Saturday, 1 April 2017

A Year of Techniques: Helical Stripes (March)

Earlier this year knitwear designers and technical editors Jenn and Jim Arnall-Culliford announced that they would be running a year-long KAL in conjunction with their new book, A Year of Techniques. They offered a kit with the yarn used for the first three patterns, project bag, and either ebook or book +ebook. They offered a list of twelve designers and twelve techniques and promised patterns that could be completed in a month. And even though I have no need of new yarn or suggestions for projects, I thought that sounds like fun and signed up. 

The first technique was Helical stripes (which I've seen previously referred to as helix stripes) with a pattern from Jenn Arnall-Culliford, Hyacinthus Armwarmers, a pair of mitts in self-striping Zauberball fingering weight yarn. 

It took me the whole month to knit these around caring for a newborn and preschooler; if I can finish a project in the allotted time with those restrictions it's a reasonable target for even the slowest or most time-strapped knitters! I did do a lot of "yarn management" - ripping out sections of yarn to arrange the colours in a more pleasing way - starting when I hit a join in the yarn and my red abruptly turned into yellow!

Helical stripes were a strong opening act, for me, as the only technique on the list that I hadn't  tried before. I'd read about them in a TechKnitter blogpost on jogless stripes but never actually used them in a project. The other techniques, which include things like Judy's Magic Cast-On and turning a heel which I consider myself proficient at, and techniques that I've done but could use more practice at like grafting in garter stitch and steeks.

 I'm also having fun guessing which designers will be working with  which techniques. I am four for four on April's design, which comes out on Tuesday: Bristol Ivy (1) designed an Intarsia (2) shawl (3) in Fyberspates Cumulus (4). My guess for April is Rachel Coopy, after-thought heel socks, in her own Coop Socks Ya yarn (that last one is easy as it's the last yarn in the spring kit).

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Welcome to the World, Katherine Alexandra


I am pleased to report that, after weeks of cajoling, Katherine Alexandra graced us with her presence on 11 January at 2:20 in the afternoon. She was 9.5lbs and 22.5" long. She is now two weeks and a day (almost exactly as I write this) and she's already outgrown her newborn clothes and is wearing 0-3mos. 


On the evening of Tuesday the 10th, having been having Braxton Hicks contractions for a week that we're finally starting to gain in coherence, and thinking my waters might have begun leaking, I went to the labour ward to be checked out. The midwife couldn't tell if they had ruptured or not so I had to wait for the doctor who didn't get to see me until midnight and even though she was certain the membrane was still intact she wanted me to stay overnight (and me without so much as a toothbrush). In the morning the next dr did the rounds and "as long as we have you here" wanted to rupture the amniotic sack to see if that would trigger labour. Folks, if you're a week overdue and you go to hospital, they will not want to let you leave without having your baby.


The midwives (I had a senior midwife and a student midwife - student midwives are wonderful and gentle and doctors are not) ruptured my waters around a quarter to 11, suggesting that I walk around the ward and if nothing started within two hours they'd need to chemically induce. I hadn't even finished standing up when my contractions started, hard and fast. I had texted Chris to ask him to come and bring my hospital bag and he got there just in time for the active stage of labour, pushing. Less than four hours after I went upstairs I was holding my baby and while I remember the events, the memory of the pain started fading immediately. Second babies are, even at 2lbs and 3" bigger than first babies, easier. 


We spent one night in hospitals together before getting kicked out in the morning (the talk of needing my bed started after I said I wanted to be discharged). Kristina was fine without me, except when they'd come to visit and had to leave me there. She didn't want to, loudly. But she seems to be dealing with having a baby in the house quite well, though we'll see how it goes when grandma goes home on Sunday and she no longer has a substitute parent at her beck and call.


Katherine and I had a bit of trouble the first few days when my milk hadn't come in; she lost over 10% of her body weight and was screaming all night in hunger, so under the midwife's supervision we supplemented with formula for a few days until it did. She bounced back almost from the word go and now we're getting on as smoothly as any new addition can.


Yesterday was Kristina's fourth birthday and today is Chris' 50th.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Progress Report: Knitting FO

Since getting my knitting mojo back in September and being semi-bedrested by my puffy feet since December, I have managed to get a fair amount of knitting done.  On the completed front:

Vanilla Socks, Opal 
These are toe-up with an afterthought heel, based largely on the numbers for Flexor by Clare Devine. This is my third skein of Opal Happy Sparkle from winter 2014/15, colourway "Surprise". I actually managed to knit up all three skeins this year is vanilla hand-bag project socks. If the swelling in my feet ever goes down (come out, baby, come out!) I'll even get to wear them. Oh, I started these in September as my holiday project and finished them yesterday. I've not had a great need for handbag knitting this half of the year.

Lush, Cascade 220

Lush by Tin Can Knits in Cascade 220 superwash worsted. I knit one of these for Sleepy Orchid back in the spring in pink, having knit a stockinet swatch I liked and found my gauge matched this pattern in stitch and row counts. So when the heat broke at work (on a snowy day) in April, I ordered 6 skeins for myself in black (uniform policy) and, with long sleeves, it was just enough. I used smaller needles for the lace yoke after sleepy Orchid's was too big, and still had to rip back the lace a bit to get the correct blocked measurements. I finished the lace panel, picked up and knit the collar, and had just picked up and started knitting down from the yoke when "morning sickness" made knitting a thing of the past. It took me a bit into my renewed interest in knitting to pick this back up - mostly because I'd bought two sweater quantities of yarn in September and I really wanted to knit with them but felt I should probably finish this first, if only to reclaim the needles. Also, starting sweaters when very pregnant seems silly. I picked the size for my 50" full bust, going down a size for my shoulders, and then knitting the 50" size from the bust down. It buttons over my very large tummy, so this will have lots of positive ease come baby, though probably not in the bust. I made the button bands slightly wider with the buttons and holes slightly offset away from the middle to prevent gaping and Sleepy Orchid picked blue "orchid" buttons from my limited stash. They're not what I would pick if I had a button shop to choose from but they do the job. Started 1 May, finished 31 December.

Flat foot Floogies, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes
 


This pattern is by Barbara Prime and includes both the bunny and the sheep (and can be adapted to use any of her toy heads). I reversed my two colours of Wool of the Andes bulky and went down a needle size from the rabbit, which I knit first, to the lamb. The rabbit does have a face embroidered on, honest, the pink just doesn't show up as well. I knit them for 2.0 but Sleepy Orchid loves them and keeps "borrowing" them. They were really fast knits and a good size in bulky wool, which has a pleasingly Sheephaven quality even in superwash. Started and finished in November. 

Excursion slippers, WYS Aire Valley Aran
Hunter Hammersen created these Aran weight slippers to start with the heel cuff and knit down to the toes. Would the other way be easier? Probably, but if you trust the pattern these take shape as if by magic. I used West Yorkshire Spinners in Denim as part of the Great British (yarn) Sock KAL in October. The pattern specifies more yardage than one skein holds, so I bought two but then knit a small enough size that one would have sufficed. Oops. Again, a really fast knit, even faster for the second one when I didn't have to check the pattern as often. Started in October, finished in October. 

Zapote, Ripplecrafts Merino DK
Sleepy Orchid lived in this jumper for a few weeks after knitting it, but alas rarely while holding still. Zapote, but Carol Feller, is supposed to have a hood so I bought 4 skeins but she didn't want one so I only used 2.5. Oh well. It has integrated pockets and toggle buttons which I put on wrong so it doesn't stay closed. The yarn is a buttery soft merino superwash DK from Ripplescrafts which Sleepy Orchid picked in Slice of Lime when we saw Helen at the Loch Ness Knit Fest. It has unfortunately been discontinued but there's still a few colours, including this one, discounted on her website. Started and finished in October.

Armley Beret, RC Merino DK 

I started Woolly Wormhead's annual mystery KAL with a skein of tonal blue "Stormy Seas" merino DK from RipplesCrafts which I also acquired at the LKNF (like I said, I went off the rails - I also got a gradient pack and a skein of sock yarn) but I felt the cables were being lost in the tonal shifts. As the cables worked out to look like Christmas Trees, I decided to make an ever so slightly smaller one in some leftover Slice of Lime to match Sleepy Orchid's jumper. As you can see, it was a success (she's holding still and smiling here because she thought I was taking a picture of ice on the railing behind her). Started and finished in November. 

I also knit a little cat for Sleepy Orchid, from a Barbara Prime pattern and kit from Knit Now; a Rosewater beret by Tin Can Knits in the leftover Blend No. 1 that I appear to not have recorded in Ravelry or ever taken a picture of; and two little beanie Christmas ornaments from a Hunter Hammersen pattern. But I've lost the will to keep blogging. I appear to favour certain designers. 

Progress Report: Pregnancy

My last substantial post was 8 November, Election Day in the US, a day filled with optimism. Readers, I don't mind telling you that the 9th was...not a good day for me. How could I write about yarn squishing or knitting projects when everything had just gone so horribly wrong? It's all still horribly wrong but I think I'm ready to write about frivolities and my life again.

To start with, the important news, Avelet has not seen fit to put in an appearance. I spent the first two trimesters explaining how much happier 2.0 would be the later in January it showed up, and all of the third trimester saying early works just fine for me. But 2.0 didn't fall for it and is now 3 whole days late. We've scheduled an induction for the evening of the 15th, which presumably means baby would be born on the 16th, just shy of a fortnight overdue, but my midwife doesn't think we'll need it. At that point with Little Djinn, just shy of two weeks overdue, an exam showed nothing was ready - she wasn't engaged, my mucus plug was entact, my cervix hadn't started to prep, nothing was prepping for labour, but my waters broke and contractions started the next morning. I had an exam on Tuesday, my due date, and everything pointed to baby's imminent arrival, including already being 3cm dilated, a state of progress that took 15hrs of contractions with Little Djinn. So, yeah, all signs point to the imminent arrival of 2.0, except for anything actually happening. 

My feet, hands, and face have all swollen up so I'm basically sitting on the sofa with my feet up all day (And sleeping sitting up at night which is the only way I can be comfortable but means my hands and feet are always "down" and never level, let alone "up") so I'm getting a fair amount of knitting done but not much else. Knitting at least helps with my hands, but walking and even just sitting there wiggling my tootsies doesn't help them. And don't worry, there's no protein and my blood pressure is fine.

My last blood test showed that I'm anemic ("a little anemic", my midwife said as she put me on a huge dose of iron) as did the one before that though that test was taken at the hospital so the results were sent to the hospital so my midwife couldn't access them from the surgery (gp's office) so by the time she looked at my results we were taking more bloods anyway. Less than a week after starting the iron pills I went from being completely exhausted all the time and itching like crazy to being normal levels of tired and the itching stopped driving me crazy. That was good, the bad is that I basically couldn't drink tea ever again as I couldn't have a cup within two hours of taking a pill, which I did three times a day. I am out of pills now and once more enjoying my decaf.

Little Djinn, now Sleepy Orchid, is very eager to meet her new sibling and keeps asking when baby will come. She's also unhappy that she can't go to the hospital with me so I'm hoping I don't go into labour in the middle of the night - if she wakes up and not only am I not in bed with her but Daddy and I are both gone, well, that would probably be one of those childhood traumas from which you never fully recover. Chris and I agreed that he would stay home with her, though I'm not sure if we should wake her up or just tell her in the morning. It'll probably depend on what time it is.

That's the state of our holding pattern.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Dear Baby


Dear Baby, 

I think it's time for you to come out. I'm not just saying this for my sake, though believe me, you'd be doing me a favour; I really think we would both be happier with you on the outside. You seem like a kid who doesn't like being crowded and I am a person who misses her ankles. They've always been neat and trim, which I know people don't expect from a fat lady, but they were even through my first pregnancy, but now I have sausages for toes and cankles and they really hurt when I need to squat down to do something. Like, really hurt. But this isn't about me or the fact that I have no patience for anything, this is about you and how much nicer it is on the outside. You missed Christmas, which is actually a good thing for you - you'll actually get to enjoy it next year and might even fit into the "baby's first Christmas" stuff which is all 9-12mos. Also, it's snowing today and Mama loves snow so how special would that be for your birthday? You have a Daddy and a grandmama and a big sibling who are all very excited to meet you. Your sibling in particular can't wait: that's her you keep hearing, asking if you're ready to come out yet. I think you are. And, look, I know that labour doesn't sound like a good idea. I'm right there with you on that, but I promise it'll be over and then everything is cuddles and boobies and bowel movements. 

You're ready, you can do this. Just give the signal and I'll do the rest. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

Knitting needles

Me: I couldn't remember the brand of knitting needles I was thinking of so I googled "expensive knitting needles" and they were pretty much all of the results.

Chris: Do you have some?

Me: No! I buy needles that are £6-10. These run *checks* $20-40, and for another $15 you can have them monogrammed. Plus shipping.

Chris: *stares*

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Armistice Day

Today we remember our fallen soldiers, those who paid the final price, gave the last full measure, people who literally died to fight fascism, and this yeah I just...can't. I look at poppies and shudder; I listen to people swear they will "never forget their sacrifice" and all I can think is "you're re-creating the world that required it". The Greatest Generation, the people who remember what this looked like first-hand last time, are largely gone from us. To those left I can only apologise. I'm sorry. You gave so much, lost so much, thought you had won so much, and now at the very end it is clear you just delayed it. The only thought that hurts as much, today, is having to hope my children are at least your equals, capable of fighting it back for another 100 years. What a burden we place on them.