Monday, December 28, 2015

So. Much. Christmas.

Merry Christmas! 

It's been a pretty wonderful, pretty hectic Christmas over here.

Lots of presents.
This is the least blurry one.
They were pretty thrilled to be opening stockings.


Toddler chopsticks

We give the kids a new ornament every Christmas. This year I had to make 3!

Opening books. The boys got Stone Soup, A Time to Keep,
How My Parents Learned to Eat
and Lullabies and Goodnight

'Stache trying to instruct Munchkin in the ways of wearing all the clothes one gets at Christmas on one's head.
The bulldozers (pronounced "bu'dozer" or "bulldo'er") were a big hit.

We meant to set out their hobby horses so they'd see
them as soon as they came in the den, but we forgot, so
 the boys just opened them from the packing box.

Munchkin's new sweater
Lots of people we love.

Somehow this is the only picture of my brother this Christmas.

My brother-in-law has this face about 90% of the time
when he's with our family.

This is about as happy as the cousins picture got. Sigh.
Munchkin had had a long day, and decided maybe
a little catnap seemed like a good idea.
The cousins loved the tie-dye shirts the boys made them!
Soooo much family!

Lots of talking about Mei-Mei. (What I'm going to be calling our daughter on this blog. Mei-Mei is Chinese for Little Sister.)

No pictures of Mei-Mei.
Right now we're not allowed to post pictures of her online.

Lots of gingerbread-house-making.
Caroline was the director of the Forced Family Fun, a
gingerbread house contest. She was awesome. There was
even theme music.

It was lots of fun to design a gingerbread house
with 'Stache

Left to right, Most Eco-Friendly, Best Modern House, Best Traditional House

Lots of stuffed animals.

Only one Christmas Sweater.

Lots of food. (More about the food later!)

Christmas tree biscuits!
Lots of pregnancies.

Pregnancies? Yes. Pregnancies. I feel pretty confident we will not be spending another Christmas so closely connected to so many pregnancies. The odds are just too high. Of the four eligible (being both married and of childbearing years) women on my mother's side of the family, three were pregnant (counting 'Stache and I as being paper-pregnant). On 'Stache's mother's side of the family, 4 of the 5 (again counting 'Stache and I) were expecting a blessed event. The kicker? 4 of the 6 are due in July and 'Stache and I could quite reasonably be bringing home our own little blessed event in July also.

'Stache and I, 'Stache's cousin and his wife, 'Stache's sister (!!!) and husband, 'Stache's cousin and husband,
all with ornaments that 'Stache's aunt gave us.

Going to be a pretty incredible month, July.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Still Doable?

Christmas is so very nearly here, and I am so very not ready for it. I've reached the point in my knitting where I'm timing myself on how many minutes it takes me to to a round, and then calculating how long that means the rest of the sweater will take, and then adding a very rough guess of how much time the finishing up will take, and dividing that by the number of days left to try to create a game plan that results in me finishing on time. I eventually do this with most of my major deadlines, and it's never a good sign.

On the docket we have: 

1. The Norwegian sweater

Status: Finished the colorwork band and am racing towards the shoulders. After I finish knitting the body, I have to cut the steeks, sew all the seams, block the sweater, knit bands to cover the seams, sew in the bands, and then knit the ribbing for the neckline. 
Prospects: I'm nervous. Really nervous. Fortunately the steps after I get through knitting the body all take much less time than the knitting, but there are lots of steps. And I'm making this pattern up and it sounds good in my head, but my head is stupid sometimes, so I'm nervous. Really nervous. 

2. One sock

Status: Still a ball. I'm concentrating my knitting efforts on the sweater, on the basis that my sister has already waited a year for it and it's better to have one undone project than two half-done projects. 
Prospects: Worried. 

3. Pair of felted clogs

Status: Still in balls. 
Prospects: absolutely not happening. If you're reading this, 'Stache, I'm so sorry, and I promise I'll have them done before the cold weather goes away. 

4. Raspberry liqueur 

Status: Aging beautifully. It's amazing to have a gift where forgetting about it for a month is part of the process. 
Prospects: Excellent, although I still don't have any cute little bottles to give it in. 

5. Lots of pajama pants 

Status: Um, I bought fabric. That's progress, right? The trouble here is that like an utter eejit I left my sewing machine in another state last week. I'm definitely not up for hand sewing pajamas, so the project's on hold. 
Prospects: Pretty positive. I'll get my sewing machine back this weekend and I don't have to have these done until January 6th. Also, one of the many reasons I adore sewing pajama pants is that they are quick. 

6. Five stuffed animals 
Status: Done! 

It was quite a journey. When you sew them together, they look like this, which doesn't inspire much confidence: 

But then you add stuffing (I completely overbought on stuffing, I thought I needed about 8 lbs and so bought 10. Here it is exploding out of the box. And that's after using what I needed!)

... and they become completely adorable.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Wee Gaffer

For Munchkin's Christmas, I have knit him a new sweater. I have been blessed with boys who are excited about wearing things I've made for them (although whether this is due to nature or nurture I couldn't say), so the gift of the dreaded "clothes" for Christmas should actually meet with favor from the young judge. This sweater is inspired by a sweater that the venerable knitter Elizabeth Zimmermann made for her husband, whom she often called the Gaffer. So I've called mine "The Wee Gaffer." 

This sweater is a fairly accurate gansey, which is a traditional style of sweater worn by English fishermen. It has ribbing at the bottom, a pattern of purl and knit stitches across the chest, and gussets under the sleeves to enhance the range of movement.

This particular gansey has a unique shoulder construction that I had never seen before. After knitting the chest and back from the bottom up, you then turn everything sideways and knit back and forth between the two sides to form the shoulders. 

Note: This sweater has not been test knit, and so may include errors!  

The Wee Gaffer 
4T (I think) 

approximately 550 yards of worsted weight yarn
size 8 US needles

Cast on 140 st in the round.

Knit 1x1 rib for 8 rounds.

Knit in stockinette for 57 rounds.


Table 1:
   Row 6
   Row 5
   Row 4
   Row 3
   Row 2
   Row 1

Table 2:
   Row 7
   Row 6
   Row 5
   Row 4
   Row 3
   Row 2

Table 3
   Row 6
   Row 5
   Row 4
   Row 3
   Row 2
   Row 1


Purl 1 round.

Knit 1 round

Purl 1 round.

*Knit 1, inc 1, pm, knit 2, pm, knit 6, pm, knit 13, pm, knit 6, pm, knit 13, pm, knit 6, pm, knit 13, pm, knit 6, pm, knit 2, pm, inc 1, repeat from *.

*Knit to marker, inc 1, knit 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit 2, inc 1, repeat from *, knit to end of round.

Repeat this row 9 times.

Note: tables 1 and 3 are 6 rows high, table 2 is 7 rows high, so the tables will not be in sync after the first repeat. You will need to keep track of where you are in each table separately.

Cast off 7, knit 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit 2, cast off 13, knit 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit 2, cast off 6. Break yarn and pull through.

You are now knitting the front.

Knit 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 1, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit table 2, knit table 3, knit 2.

Knit back and forth, staying in pattern, until you have completed 6 total repeats of table 2

Purl 1 row.

Cast off, purlwise. Break yarn and pull through.

Repeat for the back.

Cast on 12.

Knit back and forth in garter stitch, knitting the first stitch of each row together with a stitch from the chest. 

Insert your left needle through both loops of a bound-off stitch.
Wrap your yarn around the needle.
Pull the yarn through.
Pull this newly made stitch through the last stitch on the needle. 

Knit 30 rows in this way.

*Knit 6, turn.  Slip first stitch, knit 4, knit stitch together with stitch from chest.

Repeat from * 37 times.

Repeat for the other side of the neck.

Knit 15 rows, knitting straight across all 12 st, knitting the first stitch of each row together with a stitch from the chest.

Cast off. Break yarn and pull through last stitch.

Cast on 48.

Knit back and forth in 1x1 rib for 8 rows.

Knit 1, inc 1, knit to 1 stitch before the end of the row. Inc 1, knit 1.

Knit in stockinette for 5 rows.

Repeat 5 times.

Knit in stockinette for 26 rows.

Knit in garter stitch for 3 rows.

Knit in stockinette for 9 rows.

Purl 1, pm, purl to 2 st before the end of the row, pm, purl 2.

*Knit to marker, inc 1, knit to marker, inc 1, knit to end.

Purl 1 row.

Repeat from * 4 times.

Sew sleeve together using mattress stitch.

Use the 3-needle bind-off to sew the sleeve to the armscye. When sewing the gussets together, sew the stitches 1:1. When sewing the sleeve to the chest piece, sew the stitches 2:3. (Sew two stitches together, skip one of the chest piece stitches.) (Stitches may not perfectly match up. About 2 inches before the end of the seam, count your stitches on the chest piece and the sleeve and adjust your ratio if necessary.)

Repeat for second sleeve.

Weave in all ends.