a blanket for the wee one

lachlan's blanket - the beginning

Back in October, my mom sent Lachlan a little surprise via Purl Soho: the Super Easy Baby Blanket kit in the Rugby colorway. I got to knitting right away.

But this blanket, while it's certainly easy to knit, is not what I'd call quick to knit. I tried to knit a few rows every evening, but my progress was slow. It wasn't until our post-holiday trip that I made the time to really go at it. One row of color a day was what I could do, but that meant that I was knitting all of the time (no complaining!)

knitting at sea worldFor example, if you are in Orlando, Florida and you find yourself with your in-laws at Sea World, convince them that you want to go to every "show" you can. Then proceed to sit and knit. Good.

lachlan's blanket 1

By the time we returned from our trip, I only needed to bind-off and block the blanket. At this time, I realized that I really stink at blocking. I usually knit little hats and socks, which don't need to be shaped. Note to self: Don't stretch out things while blocking. The blanket ended up with little scallops around the edges where there should have been none because I was over-zealous in my stretching and pinning. Sigh. I doubt anyone else in my house will notice, though.lachlan's blanket 2

lachlan's blanket folded

Other than those imperfections that you always notice in your own handiwork, the blanket turned out wonderfully. Its bold colors are so refreshing in a 70's sort of way, and the soft merino wool will be perfect wrapped around Lachlan's little body.

lachlan's blanket 3

I have Lachlan's Stella Pixie on the needles now. Before I finish that, though, I owe you a tour of the boys' studio. How about Monday? See you then!

packing the knitting bag

who says boys don't knit?

He's imitating everything these days, from sentences to favorite pastimes. He pulled out a "big book" from the shelf this morning and wanted to read it - Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. "Gapes Waff," according to him. Of course, he also picks up on our less studious and wholesome tendencies. No need to mention those here, but just so you know, we are far from perfect, and it's both hilarious and humbling to see our own imperfections mirrored by a toddler.

So. About the knitting bag, and what I'm packing in it. We're leaving tomorrow for an east coast extravaganza trip. First we're heading to Florida to see Patrick's family for a few days, then we're flying from there to Philadelphia where we will tour the facilities at the Children's Hospital and meet with the cardiologists and surgeons. From Philly we head home.

While all of the craziness is happening around me, I plan to knit. It keeps me grounded, especially when this mildly introverted homebody is cajoled out of her comfort zone and into the more lively real world. The nice thing about the real world is that there are more people to watch Finn - and that fact, coupled with my very pregnant state - gives me the perfect exuse to put up my feet with a ball of yarn and a few needles. Yes.

And boy, do I have some knitting to do. So much of what happens to Lachlan once he is born is out of my hands, but what remains very clearly (and literally) in my hands is the ability to make things to keep him warm (a necessity for babies with HLHS, whose circulation is compromised.) I have a blanket to finish for him, as well as another pair of booties and some matching Stella Pixie hats. Perhaps I'll start a Yoda Sweater if I get the chance. You see, he needs to have shirts and sweaters that open in the front and leave plenty of room for IVs and tubes - kimono shirts that don't have metal snaps. Miriam, a very generous blog reader, sent along a pair of tie-front shirts from Japan that fit the bill perfectly. Thank you so much, Miriam! I also have these wool ones in mind (especially if I end up short on knitting time for making a sweater.)

In other news, we met the pediatric cardiologist at Duke yesterday who will be Lachlan's go-to-guy here at home. We LOVE him. He's such a great guy (and doctor) and that really puts our minds at ease knowing that Lachlan will be in his care. And guess what? We toured their pediatric cardiology ICU unit, met with the surgeon (who is new to Duke) and found out that he has a very excellent reputation and has survival statistics equal to those boasted by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. All of this means that we might end up staying at Duke for his care, which is pretty exciting for us because it would be SO convenient. We live so close to Duke that we could  walk there if we wanted to (Patrick bikes all the time.) And how much easier would it be on Finn to be on his familiar home turf during all of this? We'll see how our visit to Philly goes, and then we'll be making our decision.

Alrighty then. The knitting bag is packed with supplies for various works-in-progress. Who cares about my actual suitcase. I only have a few items of clothing that fit me nowadays, anyway. I guess I'll throw those blah things in a bag and go to the beach in Florida covered in an oversized sweatshirt and sweatpants. Who cares? As long as I'm knitting

a stocking for finn

a stocking for Finn

Thanks again for all of your kind words after my last post; we're on the upswing here, and it's amazing what better health will do for one's mood. Things are once again getting done, albeit slowly, and I'll soon be sharing in this space a few ways in which I'm trying to lessen the weight on my shoulders. I should also mention that the Winter edition of Rhythm of the Home is now live, a publication that truly helps me to keep a balanced view of motherhood, and inspires me to keep things simple and keep my priorities straight.

In the midst of repeated nose-blowings (both mine and Finn's), I was able to do some "merry making" in preparation for our return home on Saturday (and tree decorating on Sunday!) Finn needed a stocking. The one I put up for him last year was a little knitted sock ornament, a gesture that was purely symbolic.

a stocking for Finn 2

I used the pattern in Alicia's fabulous book, Stitched in Time. The result is very sweet and mis-matchy, but let me tell you, it is rather small. Alicia mentions this, but I just didn't think to enlarge the pattern more than the suggested 200%. Next time I make this (and there will be a next time) I'll enlarge it by 300% to keep mutiny at bay. You see, the stockings I knitted for me and Patrick many years back are humongous. As in, you could fit several animals in there, a la The Mitten. Those hand knits are stretchy. Finn's stocking is very modest by comparison, and I think I'll make a larger version in a few years' time, using this one as part of the holiday decor rather than a stocking to be stuffed. Either that, or I'll have to make smaller stockings for the adults in the house!

stocking heels

I've also started to gather some things to fill Finn's stocking, gifts that will pique a toddler's interest while avoiding the typical plastic trinkets. So far, I've found the most beautiful geode:

outside of geode


This will be a great addition to the winter nature table. Along with that, I'm putting in an amethyst and a piece of calcite. Finn's already seen these rocks/minerals, as his Papa (a geologist) was happy to introduce them to him. We all got a real kick out of hearing an 18 month-old say "calcite." He didn't attempt amethyst.

geology lesson

I also stopped by the local crystal shop and picked up a simple window crystal. My parents have one in their house (you can see it in the background) and Finn is so taken by it. He goes to look for rainbows throughout the day, and finds it endlessly amusing to try and catch them in his hands or "wipe" them off of pillows, floors and walls. The crystal will hang from the window in our new playroom.

rainbow makers

Another idea I have in mind are a pair of fingerless gloves (I have this pattern - I'd like to give it a go as soon as I get home. I've noticed that gloves like these would be really useful for Finn during his outdoor explorations. Putting regular mittens on a toddler is like blindfolding an adult - so much sensory information enters the mind through those little fingers, that covering them up seems torturous! For those of you who don't knit, there are some reasonably priced fingerless gloves for toddlers available from various Etsy sellers.)

Other than a few art supplies, that's all I'll be able to fit in Finn's stocking, and it will be plenty, I'm sure. Now ... what in the world will I put in his father's bottomless stocking? That one's always a challenge.

moon booties

stay-on baby booties

The Stay-On Booties from Knitting for Baby have been on my to-make list for a while now. After hearing such great things about them from Amanda and Grace, as well as other Ravelry members (who claim that the booties actually do stay on those slippery baby feet) I cast on, thinking about Lachlan's little toes with every clickety-clack of the needles.

Knitting is something tangible I can do for little Lachlan, whose circulation will be compromised. No better way to keep those hands and feet warm than with handknits! What better excuse to spend more time knitting? And you know what? I'm not the only one who is knitting around here. Patrick picked up some yarn and needles a few days back, and has since cast on five stitches and knit about four. The going is slow, but maybe, just maybe, we will have two knitters in the family.

baby moon booties

I used Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock mediumweight in Jonagold (the colorway is no longer available). Yes, people will probably mistake him for a girl because (gasp) there's a bit of coral color in there, but I'm used to that. Put a boy in anything other than sports paraphernalia nowadays and folks think he's a girl. But since I'm not into that, I'm going all out with the androgynous goodness - I have plenty of yarn left over, and Lachlan will soon have his very own Stella Pixie in the same colorway as his booties!

Thank you again for your sweet emails, thoughts and prayers. They really give me the boost I need in more difficult moments.

May your weekend be a good one,



sweater weather

knitting aspirations

Sweater weather has finally hit our neck of the woods, bringing with it ten restless fingers just twitching to get knitting. I'm a bit surprised by this intense need - I hardly invested a moment's thought in yarn while enduring the oven-like climate this summer. I thought I might never want to pick up a ball of yarn again, for fear of smothering myself.

That familiar yearning is back, thankfully. Now I just have to figure out how to go about this whole knitting thing with a toddler at foot. A toddler who has one of three reactions when I cozy up with a pair of needles and yarn:

1.) Immediately brings over a book to read and sits in my lap, sweetly forcing me to put aside my project.

2.) Says "Up! Up! Up!" or some other urgent demand such as "Outside!" to which I respond with a suggestion of another fun (independent) activity, which might be taken up or might not.

3.) Says "tzat?" which means "what's that?" and results in him wanting to do some of his own "knitting" with my project, which of course puts the project in the gravest of perils.

I should set up his own "knitting" basket with some balls of yarn and a chunky set of needles. Yes. That's what I'll do this afternoon, to see if it buys me another five minutes of knitting time. After all, I really do believe that it's important for him to see me peacefully at work, making something with my hands. That said, I have to let go of this notion of being able to knit anything complicated. It's back to simple projects for the time being, as I move through this phase of motherhood.

With that in mind, I'm eyeing this baby blanket for Lachlan. Simple garter stitch. I think I could pull it off.

handmades for a newborn

for my cousin's baby boy

My cousin is having a little boy in a few weeks - her first - and I knew some special handmades were in order. (When are they not?) Being an Autumn baby, he'll be wearing plenty of hats to keep him warm. If you're going to wear hats, I say, why not make them the cutest hats ever? And these are. I should call them Finn's hits.

finn's pixie hat

Because really, friends, if you want to have strangers come up and compliment you on something you've made by hand and tell you how cute your baby is, dress your baby in a Stella Pixie hat. I never ever get oohed and aahed over when I wear a scarf I knitted or even a sweater - they just look like piles of organized yarn plopped on my not-as-cute-as-a-baby body. But the Stella Pixie on a baby? My my.

Sigh. So tiny he was (yet so chubby) just nine months ago.

mini stella pixie

I made the Stella Pixie out of the yarn I had leftover from making Finn's version. This one, however, is sized down. Finn's will still fit him this winter, and he has a rather large noggin. Take a peek at other people's ravelry notes for their suggestions on how to size it down - I'm not going to recommend anything until I know how it fits on a newborn's head. All I have here is a gargantuan toddler head with which to measure. And Finn's doll - neither of which did the trick.

sweet pea pilot cap on doll

The blue striped hat is a Sweet Pea Pilot Cap - a free tutorial for you in my side bar. It's the newborn size. My hope is that it fits the little fellow for his trip home from the hospital.

leaf elephants. clever.

We wrapped it up in some pretty paper and added a very clever elephants-made-from-leaves card, which we found at our local fair trade store.

Notice my choice of pronouns for the previous sentence? I did not wrap alone. I had a very industrious little helper, who apparently prefers to work in silence.

don't you remember how fun this was when you were a kid?

Nothing like scotch tape to keep a toddler busy, and a mama laughing!

knitting for a little bum

wool diaper cover1

I just finished a wool diaper cover for the little-bum-in-residence. The pattern is called "Vanilla", and it's available through Ravelry.

wool diaper cover 2

I adore it, even though it's too big. (I knit a large, and next time I'll stick to the medium.) I've been wanting to switch to wool covers for quite a while now, but I've only recently found myself motivated to pick up my sticks. It's like that with me and knitting - I knit like a maniac for a while, then I need a break. Now that I'm firmly ensconced in my knitting mania, I have plans for many more diaper covers. Just cast on for another one last night, in fact.

the skeptical banana swagger

My friend Grace wrote an excellent post about cloth diapering and wool covers a while back - it's a goldmine of useful information if you're curious.

eating a wool banana

So, why wool covers, especially for an EC baby? Well, as I mentioned before, Finn is currently much more interested in walking (and making banana something-rathers in his wooden kitchen) than in signaling his need to use the potty. We're very cool with it. He's actually begun to sign "potty" right after he goes, which is somewhat helpful. Although he still sits on the potty to do his thing several times a day, we're also spending more time out and about this summer, and we don't EC when we're out of the house yet. We also made the decision a long time ago to not EC at night. Pottying was too much of a disruption of my sleep in a way that breastfeeding while co-sleeping never was. As an added perk, once we stopped EC-ing at night, Finn started sleeping quite well. We use Mother-Ease Sandy's diapers with their stay-dry liners at night. I never loved the PUL covers, though - even though we don't get many leaks, they don't breathe very well, which I makes for an ammonia smell first thing in the morning. Eew.

Plus, did I mention that the PUL covers have four snaps? Not very easy-on, easy-off while getting dressed. My hope is that these wool covers will be easier for Finn to maneuver once he starts showing interest in dressing himself.

baking the banana

Oh. And they're cute. Reason enough to switch, right?

on the needles

on the needles

Things are humming along in the creative realm. Lots of book designing and sewing going on behind the scenes, but also a good share of "because-if-I-didn't-make-it-I'd-go-bonkers" projects. I love these projects - the ones that maintain my sanity amidst looming deadlines. They're projects that I can pick up and take with me, and they're perfectly suited for busying my hands while sitting on the floor and making sure that Finn doesn't grab the big, lazy cat and quickly stuff him in his mouth.

on the needles

:: for the book (although this counts - it's just too fun)

on the needles

:: for my right foot

on the needles

:: for my left foot

on the needles

:: for a little boy on Valentine's Day.

We're hunkering down here for a real winter storm this weekend. Thank goodness, because I felt really sorry for the kids I saw riding their sleds down a steep, grassy incline at the park the other day. Seriously. We need some white stuff.

festive fog

the night shift

Peeking my head out from the fog for a moment to say hello, Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas ... may your holidays be full of family and joy!

Why fog, you ask? See that cup of strong black tea there? I've was working the night (and day) shifts around here for a few days as Finn had his first illness. Sweet boy had to be held just so, by Mama only, all night long, in order to keep his little lungs cough-free. I've never been so tired in my life, yet so in love. I feel like I've been baptized in the pure waters of Motherhood - those late night comfortings really bring out the best in mamas. Patience? I wasn't aware that I had it in me for several nights in a row, but yes ... it is there, only for this little boy who I love so dearly.

He is much better now, but cutting two teeth - his front teeth. Theme song, anyone? "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth?" Superb timing! I'm sure I'll have a toothy grin to post before the New Year!

reading with mima

Mima visited, hats were knitted, gifts were made, cookies were baked, tamales were prepared, lasagnas assembled, chocolate raspberry truffle cake whipped up, and the grocery store was tackled. All of this was accomplished with the help of a very loving husband, and many cups of the aforementioned VERY black tea.

more janes

My in-laws and Patrick's younger siblings arrive today. The guest beds are made, the meal plan written, and the fingers are crossed as I prepare to host my first ever Christmas. Nine people for five days, almost all meals here. Most of the meals are already in the freezer, and if all else fails, there's enough cheese and crackers in this house to feed a small town.

Also, be sure to catch the following blog tour interviews (and thank you to all the lovely women with whom I had the pleasure of chatting!) ::

:: about fabric on True Up

:: about aprons on Apronicity

:: about time management, Nature, and green crafting at Living Life as Art

:: about everything on the CraftSanity podcast

:: Tomorrow at maya*made about motherhood and balance (Check out Maya's beautiful bird blossom blouse!)

Now get thee to merry making!



the jane hat

jane hat

Mnkay ... so you're right, this isn't a sewn garment. But it sort of counts as Design Fridays, right? (Nod your head.) Right.

I'm just having the toughest time squeezing in sewing time for myself. I'm at the machine whenever I'm not with Finn, coming up with project after project for book two, but boy - I can't wait until this book stuff lets up a bit and I can make myself some new, much needed clothing staples.

jane hat

Thankfully I can find the time to knit myself a warm hat - an absolute necessity when you have bed head and haven't found the time to shower before going to the grocery store. This little number, "Jane" by Jane Richmond Designs, was knitted over two days during sleepy nursing sessions and other quiet moments.

jane hat

I'm considering turning off the heat in our house so I can wear it inside, too. I'm in love.