stitches west

Hello! I dashed through Stitches West yesterday. Literally ran through in two hours. I didn't really have the time to go this weekend, but this fantastically colossal knitting event is only 20 minutes from my home and I hated to miss it! I arrived early, ran though once, and bought a few things that caught my eye the first time around. Usually I get the lay of the land by walking through once, taking notes and pictures, then going back to make my purchases. Not this year. It was a good show and I'm glad I went even for a few hours. Lots of indie dyers were showing their yarns but I saw less speckles, and the speckles I saw where more subdued, or maybe not and I'm just used to it all now. I did see some breed specific yarns that I would have liked to spend time exploring, but that will have to wait until next year. I was happy to see that some of the biggies like Yoth, Rowan, and Shibui had great booths. The lines there were long, but I can get that yarn at my LYS anyway, so it was easy to walk past. I was looking for things I cannot find at home. I saw lots of kits to make Andrea Mowry, Joji Locatelli and Boyland Knits sweaters. I think kits are a great idea and was tempted, but was not in the end, but people were swooning and it's just fun to be in the middle of all that!

This is my loot:

Stunning String Studio had a fantastic booth with yarns in hundreds of colors. I bought this mini set for a baby cardigan.
I love the subdued speckled fade kit from Leading Men Fibers  to make Suvi Sumola's Ground Pepper.  Last year I was going to buy this kit, and when I went back they were all gone. Lesson learned. I love the pattern, but may actually make something else with the yarn. Maybe something with lace. I seem to be into lace right now. 

Destination Yarn had gorgeous yarns. Here's my idea for the mini set above and below: since the colors in both sets look great with each other, I'm thinking of adding a charcoal Kidsilk Haze as a carrying yarn and making something moody, maybe fady or stripy. Who knows. It's fun to imagine! For some reason, all the yarn I bought yesterday was fingering weight. 

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the tradition continues

I hosted a baby shower last weekend with several of my friends, and after our guests left and it was just us cleaning up, we were a little sad. This would likely be our last baby shower and baby quilt we make as a group. We figured out that we had hosted 14 showers together and made 14 baby quilts--one for each of our children's first born child, and this was possibly the last. So, a tradition that started 18 years ago with my own granddaughter Annie, is at its end. Sob. (Except now I'm thinking we'll have to resurrect the tradition when we start to have great-grandchildren!)

You can start your own tradition of a group baby quilt and it's not as complicated as you might think. We are six women of varying sewing skills, and to simplify we use the same basic recipe each time: twelve embroidered squares set within a sashing of lattice strips and squares, backed by plain fabric with batting in between, then hand quilted.  I've written a post that explains it all in detail.

Click here to make a group baby quilt.
Go on! Take a peek, it's not as scary as you might think!
Below are pictures of the baby shower in progress.

Our party theme was baby animals.

The party favors were sugar cookie mommy and baby hands...

...wrapped in cellophane and tied with pink ribbons.

Pink champagne, rose wine, and pink lemonade!

A baby shower is a good excuse to use the fine linens and crystal.

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Lillet is Baby Cocktails newest design. I thought it would be perfect for the BC Garn yarn I purchased when I was visiting Portland in December and I knit it up in no time. I love the pretty lace neckline which is a very simple repeat and fun to do. As a bonus, Baby Cocktail patterns are always full of customizing-for-fit tips. Lillet is knit top down, so once the short row back neck shaping and the lace collar are finished, it's just knit all the way down, so make sure you use a yarn you love to knit in stockinette. I finished it with the optional short-row shaped hem that is shorter in the front.

The yarn is a treasure! The color, Misty Blue has a lovely melange of pale watery blues. Semilla is easy to knit and easy on the hands with a nice bounce and an elegant rusticity. It softens nicely after a soak and I can easily wear it next to my skin. I think it's a very well priced yarn and was happy to see that Webs carries it.  It is GOTS certified organic 100% wool, and comes from Argentina. I'd use it again in a heartbeat. 

BC Garn Semilla Melange

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I'm almost finished with Pine Creek below. The lace yoke is finished and I'm halfway through the stockinette body. I've been trying it on as I go and I cannot wait until it's finished! 

little jelly bean, a free pattern


Here's our little guy wearing a sweater I made 3 years ago for my hope chest of baby sweaters--hoping to one day have another grandchild, and here he is!  At 18 months, an image of stillness he is not, and for these pictures my husband stood behind me and made funny faces. If I point my camera in his direction for 20 seconds or so, I'll get enough good shots of him and the sweater! These were taken minutes before we headed out the door for the coast for a walk on the wharf and lunch at our favorite beach eatery, Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. We had all been sick with colds for weeks, so going on an outing was a celebration of sorts--celebrating good health!  Sam's has a beautiful view and great food, plus there are easy steps to the sand of a very gentle cove. I always order grilled sardines much to my husband's dismay. He loves to eat my leftovers but won't touch the sardines. But for me they are hard to resist. They catch them fresh right off the coast every morning and are so healthy and good. My guy always gets the linguini or fish and chips and without fail, a bowl of clam chowder. We ordered popcorn shrimp for the baby. He dipped his little shrimps into the cocktail sauce, made a face and proclaimed it to be too spicy, cried for milk, took a desperate gulp, told us it was too cold, then repeated the little scene. Again. And again. And again. Finally the plate of popcorn shrimps and the glass of milk were gone. We think he likes spicy food! After lunch we walked on the beach and climbed rocks. We strolled on the pier and talked about the pelicans and seals. We saw so many boats! We had a perfect day. Oh my, it's so nice not to have a cold and especially nice to spend the day with the baby.

This pattern is the famous and free Little Coffee Bean cardigan for 3, 6 and 12 months. I modified it a bit to make it more like a size 2-3 toddler. That is easy to do in this pattern: Cast on for the largest size adding stitches in multiples of 4. I added 4. Knit as directed making the raglan increases until you have the size you want. If you are unsure what the measurement should be, you can measure it up against a sweater whose fit you like, or use this site to find the standard child/youth measurements for sweaters. The pattern is knit with worsted weight wool which is somewhat bulky on a little one, so consider that before you begin and make sure you want that look and feel. There are other patterns available that will make the same sweater using dk or fingering weight yarns for a more lightweight sweater. Go to this post for the links to those free patterns, plus ideas and tips for scrappy sweaters galore! This one knits up very quickly with such a big gauge and would be perfect for using up your scraps as it would look darling in crazy stripes of leftover colors. I used Madeline Tosh Merino Worsted in Optic and the red is Rowan Pure Wool Superwash Worsted in Cardinal. 

with links for free patterns and tips for making a perfect baby sweater

My Ravelry project page for Little Jelly Bean

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. 

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