Category Archives: Littles

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Hoodies for Life

A dear friend of mine recently passed away at the age of 93.  She was a bright, smart, pragmatic woman.  She insisted on being called Mrs., becasue this was how it was done in Germany, her land of origin.  Once you became her friend, you were given the privilege of calling her by her first name.

She was also a patient of mine, who came to see me every 4 months at the office.  When she came, she would bring a knitting project she had completed or I would smuggle my latest project into the exam room to share with her.  She sent me a hoodie pattern that was a long standing favorite.  We would talk and laugh about current events, people in our lives, the latest struggle we were experiencing. I must admit,  I looked forward to seeing her as much as she looked forward to coming.  She would laugh during her visits and say “Imagine looking forward to coming to a doctor’s office!”  I would laugh and reply “What we do behind closed doors remains a secret.”

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Her heart started failing.  She called to tell me, “Lita, I just wanted to let you know… my health is heading West and I wanted to let you know how much I have treasured our time together.  If my health does not hold up until my next visit, I hope someone has the common sense and decency to let you know.” She came one last time to my office against my advice,  so tired that any little movement made her gasp for breath.  We again laughed and talked.  She said “you know… they told me the other day that my heart is getting worse.  I am so overjoyed.  What am I going to do at 93 anyway?  I am ready.”

I then went to see her one last time a week later after she had been transferred to a hospice facility.  She was asleep when I entered the room. I sat for 20 minutes in silence absorbing her presence.  Then her eyes opened and suprise and pleasure flooded her face.  We talked for awhile and she said, “You know… I always wanted to have you come and eat lunch with me and we could be friends.” My reply: “We are friends, we have always been friends.”

What else can you do to honor a knitting friend? Except knit a hoodie for a baby who has entered the world – to complete the circle of life.

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Pattern: Sweat Pea Cardigan from 60 Quick Baby Knits Yarn: full o’ sheep 100% peruvian wool ( Red Heart) weight #4 Needles: size 4
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vacation with a toddler

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Turns out that vacation with a toddler is not exactly like those in my previous, pre-baby life. I take far fewer pictures, for one thing.

And in the car, when you turn around to calm a toddler? Turns out it’s pretty easy to accidentally kneel on your needle and snap that sucker in half.

I won’t show you the poor, broken end, lest you also start weeping.

Thankfully, Ithaca is home to the lovely Homespun.  Friendly staff with just the right needle (as well as some lovely Malabrigo sock that I plan to pair with some stash to make another Stripe Study shawl). Mom and I investigated that one together. But we were very restrained, I promise. Only 3 skeins of yarn between the two of us!

Thanks to the helping hands of my folks, I did a decadent amount of knitting, though. (And thanks to Greg for driving the whole way both directions). So here, my friends, is a sneak peek at what I think will be a lovely addition to my wardrobe (particularly for transitional seasons): hitofude

photo-(3)I couldn’t resist – light, steely gray? It’s like my kryptonite. I think the 25% silk of the Cascade Heritage Silk will also make the sweater drape nicely. Shall I challenge myself to finish it before the end of the month? Or is setting a due date just masochism when you have a Little in the house?

 

 

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the calculus of a naptime

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Packing the stroller – 20 minutes
Walking to the park – 30 minutes
Playtime at the park – 30 minutes
Snacktime at the park – 20 minutes
Walking home – 30 minutes
Filling each little belly with blueberries and scrambled eggs when we arrive home – 30 minutes

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Time each child napped after our marathon morning? 2.5 hours, my friends! I cleaned the studio and managed to start cutting out a new tunic/dress/thing. And then I knit a little. I’m not sure what kind of calculus I would need to figure out the mental value of that creative time, but boy, that number is high.

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Deco Cardigan – designed by Kate Davies. Silky Wool from Elsbeth Lavold.

 

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uh-oh my daddo

Overnight, my baby has become a full-grown kid. His fat belly slimmed down to merely pouchy, his determination in all things is uncompromised (I think I’m putting that nicely). He plows ahead with reckless abandon (straight into the corner of the coffee table, unfortunately) and cackles with achievement when he tops the staircase.

And he has suddenly realized that his Daddo is a very cool guy.

The other day, I was too slow to retrieve Sylvan’s apple from the fridge, so he toppled over backwards in his most dramatic way and wailed uh-oh my Daddo! Apple! Daddo!

Today, he cried for ten straight minutes while Daddo was out planting cantelope in the garden. Tears pooled up under his eyes and coated his eyelashes. Uh-oh my Daddo! Uh-oh!

I made pizza for dinner, and he only tugged on my legs once, because he was busy chasing after Daddo.

I brought out my knitting, and he didn’t try to grab the needles out of my hand. (Maybe that means more knitting-related blog content coming your way soon! Maybe I’ll finally finish that first pattern sitting on my hard drive!)

We’re settling into a whole new phase of life. Mama still has the best cuddles after a hard headbonk, and I’m still the one who will hand out extra snacks and risk a sippy cup of milk in the carpeted living room. But Daddo is already the model, the person to be like, the one with the most fun things going on.

I can’t tell, over the internet, if these incidents sound sad. It is the end of an epoch. But really, I think it’s time to celebrate. Daddo supported me well through a year and a half of baby time, the hard work that is breastfeeding and shepherding a babe through lots of firsts – sitting, standing, walking, ear infection, allergic reaction, and most blessedly of all the first full night’s sleep for all of us. Now it’s my turn to support, to take back some of the mundane house tasks so that I can take pleasure listening to my guys bond over something in the other room (I can tell it’s going well by the crazy giggles).

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Madelinetosh Madness

Madelinetosh Madness – in my head, it’s the knitterly version of March Madness, except with yarn, and in May. This color, or that color? You practically need a tournament to decide.

You know where this is going, right? Pictures of beautiful yarn.

Tosh DK in Cousteau
Tosh Vintage in Cousteau

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Tosh Vintage in Tart, edging in Tosh DK Charcoal
Tosh Vintage in Tart, edging in Tosh DK Charcoal

Both yarns are becoming/have become Garter Stitch Cardigans. The Cousteau is destined for my Little Dude, and the Tart was finished just in time for a good friend’s super-new Little Dude.

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My Little Dude did the work of modeling the gift cardigan in color Tart.
Don't you love having the perfect buttons? I found these at a thrift store for $1.00, and they were so stinking perfect.
Don’t you love having the perfect buttons? I found these at a thrift store for $1.00, and they were so stinking perfect.

This is a super-serviceable sweater pattern. Mom made one when S was born, and he’s been wearing it for at least six months. It started as a long-sleeved sweater, and as Little Dude has grown, it’s become a great short-sleeve sweater when layered over a long-sleeved onesie.

A word of caution, though! This sweater’s sizing runs large. Particularly around the chest. The six month size started to fit really well at a year, and the 12-month size is still pretty darn big at 14 months. Mom and I both made it extra-long so that it could be worn for longer, and omitted some of the directed shaping (see my ravelry project for all the notes).

Your turn to dish! If you’re making something with Madelinetosh this month, post a link to your rav project page or blog. Make me jealous that my knitting time is so limited.

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Creativity with Littles 4

Part 4 of a bite-sized series on keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little (or more than one). Part 1part 2, and part 3

4. Pick projects that you can complete mostly on autopilot. S is just now starting to sleep through the night, at 13 months. I’m sleep-deprived, I’m knitting in tiny chunks, and frankly, I have milk brain. So, for a short season, I gave myself permission to be un-ambitious.

Or rather, I re-defined what ambition looks like for me. I’m holding down a job. I’m learning to parent. I’m making time for my spouse and I to spend together. And I’m defaulting to creative projects that don’t need a lot of thinking. Sweaters with lots of stockinette. Baby hats.

In my last post,  I talked about leaving my sewing project literally in the machine. That project is a blanket that requires sewing in straight lines, and almost nothing else. It’s a tiny adventure for me, because it’s increasing my knowledge of my sewing machine and its even-feed foot, but it is something I can easily drop in the middle of a stitch and not worry about losing my place. It’s perfect for these days, and at the end I have something super adorable that will actually be used by my family.

That’s it – those are my 4 tricks. Did you think it was going to be a long series? Nope! I have too many other good yarn things waiting in the wings!

Give yourself credit for the things you’re doing that are already demanding and difficult, my friends. And if you have tips & tricks you’d like to share, I would love to hear them.

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Creativity with Littles 3

Part 3 of a bite-sized series on keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little (or more than one). Part 1 and Part 2

3. Keep projects and/or tools set up around the house. For instance, is there a shelf next to the couch where you can stash a knitting project out of reach? When the kids are playing nicely together in the living room, whip that project out and knit a row. (Does not work for beaded lace shawls. Ask me how I know.)

Right now, I’m also playing around with my new sewing machine. I’ve got it set up in the studio and ready to go, literally with the project clamped in place under the needle. When I have 5 minutes, I can sit down and stitch a little.  On my machine, when you turn it on and off, certain things automatically reset – like the stitch length. So if I have to adjust those settings, I make sure there’s a neon bright post-it note on the machine as a way to remind myself to adjust before starting the next time.

I also leave my camera set up on its tripod, next to the photo corner in my studio. Whenever I have a few daylight moments, I can photograph a finished project or the new yarn I just bought. Finding time and brain to edit the photos is more difficult, but I can often do that once a month during my 2 hours of dedicated time.

This works really well for me because I’ve become incredibly selective about the kids of projects I choose to tackle – and that is part 4, coming your way soon!

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Creativity with Littles 2

Part 2 of a bite-sized series on keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little (or more than one). Part 1 is here. 

2. Pick a creative pursuit that scales to your life.

Hendreary (by Ysolda Teague) knit in Madelinetosh Graphite and Thoreau
Hendreary (by Ysolda Teague) knit in Madelinetosh Graphite and Thoreau

For me, that’s knitting. It’s portable, it’s relaxing, I can talk and do it at the same time. I knit while I pump at work, I knit in the evenings after S has gone to bed and while I talk to Husband, I knit in the car. I knit while playing Dungeons and Dragons with a group of friends (that’s right, geeks cross all segments of society). For a while, I even knit while S was napping in my lap.

Some of my other creative outlets, like printmaking and encaustic, exposed me to too many chemicals for me to be happy doing them while pregnant or nursing. That might also be a concern for you!

Maybe you give yourself permission to experiment with a lot of different things during the baby season of your life – anything that you can pack into a little bag or sprinkle around the house to pick up in 10-minute increments is a good candidate. Creative journaling, embroidery, watercolor paintings, working on your photography skills…. you’ll know the perfect thing when you find it (kind of like choosing the perfect yarn).

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Creativity with Littles

Let me clarify right away, these are not posts about helping your Littles be more creative. These are posts about keeping your creative life alive while you parent a Little. Posts, multiple, because I am long-winded, and if you have a Little, your attention span is limited.

(Can I give you a brief aside here? I feel like I am skirting the mommy-wars territory by divulging my work status at all. But I am a huge believer in the unity of parenthood. Caregivers do difficult and demanding work in a huge variety of circumstances, and we are all trying to do the best we can. For the love of those Littles, let’s pass some love around, one caregiver to another.)

I work full-time (and babysit another Little about 8 hours a week). Here’s the first thing we did as a family when we realized that Un-Creative Mom equals Cranky-to-the-Max Mom.

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Husband and I agreed that I would have 2 hours of completely dedicated, sacred, baby-free time each weekend. We’re lucky enough to have a room in the house dedicated as a studio, so I just close the door and pretend that I’m not there. This is the time in the week I try to complete brainy tasks – like learning to grade knitting patterns, or things that need daylight, like trying to photograph projects and yarn.

Two hours isn’t a lot, but it’s enough for me to zero in on a task and move a project perceptibly forward. When S was a Super Little, it was also about the amount of time in between nursings, so it fit our rhythm well.