Baby Surprise Jacket — A Puzzle!

Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket pattern creates a truly bizarre-looking piece of knitting until you fold it up correctly. It seemed like a good gift idea for friends of ours who like puzzles, and they were conveniently coming over for dinner shortly after I finished the knitting. I wrapped up this weird-looking, not-quite flat knitted THING and gave it to them to figure out. It only took them about five minutes (the dad-to-be found the button holes, which helped). Now it’s all done and ready to keep a baby (ok, maybe a one-year-old… my gauge was a little off) nice and toasty warm.

The yarn is Sandnes Garn Palett, a lovely soft variegated superwash wool (perfect for a baby!) a friend gave me after discovering she’s allergic to wool. I still have on skein left — any thoughts on what I should do with it?

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Horcurx Socks, just in time for a blizzard!

As an antidote to the year+-long project that was Emily and Dale’s blanket, I’m whipping through some smaller projects now.  I recently finished a baby sweater for some friends who are due at the end of the month with their first baby (blog post coming after the baby arrives and they’ve seen the sweater).  I also recently finished some worsted-weight socks for myself (pattern: Horcrux Socks), out of Cleckheaton Country Silk 8-ply, which is a really nice yarn I discovered at Stitch House several years ago (my stash, I am trying to knit through it, before I acquire any more yarn, so lots of it is several years old).  Sadly, this yarn has now been discontinued.  But it makes lovely, warm socks, and I’m glad I finished them in time for the blizzard this weekend.

As usual, I was incapable of following the pattern as written (where’s the fun in that??) so I made the lace section longer, and narrowed the sock so it fit my foot better (which meant winging the heel… always fun and exciting!).

A close-up of the lace on the leg of the sock — it’s kind of hard to photograph your own leg, as it turns out:

Best of all, I get to keep them. I think this is the first pair of socks I’ve made that I’m actually keeping instead of giving away.

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An Interview With Emily Peters

Emily Peters, on knitting, and her absolutely gorgeous Octopus Mittens in particular:

Q) What inspired you to design mittens with octopi on them?

I bought the yarn I used with a different aquatic pattern in mind, and only after the fact realized I had bought DK yarn for a pattern calling for fingering weight (this, by the way, was before I had ever knit anything in stranded colorwork).  I definitely wanted to do something oceanic, and this octopus looks a lot like a doodle I’ve been drawing in margins since college — but it still took me almost a year to put the two ideas together.
Q) You’re a mathematician.  Could you tell us a little bit about how your math background influences you as a knitter?

Some of what I make, like my fractal cowl pattern , is directly inspired by math.  And, in fact, I was taught to knit by a good mathematical friend (the incomparable sarah-marie belcastro)  But beyond that, I also think the same things that make me love math — a general love of patterns and puzzles, imagining things in three dimensions, and figuring things out for myself — make me love knitting.

Q) What do you enjoy most about colorwork?  Least?  What would you say to a knitter who may be a little nervous to try stranded knitting  patterns like Octopus Mittens?

The best part of colorwork is blocking a project at the end.  Normally I love knitting and hate finishing, but when you block colorwork, you get to watch all the unevenness and puckering relax, and the awesomeness of your project makes a quantum leap.  I think my least favorite part is tension problems, but actually, I have tension and/or gauge problems with a huge amount of what I knit.

To a knitter who’s nervous to try stranded knitting, I would say — be brave and press on!  It feels really awkward at first but it will get more and more natural.  (Though honestly, octopus mittens aren’t a great first project.  Maybe make them your second.)  To me, learning new techniques is one of the best parts of knitting.

Q) Anything else you’d like to share?

Octopi are awesome!  I started reading a lot about them after I had designed these mittens.  For instance, since their arms are ridiculously flexible and there are 8 of them they have poor proprioception and so they lack stereognosis (thanks for the big words, wikipedia!).  Also, they can basically squeeze through any opening their beak can fit through.  I’ve now spent hours on YouTube watching videos of octopi getting in and out of coke bottles and
similar ilk.

Thanks, Emily, and thanks also for letting me use pictures of your gorgeous mittens!

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What have I been up to for the last year or so?

A very good question!  Friends of mine got married this past summer, but about two years ago, around the time they got engaged, my friend Asher and I decided to make them a blanket, based on Asher’s pattern for change ringing methods (both the bride and groom are ringers).  It was a crazy thing to do, but sometimes you’ve just got to take the leap, right?  As a result, eventually all other knitting tapered off for me, and I couldn’t very well post about a surprise on the internet, where it might be read about by the intended recipients!

The yarn is Valley Yarns Northampton, in a lovely blue, and the methods we chose, Bristol Surprise Major and Superlative Surprise Major, are the favorite methods of the recipients.  Another friend composed the touch, and while we were sad we couldn’t make a quarter peal quite work shape-wise, it’s probably just as well that it ended up being a little shorter than that anyway :)

But, now you finally get to see what I’ve been working on instead of writing here, or knitting other things!

Now that this huge project is done, I’m hoping to update here a little more regularly! Also coming soon — an interview with designer Emily Peters, about her awesome Octopus mittens!

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For Christmas, my awesome in-laws got me a serger.  I promptly started taking classes, and having all my time sucked up by that.  Last week, I finally got a chance to pull out the machine and take it for a whirl.  I was pleasantly surprised at how un-scary it was to thread (this is what I had been told was the worst part of sergers).  I needed a project to practice on, that I didn’t care much about, but that also wasn’t just practicing on scraps (I find that not very motivating).

I ended up making Jesse some new cloth wipes, since the cheap washcloths we’d been using were really not very nice, and I had some flannel receiving blankets I could cut up.  The were so easy!  I think I may be hooked!  16 new wipes (and 10 more older cloth wipes refurbished) in about an hour.

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More Adventures in Steeking

Hello, everyone!  Long time, no see!  The semester is over, and the never-ending project that shall not be named is almost done, so hopefully I’ll have some bandwidth for blogging more!

Of course, with taking three classes and working full time (or, taking care of a toddler full time, in the second half of the semester) my mending pile spent most of the winter sitting there, neglected on my dresser.  Among the projects in the pile was the sweater I bought at the Little Fox Shop, and wrote about earlier.  Really, gorgeous Mountain Mohair yarn, nice knitting job — it totally perplexed me why such a nice sweater ended up in a children’s resale shop.

Then, Jesse’s head grew. The sweater is about a 2T size, or thereabouts.  My child has a tiny, tiny head (finally in the 5th percentile though!  Yay growing!).  And, at about 15 months, the sweater stopped fitting over his head.  Keep in mind, the shirts he was wearing were mostly 6-9m size.  Now, I knew why it ended up at Little Fox.

It still seemed a shame to let such lovely work go to waste, just because of a little problem with the size of the neck hole.  So, after having tackled steeking first with Katie, then with Asher holding my hand, I decided I could totally handle it on my own.  And, the yarn is pretty sticky, so, let’s just go all the way and do an unreinforced steek while we’re at it.  What could possibly go wrong?

As it turned out, it was just fine.  I cut from the neck to the shoulder (possibly a little further than I needed to) and then whipstiched the edge with another yarn (I used black because it was also a wool/mohair blend, and I had nothing close to the color of the sweater, so I figured I might as well make it *really* contrast instead of just looking like I didn’t notice it was a different green, or something).  Then, I put some buttons on, and, voila!  A good-as-new sweater that should fit Jesse just fine next winter (did I mention he’s barely into his 12-18m clothes at this point?).


Steeking.  Not so scary as I thought it would be!

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First Gloves

Good news!  School is eating my brain less than I thought it would, and I’ve actually had more time for knitting!  I recently completed a test knit for Donna Druchunas at Sheep to Shawl — my very first pair of gloves!  They required a new needle purchase, since I didn’t have 0s or 2s I could do magic loop with, but they were fun.  Especially since my big long-term project is all cables all the time, doing a little colorwork was a great way to mix it up a little.

That long-term big huge project is going well, too.  I’m almost at the halfway point, which is very exciting!

Other exciting things are that I was given a whole bunch of yarn by a friend moving overseas — I’ve now got toddler sweaters planned out so Jesse will have enough until he isn’t a toddler anymore.  I’m looking forward to getting started on them soon!

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