Nearly two weeks into our new homebound lifestyle, we decided we needed a schedule. It’s been surprisingly helpful- Alice particularly likes to find where we are in our day to judge when her next snack or chance to play on the tablet will be, and everyone seems to respect the schedule. “Sorry! I can’t play now. It says I have to do chores,” I can say, and the kiddos seem to believe that the schedule has me in its hold. It also seemed very necessary to re-institute “quiet time” and to have more formal “school” activities for Alice. Alice is not into being unschooled. She wants worksheets! Activities! Schedules!
Before it turned into winter again, we used a couple nice days to work more in the yard and garden. Philip built me a little cold frame and I’ve planted lots of hopeful spinach seeds out. Today my order of seeds arrived in the mail and I have big, big plans for this summer.
While on some level I have more time than I usually do, it seems to be filled pretty quickly. Has anyone else noticed that when everyone is home all day there are about 200 times more dishes? Every few days I bake bread or something for breakfast, and it always gets eaten faster than I expect. Everyone always wants to “help” with everything, so we brought back out the learning tower, and even though I reliably stub my toe on it at least once a day I’ve come to see it as an essential item for sheltering in place with little kids. Other items on that list that come to mind: rain pants, lots of pajamas, stacks of paper.
We’ve got lots of flour and butter and beans and rice, a big backyard, a washing machine in the basement, and a salary. I’d say we’re pretty lucky.
I’m so thankful to have had this cheerful little sweater to work on the past few weeks. I always like to make Alice a spring sweater and this one turned out so great. The pattern, Granny’s Favourite, designed by Georgie Nicolson, is a wonderful pattern. I love it when a wide range of sizes and options are included- Alice has aged out of many of the toddler patterns I’ve used over the years but this pattern will last for some time to come.
I knit this with about 2 1/2 skeins of Quince and Co. Chickadee in the “Shell” color. I love Quince and Co. yarns so much- they are soft but sturdy, and they are so nice and crisp when knit up. And the colors! Ah! Alice chose this color herself, but I heartily approved.
I used the 23 inch chest size for Alice (I believe that was suggested for age 2 or 3) but used the dress length guide for the 5 year size. It fits just as I hoped it would- Alice is fairly petite and doesn’t like things overly large. If I were to make it again, however, I think I would either make the sleeves 3/4 length or short. I went for elbow length, which I think is adorable, but I can tell by her tugging on the sleeves that Alice would be a bit more comfortable if the sleeves hit at a different spot. Still, I know that in a few months it will fit differently, so I’m not overly concerned.
Alice instantly dribbled clementine juice all down the front, and there’s no nursery school or church or storytime to wear it to, but it will keep her shoulders warm and adorable and comfy, and that’s what matters most.
In these new days of social distancing and self-isolating, it seems like a pretty good time to get back to the old blogging ways. We’re taking these things pretty seriously (may I recommend this article?) and are adjusting to the idea that our usual daily out-of-house activities are cancelled indefinitely. Here in central NY almost everything is closed (no church! no library! no nursery school! no college! no gym!) so we’re slowly embracing the idea that we’re going to have a lot more time around the house. Thank heavens it’s a mild March and we can get outside almost every day…and thank goodness we moved to a larger house with a big backyard last summer.
When it isn’t scary and stressful, thinking about our response to the Coronavirus is really fascinating to me. A lot of people are going to have a lot more time at home…what will they do? What will our neighbor who watches sports constantly do when there’s no sports to watch? What will our other neighbor who spends any spare moment at the gym do now that gyms are closed? What will all these neighborhood kids do with all their hours outside of school and sports and lessons? Even someone like me, who doesn’t work outside the house, has several more hours in a day to fill when you consider the loss of grocery outings, kid activities and play dates, committee meetings, and social evening outings.
So what am I going to do? Well, I’m planning to work through my stash of fabric and yarn and unfinished projects. We’re planning a giant vegetable garden for this summer. I’ve been baking more bread, reading more chapter books to Alice. In the absence of the library, Philip and I are giving each other book recommendations from our personal collections…I’ll be starting Dune tonight! We’re going on more family hikes and doing more jigsaw puzzles. So far, so good. Alice and Peter have been alternating between super sweet besties and crabby little enemies, but thankfully there’s no chance of them being lonely, no matter how long this social distancing lasts.
Lots of books for everybody.
Puzzles! Painting! Play dough!
Building cars out of furniture and cushions! Note the steering wheel here…
And getting ready for spring. That’s a plastic ice-cream peeking out from Peter’s pocket, by the way…
Life seems quite different from one week ago. We’ll see what it’s like next week.
Thank goodness Peter is such a friendly little fellow- he didn’t mind that his new sweater wasn’t ready for either his first birthday or Christmas. I splurged on the yarn a bit- it is Geilsk Tweed in Red, Black, and Lighter Grey- and it was wonderful to work with. The red has flecks of primary colors, which looks adorable on a little boy sweater, and the finished sweater is quite light weight and plenty soft.
I used Gilipeysa in size 12-18 months with added arm length, and I think it will end up lasting him for a long time. The sweater I knit for Alice at age one still fits her in a pinch, so I’m hopeful. The pattern is an excellent one. It is knit completely in the round and then steeked. The front edges are crocheted and button loops are crocheted on, which is something I might change on future versions. I think it could use the stability of a more traditional button band. Still, it’s cute as is too.
Peter at one is an absolute delight. He has four teeth and is working on several more, and is crawling and cruising but not yet walking. He’s not much into toys, but he does like toy cars and trucks, blocks, musical instruments, and crayons. Mostly he likes crawling up stairs and exploring behind closed doors and under lids. He says “Mama,” “Nanana” (Banana), and “Yeah!” as well as being excellent at communicating with finger pointing and gesticulating. We’re all very taken with our sweet little baby boy and can hardly believe he’s been around for a whole year.
A month in, we’ve all adjusted back to the swing of things and our summer schedule feels like a distant memory. We generally go somewhere at 10:30 every morning: the library, a hike, playgroup, etc., but other than that we spend our days mostly at home.
Alice started September with her 3rd birthday and suddenly seems like a big kid. She’s very interested in learning her letters and spends a lot of time doing jigsaw puzzles and deeply involved in complex imaginary stories. Peter is a sweetheart- he loves Alice and clapping and Baby Time at the library and he really wishes he could crawl.
I’m busy with all that, and plenty of other things besides. I’ve read a few interesting books- I found Small Animals by Kim Brooks thought provoking, and also read The Woman’s Hour by Elaine Weiss which was fascinating, if a bit dense. I’m currently reading a much less serious novel (about a mermaid!) and also reading up on sewing machine repair and maintenance. I did some work on my own machine and found it very interesting and satisfying. Oh, and I’m working on a very involved and cable-y sweater! So, I’m having fun too!
When we were on our regular Wednesday ramble this morning we noticed that all the signs for the snowshoeing paths have been put up. It’s hard to imagine that snow is just around the corner when I’m enjoying my garden of flowers and tomatoes and perfect 60 degree temperatures. I think that’s why almost everyone agrees that fall is the best season- it’s just so short. We’re going to try to enjoy every day of it!
A few days ago I finished this bonnet for Peter, made from the Fauna Pixie Hat pattern by Gynka Knitwear. I made Alice so many bonnets when she was a baby, but this pattern might just be the cutest bonnet I’ve ever made. It is just ridiculously adorable. I love how the leaves turn into the little point at the top, and the slightly offset leaf pattern is really lovely.
The pattern is written for an aran weight yarn, so I used the leftovers from my recent Ramona cardigan: Drops Alaska in Mustard. While knitting I thought I’d line it with some cozy fabric, as I wasn’t sure it would be soft enough, but Peter seems to like it just fine as is.
While I absolutely love pom-poms, I decided to leave the pom-poms off the ends of the ties, and I also knitted i-cord ties instead of crocheted chains. I made the 0-6 month size because the 6-12 month size was knitting up huge…actually, I knit the majority of the bonnet three times because I was too lazy to check my gauge at the start. Overall, I think this pattern is fantastic, and I’m going to be tying it on Peter every opportunity I get! I think that will be just about every day from here on out…I thought summer might stick around forever but I think it’s safe to say that Autumn is finally arriving here in Upstate NY.
And a few other pictures of our morning…
Now I’m on to a much more time consuming knit…a cabled sweater for myself that I’ve been wanting to make for quite a while. I’m hoping it’ll be done before the snow flies? We’ll see!
This is the third time I’ve made the Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. This is such a sweet and easy pattern- I made the whole thing in just a bit over a week of evenings…and not very hardcore evenings either- I also read a book and went to bed reasonably early. I’m glad I got it done so quickly because we went from the hottest day of the summer to feeling like fall in a matter of three days.
I had a few balls of Wool of the Andes in the Cadet colorway in my stash and it worked up perfectly for this pattern on size 6 needles. I’ve said so before, but I really never cease to be impressed by Wool of the Andes. It is SO CHEAP and works up so nicely, and I really like the way it feels. I’m sure some people wouldn’t put it on a baby, but neither of my babies have protested it and demanded something softer. I cut the buttons off a shirt that I was tired of, and the result is a charming little baby knit for about six bucks…plus a week of quality entertainment!
I knew from prior experience that this pattern runs super small, so I went ahead and knit the 1-2 year size for my 8th percentile 8-month-old. I shortened the sleeves only slightly and opted to leave them a bit long so that Peter can cuff them stylishly until his next growth spurt, which we are assuming will happen shortly given his recent intake of oatmeal and peanut butter.
Peter is such a sweetie, and gosh I’m glad it’s feeling autumnal out because I just can’t wait to fill his drawers with clothes befitting such a charming little fellow.
Last winter I decided that the next winter we would all be allowed only one hat, scarf, and pair of mittens because otherwise our winter basket by the back door gets ridiculously stuffed. I saw this free pattern the other day and decided that it was meant to be Alice’s scarf/cowl/tiny shawl for the winter.
I knitted this up with a leftover ball of Andean Treasure (100% baby alpaca) in “Prairie Heather.” It’s super cozy next to the skin, so it’s perfect for this kind of garment. The pattern is meant for a lighter weight yarn, but I wanted it to be larger anyway to fit a kid rather than a baby. I also omitted the final pattern repeat so that it wouldn’t be too long.
I like the front with the cables and lace, but I almost think the back is even cuter. Alice picked out the button from my button box- I believe it came from an L.L.Bean shirt I had in high school. Because the button can be put through any of the eyelets along the edge the cowl is completely adjustable which I think is handy for little kids who may be bothered by things too close to their neck.
This was such a fun and quick knit. I definitely made a couple mistakes- I knit the whole thing watching TV instead of really concentrating on it- but overall it was an easy little project. And Alice likes it!
This week I revived the sourdough starter that had been moldering in the back of the fridge since winter. Don’t let those fancy internet bread people tell you to toss a nasty looking starter out, because with a little care I got mine to make two respectable baguettes. Philip gave mine an ultimatum: toss or use within a day. He doesn’t like “fermentation” in his fridge; I just don’t notice it. So I dared to open it up, sniff it, and give it some attention. Several days later, with two loaves ready to pop into the oven, our oven wouldn’t light so they were baked across the street at a neighbors house in the sweetest little GE oven from the 50’s I’ve ever seen.
Our appliances have just been failing us right and left. Our car is still in Maine- it didn’t make it back from Canada- our oven isn’t lighting, and right after I cut out several sewing projects my sewing machine’s motor started sounding pretty awful.
Our garden is treating us right though and our freezer is filling up with tomatoes while the collection of tiny vases I keep around are getting lots of use holding zinnias.
I gave Alice a new hairdo with some pretty cute short bangs, and Peter is becoming more and more of a blondie every day.
I saw Crazy Rich Asians with my friends (very fun!), finished Zadie Smith’s new essay collection, and am now reading and enjoying Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee. I started a new cabled sweater for myself and have decided that I also need to be working on a brainless project because I can’t twist cables the right way while also reading Frog and Toad.
We’re looking forward to our last weekend before school starts back up and to Alice’s last week of being a two year old. It’s bound to be a good one!
I always enjoy our family vacations, but I do think this summer they have gone particularly well. Alice is old enough to adjust to new schedules a little better than she used to, she’s a little less hesitant about new things, and Peter is a champ napper even when away from home. Alice did so many new things that have been showing up in the stories she tells us since our trip. Her cars now drive onto ferries and embark on roadtrips, her bunnies go to the beach to find periwinkles and fly kites, and, of course, she now wants someone to play with her every second of the day. Ah, the luxury of having grandparents around! Peter seemed to grow up a lot over the two weeks too. He started accepting (demanding) non-pureed food, and has begun squealing for pancakes and cheese and bread and all manner of tasty vittles. My memory is that we were pretty careful about Alice’s introduction to foods, but this kid has already eaten oatcakes and tried fried haddock.
I’ll admit that whenever I’m back home I do wish a bit that we could live closer to both the water and to my family, but mostly I’m just happy we have places and folks so beautiful to visit. We spent time in Maine playing at my cousin’s camp, seeking sea breezes to ward off mosquitoes, making sea shell jewelry, and having tea parties. Philip and I then went up to St. Andrew’s for a few days before being joined there by my parents. We hung out on the beaches, went on little adventures, harvested crab apples, and celebrated Philip’s 31st birthday.
I feel a little like I should go back and document the rest of our summer before posting about our August trip to Maine, but there are just too many pictures to wade through, so we’re just moving forward…. Without further ado, the vacation photos:
And then St. Andrew’s…
We’ve had such a good summer. I’ve gotten lots of time with my friends, we’ve visited family in Oklahoma and Maine, I’ve had far more time by myself than usual to drink coffee and write and read…it’s been so great. Philip goes back to work next week full time and I’m nervous about the transition back to being the outnumbered grown-up in the house. But the more I have to do the more I get done, and I’m also looking forward to getting back into a daily routine with Peter and Alice. We can’t stay on vacation forever!