Thursday, December 8, 2011

GNOMES!!, an Aran Sweater, a Felt Play Crown, Baby Things, And a BONUS: Some Vintage Aprons.

While I was online looking for a pattern for something else, I got distracted when I saw these waldorf-style toy knitted gnomes.  I must say making these is addicting, and my daughter is making them too.  Here's our pile so far - and I think we are planning to make a 'Gnome Home' next!
Here's the link to the pattern, for ye knitters out there:
Like I have all the extra time in the world to knit gnomes, right?  But I can't stop!  Of course, I found patterns for trees, acorns, even a log for them to hide in - maybe I'll finish those items in another life.  For now, these little guys make me happy, and though I intended them for my little babe, ALL my kids have been caught playing with them :)

Speaking of knitted toys, I need to make another one of these felt play crowns, made one for my neices and nephews a year ago, and still haven't got around to one for my own kiddos, but I did have a willing model:

I just finished a cap/bootie set for a friend of my husband's.  Love the funky colors.  And my husband's artwork.

By the way, after knitting many pairs of baby booties, and losing many pairs of booties (and baby socks which never stay on) I can officially say that this pattern is the best for staying put on baby's feet!  Not just because of the ties, but because of the ribbing on the sides.

So that you know, OFFICIALLY:  I have no time for blogging, or knitting, but clicking away keeps me sane.

Here's an Aran sweater I never meant to keep.  I was supposed to be for Eric's cousin Tuan Rigaud, but by the time I finished it, you guessed it - waaaay too small.  But it looks cute on MY little one.

This pattern is from a magazine, don't know if it's online - but I LOVE creamy colored natural wool and cables. 

And today's bonus pic:  Vintage aprons.  Yes, I have quite a collection, which I will blog about another day.  Aprons of all kinds, from lots of different era's.  Representing for me, a time when life was a little bit slower, and being at home and in the kitchen was an art...........

I am soooo in love with all things vintagey.  Merry Christmas to all of you if I don't (and I probably won't) update until after all the holidays.  But I'm hoping to finish a Gnome Home very soon............

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Some Recent Knitting Projects

So, I've been baby knitting like CRAZY lately.  My favorite past-time!  I just need more time.  I always have a 'stock' pattern or two that I can pull off for shower gifts and such with my limited time - but this past few weeks I was adventurous and tried out some new baby patterns.  It seems easy enough to find something with a pretty detail for a girl, but harder to find good boy patterns. 

Not so anymore, See these:

OK.  I have a 'thing' for my signature wrapping methods - do NOT COPY ME!  But Alas!  What's inside.
The Puerperium Sweater.  That's the name of the pattern.  This one is blocking out on my pillow.  I LOVE how modern it looks for a cardi.  And the wood buttons, of course.  If you're knitty and you want the pattern (free) it's on Ravelry here. 

OK.  Went to get the link, and got distracted by two other patterns I totally want to make.
Here it is, really:

Oh, and ALSO by the way, If you are the lucky recipient of any knitted gifts by my hand, know also that they may be blogged about.  Just a little catch :)

Now for my favorite hat, the Pixie hat.  Here's my little babe definitely outgrowing hers :(  But yes, I've already got new yarn ready to go for a new, larger one, with a more prominent horn on the pixie part. 
I am addicted to these hats.  I even had an older gentlemen stop me at the grocery store to ask me where I got this one :)  He said, you just don't see stuff like that anymore - reminds me of older times.  Yes, vintage pattern. 

Here's the pattern link.

Here's the same pattern as a gnome hat for my new little nephew:

And now on we go, to my favorite baby booties, that actually STAY ON! And my new adventure, the Norweigan baby cap.  Link is here for the hat!

And today I have no deep thoughts for this blog.

Now that took WAAAY more time to finish than I thought it would.  And my computer is totally being a terd this week.  I think it's time for a new one.  (But I should have whispered that, my computer will hear me and refuse to publish this blog out of spite, It hates me!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Dress

This has been quite a year for our family.  Our little Charlotte had her birthday just a few weeks ago, and I'm still amazed to be raising another little girl.  I was quite certain that Naomi was to be our only girl, and that I was destined to be the mother of many boys.  During this last pregnancy I found myself patting and singing to 'him' and using male pronouns to refer to the baby.  As per Riendeau tradition though, we did NOT find out the sex of the baby on ultrasound and waited until the big day. 

One thing I love about midwives is that they usually do not announce 'It's a girl, or It's a boy.'  So after delivering Charlotte in the quiet of night at our home, I reached out for her, I looked at her and I exclaimed 'Eric, I think IT'S A GIRL!!  Really!'  I was completely shocked and would be for several weeks.

Now had I known this would be the case, my knitting needles would have been clicking away many months on the gown beforehand.  To be fair, I did knit several inches of the dress during my pregnancy (just in case) before abandoning the project as a waste of time - I was 'sure' I was having a boy!  So very soon after sweet Charlotte came into our lives I began to panic about a blessing gown for her.

You see, it had been a dream of mine to complete such a gown for many many years.  I have a vast collection of vintage lace-knitting patterns, christening gown patterns, and the like, and only needed the motivation to get it done.  Of course, lace knitting is no easy task, so I picked the one stich for the dress that I knew I was comfortable with and could conquer.

And so it began, from the bottom up, to grow on the needles.  Of course, when I decided to start the gown months before, I couldn't decide which pattern to use, so I just guessed at how many stitches to cast on and went for it.  Then it grew and grew and I poured over patterns, 'Would this one work?, would that one?'  I was headed for trouble, since I had spent EVERY waking hour of my postpartum recovery period and summer at home knitting, and I had no idea how to shape this mass of thread into a gown!!  None of my patterns seemed to make sense unless followed right from the start. 

Thank goodness for my absolute favorite knitting website in the world.  I found a gown and a pattern that I 'hoped' would work.  And one very LONG car trip later (that would be when an accident prevented us from getting to Alder Lake) I was shaping the top of the gown.  Yeah!  I couldn't believe I was actually there! 

Lace knitting is a fascinating process.  What you end up after all your hard work is a droopy mass of threads with no shape whatsover, so crumpled that you cannot see any network of holes.  A process called 'blocking' is required in order for knitted lace to take it's final form - before that anyone would think you were off your rocker for spending time and effort on that mass of stuff.  

Naomi helped me block the gown, which required hand washing the gown very vigorously, mashing it over and over.  We pressed the water out, mashed it into a towel, and STOMPED on it.  Yes - this is the heirloom in the making.  After that we used a corner of her bedroom carpet, laid a sheet out, and SEVERELY stretched the gown out.  At this point you are sort of molding it into the shape you would like to take, while it is wet and working with the give and take of the knitted fabric.  It metamorphs from a lump into something really marvelous and surprising.  The stitch irregularities even out, the lace flattens and the holes line up beautifully.  It is the best part of the project and never ceases to amaze me.

Naomi helped me to sew a little slip for the gown and she embroidered white little stars onto it which were lovely.  It was a miracle that we finished the gown!  It was a miracle to have another little girl in our lives - and a lovely blessing day with our family around us to celebrate. 

As we blocked the gown, I couldn't help but draw an analogy, probably one I needed to learn from at the time.  Sometimes after all our hard work in life, it is still required for us to be mashed around and stretched before we take a beautiful shape.  But it's so worth it.  Here's that 'Life is my teacher' part.

Blog Update:

One thing I was curious about, was how many different sizes this dress would fit.  I was thinking 'heirloom' while I was selecting patterns, and trying to make the neck somewhat adjustable for the future.  I tried the gown on Charlotte again, many months later, to see if it would still fit. 

My model would not hold still on the chair this time!
But that does mean that at 10-12 months it still fits!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A list of things NOT to do

I guess it is a quest of almost every person to become organized.  I suppose for many of you, like myself, it is a CRAVING.  Don't you just love neat little piles of folded laundry, brand new boxes of crayons with perfect tips, the smell of all things brand new, and neat little rows in just-vacuumed carpet?

Those are somewhat distant memories for me- but hold on here, because THIS IS NOT A RANT!

I once truly LOST my best organizing book, 'Confessions of an Organized Homemaker'.  My sister can verify this, as I had to humble myself enough to actually ASK her, 'Did I lend you my organizing book, because I can't find it anywhere?'  Yes I had it.  But I digress.  IN said book there is much advice which I dutifully tried, such as organizing puzzles by labeling every single peice but there was a rather interesting pearl of wisdom there that has saved me many times over.

A LIST of things NOT to do today.

Sounds crazy maybe, but maybe NOT.  There is a massive temptation to live in an all-or-nothing state.  We feel bad about things we can't or won't do, so then when all the sudden we are motivated we make the dreaded list.  It may start out innocent enough, a peice of paper listing things we are terrified we will forget, then growing, Growing, GROWING, into:  IF you are ME a massive list (picture Santa with a roll several yards long of Christmas requests) that would intimidate nearly anyone. 

So I've stolen this great idea, but I must officially own I'm totally taking it out of context.  The author assumes you have properly planned your tasks in advance.  I'm not even going there.  But here's my tidbit or two cents, if you will:  Sometimes it's ok to let go of everything and make room for something more important. 

Writing a list of things NOT to do is a freeing experience that allows you to declare, in writing, that you are going to let go and pay attention to something else of YOUR choice.

Here's an example:


I'm not going to do laundry - just today
I'm not going to try to organize my basement even though it bothers me every time I go down there
I'm NOT going to scrub my bathrooms, today
I'm not going to make my bed
I'm not going to worry about that pile of papers that is breeding like a virus next to my desk

Today, JUST today.  I'm NOT going to do those things.  I am going to watch birds fly and snuggle my kids.  I am going to hold still so butterflies will float by me.  I am going to enjoy my baby's smiles.  I am going to choose (Just today) that these things are the most important to me.  If I work for awhile, I will not get carried away or forget.

That is my list of things NOT to do today.  What's on yours?  I'm grateful for those birds and butterflies and smiles - Today - Life is my teacher.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Rhythm of Knitting

I am a knitter.  Lots of people love to knit, but it is essential to me, like bread and water (or chocolate?) I’ve been reflecting lately on why I love to knit, and ‘why’ I started to knit.  I knew of it, of course, but wasn’t ever really attracted to the craft until I observed my Grandmother in the actual act of knitting– and thinking back I NOW recognize exactly what the attraction was.  Knitting has Rhythm.

I love Rhythm.  Rhythm is the opposite of chaos, Rhythm is organized, and centering.  I find Rhythm in lots of things, from daily routines, to family habits, I find it in music and dancing.  Knitting is a rhythmic act unto itself, and my Grandmother was a very rapid knitter.  I was mesmerized by how smooth such a levering movement could be in her old, wrinkled fingers.  So, of course, I immediately asked her to teach me.

Suprisingly, she couldn’t.  She learned to knit as a young school-girl in early 20th century London.  It was a required skill for girls in those days along with many other needle skills.  She had been doing it all her life, and though she tried to explain it to me and show me how – she had to stop and say, “ I think I’ve just been doing this too long.”  The rhythm and motion of knitting were so much a part of her it was inside of her.

I am one of those people who taps fingers and fidgets constantly.  Is it as though I am wired to require a constant rhythm in my life.  Knitting is one thing that can be done while doing many other things: chatting with my kids, watching TV, nursing the baby, talking on the phone, etc.  It fits into my life really well, and truth be told I am a pretty fast knitter. 

So many things in life happen that are beyond my control – but I can ‘create something’ on my needles that wasn’t there before.  I try to teach and to raise good kids, but that is a very SLOW progression of many little things – sometimes painfully SLOW – and the results and rewards of that hard work may not show up for many, many, years to come.  A few hours of knitting produces very noticeable results – and can give me a feeling of finishing, of completing a task that is very rewarding.

I have knitted through a lot of disasters in my life.  My favorite time to knit is in anticipation of a coming baby – nothing gives me more pleasure than making baby things – and I wish I could make something for every single baby in the world that I see.  I guess, in a nutshell, knitting organizes my life into a steady rhythm, when really it is not organized at all.  No matter how crazy my day is, no matter how far behind I get in the constant work that needs to be done, at the end of the day, that heap of yarn and those small wood sticks are sitting there unchanged and ready to click along – bringing a kind of order to my chaos. 

A 'proper' childhood

As dutiful parents, we try as best we can to provide those experiences we feel our children should have.  Those experiences that will help mold them into good citizens, role models, great leaders, etc.  Like sitting in a van for 3 hours stranded on the side of the road.  Are you doing YOUR duty?

So begins the family road trip; only as we got going our family swagger van spewed smoke and smelly fluids 10 miles from the summit of Snoqualmie pass.  Simply put:  Classic breakdown on the side of the road stranding a family of 7 for 3 hours.

Now, I know that parents mean well these days, but there seems to be, IMO, a lack of family road trip breakdowns.  At least maybe I'm not hearing about them as much.  I guess cars are more reliable now then they used to be, and the advent of cell phones has taken that exciting edge of danger out of the breakdown on the side of the road.  Oh for the 'Good old Days!'

But we are 'good' parents - so we decided before we left not to bring anything that might entertain small children for those 3 hours -  "You can just look out the window, that's what we did when we were kids!" And of course, we are 'good' parents so we more than properly over-hydrated said kids before driving up the mountain.

Now I have had my share of family adventures - I hope you'll enjoy reading them as I blog along - and though this was a 'character building' experience to be sure, I hope I've developed sufficient character from it in order NOT to need another experience like this.  Between the boys needing to constantly whiz on the side of the road, the careful avoidance of a panic attack from one kid, nursing the crying baby squished into the back between two hyper boys thinking up games and stories, the strange van of homeless people that stopped by to 'help' (we think), the hot sun (YES the one nice day we've had this week) I'll count this one as experience fulfilled. 

I had to laugh when my husband told the state patrolwoman, "Now officer, I KNOW, I wasn't speeding this time!"

All in all though, we did make it to our destination, thanks to the wonderful help of my family!  I began to feel as though I had truly been rescued.........  Oh, and Thanks to that nice patrolwoman who gave stickers to my kids while they waited.  AND by the way, walking up and down the freeway with a small child and a car a few yards back with a hood up causes people to call 911.  Who knew?

Wonderful times.  Good memories to laugh at.  Life 'IS' my teacher.