A comment in the previous post asked “I just don’t understand how the sizes work and how much yarn to get.
I want to knit a sweater for a 2-year-old. What pattern do I follow? If you can help, that would great.”

I admit that it took some mental gymnastics for me to figure out how in the world the pattern worked for all those various sizes. I’m not sure I could have tackled knitting the Child’s Surprise Jacket for my 5-year-old grandson without having first knit the baby version for my 6 month old granddaughter.
Violet's BSJ
In knitting the BSJ I followed the written out instructions on page 2 of the pattern. It took an entire skein of 100g of sock yarn, 405 yards and I almost ran out. For a toddler I’d want twice that amount, which should be more than enough. If you’re planning to have stripes then 400 yards of the main color and three or four skeins of other colors should do the trick, depending on how big the stripes are. (Using variegated yarn for the first BSJ was a blessing since it eliminated the need to weave in all the ends and making sure the color sequence looked balanced and good.)

My advice for someone making their very first BSJ, but for a toddler, would be to use a worsted yarn and the size of needle that would get you 5 stitches per inch so that you can follow the row by row instructions on page 2.

But, if you’re up for a challenge and you want to make one using a specific yarn then read on:

Before starting a CSJ for my five-year old grandson I carefully read the Option instructions on pg 4 as well as all the CSJ instructions on pg 8. Next I swatched to determine what my [K] was using the sportweight yarn I’d bought. The last time we’d been together I’d measured Wesley’s chest, arm length and from the back of his neck to just below his waist. With 24″ (chest circumference) for my starting figure I knit three swatches to determine stitches per inch using US 4 needles,  US5 and US6. The look and feel of the swatch from the US5 needles. (40″L circs) at 6 stitches per inch gave the best result.

Circumference: 24″ divided by 2 for the width = 12″
12 x 6 (spi) = 72  divided by 3 = 24  (It’s a happy coincident that 24″ circumference ends up back at 24 as K.)
24 was the K for this sweater.

(I use a notebook to keep records on my knitting projects. Good notes and swatching are crucial  for a successful outcome with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s SJ, along with a calculator if you don’t like doing math on paper.)

To make a sweater for a two-year old I’d go with the chest size of 21″ since that’s a typical chest size of a 2 yo.

21 divided by 2 = 10.5 x whatever stitches per inch you get when swatching with your yarn and needles (For this example I’ll use 6.5 spi using #3 needles but I’d definitely swatch first for exact gauge/stitch count.)
10.5 x 6.5 = 68.25 divided by 3 = 22.75 = K
Cast On 9[K](22.75) = 205 stitches (rounded up)

Follow the directions as written on page 8. It really helps to write out the sequence of the process, not only to help you wrap your mind around it but to clearly see at a glance in your notebook where you’re at with increases and decreases. The sweater looks like an alien amoeba until the latter half when you’re able to bring the sleeves into position.

In other news. Spring is in the air here in Oregon! I reveled in warm sunshine while mowing the yard today. Having clear sunny skies is balm to the soul. Last Friday we went to a farm that has plants for sale and bought a kumquat tree, along with some other plants. In the afternoon we planted peas and spinach seeds in the garden. We’re looking forward to spending more time outside working in the garden and the small greenhouse that we put up over the past few weeks.

In November I put out pleas here and in Ravalry for a certain color and dye lot of a green Cascade 220 sport yarn that I’d run out of a ball short of finishing the Child Surprise Jacket I was knitting for my grandson. After searching a few weeks I ended up buying all new skeins of the new lots of green, now dyed in China instead of Peru where Cascade yarns had been sourced and dyed for years.

The disaster took a positive turn: once I’d removed the needles from the original and I was able to lay it out flat I realized that I should go down a needle size but cast on more stitches to allow for the growth spurt my grandson was going through during the intervening months. Instead of #6 / 4mm needles I used #5 / 3.75mm 40″ circulars with the knit count of 24(k). That is one of the wonderful things about Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Surprise Jackets: you get to figure out the right numbers of stitches for the correct size.

In January we got the news that our son and family was to be transferred to the warm part of the Southwest. I devoted more evenings to knitting, racing against the time they’d leave cold snow country. Then Gus called asking us to fly to Boise to stay a few days with the kids while he and MJ looked for a house in the new city.

The night before we were to fly it was finished, except for the i-cord seaming of the sleeves to bring it all together. By bedtime there were still several inches  left to do and I knew that I didn’t want to wrestle with the technique while flying so I tucked it, yarn and needles into the suitcase that would be checked in, which also contained beads and beading tools – items Ed didn’t want to risk having confiscated if we took it as carry-on. I grabbed a ball of yarn from the bag that Ed had given me for Christmas, copied the first page of the pattern from the book he’d bought that has the sweater pattern he liked, found the right needles and put them in a project bag that fit into my purse.

Between several good people praying for my nerves and brain to be calm, taking the drowsy form of Demeral and knitting rows of K1, P1 for the beginning of the back, it was a good flight on a turbo-prop plane. When we saw it taxi up to the terminal Ed casually made a remark about its size to the older gentleman waiting next to us. He launched into glowing details about what great, sturdy planes these were; he’d rather fly through storms in them than a larger plane. What comfort hearing those words gave my trembling nerves! I know that God brought him to sit beside us just so I could have wonderful reassurance from a guy who had been a navy pilot towards the end of the Vietnam war.

That evening Wes tried on the sweater, trying not to mind the bristling needles and hanging ball of yarn. DSC_0012
Sunday afternoon Ed got out the beads for them to make make necklaces for mom.

DSC_0052By the time they’d finished making necklaces the sweater was dry.

Wes posing in his superhero stance. The black band slightly above his elbows was the original cast on edge. The first sweater that I’d almost finished had upper arms that seemed like they’d be too tight for this sturdy fellow so I cast on 10 additional stitches before marking the increase points. The additional on the arm part set the shoulder slightly behind the center shoulder line but doing so made for ample room in the upper sleeves. I wish I’d thought to do the two rows of blue around the perimeter of the sweater as I did at the last minute on the sleeve cuff. But the body was already cast off (and all the ends woven in) before I picked up the stitches along the cast on edge of the black sleeve band to lengthen the arms.
Monday Feathers had gymnastic class, an event that enthralled both Ed and I in that gym bustling with activity everywhere we looked. Groups of boys and girls ranging from kindergarten through high school in moving through stations of various apparatus and mats.
DSC_0089Feathers likes the balance beam best but she was sandwiched between two girls blocking her from our view.

More shots of the sweater and kids in action.
DSC_0146Here’s a back view of it.DSC_0150Wesley wanted to wear it all the time. Seeing his joy and enthusiasm for it makes me want to cast on another one.
Oh wait, first a sweater for Ed.

December has been filled with music, good memories, people and even two finished items!

The weekend of Dec 13 – 15 had three nights in a row of Christmas music: Friday was going to a local performance of John Doan’s Christmas Unplugged. (You may have seen his PBS “Victorian Christmas”.) He entertained us with historical details of old American instruments and facts of Christmas music a century ago. He played an assortments of the instruments including the harp guitar, which I wasn’t to keen to hear. Until he played.
Saturday evening was the Scotts Mills Friends’ annual Christmas sing-a-long. It was another fun evening of fiddling until my fingers were numb and people’s voices were worn out
Friday the four Sister-friends got together to celebrate MC’s birthday at another evening of Christmas music followed by cake.

One of my cousins (first cousin, twice removed – ha, figure that one out!) and his wife had their first child. They live in the middle of frigid Alberta, CA so I dug out some yarn I’d spun years ago from Sunset Fibers. I’d loved the fiber but until little Zelena was born had never figured out what it wanted to be. The moment I saw it when stash diving after getting word of her birth I knew exactly what it was to be. A Baby Peace Fleece Hat.

Only a couple of weeks earlier I’d ordered the Folk Art Hat Peace Fleece kit. (Go ahead, order one for the New Year!) The kit arrived with a complimentary Baby Peace Fleece Hat pattern. (It doesn’t seem to be available on their website.)

Rather than knitting flat, as the pattern instructed, I knit it in the round. Another change was crocheting two ties rather than making the chin strap as in the pattern.  The entire hat was completed in two evening; the second evening was for making the little crocheted flower decoration. (Not in the pattern) I was stunned to realize that in almost of life time of on and off crocheting I’d never made a flower. It’s not the pretty layered rose I’d envisioned due to the yarn being too thick to make a decent one.

I hope the parents will be as charmed with it as I am.
Baby Peace Fleece Hat           Peace Hat ear flap
What a fun knit, I’m looking forward to making more of these hats.

It was so  much fun that the next night I cast on for some booties for our young granddaughter. Violet’s not keen on wearing shoes and often our floors are quite cold.

I looked through scads of patterns then cast on for general ideas, didn’t see any that completely took my fancy but gathered enough ideas to begin chaining, and with only a few rip-backs sallied forth with a G crochet hook and some of the yarn I spun from fiber that Violet’s mom, Aurora, had dyed.

crochet boot project
Violet seemed to take a fancy to them Christmas morning. She was quite entranced with the buttons.066060

The past two Saturday brought spindle visitors! Adele and her husband drove over from a small town only about 35 miles to the west of us. They brought some lovely wood that he had used for carving but has since moved on to another hobby. We had a lovely afternoon visiting with them and hope to get together again one of these days. I was chagrined to realize I hadn’t thought to bring out my camera when they were here.

I would have forgotten to take pictures again this past Saturday when Susan and Michael stopped by on their way back to San Diego after visiting their son in Seattle. Fortunately Susan wanted to get a picture of her playing with the great wheel! I took a couple of pictures of her before Michael reached for the camera and took some pictures of the three of us.  Susan had been practicing her long draw with her Russian spindle and it showed in the ease with which she took to the Great Wheel.Susan spinning_2

Michael 1With miles yet to cover before stopping for the night their visit was short but sweet. We parted with wishes for a longer visit if they’re in the area again.

Ed woke up during the early hours Sunday morning sweating and chilled. We both felt pretty miserable on Sunday but whatever that was seemed to be a quickly passing bug. It probably helped that we both slept most of the morning and then lazed around reading, watching Dr Who and napping the rest of the day. Ed’s been plagued with coughing and sinus pressure off and on, we kept thinking it might be allergies since certain woods have triggered similar reactions in the past. Yesterday he decided it was time to see a doctor and get to the bottom of why he’s has so many cycles of feeling crummy. She found he has a bad case of sinus infection that she suspects has been there for months so now he’s on a course of antibiotics. His first in ages, well over a decade. The man used to never get sick. At all. This past year seems to have been making up for all those years. We’re both hoping for a much healthier year ahead. As such, we’ve continued to take it easy and not worry about work. I’ve enjoyed reading more than I may have read in the past six months, weaving, spinning on the Great Wheel and knitting on a sweater for our grandson. A friend from the days before we even had children came to visit for a couple of hours today. We hadn’t seen him in quite some time so it was great to catch up. We’d love to take a couple of days in the near future to visit he and his wife (she was unable to come with him) at their place on the coast.

Let sanity and common sense have the upper hand in this coming New Year!
We wish everyone a New Year filled with peace, joy, fulfillment and contentment.

Two projects have been simmering on back burners for too long. No, three.  That one has only been in the wings for 3 months so maybe it doesn’t count. Except the half warped Norwood that sits between the kitchen and living room is a constant reminder. All day long I see the warp thread tangling more as they dejectedly droop in despair of ever becoming cloth. The threads are through the reed and three-fourths have been threaded through the heddles (front to back). Any spare time I had during the daylight hours were either engaged in work or necessary outdoor activities. While weaving in the evenings is relaxing, threading heddles is not.

With the garden winding down there’s hope that by October I’ll be back at the loom. By then I dearly hope to have the one that’s been in the works since April finished, and more accomplished with the first.

The boot socks I’m knitting for granddaughter Feather were started in April. Her mom had sent a link to a Pinterest picture of a woman wearing boots socks; a type of legging to wear with cowboy boots with buttons to fast them up the leg. No feet. I searched Raverly, Google and my Stitchionary for a lacey pattern that looked similar,  Settling on one I cast on and made good progress for several evenings then was pulled up short.
Two dear friends had upcoming birthdays. Setting the boot socks aside I began spinning enough yarn to make two pairs of basic handwarmers.
Evenings at Black Sheep Gathering were perfect for getting back to the boot socks. About 3 inches had been added to each of them knitting them at the same time on a pair #1 / 2.25mm circ needles. They were long enough to get a good look at their circumference. While the math for the lace stitch was spot on and I’d cast on ample stitches ,I hadn’t knit a swatch. You’d think I’d learn. huh  These boot socks will fit Violet in a year or two, but no way will they stretch over an almost seven year old, active girl with well developed leg muscles.

Pulling out a pair of #2 / 2.75. Working a small swatch and figuring the math I cast on again.  Every morning and every evening I’ve worked a few rows and they are getting close to the right length.

Meanwhile, I’m spinning hemp to make drive bands for Ed’s 3rd Walking Wheel which he brought into the house yesterday. I can’t play with it until it has proper drive bands. Tomorrow I hope to finish the last of the spinning then ply, soak and stretch the line tautly between fence posts outside in the sun.
Hemp 9.13
Drying under pressure should remove all the possibility of future stretching once it’s in action on the wheel. We plan to demonstrate the last weekend in September then it’ll be available for sale. Pictures and more details of the Wheel to come.
What about the first project? The one with the Walking Wheel, a dog and a tapestry loom that goes back eons ago? I’ll write about it next time as I’ve run out of steam and need to hit the sack. The days continue busy. Today, after a morning of office work and writing on spindles I picked more tomatoes and dried them, the last came off the rack an hour ago. More plums were cooked to jam, zucchini shredded and frozen in 1/2 cup and 1 cup clumps for ease of using come winter. It looks like there will be one more picking of beans for freezing, sadly there aren’t enough for a canner full.

Oh no! I forgot to grind coffee for the morning! And Ed’s asleep.

Celebrating the momentous occasion of turning five merited something special and unique for our young grandson.  I’ve been long planning to knit him a Child Surprise Jacket but needed something far quicker. He’s loved the two hats I’ve knit him and I know he appreciates them in the cold winters where they live, so even though it’s the season of hot weather I rummaged through the stash for yarn I knew was in there.

A number of yarns ago CelticMemoryyarns Jo sent me some yarn from a grand haul she’d scored one day when out and about. I knew that one day the laceweight red yarn with a glimmering ply of gold thread would be perfect for a special project.  Stranding the red yarn with a soft fingering weight dark grey yarn set the stage for the look I was after.

Of all the pictures I took this is closest to the true colors, although it still didn’t capture the sparkle from the gold thread.
Loosely basing the shaping on the Southern Lights – Earflap Hat pattern. Made for an adult using chunky handspun yarn and US10 / 6mm needles – yep, loosely based! It was a springboard for forging ahead and figuring out the increases, decreases as I went based on my yarn, the size of needles I was using and the size of Wesley’s head.

The longest set of double-point needles on hand were US3 / 3.25mm which worked perfectly for the doubled yarns.

As I zoomed up from the earflaps to the place where Southern Lights called for joining in a round I veered directions and continued doing flat work for several more rows to lengthen the back of the head part. Next time I’ll lengthen it even more before joining to encase the whole head so it will ride low enough to entirely cover the neck.  I haven’t seen a picture of the little buddy wearing it but I suspect his neck will be exposed.

Crawling up the side of the head I had fun down small bits of sort-of strandwork where I dropped the red thread for one stitch periodically around the head. (Can you make out the subtle darker lines)

Wes Spider Hat side view

After braiding two 16 strand cords I embroidered a couple of fine little fellows in keeping with the theme.

Having properly bathed and dried the little hat went outside for a photo shot.

Careful! Don’t let it bite you!Wes Spider
Wesley loves playing spiderman and watching spiderman movies. This hat should see lots of wear.

Violet was still tiny when my daughter asked me to make her a cape.

I had crocheted Aurora a hooded baby cape that we used a great deal that first year when babies aren’t really shaped to be bundled into warm jackets with their round bodies and short arms that stick straight out when stuffed into a thick winter coat. I mentioned it to her.

Her reply? “Not crocheted. Not lacey. Toggle buttons would be great.”

Cape Toggles
The right yarn caught my eye while visiting a year store. Soft, lofty, washable.

No patten arrested my attention so as winter deepened visions of what I wanted were slowly etched and tried. By the third attempt ideas jelled, the dimensions and gauge settled.

Finished on time for her 1st birthday.

Cape Hood It was very handy during the early Spring cold walks riding in the backpack,
And the car journey between Grammie’s and home.014
It’s cuddly soft,

Cape Side View
but best of all, there’s plenty of room for growth
now that we’re well into a barefoot warm Spring.

The past few weeks have not been ordinary for two homebodies who typically do not go out in the evening, other than our one night per week commitments. And then there’s been knitting! A few late nights and I was able to finish up the Hiking Scarf and give it a wash and dry in time to pack it off in the mail before d-i-l’s birthday. The worsted, loosely spun alpaca took its sweet time drying, even draped near the wood stove.  With the clock quickly ticking to closing time at the local PO desperation called for the hair dryer aimed directly at it. Whew, dry with minutes to spare for wrapping it in birthday wrappings and tucking it in a box along with a lovely shawl pin Ed purchased last month.
Finished size, 60″ by 6″. The picture is a bit washed out, the alpaca was a lovely warm gray/brown. (Actually I’m suspecting the camera has been bumped too many times in that past 3+ years – it’s been frustrating getting it to capture true colors.)

Other than knitting a pair of socks with simple cables a couple of years ago, I hadn’t done any other cabling. At first it was very slow going and felt cumbersome but as the inches began building up welding a cable needle and working the twisted stitches became easier.

Aurora has been given two baby showers, both necessitating gifts, of course. :) The Norwegian Baby Cap and a soft cocoon that, without a baby in it ,doesn’t look like much so no pictures until there’s a wee baby snuggled in it. Another shower is scheduled in 10 days – decent progress is being made on another wee garment. With the cabled scarf successfully under my belt I felt ready to tackle a pattern I bought several years ago that had long seemed too challenging:Pattern: Baby Yours by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill, Superwash Merino 4oz/420 yards Colorway: Jade
Needles: #2 – Ed’s needles

The back (pictured above, partially worked) is now finished and I’m about 3 inches along on the left front. While working on the scarf I discovered the perfect cable needle.An old Clover maple double-point that had been broken. I love using this slightly under 2 1/2″  needle with one end sanded into a sharp point, the other not quite so. It easily tucks under my last two fingers when not in use, but handily available when working across the cable row. On the return row it gets stuck back into the ball of yarn.

I have two more items I’d love to finish before little one is born but there’s other things also needing attention so we’ll see if they’ll be finished.

We are so blessed by lovely friends! Twice in January we were surprised at the PO with unexpected parcels.
First this beautifully knitted lace doily by Grannie Linda.
Seeing all the tiny, soft pink stitches brought tears to my eyes. My grandmother had crocheted and knitted many doilies in her lifetime and as a child my mom had some of them on the backs and arms of chairs and under her violets. I have one large one – also with pink! that I’ve treasured. I wonder whatever happened to the others. Grannie Linda’s resides in a place of honor in our living room, yes with pink frog.

A couple weeks later another very light parcel appeared in our postal box. What in the world? Ah – another familiar name – Valerie, weaver extraodinaire. What could it be? Restraining myself from ripping into the box then and there, I ran home (literally – you can ask my neighbor who is often on his porch watching the world pass by) for the scissors.

What a sweet surprise on a deep-winter day, roses!
Isn’t this the best presentation of silk hankies you have ever seen? :) Each roll of hankies (Matawa) is dyed with lively pinks, greens and yellows – such cheerful colors. I have yet to decide what they’ll become. Someday the perfect project will claim them.

Thank you dear friends!!!

January/February often bring a sense of withdrawing and depression. Fortunately we’ve not had everlasting grey days of rain as we do some years. January had days of sunshine and blue skies. But still, the feeling settles into my bones, marrow and psyche. I want to be around people, but stronger is the desire to be solitary. Withdrawn. Quietly doing handwork, going for long walks, reading, though in truth I haven’t managed to work in long walks, I mostly dream about them and wonder how I can fit them into the day’s routine.

Last Sunday I took the dog for a walk out to the cemetery. It’d been several months since I’d walked that way. The almost daily walks Ed and I take to the school and back have taught Lilydog to stay close by without being on a leash. She’s good about staying right at our heels for the most part, or if her nose entices her to check out the bushes a short command brings her right back.  So, on Sunday when I set out with her it didn’t cross my mind to grab her leash. Spindle and wool in hand we made it up to the cemetery and had turned back when I saw three dogs gamboling at the far end of the field across the way. There was no way we could walk down the open road with out them spotting us but I hoped that they were trained to stay close to the farm buildings. We made it halfway down the hill and just past a long driveway when the terrier and golden lab spotted us. Alerted they barked and headed our way. I considered whether  my Turkish spindle would make a good weapon. Deciding, no, it was tucked it in the walking pouch. Instead I put a handful of gravel into my jacket pocket and a hefted a rock in my right hand. By then the terrier was sniffing along our back tracks while the lab was charging towards us. I climbed a wire fence post and said in my sternest voice, “GO HOME!” He slowed about 50 feet away. Hesitating. Uncertain. Again I commanded him to go home. He wandered up to where the terrier was still sniffing out our earlier passing then they headed back into the field.

Lily and I continued along the lane keeping a vigilant eye towards the dog.  The lane makes a sharp turn to lead past their farm and out to the main road. At the bend there is a grove of trees on the side we were walking. I found a good stout branch for the dogs had more or less paralleled our journey and now that we were coming close to their home turf they were acting more aggressive again. Near their place the lab swooped towards us then circled out around Lily dropping back only when I shouted at him. Three times he charged, the last time he came in too close for my comfort (HA! I hadn’t been comfortable since first spotting him across the way) and I brandished the stick at him while telling him to go home. Poor Lily was doing her best to ignore them but she also kept about 10 feet away from me as though she were trying to lure them away from me. I have no idea if that lab was more bravado than bite but I’m not keen to try walking past him again. Finally he seemed to lose interest in us and we made it out to the main road.

A few hundred yards farther down the road a couple men were working on a truck. They’d been there earlier when we first walked past, along with a little granddaughter. This time one of them was holding a boxer in the back of the pickup. As we approached, on the opposite side of the road, he called out not to worry that he had a hold of his dog, and even if he didn’t hold her she’d just want to play with us. Great, just hang on to that dog!  We’d made it past the house when I heard barking and turned to see the boxer blazing towards us, in a non-friendly way. I lifted my stick and told it to Go Home as the owner shouted, “Sadie, get back here.” She wavered a moment then turned and went grudgingly back to him.

After being bitten by a dog six years ago I can no longer feel friendly and trustful of dogs. I need to buy some pepper spray. I should also leave Lily at home. Having a dog along with me seems to bring out dogs.

Well, this post certainly went off on a different direction! I’ll try to post again soon and tell about the showers, and the two events that Ed and I recently attended – one this afternoon.

I’m so woefully behind on blogs. I have forgotten my dear cyber friends, it’s just that , other then brief forays to FB, I’ve been pretty much avoiding the computer during my non-working hours. The weekend is coming with continuing rain in the forecast. Perhaps I’ll be able to get in some serious blog reading time.

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