The Boy Helps Prepare for The Baby

The bassinet is (finally) ready for the Baby, thanks to The Boy.

This boy is so handy to have around.

We worked together, but he did all the lifting, squatting and other hard-to-do-when-your-belly-is-the-size-of-a-watermelon type of activities.

When we were done, I bragged on him like crazy (you know, like I am doing right now…)

And, now, all we need is a woolie and we are set.

Oh, dear! What am I going to do for the next two or three weeks?

This Moment – Photo Shoot

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Except this time I am gonna cheat, use some words, and share three pictures. 

The Dancing Queen wanted to help me photograph my February Sweater for the blog earlier this week. Then the Princess wanted to hang on me a bit. So, here are my favorites from that photo shoot with my little girls.

Happy Weekending!

More Befitting Knitting…

… for a woman of my gestational status.

Newborn soakers loosely based on the Picky Pants pattern
from the top: mystery brown yarn (must have some alpaca in it); KnitPicks Merino Style Hawk; KnitPicks Merino Style Hollyberry; Miss Priss Mary Walker Phillips

See that last one? Recognize the lovely yarn?

I love it even more now that it did that beautiful stripey thing on this pair of soakers! 🙂 (I don’t know why the drawstring is off center except to say that I finished these very late last night…)

It really is a mystery why I put off knitting newborn soakers. They are easy, super-fast, instant gratification projects.

Now, I should be set as far as newborn goes, especially if this baby is a girl. Look what I saved from the Munchkin’s newborn days:

Now I guess I will start knitting smalls. Or finish another WIP. (Hey! I am down to five!) We shall see what mood hits me the next time I sit down to knit.

Be Prepared

Ever find yourself in a situation like this?

There you sit, comfortable and happy, in your favorite chair, or curled up on the couch, or perhaps outside enjoying the spring sunshine. You are knitting away on some wooly goodness, when you realize that you need to measure your work, but where did you leave that measuring tape? There might be one in the couch… or on the night stand… or under the kitchen table…. or perhaps the kids have them all upstairs in their toy boxes… Alas, you know not where.

Then you realize further that even if you can, indeed, find a measuring tape it could conceivably lead to a search for scissors, or a needle, or maybe some stitch markers….

That is when you decide that you really are very comfortable. So, instead of getting up and turning the house upside-down to find the needed items, you quietly set your knitting aside,  loosing valuable knitting time as you sit comfortably with idle hands.

This happens to me. All. The. Time.

So, I decided to get organized. I decided it was time to be prepared.

I spent a few months collecting various things and throwing them into a drawer. The plan was to make some notions pouches to match the project bags I made recently. However, since I would rather knit than sew, those pouches still aren’t made and I am finding myself wishing I would just get it together, pouches or no.

Here is what I accomplished, once I gave up on the matching pouches dream (one kit is in a ziplock bag for now).

There are five kits and each contains:

  • scissors
  • tape measure
  • tapestry needles in at least 3 sizes
  • stitch markers – brass rings, locking and a couple of fun/fancy ones
  • pen and post-it notes
  • safety pins
  • stitch holder (or extra large safety pin)
  • row counter
  • crochet hook

So, now, when I am ready to cast on a new project, I choose a bag, toss in needles, pattern and yarn. Then I grab a notions kit and I can sit anywhere I want and knit indefinitely without having to get up and search for a stitch marker.

Five kits. Hmmmm. I probably need to make a few more. When was the last time I only had five WIPs? 

A February Sweater in May

Here it is – the February Fitted Sweater in Miss Priss Mary Walker Phillips

It is obviously not a maternity sweater, but by the time it is cold enough to wear it, I won’t be “maternity” any more…

I love the way the colors worked out. In less light, it almost looks black, but in the sun the colors just pop out.

Maternity or no, it is so cozy!

Three things about this sweater

1. The swatch lied – it did not grow when blocked. The sweater, however, did grow. Big. Good thing I am a big woman.

2. This yarn is scrumptious. It is everything a yarn should be – soft, squishy, bouncy, cozy, beautiful and wooly. I love, love, love this yarn. Plus, because it comes in such generous skeins, I was able to make this sweater with less than 4 balls! That means this sweater cost me less than $72 to knit. Amazing. And, it gets better. I bought 6 thinking I would need 6…. So I have over 2 skeins of this lovely, fabulous yarn still in the stash. Wooohoo!

3. This pattern, while easy to memorize and theoretically a “quick knit”, was a little confusing, and then plain boring. I wouldn’t knit it again… but I sure do look forward to wearing this beautiful sweater next winter. I have a feeling it will be one of my favorites. 🙂

Oh, and did I say that I love this yarn?

More details and info on my Ravelry project page.

Jaali

Words just aren’t enough, so, I will just show you.
Jaali in Malabrigo Lace Sealing Wax

Three things about this knit:

1. Kitman Figeroa is a genius. I plan to knit all her shawls. This one is challenging, mentally fatiguing, it kept me awake at night and turned out exquisitely beautiful.

2. I knit this holding two strands of Malabrigo Lace together, making it as luciously soft and warm as it is beautiful.

3. Knitting a shawl from the bottom up is highly satisfying. All shawls should be made this way. The last row was 3 stitches long!

The Bookworm really wants this one. And, you know, I enjoyed knitting it so much I might be willing to knit it again. But first, I gotta get to those soakers! Only four more weeks to go before my knitting time becomes nursing time!

I Admit I Was Skeptical

I tried something new last week. Soap nuts in the laundry. This is a journal of my very unscientific experiment.

Soap nuts are actually not nuts, but rather the husk of the fruit of the soapberry tree. Wikipedia link.

Do they work? I bought the sample pack, which contained five. The instructions were to use 3 or 4, but what am I going to do with the last one? So, I threw them all in the bag, tossed the bag into my first load of laundry and started the washer on a warm/cool cycle.

Now, I didn’t select any certain laundry, but just threw in a load of “darks”. There were a few of The Man’s work shirts, some socks, some dish towels, a few pairs of The Boy’s jean shorts, etc… A fairly mixed bunch of dirty articles.

This first load of laundry came out surprisingly clean! I gave everything the sniff test and everything, from socks to armpits to dishrags, passed. That is not to say that they smelled good – there is no fragrance involoved here – they just smelled, well, not-stinky.

As far as dirt removal went, that was good, too. The dish rags looked nice and The Boy’s clothes were dirt free. So far, so good.

The instructions say that the same nuts can be used for three to five loads, so I had another go. And the second load, this time pinks (so, mostly the girls’ clothes), was pretty much the same as the first.

The third load of laundry  was where I started to notice a falling off. Everything still passed the smell test, but I wasn’t seeing the cleanliness that the first two loads had produced. But, it was passable, especially for play clothes and a few towels.

At this point, the nuts were getting softer and looked like this:

Looking for a graying to tell me that they were used up and not finding it, I went for a fourth load. This time, I figured I could get away with sheets.

The sheets came out clean, and the soap nuts still frothed upon being squeezed:

…so I thought I’d go for broke and do a fifth load.

The fifth load was, once again, darks. And this time it wasn’t a great result. The Man’s socks and the armpits of my tops retained faint unpleasant odors and the kids clothes looked like they had merely been rinsed out and dried.

So, what’s this gonna cost me? To answer this question, this experiment will have to extend a bit. Right now, I have to buy eco-friendly detergent because our washer is on a grey water system. I spend about $20 a month on laundry detergent right now. So, my next step is to buy a bag of soap nuts and use them to see how long they last and what a month costs.

What else? Environmentally, I am sold. The chance to use a natural product that can be tossed into the compost when it is used up is really cool to me. The fact that I don’t have to worry about the water being toxic to plant or animal once it comes out of the washer is also a huge plus.

Conclusion:

1. Soap nuts actually work. And they work just as the literature says that they do.

2. Using soap nuts requires a strategy. The first two loads should be the dirtiest, followed by a load of mildly soiled laundry and possibly finished with a final load of sheets and/or towels.

3. Next time, I will get the essential oils to add to the laundry. I like my clothes to smell good, not just void of stink.

4. Soap nuts are safe for our grey water system and are all natural.

5. Having a bottle of regular detergent for really soiled stuff would probably be necessary.

So, there you have it. My very unscientific experiment. I don’t know about you, but I am going to order some more and try again, this time with some essential oils. To me, the pros outweigh the cons. I will keep you posted.

My sample of soap nuts came from Cheekymaidensoap.com. For more information, visit her website.

Knesting

Nesting, according to Wikipedia:

“In human females, the nesting instinct often occurs around the fifth month of pregnancy, but can occur as late as the eighth, or not at all. It may be strongest just before the onset of labor.

It is commonly characterized by a strong urge to clean and organize one’s home, and is one reason why couples who are expecting a baby often reorganize, arrange, and clean the house and surroundings. This behavior is colloquially known as “straightening out”, “clearing the road”, or “clearing the coast”, or “building a door”.”

So, what does it look like when a pregnant knitter starts nesting?

She gets a little frantic over the fact that she has eight projects on the needles… and not one of them is baby related.

She starts inventorying her worsted wools, looking for soaker worthy yarns.

She spends most of her day knitting like a crazy person, trying to finish something so that she can cast on soakers in good conscience. Turning a blind eye to the fact that the crib is not set up, the changing table is still being used as a book shelf, and the newborn diapers are still in storage, she instead works a complicated lace shawl project that has absolutely no practical use, baby or otherwise – just to clear out the WIP basket. (That would be Jaali. See yesterdays post…)

She is thankful for sleepless nights  – it’s just more knitting time, right?

She has nightmares that the baby comes before the knitting is done.

Yes, folks. I am 35 weeks pregnant, and I am knesting.

The Stash Project Update

I have been really good. Everything that I have knit so far this year has been with yarn from the stash.

But, I have had to make some interesting substitutions, and abandon some knitting plans for new projects.

Jaali is a good example of this. Last year, I bought this yarn:

Malabrigo Lace Sealing Wax

…to make another Wispy. Or maybe a Featherweight Cardigan. Or maybe a Whisper Cardigan.

In any case, it was supposed to be a cardigan, preferably one designed by Hannah Fetig, because I love her patterns so much. I even bought the patterns in anticipation.

Then, I got the pattern for Jaali… and had no yarn to cast it on. And it had to be cast on. Right. Now.

So, I sucked it up, grabbed the yarn from my stash, and, holding it double to make it fingering weight (in case you missed it, there is the interesting substitution I spoke of earlier) and cast on post haste.

I don’t regret it. I mean, just look at it!

I fall in love with it more and more as each (ever decreasing, hallelujah) row is completed.

But, it is taxing to keep up with this whole New Years Resolution thing.

So, my brain is trying to trick me into buying new yarn, without buying new yarn.

Taking part in Ravelry swaps was one strategy – and it worked well. I got some new yarn (plus other goodies like tea and notebooks) and that was fun.

Then, my brain tried to figure out the fastest way to knit all the yarn that I have so that I will have to buy more. (Uh, not gonna happen.)

Then, my brain got really generous with Christmas knitting, since buying yarn for gifts would be a “legal” purchase (thankfully, my common sense won out on that one – I have enough knitting to do without adding a bunch of gifts with a deadline!).

But this newest ploy is just genius. I am thinking that maybe I need a new hobby. What if I got into hand-dying? Is it really a yarn purchase if I buy naked yarn for dying? I don’t think so.  I think I might be onto something here.

Just don’t tell The Man…

Test Knitting Again

I may have ruined this post by using the best picture for my “This Moment” post on Friday, but I am going to share a bit about this hat, anyway.

Cute enough to post twice, don’t you think?

This hat was a test knit for another designer on Ravelry. It is called the Pinwheel Mushroom Tam.

It comes in a large range of sizes, from infant to adult. I knit the infant size, but it stretches enough to fit The Munchkin.

It uses corrugated ribbing to achieve the striping, and that was a bit fiddley. I like learning new techniques and challenging myself, but this technique is not my new favorite by any stretch!

I used the yarn that was left over from my Labyrinth Sweater that I made last year. Louisa Harding Grace Silk and Wool is a luscious blend of silk and merino, single ply, shiny and soft. It is also terribly splitty, and no fun to work corrugated ribbing with.

And, oh, The Munchkin! She is a natural and began posing as soon as the camera was turned on! What a cutie!