jamie and Leaf Blanket

 

So, I kind-of owe you all an update!  I didn’t really have much to write about the past 6 months – I did a lot of crafting, but it was 95% baby stuff, which isn’t terribly interesting until you have a baby to model everything. I also lost a bit of interest in knitting the last few months of my pregnancy.  I still knit on things, but it was more because I felt I should rather than because I wanted to knit. Anyway…on to the more exciting things!

Victoria!

v insleepsack

I can’t begin to tell you how enchanted I am by her.  Even when (as just now) she just let out a very explosive sounding poop.

Her arrival: I started having contractions at 8:30 p.m. Monday July 28 which lasted throughout the night and grew more frequent.  I called my midwife, Dinah, Tuesday morning to talk things over and naturally everything slowed down after that.  Wednesday morning things seemed like they were again progressing, but again, after talking to Dinah, everything slowed. She recommended just trying to get some rest (hah!).  During a contraction that afternoon (3-ish, I think?) there was a popping sensation and I thought my water broke, but I just wasn’t sure. Dinah said that if things started speeding up then it probably was my water breaking and to just keep monitoring things.  Contractions had been not what I expected from the beginning.  I felt them primarily through my hips and upper thighs, with shooting pains down the outside of my legs.  I was anticipating them being more in the abdomen, so perhaps that is why I didn’t really think things were progressing as much as they actually were.  Jamie picked up dinner (I, for some reason, decided that chicken nuggets were a good idea. NOT. I only ate 4), then he took Tee out for a walk.  Tuesday I had attempted to go with them, only to get to the end of the street and realize that I couldn’t keep up, so I decided to not even try this evening.  Later, Jamie told me that he was half expecting to get back from the walk to find an ambulance whisking me away to the hospital.  At 8:30, I decided that perhaps we’d better call Dinah again as contractions were closer together, although still not at the frequency at which they told me to come in (there are 2 midwives at this center  – I saw both, Dinah just happened to be the one on-call at this time).

After we talked and she listened to me go through a contraction, she said I could come in and get checked or just wait until contractions were stronger.  I decided to go in, expecting her to send me back home.  Oh NO!  We arrived at the Birth Center at 9:00 and I was fully dilated.  I didn’t realize how strong the contractions were and while listening to me on the phone, Dinah couldn’t tell because I was using the relaxation techniques from my Hypnobabies course during each contraction. She hastily called a birth assistant (the one who lived closest) to come in and started prepping the room for me (this meant filling the bath tub).

Getting in the water felt wonderful, but after about 45 minutes, I got frustrated because I couldn’t get a grip on anything (my feet kept slipping around when I was pushing).  I moved to sitting on the toilet with my arms and head resting on the back (basically a supported squat). I’m not sure how long I stayed there, but Dinah suggested I move to either squatting or kneeling, so I moved to kneeling, with my head and arms on the toilet seat (lid, with a pillow). Here is where the chicken nuggets proved to be a terrible choice as I threw up a tiny bit and then had the taste stuck in my mouth.  Again, not sure how long I was there, but the baby was definitely coming and at 11:11 she made her debut.   Her umbilical cord was on the shorter side and not long enough to allow her to be placed on my chest, so I sat on the floor (on top of chux pads and towels) with her resting on my thigh until the cord stopped pulsing and we could cut it.

V birth

Jenn with VI look ridiculously excited here.  Mostly because I can’t believe that I actually gave birth and that Jamie and I now have a tiny human to keep alive.  Also…very thrilled about a cessation of pregnancy heartburn and being able to actually bend in half again.

After checking vitals and some (a lot) of stitches (for me), we were cleared to head home around 3:30 a.m.  Victoria came in at 7 lbs, 10 oz and 21 inches long and full head of hair (guess that wives’ tale about heartburn and baby’s hair may be true).

Jamie with VNot the greatest picture in the world, but I love the contrast in Jamie’s height to the itty-bitty-ness of  12-hour-old Victoria.

Yellow is one of those colors I rarely seem to knit with, particularly by itself, but with grey wintery days around, I guess I felt the need for a zing of color. Yellow and Cream striped together just looks so spring/summer-y and the fit of this sweater makes me want to find the nearest bit of windy beach and have a picnic.

LemonSherbetFront

It fits like the perfect Saturday morning sweatshirt. I originally had a long-sleeved shirt underneath, which was still comfortable, but it looked way too bulky for photos.  I opted for a tank top instead, which shows off the ease and the neckline better.

LemonSherbetSideI love the split of the hemline, with the front being just an inch shorter. The way the pocket is knitted into the fabric is very well done. Although I was overthinking the directions and sure that I knew better, but once I actually deigned to follow them exactly as written instead of questioning why this yarn should be cut here and then picked up there,  I had the magically finished pocket!

LemonSherbetBackI probably only have another month or so that I’ll be able to wear this sweater, so I intend to make the most of it.  Hopefully it will fit again by the time spring rolls around again.

Pattern: Shellseeker by Heidi Kirrmaier

Yarn: Spud and Chloe Sweater in Firefly and Ice Cream

Mods: none.  This was a very quick knit. Almost all the yarn came from my stash.  I did have to order a skein of Firefly (yellow) because I mis-read the yardage, but apart from that delay it only took 1 week to knit.

I didn’t set out to knit a Red Riding Hood-esque sweater, although it was bound to happen sooner or later given how much I love red sweaters and hooded sweaters.

SalemHoody1This particular pattern (Salem Hooded Jacket from New England Knits) has been on my radar since the book came out a few years ago. The trouble was the yarn – it uses a bulky yarn and I really never liked much of the bulky yarn that came through the store. This also wasn’t one of those sweaters that I needed to make now. The yarn, however, the yarn was yarn that I needed to buy now (much to Jamie’s chagrin – but let’s talk about how much his hockey tickets cost vs my yarn *ahem*).  I sort-of, kind-of, maybe have a love affair with yarn from Lorna’s Laces and this is my very favorite color of red for sweaters, so it should have been an obvious match-up from the beginning.  Instead I bought the yarn and then spent a while scouring Ravelry trying to figure out what I was going to knit with this yarn that insisted on becoming a sweater thisveryinstant.  And in a bulky weight…

Once pattern and yarn matched up, I got started and made it through the body and sleeves quickly.  I always forget how much faster thicker yarn knits up than fingering weight.  The sweater got put down for two months while I studied for my medical coding exam and tried to stay awake during the first trimester.  I packed it when we went to Indiana for Christmas, got to the hood part and realized that the reason my stitch counts were off for yoke decreases was because I had the wrong number of stitches in the front borders. One side had 14 stitches, the other 20 stitches. Yargh. I had to rip it out to the bottom border and get it all set up again. After I started feeling more like a normal person in January, I began re-knitting it, which didn’t take too long. I didn’t have to re-knit the sleeves (yay!), so it was mostly just the stockinette part of the body.  I finished it just in time for all the colder weather we’ve been having.  And a bulky-weight sweater for cold weather is just about perfect.  Add to that fact that it has an A-line shape so the body isn’t supposed to close and I have a sweater that is going to be perfect for the next spring and fall.

SalemHoodyBack

SalemHoody3

SalemHoody2

Pattern: Salem Hooded Jacket from New England Knits

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Bulky in Cranberry

Mods: Based on other knitters’ comments on Ravelry, I made the size medium body and the size small sleeves, then calculated the yoke decreases appropriately.  This was the right choice for me, otherwise the sleeves would have been very wide and I like my sleeves to fit more closely.  I also accidentally made the body a little bit longer.

I’ve never knit much for babies. I don’t know that many and those that I do know aren’t very into handknits. So I was quite surprised that I want to KNIT ALL THE THINGS for our baby (oh yes! That’s your bonus project right there).  Said baby is due July 31 which is not the greatest time for handknit items, particularly in Dallas. I’ve compromised by deciding to knit toys/nursery accessories first and to make all the adorable little sweaters in 6 month sizes or larger.  The queue of toys/nursery things I want to knit is ridiculous and really, the baby isn’t going to know if they are finished now or in a year.  The sweater list, while also rather long for a Texas baby, is slightly more reasonable. I keep reminding myself that all the patterns come in larger sizes and if I knit them all now, what am I going to knit for the second winter or the third winter or the fourth winter. After all, no new adorable patterns could possibly be released after July.

First  off the needles: the Towpath Henley by Andrea Sanchez.  I met Andrea at TNNA last summer and had buy this pattern in particular.  I love henley-style shirts and sweaters and this one in miniature was top of my list.

TowpathHenley1

The texture on the body is a little difficult to see in the photo, but it looks fabulous in real life.  I went stash diving for a gender neutral sock yarn and this deep purple/navy is what I found.  Sock yarn is lightweight enough to make a layering piece for the winter and it is machine-friendly.  Machine-friendly is not an actual requirement, since I have enough of my own knits to hand-wash and adding in baby clothes is not going to overload me. Do you know how many different drying racks I have for items that need to “lay flat to dry”? SIX. I use them weekly.

Back to the sweater. It has wonderful details, such as the folded hems (my favorite) and an i-cord bind-off for the collar that gives it a perfectly finished look. I haven’t looked for buttons yet. I knit the 6 month size because I figured that covers a wide range of time to wear this sweater.  It can be large in October and smaller through February (right? I have no personal experience in this matter so am using my best guess).  I did add a little length to both the body and sleeves because Jamie and I both have long limbs and there is a good chance the baby will too (see genetics).

I keep folding the sweater up and putting it away.   The next day I have to pull it out again just to marvel at how small it is and how it is going to fit a human being that has to grow into it.  Then I fold it up into it’s wee little shape and tuck it away.

So…second trimester seems to be all about nesting over here. I can not tell you the urgency I feel to pull out fabric and start sewing things. Anything. Crib sheets, wall hangings, burp cloths, diaper covers, loch ness monsters.  You name it, I want to make it.  I can’t concentrate very well on knitting projects because there are 14 other ones I also want to be working on.  Jamie has yet to agree to go look at baby gear with me, although I’m wearing him down. I don’t want to buy anything. I just want to know what we’re going to buy. Clearing out the spare room to be the nursery is also an itch I can’t scratch.  Over the years I’ve put all the furniture and furnishings that were in the house when I moved in that we don’t use into the spare room.  There is not an extra square foot of space in there. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that. Garage, maybe? (Although some of the unused furniture is already out there and not much space is free).

 

Some of you have probably heard this, but I’m going to tell you about it anyway.  A few years ago,  a book called Knit, Swirl came out. Everyone at the shop but me loved it. I thought the coats were frumpy-looking and not something I was interested in.  This summer, the shop tossed around the idea of doing a knit-a-long from Knit, Swirl paired with yarn kits from Mountain Colors. I didn’t disagree but I didn’t jump on joining the KAL either. At TNNA, Sandra McIver, the book author, had a small booth with all the coats from the book.  We stopped to chat about the upcoming KAL and I reluctantly allowed Sandra to choose a few for me to try on.

And then I couldn’t get those silly coats out of my head.  I poured through the book, finally deciding upon the Sheer Beauty coat – lightweight with mohair and dk.  But, woe! I could.not.find both yarns in a color that I liked.  The first round of customers ordered their kits and started their Swirls.  And one day I decided to make a completely different coat from the book in a color that was a little outside of my usual comfort zone. The kit arrived, I cast on, worked on it in between commission knitting pieces and it wasn’t too long before I realized that I did.not.like the colors. I kept at it, telling myself to reserve judgement until it was finished, but I knew I didn’t want to wear this piece.  Fortuitously,  a friend loved the color, so we agreed on a trade of Finished Swirl for Yarn.

As soon as I finished that Swirl, I headed out on the DFW Yarn Crawl to search for the Right Color.  Literally….I stuck the last pin into the Swirl on the blocking board and then grabbed my keys.  Later that afternoon I started a Swirl just for me.  And that was all I worked on for the next 11 days.  Even though they look rather complex,  the Swirl coats are really really really mindless knitting.  It was GLORIOUS. Knitting and purling and a few decreases or increases but NO THINKING.  And after 11 days, I had a Swirl of my very own that I was very excited to wear.

And so, the first Swirl – modeled by Marion, perfectly fitted (good, yes? because she is the new owner of it)

MarionsSwirl1

MarionsSwirl4

Pattern: Plum Perfect from Knit, Swirl  by Sandra McIver

Yarn: “Reds” kit from Mountain Colors, with Twizzle in Harmony Garnet and Jeanette in Ruby River (this is the lighter color stripe)

Reason I didn’t care for this: WAY more pastel orange than I anticipated.  “Reds” made me think a deep cranberry color not blood orange.  The yarn bases were lovely and I would work with them again but not in these colors. (Also, reds are very difficult to photograph accurately.  Even with color correcting, these photos are too bright)

And now mine:

BlackClematis1

BlackClematis4

BlackClematis3Pattern: Plum Perfect – the same as before

Yarn:  MadelineTosh Vintage in Clematis (the dark purple welts) and MadelineTosh Twist DK in Baroque Violet (the blue-ish stripes)

Mods: I shortened the sleeves by 2 inches and since my gauge (I think – didn’t actually do a swatch) is a little bit off, the coat is a little bit larger.    It is TOASTY warm.  We went to NYC at the end of October and this was the perfect outerwear piece for walking around the city.  A wee bit cold when the wind blew, but very comfortable otherwise.

I’m trying to resist starting one of the other coats in the book.  I have too much other knitting to do!

The next Christmas stocking in my queue was this one,  a “Vintage 1945″ stocking.  More sequins had been added than the original pattern called for. Again, this stocking was a “Make one exactly like the original” except I managed to find the pattern online, which made life much easier. I did check that the pattern and the stocking matched before starting to knit and then verified along the way that what I was knitting corresponded to the original.

JenniferFranklinStocking1John’s stocking was the commission, while Stefanie’s was the original.  Finding the multicolored star sequins took FOREVER. I went to every single craft store in a 20 mile radius (or so it seemed) until I went on-line and discovered that Jo-Ann’s only carried them on their website. So I had to pay $5 in shipping for a $.63 purchase. Argh.

JenniferFranklinStocking2Again, matching both stitch and row gauge was difficult, but for two different knitters creating the stockings at different points in time with different yarn, I got as close as I could.

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