December 2007


In my last post about this project, Necia commented on the way garter stitch eats up yarn, especially in bulky, which I think is true. You get a firmer fabric, so it makes sense that it takes up more yarn. Plus, she mentioned that spinning with more twist per inch than commercial yarn eats up more roving too, and those two points probably sum up the reason I ran out of yarn after a pound of roving spun up into about 460 yards..Anyway, Amy of Spunky Eclectic tried valiantly to get me more roving in time for Christmas, and she did get it to me in a timely fashion, but I was so swamped with other holiday stuff that I just didn’t get it done. But now I’ve finished knitting the pattern. I hereby present my garter stitch blob:

Garter Stitch Blob

And surprise! It’s a jacket!

Surprise!  A jacket!

I’ve seen other pretty Baby Surprise Jackets with i-cord or crochet trim, but I like the way it looks “unfinished,” plus I don’t want to add to the weight of an already heavy garment. So I decided on a no-frills shoulder seam. Since I have no experience seaming horizontal to vertical garter stitch, I searched around online for guidance. The most helpful article I found was a post by the Yarn Harlot which showed pictures of the way she stitched each side. I had more vertical garter ribs than horizontal bumps, so I stitched two vertical stitches together a few times on each side. Here’s how it looks:

Shoulder seam

Now with the shoulders seamed up, I was able to put it on my victim finally! Luckily, he put it on willingly, since he’s seen me working on it and is old enough to understand what it’s for. And he likes it!

He likes it!

The fit in the body is surprisingly generous, but the sleeves are really short. I will be lengthening them, for sure. Plus, I haven’t bought buttons yet. I really need to find a good place to buy buttons. I ended up buying cheap buttons at Walmart as temporary ones for my Tilted Duster, to be replaced when I find prettier ones.

Dancing in his surprise jacket

Here’s a side/back view:

Side/back view

And here’s one I just couldn’t resist. Please don’t be offended. He doesn’t mean it!

Oops!  An unintended rude gesture

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My sister Pat, her husband Rob, and baby Andy, my Mom visiting from Thailand, and my Papa, all came to stay with us for Christmas. We had a great time together. The preparations involved tons of gifts for each other, and for the two little boys.Lots of presents under the tree

They were so excited they woke up at dawn. The rest of us were tired from staying up late preparing everything!

Early morning Christmas excitement

Here’s Tim eating a leftover Linzer cookie from Santa.

Mmm!  Linzer cookie!

Since Tim is allergic to eggs, I took two different Linzer recipes, one with egg and one without, and combined the best parts. I also baked some of the little shapes cut out from the middle to make mini cookies.

Linzer cookies!

Okay, so my sugar powdering skills could use some work. But they were delicious, if I do say so myself!

Of course, Tim and Andy had the best gift hauls. Thomas the Tank was Tim’s big theme this year. I have to say, having a kid obsessed with a certain character makes the gift shopping sooooo easy. He loved everything!

Thomas dinner set from Grandpa Dave

Grandpa Dave sent some Thomas dinnerware, as well as a Big Wheel! Uncle Natty sent this 3-headed dragon.

Three-headed dragon from Uncle Natty

Chris and I expanded his Thomas Duplo set with James, Percy, Gordon, and Spencer with Sir Topham Hatt! He wouldn’t even look up for a picture, he was so busy playing.

Tim's new trains

As for me, my spinning wheel was my big early Christmas gift, and then I got a digital scale from Pat for my yarn and fiber — I’ve always been terrible at splitting skeins of sock yarn in two, so that will help! I also got The Knitting Workshop DVD by Elizabeth Zimmerman from my MIL Judy, and I got a subscription to Spin-Off Magazine from Nat and his family. Yay! Pat also got me Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (and So Can You!). I love him, and think he is an absolute genius. (Okay, so now you know where I lean in terms of politics.)

Chris also got me Mouse Guard figurines. Unless you’re a comic geek you may not be familiar with Mouse Guard, which is a complex and beautifully illustrated series, and of course I can’t resist the cute characters. They aren’t cutesy though, they’re actually pretty realistic. If you’re interested, the first series has been collected in a hardcover edition which I have, of course! It is brilliant.  We are also fans of Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix series, and have been collecting some of the English versions.  I didn’t have time to read them much during residency, but now Chris bought a bunch and has caught me up to all the ones that have been released to date.  It’s great reading.

Here’s our Christmas dinner spread:

Christmas dinner

We had beef oven roast wrapped in bacon, brussels sprouts with bacon (hey, Tim and I like bacon), and Yukon gold baby potatoes. I watch the Food Network a lot but rarely make anything from it, but Rachel Ray made the potato dish which looked soooooo good, and it really turned out well. It involves chicken stock and butter. Tender on the inside, browned on the outside! For dessert, I made a chocolate ganache pie topped with fruit and whipped cream. Mmmm!

After dinner we did some more photos, here’s one of my favorites:

Christmas nuzzle

Here are the two silly hubbies goofing off:

Goofing husbands

There are more Christmas pictures on my Flickr account, for those of you (Mom) who want to see some more. This is already a pretty long blog post!

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays!

Here’s the Clapotis I knit for my mother. I was weaving in ends at 2:30AM on Christmas Eve. Oops!

Clapotis for Mom

  • Pattern: Of course you recognize the Clapotis
  • Yarn: Mystical Creation Yarns bamboo in Merlot, 2 skeins
  • Needles: Denise size 8
  • Mods: One repeat wider and one repeat shorter than pattern (not intentionally)

I think it turned out great, and my Mom loves it. As I mentioned in a previous post, the bamboo drapes wonderfully and won’t be too hot to wear in Thailand. You may notice that the two skeins I had didn’t match colors exactly. One is more pink and the other is more purple and burgundy, but there was no way I was going to alternate skeins on this! There was no place to hide the yarn running up the side. So I’m calling it a design element. 🙂 The knitting got a little tedious, and wasn’t great for TV knitting because I can’t purl without looking! But it turned out so nice I may need to make one for myself some day.

Please pardon my pajamas.. My son and his little cousin Andy were way too excited to start on gifts to give me time to change! More Christmas pictures to follow.

Here are some pictures from the past weekend. Grandpa bought matching sleepers for the boys, and I couldn’t resist cuddling them together!

Two brown bears

They had a great time together, and it’s really sweet how they truly love each other. Tim is always excited to go to “Baby Andy’s house,” and Andy wakes up in the morning calling “Timmy!”  Look at these dance moves.  Do you think this is future boy band material?

Tim and Andy dancing

Here they were having fun with Auntie Pat’s salad spinner. They had them on their heads like little spacemen.

TimAndySaladSpinner

Today is Chris’s birthday, and unfortunately his sweater is nowhere near done, since he graciously volunteered to have his sweater last in my holiday queue, but I am almost up to the armpits.

Hubby Sweater slow progress

He also likes to choose his own gifts, and orders things like German radio dramas. We celebrated already over the weekend with my sister’s birthday, but we’ll go out to dinner tonight too.

Pam and Chris

Happy Birthday, Hunny! Love you!

So after spinning and knitting the whole 8oz of Dinosaur, and the 8oz of “special brown” superwash merino from Spunky Eclectic, I still ran out of yarn! I even unraveled my swatch and got a few rows out of that. So close to the end too, all I have left is 3 rows! I thought about just leaving it at that, but my sister Pat said that I’d be happier with it if I truly finished it, and she’s right. I still want to lengthen the sleeves too. So Amy is kindly dyeing more fiber for me. Again! I asked for another 8oz which will be plenty, with leftovers for something else, maybe a hat to match.

Dragon Surprise Jacket, not quite finished

Lessons learned: For your first time spinning yarn for a specific project, find a pattern that gives specific gauge, sizing, and yardage! AKA, not the Baby Surprise Jacket. Also, downsizing the Adult Surprise Jacket may have been a better idea than trying to knit a bulky Baby Surprise. But this was definitely fun and quick to knit, so whenever a baby occasion comes up, I’ll be happy to whip up one of these again.

Yesterday was my sister Pat’s birthday, and I gave her the fingerless mitts I knit out of the first yarn I spun on my wheel, which I have been keeping secret. They can now be revealed!

Pat wearing handspun fingerless mitts!

  • Pattern: Lace Mitts from Too Much Wool
  • Yarn: My handspun from Spunky Eclectic BFL in Mahogany, 2-ply, 15 wpi
  • Needles: Bryspun circular size 4
  • Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in stockinette
  • Mods: Changed yarnovers to M1’s for slightly warmer mitts, changed stitch count to 36 around, used Ann Budd’s “Handy Book of Patterns” for thumb gusset structure

The yarn was somewhat thick and thin, and underspun in places but knit up beautifully. I finished them on 11/9/07, and as expected, they are fraternal in terms of the color changes. I did take out some sections of yarn that were glaringly different and would make them look unrelated rather than fraternal.. And the thumb is longer on the second one than on the first. I always have trouble getting pairs of things to match exactly when I don’t knit them at the same time..

As you can see in the picture, she likes them! I thought they’d be good for cold New England evenings when she has to do a lot of computer work. Here they are close up.

Finished handspun mitts!

I also gave her Woolpets needle felting kits that I got from The Loopy Ewe. One bunny and one sleepy sheep, which we’ll do over the holiday break. Here she is with her hubby Rob, me, and her kitty cat, Ghirardelli aka Sweetpea.

Pat with Woolpet gifts

Happy birthday, sister!

I’ve reached row 57 of the pattern, and here’s how it looks so far.

The Dragon Surprise Jacket grows

At this point, the sleeves are basically done (except they need lengthening later), and I am turning at the armpit to continue the front and lower body. I put another brown stripe here, will finish up the Dinosaur, and then knit the rest in brown. I’m omitting the “nappy” increases, since Tim is only in diapers for naps and bedtime now. Woohoo!! It’s taken a lot of candy incentives, but he is even pooping in the toilet regularly now. I think it’s been maybe a week since his last poopy diaper. He wants to be a “big boy.” I’m so proud of him!

Sleeve and

Back to the knitting… I’m still not sure if I’ll have enough yarn to finish this, but I will knit on anyway. I have a small skein of Dinosaur left, as well as two skeins of brown. I hope I hope I hope!

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