Dancing With Bears

I thought you'd like to see my pretty neighbor Jessica model my new shawl.  I knit this specifically to wear this holiday season.  Oh my, it was fun to knit, and it's so gorgeous.  The pattern makes sense after a few rows, then I was off an running with just a cursory glance at the pattern every now and then.  You start with a massive cast-on of 390 stitches for the medium size (the pattern has 3 sizes), but even with all those stitches, the knitting is fast and fun and easy.  After the lace is completed, short rows shape the garter stitch body, then sadly, it's done.  The pattern is well written and has row-by-row written and charted directions. I knit this with Rowan Mohair Haze in color Kiss with two strands held together.  It's a soft squish of heaven in such a bright, cheery color--a kind of strawberry red.  Rowan has recently slimmed their line to keep a smaller but gorgeous collection of core yarns.  Seasonally they will offer select yarns that are limited edition only.  This yarn, Mohair Haze, although a truly magnificent yarn, is not staying.  //weeps tears//  I've hoarded some, enough for three more sweaters because I'm not sure this yarn can be duplicated.

I'm mad about my new shawl!  

Dancing With Bears pattern by Carol Sunday

My Ravelry project page

Rowan Mohair Haze
70% super kid mohair, 30% merino 
 If you see it, you won't be sorry buying some.
Webs has it on sale.

Stay tuned for the Coffee Shop Wrap, The Barn Jacket which is a tweed cardigan from Carrie Bostick Hoge, and a simple pullover made elegant with Mohair Haze (again!) and a hint of Swarovski crystals at the neck.

My model is wearing a denim mini skirt!  Remember wearing them from the 80s?  I squealed when I saw it!

xo kristen

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pink elephant

This pattern popped up on Ravelry yesterday.  It was free and it intrigued me and so just like that, snap, I had to knit it right then and there; a sweet little elephant-friendly trophy head to use as a backpack totem or to just sit there and keep company.  I'm popping it the mail to my teenage granddaughter who is not feeling well this week.  I'm hoping a pink elephant head will put a smile on her face.

I'll confess the pattern directions confused me at first, so I took some pictures in progress in case you are planning on making it too.

The top of the head down to the trunk is knit first--the purple part.  Then stitches are picked up to knit the back head gusset, that's the brown.  Next you'll pick up stitches for ears; the left ear is finished in pink.  On the right I've just picked up the stitches for the other ear.

All the knitting is done.

Now the sewing begins.  Fold down the back head gusset and fold the ears in half.

Here is the back side ready for sewing up and stuffing.

Check your button stash for eyes.

It turns out that elephant heads are terribly difficult to photograph.  She looked best next to my hydrangeas that are just now beginning to wear their rustic cloak of fall color.  Did I say fall?  There are reminders every day that summer will soon be over: the kids are back in school, the air feels different, and my garden is totally pooped out, but I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer, not for a while yet!

 a free pattern from Claire Garland

My Ravelry project page

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jelly bean

I love this little jacket!  My Jelly Bean is based on the free Coffee Bean pattern, but modified (by accident--I wasn't paying attention) and made larger to fit a two year old.  This was made for no one in particular, but will go in my baby sweater stash which was down very low, as in down to none, so with this addition it's up to one.  I feel so much better when I have a few baby sweaters in the stash so I'll be knitting up a few more.  See the circs in in the last picture?  I've collected most sizes of these 16" circulars which I find perfect for knitting sleeves in the round.  Yarn links (Tosh DK and Rowan Superwash Merino), free pattern link (Coffee Bean), and all other details are on my Ravelry project page.

I helped my son man a garage sale last weekend, so I knit this sweater while sitting in the garage.  It turned out not to be a great weekend for us to hold a garage sale, but the date was chosen months ago and that steam-roller of  a pre-planned event seemed unstoppable.  I think I told you that this year I've been methodically going though each cupboard and closet.  Along the way I've been showing the largess to the kids and asking (pleading), "Do you want any of this?"  They took a few things here and there, but the rest was to go to charity until I had the brilliant idea of holding a garage sale, and if my son would man it, he could keep the money made. We both felt we were getting a good deal.  Now that it's over, and I'm SO glad it is over, I think I felt my house heave a sigh.  Houses like to feel clean and un-stuffed, I'm sure of it.

While going through the house I was determined to be unsentimental and practical.  One thing I sold was my hundreds of record albums from the late 60s and early 70s collected when I was a music loving teen.  I lived in Los Angeles and always had some kind of after school job for the sole reason that with the money I earned, I could buy records and have money to go to rock concerts.  The LA music scene was awesome in the 60s.  We had so many great small clubs and big concert halls.  I could zip though one of the canyon roads, usually Topanga or Coldwater, and be in Hollywood in no time.  I'll never forget seeing Led Zeppelin three weekends in a row at the Shrine when they were cutting their second album, even though their first album hadn't been released yet in the states.  They were unknown, and on Monday I'd come back to school and my friends would say, "Led who?"  They loved LA and were there often and when they were in town, I saw them.  I often went to the Whisky and saw The Doors and Buffalo Springfield many times before they became famous.  So this weekend I said goodbye to the Beatles and Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Velvet Underground, Cream, The Who and, and,--but stop me, I could go on forever.  I thought it would kill me, but guess what?  It did not kill me.  Letting go made me realize that it wasn't the things I cherished, it was the memories, and they are still with me. Just ask my husband! When we have the oldies station on in the car I amaze (annoy) him by knowing every single word to every single song and to prove it, I sing along!  Fifty years later and I still know every word to Subterranean Homesick Blues.  How can that be?  Oh how I wish I would have used those teen brain cells to learn a language or two!  (Just in case you are wondering, my son checked each album and a few were worth a little money and went to private collectors before the garage sale, but most had average value.  Even though some were rare and/or first pressing, we found out that condition is important, and my albums were MUCH loved -- if you know what I mean.)  But the thing that made me smile was that the collectors were mostly young people in their 20s and 30s.  They absolutely loved going through my collection, and there I was knitting my baby sweater.  The irony.

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Top Ten FREE baby sweater patterns

I adore knitting for baby and collect baby patterns like one might collect seashells.  While writing this top ten list, I went way over my budget and gathered twenty free patterns instead of ten.  Pattern links, yarn weights, and sizes available are in the captions below each picture. All yarn weights are featured in the patterns below: fingering, sport, DK, worsted, aran and bulky weights.  If you have some stash, you can quickly scan down to find the right pattern.  Use these patterns as a springboard for your imagination; make a dear baby sweater in a solid color or add stripes, intarsia, fair isle, or stitch texture; let whimsy be your guide!  Which one will you make first?

knit in worsted weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.

Fingering weight in three sizes:  newborn, 3 mos., and 6 mos.

Knit in worsted weight in one size:  6 mos.

Knit in aran weight in two sizes: 3 mos. and 12 mos.

knit in worsted weight in one size:  1 yr.
 (change to DK weight for 6 mos.)

Knit in bulky weight in two sizes:  4-8 mos. and 8-12 mos.
Stacked Stag-Horn Pullover by Stacey Cilia
Knit in DK weight in two sizes:  6 mos. and 12 mos

Jill by Martin Storey of Rowan
Knit in DK weight in four sizes:  3, 6, 12, and 18 mos.

Knit in DK weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.
This pattern has been removed from Ravelry but if you would like the pattern,
I don't think the designer would mind if I shared it with you. Email me.

Knit in worsted weight in one size:  6 mos.

Knit in fingering weight yarn in one size:  18-24 mos.

Knit in sport weight in one size:  6-12 mos.

Knit in bulky weight in four sizes from 3-6 mos. to 24 mos.

fingering weight yarn in one size:  18" chest
Knit n sport weight in six sizes:  3 mos. to 2 yrs.

knit in worsted weight yarn in 4 sizes, 6 mos. to 2 yrs.
Knit in worsted weight in four sizes:  6 mos., 1, 2, and 3 yrs.

DK weight in three sizes:  3, 6, and 12 mos.
Knit in DK weight in two sizes:  3 mos. and 6 mos.

Knit in DK weight in one size: 9-12 mos.

Knit in worsted weight in four sizes:  6 mos. and 1, 2, and 3 yrs.

 And now for some baby things that don't fall in the sweater category:

Best Baby Booties:  Saartje's Booties

Best Baby Poncho:  Hooded Baby Poncho from Lion Brand 

Totally Free/Totally Adorable has been a popular post this last year and has some good tips.

A word about yarn--please do mother a favor and knit your baby and children's garments in machine washable wool or cotton.  A mere whisper of hand wash only and your precious sweater will quickly land in the bottom of the dresser drawer. Not all machine washable yarns can go in the dryer so if it's a gift, give a little "care tag".  If you are knitting stripes from stash, like the first one below, make sure your yarns are all the same weight and require the same care.  When gifting, I almost always knit the 12 mos. size and here's why: at one year, babies are standing up and smiling, clapping and causing commotions, and generally craving attention wherever they go.  Everyone looks at them, and therefore, everyone will look at your sweater too!

Below are Rowan yarns I love that are perfect for baby.

Cotton Cashmere (heavy DK weight)
Handknit Cotton (light worsted weight)
Baby Cashsoft Merino (sport weight)

I have knit with and can highly recommend all of the above yarns. The ball bands prefer hand washing (and I do too), but if any of these yarns go in the washing machine it will not be a terrible disaster. Garments will last longer if hand washed of course, but if gifting a hand knit to a busy new mom, you'll at least know the sweater won't felt with the above yarns. 

xo, Kristen

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