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The babies are coming….the babies are coming….

It seems like so many acquaintances are looking forward to the birth of a baby in the near future. Mackenzie just knit up 3 baby sweaters and I knit 2 recently. I absolutely couldn’t wait to knit the first one because it was designed by Mackenzie. I mean, how many times do you get to knit a pattern your own daughter designed? A real, published, actual pattern?

image1I knit it out of Malabrigo Sock Yarn in the Aguas Colorway. I found some awesome unicorn tails by Madelintosh for the contrasting colors. The unicorn tails are crazy amazing because they are small skeins of yarn so you don’t pay an arm and a leg for a large skein, using only a fraction of it for the contrasting colors.

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While I was knitting the pattern I kept telling my husband “Mackenzie is so smart.” Creating a pattern is no easy task: coming up with the design, figuring out the pattern repeat while keeping in mind the gauge of your yarn and having it come out the right size is just the first thing to think about. How big does the neck need to be to go over a head? How do you compensate for colorwork size versus your normal gauge on the body? How do you write it all down so someone else can follow and understand the pattern?  I got the right gauge and ended up with the correct measurements. I am pleased as punch with the end result! At the baby shower the sweater was passed from person to person for closer inspection accompanied by many oohs and aahs. It is a lovely top down raglan  pattern that would be great for beginning color work knitters. I think the best part about this sweater is that it lends itself to either gender and changes appearances greatly depending on the colors chosen.

My second sweater was a bit complicated. It’s called Dragon-skin Wrap by Angela Hahn. I tried to knit this one other time and felt is was too complicated, so put it away. Then 2 weeks ago my sister-in-law contacted me and asked if I would knit a sweater for a girl baby shower. I had some coral colored cotton blend yarn in my stash that I had orignally bought for socks. I saw it and remembered this pattern and decided to give it another try. This time my mind grasped the design and I got it done – along with a hat. The flowers were the funnest part of the whole project.

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So, two babies done and several more to go. The world is exploding with children and joy. I am thankful every day for my children and the people they have turned into. Blessings to all those little ones coming into the world.

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To Hogwarts and Beyond

I cannot believe that it has taken me so many weeks to show you another cute project I made for the baby shower!

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Why yes, they are onesies printed to look like Gryffindor robes.

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I got a panel of fabric from Spoonflower, and it was basically a cut & sew kind of thing.

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The onesies are adorable now that they’re done, and my extended family is a huge bunch of Harry Potter fans. So we all got a book-worm-y thrill out of them. But can I talk about my frustrations a little bit, too? This is my first time ordering from Spoonflower, and I learned a lot of important lessons.

That’s crafter’s code for: I should have planned more carefully and done more research and not tried to do anything at the last minute.

None of the pieces on this particular yardage were labeled (it looks like if you order newborn size, they are). So it took extra effort to figure out how things went together, and in particular, how to do an envelope neck (I still ended up doing it backwards, but aesthetically it was better that way, and it will function).

When you do a garment from an unlabeled panel, there’s no handy list of required notions to reference! I forgot about snaps until the 11th hour. But, thank goodness, my mother-in-love had a snap pliers and spare snaps on hand. So the very morning of the baby shower, we put the finishing touches on.

I’m also not sure about this fabric, the organic cotton knit. I am anxious to hear how it wears. It doesn’t seem to have the stretch recovery I would want in a baby garment, although I think it will be fine (it’s just not perfect the way you always want gifts to be). I’m left wondering, would the cotton/spandex blend have been better?  So… online buyer beware? I would now heartily recommend ordering a sample book first – it’s only $1, and it’s a whole heck of a lot easier than knitting and washing a swatch (which you should always do! I shout, as I’m in 3″ into an extremely complicated sock without doing a single stitch of swatch).

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hi, perfectionism. thanks for coming, but i’ve got knitting to do. can we talk later?

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I had the opportunity to teach last week (in a creative journaling series), and although I didn’t feel excited to teach, the students and the creative process gave me a huge gift (I don’t know why I’m still surprised by that; teaching is always a gift): a reminder that perfectionism is the enemy of good work, of learning, risk-taking, exploration, and quite frankly the enemy of happiness & fun.

I taught papercutting! This is my fancy M.
I taught papercutting! This is my fancy M.

It’s good to have high standards and good taste, but putting your inner critic into place – not powerful enough to derail you, but not so weak that you produce crappy work – is such a huge challenge. It’s a challenge that I’m starting to understand might be a thing for the rest of my life, something I might never outgrow.

And it’s funny, as a parent, to see how early the struggle can start. For example: my son knows how a particular puzzle is supposed to go together. But getting all the pieces in is difficult. Some days he’ll work at it patiently until he figures it out. Some days, he’ll turn a piece around just twice before crying and running away.

Knitting is (one of) my puzzle(s) right now, and I’m trying hard not to lose my temper with it. My current recipe for success? Er, recipe for not crying and running away? Start again on something easy, and focus for a while on how satisfying it is to have inch after inch of knitting drop away from my needles.