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All the Handknits!

I’ve had a number of people asking me if I’ve knit a lot of things for Little Turtle, or if I was planning to.  Truth is, other than my Shamrock Dress, there hasn’t been much knitting on my behalf for the baby.

I’m fortunate, though, in that I have a community around me of crafty people who do knit and crochet, and have made our future child some lovely gifts.  I thought I’d share a few of them!

The first one has a bit of a story – I’m part of a stitching group that meets in Ashland every Monday night.  They’re a great group of ladies, and it’s always one of the highlights of my week getting to meet and catch up with them.  On Monday evening I walked into the room, running slightly late, to a big surprise.

There was cake and decorations, and , much to my unexpected joy, was a gift beyond words.  The ladies of the group had made Little Turtle a blanket – squares filled with elephants and bunnies, trains and boats, flowers and butterflies.  It was an amazing show of joy and anticipation and love.

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I’m finding that it is more than a little humbling to have someone craft for you.  When someone makes you a blanket or a community makes you an object, I know how much it means.  I know how much time goes into working on something, I know how much thought and work goes into each motion.  The person carries that item around with them for weeks, snatching time between other tasks, in the evening before bed or while waiting in the car.  There’s a message that you’re worth that time to them – you’re worth the effort of setting aside those minutes to make something for you.

I have another friend, who’ll I just call L (since I don’t have permission to use her full name), who I’ve known for the last 5 years.  We struggle with some of the same faults in our personalities – we can both sometimes have trouble with boundaries and we’ve struggled with our weight.  She’s a big spinner and knitter, and when we get together it’s like we’re both 5 years old again.  She also knit a blanket for Little Turtle.

Her blanket is different than the first blanket as night and day.  For one, this is made by one knitter’s hands.  It’s a wool and cashmere blend, as light as a feather and softer than my cats.  I’ve picked it up and held it to my face multiple times.  It’s knit in fine, fine yarn.  It’s also one of the reasons I tell people not to discount garter as being elegant.  Many people associate garter stitch as being more rustic, and perhaps even a little basic.  I can understand why as it’s often used in sturdy garments and in baby wear.

But here the lace is as fine as the yarn, subtle and stunning.  The yarn actually shares a name with L’s dog, Gracie.  The colors are subtle and more mature.  This blanket isn’t in a yarn that’s superwash, that’s meant to be thrown in the laundry when it has spit-up on it.  This is a christening blanket, that then becomes the nursing blanket you bring to church or synagog.  Later it may become a shawl or a treasured heirloom for the child.  Still, the message is the same: I thought of you and your child.  Here are my prayers and well wishes, my hope for the new life to come.

Again, so humbling.

The next two blankets are also from close friends.

This blanket was made by my workout buddy and altogether closest friend in the Richmond area, Krista.  It’s made as a nod to Little Turtle’s nickname before we decided on her real name.  Mr. Turtle and I called the babe Kiwi, after one of the fruits she was the size of in the first trimester, and somehow it stuck. (It may well also be because of how many kiwi’s I’ve eaten over the course of this pregnancy).  This is a rough-and-tumble blanket, made from a sturdy knit stitch with a fun little border.  It’s cotton, easily washable and it holds up to wear and tear.  This is the blanket for taking outside (grass stains will blend in!) and throwing into the car.  Krista, working with kids, knows the type of blanket needed for an active child, which is what I’m sure Little Turtle will be!

The last one is from my high-school friend Jess, who is also expecting a baby.  Her knit ripple blanket seems like the end of a perfect quintet – this is a blanket meant for snuggling under on cold winter day, the ripples and texture providing extra warmth.  Almost the same size as the blanket from my knitting group, it’s knitted in a worsted yarn, so is a little thicker and sturdier – the difference between spring and true winter.  I love the vibrant purples!

 

Project Updates

I’ve been struggling with all the rain we’ve been getting in Virginia the last week.  It’s made me want to hole up inside, forget my work, and knit/crochet to a good series of audiobooks.  Ever have those weeks?

This weekend ended up being like a breath of fresh air – the weather was warm and favorable, and we were able to tackle some projects we’d been wanting to get to before Little Turtle arrived.  Little Turtle, thankfully, was accommodating.

As I’m wrapping up projects left and right before Little Turtle comes, it’s given me some breathing room to tackle some personal knitting projects that had stalled.  It’s also given me a bit of breathing room to begin dreaming again – projects and ideas I’ve been wanting to tackle, yarn that needs to be used, and things that have been resting in the back of my mind that needed to come out.

Rosemary and Bay

I finally finished the small touches on my own, personal Rosemary & Bay.  I started it shortly after St. Patrick’s day, so it has a bit of an Irish theme.  Which is OK with me – my father’s family being Boston Irish, I figure I’m entitled to dressing Little Turtle in Shamrocks on more than just the holiday.  The small Shamrock was duplicate stitched after finishing the dress.

 

Wooden Buttons

It still needs a good ribbon for the center – debating if I want to do a shade of green, white, or something completely different.  I added two little wooden buttons for the back closure.  I actually turned the buttons around so the backside is facing outwards: I like this side better!

 

Coming off of Unwind I’d had a number of samples I’d started for classes.  I normally try and have something to use to demonstrate on (even if I’m just as prone to “stealing” student’s projects).  That way, if someone needs to practice a skill before working on their own piece, there’s one available.  Still, after the weekend I had a yen to finish the pieces, rather than just ripping them out and returning the yarn to the pile.  A week later, and I find I’m richer two sets of pulsvarmers and a half-finished cowl – pictures to come!

What have you been working on?

 

Ravelry 101: Tomorrow!

Tomorrow afternoon at 1pm EST I’ll be teaching Ravelry 101 thru Interweave’s Craft U platform.  I’m very excited!  It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to teach this class, and I love being able to use Interweave’s electronic teaching to reach students I normally don’t get to teach.

You might wonder how this class fits into my normal lineup, as most of my classes are knitting and crochet related.  Ravelry is a knitting and crochet-focused website with more than 6 million users.  While it isn’t a technique that will make your knitting shine, or challenge your crochet skills, it will teach you how to make the most out of this valuable website.  I use Ravelry daily – to find patterns, connect with other crafters, answer questions about my patterns, and learn more about yarn.  When I have a question about nearly anything, I can go to Ravelry to get my answers.

You might also wonder how this class is different than the one I taught a few years ago thru Interweave.  Well, to be frank, technology is changing all the time, and the class that I taught before isn’t completely up-to-date.  I found that I had new tips, new perspectives, and new techniques to share.  Ravelry had rolled out new functionality, and I thought it was valuable enough to update!

Want to sign up for the course?  I’d love to have you!  Enroll now: https://www.craftonlineuniversity.com/courses/ravelry-101.

Unwind Recap

This past weekend a number of wonderful coincidences coalesced into the amazing experience of teaching at Unwind Retreat, 20160430_7695in Blowing Rock, NC.  Friday morning Mr. Turtle and I packed up the car and made our way (leisurely) to Blowing Rock.  We took back roads, ate at a hole-in-the-wall barbeque place (much to Michael’s delight), and pulled into the hotel around 4 in the afternoon.

The trip was not made without nervousness.  I had scheduled the retreat long before we knew that Little Turtle was coming.  One of my first questions to my Midwife was her feeling about us traveling 4-ish weeks before due date: was it feasible, smart, and physically okay?  About a month later I contacted the organizers of Unwind, asking if it’d be OK if I brought Michael with me, and informing them about the situation.  But really, there wasn’t much that we could do – as first-time parents, we had no clue how I’d handle the ending of pregnancy – if I’d have the energy or ability.  But I SO wanted to teach at Unwind – the retreat had an excellent reputation, the location was supposed to be amazing, and I love working with students.

So we made it work.  I prepped as much as I could beforehand.  Michael was coming to take many of the stressors off of me – I could focus on teaching, and not worrying about getting my materials from car to hotel room to classroom.  Having him drive would take much of the physical pressure off.

The weekend itself was amazing.  There’s that moment when you enter a large group of people you don’t know, where you get nervous.  But then I remembered why I love events like this – I may not know every person there, but we had something in common: a deep and abiding love of yarn.  Where the question “What are you working on?” always has an interesting answer.  Where everyone had a “knitting story.”

Nancy and Sue, the organizers of Unwind do an amazing job making the weekend feel intimate and open.  Events are booked with room to “breathe.”  There’s a two-hour break for lunch, another break after the last classes before dinner.  Everyone, even the instructors, have one period where they aren’t teaching/taking a class.  It allows people the time and space to truly Unwind – be that hanging out on the porch knitting, going shopping in town, or taking a nap.

While there are many highlights from the weekend, I thought I’d share just one:

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On Saturday night, Michael and I got to set up a table after dinner to show off projects being done at the classes, sell kits, and give people a sneak peek at some upcoming patterns.  I got to show off a giant replica of my logo that my mother and sister sewed for Little Turtle.

Unwind in Blowing Rock, NC

A little later this morning Mr. Turtle and I are jumping into the Subaru and heading to his birth state, North Carolina.  There we’ll be turning and heading west, across the state to the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.  There, a number of other knitters will converge for Unwind Getaway, run by the amazing Nancy Schroyer.  I’m one of four instructors who will be running a stellar lineup of classes, and I couldn’t be more excited.

I’ve spent the last two days unpacking and re-packing my teaching supplies.  Unpacking, because my office has been one of the last bastions of the move, and there were a bunch of boxes I hadn’t even opened yet.  Repacking, as I pulled together my supplies, materials, swatches and samples for the classes.

There was a run to the library to print off copies of patterns and worksheets, since our printer is only printing black ink, and then only badly.  There was the evening scramble and I tripled-checked: yes I really do have everything. Sleeping the night before I travel for classes is always interesting!

Peake decided we really, really didn’t need to leave. And if we insisted, then he was coming with us.

I’m so excited to head out!

KAL: Starting Rosemary & Bay

Have you joined the KAL yet?  This month I’m running a KAL for Rosemary & Bay, one of my favorite self-published patterns.  I’ve extended the deadline to use a coupon to get Rosemary & Bay: enter “littleturtle” before the 12th, and get 40% off!

Rosemary and Bay

Rosemary and Bay

Let me tell you why I love this pattern.  Last week I cast on for the neckline, and it was just sailing by.  I loved watching the changes in colors, I loved seeing how the garter stitch was working up, and I was anticipating the divide for the armholes.  I love that this pattern has no seaming, so the work just sails by.  Which means, if you can’t tell by the picture, I’m in a bit of a pickle… I just kept going.

 

I have to admit I’ve went a bit beyond the neckline, which was my goal for this week.  If you’re just joining us, let’s set a goal of picking out yarn and getting the neckline done this week.  Don’t be afraid to stash dive… how neat would this baby look in rainbow colors?  Or even more than the two I’m using here?

Later this week I’ll have a tutorial about joining the neck, since if you haven’t done this particular pattern before, that can bit a bit tricky.

But let me tell you a bit more about this knit.  It’s sized for newborn to two years old (and frankly, if you want to push it to 3 years, grab an Aran weight yarn and go up a needle size or two).  Rosemary & Bay is well suited to a single color of yarn, but also looks so darn cute in multiple colors.  (I’m planning to add shamrocks to mine – just you wait and see).  It’s great in wool or cotton, and the garter stitch keeps most of the pattern from having too much purling.

Don’t believe me?  Vmay71, on Ravelry, says this about the pattern: “She got me started on Tuesday and done by Saturday. A clear pattern that knits up quickly. What more could you ask for? ”

So come join me!  We’re going to have a bunch of fun!

And pickup the pattern here to get 40% off!  You don’t even need a Ravelry account!

News & Updates from Tinking Turtle

On Monday Mr. Turtle and I closed on a house we’ve been in the process of buying.  It seems like we’ve been in negotiations for months now.  Monday afternoon we signed the last of the paperwork, a large sum of money exchanged hands, and we got the keys to the house.  It’s official.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be moving our household from the house we rent to the house we own – over a distance just shy of seven miles.  We get to stay in an area we love.  We couldn’t be more pleased with our decision!

Next week I’ll try to get some pictures of the house and the property, but right now we’re busy with a number of tasks we want to get done before we move in… namely, some repairs, some tidying, and packing up our current household.  Big changes are afoot!


 

mattress stitch

Finishing: working the mattress stitch

Over the past weekend I was at Fibre Space teaching a full roster of classes.  It was a blast – some weekends you just luck out with the most amazing student.  It was the case of me being in the right mind-frame, all the students ready and prepared for the classes and… I think the fact that the store had rearranged the classrooms so there was noticeably more space.  Sometimes, when there were a lot of classes running in the store before, the noise and the room could get a mite bit squished.  With the way the store has been rearranged, the classrooms have more room to “breathe.”  It made a big difference.

I taught Finishing, and had a great group of students learn how to work the mattress stitch, weave in ends, and block like masters.  I also taught Ravelry 101 and Intarsia.

irish crochet motifs

Irish Crochet Motifs

But the class I’d been looking forward to teaching the most?  Irish Crochet.  A number of years ago I ran an Irish Crochet class that did well, but interest lagged and I wasn’t able to get another class off the ground.  Still, I pitched the class to Danielle and she thought it’d be a good idea to run it right before St. Patrick’s day.  It was a good decision.  I completely revamped the class, taking the best bits from the last time I did it and contextualizing it in a different manner.  This was definitely an unusual class: one part piratical hands-on reading charts and learning about Irish Crochet, one part how to read historical patterns, and one part planning and making Irish Crochet in the future.  the students were great, and the result was a class that blew me out of the water.

the Best Notions Box

the Best Notions Box

Meanwhile, one of my students brought to class the most epic notions box I’d ever had a pleasure to encounter.  Made by her husband from a fly fishing tackle box, it was amazing.  Above is the first side of the box, and below is the second side of the box.  Talk about a well-planned tool.

The other side of the best notions box

The other side of the best notions box

Knit-a-long: Rosemary & Bay

I suppose it was coming.  I finished off the slouchy hat, and I knew we were going to be in church, so I decided I’d grab a copy of
Rosemary & Bay
on my way out the door.  I had the remainder of a skein of Twizzle left.  I figured I’d get started on the yoke, come home, and find some suitable yarn to act as a contrast color and fill out the yardage needed for Rosemary & Bay.

You see, I’ve begun knitting for the Kiwi (little turtle).

I have the Twizzle from Mountain Colors for the yoke, hem, waistline, and accents.  And I have some leftover Willow Attire in cream for the body and the skirt.

Have I swatched? (well, I have the entire hat to act as a swatch, so yes, kinda.  I have not swatched with the Attire, recently, although I have my old swatch from designing with it, so qualified yes).

Am I getting gauge? (well… no.  But it’s for a baby, and I’m making the largest size and we’ll see how it works.  I’m going to launch myself into a mistake I can see coming.  It’s the baby fumes.)

Still, after casting on for the yoke, I’m in the swing of things here, and I wanted to invite ya’ll to knit along.  Baby clothes are always needed.  And if they aren’t needed, well that’s what a trosseau’s for, right?

Here I am casting on for this version of Rosemary & Bay.  If you’d like to get the pattern, I’ll be having it on sale from now thru the end of the month.  Simply enter in “littleturtle” for 40% off.

 

Update from Chez Turtle

If I haven’t already mentioned, Mr. Turtle and I are closing on a house at the end of the month, and we’ve been up to our eyeballs in packing.  Have I mentioned how much stuff we have?  Because it’s a lot.  It seems like everything is in boxes.  So it seems to me like the perfect time for an update!

Single ply fingering weight handspun, natural rainbow colors.

Single ply fingering weight handspun, natural rainbow colors.

I’ve been working on a design for Spin Off that’s due in a couple of weeks.  I’m enjoying having a span of time without a whole bunch of tight deadlines, as it seems like it was one on top of another for a while.  This design involves handspun gradient yarn, hairpin lace crochet, and seashells.  Being somewhere between a lace and fingering weight yarn, it’s going slow, but I’m certain (certain, I tell you!) the results are going to be amazing.  This is one pattern I might make a version for myself.  It’s going to be just that stunning – a real marriage of technique and yarn.

Unfortunately, I gotta keep it under wraps, so while there’s pictures, I can’t share (most) of them.  Here’s a sneak peek. Shhhh.

Still!  I actually have a finished item, made for myself, that I can share.  So that’s a good part of the update.

A few weeks ago I got a hankering for a really simple knit.  I also was looking for another hat – my original Wurm was getting ratty (though still well-loved), and my secondary Wurm was with the heavy coat.  (If you’re looking for a great pattern, Wurm is it – great slouchy, a little interest, folded over brim.) While I had a lightweight hat for indoors, I really needed something DK weight for the lighter weight coat.

And I decided it needed to be a maximum of slouchy – for the hair, of course.

Mountain Colors Twizzle, slouchy hat, own pattern.

Mountain Colors Twizzle, slouchy hat, own pattern.

Enter in a skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle that had once been another project, since fogged.  Let the yarn shine, I decided.

This is a great hat.  I cast on just over 100 stitches in size 3 needles, and knit a folded-over brim that is just slightly too tight, which means it’ll stay on my head just fine.  After knitting the brim together, increased every 5th stitch while also going up to a size 5 needle.  Twizzle, in my experience, works up right around a DK (I could look up the weight of the yarn, but I’m feeling lazy… EDIT: Apparently it is a worsted.  Huh).  It was so freeing to work without having to worry about writing a pattern or re-creating the hat, though I could, given a little bit of reverse engineering.  Still, there’s plenty of slouchy hats out there, find a pattern for one of them.  This one is for me.

This is the hat, unblocked.  Ends still need to be woven in, but I’m not worrying about that now.  It looks lovely, it’s done, and I’ll be wearing it as soon as the weather warrants it.  Details, however scant, up on my Ravelry project page.

I have nearly an entire skein left over of the Twizzle (I had 2, and only just dipped into the new one), and I’ll be sharing later this week my plans for it.

Stay tuned!

Everything’s about Socks

It seems like socks keep popping up in my life lately: specifically my favorite type – wool ones.  So I have two sock stories for you today.

My 2008 boyfriend socks – the only picture I have of them.

Back in 2008, when Mr. Turtle and I were first dating (and probably a little bit before then), I made him a pair of socks.  These were meant to be a luxury pair of socks, something simply so wonderful it would charm and wow him for years to come.  At the time we were both working at summer camps on nearly opposite ends of the country.  He was at Philmont in New Mexico, I was at Chimney Corners Camp, in Western Mass.

In the mountains of New Mexico, nights (even in the summer) can get quite cold.  I made the socks out of thick and sturdy Bulky Alpaca (called Lavish) in a masculine forest green.  And then I sent them off to Michael, with strict instructions to ONLY hand-wash these socks, and never, ever, never put them in the washer or dryer.

Now you think you’d know where this story is going, and you’d be wrong.  Michael was most dutiful, wore them for several nights and discovered how warm they were.  Hand washed them in the sink and hung them on a line to dry.  Basically, he was being a trooper with my gift.

And then he decided that they’d be perfect for a long hike he was going to take on one of his extended time-off periods.  Unfortunately, neither of us was experienced enough to think about the conditions of a hiking boot in relation to wool.  You see, wool felts and shrinks in the presence of three essential things: heat, water, and agitation. (You can actually get felting with two of the elements, but the sweet spot is all three).  Neither of us stopped to think about how hot, how sweaty, and how much friction is inside of a hiking boot.

Forest Green socks, felted

Forest Green socks, felted

He was barely able to pry the socks off his feet when the hike was done.  And when they finished drying, he found there was no elasticity in them: they had permanently shrunk.  He wrote me with chagrin – Michael felt terrible.  And I, reading the letter, smacked myself on the head – of course alpaca, which is even more prone to felting than wool, would make a terrible option for hiking socks.

Fast forward 8 years, and as we’re packing up to move in a few weeks, out comes a pair of socks I’ve never had the opportunity to see in person, after the incident.  I wasn’t even aware that Micahel saved the socks.  So here, in their much smaller glory, is a pair of felted slippers that won’t even fit me.  They’re about as elastic as a block of concrete and less comfortable.  Still, they do bring back memories!


My second story also involves socks, although this part is more of an endorsement.  As I’ve mentioned before: I love wool socks.  They’re what I wear about 80% of the year, when I’m not sporting bare feet.

And every year, like Dumbledore, I ask for wool socks for Christmas.  I almost never get them, even though they end up being the things I probably use the most.  Except for three years ago, when my brother-in-law got me two pairs of Darn Tough Socks.

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

If you’ve never heard of these socks, it’s okay, you’re not alone.  I didn’t know about them until that Christmas.  Turns out Darn Tough is a Vermont-based company focused on keeping as much of their process local.  They make the best and sturdiest socks I’ve ever worn.  Including my hand-knit socks.

It’s pretty typical about 2 years into things I have my first thin spots on my handknit socks.  Which is OK: I repair them and then they can keep going. (My oldest pair is going on 8 years, made the same year as Michael’s infamous failed pair of socks.)

My darn tough socks wore out about a month ago, after three years.  There was a very small hole in one sock, and the other was going thin.

Now, I will admit, Darn Tough Socks are pricey – they cost about the same as a nice skein of sock yarn.  But this is the thing: Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee.  You wear the socks out, and they will replace them for you.  All you have to do is ship them back.

So I did.  And yesterday, I got a new pair back.

Seriously, if you’re looking into really good socks – hiking or normal, Darn Tough has so many options.  There are different heights to the cuff, different amounts of cushion and thickness, and so many different sizes.

I’m wearing a pair right now.

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks