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Emergency Mittens

The son of a knitter should never be without mittens! It is finally snowing at our house this morning, we missed out on the “special weather event” that has been affecting the rest of the Pacific Northwest earlier this week. It was cold, but no snow until today. Leo actually wanted to wear mittens the other day, and I could not find them! So I took a brief break from Christmas knitting to produce this little pair.

leo's little mittens

(Knitting Pure and Simple #253 Basic Hat and Mitten Set for Children, in Socks that Rock mediumweight “Fire in the Mountain” colorway on size 2.5mm for ribbing and 2.75mm needles)

I modified this pattern heavily to use a fingering weight wool, I cast on for the largest size and used the length measurements for the smallest size. They fit Leo perfectly with a little room to grow.

The dogs love the snow.

dogs in snow

The ducks and geese usually get locked up behind an electric net fence every night, but with the cold they have not wanted to leave the relatively warm water. (Don’t tell the neighborhood predators.) I love that the geese have snow on their backs.

snowy geese

Nora has a cold and has been sleeping all day, not very photogenic. Leo and I made cookies earlier this week. You can see that he had already measured the flour.

leo measures brown sugar

We have chocolate chip cookies and mittens, now we are ready for winter.

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Brrrrr!

Although in college I would have considered this warm weather, here in Oregon we are unused to days in which water does not drip from the sky or eaves or leaves, let alone several of them in a row. All schools are closed, all the valley has snow, but our house at 500 feet elevation has no snow. Bummer. I have been bringing warm water to the birdbath and watching the little birds this morning. The ducks and geese are happily swimming snug and warm in their down outfits.

Christmas knitting is going well. I need to remember to take pictures, I have already sent a package to relatives in Canada and forgot to take pictures. In the meantime, more pictures of Christmas preparations. Leo decorated all the cards this year, and took his job quite seriously.

leo helping with cards

Watching the Christmas tree get baled- it was snowing so hard the tree was chosen in record time. I was not out in the tree fields, which is what made such decisive speed possible.

leo in snow

Nora is very happy to have a Grandma who knits warm things for her! This is a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern, not sure which one.

nora's purple pants

Christmas is just going to be so much fun this year.

Not a secret

There is only one thing that I am working on that is not a secret. I am doing quite a bit of knitting for Christmas this year, even before maternity leave and saving money I like to make gifts in the spirit of the season.

This is going to be a very comfortable, ankle-hugging sock for someone who has pretty much already guessed what his handknitted gift will be.

manly sock

I really like working with the Knit Picks Essential sock yarn. It is soft for a nylon blend, I hope it wears well. This is a kettle-dyed colorway, Timber. The pattern is a free Ravelry download, “Manly Socks” by HannaSix. It is a slipped rib pattern and is quite stretchy.

Other than this, all knitting is secret, so I will distract you with a few cute family pictures.

Nora watching the Civil War (OSU vs. U of O for all you non-Oregonians) Game. She likes to sit up.

nora on couch

Leo and Raggedy Andy play with the rescue center.

leo and rescue center

Look Tanker Truck, Christmas Lights!

look at the lights tanker truck

It is a beautiful day today, Nora and I are off to have some shopping adventures!

Wish come true

electoral map

Neither of us were Nostradamus, but we were close enough. I didn’t really believe it until his acceptance speech (I cried), and it was still real the next morning when I went out to get the paper. I’ve never before listened to a politician speak without feeling cynicism or annoyance or depression. I feel more hopeful since Tuesday.

Last week I dyed some yarn. Last year I ordered some Knit Picks Bare worsted weight yarn with grand plans that I have since forgotten. I dyed 3 skeins to make a Christmas gift and planned to make boring black but ended up having much more fun.

I used two colors, steel gray and black (Landscape dyes in Granite and Black, purchased here). I didn’t have enough black to dye 12 oz. of wool, so I decided to start with the gray and used all I had left. I submerged all the wool in the kettle after adding the gray, then added 1/2 the black that I had dissolved in a jar of hot water and hung the yarn over the pot like this:

dye yarn #1

You can see the jar with the second half of the black dye waiting. I kept the yarn here until the water was almost to a boil, then turned down the heat and raised the yarn up like this:

dyeing yarn #2

I gently moved the yarn up and down at each transition to blend the colors. With the yarn here, I added the second half of the black dye and approximately 1 cup of white vinegar to help draw all the black dye into the fibers. I simmered for about 20 minutes, then turned off the heat and let cool for several hours.

After rinsing and drying:

yarn drying

After reskeining:

black/gray yarn

The gray stands out so much considering it was only about 15% of the overall color.

And finally, knitting on the mystery item has begun:

black/gray yarn knitted

Leo got new boots.

leo new boots

And Nora is happy in handknits.

nora in bjorn

Sunny to Raining

All in one day. Yesterday was bright and full of sunshine, the rain came in late last night and it has been pretty rainy today. The forecast calls for rain all week, November is here. Nora and I are home today, sleeping and knitting respectively. Damp chickens are wandering by occasionally, peeking in at me through the french doors in the dining room.

Yesterday afternoon and evening I dyed some yarn, no pictures yet since it is not dry. This yarn will be used for Christmas knitting. I am going to take advantage of maternity leave to try to make many of my gifts this year. Nora is a good enough eater now that my hands are free for knitting.

I finished a February baby sweater for Nora last week, the yarn is so light and lofty. I used one skein (with enough left over for a pair of little socks) of Fleece Artist Nova Socks.

Baby Sweater on Two Needles (aka February baby sweater), from Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman. Yarn is Fleece Artist Nova Socks, Wildflower colorway. One skein, US size 4 needle.

You will notice that there is no button at the top, I did not read ahead in the pattern. I will read ahead in all Elizabeth Zimmerman patterns from now on. I made the sleeve length and overall length approximately one inch longer than called for in the pattern so it would fit for longer.

Here is the official photo of Leo’s Wonderful Wallaby sweater, photographed on a non-moving target.

Wonderful Wallaby by Cottage Creations (W03) in Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester DK (unknown colorway), US size 7 needle (6 for ribbing)

Last weekend my sister and her family visited and met baby Nora. She slept through most of the visit, but the boys had fun in the warm sunshine.

Leo enjoys the freshest apple juice.

Barkdust is moved around.

Leaves are moved around.

Finally, a photo that warms my heart. I was looking at yarn for sale on the computer when Leo came in and saw what I was doing. He scurried away into the living room, telling me he was going to “get my knitting.”

Two is not such a bad age.

Chicken in a Pot

I made a chicken for dinner tonight. I rarely cook, but cold weather makes me want to roast things. Usually my cooking involves a crock pot, cream of something soup, some cheese, and a one-star rating from my lactose intolerant husband. This afternoon I put a chicken, 3 carrots, 4 white potatoes, an onion and some salt and pepper in a pot and put it in the oven for 1  1/2 hours. Delicious.

I voted today. We have vote by mail in Oregon, I filled out my ballot while drinking my coffee in Nora’s room this morning. I am so hopeful that Obama will win. I am so sick of Republicans ruining everything. It means more to me now that I have kids.

A big huge thank you to my dad for helping with my greenhouse. It is ready for interior decorating and organization. I will be using it not only to start plants and grow winter lettuce, but also as a refuge from the rain this winter. I will set up a potting bench for Leo and move his sandbox up there.

Thank you dad!!

Knitting for Nora

I did an unusual amount of knitting over the summer, usually I am not interested in kniting and would rather be outside. Pregnancy limited the amount of time I could spend in the heat, knitting allowed me to “accomplish something” even though I couldn’t be out weeding the garden. I grew a lovely crop of weeds while I knit baby things.

We decided not to find out the gender of Nora, so I tried to use fairly gender neutral colors and styles. The one exception were these ruffle cuff longies. All were made using the Picky Pants pattern, size small.

Yarn Pirate BFL dk weight yarn, colorway Sedona. Size 7 needle (size 6 for ribbing at waist).

These have an I-cord cuff, very tidy looking and gives a more straight-leg look.

Yarn Pirate BFL dk weight, colorway Veda 2, size 7 needles (size 6 for ribbing).

Both of these pairs fit her now at 8 pounds, they will probably fit until she is 3 months old or 11-12 pounds.

These are slightly larger, they are made from a worsted weight yarn on larger needles, and have a seed stitch cuff. They will fit once she grows another inch or two longer. This is some of the softest yarn I have ever knit with, and is the softest wool. None of the wool I use next to the skin is scratchy at all. I use these as covers for cloth diapers. My experience with cloth diapers will need a post all its own.

Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted, size 8 needle (size 7 for ribbing at waistband).

This was the first sweater that I knit that involved seaming. The pattern is the Baby Yoda Sweater, a free Ravelry download. I would guess it fits 8-14 pounds.

Baby Yoda, Crystal Palace Yarns Merino 5 solid, color 5215. Needle size 6.

And finally for this post, a masterpiece of a pattern. If you are a knitter you must make this sweater, it is a brilliant pattern and I spent a good deal of time while knitting this wishing I could have lived in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s head for a bit. Here is my first (definitely not the last) Baby Surprise Jacket, from Knitting Workshop (also in An Opinionated Knitter). This will fit from 8-11ish pounds. The relatively short sleeves that this pattern produces are perfect for a baby.

Koigu Painter’s Palate Premium Merino, 2 skeins (lost tags so colorways unknown). Size 4 needle.

It is a beautiful day, I am going to spend the rest of quiet time outside cleaning up the garden and raking leaves. The ducks and geese are moving to the garden for the winter for weed and slug control.