The 1+1+1 Project: Q1 Wrap-Up & Q2 Plans

I’m a couple days late sharing this post — sorry about that! I actually hoped to post yesterday and only be a day late, but when I went to pull yarn out of my stash for one of my upcoming projects, well, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was up to my eyeballs organizing and updating the entire yarn and fiber stash on Ravelry.

img_2744-1Considering I had a pounding headache, it was not the brightest thing I’ve done, but I have a long history of making questionable choices regarding chores when I am not feeling well. This was the kind of mostly mindless thing one can do with a headache, though, as there’s really no creative thought required. And now my stash is totally searchable and I even entered locations so I can go straight to the right spot and find everything. That’s pretty nifty if you ask me. For this moment, let’s enjoy the fact that I accomplished this feat and ignore the fact that I have enough yarn and fiber that it is helpful to assign each piece a location, ok?

 In any case, I got distracted and just didn’t get back to writing this post. So let me get to that!

First, I’m happy to report my Q1 for the 1+1+1 Project was a success — hooray! I got all three projects I set out to finish done.

img_1841You’ll remember that this is where I started.

I got to my Snowfling Mitts first.

topsideAnd thank goodness as I’ve been using them. Did I mentioned it’s snowing today?

And then I worked on my Agnes Sweater.on2I got the vast majority of this done while on our Yellowstone vacation. Honestly, I think drying this after its wash was the most time-consuming part of it. It’s been an awesome bit, cozy sweater for me and I adore it! I wore it just the other day out on the trail under my raincoat and it was perfection.

And last but not least, the big kahuna of my Q1 — spinning these 12oz of fiber into yarn.

img_2432I chose to spin this during the month of March to go along with the Three Waters Farm Unexpected Combo spinalong. 12oz of singles plus plying in one month is a huge under-taking for me, especially since I managed to spin some of the finest yarn I’ve ever spun. I made it though!

3ply pileAnd as you saw earlier this week, I have this 1100yard fingering-weight skein to show for it.

2ply pileAnd this 520yard lace weight skein as well.

So what is in store for Q2, you ask? Well, let me show you!

 First, I’m planning to knit up a project that’s about a year overdue in my schedule…

img_2757Pam Allen’s Hamlin Peak in Quince & Co’s Kestrel in the Urchin colorway. A worsted weight linen, this will be perfect for summer.

Next, around Christmas time I saw a photo on Instagram of Rachel from Dyeabolical knitting up a shawl using a combination of her Lucy & Fuchsia So Bright! colorways and loved it so much that I picked up a couple skeins for myself.

img_2752Aren’t they pretty together?

Anyways, I toiled for quite a while as to which pattern I wanted to use and after much deliberation I’ve settled on Rosemary Hill’s Swoop.

img_2756 I might run tight on yardage, but there are a couple projects where folks have made it with the yardage I have. And anyways, I rest assured that I know where I can get more if I need it.

And finally, a spinning project.

img_2758Last year at the end of the Tour de Fleece, I started this project with the intention of keeping up my spindling. And I did not. At all. It sat with me having spun about 1/4 of a rolag for months. Then, recently I acquired this sweet little Golding spindle that is rocking my world. I’ll tell you more about it soon, but suffice to say I’ve been enjoying snippets of time with this little baby. I keep it in the kitchen and have started carrying it along in my bag now and then in lieu of knitting.  After spinning up a little sample skein (again, more later), I got the idea that I should make this project happen. And now I am.

Do you have any plans for Q2 of this year? I’d love to hear! Remember we’re sharing about our 1+1+1 projects over in the Friends of Knitting Sarah Ravelry Group — we’d love to see & hear what your goals are!

Another Instant Classic: Togue Pond

I’ve come to really love handknit linen tops. A couple years ago I knit the Kit Camisole in Quince & Co Sparrow and it’s still one of my favorites. This year I decided to add to my linen wardrobe with Quince & Co’s Kestrel and knit up Pam Allen’s Togue Pond.

Kestrel is a unique yarn. It’s the same Belgian-grown organic linen they use to make Sparrow, but it’s spun in a ribbon structure to create a worsted weight yarn. As a heavier weight yarn it knits up quickly, but it still feels light and cool when you’re wearing the finished garment. It does feel a bit coarse at first, but once this yarn is washed it just comes alive becoming very soft and with drape to spare.

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I started this project on the back porch of our rented cabin in South Dakota. You probably remember that — it was after the tent broke and we ‘camped’ in our 4door hatchback and our stove died. As the magpies flew back and forth across the field and I unwound from all the excitement of the previous days, I cast-on my Togue Pond in the pebble colorway.

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It was excellent car knitting on the drive home, too.

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And even with a few little boo-boos thanks to my misreading the pattern…

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It was finished and in the bath in just 10days.

Then, of course, there was the requisite waiting for the combination of good weather & being with my husband and my Togue Pond in a picturesque enough spot to take some photos.

In the mean time, I snapped a couple detail photos…

toguePonddetailThere really aren’t a lot of distinct details in this project beyond the decreases on the back armhole…

tongueponddetail1And the front armhole. The ribbed edging is basic, but just enough to give it a classic look and keep the edges from rolling. There is a slightly curved hem that I think is best illustrated when worn…

ToguePondIt is shown in the pattern photos with an inch of negative ease whereas mine has about an inch of positive ease. To go down a size would have put me in the two inches of negative ease ballpark and I am a very big fan of loose, drapey summer tops, so I went with the slightly large size. I went just a smidge long in the body and it’s definitely roomy, but as promised the Kestrel delivered wonderful drape making this an effortlessly wearable piece for my wardrobe.

I knit and blocked this top to gauge, but it is a bit see-through for me to wear out and about so I threw on a lightweight cami underneath and was comfortable both in how it looked an how it felt. It’s everything I’ve come to expect from the Quince & Co team in both yarn and design — it’s a quality yarn that will last and wear beautifully and a classic design that I know I’ll wear for years to come.

I stashed a few more skeins of Kestrel in the urchin colorway — a beautiful slate-y green — that I have dog-eared for a Hamlin Peak sweater. I also find myself thinking of the Sparrow I stashed a while ago and knitting that up into a Palmyra top. I may not get to these for a while, but I’m coming to believe that these pieces are seasonless. I’m pretty sure I can’t go wrong with linen!

Happy Anniversary, Happy Birthday, Lucky Me

Mr Knitting Sarah & I marked our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday. I simply couldn’t ask for a better partner in this life and I’m very thankful for every day we have together, but in all honesty we don’t really celebrate the date. It’s not because we can’t or weirdly don’t want to, it’s that we both agree that we pretty much try to make the most of every day and that in general we do a lot of awesome things with each other and for each other. In other words, the actual date is less significant than the day-to-day living life together.  Additionally, the mister had to work (and then wound up coming home early sick and spending the day resting in bed), so he suggested I take a special day just me and the kids.

That probably doesn’t sound very Earth shattering since I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mum, but because our days off with the mister tend to lead us all over the countryside, we usually spend our days as three at or near home. The plan we settled on originated because I had heard that Cream City Yarn was celebrating their 4th birthday and having a party. I just felt compelled to drop in to say happy birthday in-person. I won’t lie, it didn’t hurt that they have a great selection of yarn and that they’d mentioned they’d have cake. So, we planned a day around getting there: zoo, yarn shop, lunch, bookstore — something for everyone!

After a couple fun hours at the zoo, we headed over to the yarn shop where the children were instructed that they could not ask for cake, but if it was offered they could have some. Much to their relief, as soon as we walked in we were asked if we wanted some of this infamous cake. I let my two delighted kids each pick a piece and as my daughter grabbed the piece with MEGA frosting visions of frosting-slathered fingers touching Quince & Co yarn flashed through my head and I quickly ushered them both to the bistro table out front, far far away from the pretty pretty yarn.

IMG_9136True to the word on the street, the cake was excellent. So excellent, in fact, that these two could not be bothered to pose for a picture. And I’m happy to report that aside from talking one of the owner’s ears off briefly while she was trying to take pictures, they were little angels while I shopped.

I’m very proud of the fact that I walked in with a half dozen project ideas and the yarn requirements for each, so I wasn’t a total slave to impulse shopping. I’m also very proud to say that I did not buy yarn for all of them. What I settled on was…

IMG_9142Quince & Co Osprey in the River colorway for a Lesley pullover from Hannah Fettig’s new book, Home & Away: Knits for Everday Adventures. I don’t think she’s aware of it, but I’m pretty sure she wrote this book for me. Lesley, Boothbay, and the Sycamore Vest are high on my want-to-knit list, so this selection was easy.

IMG_9146I also picked up a bento bag from Ambatalia. These are new to the shop & when I saw a post that they would be available at the birthday party, I knew I had to check them out. They’re made in California and the craftsmanship is gorgeous. Plus my daughter picked out the color for me, so it’s extra special.

The final selection was so tough. There was a promotion for Sheepish Yarn Company’s Super Merino Sport that was soooo tempting. And by tempting I mean I actually physically put the three skeins of yarn for the project in my basket and then my fiscally responsible side reminded me that I had a sweater quantity already in said basket, so the gorgeous new Ice Age Trail would just have to wait. I allowed myself one of the skeins because…

IMG_9147I have a definite weakness for colorways named ‘Horicon Marsh.’

Of course, I threw a third of my raffle tickets (1 earned for every $10 spent!) in for an Ice Age Trail kit. The other two thirds went into a Cane Bay Wrap kit (in blue!) and then a Cream City Yarn logo coffee mug (because who can’t use another coffee mug?). The place was hopping with shoppers, so I certainly don’t expect to win, but it’s fun to play nonetheless. The funniest part is I asked my daughter to look at the 25 raffle items and choose the three she thought I’d like and she nailed it. No hesitation. I love it!

I should also mention free with purchase came this awesome little notions tin filled with some delicious color-coordinated jellybeans.

IMG_9151I skipped the cake, but I totally ate these and didn’t share a single one with my kids.

My kiddos and I left the shop and headed out to lunch, followed by a bookshop stop — the special treat for my daughter — where each child got to pick a new book. As you can tell by the photos, we didn’t get home until the long shadows of the early evening were starting to steal my natural light. I got everyone settled, took the dog for a walk, and made a quick trip to the grocery store for a feel-better-Mr-Knitting-Sarah watermelon (he likes watermelon when he’s sick). And as I reflected on our busy day, I just felt awfully lucky. For my hubby who pushed me to take the kiddos on this little adventure even though he couldn’t be there and for his general awesomeness every single day. For my kiddos who are so good and never complain about the fact that I have to walk really slowly around the zoo and that they have to wait while I take a while picking out yarn. That for my anniversary, I got to visit a store that always makes me smile where I got to pick out some knitting goodies that I really love. And most of all, I feel lucky that tomorrow we get to spend the whole day together as a family. It’ll be a quiet one as the mister convalesces, but it’s another day we get to spend together and that alone will make it pretty great.

In the Badlands: It Was a Rather Blustery Day

Day two in the Badlands started here…

IMG_8793What a peaceful start to the day.

Once the sun was up, we hustled for a short hike up the hills behind camp. The view from the top looked like this…

IMG_8799You can pretty much see forever. And there were gorgeous rocks, like this…IMG_8797… with whose loose bits I built a small cairn…IMG_9041Of course.

I also found evidence of the ever-present bison…

IMG_8804I’m pretty sure they stopped at this overlook to gaze at our campsite and vibe me. Or to look for fresh sprouts to munch on. One or the other. For those who haven’t been in the presence of the great American Bison, they are big. They are generally 6-12ft long, up to 6ft + tall, and weigh anywhere from 700 to 2,000lbs. I tried to take a photo of all four hoof prints of this set of tracks, but there was no way to do so and also get my foot in the photo for scale. And for such large beasts, they are actually quite nimble which in my opinion is equal parts cool and disconcerting.

We spent a good hour tramping around the surrounding hills, occasionally stopping to call for coyotes…

Our youngest is the most particular about how to properly call coyotes. For such a young kid, she’s pretty darn good at it.

The temps started rising, so it was time to get back to the car for the pup. As I mentioned yesterday, dogs aren’t allowed on trails or in the back country in national parks, so if we all go off hiking our Moose waits in the car. Of course, this can’t happen if temps are warm, so when that’s the case my hubby & I take turns hanging out with him while the other hikes and plays with the kids. Honestly, if he wasn’t such an extremely good car dog (he goes pretty much everywhere with us, weather permitting) and wasn’t so clearly happy just to be with the family, we’d have boarded him for this trip. He is part of the family, though, and with the exception of this first full day in the park it was slated to be cool enough for him to hang in the car with no worries. He’s not a huge fan of camping (he’s kind of indoorsy), but he’s happy & relaxed enough just being with us…

IMG_8836So we took turns babysitting this big lug while the other hiked.

The kids & I spent a fair bit of time running around here…

IMG_8843And I played with the panoramic function on my new phone.

IMG_8842And when my leg tired, my hubby took the kiddos on a slightly longer hike along some game trails…

While the dog & I enjoyed the glory of the sunshade…

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And I cast-on a new project…

IMG_8839Togue Pond by Pam Allen in Quince & Co’s Kestrel. It turned out very appropriate as we probably saw somewhere around 75 kestrels in the park. This bird, however, is a nemesis for us when it comes to photography.IMG_9021This is pretty much what we get when we try to take photos of this beautiful bird. They tend to fly as soon as we get the camera out as evidenced by this photo, so for an actual photo where you can really see there bird, click here.

Now we did know that we had a wind advisory and it was clear that it was very (read: VERY) windy. We headed back to camp somewhat early because we thought there was a fair chance that despite lashing it down very well, the wind might blow the tent away a little. As we drove up, we were relieved to find the tent in place. The relief was short-lived, however, as there was tent flapping where there should be no flapping, so we knew something was wrong. It turns out the high winds had literally snapped one of our metal tent poles and grossly bent 2 others. After brief attempts with the mini-sledge hammer to straighten the bent poles and using our resources to try splint the broken pole, we admitted defeat. The zipper had had issues in the morning, too, so the tent was just beyond repairing. My husband headed into the collapsed tent to recover our things.

IMG_8833Poor sad broken tent!

We had a few options — including making an hour drive to Rapid City to buy a new tent — but at the end of the day, we did some creative reorganization and turned out 4-door hatchback into a mini-camper. This exercise was actually really fun and surprisingly not as uncomfortable as you might think.

The following day had much cooler temps and we enjoyed more hiking & wildlife viewing including…

Bighorn Sheep,

A coyote basking in the sun, numerous birds, mule deer, antelope, and more bison.

IMG_8855Rain loomed, however, and as it started to fall we decided to drive into the town of Wall for some dinner and to hopefully see a badger out and about as darkness started to fall on the drive back to camp. We saw no badgers, but it did rain rather heavily that night and it was chilly. The possibility of snow was not out of the question, but thankfully did not materialize. Making lemonade with our lemons, we agreed that in this second night in our improvised mini-camper that it wasa wonderfully  water-tight shelter.

Unfortunately this cold, wet morning was when our camp stove died.

To be continued…

Little Flowers

As knitters, we are always in search of good places to purchase materials. Until we all get our own farms and flocks, we depend on shops — both online and brick & mortar — to supply us with good quality yarns and tools to keep us inspired and in good supply. One such shop that I’ve come to really love is Cream City Yarn. I’ve mentioned this shop a number of times before because it’s semi-local to me — it’s not down the street, but it’s not too far away either, so I get to stop in a few times per year. The thing with this shop is, I always walk away happy. I’m always greeted by the very warm staff who will help me as much or as little as I need. Every time I stop in there are new samples & new yarns so that it’s rare that I walk out with only what I stopped in to get. They are the only Quince & Co stockist is my home state of Wisconsin (if you’ve knit with Quince & Co yarns, you know that’s kind of a big deal), so it’s the only place I get to check out this beautiful yarn. And even though I only visit every few months, Kris, one of the owners, knows me and always very kindly takes the time to ask what’s brought me to the area, inquires about my kids, and we usually talk for a bit about — what else? — knitting. I can tell she’s busy, but she takes the time anyway and I appreciate that.

On one such stop about a month ago, I popped in to the same reception to which I’ve grown accustomed. I happily poked around all the shelves and managed to narrow down my selections to a skein of Sheepish Yarn Co’s Merino Sock

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It just so happens that the woman who dyes Sheepish Yarn Co yarns, Jennifer Donze, also happens to teach at the shop. I ran into Jennifer at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last September and she had mentioned that Cream City Yarn had put together kits for Kate Davies’ Peerie Flooers using the always gorgeous Quince & Co Finch. All these months later, I hadn’t forgotten…

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And luckily I got one of the last few that were currently in stock (they have a bunch more of these kits in stock now).

It is no secret that I’m a fan of colorwork. In fact, I was informed recently that I’m what you could call a ‘colorwork junky’. Once I start this type of project, I really struggle to put it down. I started on one evening…

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And by the following evening…

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I was done.

No, this is not normal. At least I don’t think it is. These types of project probably should take more time and really, I kind of wish I could make them last longer, but it’s one of those personality quirks I’ve just come to accept. When I start a colorwork project, I just clear my calendar and enjoy.

The results?

peerie flooers2Beautiful!

I can’t tell you what my favorite part of this project is.

peerie flooersThe crown decreases — were crazy fun and look fantastic.

peerie flooers3The rainbow-y brim is just so pretty.

pf detailAnd the little flowers, (“Peerie flooers” means “little flowers” in Shetland dialect — just in case you were wondering), of course, are absolutely darling.

pf flatOne more shot of the whole hat? Why not?!

Oh, and before I forget, someone mentioned to me that they like shots of the inside of colorwork, so I snapped a couple of those, too.

A detail…

pf insie out detailAnd the whole hat.pf inside out

All in all, I really could not be happier. I, of course, have to give credit where credit is due. In all honesty, I was able to knit this hat up so quickly and easily because of the kit. I know a lot of knitters really love to pick out their own colors palettes, but I will admit that I’m not really that great at it nor and I very patient in doing it. I love it when I’m able to just grab the kit and knit it up. The very capable ladies at Cream City Yarn picked the colors & measured all the little mini-skeins out. All I had to do was wind the yarn and knit it. This pattern has been on my to-knit list since it came out in August of 2011 and I just finally got to it now. With as busy as I am — as most of us are — the kit was the difference between not quite ever getting to the project and having this beautiful finished hat to wear.

Now I know I started this by singing the praises of Cream City Yarn and some of you are probably sad that it’s not closer to you, but I’m happy to report that they do have an online shop from which you can purchase a lot of beautiful yarn and accessories, including this very kit. In fact, you can find it right here. The kit includes all the yarn you need to make the smaller, beanie sized hat (you must purchase the pattern separately — it’s available on Ravelry here). Like I said, it is created using Quince & Co’s Finch, a fingering weight 100% American wool in a palette I find to be really, really beautiful. Wondering about fit? Here’s mine on my head…

pfheadshotPlease keep in mind that mine is knit slightly tighter than the given gauge, but I can still easily pull it down over my ears and eyebrows should the weather really be nippy. This is just how I prefer to wear it on the average day. I just love the fit & warmth.

  I’ve used the Cream City Yarn online shop a few times for various things over the past couple of years as well as done special orders through them and I find the customer service for both the online shop & over the phone to be equal to my experience in the shop. The customer service is friendly and my orders are always handled efficiently — shipped very promptly and at a rate that is reasonable.

So what do you think? Don’t you want to knit a beautiful Peerie Flooers hat for yourself?

Perhaps instead of getting cut flowers for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, you could opt for some darling little knitted ones…

pf detailI know I’d love that!

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.

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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…