On babies and the search for the perfect sock yarn baby sweater

I might have mentioned that there seem to be many babies in the works these days. First up is my coworker Maranda’s baby, due near the end of December, who will be receiving a lovely cat-haired covered tan and blue pullover and matching hat, which should fit her baby next fall.

Next up is the baby of my boss’s boss. I’m working on my version of the Knitpicks Last-Minute Stripes Pullover in Crayon.

Although I started this first because it seemed more fun, this project is on hold while I finish the sweater for Maranda’s baby. This baby isn’t due until February, while Maranda’s baby could show up at any time.

There are two babies more due in the February – March timeframe that I’ll probably just make hats for. I’m awfully tempted by this hat from Knitty Gritty, which would be the height of Minnesota winter baby chic. If I get crunched for time, they’ll probably get fruit hats.

Back to the Knitpicks stripey sweater. I’m a on a quest to find the perfect sock yarn baby sweater pattern. Sock yarn baby sweaters are very cute, and you can pretty much guarantee they will be unique gifts.

My quest started with the Mexicali Baby Ole from Knitters (Summer 2003, Issue #71). It was a maddening experience to knit. There were errors in the pattern, and if I had knitted the collar as written, it would’ve dwarfed the baby. Fortunately, google led me to bloggers who had kindly described how to properly knit the freakish shawl collar. It turned out mostly ok, but I ended up with a slightly lopsided v-neck and bulge in the front. Fortunately, the Meilenweit Fun & Stripes yarn I used mostly hid the bulge.

And of course, with Elaina in the sweater, it’s pretty darn cute. But not quite cute enough for me to forgive the pattern.

So I tried this cardigan. The pattern makes a lot of assumptions, and if you’re a newer knitter than I am, you might get a little frustrated. If I remember correctly, the hat pattern makes a freakishly large hat (I improvised), and the booties pictured with the cardigan are not included in the pattern. But it sure did look cute on Alex.

Alas, the Knitpick stripey baby sweater pattern isn’t perfect, either. I’m thinking it might be a little short, although I will withhold judgment until after I get the collar in. Jeanne pointed out that there was really no reason to bother with set-in sleeves for a baby (that Jeanne, always thinking), so I skipped the armhole shaping and am just picking up stitches for the sleeves. I may have miscalculated where to distribute those leftover armhole stitches on the body of the sweater, but I won’t know for sure until I have more of it done.

I’ll probably try Lucy Neatby’s sock-yarn baby sweater next. While I’m tempted by its knit-in-the-round option (no seams! fewer ends!), I suspect that knitting in the round might make the stripes too narrow for best effect. I also know that “Devan” (Knitty Spring 2004) is made from sock yarn, but for some reason that pattern just hasn’t grabbed me – possibly because it seems to take more yarn than the other patterns do. But if the Lucy Neatby pattern doesn’t work out for me, Devan here I come!

The Cat Chaotic was not much interested in babies or baby sweaters, instead choosing to stare zen-like out the fogged over window while I took a picture of the Knitpicks stripey sweater.

Added 12/13/05: Eileen just posted to the TCSnB (Twin Cities SnB) list about success with yet another sock yarn baby sweater pattern (#04042 on this page). Hers looks very cute!

“Tagged” and special bonus cat picture

Thanks to Pink Rocket for explaining “tagging” to me. I (along with the rest of the blogging world) got “tagged” by Crazy Aunt Purl yesterday. If you make it through this crazy long list, check out the special bonus picture at the end.

10 random things about me you may not know
1. I was in the National Guard for 6 years
2. I was married for 2 years (separated for that 2nd year) about 15 years ago
3. I ran away from home when I was 16 and lived in Florida for about 7 months
4. I worked for the Forest Service in the Black Hills during the summer of 1991, marking timber and fighting forest fires
5. I lived in Itasca State Park for the summer of 1993, working for the MN DNR
6. I gained nearly 50 pounds during grad school, then lost it all a few years later when I got really sick
7. I can read and knit at the same time
8. I get hooked on Diablo2 (expansion pack) every winter. My amazon pretty much kicks butt at this point. 🙂
9. I have a tattoo on my left shoulder. Before November, it was the kanji for “good luck.” Now it’s the kanji for “happiness.”
10. I am allergic to cats.

9 places I’ve visited
1. Vancouver, British Columbia
2. Tucson, Arizona
3. Sante Fe and Taos, New Mexico
4. Boulder and Ft. Collins, Colorado
5. Columbia, South Carolina (basic training)
6. San Antonio, Texas (advanced training)
7. New York City
8. Maine
9. Boston, Massachusetts

8 ways to win my heart
1. Cook me a gluten-free meal
2. Remember my birthday
3. Not have any clue when the Twins/Vikings/Timberwolves/other sports teams are playing
4. Dance crazily around to songs that make you happy, even if someone else is in the room
5. Give spontaneous hugs
6. Do little things that let me know I’m in your thoughts
7. Go walking with me
8. Enjoy receiving and wearing handknitted items

7 things I must do before I die
1. Take a bicycling tour of Spain
2. Redo my kitchen
3. Learn Spanish (preferably before the first item on this list)
4. Complete my WIPs, or admit that they’ll never be finished and rip them out
5. Bike across the United States – probably in stages!
6. Meet someone I want to go out on more than one or two dates with
7. Break my addiction to Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn and start cooking again

6 things I’m afraid of
1. Doing home improvements
2. Letting my health issues getting the best of me and becoming a scary sick person
3. Shrinking all of my handknit “superwash” socks and having to give them to Jeanne. Jeanne isn’t going to see the problem here! 😉
4. Not having enough money for retirement
5. Gaining that grad school weight back
6. Chaos figuring out how to open cupboard doors (since I already have the closets bungeed shut because he can open them)

5 things I don’t like
1. Bananas
2. Squeaky acrylic yarn
3. Hot air blowing on my face in the car
4. Dogs (altho there have been definite exceptions)
5. Mustaches (goatees are fine for some reason)

4 ways to turn me off
1. Wear patchoulli
2. Be pretentious and condescending
3. Be passive aggressive
4. Lie

3 things I do every day
1. Read
2. It used to be exercise, and needs to be again! Such a slug lately…
3. Listen to 89.3 The Current

2 things that make me happy
1. Riding my bicycle on a trail when the world is sunny and bright
2. Knitting and reading in my comfy chair with Chaos asleep on my lap

1 thing that is on my mind right now
1. I’m going to be an aunt in the spring!


Ok, if you made it through all of that, I present you with this picture of Chaos’s mom (Riley, the black cat) and his brother, Diablo (so named for the much-faded black “horns” on his forehead). Can you figure out what the heck they’re up to? And nope, my brother wasn’t trying to make pressed cats (which I suppose would be almost as fun as pressed fairies).

A picture is worth…

After yesterday’s babble-on, I thought I would take a few pictures of what I’m working on these days. As usual, when Chaos is involved, things didn’t go quite as planned. Please forgive the blurriness of some of the pictures – things were happening pretty quickly!
The sweater that I’m knitting for a friend’s baby. It’s the basic pullover (one-year size) from Top Down for Toddlers, knitted out of tan and royal blue Cotton Fleece. I’m a big fan of no-sew knitting.

“Cool, a sweater on the table!”


“Where did the sweater go?!”


“There it is…”


“And now it’s mine.”

Wow, you mean I can actually make changes??

Three years ago, I bought a small condo in the Uptown area of Minneapolis. For the 18 years prior to that, I had been a renter. It’s taking me a while to adjust to actually owning my living space, and to be able to make changes and improvements to it – changes and improvements that won’t result in a lost damage deposit.

At the end of the first year of condo ownership, I had some guys come in and replace the bathroom fan (since it sounded like an electric mixer with bent blades and a shorting motor) and intall a ceiling fan in the bedroom. I did have to purchase the bathroom fan (very home-ownerly), but my dad gave me the ceiling fan (although it was new, he’d replaced it because it didn’t have a remote…). I also had the guys replace the regular outlets in the kitchen with GFCI outlets. Seems like a promising start, doesn’t it?

But… after that, nothing. I had plenty of things that I needed to do, such as replace the cracked and cigarette-burned vanity in the bathroom, paint the bathroom, install a dishwasher, replace the sink and countertops in the kitchen, replace the tiles in kitchen/hallway/dining room (cracking because the tile wasn’t installed on the right kind of substrate), etc. About six months ago I did buy and install spiffy new knobs for the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, but then they clashed with the hinges. 🙁

This fall I finally started to make some progress on this home modification stuff. It started while I was on vacation. I took two weeks off from work and spent the first nine days in the Black Hills, hiking, biking, and relaxing. After I got home, I spent the rest of my vacation cleaning and organizing – the sort of cleaning and organizing that had never been necessary before, because I’d been moving every other year since I was 16! It was a world-rocking realization that I needed to pull everything out of my closets and re-organize it. Pull books off the shelves and dust behind them (ewww, let me just assure you that three years of accumulated dust and black cat hair is not pretty – don’t try it at home). Get the edger out and vacuum the edges of the carpets. And, since it is a small condo (637 square feet), sort through accumulated belongings and take lots of things to Value Village if I didn’t want to be buried in things.

All that cleaning and donating felt pretty good, so off I went to IKEA to get a new Aneboda nightstand and a Magiker shelf unit.The old nightstand had been scavenged (1992) from the basement of dilapidated house I lived in while going to the U of MN. The Magiker became my new clothes storage system, replacing about 10 black milk crates. The milk crates were great while I was a nomadic student, providing flexibily shaped clothing storage for whatever sort of living space I found, but, gosh, since I’m a settled-down homeowner now, it seemed time for a change.

Not surprisingly, my bedroom looked a heckuva lot better after the new nightstand and shelving unit were in place, so… I called Dan the Handyman to have him come in and replace my ancient and vile sink and vanity. Off I went to Home Depot and purchased a lovely white sink and white three-drawered vanity. Unfortunately, during vanity installation, Dan the Handyman discovered that there was no way in the world the three-drawered vanity was going to work with the plumbing in my bathroom. Curses. So off he and I went to return the vanity to Home Depot. I looked around for something else I liked, but couldn’t find a thing that they had in stock. We went over to Menard’s and bingo! I purchased a drawerless maple vanity. Looking at it now, I’m glad the white vanity didn’t work – my bathroom definitely needed a little bit of color among the white sink, toilet, tub, and tile.

After the sink and vanity were in, I became much more aware of the boring pale blue paint that the previous owner had slapped on the walls before selling – slapped on without sanding or repairing the walls. Hmm – I wonder if he once had an etagere glued to the wall over the toilet, before he decided to rip it out, taking part of the wall… I picked up a lot of paint chips and masking taped them on the wall of the bathroom, trying to figure out what color I wanted. I started out with medium to dark blues and purples, but quickly abandoned the blues. I spent a lot of time looking at the paint samples, but wasn’t getting any further than wanting the paint to work with my Cheng-Khee Chee print Iris 90 (this isn’t a very good representation of the rich colors of the print, alas).

Jeanne suggested finding a shower curtain that I liked first. Excellent idea! At about the same time, Ana was divesting herself of her worldly goods prior to moving to Pittsburgh, and she gave me the can of dusty purple Devine paint she had used to paint her bathroom. Based on the paint spilled on the outside of the can, this looks like the perfect color – a custom tint called “Thunder.” I need to go buy a new can of it, since I don’t want to run out of paint.

But before going out and buying the paint, I’ve been meaning to slap some of the stuff from Ana on the wall to see if I really like it. I finally did that this weekend…or tried to. No mini-roller on hand, I dug up a 1″ foam brush. Well… it gave me an interesting effect of extreme streakiness. I tried another coat today. Darker extreme streakiness. I think I’ll have to pick up a paint pad or mini-roller to get an accurate effect. I also realized that I am going to have to seriously sand the walls and ceiling (in addition to patching) before I paint – the glossy pale blue paint was slopped on very thickly, and ain’t nothin’ much going to adhere to its blotchy, shiny surface. Even then, this will be a multi-coat job.

Ok, that was pretty boring. 🙂 Especially since my pictures of the wall were too bad to include.

Alarming thoughts

My brother stopped by earlier for final sizing of the replacement cutting board he’s making for me and he thinks that Chaos has grown taller during the past month. How is this possible?!? The cat is two years and two months old – shouldn’t he be long done with the growing thing?!? Is it just that he’s slimmer now, so he looks taller? Or is that simply wishful thinking?

Personally, I think that this cat is plenty big – he’s 15 lbs, and the vet says that’s a good weight for him. He’s tall enough to fish things off of the countertop when I cook. When he’s sprawled on my lap (winter only), he stretches from groin to mid-shin (not including his kinked and slightly short tail). Who needs an afghan when you’ve got a catghan?

Speaking of winter, here’s the view that greeted me from my living room window this morning:

I missed getting a picture of Chaos looking out the window at the snow. So I wrote a haiku instead.

Silhouette in black
Pointy ears twitching, watching
Dreams stalking snowflakes

Turkey and Falling Leaves

Thanksgiving was interesting this year. My dad and stepmom are in the UK (staying in the castle used for the Harry Potter castle exteriors – how cool is that?) this semester, so there was plenty of advance warning that it wouldn’t be the regular Thanksgiving at their house. Now that my brother Matt is married and part of an extremely large family of friendly, happy, and slightly tipsy inlaws, I simply invited myself along.

There was precedence for this, as two years ago my stepmom went to Jamaica for Thanksgiving with one of her daughters and my dad stayed behind, convinced that he would be unable to get any suitable food (bland, as in no vegetables, spices, or parsley). So he and I joined this extravaganza then. (I should take this moment to point out that you would’ve been fine, Dad – true, they were in Jamaica, but they were staying in some hotel that was part of an American chain – there would’ve been plenty of Dad-appropriate food. Probably more than during your recent visit to Morocco… but I digress.)

Today there were probably 40 people wandering around the inlaws’ house. When you consider that my nonwork time is primarily spent hanging out with Chaos, such a crowd was pretty mindboggling for me. But I persevered (with only minimal nervous eye rolling), and there turned out to be another knitter in the crowd – yay! So we talked knitting a bit. And I realized that I’ve now been knitting for slightly over five years.

Anyway, after much food was consumed (there were 38 pounds of turkey to start with, but not a heckuva lot left but bones in the end – and I can assure you that I didn’t eat anywhere close to a pound of turkey), a group of us settled in the living room. Many fell asleep, but I pulled out my sock project (which is always in my backpack of a purse, waiting for such interludes) and got the heel turned while listening to the occasionally cacophonic chatter. It was a pleasant afternoon, although I was cursing myself for not bringing along the baby sweater for my coworker whose baby is due very, very soon.

As you might be able to tell, I was having a bit of trouble trying to photograph my sock, and gave up trying to get a good picture in the interest of saving my Addis. I’m using the lace pattern from Falling Leaves (Fall 05 issue of Knitty) in a pleasantly autumnal shade of Koigu (which might be color P615 according to my KnitAble record, but it sure doesn’t look like the pictures of P615 I found through Google).

Attempting to relax

Sitting down to recuperate a bit from making cornbread stuffing to take to my brother’s in-laws tomorrow. It made me realize how very little cooking I’ve done in recent memory. Or in not-so-recent memory for that matter. I blame it on microwave popcorn; specifically, Orville Redenbacher’s SmartPop! Kettle Korn. The stuff should have a warning label: “This product is extremely addictive. Once you’ve had it, you will abandon normal dinner food and spend your evenings eating SmartPop! Kettle Korn and swilling chardonnay. Hee hee.” If I’d been forewarned, would I still have purchased that first box?

Recuperating turns out to not be particularly relaxing, as I did the old yardstick under appliances and bookshelves sweep earlier to retrieve cat toys. This means that Chaos is in “fetch mode.” “Fetch mode” requires two conditions. The first is the availability of one of several favorite fetch toys – tonight it’s been “sparkly purple mouse” and a plastic doohickey that once sealed a carton of Silk soymilk.

(Let me assure you that, blurry and spit-ridden as sparkly purple mouse is, he is much more photogenic than the plastic doohickey.)

The second condition is for me to be sitting down at my desk or, um, well, in my bathroom. Enough said about that.

Anyway, Chaos is so devoted to playing fetch these days that my shoulder has a perpetual faint achiness. It’s gotten to the point that I’m pretty happy when a treasured fetch toy is misplaced under a piece of furniture. I’ve known where sparkly purple mouse was lost since last Wednesday afternoon, and only retrieved him this eveninig. I’m pleased to report that he’s lost again. But don’t you think that Jeanne’s knitted Noro rug (thanks again, Jeanne!) shows off both Chaos and sparkly purple mouse to their best advantage?

An experiment

Ever since I started to read Laurie’s blog Crazy Aunt Purl, I’ve had this blogesque running mental commentary thing going on throughout my daily existence. So perhaps it’s time to give this blog thing a shot… but since I’ve been trying to catch up on all the backstory at Crazy Aunt Purl, I’m afraid that my posts are going to sound like Laurie. Um, imitation’s the most sincere form of flattery and not just a rip-off???

If you’re here because you know me (and really, why else would you be here? Wherever “here” is, of course.), the blog name will be self-explanatory.

Whew. I think that’s enough blogging excitement for my first attempt.