Pattern:Nette by Julie Weisberger
Yarn: Habu Yarns Nerimaki Silk
New Habu yarn project off the needles! I was worried while knitting this thing. The thick and thin silk yarn looks weird and dead while you’re knitting it, and then when it all came together it was just lovely. I love this sweater. I am going to change the button placement though-they are a bit too close together and I’d like it to button a little lower, but other than that it’s great. The yarn is a thick and thin silk so it naturally has areas that are a bit bigger and some are smaller, which creates a nice texture. Here’s a more closeup picture:
A note on sizing – I found the sleeves to be very narrow in circumference if knit according to pattern. They fit around my arms but could be a bit looser. It could also be my knitting. I made the 2nd size which calls for 7 skeins at 130 yards, and I’ve easily got at least one skein left over, so maybe I knit them a bit too tightly? Or maybe that’s because the pattern includes yarn for the optional collar? That collar, by the way, is hideous and I can’t understand why anyone would want to put that on this sweater. At any rate, now I have to figure out what I can make with 130 yards of silk. The website says it’s enough for a scarf! Hmm…
One more Habu yarns project then it’ll be the last. I swear. At least for a while. Or until I go back to New York to buy more.
The Girl has been famously bad at following directions in a group setting. This has significantly limited her participation in extracurricular activities. We tried enrolling her in a dance class, and while all the other little girls obediently sashayed across the stage, she ran back and forth at top speed, cackling all the time. The instructor sighed at her. We tried enrolling her in karate, and while all the other kids walked across the floor, practicing punches, she sat on the ground and cackled at Sensei. She took piano for a while and despite the teacher’s best attempts at various ways to get her to comply, it was all for naught.
So it was with some degree of surprise when, seemingly out of nowhere over last summer, she announced that she wanted to learn to play the violin. Eric rented a violin and found her an instructor, a 6′ 1′ tall Chinese woman named Hong who is a lovely person and a good instructor. At the first lesson, we told her that this would probably last a couple weeks and not to expect too much-we certainly didn’t. But the Girl has surprised us-she loves playing, usually is good about practicing and is dedicated to improving. It’s been a few months now and I think it’s going to stick, at least for now.
Here she is at her first recital! A bit squeaky for sure, an extra few measures that don’t belong, but overall I think she did great!
The scarf is done! I gave it to Eric, who put it on, wrinkled his nose, and asked, “Do you think it’s too long?”
I had to restrain myself from grabbing a pair of scissors and simply slicing off a few inches of the scarf in spite, and then watching it unravel.
I tried to get an “action” shot of Eric as he usually is on a Saturday morning, but my artistic integrity was interrupted.
I love this scarf-here’s a detail of the cabling:
This tweed looks so pretty with the pattern. Perfect for the lounging intellectual reading some relaxing Plato on a Saturday morning.
Pattern: Dryad by Jared Flood
Yarn: Takhi Yarns Donegal Tweed, 4 skeins
Preblocked the scarf was 9″ by 72″, post blocking it’s 9 1/2″ by 80″. So yes, a bit on the long side but not really for someone who’s as tall as Eric.
I did pick up that sweater I’d been a bit bored of, so will try to get that one done before too long. And then apparently I have to teach someone how to make a sweater with a wolf on it, which as we all know is the sign of an ultimate weirdo, so I may have to refuse for the person’s own good.
So let’s do some catchup on relatively recent projects, shall we?
There’s these fingerless gloves that I made for the kids, waaay too big really but they don’t seem to care. The Boy has already lost one of them anyway. What is it about gloves in our house? We can NOT hold onto an actual pair through a whole season. How do people make this magic happen?
Next up: the Gretel tank top, knit with my favorite yarn obsession, Habu. This is knit with a cotton tape yarn, which feels like paper when you’re knitting with it. According to the pattern, you only need two tiny little balls for a whole tank top! See how well that worked out?
Or…not. I used up all 2 balls of yarn that the pattern told me I would need and had nowhere near enough yarn. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the one I wanted anywhere but New York as Fancy Tiger wasn’t carrying this yarn at the time. So I waited for my summer trip, went to Habu, and got another ball of black yarn. You can see how well it matches by looking at the difference in colors in the cowl and the bottom, where I picked up stitches and knit down to make it long enough.
Actually…that looks pretty cool. When it was all done I enlisted my elves to help me take a picture, and they insisted on photobombing me at every step.
Pattern: Gretel, by Julie Weisberger
Yarn: Habu Cotton Gima, 2 balls in black and 1 in charcoal (pattern states you’ll only need 2, this is not true)
It was fortuitous that this lacy, lightweight tank was finished just in time for winter!
Since I couldn’t wear the tank top during that crazy cold snap we had in December, and I needed a warm hat, I made one.
Pattern: Really Warm Hat by Melissa LeBarre
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky, 1 ish skein.
Don’t even think about stealing this hat, people. This one is actually a bit too big around the brim so I threaded elastic cord through the bottom and now it stays on nicely.
And last is the current project I’m working on, another Jared Flood design. I started this sometime over the summer and then actually looked at my knitting.
See how the first pattern section looks nothing like the second? Yeah, that’s a complete screw up where I missed some cables and then did some others backwards. Since it’s going to be a scarf for Eric, I asked him what he thought, and he promptly replied, “Oh yeah that’s all messed up. It would bug me.” Not cool, knitting recipient, not cool. However, he was right and the whole thing was ripped out and reknit correctly. Color is much truer in this picture.
Yarn: Takhi Yarns Donegal Tweed
I’m about 2/3 of the way done with it by now, and I love this scarf. The tweedy yarn works so well with the big cables, and it’s going to be big and cozy and warm and lovely when it’s all done.
After the scarf I have a sweater to finish up that I’ve lost some interest in, so we’ll see if I pick that back up again or start something new. Part of me wants to make a big crazy throw out of all the yarn scraps I have, something to snuggle under in our basement when it gets to be cold, but that might make me feel like a 70s afghan knitter, chevron pattern and all. Am I that person? Maybe so.
Well, we’ve just gotten back from 2 days at Copper Mountain which were largely just great. This has been the first winter break where I haven’t been absolutely counting down the seconds where the kids went back to school. Overall, we had 4 days of skiing, my sister came out for a whole week, the kids basically made the pierogies this year for our Christmas Eve dinner and Santa made it by the house. My schedule has somehow allowed me to be off for almost all of 2 weeks, and since Eric is home on winter break also, it’s just been a lot of good family time. Not that there haven’t been a few moments where I think we were all a little sick of each other, have separated the kids, have created spurious reasons for early bedtimes, or have had tantrums (both kids and myself). But for the most part it’s just been really, really fun.
Skiing over the break was huge. The boy and the girl made huge leaps in their skiing this year-the girl went on her first lift and the boy is even skiing some blue runs! One of the things we’ve been looking forward to is having them be able to ski with us and not have to be in lessons. Since I snowboard I can’t really help out with teaching them to ski, and Eric didn’t necessarily feel comfortable teaching them either. This last time, I agreed to pick up the boy early at 2pm to ski a run or two with him after lessons since he’d made so much progress. So on Saturday, we picked him up at 2 and I went up a lift with him for a run. Eric was going to wait at West Village for the girl to finish her lesson at 3pm, and the boy and I were going to ski over to Center village where our lodge was.
[A note: this is long. If you want the brief version, I couldn't find the Boy and was panicky. Scroll down to the asterix break to find out what actually happened. Otherwise read on to share my two hours of terror.]
Now the boy likes to ski through the trees, which I find nerve wracking when I ride with him-one moment he’s there, then he’s not, then he pops out of some trees. So I’d asked him not to go through trees on our ride down. A note about the weather-it was cold. 15 degrees cold and dropping. We were both tired and getting chilled so agreed to just do the one run. We got off the lift and headed down the run to take us to Center Village, and then suddenly, he simply wasn’t there. I thought he had maybe taken a little tree path, so followed it down, but didn’t see him at the end. I waited there, looked up and down the mountain and just…no child. At this point, I got worried that he had hit a tree or gotten stuck, so I unstrapped myself from my board and walked up the hill, but didn’t see anyone in the trees. I flagged down a ski instructor and told them what I was worried of-he skied the path and looked from below and assured me that there was no one in the trees.
This wasn’t really all that reassuring to me, as my big snowboarding fear is getting stuck in a tree well, low enough that rescuers can’t see you and getting hypothermic and suffocating to death. I hightailed it down the mountain to Center Village, looking for the boy the whole time and not seeing him. At this point, I was in almost full panic mode. I found someone who eventually directed me to Ski Patrol and I hoped that he was just sitting in the office, but he wasn’t there. I told the Patrol officers about what had happened, and expected them to say something like, “Oh we already have him,” but they didn’t. I was now in full panic mode.
As they called their units into action and reassured me that they had never lost anyone, I was frantically trying to call Eric, but cell service wasn’t working. I was able to text him and our friend, who was with him, about what was going on, and told him to wait there and have our friend take the girl back to the lodge. The Ski Patrol people asked me to walk around the base of Center Village, which is a large place if you’ve ever been to Copper Mountain. I walked around, into the restaurants that he’s been familiar with, and still no boy. I went back to the office and the Ski Patrol guy said we should re-ski the run we had been on, though part of me suspects that he did this to get me out of the office and feel like I was doing something. The temperature was dropping rapidly-someone in the ski patrol office commented that it was now 5 degrees outside. It was snowing and getting darker too, all of which made me more and more terrified.
At this point, Eric was over at West Village and waiting to hear something, but his phone had died. He called me from someone else’s phone, but I didn’t really have much to tell him. As we were taking the lift up to get back to the run, the ski patrol had the boy’s tag scanned-he had just gotten on the West Village lift at 3:17, which was now! Relief flooded over me, as at least he was alive. He must have taken a wrong turn, I reasoned, ended up at the wrong village, and gotten back on the lift to try again. As it turned out, the timing on the chip was off by an hour so my relief was unfounded, but I didn’t know it at the time. We hightailed it down to the top of the Union Creek lift and waited for him to get off, which he never did. Maybe we missed him again, the Ski Patrol guy reasoned, and we headed back down the original run. Somehow on the way down I lost the ski patrol person again. By this point, my phone had died too. Usually I keep it in an interior pocket of my jacket but had just stuck it into a side pocket and it had frozen too cold to work. So now I had no way to reach Eric either.
I ran back into the office at Center Village near 4 pm, almost 2 hours since I saw the boy last. I started babbling how I’d lost my kid and now I’d lost the ski patrol person and honestly I don’t remember what else. The kind man there told me to hold on and said that the boy had been found-he was at our ski lodge and our friend had called it in. Sheer relief and happiness flooded over me. The man asked me what my name was, and it took me a full 10 seconds to remember my name. I’m not kidding here. He drove me back over to the lodge, where I found the boy calmly playing Plants vs. Zombies on a cell phone. He looked up at me and said, “Hi Mom!” and went back to playing.
As he told us the story, what had happened was this, in his own words as much as possible: “So, I was skiing and then went into a little curve, but not in the trees, and then when I looked around Mom wasn’t there. So I skied down a little ways and waited, but didn’t see Mom. So I started to freak out a little, but then said to myself that I had to make a plan. I didn’t want to just stay on the mountain because of, well, strangers, and also because it was getting cold. So I made a plan to find anyone I knew. I skied down to Center Village, and followed the signs so I didn’t go to Union Creek. When I got to the bottom I still didn’t see Mom, so I looked at Center Village and saw Jack’s and the big snowpile that was next to our lodge and went there. I climbed the snowpile to get higher up and see if I could see anyone from higher up. I got into the lodge but didn’t have a card to get up to the room so waited for someone else to get in the elevator and then took it up to our floor and went to the room, but no one was there. So then I remembered that you had talked about going to use the hot tub at the fitness center, so I went outside and asked someone to show me where it was. I walked to the fitness center [note: this is about 1/4 mile away, across 2 streets, and he was still wearing ski boots] and asked them if they had seen you or our friends. They looked but didn’t find them. I told them my story and they said that if I couldn’t find my way home to come back. I walked back to the lodge and then remembered that there was a hot tub on the second floor, so took the elevator again and saw that it was still closed. As I was walking back to the elevator to just go back to our room and wait, I heard Sister’s voice downstairs. [Note: that floor is open to the ground floor below, so sound carries up] I said, ‘Sister?!’ and then Aunty said, “Boy, is that you?!” and they met me at the elevator and let me in!”
At this point, our friends called Ski Patrol to let them know he had been found, and our stories match up.
I cannot believe how composed the Boy was and how he was able to devise a plan for himself, find his way back to the lodge, walk 1/2 a mile around Copper looking for us, and really take care of himself. I was so impressed by his independence and resourcefulness, and am astonished that he didn’t simply start weeping at the side of the mountain. After it was all over I identified with the mom in “Home Alone,” where she was frantically trying to get to her son, who had it all under control. This experience made me feel like we are doing something right as parents.
I also cannot believe that he told the adults at the fitness center that he was a lost child and they simply sent him back out into the cold weather instead of calling Ski Patrol immediately. I am so grateful that my daughter never stops talking in the loudest voice possible so that the Boy heard her from a flight up and called back. Mostly I’m just so happy that the Boy is safe, alive, and back with us so we can all go on more skiing adventures.
But this time with a plan for what to do if we get separated.
As you may know from my Facebook posts, our house is generally kept at a temperature that the Inuit would be comfortable with, except we don’t have lovely caribou fur jackets to keep us toasty warm.
So to keep warm, we had been using some homeemade hot packs, otherwise known as “Eric’s old socks filled with rice.” You think I’m joking:
As my friend Zoe said to me, “You’re not that poor.” So I set out to make some nicer ones. This of course, involved something for which I have NO talent: sewing. I can fix the odd hem and rip and things, but the one time I tried to fix something more complicated, I ended up sewing a sleeve shut. Sometimes I do think about getting a machine and taking a class, because sewing is just so instant gratification in a way that knitting is not. But I need another crafty item to spend money on like a hole in the head, and if Eric gets irritated with my knitting stuff being around the house, I can only imagine how he’d react with small bits of thread and fabric strewn over the floor.
Zoe was kind enough to let me use her sewing machine, and we went to Fancy Tiger and got some cool fabrics and stitched up some great little pouches! I got coordinating fabrics to make them different on both sides, and just love how they look.
Took a bit of trial and error to figure out the best way to get the rice in and sew the divisions-given that these are the first things I’ve sewed they’re not super pretty, or even, or straight at all, but I’m still proud of myself! Now, the crafty perfectionist in me is irritated by the white thread and the uninteresting stitching pattern and the exposed seam, but I just have to give that up.
These are big, big hits in our house-the kids and I use them every night to heat our beds up before getting in and they make a world of difference.
Next up: I’ve just about finished a tank top just in time for the weather to get truly freezing, working on some fingerless gloves for the kids (and maybe their teachers if I can get my act together), a sweater in progress, and a long delayed scarf for Eric that I’m sure he’ll never wear and will just cause us to argue.
When our friends Sarah and Ben announced their engagement, I knew that I’d knit them a blanket. I know I’ve said that I wouldn’t do it again, but I’d been wanting to make this pattern for some time and this was the perfect reason.
Pattern: Umaro by Jared Flood
Yarn: Cascade Eco Wool in Latte (5 1/4 skeins total)
I LOVE this blanket. It is soft and squishy and beautiful and snuggly. I chose a minimally processed undyed wool-I love that this is the color that it grows on the sheep. Something about that just feels organic.
Whenever I knit a large piece like this, especially one that is intended for gifting, I always think of the emotions and feelings and places that are knitted into the piece itself. This blanket travelled with me to New York and to the mountains. It has travelled by train, car, and plane. I was at times happy while knitting it, sometimes loving, sometimes angry, sometimes weary, and sometimes sad. I think that these are knitted into the fabric itself-and all are important especially for a blanket gifted for a wedding, or perhaps more importantly a marriage.
The lessons of knitting a large piece also lend itself to some other metaphors-there was a time when I found a minor error a few rows down, where I was able to fix it without having to unravel very much. There was another time that I looked at the piece only to see that 10 rows back I had forgotten an entire row of cables. The only way to fix that was to unravel all those 10 rows and do it right. As in marriage, so goes knitting.
Knitterly details for the fiber artists among you-I found Flood’s instructions for cabling to be onerous, especially when using such a bulky wool. I switched to one of those U shaped cable needles instead and then would slip stitches from the front and back of it to my left hand needle when it came time to knit them. Blocking was also a bit treacherous-I tried to steam block as Flood recommends but my little puny iron didn’t even touch the fabric. So I nervously placed it in my front loader and ran it on soak for 5 minutes, then let it spin while I prayed it wouldn’t felt. This enabled the stitches to really open up, and I’m so so glad I did it–it was 43×67 pre blocking and 52 x 65 after. And while the yarn was held double, it quickly got too tricky to hold two strands from two skeins, so I simply knit from the front and back ends of a center wound ball instead.
I’ve also been doing a fair amount of cardmaking these days, so stitched up this card to accompany it. I really like stitched cards-it’s such a simple embellishment and it looks wonderful.
All wrapped up, with my new stamp labels to boot!
I hope that Sarah and Ben enjoy this blanket as much as I enjoyed making it! Lots and lots of happiness (and warm cozy nights) to them!