The following are some slap dash directions for making a tiny sweater to go along with your big one.  I myself needed to do this because I'm in the process of making a tiny human to go along with my big one :)  
Just as a reminder, back in November I finished an epic sweater for my husband, and to commemorate the effort, we are posting daily pictures of his adventures with his sweater at http://ebenandthebear.tumblr.com/. Making a little version of the sweater seemed like a perfect way to welcome our expected little one.
I knew I didn't want to design the whole sweater from the ground up, so to start with, my first task was to find a sweater that matched the general shape of the original sweater, and had the same sort of fabric properties, in this case, stranded color work, so that I knew it would adapt smoothly.  
I found these two likely candidates:
Each of these little sweaters is knit with stranded color changes, and has a general ski sweater vibe.  I went with the red sweater on the right because it is knit in a lighter weight DK yarn, and thus the stitches are a bit smaller, and so I would have more stitches to work with in developing my baby bear graph for the front.  I went through the pattern counting rows and inches to figure out how many rows tall the design area would be.  
With pattern decided upon, and general stitch area to be filled known, I just needed a cute little bear graph with which to fill it.  In the past when I needed to alter a graph, or create a graph from scratch for a knitting project, I just used trusty graph paper and a pencil, and then went over it with pen when I was satisfied.  As anyone who has tried to design their own graphs for knitting has found that knit stitches are not square.  Depending on your design, you might get an awkward surprise (like a short fat owl instead of a cute little round one, an issue I encountered several years ago) because you mapped out a perfect circle on square graph paper, and knit stitches are wider than they are tall.  Enter knitting graph paper, which is made up of rectangles.  Happily, there are a lot of places on line where you can print off single sheets of knitting graph paper.  So, I printed off a few sheets, ready for a night of erasing. 
A great/frustrating thing about the internet is that new things are popping up there every day, and you have to find them for yourself!  I'm not sure why I searched or what I searched, but I found a website, Tricksy Knitter, that will let you plan out color charts for knitting, for free!  It is a very easy to learn interface, and I'm so excited to have found it because it made this task, which is tricky at best, a bit easier.
As with the sweater pattern itself, I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, and so my next step was to look around the internet and see if I could find a graph for a baby polar bear.  At the very least, I figured, if I couldn't find one that worked perfectly, I could find something I could scale down.  Well, color me shocked, I couldn't!  I found plenty of cross stitch patterns, for example, that were great, but they just didn't translate into the medium I was using.  I also found several graphs for baby polar bears that my husband dismissed as "too koala like." 
Here is an early attempt that does, in fact, look like a koala on all fours.  
Okay, that was a no go.  I had done image search after image search, and I found plenty of photos that I liked (try image searching baby polar bears, it is pretty much wall to wall white fluff.)  I queried my somewhat more technologically advanced husband, couldn't some program pixilate a photo enough to give me the shape I wanted?  Couldn't it extend the back end of this photo a bit?  Obviously there was no program that was just going to magic up what I wanted, but maybe my rudimentary photo shopping skills could come into play.  I selected the best photo for my purposes, and opened it in a free online photo editor, a Photoshop lite, called Sumopaint.  Maybe if I could get a grid pattern over the photo?  But actually something much better happened.  I traced the photo with thick lines, making the alterations I wanted, and only tracing the parts that were most necessary to make the image make sense.  Then I could remove the layer with the actual photo, and just have a line drawing.  Then, in my knitting graph program, I could redraw the same general shape freehand, and make alterations to my heart's content, but know that I liked what the base shape was.
A lot of alterations ensued, 
Yay, a basic baby bear!  As you can see in the final graphs, a few more tweaks were made.  I realized I had been drawing the graph as a negative image, when what I wanted was a white bear, so I went through and changed it all around.  My husband had the inspiration for half circle eyes instead of dots, which turned out to be infinitely cuter.  All in all we are talking about a 4 hours process from start to finish, but I'm so pleased with the result: 
I went ahead and extended the graph to be the whole front, so that I could fill in the rest of the area in a way that would mimic the original sweater in a scaled down way.  After that it was all done but the knitting.  Or so I thought.  
Well, the knitting, and a lot of ends to weave in due to some thoughtless designing on my part, but it only took an afternoon watching friends garden to get the job done and I'll know better next time. 
I feel as pleased and satisfied by this project as the little bear cub looks :)
 
 
Sometimes I find I have to search for inspiration for a project, and sometimes inspiration walks by at the fair.  
This summer (almost a year ago!) my husband and I went to the Scottish Highland Gathering and Games at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, CA.  We saw sheep dog competitions, birds of prey, and endless halls of Celtic goods for sale.  We even ate some not at all event appropriate food, I think I had a burrito.  What really caught my eye, however, was this tote bag:
I would tell you to squint your eyes, but that doesn't really help.  The picture is blurry because I was not brave enough to stop this grandmother and child to ask if I could please take a picture of her cheap nylon tote bag.  Instead I ran behind this woman, as surreptitiously as I could, casually trying to capture this crazy rainbow in the wild.

I chased this woman to take this picture because I knew I was seeing something important!  There is something about the color combination and progression that I find unexpected and irresistible.  I didn't know what I was going to do with it at the time, I just knew I needed to have a way to remember it.  

Thank goodness an opportunity to use this progression presented itself, or I might have exploded!  As I started looking for patterns for a baby blanket for a good friend (the same one who got this sweet little pink set seen here recently), I was so excited to be able to put this discovered rainbow to use.  

I found a lovely baby blanket pattern that would highlight the rainbow and I ordered yarn.  I ordered my yarn based on softness, washability, and color selection.  Right before starting the blanket I realized that the slippery, cotton/beech wood, very soft and smooth yarn I had selected was going to be at major odds with a pattern that demanded a color change every 4 rows.  My heart sank as I thought about how many ends I would have to weave in, and how they would all work themselves loose because the fiber would have nothing to hold on to.  

Thankfully, I realized I had recently seen a pattern for a stunning adult afghan that was graphic, modern looking, and most importantly, would highlight my color choices, (and was free!).  Worked on smaller needles and smaller yarn, I figured I would have to end up with something baby sized.  And it worked!
Using sport weight yarn, and US size 4 needles, the blanket came out 34 x 44 inches (instead of the pattern's 52 x 74 inches in worsted weight).  I am so pleased with the way this came out.  While I was working on it I got to revel in and gain a whole new appreciation for my found rainbow.  As I added each new stripe, the new color would informed and improved the others.  I was so impatient to get to the blue at the bottom, because I knew it was going to pull everything together and really finish the whole look and feel of the blanket.  As I worked on it, people would say, "that's nice," and I would say, "yes, but it really is going to look different when it's finished," which only makes people say "well, it looks nice now."  At which point I just try to take a compliment.  :) 

I had intended this blanket to be a light spring time blanket for this baby born in January, not knowing that the northeastern United States is apparently never going to thaw.  So I guess it is an "inside blanket?"
 
 
Though most of the country is covered in snow, and I'm sure it is ideal knitting time, our house is getting hot enough in the afternoon to make you sweat!  Not exactly motivation to pick up wool.  But I've been able to get several small projects out the door despite the not so conducive temperature.  
My bow tie wearing husband requested a knit necktie like his brother's.  I took to heart the lessons I learned from the first knit necktie I made: a.) it takes a lot longer than you would think to knit a long skinny strip, but b.) what really take a long time is sewing down the ribbon backing!  No, I kid, (but those things are true and should be taken into account if you are planning on knitting a necktie.)  I did the actual knitting for this project over Christmas break, and then stuffed it in a bag, with the already purchased ribbon backing, dreading giving up the knitting time to sew on the backing.  The perfect opportunity presented itself when we hung out with friends on the only cozy rainy Saturday we've had all winter.  I was able to sew on the backing ribbon without thinking too much about what I was doing or how long it was taking due to the good company.  This tie did go faster than the last tie because the yarn was a little heavier weight, a discontinued Knit Picks sport weight, and so, because of the heavier weight yarn, fewer stitches were required to get the same width.
One of my co-workers, who works in rare book preservation, and her husband, who is a sculptor, built a tree-house dollhouse for their granddaughter.  I haven't seen pictures yet,  but she described it to me, and asked if I would make some animal dolls for it, specifically a black cat doll.  My co-worker's granddaughter has a pet black cat named Chubby that she loves very much, and my co-worker had attempted to find a black cat doll, but hadn't had any luck.  I asked her about what size, she said "egg sized."  I'm always happy to make requests, and mostly with this kind of project, I just want to make sure that I'm spending my time making something that the person will like.  I first went to Ravelry and searched for tiny cat, tiny bear, etc, to get a good sense of the patterns already available.  I settled on this cute little bear pattern, which was only slightly annoying for having to seam up the back of the body and the back of the head.  I did i-cord legs and tail, and adjusted the ears and eyes to give them a more cat-like appearance.  Though the legs aren't hinged, the tail provides ballast, so that the cat does sit up.  My co-worker relayed that her granddaughter recognized this little version of Chubby right way, so, mission accomplished! 
A UFO is knitting speak for an Un-Finished Object.  I'm not sure, however, if that label can be applied if the project never got started to begin with.  I had this beautiful madelintosh yarn sitting around since February 2013 to make a cowl for myself.  It was one of those projects where I saw the sample and just had to make it.  I started the project as Christmas knitting on planes and by the fire, etc.  It was a simple to memorize stitch pattern, only one yarn used at a time, and just going around in a loop.  I worked on it off and on, not really sure how wide I was going to make it.  I started noticing that most cowl patterns were 7 1/2 inches wide.  I finally measured the cowl that was just hanging out and realized i was only 1 1/2 inches away from being done.  So I finished it in on sitting.  But then, I just wasn't right for me!  And it really was one of those "not right" situations where you just know it isn't getting better.  I know I picked out green yarn because  I don't wear that much green, but, I still don't wear that much green!  So I sent it off to a friend and it has found a happy home.  
Finally, birthday socks for my sweet Valentine of a mother.  These were a fun pattern, definitely improved by using the Felici yarn from Knitpicks with it's wide stripes.  It's a great yarn for socks, very soft, and excellent for esoteric patterns.  These socks are started at the cuff, then knit the entire back, and then pick up stitches in a U shape around the opening and just knit back and forth, decreasing, until a final long graft closes up the front.  I know that probably sounds like garble, but trust me, picking up the stitches evenly was the only annoying part.  I even got the color repeats to basically match up!  

 
 
Unbelievable that I have not written about the bear sweater yet, but it seems like the perfect way to end the year.  I'm not even sure how to start writing about this project except to say that many years ago, I saw this picture, and fell in love.
Picture
Love at first sight <3
Falling in love is never simple though, is it?  First, this pattern, the 7901 Polar Bear from the Dale of Norway pamphlet #79, is out of print.  There is one company that will sell the individual patterns from the book with the yarn needed to make it.  If you want the entire pamphlet, it comes up infrequently on eBay for astronomical sums.  
At first, I went the more "reasonable" rout and was given the kit with the bear sweater pattern for Christmas in 2010.  And then I let it sit.  The whole thing had seemed so unattainable when I saw the prices of the pamphlet on eBay, that to have the pattern and have the yarn was comfort enough.   
Here is where the story gets a little murky for me.  Clearly I had always intended to make this sweater for my husband.  We bought enough yarn back in 2010 to make the XL size.  He would mention the project periodically with interest.  And yet, I was still skeptical of his actual commitment to the sweater.  I think, understandably, a nut who falls in love with sweaters would also be defensive about other people loving them too.  
At any rate, after some needling on his part, I did start the sweater.  I knew it was going to be a long and involved process, so in the beginning, I took notes: 
December 2012 - Opened the long-ago purchased yarn and pattern.  Looked to see what substitute colors I had selected.  Felt regret.  Looked on Ravelry to see what needle sizes people were using given that the finished sweater will be too small for Eb.

12/21/12 - After looking at photos decided to do a tubular cast-on.  Knit the provisional part, knit the two purl rows, and then picked up the purls and knit two rows, then remembered it should be knit through the back loop.  Tried to convince myself I could do every other row, looked terrible.  Thought of taking it back a few rows and realized the whole thing had a twist and was a mobius!  Have never done that before [Ed. note: this can no longer be said].  Set it down.

12/26/12 - Took apart the twisted bottom part

12/27/12 - Very carefully did the tubular cast-on again.  Made sure to do the knit through the back loop, even on the first stitches.  Got almost through the ribbing.  Took out the provisional cast-on and very pleased.

12/28/12 - Finished the ribbing.  Increased around, switched to larger needles, started the color work.  I did remember that the colors shouldn't be twisted and that one will stand out more if carried on top, but not which one.  Tried to discover the answer on-line and came up with an answer but not the right one.  Also trying to ignore the join spot at the side.  Also trying to ignore the way that the first row of color work is swallowed by the ribbing.

12/29/12 - Took the color work only all apart.  Confirmed which way to hold the yarns to make the primary color pop.  Also decided to add extra stitches one on each side as "picture frames" to decrease the obvious jog.  Also added a purl row between ribbing and color work.  Finished pattern i and much pleased.  Need to check gauge.  

12/30/12 - Worked on the pattern ii.  Annoyingly it is spread over two charts, and one chart you work and then work in mirror image.  After three rows or four got to the point where I only have to glance at the charts instead of looking every step.  Second guessing the "picture frame."  For the majority of the body there is a side pattern that would mask the jog.  Eb says he doesn't think it is a problem.  May just have to agree and decrease away those stitches, not sure.
Picture
Photo of the ill-fated oft mentioned purl row between the ribbing and the pattern.
4/18/13 - Took sweater apart again back to the ribbing.  Didn't like the purl row after ribbing or the false seam stitch. Re-visiting, it seems that two handed color knitting clicks a lot better then it used to [Ed. note: I had started continental purling at this point], the tension looks much more even.

4/20/13 - Sneaking suspicion gauge is off.  Do nothing.

4/21/13 - Work on sweater all morning, measure gauge.  Off by 4 inches around.  Decided to go down a needles size, and also make the regular size XL as husband is shrinking.

4/21/13  part 2 - Sweet husband says he will wear the sweater (for a few minutes) every day for a year to make up for all the trouble I'm having with it.

4/24/13 - Finished the ribbing again!  Doing joggless joins this round

4/29/13 - Refinished the snowflake band and started main part.  Worried over ripples in fabric.
What I think these notes show more than anything is that if you work on a project for an extended period of time, your skill level may change demonstrably over that period and you have to start over, a lot, to be happy with the finished project.  I really want to share that starting over is a major part of any major project for me.  Catching up to the place where you started over is fantastic, but I don't look at starting over as failure.  I rush through starting projects, I don't swatch just as much as the next knitter, but also, I know that by not swatching, I'm going to have to re-start, maybe several times.  
You will note that these entries jump from December to April.  The sweater was finished in November.  People have been asking me how long it took to make, and it really is impossible to say.  I made several afghans, many socks, and lots of other fun things this year.  All told, this would have probably been a 6 week project if I could have just sat down and worked on it.
Picture
The Bear Sweater before the sleeve holes were cut open.
Also, this sweater involved a sewing machine steek.  It was terrifying and also very quick.  It came out more bulky than I would prefer, but also it was the first time I've tried something like that, so I'm willing to say that my next one will be better.  
In the end, I did buy the entire pamphlet off eBay, and for not as much as it is sometimes posted.  Not only do I love the bear sweater enough to own it properly, but also, it has a brother moose sweater pattern which might someday grace this space.  
That good sweet husband from April has been true to his word, and we are having a good time documenting this joint art project.  Please check out Eben and the Bear Sweater if you are so inclined for daily updates on their doings.  They are also famous on Facebook ;)
 
 
Some elements of Christmas crafting were right down to the wire this year!  I finished two gifts on the 23rd.  Whew!
I started with the best of intentions.  In September I began socks for my father-in-law.  He is tall, so he has size 12 feet.  I always forget and then slowly remember that it takes twice as long to knit a men's size 12 as it does to knit a woman's size 6.  Math, I know, but it always comes as a shock to the time budget in my head.  
I'm very pleased with the way these came out.  It is my own pattern.  I started with grey toes and a red foot, but quickly realized that it would be much better to have a grey foot with a red toe.  All the color transitions are joggless.  It is one of those little touches that make you feel good.  
The stripes around the top were the trickiest part.  I knit the first round of the color change without purls and then did the next row in the ribbing pattern.  The result is that there are no jogs and no purl bumps to disrupt the straightness of the lines.  It's the small details that keep this knitter interested.  I would just like to mention that the grey yarn is KnitPicks Stroll.  I was pleasantly surprised at how soft and pretty this yarn is and I would definitely enjoy making more socks with it.
Two years ago we went on a day trip to Western Massachusetts to visit my brother-in-law.  Of course we stopped by to visit Webs, the Northampton brick and mortar location for yarn.com.  I had had a small amount of forsight and tried to pre-plan some projects to shop for.  One of them was a cute fox hat for my brother-in-law.  I've had that yarn sitting in the "ready to go" project area of my stash ever after.  This year, I decided that I would bring the project along, and try to complete it before we went home from our holiday visit.  Well, surprise!  This project was started on the 21st and finished on the 23rd.  Maybe my time estimator is just broken.  It was wrapped up and under the tree on the 24th and was warmly received!  I was worried because the recipient has now moved to New York City, but city living can’t make him fancy and he's still the same guy at heart.  He was excited to receive it and I was thrilled at how much he wore it while we were there. 
I loved the yarn on this project.  It had subtle color changes, but because I was holding the yarn doubled, there really wasn't any pooling and it is nice and thick and squishy.  The yarn is now discontinued, which is why it was in the sale room at Webs.  
And finally, this is one of the loveliest things I've made in quite a while.  I absolutely did not think I had the time.  All the time that the fox hat yarn has been staring at me, so has some very fine white cotton crochet thread.  This year, I intended to make a crocheted edge on a linen bread cloth for my mother-in-law. I had an antique pattern I loved, but when I finally sat down to work on it, like most antique patterns, I could not get the gauge.  My little squares of fillet crochet came out very rectangular.  I came to this realization on December 15th, and we were flying out on the 20th.  I hope to go back to the project, but at that point in the holiday season, I simply did not have the heart to fret over something that might never work out.  I had seen this china doll pattern at the end of October when it was first posted on Ravelry, and immediately knew it would be perfect for my MIL for Christmas, but even then I didn't think I would be able to finish it in time.  Well, after the fillet crochet debacle, I decided I was just going to get the doll done.  Late nights for a week and I did almost have it finished.  Somehow, mine came out slimmer than the pattern must have intended, because the clothes didn't fit.  But the construction was simple enough that I was able to decrease stitches around and increase rows so that she has some very nice fitting underthings.  The pattern is from Rabbit Hole Knits.  She has lots of cute patterns, including a walking suit for the doll.  
The main alteration I made to the pattern was to make the doll blonde instead of brunette.  For her eyes and mouth I used bits of yarn from my father’s socks from last post.  The dyes leaking into each other just made the most beautiful subtle colors, and I’m happy I got to feature them.  Her cheeks were painted on with watercolor paint, which seemed like a very authentic touch.  I love the use of bobbles around the hairline to give her curls.
And finally, the last of my little projects, Christmas Tree Christmas tree ornaments.  Again, this year things were not timed out well, and I had another pattern I wanted to do but ran out of time!  I like the ways these came out though.  The tree was quick to do, and these used up all my stash of green sport weight yarn.  I used a glue gun (not my favorite) to attach tiny buttons for ornaments and lights or garland.  They fit nicely into flat mailers.  
 
 
This is going to be a photo heavy one!
In October, we dyed yarn!  Yarn dying always seemed a little more messy than I like, but it also seemed like a fun way to interact with the fiber.  As regular readers may have noticed, I make a lot of socks for my mom.  It is easy because her feet are the same size as mine, it is quick because those feet are little, it is fun because she likes funky stuff so I have a lot of freedom.  Also, because she lives in the southeastern US, she doesn't have much use for anything else made of wool!  She is also super crafty, so I knew she would enjoy dying the yarn for her own socks.
We ordered dyes and sock blanks from Knitpicks.  Sock blanks are pieces of pre-knitted fabric that have been knit using two strands of sock yarn held together.  They basically look like long loose knit scarves.  The idea is that you dye them, and then unravel them and knit them into socks two at a time.  The particles of dye are not healthy, so we suited up and mixed up the dyes.
Picture
My pretty momma!
From information we found online, we dyed the yarn in patterns with a basic idea of what was going to happen on the socks.  Stripes might translate to dots or stripes depending on their direction and thickness.  Blocks of color on the block might make blocks of color on the sock, or they might make general ideas of color broken up and mixed with other colors in thin stripes.  I like control over my projects a little too much to love this, but it was fun.  My mom dyed two blanks, my husband dyed one trout inspired blank, above on the left, and I dyed one, begrudgingly.  I felt stressed out about it all the way through, but I like the way it came out in the end.
All per instructions, after we dyed the yarn, we wrapped it up in plastic wrap,
and steamed the little yarn wraps to lock in dyes.  The smell was not great, and the pots can never be used to cook food again, but we were able to pick up the pots for not much at the Salvation Army before hand.
Here is what a sock blank looks like in the process of knitting.
Picture
Stripes becoming stripes.
And before I get on to the result, here are some socks I made for my mom to give her on this trip.  They were an atonement for us not going home for Thanksgiving, but also, they were super fun to make!  They are the Kalajoki pattern (the Kalajoki is a river in Finland, and these definitely have a flowing vibe).  They knit up very quickly and required enough attention to keep them interesting.   I changed the pattern a little bit by using the yo-yo heel.  Also I finally got to use this beautiful Trekking yarn that I had not been able to make work in other patterns.
So, here are some hand dyed hand knit socks:
I went with the old reliable Skew pattern because I know it fits my mom's feet, and also I wasn't sure how the yarn was going to act.  I think the nicest thing was the depth of the coloration of the yarn caused by the inconsistency of the dye application.  There were some light spots, and some colors that weren't part of the original dye scheme, but came about through the dyes combining on the wool.  I can certainly understand why, years ago, they were so thrilled to be able to get machine dyed, consistently colored yarns.  Now we want to see the hands and the process.  Especially in something you dyed yourself, it is fun to see the hands.  I'm sure an experience dyer would not be as pleased, but thankfully my perfectionism doesn't extend that far.
I also did a pair for my dad!  This is just my old reliable "man sock pattern" that I've been developing and feel pretty satisfied with.  Finished just moments before mailing, they came out great!  These were the result of long vertical stripes of dye.  I'm dying them in the shot above on the right.  Again, really pretty surprise colors showed up where the dyes overlapped.  That overlapping happened because we didn't add vinegar to the dyes before we applied them.  No regrets here on that front!   
And the bonus project for this time around is a rather old one, but they came out great, so I'm sharing.  I was planning to make 4, which, is just not going to happen for a while, so here they are, I'm calling the project finished.  Here we have an example of inadvertent pooling that I've resolved to be okay with.  I hope they have a festive vintage feel, cause that's what I was going for.  They are 100% cotton, crocheted from a free Red Heart pattern.
 
 
My goodness, with all the gifts given, I feel like it's a good time to clear my slate for 2013 blogwise.  I'm not going to dump everything into one post (not yet), so expect a few posts over the next few days (hopefully), and I'll try to arrange them thematically.  
Happily, one of my dear friends is expecting a child in January, and I was able to attend the West Coast baby shower for this East Coast friend over the Thanksgiving holiday.  
My first thought was that a winter baby needs layers!  I adore the Poppy Hat.  It is so easy yet interesting and I recommend it to anyone looking for a pattern for a little girl.  I worked all these pieces in newborn size, risky I know, but so cute!  I think this hat has the most potential to last for a little while though.  The band is very flexible, and the difference between sizes for babies is only a few stitches.  I wanted the embellishments for this set to be spring-y so I found a butterfly for the brim from 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit & Crochet.  
I chose a kimono style cardigan for the sweater.  The main thing I understand about dressing a baby is that you have to dress and undress them frequently because they expel a lot of bodily fluids all over themselves, and also that their heads are giant.  So a sweater that would be easy on and off seemed like a plus.  The front panels are worked on the diagonal, which was also a point of interest during the knitting.  The arms seem impossibly narrow, but that remains to be seen I guess.  The embellishment for this sweater is a little caterpillar from the 75 Birds, etc. book.  
Last but not least, because they are so sweet, some little thumb-less mittens with embroidered lady bugs.  These also are knit on the bias and they were very quick to make up.  I'm pretty much 100% that one of them is going to end up in a pile of dirty slush by the side of the road, but I'm good with that :)  I would definitely rather everything I make get used to its fullest and giving stuff to kids seems like the best way to ensure that.  
A perfect fit!  The yarn is 100% acrylic so that they won't have to worry about washing carefully, and the color choice was inspired by the pink shells, which is just what I think of when I think of little babies.
And to finish off this post, a different gift for another dear friend celebrating a milestone.  Though she eloped, I managed to quickly whip up this little bridal hot dog brooch.  The pattern comes from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi.  I don't think I could have managed another wedding blanket in this calendar year anyway, so I guess I'm thankful for the elopement :)  They'll get something later, never fear!
 
 
This blanket is for a lovely couple, Dan and Jess, who live in the Boston area.  I knew it needed to be warm and classic and casual and big because this was another "tall groom" situation.  
I took my inspiration for this blanket from the wedding site.  The couple got married on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, at the same site where my husband and I got married five years ago.  It is a beautiful verdant location with ferns and pines and birch trees.  I really felt like I wanted to make a blanket evocative of the place.  
I started out with a pattern from an amazing 1968 Bernat pattern book of my mother's.  I may have fallen prey to the wonderfully kitschy styling in the photo shoot.  It should have been a dream, worked on large needles, yarn held doubled.  But goodness, I just didn't like the pattern.  It seemed to take ages to get one row finished, and I couldn't keep the tension even between the two strands of yarn.  
So I said phooey!  I put the blanket aside, made the several blankets you have seen recently on this blog, and a few pairs of socks beside.  But I always knew I would need to come back to this blanket and this yarn and make something beautiful.  
At some point between giving up on the Bernat pattern, and actually starting to re-knit, I found a pattern I really liked.  The Serenity pattern looked fun to knit, and warm, and lovely.  It was written for worsted weight yarn, which is what I had.  The only catch was that it was written as a baby blanket size.  I mentally prepared to have to figure out how to expand the size.  Behold my surprise when I finally went to (re)start the blanket, and found that an intrepid Raveler before me had already worked out the graphs to expand the blanket, and the designer had linked to those graphs from the project homepage.  It was like a Christmas present in July.  
I worked an applied border, mostly because I really wanted to have a cable go all the way around, and i didn't want to knit it separately and sew it on, because that way lies madness.  Because the cable isn't as stretchy as a garter stitch border, it did result in a slight ripple to the edge, but who knows, maybe it's charming?  I think the ripple does add to the overall lusciousness of the blanket.  
And, a bonus project:
A birthday gift for my supervisor.  I think the bluebird of happiness is a potent symbol and this pattern was a fun knit, one piece with short rows for shaping.  An improvised party hat is the cherry on top. 
 
 
I've got quite a few finished projects to talk about! 
And the weddings are all wed, so I can get to talking. 
The first finished, and almost the last given, is this lovely square throw.  Photo maybe not the best, but listen people, you run out of ways to photograph a blanket and you want to mix it up a little, and sometimes you don't hit it out of the park, but I think you can get the idea!
I chose traditional wedding ivory and used a wool/acrylic blend so the happy couple won't need to worry about washing instructions, or finding a place to dry a blanket in their Brooklyn apartment with curious cats.  This blanket was a breeze from start to finish, so enjoyable to knit that I made a second one, which has already appeared in an earlier post here.  I went in a totally different direction with the second iteration, making it in grey and giving it a striped border.  I love that one, but I also love the simplicity of this one.  Both have the central motif that suggests a compass rose to me, which seems an auspicious symbol for a newly married couple.  Also I love the bobbles, and the simplicity of the eyelet rows for the border that give the blanket a vintage feel.  Yay for Steve and Fran and I wish we could have been at what was, from all accounts, a most lovely wedding full of thoughtful touches. 
And since I'm attempting to feature these wedding blankets, but also play catch up, thrown in at the bottom is this little guy:
He's from the Anna Hrachovec's book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi.  Her patterns are great go-tos for quick cute knits, and he was a birthday present for a friend of mine who just turned 4!  Congrats Graham!  There really isn't anything to indicated scale in this photo, but lets just say he's as big as a large grape.  Like, one of the big dark purple dusty grapes that are full of seeds.
 
 
I'm so excited to share this project with you because it has been finished since March!  
The more I knit, the more comfortable I am altering patterns.  I mostly find my patterns on Ravelery, and when I find a pattern I like, I scroll through other people's projects to get a feel for common improvements.  I hardly ever do a test run (a swatch).  I usually just cast-on for the project and if it is coming out terribly I take it apart, and then again, and then again.  I love to jump into a project and then I like to look at the item as it develops and respond to inspiration as it strikes.
At any rate, the net result of plowing ahead is sometimes ending up with a shopping bag full of kinky yarn when you pull the whole thing out.  I think it is important to emphasize how many times I take things apart.  I know a lot of people view un-knitting as the end, but to me it is just a step towards a project that I will find really satisfying.  When I ask someone what they think of a questionable project in progress and they say "yeah, that's fine, you won't notice when you're finished," that drives me nuts, because I will notice, and I don't want to spend hours on a project that is fine!  On the other hand, I love the line "no one will notice that from a galloping horse."  and I hypocritically give this advice to people all the time.  You know if you'll care later, and if you will, rip it out!
This blanket is mostly from a free Lion Brand pattern.  For this project, the main divergence from the pattern was doing a wide moss stitch border instead of the more fussy leaf shaped border in the pattern.  Deciding about the thickness of the border was one of the reasons I had to take this blanket apart so many times.  I also framed out each section of design with stocking stitch and moss stitch sections.  These changes made the blanket slightly larger than written, a plus in this case as the groom of this couple (as all the grooms this summer seem to be) is quite tall, and I think the framing of each section made the whole blanket design more modern without losing the heirloom quality.  
I made this pattern because I fell in love with the intertwined trees.  They are such a perfect wedding symbol, especially for this couple who has grown, both individually and together, through the years.  The flower panels were another story, and there was much ripping back, much searching of Ravelry, much testing of different techniques, and much uncertainty.  Ultimately I do like the way the floral sections balance the arboreal sections, though I'm curious to hear in a year if there is a problem with snagging . 
This blanket is knit with 100% wool, Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool which is an amazing bargain, and so blocking was a must.  For the blocking process I took a cue from my recent experience blocking shawls, and wove crochet thread along each edge.  That gave me a firm, sturdy string to pull tight to make the edges straight.  I did this instead of trying to pin out all the edges strait.  So instead of using a gazillion pins I used about 20.  I also recently read that the first time blocking is the most important, because it teaches the wool its new shape, and that treatment after subsequent washing doesn't need to be as labored.  That makes me feel slightly less guilty about giving 100% wool items.   (I can't find that link now though, so don't quote me!)


I love the final result and I hope the happy couple can love it for years to come.