Friday, June 30, 2006

Knit A Baby Hat, Encourage Breastfeeding

As many of you know, I used to knit and design baby hats. Many were sold or given away and I no longer have the inventory I once did. I do have the pictures, however.

A lot of you also know that I am nursing Julian, who is now almost 20 months old. Obviously, he isn't attached to my breast as he was when he was an infant. In fact, there are days when he hardly nurses at all.

So, you can imagine my joy when I read the most recent entry on the Yarn Harlot's blog. In a nutshell (and I have no idea why I am summarizing this as I assume you would all be avid Harlot readers. What are you doing reading my blog if you aren't reading hers?), a friend of hers is knitting baby hats as gifts for low income families (who are on WIC) to encourage them to consider breastfeeding. I can't really say anything more articulately than she has with regards to how the culture in which we live is not as supportive as it should be. However, some of the people who commented to her blog bemoaned the fact that WIC gives out free formula. Personally, I do not consider this to be a disconnect on the part of the WIC program. Ideally, women should breastfeed, but if they cannot (or choose not to) they should be feeding their babies formula. Formula is expensive, more expensive than cows' milk, and the last thing anyone wants is for women to decide that formula is too expensive for their baby. But breastmilk is free (if you don't count the calories mom eats to make the BM--I am not counting the nursing bras, pads, pumps, etc and those are accessories which can aid the breastfeeding experience but are not essential to the process) and I do feel that, on paper at least, the WIC program is doing what it can to promote breastfeeding.

Anyway, I am planning to make a few hats and encourage everyone to do the same. But before that, I have to make a few things for the new baby in our family. Olivia Pauline was born on the afternoon of June 27. And while I am at it, I probably should make a few items for her big sister, Abigail, as well.

Monday, June 26, 2006


I can't seem to bring myself to knit anything, but this doesn't mean I can't add to my stash.

I had intended to make a baby blanket from this yarn, but now that I see it frogged and balled, I think something Halloween like would be more appropriate.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Sock It To Me

So we got a new digital camera (or rather, a used, but new to us digital camera) and I can post pictures again.

The Frankenstein Sock

This is one of the first socks I ever made. It is one of a pair I made for Fred years ago from Shepherd-Cynthia Helene Aran in black. The socks turned out great (I used a standard top-down pattern) and Fred wore them a few times. But then, Fred stuck the socks in the dryer and inadvertently felted them. Argh! Which meant they fit me, so all was not quite lost (though Fred is now not allowed to do laundry, which may have been his evil plan all along--lose a pair of socks, but gain a laundry-free life.) The problem was taht every time I pulled the socks on, I felt claustrophobic. The heavy, felted wool was inelastic and I would start having fears that the socks would never come off my feet. So I cut them down to ankle length and sewed the extra wool bits under the ball and heel, so they are now extra cushiony slippers.

Another pair of socks I made were the Gwynedd Walking Socks from Knitters Magazine's Fall 1995 issue. I used two shade of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Superwash Worsted in colors which I am pretty sure have been discontinued (at least the purple doesn't look like it is still manufactured.) I really like the cable pattern and they are comfortable to wear around the house, but far too thick to actually wear with shoes. A moth appears to have gotten to one of them, so I may be frogging these in the future.

These are the most recent socks I completed for Fred. I used the gray merino which has made appearances in previous projects (and I still have more. How many balls of this did I buy?) I used a standard 64 stitch top down pattern on #4 needles, but I did a provisional cast on and went back with #2 needles and used a little of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in Onyx to bind off the top.

Which brings me to these unfinished socks. They are toe up socks. I used the magic cast on and then proceeded from there. I just can't decide what to do with them. Should I finish them for myself, frog them, or finish them for Fred? I just can't decide how I feel and this has resulted in me not knitting anything at all for the past week. They are just squatting there, making it impossible for me to move forward. They aren't bad socks. I'm glad I made them as I learned a lot, but beyond character building, I am not so sure these socks have much going for them. I mean, yes, they are nice and black, perfect for me. I just feel less than enthused.

Maybe it is time for me to make something other than socks. But what? The reason I have been making socks and hats, as of late, is that I am just not feeling motivated to embark on a larger project. Yes, I need to make a baby blanket for Melanie's baby (who is being born, one way or another, this Tuesday) but it is summer, the baby won't be really needing a wool blanket until, at least, September. I have a whole list of people who would like me to make them sweaters, but they can wait. Every time I think I am on the verge of a new project (making gauge swatches and having designed the pattern and everything) something happens (like, say, realizing I may not have enough yarn or that I may not have the recipient's measurements) which makes me put it aside and when I come back to it, my inspiration and interest has fled. It would appear my inability to complete a large scale project has seeped over from my writing into my knitting. Damn.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I Get It! I Finally Get It!

For years, I have been living in some sort of knitting fog. Or perhaps, I was living in a form of delusional, ignorant bliss.

This bliss centered around a lack of difficulty and a lack of boredom with regards to certain knitting techniques that other knitters seemed to find either difficult or boring.

The Yarn Harlot refers to the ennui which sets in when knitting the second sock. I always found knitting the second sock to be no less dull than knitting the second mitten. In fact, it always seems like the second sock gets finished before I even realize it and looks better than the first, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the knitting of either sock. Of course, I also have a single-mindedness which leads me to knit one (or possibly two, maybe three, but surely no more than four) project at a time. So my tendency towards project monogamy serves as a powerful motivator to get the second sock finished.

A few weeks ago, I was buying sock yarn and the girl selling the yarn asked if I had ever knit socks before. When I replied that I had, she said something long the lines of, "ugh, turning the heel and everything?" I probably looked at her as if she was crazy--was she trying to dissuade me from purchasing her yarn? Isn't she supposed to be encouraging me to buy more yarn by telling me how easy projects are? I have heard how hard and irritating this heel turning thing is and I never quite understood what the big deal was exactly. People, it's knitting, not rocket science.

But now I realize that my sock indifference was merely a result of knitting top-down socks. Of the socks I had made over the years, not a one was a toe-up pattern. Until now. I have completed one lovely sock using a toe up pattern. I have turned the heel and found it to be, well, not hard, but clearly this is the horrid heel turning to which the various knitters referred. It wasn't difficult to knit short rows, but it made me very tired and very bored and it made it very difficult to watch the World Cup while knitting.

So now I have one sock completed and I have no interest in beginning another.


I don't really need socks, do I?

It's summer, who wears socks in the summer?

And since I still am without a digital camera, I can't show off my work to you all, so I have even less motivation to continue.

The funny thing is, I had all these plans to knit a bunch of socks this month.

So, on to other projects.

I have all of this lovely black Henry's Attic Prime Alpaca for which I can never find a project worthy of it. I was also thinking that I should knit a lace dress. Maybe a modification of this shawl (you know, starting a few rounds out from the center, using a provisional cast on, and then designing some sort of lacy tank to knit up from the live stitches.)

Of course, when I start doing the math (if the gauge is x and the inches are y, how many do I cast on?), I start to wonder if making that second sock is such a trial after all.

And as we all know, the last thing I need is another black dress.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Free Vintage Patterns on the Internet

The Kitchener Bitch is posting free vintage knitting patterns on her blog. Go to her site and see for yourself. In addition to being a fabulous knitter, she has a vast knowledge of all things vintage from her days as a dealer of vintage clothes. (She still has some snazzy duds in her basement and if you ask her nicely, she may let you go shopping down there.)

This got me to thinking about vintage knitting patterns and how they never seem to work out as I hope. I have a whole box full of vintage patterns and I have tried a few out, but they always end up looking too modern. I can match the gauge and fiber content of the original yarn, but I can't replicate that "folded in a hope chest for the last fifty years" look that all my real vintage sweaters seem to have. Maybe I expect too much. Or maybe the problem is I am viewing the items in color (as opposed to faded sepiatones.) I can't find the site from which I printed a bulk of patterns. I stumbled upon it awhile back, during the internet's lower school years, and haven't visited the website this century, so it is entirely possible the website has ceased to exist or has changed beyond recognition. So I cannot show you a side by side comparison of pictures of my finished objects and pictures of how the objects were supposed to look. Of course, all this talk of vintage knitting is causing me to wonder if any of my finished objects live up to my expectations.

In addition to the Kitchener Bitch, there are some other rocking websites offering free vintage patterns. Glamarama has some amazing sweaters as well as patterns for baby soakers (I gave up on the cloth diapers a few months back, but I keep saying that we will start them up again when Julian approaches potty training.) Yesterknits allows you to order one free sample (and I am planning on ordering the cross over jumper.) Yarn Lover's Room has vintage lace. All this talk is making me wonder what the heck I am doing sitting at the computer.