In Review: Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf

When Alana Dakos came out with her children’s book Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf a little over a year ago, I passed on purchasing it. My daughter was barely 5 and in all honesty, she wasn’t that interested in knitting. While I would love for my kids to take up knitting, I pretty strongly believe in not pushing it — when they ask I will absolutely work with them, but it’s important to me that they find their own way to it in their own time.

It was this past spring and summer that both kids asked to learn. We walked to our LYS and each kid picked out their own kitchen cotton — red for my son & pink for my daughter. Naturally they both have very strong attachments to their favorite colors. For my son, I got him a regular ‘ol pair of size 8 straight bamboo needles just as I would recommend for any beginner. For my girl, who has small hands still, I picked up some 4 or 5″ Brittany double-point needles and when we got home we put rubber band stoppers on one end of them to make them into teeny, tiny straight needles. And away we went.

To this day, I remain true to my word and when they ask to work on their knitting, we pull it out and practice a few rows. When they get tired & lose interest, we stop. My son has the patience, focus, and dexterity now to handle it and is doing pretty well. My girl, well, she is a little more frustrated with the lack of instant results and the clumsiness of her little hands. She’s in this phase, though, of really being a mama’s girl. It is the sweetest really and I can’t tell you how much I am savoring it. She follows me around wanting to be involved in everything I do and every night we have at least a few minutes of Mama-Delia snuggle time. That’s why when I saw online that for the Black Friday weekend Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting was offering a 50% discount on certain titles that included Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf, I jumped at it. In fact, I splurged and ordered the Deluxe Gift Set that included the book, paper dolls, a puzzle, and stickers in a cute box.

It arrived a few days ago and it is absolutely perfect.

20131210-122730.jpgIt. Is. Adorable.  And the story, of a little girl who wants to be like her mom & learn to knit, gets frustrated when it doesn’t come easily, and in the end learns the patience and skills needed to finally succeed… it totally made me tear up. It is just so sweet and reminds me so much of my daughter. I cannot wait to share this gem with her.

20131210-122754.jpgI love that the book comes with a note from Annie. It is such a sweet touch. My daughter is a really gifted & voracious reader (she’s in Kindergarten and reads almost as well as her 3rd grade brother who is one of his classes’ best readers) and she will love reading this note from Annie herself.

20131210-122813.jpgLook at all these fun goodies! While I know it won’t be as exciting at gift opening as — say — the stuffed animal Black Footed Ferret mama & baby that she’s getting, I can see this gift being one she enjoys for a long time to come. The cherry on the sundae is that I handknit the very same sweater that Annie wears — Dakos’ Playful Stripes Cardigan — for my girl a while back as a shop sample for Firefly Fibers. Thankfully I made it a few sizes too big, so it still fits her today!

Speaking of matching… when the confirmation letter came for my purchase, I was directed to the patterns to make your very own Swiss Cheese Scarf. I downloaded that pattern right away, too.

An idea was brewing…

She already had the sweater, so….

Originally knit with Quince & Co Osprey, I hopped on over to the Quince & Co website and ordered 3 skeins of Osprey in Rose Rugosa — plenty for a scarf, hat, and mittens. The perfect little trio to go with the book (and also an excellent excuse to try one more of Quince & Co’s lovely yarns for the first time).

20131210-122906.jpgThe scarf uses short rows & double yarn-overs to create this ‘beginner’s’ look to it. The yarn is exquisitely squishy and the color is a deep, bright pink that my girl will undoubtedly adore.

It just so happened that Hannah Fettig of Knitbot also just released her Knitbot Simple Hat pattern to go with a KAL she is hosting. Written for 3 weights of yarns & in 5 sizes, it was the perfect quick hat to whip up. The timing could not have been any better if I had planned it myself!

20131210-122925.jpgThe only problem with it is that now I want one for myself. It is going to be nice & warm for my girl & — again — I can’t get over how perfect the color is.

And finally, I am once again relying on Ann Budd’s Basic Mitten Pattern from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns to whip up some quick custom mittens. I just love that I can knit up simple mittens quickly and at the density of my choosing.

20131210-123150.jpgWhen I am in a time crunch (or just being lazy), I always knit these custom mittens 2-at-a-time so that — and this is kind of terrible — I don’t have to make any notes on how I knit them. They match, but I can just forge ahead and get them done. I am about halfway through the thumb increases and hope to wrap up these puppies tonight.  I will say that having witnessed my daughter’s love of rubbing new wool mittens all over everything — the rougher the surface the more appealing — I am making these mittens on the large size to make up for whatever felting and shrinking is bound to occur. I don’t think it should be a problem, but I am hedging on the big side just in case.

While I’m sure this plan is totally overboard, I’m at peace with that. Sometimes I just have to indulge myself… and my little girl. She probably won’t want to be just like me forever and while that’s ok, it’s also ok to celebrate the fact that at this moment she does. I’m sure that my girl will love this little gift set and I can’t wait to catch her in her matching sweater & scarf (maybe hat & mittens, too!) reading away. Most importantly, I think it’s important to recognize that Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf is more than just a book a knitter’s daughter receives this Christmas. It is a story that captures a moment in time that is dear to all mothers & daughters.  The moment when daughter wants nothing more than to be just like her mama. I’m so happy to have indulged, embellished, and made a bigger deal than is probably necessary of this beautiful gift set. This moment, it’s worth it.

12 responses to “In Review: Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf

  1. Hmmm…..,I may just purchase this deluxe set for my granddaughter!! Love this post. Very well done – both the writing and the knitting!!

      • Maybe that’s why my grandmother refused to teach me until I was 10. She must have wanted to make sure I had enough patience for our weekly lesson. 🙂

      • Totally! My 8-year-old is good for about a half hour and then starts to lose it. My little one — she just gets so frustrated that she can’t emulate me right out of the gates. 10 would probably be an ideal age!

  2. My sister got the book fro my niece, age 7, who, like yrou children, wanted to learn but was easily frustrated. She read the book, sat down and repeating the instructions over and over picked up knitting in one sitting. It has been a month and she is quite adept at it and wonders why we all think that is amazing. 🙂

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