Little Miss Charming

As soon as the sweater I knit for my son started to take shape, my daughter began asking when she’d get a new sweater. I knew it wasn’t exactly necessary in the name of fairness since I’ve knit a few sweaters for her already over the last couple years and I haven’t made him one since he was a baby. I suppose that’s just how it goes when you have one kid that is very big and one that is rather small. At the end of the day, though, as a knitter, how do you say no?

In the interest of time as well as staying cozy around our house which we keep on the cool side in winter, I knew I wanted to knit her something worsted or heavier, preferably a bulky weight. I found Veera Valimaki’s Little Miss Charming and thought it fit the bill nicely. It had good reviews regarding fit and comfort, so I got the pattern and used some store credit from Eat. Sleep Knit. to order some Malabrigo Chunky in the Cactus Flower colorway.

A little over a week before my girl’s birthday, I thought I should probably get to work so she could have it for her big day.

IMG_1019-0I had some issues with the pattern early on. For the life of me I could not get the yoke stitch count to come out according to the instructions and I tried at least 6 times. To this day I don’t know if it was me or the pattern, but I finally gave up and just went with it, making a couple minor modifications as needed. You can read about those on my Ravelry project page.

I knit through our trip to Iowa…

IMG_1152And on the way home I was working on the sleeves. It would be take 1 of 2 for the sleeves, but it all worked out in the end.

sleeveThey turned out so well that I’ve never thought twice about re-doing them. I also extended them from elbow-length to full-length sleeves to be more practical for our Wisconsin winters (those mods are listed on my Ravelry page, too).

After washing and blocking, I was a little concerned they were too long.

sleeves onThey aren’t. They’re a perfect fit.

I’m a huge fan of the simple twisted rib detail at the neckline…frontAnd how the hemline is a little lower in the back…

hemAgain, knit in a nice twisted rib. I also found the cables were super easy to memorize and that I didn’t have to use the chart with them for long at all. This was excellent luck considering I did a fair bit of this knitting in the car.

All in all, it’s an excellent fit…

on modeBoth in actual fit, style, and, of course, attitude.

I was pretty generous in the length of the body, too. My girl likes to wear knit pants & yoga pants & leggings and I think this length will wear really nicely with those options as well as her regular khakis.

It took a week start to finish to knit up this Little Miss Charming. And while it did take a few days beyond my girl’s birthday to dry after its wash & block and the construction itself wasn’t without its moments of drama, I think the birthday girl is pretty happy with the results. Warm and soft and cozy and pink — it may have been late for her birthday, but I think it was just in time.

A Guston for My Boy

I think it’s safe to say there is no person in this world that appreciates my knitting more than my son. I’m not sure how much of it is because he loves me and how much of it is because he loves what I make, but whatever the case I just love to knit for him. I can see that the things I knit for him make him feel special and I’m a mom — I just want to wrap him in love and warmth every single day.

I’ve knit a number of things for my daughter — she’s smaller and like many little girls like to layer on her fashion. My son, however, I’ve had to be more choosy about what I pick to knit for him just because he is like his dad — he likes his wardrobe simple and doesn’t go for a lot of excess or anything flashy. I do, however, always have to keep in mind that he loves red so what I do knit for him must have at least some red in it or he looks at me like I’ve clearly made a serious error. He just loves red.

The main reason, though, that I haven’t knit a sweater for my son recently is that he’s 10-years-old and growing like a weed. His feet are bigger than mine and I’m guessing he’ll be taller than me within the year (and I’m 5’5″ or 5’6″, so that’s pretty tall!). Because of this, it’s really hard — even for me — to justify spending the money on yarn for a sweater for him. I stumbled upon Webs‘ in-house brand of yarns, Valley Yarns, though and realized I could knit him a sweater for about $30. I browsed some patterns and found Ann Budd’s Guston from Wool People Volume 2 — and not only was one of the few patterns that looked plausible for my boy to wear, but it also included sizes that would actually fit him without my having to make modifications. And I love not having to make modifications. I thought it was worth a shot so I ordered a sweater quantity of Valley Yarns Northhampton in the Burgundy colorway for him.

And then it sat in my stash for a year (or two).

Toward the end of this summer, I knew I was in the crucial time when I needed to either knit this sweater for him or my sweater quantity would not longer be sufficient for him. I cast on and got rolling in early September…

IMG_0603I have to admit I had some help…

IMG_0878As I neared the cable details of the chest portion, I readied my cable needle. I hadn’t yet red through the directions carefully (something I always advise knitters to do) and it wasn’t until I got there that I realized no cable needle was necessary.

IMG_0879Whoops. That said, I loved the combination of cable-design and alternating knit-purl sections. It made keeping my spot in the pattern super simple.

IMG_0944A couple weekends ago I wrapped up the sleeves…

IMG_0960And started sewing.

IMG_0979-2And then all that was left was to attach the buttons, the perfect buttons I got from Balwen Woodworks at the WI Sheep & Wool Festival. Made from a vintage tool handle, I debated for a long time about which was to orient the buttons. I finally settled on the long way.

button panelI think it was the right choice.

back detThe details of this sweater — each little piece just turned out so nicely.

cuffandhemEven the basic garter hem & cuff that I worried would flip back on itself is pretty much perfect.

Now I will admit that I had a few days of panic associated with this sweater. When I’d finished sewing, I had my son try it on pre-blocking and it was tight. He is a rather lanky kid, but he has big shoulders just like his dad. When I measured him for this sweater I went by the chest measurement only and didn’t account for those big shoulders. I aggressively blocked out the shoulders on it and I crossed my fingers. I also may have tried it on in a moment of desperation to see if it would fit me just in case it didn’t fit him, so I could rest assured someone could use it. It did.

In the end, though, it didn’t matter.

aldo modelIt fits my boy perfectly and he flashed the biggest smile when he put it on and my heart swelled up about a million times its normal size. He did mention that he thought it was a little scratchy, so I may have to spring for the superwash next time. I should have thought of that, knowing full well my boy’s skin is a little sensitive. Thanks to long sleeves, he can still get use out of this one. The best new though is that I think there definitely will be a next time thanks to the fact that there are some nice, slightly more economical yarns available out there like Valley Yarns making it reasonably practical to knit for growing kids.

This sweater was really quite the journey, but I could not be any happier with the results. As I edited this last photo, I found it really hard to believe that my little boy is such a young man. I spend every day with him, I’ve watched him grow, but it still seems a little unbelievable to this mama that my boy is so grown-up. Thankfully, even though he’s growing older I can once again knit him handknits, wrapping him in love and warmth every day no matter how big he gets.

Meet Cassie, Daisy, & Delia, Jr.

As strange as it is to write, my daughter turning seven has kind of caught me by surprise. Honestly, catching me off-guard has really been her MO from the beginning. Because my oldest child’s labor was a month early and took less than 3hours start to finish, everyone told us that with the second child I should strongly consider sprinting to the doctor at the first signs of labor. When the time came for my daughter to arrive, it was more or less her due date when contractions began and I ended up waiting at home until it seemed likely that she meant business, but it was not yet urgent. I waited overnight in the hospital barely uncomfortable, but with really no commitment to be born on her part. When morning rolled around, we opted to induce to get the show on the road. Three hours passed with very little happening and then it hit me like a freight train. Within about 5minutes I was having the textbook “Why did I not take the drugs?” thoughts and on the second or third contraction my husband  hit the emergency call button because apparently the monitor had slipped and it was not registering reality. Thankfully the nurses responded in time and they managed to ‘catch’ my daughter in her mad rush to be born. The doctor came running in a few minutes later, just in time to see all 5lbs 15oz of my baby girl in my arms.

She’s always been a happy, sunshine-y kid, but she has also been an individual from the start and very much the master of her own opinion. As a baby, the fastest way to get her to stop crying was hip-hop, especially M.I.A. She is equal parts princess and tomboy. She is sweet and thoughtful and loving and tenacious and stubborn and tough. She is very bright and reads like a fiend and loves to explore the world around her. She is a true force of nature if I have ever met one. And the fact that she is already seven years old completely blows my mind.

Now normally, I leave the gift shopping to my husband because as I’ve said in the past, he is way better at it than I am. This year, however, when Susan B Anderson launched her Mary, Millie, and Morgan doll pattern in January, my daughter saw it and immediately started asking for me to make this set of dolls for her. Knowing it was a lot of work and aware of my own aversion to knitting toys, I let it sit and waited to see if she’d forget.

She did not.

True to form, with her mind set she asked constantly about them. I told her I had to wait for the yarn — not a complete fib as the heathered greys were out of stock for a while.  But when I took my mom to visit Cream City Yarn in late spring, I saw they actually had the out of stock greys in the shop so I picked up the colors I’d need in the wonderful Quince & Co Chickadee. Then the yarn sat for a while.  I decided to wait until after the WI Sheep & Wool Festival in early September. They were small and with her birthday at the end of October, I thought that would be plenty of time. So the beginning of September turned into the end of September and I began to suspect I was cutting myself a little short on time. Because I wanted to knit these as a surprise for my daughter, that severely limited the time I could work on them — only an hour or two morning and night — and I hadn’t anticipated how long this type of project would take me.

I won’t lie to you — part of the hold up was that I really don’t enjoy knitting toys. There, I said it. I enjoy knitting. I enjoy knitting with the truly lovely Quince & Co Chickadee. I have the patience and willpower to create almost anything with sticks and string, but for whatever reason knitting toys just kills me. It feels like I do a ton of work and get no where. I get super bored and I struggle to find a rhythm. It is just so not great.

These dolls were for my girl though and she loves her stuffed animals, so I knew she’d appreciate and use them. I persevered. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know there was a week or two in there where I kind of did nothing but post photos of these dolls, usually with captions like, “Hoping for a leg and an arm tonight!”

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And “Here go the faces!”

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I almost did not survive the French knots for the eyes — it took me an hour and a half to do 6 French knot eyes. True story — I only wish I was kidding! Something about the size of the perle cotton thread and trying to put the knot on knitted fabric was just not happening. Anyways, 90minutes, 2 tutorials, a glass of wine, and more than a fair amount of frustration later, they had eyes.

https://i2.wp.com/photos-a.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-xfa1/10735238_1491258277809296_1971787097_n.jpg

And I proceeded to stay up until about 2am to finish their hair. From there, it was a mad dash to finish up their clothes…

shawlsshawls…

skirtsskirts, dresses, and sweaters (the last two I don’t have separate photos of — I’m lucky I got the photos I did!). I followed the color guides on the pattern except for the little blonde doll who got a pink sweater & shoes instead of red ones.

With two days to spare… they were ready to go.

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The final test was what my girl would think…

IMG_6891To my surprise and delight, she really, truly loves them! And was beyond excited to have them. I mean, I knew she’d like them, but as any 6… I mean 7 (gulp!) year-old can be, there was a worry deep in my gut that she’d be fickle regarding these dolls, especially when you compare to some of her other gifts from family. I’m so happy that did not play out though. She plays with them a ton and loves to change their clothes and they get tucked in with her every night. Sometimes she sings them lullabies. It’s just about the sweetest, most rewarding thing ever.

Oh, and she named them and started assigning them personalities and character traits almost right away.

cassieThis is Cassie. She shares a name with my sister, but mostly she got the name because it rhymes with ‘sassy’ as she can be kind of a spark plug.

daisyThis is Daisy. She is mostly quiet and well-behaved.

djAnd this is Delia, Jr. She is a handful. She gets lost a lot and is lobbying hard for a puppy.

All in all, I still don’t love knitting toys, but I would do this project all over again knowing how happy she is with these dolls. In fact, I’ve been flirting with this idea for Christmas. I kind of can’t believe I’m considering it, but Delia, Jr. really does want a puppy…