(Walker. In a Hurricane Hat. Clearly made to be a toddler knitwear model)
I have only a few memories of spending time with my mom’s parents growing up. The most vibrant and lasting of those was their visit to welcome my newborn brother, Eric, when I was 8. My grandmother always carried her knitting with her, and the needles were pulled out and clacking away anytime she found a place to sit still for more than 10 minutes. For a fidgety little girl on her best behavior, watching the swooping, twisting, knotting mass of needles and yarn was mesmerizing. It was on this visit that I declared that I was old enough to learn what grandma was doing and she agreed. With extensive patience, some pink yarn and a pair of bright yellow plastic needles, Grandma Dorie gradually taught me to knit, leaving me with a gift I value to this day (there is photographic evidence of this afternoon that I need to dig out at my mom’s house and share here someday soon – it is completely worth it for my haircut alone).
(Aren’t these snazzy? My aunt just passed on these great interchangeable circular needle sets, circa 1970s)
My memories of my grandmother are entirely twisted up with memories of her knitting – mostly the one-of-a-kind sweaters I received for holidays and birthdays. I was so proud of them. No one else had a sweater featuring little sheeps running across the front, with the matching rumps (complete with pom-pom tails!) across the back. I was not the only family member who’d been brought into the knitting fold – my aunt Jane was also always a prolific sewer/knitter. Her gifts (if it was possible) thrilled me even more – matching outfits for me and my Cabbage Patch Kid?! I was the coolest kid in school!
(Small needle sizes – the cables are a little creaky, but everything is completely functional!)
My interest in knitting at age 8 lasted for about three days; the same amount of time as my excitement about skateboarding or passion for the electric keyboard. But I would return to my needles every few years, making my own one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts (I still cringe at the year of many, many knitted potpourri sachets) and considering all the fashionable garments I could be making for myself while perusing knitting books at the local library (so many shoulder pads).
(Larger needle sizes – the colorful metal tips are so cheerful!)
It wasn’t until graduate school, when I desperately needed a creative outlet to give my brain a rest from non-stop science that I returned to the craft in earnest. I branched out from just the knit stitch (purling is fun!), worked my way through a few basic projects, joined a Boston area Stich-n-Bitch group and learned how gratifying it can be to make something lasting with one’s own hands. Not to mention the very far fetched but mighty fulfilling idea that I could make my own clothes, if I absolutely had to. Let’s not discuss the practical implications of woolen undergarments – I like this delusion too much.
(Madelinetosh, in Forestry – mmmmmm)
In this way, knitting has become one of my main outlets – alongside cooking and blogging – to get myself out of my head, my head out of science, and reconnect with the creator inside of me. However, I had been in bit of a rut. Many, many baby blankets and graduation scarves later, I had forgotten how much fun it is to try something completely knew, maybe a bit outside of my comfort zone, as well as the pride that comes from generating a beautiful accessory (for me even!) from just a ball of yarn. Enter Mere, my blogging buddy and virtual knitting club companion (read about our previous knitting goals/projects here and here).
(It’s beginning to look like a Honey Cowl)
Working with someone new, who has a similar skill set and is also interested in branching out has been so much fun. The socks from March were a huge challenge and we were both excited to tackle the Honey Cowl in April – it seems straightforward and easier to finish within a month. Note: The socks remain unfinished (I am admittedly ashamed). I’m still 2/3 done with my third sock – I decided to rip the first one out because it was too big and do it right, but let me tell you, motivation to finish the third sock of a pair is hard to come by.
(The finished product, properly waffle-like and practically glowing)
April came and went and both of us were suspiciously silent about our cowl progress on our blogs, and on Instagram, where we had been so excitedly vocal about starting our projects. As the month came and went we chatted behind the scenes about piles of work, distractions from our knitting goals and maybe making May a ‘catch-up’ month – with a small, if any, project of it’s own.
(In natural light the greens are even more impressive – worn long…)
So, I wanted to catch you all up (especially you, Destination : Macaron, with your overflowing craftiness) with my recent progress, several projects of which are finally wrapping up. Plus, plans for the summer. Because I clearly haven’t learned anything about overbooking yet – and there are baby birthdays coming up!
(…and short. I profusely apologize for my strap issues here.)
April’s project, the Honey Cowl, was an absolute delight. I used the pattern as an excuse to splurge on two skeins of Madelinetosh DK in a deep, vibrant, subtly variegated shade of green, called Forestry. Not only was the color amazing, but the wool itself was soft, springy and knit up like a dream. I worked on the cowl solely on my shuttle rides to and from work; it was a great pattern for on-the-go knitting while listening toRadioLab podcasts. This cowl is a new favorite; I have already worn it several times (San Diego gets cold at night!) and received multiple compliments. Between the ease of knitting, the loveliness of the yarn itself and the functionality and beauty of the finished project, I can tell I’ll be making and wrapping up a lot of Honey Cowls for Christmas this year.
(May’s project – the Hurricane Hat, sized down for toddler heads. There may be a few more where these came from, just sayin’)
For May, Mere and I decided we would slow down, catch up on our cowls (and socks, ahem) and, make a hat – a simple weekend project that would at least push our monthly knitting club forward. With two new babies in the family, I decided to make two or, more precisely, two happened while racing through season 4 of Battlestar Galactica on Memorial Day (maybe a bit behind the times but so happy to be finally catching up!). The hat pattern is a modified Hurricane Hat, using size 6 needles to slim it down for precious toddler heads. Here Walker is modeling one of my prototypes. He is about the age that my niece and nephew will be around Christmas, so I’m glad my arbitrary length and decreases seem to fit! There is something incredibly gratifying about already working towards stockpiling gifts.
(More Walker, more hat detail)
So with the exception of my third sock problem (this weekend maybe? Finally?), my knitting is all caught up! Which means I can turn my sights towards summer. Mere and I, although ambitious, are not blind, and rather than choose monthly projects during this busy season have chosen instead a ‘summer vacation’ project. Toys. For babies (We are both blessed with beautiful nieces and nephews). I cannot show you which ones, because they will be gifts for two almost-1 year olds at the end of August, and I’m pretty sure my brothers and sisters-in-law read my blog (although anyone who has gotten this far in this post deserves a medal). I promise to reward all of your patience with adorable toddler + toy photos then. Here are a few to tide you over. In the meantime, happy crafting!
(Recent nephew shot – this kid clearly needs a handknit toy, right?!)
If you are here and have a bit of extra time on your hands, take a look at these beautiful yarns and share your must have shades – it is so hard to choose!
(And my niece, also reaching out for a toy!)