Tuesday, June 3, 2014

More Baby Knits

I've been trolling Ravelry for great baby knits. I'm not your average frilly dilly pink ribbons and bows kind of lady so I like those unique knits especially those with a vintage flare.

I few weeks ago I ran across the Nana Agnes Baby Cardigan and completely fell in love with the sweet vintage look. The pattern was originally written in French, the pattern itself had been lost and a lovely woman on Ravelry with more patience than I re-wrote the pattern in French and then translated into English.

I've never done anything constructed this way, knitted flat sideways with the yoke picked up at the end, it was weird and I started off hating it but the magic was in the finishing. The first time I laid it all out with the belts connected I felt the way that I did the first time I saw a picture of the sweater! Beautiful! I also go to dive into my vintage button collection for the perfect button for the back belt.

The yarn helped of course. Several years ago at Stitches South I bought two skeins of Bugga from Sanguine Gryphon. I was saving the beautiful yarn for something special, my sweet baby seems to be that something special! I can't wait to see her in it and get some great pictures!

I do have a few notes on the pattern. For pattern notes and more photographs see my Agnes Baby Cardigan.

What to knit next?

Friday, May 30, 2014

Save the Belly!

All pregnant women know that you're constantly seeking that one magical product that will save our skin from stretch marks through the nine month elasticity test! I'd always heard that there was no magical product, that they all make claims but really I should go ahead and give up. This is not true!

I met the savior of my skin by happenstance last August at The World's Longest Yard Sale while picking for The Owl Cage. It was a warm sunny day in central Tennessee. My husband and I got side tracked by the most incredible smell of herbs coming from one particular spot amid the masses. We walked around the table full of hand-made soaps and salves inhaling deeply when we met Willow, the owner of Tennessee Medicinals. She commented on my tattoo and asked if she could put some of her salve on it, I of course complied already being wooed by the scent. At the time the container was marked stretch cream, she told me that she had designed it as stretch salve for pregnant bellies but that she found that it worked beautifully to enhance the colors of tattoos. I thought it was great and smelled great but at the time I passed.

The day I found out I was pregnant I contacted Willow about the stretch cream knowing that the smell was so fresh and clean that it wouldn't agitate my mommy nose. She told me she had repackaged it as Aunt Willow's Tattoo Salve but it was the same great product designed as stretch-mark goo. A few days later it was in hand and I started my regiment that would become routine over the next months.

I'm now 6 months pregnant with not a single unsightly mark on my belly! (can't say so much for my boob, where I didn't know I needed to be using stretch cream ;) As soon as I noticed this guy I started using the goo and they've already started fading! This stuff is AMAZING ladies! It's completely natural and smells incredible! I had to throw out a plug for the great goo that's saving my skin! Her other products are great as well, the Hemp Shave Soap being the only thing my hubs and I use any more and her bars last a super long time!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Little Gypsy

Since finding out that the little bun is a tiny lady I've been excitedly looking at modern baby girl fashions. I've really gotten into those cute gypsy headbands and turbans. They're girly and fashionable without being overly cutesy and I wanted to knit some that would be warm and trendy without being bulky.

I immediately dove into existing patterns but found very few that really panned out, either the pattern was written really confusingly or seemed to just be wrong. There seemed to be no reason to over-complicate something like this so playtime began. 

Little Gypsy
Worsted / Sport Weight Yarn
Size US 5 double point (or small circulars)
Tapestry Needle

Pattern is worked all in one piece! 
I'm working out different sizes. I've done this twice and I would say due to the loft in different yarns it seems to work up in different sizes. Worsted produced a NB (0-3 month), while the ultra lofty Baby Cashmerino that is a sport weight gave me something with more stretch that I think will likely work 0-6 months. I am going to work out an adult sizing for this pattern as well in the next few weeks. 

On US size 5's CO 60 Sts, join for working in the round.
Rows 1-3: Purl
If you are joining a second color you will do this on Row 4. 
Rows 4-7: Knit
Repeat this super simple set up twice more. (this will give you 3 Purl sections and 3 Knit sections)
If you are doing two colors break yarn and attach your first color. 
Purl 3 Rows
Last Row/BO Row: Slip 2 sts, BO to last 3 sts, this is now the beginning of your wrap row. 
Knit these 5 stitches in stockinette (k RS, p WS) for 12 rows, BO. 
To finish you will wrap this "tab" around the middle of the band, you have the ability to make it as loose or tight as you are comfortable with at this time. Finish by stitching BO edge to the inside. As you see I embellished one headband, this is a great way to dress up or down this very simple and adorable project! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Smells Like Decaf

We found out that we were pregnant after my husband moved to Northern CA from TN leaving me in TN to sell the house and get things ready to move out. Soon after was Valentine's Day and I received the most unexpected gift in the mail. The sweet man had sought out a local yarn shop and bought me 3 skeins of Madelinetosh Sock Yarn with a note that said "I know you'll want to make the baby a blanket, this is for both of you." 

I've played around with blankets before and I hate how most of them, though they may be stunning on one side, are unfortunate looking at best from the back side. This is a blanket that I hope The Bean carries around with her for years to come. I wanted it to be the same front and back. After some playing around with stitch patterns I finally came up with something that was interesting, beautiful, front and back along with having a bit of lace to allow her to stick her fingers though, which I know babies like to do with their blankets. I've done this twice now and couldn't be happier, so I thought I'd share with you. 

Smells Like Decaf
Notes: You can increase the width by adding in increments of 12. 
            This pattern does block out much wider than it appears to be as your knitting. My finished measurements are 33"x33".
             I chose to use high quality sock yarn because of its wash and wear. This is not something I would suggest cheaping out on, though you could really use any yarn you wish. 
             All stitches should be made on the twist, meaning you're either knitting through the back or purling through the front. This allows for the proper lilt in the stitches. 
              I have charted row 22, but in order for it to work out see the detailed notes on Row 22, I put a reminder on the chart next to row 22 should you forget ;) 

Tools: Size US 7 32in circular needles 
            2 skeins of Tosh Sock (or any desired *quality sock yarn) for MC
            1 skein of Tosh Sock (or other quality sock yarn) for CC
            Tapestry needle
            Stitch markers (optional) 

In order from top to bottom (since I can't seem to make it work out to the side :) 
Ktbl on RS, Ptfl on WS - YO - Ptfl on RS, Ktbl on WS - K2tog tbl on RS, P2tog tfl on WS

In Contrasting Color (CC) CO 188 stitches
Knit in garter st for 14 rows
Set up Row: This is the point where I split the the CC yarn and pulled from both ends, you may choose to initially split the yarn and wind two balls instead of pulling from one. From this point on the first and last 10 sts are in the CC knit in garter stitch, be sure to wrap your yarn accordingly when joining with MC. 
K 10 in CC, join MC, [Yo, k2tog, (p1, k1) five times] K10 in CC
Row 2: K10 in CC start on Row 2 of the 12st, 22 row chart repeat. 
Rows 3-21: Follow chart
Row 22: (WS) M1 [(k1, p1) x5, yo, p2tog] until last two sts of repeat, DO NOT YO, p2tog
             The purpose of this is to keep there from being a weird break in the pattern, allowing for the scallops to be continuous. 
Continue with rows 1-22 of chart until desired length (or you're almost out of yarn ending on either row 11 or 22)
To finish K 14 Rows garter stitch in CC - BO - Weave in your ends. 

Don't be afraid to stretch as your blocking, this is a very stretchy pattern! 

I'm completely new to charting so please feel free to message me on Ravelry if I've made a mistake or you have questions. I've written out each row of the pattern below the pictures if desired. 



Assume all knits are ktbl, and all purls ptfl - odd rows are RS, even rows are WS
Row 1: [YO, k2tog, (p1, k1) x5]
Row 2: [(p1,k1) x4, p1, p2tog, k1, yo]
Row 3: [yo, k1,p1,k2tog, (p1,k1) x4]
Row 4: [(p1, k1) x3, p1, p2tog, k1, p1, k1, yo]
Row 5: [yo, (k1, p1) x2, k2tog, (p1, k1) x3]
Row 6: [(p1, k1) x2, p1, p2tog, (k1, p1) x2, k1, yo]
Row 7: [yo, (k1, p1) x3, k2tog, (p1, k1) x2]
Row 8: [p1, k1, p1, p2tog, (k1, p1) x3, k1, yo]
Row 9: [yo, (k1, p1) x4, k2tog, p1, k1]
Row 10: [p1, p2tog, (k1, p1) x4, k1, yo]
Row 11: [yo, (k1, p1) x5, k2tog]
Row 12: [yo, (p1, k1) x5, p2tog]
Row 13: [k2tog, (k1, p1) x4, k1, yo, p1]
Row 14: [k1, p1, yo, (p1, k1) x4, p2tog]
Row 15: [k2tog, (k1, p1) x3, k1, yo, p1, k1, p1]
Row 16: [(k1, p1) x2, yo, (p1, k1) x3, p2tog]
Row 17: [k2tog, (k1, p1) x2, k1, yo, (p1, k1) x2, p1]
Row 18: [(k1, p1) x3, yo, (p1, k1) x2, p2tog]
Row 19: [k2tog, k1, p1, k1, yo, (p1, k1) x3, p1]
Row 20: [(k1, p1) x4, yo, p1, k1, p2tog]
Row 21: [k2tog, k1, yo, (p1, k1) x4, p1]
Row 22: m1 [(k1, p1) x5, yo, p2tog] until last 2 sts of repeat, DO NOT YO, p2tog

Friday, May 16, 2014

Bows Before Bros

I've been a bad blogger, but a least I've been a good little knitter!!! 

So we found out our little bean is a girl! So after some restructuring of my thoughts, it was time to knit things with bows! I've done the Saartje Bootees a few times but I wanted something a little different. I couldn't find any booties with bows that I particularly liked so it was time for some improvisation on the old faithful. These are a quick little knit with a beautiful outcome. I do want to play around with doing them in the round so that there's no seaming, but for now here's what I've got.

The sizes are NB and about 0-3 months, don't be afraid to go up a needle size to make them last a little longer.  These are knit on needle size US 1

CO 31 (35) sts in bottom color CC
Row 1: k15 (17), pm, k1, pm k15 (17)
Row 2: kfb, k to marker, m1, k1, m1, k to last st, kfb
Row 3 (and all odd rows): k
Row 4: kfb, k to marker, m1, k3, m1, k to last st, kfb
Row 6: kfb, k to marker, m1, k1, m1, k3, m1, k1, m1, k to last st kfb
Row 8: kfb, k to marker, m1, k1, m1, k7, m1, k1, m1, k to last st kfb
Row 9-18 (20): k (removing markers as you come to them) you will have 10 (11) garter stitch ridges.
Row 19 (21): switch to top color MC and k
Row 20 (22): k15 (17) ssk 5 times, k1, k2tog 5 times, k to end
Row 21-23 (23-25): k (note to this point these are the Saartje Bootees)
Row 24 (26): k16 (17), ssk 2 times, k1, k2tog 2 times, k to end
Row 26 (27): BO

Time to Seam 
For the Bow: 
this is also NB then 0-3 Month
CO 8 (10)
K in garter stitch for 28 (32) rows that's 14 (16) garter ridges
for center bow CO 3 (4)
K in sts for 9 (11) rows

To attach the bow I make sure that the knot is well centered and I throw a stitch through the whole thing to keep in from pulling out. Attach center knot and then just tack the four corners of the bow where you want them. This gives you some play with how the bow looks on the bootie! 

Huzzah! It's that easy, great for a last minute shower gift or boots for your babe! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Baby Pandemic - The Decorating Obsession!

It's a thing that's happening, at least among those on my facebook friends, the baby pandemic! Cover your mouths! Close your legs! Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

The thing that I didn't realize after I caught the little bug were the side-effects. The way that I have said for years "I'll never..." "That won't happen to me..." "I'll still be able to think about other things..." Famous last words. Major symptom of the baby pandemic: COMPLETE OBSESSION! Every aspects creeps into the corners of your mind till you become unsure of what took up residence there before. For me I can see the dusty pages of a manuscript and a blinking cursor begging to lead the way to the next great story. Instead I'm making registries, staring at Pinterest nurseries, googling belly pictures, and trying to not be frustrated that my dear husbands refusal to commit to a name! 

People who know me well know that I've been mentally decorating the nursery since the second that little blue plus sign appeared. As usual, the images that appear in my head aren't generally things that exist in the real world. They are lovely figments of my over-active decorating imagination. So as I go through pages and pages and pages and pages of "nursery decor," fluffy crib quilts and bumpers with puffy pastel woodland creatures my frustration grew. I'm not a pastel and puffy panda kind of a gal.

Finally it happened! It was like meeting your husband, or for me getting pregnant in the first place! You stop trying and it just falls into your lap in all it's lovely vintage-modern perfectly funky fashion. It started with the blanket
 and my friend Sarah, who's brain is void of obsessive baby thoughts telling me to find the fabric. A few days later I'm having a quilt custom made by a wonderful friend and dear Sarah is having her friend custom make bumpers, skirts, and I'm throwing together some curtains to my perfect nursery! 

If you're a mommy-to-be like me and you can't seem to find what's just right for you, you may have a weapon in your back pocket that you weren't even aware of. Hit up your crafty friends, don't have those, search etsy, there are lots of fabulous people that will be happy to customize your nursery for a fee! I'd mostly suggest looking at Birch Fabrics beautiful organic cotton options! There are so many beautiful fun patterns for those of us who just can't handle another pink owl! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kale and Couscous Salad

The husband strikes again!

I have the joy of being married to a man who can Houdini things out of my kitchen that I didn't know where possible from what I had in my pantry. He called me a few days ago when I was roaming around Trader Joe's and asked me to pick up a few random items for this salad he had in his head (which is something as he's not much one for leafy greens in the first place).

I don't have a big fancy camera that makes everything look delicious and super high def so you just have to deal with the good ol' iPhone pics. I'm not the deceptive Pinterest picture taker when you make something and it makes you feel like this:
What you see is pretty much what you're gonna get from us! 

Kale & Couscous Salad

Kale - I used prepackaged, pre-shredded it eliminates a step 
1 pkg Pearl Couscous
Olive Oil
1/2 large Yellow Onion
1 clove of Garlic
1/2 C sliced Green Olives
1/3 C Parmesan Cheese 
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Cavender's Seasoning
Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Salt & Pepper to taste

Make couscous as package directs. Get this going as it's the longest step. Wash and dry your Kale, we used a 2 qt bowl as our "measurement" though it's really up to your taste and liberally pour balsamic vinegar over dried Kale. In a skilled heat about 4-5 TBS of olive oil and lightly brown your onion and garlic, at the very end add your red pepper flakes and stir them in well, this will take out some of the heat as well as infusing the flavor into the rest of the olive oil (this is part of your dressing). Once aromatic immediately pour hot olive oil/onion mid over Kale, this will wilt the Kale slightly (this is what you want). Once the couscous is cooked completely and all the water is evaporated mix in couscous, olives and Parmesan. After those are well mixed in the dressing add salt, pepper and Cavender's (the Cavender's is a personal thing, this just adds a bit of a lemon flavor, you could add lemon juice if you prefer.)  It's the simple and delicious! It's great warm and is still great chilled the next day! This will be repeated in our house! 

The Beginning or Somewhere in the Middle

I never know where is appropriate to begin with your first blog post. The truth is that no one really starts reading these until you've been posting for some time, by that point this post gets lost and it doesn't really matter if you know that I'm a currently unemployed fiction writer, knitter, designer or anything else. It doesn't matter that I grew up for the entirety of my 30 something years in the south and moved to the beautiful breadbasket of Northern California wine country chasing my husbands job and a dream of free living (the soul, clearly not the pocketbook). You haven't read that I believe in the beauty of well designed body art, that I love really great fresh foods, that I'm a lover and re-seller of beautiful vintage items and that after 10 years of marriage we are having our first child in the fall.

None of that matters so I'll just jump right in ;).