Thoughts on Winter

My high school biology teacher had a small mummified dog in his classroom. He kept it on a high shelf where it creepily presided over his classes. One day he carefully took it down to show us. He enthusiastically explained to us about how the dog had crawled under a porch and died one winter and that the extremely cold and dry temperatures had perfectly preserved it. I think that’s about all I remember from high school biology, other than the stamens and pistons and whatnot of the flower of course.

I mention that crusty, contorted little dog because I’m pretty sure I’m being slowly mummified. This winter has been so cold and so dry and so gray. Everything feels brittle. I tried practicing intarsia and this is what came out:

UGH.

It’s time for some bright, cheerful projects.

How are you getting through this last rattling cough of winter?

A Tomten Jacket

I was looking for a simple knitting pattern that didn’t really require much thought. The kind of meditative knitting that I could do after a day of caring for my extremely active toddler. So I turned to Elizabeth Zimmermann. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love Elizabeth Zimmermann. Her approach to knitting is very practical and her writing is spunky and engaging. Her story is really interesting too, I recommend Knitting Around for her autobiography.

Tomten Jacket from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann

I decided to try her Tomten Jacket pattern from Knitting Without Tears. This is a great book, and the Tomten pattern is very very simple. My little tomte is not a fan of hoods so I added a little jacket collar instead.

Tomten JacketThe yarn I used was a very sturdy natural brown worsted weight wool from Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney, Vermont. It was so nice and sturdy that whenever Malcolm’s curious little paws pulled out the needles, the stitches stayed exactly where they were and I was able to just put the needles right back in. I love this yarn so much I want to go visit the sheep it came from. I used a little  orange worsted weight Lamb’s Pride for the trim and my size 5 wooden knitting needs.

Tomten JacketFinding a jacket zipper the right color and length was tricky. I finally found one at the Windsor Button going out of business sale (a terrible blow to us Boston knitters). I wasn’t sure how Malcolm would feel about the jacket, it is a bit scratchy. But he loves it! He finds it wherever it is and drags it out. I consider this project a success! And what’s sweeter than a baby in hand-knits?

 

Design Begins

Sweet fancy Moses! It is COLD out! And Malcolm’s lightweight mittens are not cutting it, so it’s time to make him some new ones. I pulled out my size 0000 double pointed needles and some ultra soft baby alpaca yarn I’ve been hoarding and started playing around with patterns. Malcolm was not interested in letting me measure his hands, but I’ve got a rough idea about what size he is. Next step: Design!

Design Begins

 

How to Knit a Cuff Lining

I recently started adding soft knitted cuff linings to my Scandinavian mittens. They are so easy and I think the extra detail adds a bit of polish to hand-knitted pieces. I’ve been using this totally luxurious angora/merino blend yarn from Honeybuns Rabbitry and Apiary that I picked up at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. It is so soft, it feels like stroking a teeny tiny baby bunny on its itty bitty tummy.

Here’s how I do it:

1. Grab a crochet hook, bunny-soft yarn, and pick up stitches.

Pick up the same number of stitches as the knitted cuff. I had a 60 stitch cuff here, so I cast on 60 stitches. Choose your yarn keeping in mind that you may not want to add extra bulk to your cuff. So you may want to use a slightly finer yarn, smaller needles, or, if using the same yarn and needles as the rest of your project, you’ll decrease by 10% in the first round of knitting.

2. Knit desired lining length.

If you’ve chosen to use the same weight yarn and needles as the rest of your project, go ahead and decrease by 10% in the first round or two of knitting. For instance, my cuff was 60 stitches around so I would have decreased by 6 stitches using a simple knit 2 together decrease evenly spaced across my knitting.

Measure the cuff and knit until you’ve reached the desired length of your lining.

3. Sew down the live stitches.

Here is the scary part. Flip your mitten inside-out and pull the lining into place, cut your yarn off with enough length for sewing down all the stitches and weaving in the end, and then pull out your needles. DO IT! See, that wasn’t so bad. Now, thread the cut length of yarn onto a wool needle. You’ll want to sew into that first stitch first, so it doesn’t unravel, and then just gently tack down each live stitch all the way around. Weave in the end.

4. Flip it inside out and you’re done.

Poof! Classy cuff lining!

A Wintry Weekend

What a relief that it is finally December! November brought us Malcolm’s first cold, followed immediately by his first virus. The poor baby was sick for so long it felt like he’d never be well. But now we can finally turn on the holiday music because we are all well and rested and ready to really get into the spirit of the season. This past weekend I turned on the fireplace (sadly, it’s a DVD. But it’s a pretty good substitute until we have a real one of our own),

and I got to work on these warm winter mitts. It is especially slow going these days, since the baby discovered he loves yarn. I had to finally give him some of his own, which is now unwound and wrapped around the coffee table. I’m hoping this is a sign that he will like knitting as much as I do one day.

We had a beautiful light snowfall that inspired us to go for a nice long family walk up to our local winter farmer’s market. We took the community path for part of the way. It’s quiet there and you can hear the snow falling.

We’re looking forward to lots more gorgeous winter days.

A Cold

The baby got his first cold last weekend, and so of course now that he is getting better I’m coming down with a doozy of a cold. Until I became a parent, I would deal with any illness by lying in bed with tea and movies, wearing the same sweatpants for days and demanding sympathy. But you can’t be a princess when you’ve got kids so now I’m learning to power through. Thank goodness for our wonderful babysitter who came over for a few hours so I could sit quietly with my tea.

And work on my knitting. I was in the mood for a very simple project and an excuse to use this gorgeous purple yarn that I picked up at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival a few years ago. So I’m improvising a hood hat based loosely on the shape of this adorable hat by Pink Brutus Knits. The plan is to line it with some lovely soft flannel if it turns out well.

Mittens and Cake

This has been a busy week with guests in town and my son’s very first birthday. But through it all, I found a little time to finish these mittens.

They are the Swedish Mittens from Halland pattern from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski. They are nice and dense and toasty warm. I also added an angora cuff lining that makes them just a little extra special.

And for the birthday boy I made my first ever successful cake! With frosting! It was a carrot cake from my friend Kim’s blog. The birthday boy was not so sure how he felt about it, I never give him sugar so it must have been a strange experience. My husband loved it so much he is insisting that he will eat it all if I don’t stop him.

Right Now

Right now I’m trying out the Mittens from Halland pattern from Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandwoski. It’s a great book, I highly recommend it. It’s the book that got me to finally try stranded knitting (knitting with two or more colors), my most favorite way to knit. I’m wearing these classic pajamas that I picked up at Goodwill for  $6. I was so psyched about them until husband started laughing at me. Turns out I look like a stout old lady in them. But I’ve decided I don’t care because the fabric is so pretty.

 

Baby Vest

Now that we’re really getting into autumn, I’m starting to think about cold weather clothes for the baby. When I came across this sweet little baby vest from Sam Lamb, I knew I had to knit it right away. He’s all over the place these days, moving as fast as he can, so keeping bulky wool sleeves out of his way is a great idea.

This was a really quick project. I used Lamb’s Pride worsted weight wool and size 8 needles.