Totally Had an Excuse…

I thought I was all caught up and had plenty of time to write my post for last Sunday and then THIS happened (2weeks early):

Newborn baby My son and his wife had their baby a surprising 2 weeks early. The tiny take-me-home sweater fit perfectly as he was 7 pounds and 21″ long.  The hospital provided the hat, knit by a volunteer but somehow it matched perfectly.  He is one week old now and doing well. But I can’t resist sharing some photos to show off. Check out that beautiful blonde hair! 

Newborn Blonde newborn Baby in car seat

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Knitter’s Block Cure

Typewriter drawingAs a writer, I heard tales of writer’s block and couldn’t relate. There are so many interesting things going on everywhere that a story or character can be woven if you just observe with a little imagination. Well I also have heard of knitter’s block and found it impossible to comprehend after once browsing through Ravelry’s amazing pattern tab. But here it is, the monster caught up with me. It’s not that I can’t find anything to knit. It’s that an entire adult sized cardigan for myself in garter stitch is getting progressively tedious and, well, boring. The back, even with shaping, took forever. The front is going better but enough is enough, I need a bit of challenge and I need to see an end in site. So even though my new baby grandson isn’t even born yet, I’m working on his 3rd sweater. I got another round of yarn from my favorite online shop Deramores and somehow ended up with the same blue I had so time to make something out of it. It’s Baby Merino so it calls for a size 2 US needle. I found a vintage pattern from my tattered 1980 McCalls baby knitting magazine that used short rows. This is a technique I’ve never tried in a sweater so I cast off on a new mini adventure. The stitch is garter again but this time the knitting is sideways! At first I didn’t understand this and ripped it out after a few inches only to start again and get a better explanation from another pattern from Drops that uses the technique. It’s coming along well and makes for interesting knittingnsince you have to keep count of where the short rows stop and turn. 

So here’s my cure for knitters block: try something you haven’t done before, the challenge will be worth it. And if it gets frustrating, you can always go back to the piece that drove you to expand your horizons in the first place. Baby blue knitting project

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The Long Road Back

Car drawingSo it’s been weeks since I’ve posted. Mind you, the knitting needles have not been idle but I have been in cars and planes more than I can count at this point. After the Paris trip I had 4 days to get ready and to my youngest daughter’s college graduation in Miami. It’s amazing that we can’t go warp speed in rockets because that’s what I feel like just happened. Seriously it seems we just got her through high school! But there it is, a brand new college graduate with a degree in Physics and a full ride to graduate school for her Aerospace Engineering degree. Needless to say we had to get to Texas and locate/rent/reserve an apartment for her August start date. We then had 3 days to fly back to Miami, pack and drive her belongings back home 1800 miles. It could have gone smoothly, but it didn’t. The first hour a tire exploded on her car and rolled away! We got to the roadside safely and called a tow truck. After an hour we were taken to a tire shop that didn’t seem to have her tire in stock. So after another hour we got towed to a 2nd tire shop only to be informed that the tire we needed was NOT the one the 1st tire shop said. AND, you guessed it, they didn’t have the tire we actually needed. Another phone call, another hour, another tow truck, another tire shop (this time the dealer). By evening we were finally on our way to our 1st hotel; a 5 hour drive. 

After 3 long days we finally got home but it was so late we didn’t have time to visit the hotel she’d be staying at for her summer internship in Connecticut. So the next day we drove there and back, only to realize it wasn’t a safe place. After several scrambling hours we drove back to Connecticut to find something safer (not to mention cost effective) all this time we drove 2 cars thinking I would be coming home. But life is not alsways easy or how we plan. We found, by some miracle, an unfurnished apartment willing to rent for 10 weeks and drove back home because in all the confusion she forgot her passport and couldn’t start work. At this point I should have been done with kids, cars, hotels, etc. but somehow I just kept going. I think I’m numb. 

As the apartment lease began to get done we realized they were adding more and more charges and it wasn’t going to work. Too bad that was AFTER we packed her car with a bed, dishes, linens and items for living. If you’re like me, you are thinking, will this never end? At this point, I decided to just book an residence style hotel with a tiny kitchen and be done with it but the cost was outrageous until I happened to call one near the airport of the town she will be interning at. They had a special rate for the corporation she will be at! We leave Monday (again) for her new job. Big sigh of relief. All of this reminds me of the Massachusetts Senator’s slogan “And She Persisted”. I have always said you’re never lost if you keep going. 

Did I knit during all these trips? Like any addict, I kept my needles with me. I’m actually working on a garter stitch sweater for myself in a lovely orange wool. The back is complete. Wow, adult sweaters take F O R E V E R. I would have 3 baby sweaters done by now. Hopefully I can get back on track to knitting, posting and sleeping in may own bed. Knitting project

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Knitting My Way Through Paris

Eiffel TowerI admit I’ve been home for nearly 2 weeks and haven’t updated the blog. But let me explain: I’ve been knitting up a storm. Well, that and planning a baby shower, household duties, celebrating my son’s birthday (made a cake, of course) while he moved into his new house (that is basically a construction zone), ordering graduation cards for my college daughter, booking flights to rent her an apartment in her new school/job, putting an offer on a new house, while doing little things to prepare our current one for sale, all the while pining after French Strawberries and the little market street I stayed on and trying to get over jet-lag. So, here it is: a knitting/travel update. 

Paris was wonderful (as it always is to everyone who visits) but this trip was especially grand. My little grandson had his 2nd birthday so he is at the perfect age for fun and discovery. He had his first pony ride in one of the charming Paris parks where tiny Shetland ponies take children on the winding footpaths through the flowers and duck ponds. Then one day we went to Luxembourg Gardens and sailed boats on the pond (the highlight of my stay) and I bought him his first ice cream cone. My daughter took time from work while I was there so we did something fun nearly everyday. He had his first Easter Egg Hunt in their local park. His little face was priceless every time he found another egg. One day we took the train to Trouville by the Sea and had a spectacular lunch overlooking the harbor. We wandered tiny streets and strolled the busy boardwalk full of early holiday goers. It’s the most charming seaside town I’ve ever seen, like out of a storybook in bygone years. 

Easter egg hunting Pond boats Pony ride
Beach sign
My husband joined me halfway through the trip and we had a driver take us to the Loire Valley to several Chateaus. We had lunch in the darling castle village of Amboise on one gloriously sunny day. Leonardo di Vinci is buried in the chapel. We also saw the chateau of Catherine of Medici and it’s beautiful gardens and hedge maze. Then one day we took a train to Fountainbleu where Napoleon said goodbye to his troops before being exiled. The formal grounds are magnificent with swan ponds and fountains rivaling Versailles. 

Amboise Castle Formal garden Tulip Gardens  Amboise  

Shopping was wonderful. I bought dresses for all my upcoming events and my college graduate daughter’s special day. Lots of baby shops (the French love their babies) provided perfect shopping for my soon to be 3 grand children. And the Market streets have wonderful French household goods for that new house/construction zone. And of course, I visited the local yarn shop and bought a few skeins of cotton and wool. 

Sweater and tutu Blue knitting Cotton knit baby jacket
But all the while I carried my little Laduree knitting bag along and stitched a few rows. I made an entire newborn jacket for a friend’s baby due in August and started a ballerina surplice for my granddaughter to go with the tutu we bought. The surplice proved too large so I ripped it out, adapted the pattern and started again. That done, I’m now onto the cotton purchase in Paris for the new baby. Tiny needles and the DMC cotton make for perfectly smooth pieces. It’s going to be a little sailor collared pullover for this summer. 

I miss Paris terribly but I’ve got so much to do in the coming weeks, you’ll have to forgive me if I miss a Monday update or two! 

Eiffel Tower Arc de Triumph  Nortre Dame

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Pardon the Interruption 

I am spending some time strolling the streets of Paris, enjoying my family, buying French yarn and eating Lemon Tarts. I will write all about my adventures after April 18th. Until then…à bientôt. 

Paris cafe

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Of Ships and Sealing Wax

Walrus and the Carpenter illustration from Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things: Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–Of cabbages–and kings–And why the sea is boiling hot–And whether pigs have wings.” Lewis Carroll – The Wlarus and the Carpenter Poem, Through the Looking-Glass.

So here I am happily knitting away at yet another baby blanket. All white and embossed with little sailboats and tiny anchors. It is to be a “Coming Home from the Hospital” size and since I elected to use size 5 US needles, it is half done in a week. I shake my head at my own inability to stay away from knitting them, and like those little oysters I trot right into another baby blanket knitting pattern on Ravelry, buy the yarn and cast on. I will never learn. But you must admit, it is coming along nicely. The pattern I chose had anchors and hearts but I sketched out a sailboat on grid paper and replaced the hearts as the boats seemed more fitting for the baby boy that will be gracing our presence come late June. What else should I make to go with the layette? Booties (that never stay on), a little hat, perhaps. More soft white cotton yarn is ordered so we will have to wait and see. Any ideas? 

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Monday Blues

Knitted hatHere it is Monday and I totally forgot to write my weekly post. [Face Palm] I’ve been busily knitting away. I finished the “Cabled” hat. Next time I use real cables, the pattern was hard to see in the work till it was done so any mistakes will remain because I have no idea if they are there or not! And I cast on a small baby blanket. I know I said I’d never make another one again but I had only 3 skeins of some acrylic yarn from France (also a “never again”) that I wanted to use up. Plus acrylic can be thrown in the washer and dryer without worry. But after 3 inches it was apparent the blanket was going to be only 12″ long. So I ripped it out and started over with many less stitches. Now on the last half of the last skein, I’m happy to say it is nearly done. I hope to finish today to make room for my next project if the yarn comes in: another small baby blanket. I know I’m totally nuts, but it’s hard to concentrate in Paradise! 

Blue knitted blanket

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Blanket Statements 

Anchor boatRemember those days when you first started knittting? You know, when all those abbreviations in patterns were like, “whaaat?” And after all those crossed and dropped stitches, remember the day you finished your first sweater? It took months but you stuck with it and finally FINISHED it. THAT, my friends is how I felt after finally finishing the CRIB SIZE (what was I thinking) baby blanket in size 3 (US) needles. The pattern was simple but I wanted the stitches to be tight, not lacy, so I went down several sizes on the needles. This is coming from someone who was under the gun to make an entire cabled sweater for my adult daughter – IN TEN DAYS! Baby blankets just go on and on and on. My frustration turned into frenzy when I made the coming home sweater in 3 days for the little darling. It was like I couldn’t wait to start something, anything that I could zing on and off the needles. Fair to say, I took breaks on the blanket to make the Princess Dress and Birthday Crown. But that blanket glared at me from the knitting bag over its glasses as if to say, “Ahem. We have a project unfinished over here. Are you sure you should be working on that?” I would sigh and knit a few zillion stitch ed rows and close the bag. I’d like to say I’ll never make another blanket again but that one is way to big to bring a newborn home from the hospital wrapped in, so I am making a small blanket with sailboat and anchor pattern. I have till the end of June. Wish me luck.

 Baby blanket and sweater

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Princess Pinafore 

Baby Book One of the fun things about having a baby girl to knit for is all the new patterns and stitches to try. Some turn out adorable and others (like any knitting projects) well..not so much. This time, thank the knitting fairies, it was perfection. I bought a King Cole baby knitting book (7) from Deramores that has me dying to try every piece but the cover has the most precious pinafore I’ve ever seen. Naturally as I was making something else, it kept calling me so I gave in and cast on the stitches. Now I’ve never done lace on the side before and expected difficulties with the pick up but since I used the James C. Brett Cotton On DK baby yarn it was easy as pie. I did change the needle size two sizes down for this yarn and used the 9-18 months pattern for a one year old (is it me or does that seem like a large size span?). The whole dress only took a few days and is definitely fit for our little princess grand baby. Her first birthday has come and gone but this will be the perfect Easter dress and summer pinafore. I plan to find a white eyelet puffy sleeved top to go underneath so the lace and stitching shows up better. 

Knitted dress

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Birthday Crown

Knitting a baby blanketI’ve been knitting furiously and am half way done with the blue baby blanket. Luckily for me it has been announced that the baby will indeed be a boy. Whew. But a large crib sized blanket can get tedious so I started another project for a certain little birthday girl about to be one year old (where did that time go?). This project was a struggle. It’s hard to say if it was the pattern, needle size change or the yarn. I used a “premium acrylic” from France. Yeah, it’s  still acrylic and I will never spend my time with this or any 100% acrylic again. Being from France did not elevate it one notch from difficult to work with, impossible to fit and less than desirable outcome. Besides it was squeaky on the needles. While the James C. Brett yarn for the baby blanket has a bit of acrylic blended with cotton rendering it soft, supple, and a joy to work with, the Phildar Charly of the Birthday Sweater was as if I used something from a discount warehouse. But once I started I just wanted it finished and I kept telling myself “But I bought this yarn in Paris.” The front of the little Cardi refuses to lay flat and be blocked to match the back so the point will have to be part of the design. Sigh. At least the ladybug buttons I ordered came quickly and dressed up the front bravely . 🐞🐞🐞

Pink ladybug sweater

My discontent prompted me to make a Birthday Crown. I used the James C. Brett cotton in lavender to match the photo in the King Cole Baby Book 7 I bought. It only took a few hours and turned out perfect. All is right with the world (of knitting, dears, only of knitting).

Baby Crown  Knitted Crown

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