Category Archives: abby

A pair of socks each month

This was one of my goals for 2013 – and I’m so excited to be completely on-track, at least so far.

In January, I knit my first pair of self-striping socks – for myself. :)

Then, for February I knit a pair of socks for my youngest daughter – her older sisters have socks still that I’d made previously for them, but Becca had outgrown her previous pair a while ago, so she was due. I picked a fun self-striping yarn for her too – Loops & Threads Luxury Sock in the Balloons colorway and made just a plain stockinette sock again. She loves them and I did get them done in time – by about 10 minutes.

For March’s socks, I was thrilled to have been able to buy a skein of yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works, in her Bounce base. This is the Calypso colorway, and I love the chunky stripes with the eensy while stripes between. Green striped socks make me so happy, so these were again for me. And again, I finished them in time.

Since my oldest daughter’s birthday falls in April, I decided that it was her turn for another pair of socks. Abbi asked for socks in rainbow colors, which made for an interesting challenge when yarn shopping. I was able to find a rainbow-striping yarn from KnitPicks – their Felici sock yarn in (what else) the Rainbow colorway.

This time I wanted to do something a little different – they’re still going to be self-striping socks and I still wanted a fairly mindless, easy pattern but I wanted something other than straight stockinette. One of my newest podcast favorites is Mel-Tran Designs Knitting Corner and Melissa has a free pattern out on Ravelry for a Chevron sock striping pattern. The pattern is written toe-up, but it’s been very easy to adapt to cuff-down.

Abbi never wears matching socks, so these are going to be fraternal twins – I’m not every trying to match up the striping pattern. It’s kind of freeing to not have to even think about whether the stripes are lining up or not.

I’m making these on size 2 needles (3mm) over 72 stitches per sock. They do fit Abbi’s foot and leg, but she must have a large heel because it’s difficult to get the portion of cuff over her heel. I’m debating whether to keep going or frog these and start over again with 80 stitches per sock. The yarn is really stretchy though, so they may be ok as-is.

Striping sock yarn is so much fun to work with – I’ll have to see if I stay in the stripe frame of mind over the next few months or if I want to try anything else. Socks are a fun way to try out new techniques and patterns with a project that’s fairly quick, easy and portable.

12 pairs of socks by the end of 2013 – so far, so good!

Where are they now? 2KCBWDAY4

Today’s topic (2KCBWDAY4) for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is to talk about a past project and what’s happened to it since it was finished and proudly displayed here on my blog.

In my case, I could maybe call this post, “A Tale of Two Hats” – because that’s how many hats I’ve knitted for my oldest daughter for this past winter. And that’s also exactly how many hats she’s lost.

I should mention that my daughter is well-known in our family for misplacing or losing things in general, especially articles of clothing. At one point last year, she’d lost every single one of her coats at school, leaving me to send her one day in a sweatshirt (on a 40-degree day) because she had nothing else to wear. Thankfully all of her coats ended up making their way home eventually (we keep all of her things well-labeled).

But not so much luck with the hats.

Last fall I knitted a hat out of a purple variegated yarn that I picked up on clearance at the LYS. I love the feel of this yarn and made a really nice, simple roll-brim hat for my daughter with it – just in time for the start of the cold weather.

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In December, we headed to a neighboring city for a day, while my husband had a job interview. I took the girls to McDonalds to hang out and play while we waited for him, and at some point while we were there, somebody else walked off with this purple hat. Which wasn’t my daughter’s fault, of course – but she had left the hat (and her coat) lying on the floor, and hadn’t kept track of them while we were there either. In any case, the hat was gone – and there was no getting it back.

So, I did what any mom who knits would do – I made her a new hat. This time out of another color of the same yarn as the original hat – shades of pink instead of purple. It was the same pattern, but I changed it up a little  bit afterward by adding a pompom on top and a crocheted flower to make it a little prettier.

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This hat currently resides in the lost-and-found bin at the school where my middle daughter has cheerleading practice – at least I hope it made its way into their lost-and-found. My oldest accidentally left the hat there several weeks ago and I haven’t had the chance to check since. Thankfully it’s been a bit warmer lately so she hasn’t absolutely needed to wear a hat.

I will say one thing – the next time I knit my daughter a hat, I’m going to try a different pattern and use the experience to maybe learn something new. I don’t mind making hats, but want to do something other than a straight stockinette hat with a roll brim.

Hmm, maybe the fact that she keeps losing her hats is an opportunity rather than a problem! :)

Come back tomorrow – for a surprise!

Why I don’t crochet anymore…

Yes, that’s true – I used to crochet all the time. In fact, it was something I learned right after college and I crocheted all the time, pretty much right up until I had my kids. I taught friends how to crochet even, and they taught others as well.

I crochet in kind of an odd way. I tend to be left-handed in many areas, but when I took a crochet class, the teacher couldn’t figure out how to teach me lefty, so she suggested I learn right-handed. But I don’t hold the hook or move it in the ‘usual’ way. In fact, even though I hold the hook right-handed, I use my left hand to maneuver the yarn. It’s awkward – I never realized until I saw someone who crochets ‘normally’ just how slow my way is. But it works – or at least it used to.

Back then I crocheted a lot, mostly afghans. I made them for myself, for friends, for my mom, and I made one for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift before my husband and I got married. When one of my closest friends got married, I crocheted a large table doily as a wedding gift and also made her a shawl to wear over her wedding dress since the wedding was in December. And my other close friend was pregnant at that same time with her first child – I made several baby afghans for her. For a while there, pretty much anyone who was having a baby got an afghan – and I made a couple when I was pregnant with my first baby too. One of those is still my daughter’s favorite ‘blankie’ that she insists on sleeping with every single night. I wish she’d picked something else to cling to though – this one is pretty much irreplaceable. It took me 6 months to crochet back before I had kids – since it’s all done in single crochet stitches. Nowadays it would be impossible for me to make something like that. Not just in terms of time either, unfortunately.

I first noticed the pain in my hand when I tried picking up a half-finished crochet project when my girls were small. So I put it down again, and didn’t try to crochet anything else for another few years. At that point, I won a beautiful baby blanket from a blog giveaway (right about the time I began blogging) – but it had a simple crocheted edging that was a ‘do it yourself’ kind of project. I finished the edging, but was in a lot of pain while doing so. It was about that time that I decided that maybe it was time to try something else instead – I remembered how much I liked working with yarn and creating things, but I thought perhaps knitting would be easier on my hand, so I re-taught myself how to knit, this time left-handed (I’d learned from my mom right-handed back when I was a kid, but it always felt awkward to me).

I haven’t tried crocheting since then, a little more than 3 years ago now. And knitting was pain-free at first – but over the past year I have noticed the same pain in my left hand now too. Mostly while purling – or on the socks I’m working on I really notice it when I’m trying to keep my stitches nice and tight to try to prevent laddering when switching between dpns. The pain is mostly in the fleshy part of my thumb – down near my wrist. It’s a cramping kind of feeling – not really like joint pain, but more like a tendon getting too tight or something. I asked my doctor about it earlier this year, but since it only was happening when I was knitting, she didn’t have any real ideas. But now, I’m starting to notice the pain when doing other things too – especially when trying to mix cookie dough the other day. My hands both cramped when the dough got stiff after adding the flower and I couldn’t grip the spoon well enough to stir it very well.

My mom tells me that arthritis in the hands runs in our family – but I am so hoping that’s not what this is. I’m also hoping that it won’t keep me from knitting – although I can’t knit for very long at a time because of the pain. That’s one reason why it takes me a little while to complete projects. I’ll go back to the doctor next year and see what I can find out. But no matter what, I’m planning to continue knitting – I’ve learned to enjoy it way too much. And maybe if I can find some answers, I can pick a crochet hook back up again too one of these days.  :)

Of moms and daughters – and knitting

Today is Mother’s Day – which got me thinking about those relationship in my life, with my mom, my daughters and how knitting relates to both of them…

My mom and I have a complicated relationship – but then again, most mothers and daughters seem to. I can remember back to when I was a small child, feeling so safe and loved as long as my mom was there. That was so very long ago. And I suppose that a part of me has always wanted to find that feeling again – of being safe, warm and loved. I think the closest I’ve ever gotten is when I sit and cuddle with my own daughters. I want to make sure that I’m always there for them – not just physically present, but really there in all the ways necessary.

My mom taught me how to knit a long time ago. I don’t remember how old I was or if I actually finished anything. I do have a clear memory of her showing me how to hold the needles though. She wasn’t a big knitter or anything herself – she dabbled in different crafts all while I was growing up. I think she was looking for something that suited her, and I’m not sure she ever really did. She crocheted for a while too – I remember a striped afghan that I loved that she was working on but never finished. She later told me that the cat used to knead at it with her claws and my mom figured that the afghan would just get ruined once it was done. She said she tried to pick it up a few years later but couldn’t figure out the pattern again.

I wish I knew what happened to it – I would have loved to finish it for her.

Mom also taught me the basics of crocheting – I remember learning to make long chains by finger crocheting, which is basically the chain stitch using your fingers instead of a hook. And later she bought me a spool and taught me spool, or ‘french’ knitting with it. I made long tubes that I turned into scarves for Barbie dolls but never really did much else with it. Later, in college, I tried knitting again, but then took a crocheting class and crocheted for many years instead.

My own oldest daughter is an enigma to me. She’s so much like her father in so many ways, but I do see glimpses of myself in her too. She’s never been a child who would play much with toys. She loved stacking blocks or lining up figurines, but never ‘played’ with them the way most other kids do. She has always loved to make things though – whether with paper and crayons, scissors and tape or any other kind of crafting medium. And when I began to take up knitting again a couple of years ago, she asked me to teach her how.

I didn’t think she was quite old enough at the time, so I followed in my own mother’s footsteps instead. I taught her how to finger crochet, and watched her make chained bracelets and necklaces for herself and her sisters. Then I hunted down a spool and taught her how to slip the loops over to french knit – and smiled to myself to see her take to that quickly too.

And then, I found a very simple, ‘learn to knit’ kit and gave it to her – either for her birthday or Christmas, I forget now and it’s not important. But I sat down with her, cast on a row and showed her the simple knit stitch (which wasn’t easy, because I knit left-handed and she’s a righty).

AbbyKnitting_001

Since then she’s made herself and her little sister scarves from that kit – with bulky-weight yarn and huge needles. And I’ve bought her a pair of ‘real’ metal needles – still fairly large-sized but more standard, and she’s knit a scarf for her Barbies on those.

She doesn’t have a lot of patience for large projects, and she doesn’t want me to teach her how to purl or do anything more complicated than just the simple knit stitch – yet. But she loves doing it and I know that she must feel close to me when she pulls out her knitting and sits next to me while I’m working on mine.

Safe, and warm, and loved. And I hope – I pray – that knitting will always be a way to help remind her of feeling that way.

Even years down the road when she’s too old to crawl into my lap and snuggle anymore.

(Kinda) Wordless Wednesday – They're done!!

Hannah’s shrug:

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And finished in the nick of time, at the hotel the night before the wedding, here’s Abby’s:

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No, she wasn’t upset with the shrug – the sun was in her eyes. ;)

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And here’s how the shrug looked over the flower girl dresses – Abby’s is without the shrug and Hannah is wearing hers. This was a couple of days before the wedding. You see, in early April I was expecting that it could’ve been 30 degrees out and snowing…

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Of course it was 70+degrees out the day of the wedding and the only time the shrugs got worn was over their pajamas on the way home afterward. I’m still glad I made them though! And yes, photos from my sister-in-law’s wedding still to come… :)

See more photos at Wordless Wednesday and 5 Minutes For Mom!

Tackle It Tuesday – Knitting Lessons

Last year I bought Abby a kid-oriented knitting kit, because she’d seen me start to knit and was begging for me to teach her.

We sat down on the couch and after about 5 minutes I realized two things.

I knit left-handed.  Abby is right-handed.

And I am NOT the patient kind of teacher that Abby needs for this kind of thing.

And so, the knitting kit sat on the closet shelf. Abby still begged, but I put her off by teaching her first to finger crochet – and then when making finger chains of necklaces and bracelets became too boring, I bought a spool for French knitting and taught her to do that. In typical Abby form, she knit and knit – and knit. Until she lost interest because she’d mastered it and it also became too boring.

Last week, I started a knitting class of my own – it’s a year-long “Block of the Month” class where we’ll learn new stitches and knit either one or two blocks every month until December, when we’ll put them all together into an afghan. It’s a great way to learn more about knitting, and hopefully also a good way to meet people with a common interest.

I’m working on my first square – so far it’s starting to take shape a bit…

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This particular square is shown on the front of the book, right below my ball of yarn and square-in-progress. It’s not an easy pattern, but so far I’m having a lot of fun with it.

And Abby’s interest in (and begging for) knitting lessons has been renewed.

So yesterday I sat down with her and the knitting kit again and showed her the knitting stitch. I even managed to show her how to do it right-handed. And this time, she picked it up rather quickly!

AbbyKnitting_002

The knitting kit includes two oversized wooden needles and a very soft, thick, chunky multi-colored yarn that’s very easy to use. It’s also very easy to see the individual stitches, so that when she makes mistakes even a novice knitter like myself can figure out where she went wrong and fix it.

Sort of, anyway. I did have to take apart her entire project once because she’d dropped and added so many stitches throughout. But hey, she’s just learning – and as I made sure to let her know, I had to start the square for my class over four times for various reasons before I got the stitches and pattern all figured out.

When Abby is done, she’ll have a very funky, cool-looking scarf that she made entirely by herself. And I know she’ll wear it with pride. She’s already promised to make a scarf for Hannah afterward, and is talking hats as well.

I’m just glad that knitting can be as easy – or as challenging – as she needs it to be, so that this will hopefully keep her occupied for quite a while now that she’s learned the initial stitch.

So my tackle for today will involve getting more done on my own square so that I’ll have it finished in time for next month’s class. And sitting down with Abby after school, as she works further along on her own scarf project.  I’m really excited to have something like this for her and I to do together.

What are you tackling this week? And check out other Tackle It Tuesday posts over at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Is it possible to make a scarf too 'wide'?

Remember the blanket that I crocheted a border around recently? The first craft project that I’d actually finished since Abby was born, nearly 7 years ago?

I’ve actually started and completed another project since then!

I think it’s a record.

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This scarf took me just a little over a week to knit. It’s probably not that great of an accomplishment when you realize that the entire thing is just the same stitch over and over again, back and forth, but I did manage to change colors – and even wove the ends in decently.

You see, Abby has been begging to learn how to knit. So far I’ve managed to put her off by teaching her to finger crochet (chain stitch) – and while she’s producing necklaces and bracelets at an alarming rate, I have the feeling that she’s going to need something a bit more challenging soon.

My mom taught me to knit when I was young. I picked it back up in college and made a few afghans, but I learned to crochet soon afterward and hadn’t picked up knitting needles since then. Over 15 years ago.

There are a few reasons (other than teaching Abby at some point) why I decided to re-learn now. I like many of the knitting patterns that I’ve seen, and I like having some variety in what I do. Plus, I discovered during my recent crochet project that crocheting hurts my hands. Specifically, it hurts along the base of my thumbs, down to my wrist, along that fleshy part of the hand. I’d have to stop every few stitches to stretch my hand out and wait for the cramping to stop, and that made the blanket border take at least 3x longer than it would have otherwise.

I think I must be getting old. Sigh.

But so far, knitting has been pain-free, so I think I’ll stick with that for a while. This scarf that I just finished was intended to be for Hannah.

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However, I could barely get her to put it on for a picture. Apparently she’s not impressed with ‘wide’ scarves, at least that’s what she was (loudly) complaining about with this one. She was in a disagreeable mood in general yesterday morning though, so I’m hoping that it might grow on her. If not, I’m sure I can find someone else who wants it.

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Yes, I know it doesn’t match her coat. It really doesn’t match Hannah’s either, but I went with yarn that I already had. For my next project, I’m branching out a bit from the ‘straight and square’ and attempting a matching hat for the scarf.

Is it possible to make a hat too ‘wide’? If not, I’m sure Hannah will probably find something else to complain about. Either that, or she’ll love it and I’ll end up with two girls fighting over who gets to wear it.

I think this knitting thing may just keep me busy for a while… :)