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!
I can hardly believe how quickly this summer has been flying by, though I also have to keep reminding myself that we have at least a month and a half of summer weather left. While in New Brunswick last week I finished up a cardigan for myself in a nice late-summer color (post on other aspects of summer vacation to come, hopefully!) and remembered to take pictures before it starts looking lived-in.
A couple of years ago I knit the Ramona pattern (baby Alice!!), but mine came out over-sized and a far cry from the little cropped number pictured on the pattern. I wanted a basic cardigan, I already had this pattern, and I so I set out to make a close-fitting, chunky sweater. I am happy to report that I was successful this time around.
I used Drops Alaska, a heavy worsted weight, and size 9 needles to achieve gauge, and then I knit a size XS in order to make a cardigan with negative ease. I don’t plan to actually button this cardigan – I rarely button cardigans- so the negative ease just gives me the fitted rather than slouchy look I was hoping for. I loved this yarn- a 100% wool that is sturdy but not overly scratchy. I’m hoping it will wear well and not pill.
I shortened the sweater overall but lengthened the amount of ribbing on both the bottom and on the cuffs. I also did the broken rib for the cuffs instead of the plain 1×1 ribbing called for. Additionally, I went down a full three needle sizes for the button band, as I felt that the band rippled a bit on my previous edition.
I found the buttons at a shop in Maine while visiting my family and I absolutely love them. I rarely use fancy buttons, but gosh these are cute.
I ended up with a couple balls of yarn left over, so I might make Peter another sweater vest or, if there is enough, a cardigan. I bought yarn for a lovely cabled pullover while I was in St.Andrew’s, and some speckled fingering weight….and I have a dress cut out for myself, plus Alice’s third birthday is right around the corner and she’ll be needing a birthday dress…so much to do.
We’ve been having such a busy spring that I haven’t taken the time to record many of our projects, but I did manage to snap a few pictures of Alice’s new backpack before it begins what I’m sure will be a very tough life. Alice has been very taken with other kids’ backpacks lately, and I decided to make her one of her very own. It was such a fun project, and Alice has been more excited by this than anything else I’ve made her. She sat next to me for much of its creation telling me about how her favorite color is pink and how she is planning to store “Baby’s little snacks” in it.
I used this toddler backpack pattern and it was perfect. At first I was eyeing some more complicated patterns with lots of zippered pockets and such, but I decided that simple is better for a two year old…less to frustrate her. I used natural duck cloth I had lying about, plus pink duck cloth I picked up at Joann’s, and then I added a leather bottom and loop and lined it all with a quilting cotton I thought Alice would appreciate. I’m so happy that I managed to make something that I love the look of and would use myself but that Alice also is excited by.
The leather I used for the bottom is quite heavy and my machine really struggled so I ended up sewing much of the bottom on by hand. The pattern warns against using duck cloth as it is very heavy, but I used a walking foot and heavy duty thread and needle and all was well. I really don’t think a lighter weight fabric would have given it enough structure, even with the piping.
I added some outside side pockets and a little leather loop, mostly for looks but perhaps they’ll prove useful. I also did not bother to pad the straps, as there’s no way Alice will be carrying anything heavy around with this (Baby’s snacks are very light)…
I’m very glad I bothered with the lining- it really only took an extra two hours (and I sew really slowly!) and it makes it seem much more finished. Alice waited (somewhat impatiently) while I stitched the lining on by hand and when I turned it back inside out she took it away and began stuffing random things inside, zipped it up, and took off.
I thought about reminding her to tell me thank-you and decided against it…much better to observe her genuine appreciation.
If there’s a silver lining in having a very, very late spring this year it’s that I get to wear my new sweater! I began this sweater after Peter was born thinking it would be a quick, mindless knit, which it almost was. The pattern is Mary’s Sweater designed by Marianne J. Bjerkman, and is a design I’ve been wanting to make for quite a while. I still love the design, but I have to say that I found the pattern to be a bit lacking.
I never like it when patterns say things like “decrease evenly 112 stitches,” because of course the numbers never quite work out and I really feel like I paid them to do the math for me when I bought the pattern. Unfortunately, this pattern is full of that, and it also tells you to decrease huge numbers on single rows in the yoke, resulting in a ruffly look. I ended up taking the yoke out and then spacing out the decreases over the entire yoke. It’s better now, but the decreases are still a bit obvious in the white band. Ah well. Were I to make this pattern again, I would also add short rows to the back so that the front and back aren’t the exact same height.
I used Drops Big Merino in off white and “forget-me-not.” I’m not usually into superwash merino yarn because it pills and feels a bit too squishy, but I wanted a sweater that would be very baby-friendly. I remembered that when Alice was a baby she used to eat bits of my lopi yoke sweater and that it would irritate her cheek if she fell asleep while I was carrying her, so I chose something really cozy this time. When I blocked the sweater it grew by several inches, but I was prepared for that, having read on ravelry that this yarn really needs to be machine dried as well. After a tumble in the dryer it came out the perfect size.
I think it turned out to be just the right sort of thing to knit in the sleepy months after having a baby, and I know I’ll enjoy wearing it because I’ve already worn it two days in a row.
I’ve already blocked my swatch for my next project, which I think will be even easier than this one. I expect I’m going to want to make something that requires a bit more concentration someday soon, but not quite yet!
This is my third time knitting this vest pattern and it’s such a simple project it doesn’t really merit its own post, but it seemed like the right time for a photo shoot with Peter. The pattern, Pebble, is one of my all time favorite baby knits, and can be found (for free!) here. It’s so much fun to knit up, is cleverly constructed, and is terribly practical due to side and shoulder buttons.
I used a hand-dyed worsted merino that I bought at a yarn festival last fall from a local woman who runs Spencer Hill Yarn. I would include a link but apparently her website isn’t up and running anymore…hopefully I’ll see her again next fall, because I really loved her colors and enjoyed speaking with her about her dyes and about running a small business. I bought some of her indigo dyed fingering weight too and am just now starting a project with it.
Peter is a fan of Alice’s old Pebble vest and I decided to make a version that was a little larger, hoping that he’ll be able to wear it through the spring (whenever it decides to finally arrive) and colder summer moments. I added six stitches to the body and used a heavier yarn with size 6 needles, but made no other changes to the pattern. In retrospect, a few more extra stitches probably wouldn’t have been a mistake…I may have to knit another version in the summer.
And a few little photoshoot outtakes, in case anyone was wondering what Alice was up to…