Keep An Ear To The Ground

It’s been a little quiet on Eskimimi Makes over the last few days, but in the background I have been industrious and have a new pattern in the works. It’s not quite finished yet, and I have a couple of supporting tutorials to write and video to make sure that the pattern is as well accessible to all as can be, but as I am readying for it to be pattern tested, here is a little early teaser shot for a peek at the cuteness…

Pattern coming soon(ish).

Emergency Whale Rescue – The Sailor Sweater

Thank you so much for the helpful, understanding and corroborating responses to a recent post, where I had written about a pattern that I had a number of issues knitting, a sailor-style sweater with intarsia motif: Brendan. I had detailed the issues that I’d had with the pattern (neck opening size, motif size, motif placement) and the steps I’d taken to try to deal with the pattern errors and inconsistencies, before having chucked in the towel and decided that it wasn’t worth the extra hassle at a time whilst I had been ill.

A number of people said to just frog the entire project and re-use the yarn for something more pleasing, which I would have done if by the time that the edgings, intarsia, front and back seamed pieces, etc, wouldn’t have meant that I’d have ended up with a load of awkward scraps. so, instead I put an hour aside today and decided to just knit a few edgings onto the neckline and sleeve holes, so that at least it was finished. I used my own Apply On-The-Fly iCord edging to ensure that the unfinished edges were quickly and fully enclosed. When it came to the sharp turn at the bottom of the neck opening, I picked up not one, but two stitches at the lowest part before moving the stitches up the needle, and knit these three together (again, through the back loop), to make the turn, doing this twice at the lowest point of the neckline.
It’s not finished to the degree that I would have liked, but I knew that I didn’t have the heart to work on it any further, and for relatively little work at least the edging has made it look in some way usable. I did as was suggested and tried the finished piece on Giantmonk, but shall we say that he is just a little, er, ‘rotund’, to wear it without making him look like he has been unfairly stuffed into it. I don’t know if Baby Awesome will ever wear this: I’ll see how it looks when he’s finally here.

For now I shall just put this with the other finished sweaters and see what becomes of it, whilst the pattern of hand-knits in the nursery grows one higher.

Though there are many further things that we could do with the nursery, it is, to all intents and purposes, ready for if Baby Awesome comes into the world. There are some finishing touches that I hope will be done in time, but as I reach full term today I feel at least comfortable in the knowledge that we will be at least partly ready.

Now as each day passes it feels a bit like a countdown to an indeterminate moment. I am trying to steady my nerves with simple knitting and un-fussy tasks, but tiredness is starting to get the better of me, and discomfort makes any concentrated length of time spent on a task a bit difficult. Mostly, however, I am just too nervous and excited to concentrate.

For now, the little whale sailor top sits waiting in the nursery along with all of his other things: whales and narwhals, fish, lighthouses and images of the seaside and bright oceans. I like to wander into the room when the house is quiet, and imagine spending time there soon.

Polaroid – Pictures Back in Time

Mr Awesome and I have been looking for a Baby Record book and photo album for quite a while. We’ve searched at baby shows, stationers, baby stores and online, but for one reason or another none were ever quite suitable. Either they just weren’t right for reasons I probably couldn’t justify now, but on the day just weren’t as nice as I’d hoped, or had pages of records for people and relations that we didn’t have in our lives, or to celebrate holidays and occasions that we perhaps didn’t take part in. I don’t know… but somehow we just could never quite find one. After a while we decided to just make our own, get a large 12×12″ scrapbook and record the moments that were important to us.

I am not a scrapbooker, but I do have a load of scrapbook papers that I have used for other things, so we were already in good stead with these; however, Mr Awesome did see some cute little baby boy papers and so now we have even more papers than before (and he wonders why it is that the craft cupboard now has a subsidiary support unit under the bed… totally his fault).

One of the things that I wanted to have in the book was just a snapshot of life before Baby Awesome came bouncing into the world, with copies of his scan pictures and maybe a few shots of his daddy and I before he was in our lives. Whilst looking on the Internet (a dangerous pastime if ever there was one) I came across the Polaroid style prints offered by Photobox, and decided that for these initial pages that these would make a nice little layout or two.
The prints both look and feel very authentic as Polaroid prints: they have a black square on the rear framed by the familiar textured white border on front or back. The only bit you don’t get to enjoy is shaking the print to help the image develop (apparently this didn’t actually achieve anything, but seems to be a memory that most people with a polaroid camera can vividly remember doing, along with occasionally blowing on the print to ‘dry’ it). There is also the option to have text printed directly onto the frame of the prints, as in the picture above, with a selection of fonts and sizes at your disposal.
The prints do not run cheap, but I justified it to myself in it being a special occasion. The current price is £9.99 for 12 prints (I had the ten above printed as well as two more of the scans for us to keep, as the thermal printed scan pictures provided by the hospital (for £5 each!) are affected by both heat and light and can darken over time, so I hoped these would be a bit more durable. However, the site I bought mine from (Photobox) regularly has sales of 25-40% on products, and so I paid £6.99 for my set. I have also just found that Photobox have a sister site called Sticky 9 that carry the same product, and though I have no idea if they ever have sales they do instead have free shipping, so it may be worth looking at both sources if you were looking to buy any (I am not affiliated with either, so I will receive no perks from the two links above, I just really liked the prints!)

Hopefully over the next few days we will be able to sit down and put together those first couple of pages in a book that I hope will capture some of the important moments of our little boy’s life when he is born and grows up. As the days tick by and I reach full term on Friday it seems ever so close, and yet still as if I am dreaming.

FO: Bubble & Squeak

Over the weekend I decided to knit a little cardigan with the remnants of three shades of Drops Baby Merino in Ice Blue, Lavender and Navy using the Little Bubbles pattern. As it was knitted with the three yarns left over from completing the Snuggly Bums Trousers, Perfect Stripes Cardigan and Bumpy Baby Jumper I came to think of it rather  like the dish Bubble & Squeak: made from leftovers.
The pattern is simply written, with the exception of the stitch pattern used for the ‘bubbles’ section around the neckline, which is perhaps a little clumsily described. A stitch in one of the contrasting shades of blue (in this case the Lavender and Navy blues) is dropped down four rows to the first stitch of the background colour (Ice Blue). The left needle can then be inserted through this stitch and underneath the resulting strands of the drops contrast stitches, and the stitch knit as usual, which feels as if you are knitting the whole lot together. This bundles together all of the background strands to draw them together and upwards at the rear of the work, preventing any loose stranding that could catch around small baby fingers and also improving the appearance of the stitch.
I knit the cardigan with several modifications, including reducing the number of colours used from five to just three, to make use of the yarn that I already had.

The original version had very wide sleeves which looked disproportionate to the body of the cardigan, so I made an alteration to the numbers used when dividing the count of stitches between the body and the sleeves. Having knit the smallest size, I gave 33sts  to each of the cardigan fronts (instead of 31), 36sts were put aside for each sleeve (instead of 40) cast on 4 for the underarms (instead of 8) and gave 65 to the back of the cardigan (instead of 61). This resulted in the body having the same stitch count as per the original, due to the reduced number of stitches cast on for the underarms, but the arms carrying 8 fewer stitches once both underarm and initial sleeve numbers were taken into account.

I also shortened the sleeves from their original full length so that I had a few different sleeve options available to the baby to account for weather and situation when the baby is born. I did this by knitting three rounds of the background colour and 10 rounds of garter stitch (beginning with a purl round) before binding off in purl.
I also increased the stitch count of the picked up button bands to 58sts and gave five equally spaced buttonholes instead of the four in the pattern which left a large un-buttoned section at the bottom of the band, spaced as so:
K4, *3st buttonhole, K8; Repeat from * three more times, 3st buttonhole, K5. I knit the buttonholes with a contrast placeholder yarn and overcast these to finish them once the cardigan was knit, but in hindsight it was a lot of work for not a lot of effect. Though the resulting buttonholes do feel nice and stable, it would perhaps be only a technique I used for a fine-finished garment, rather than a baby knit, and would next time just cast them off one row and back on the next row, for speed and simplicity..

The only other modification I made was to change the striping sequence from the one given in the pattern. The original consists of 24 rows (in the smallest size) of single-row stripes. In the areas where the yarns used have a noticeable contrast I thought it looked quite optically challenging, so found a slightly more harmonious (to my own aesthetics) striping sequence using the three restricted palette of three shades instead of the five prescribed shades given in the pattern.

The finished cardigan is simple, but cute and was a relatively quick knit. If I were to knit it again the only further modification I would make would be to perhaps drop down a needle size of the ‘Bubbles’ rows just to neaten those up a tad more as they have lost a little of their form once the merino wool received its bath and relaxed a little.

Pattern: Little Bubbles by Nina Isaacson
Yarn: Drops Baby Merino in the shades Ice Blue, Lavender and Navy.

The Little Whale That Would Only Fail

A few weeks ago I posted about the first baby knit that I made once I was feeling up to knitting, after the more miserable effects of my pregnancy had eased and I had started feeling up to just a few slow stitches here and there.

Today, however, I remembered that the little yellow kimono was in fact not the first baby knit that I embarked upon, though it was the first that I finished. In fact, the first baby knit (for my own baby) that I started is still not finished, and I doubt ever will be. It is my very own Fail Whale.
I hate this.After the confidence that the first scan gave us, I decided to let myself dream a little of the future, and imagine ourselves with a little baby, wrapped in precious handmade things, and in my head I envisioned a bright nursery with white and neutral brown and beige tones and a feel of the seaside, filled with whales, lighthouses, light and navy blues, driftwood and the sea-air lightened shades of summer. So, when I went looking for the first baby knit pattern I chanced upon what I thought was the perfect pattern: a little sailor-style sweater with a whale on it. We were months off of knowing whether to expect a girl or boy, but I thought that this cute little knit would suit both equally.

I liked the look of the somewhat oversized sailor collar, and so decided to pick up the $7.50 pattern as my knitting needles were twitching.

Sadly, I don’t think I will ever finish this pattern because of the frustrations it brought me. I know I should have read the Ravelry comments first, but I was away from home and on my iPhone and (excuses). Chief concern among many of the other completed projects on Ravelry is that this sweater does not successfully fit over a baby’s head. I ended up going back and fudging this a little by inserting a vertical neck opening to increase the space for baby’s head to go through, but in the original pattern the neck is continuous and joined across the collar: If you imagine sewing up the vertical neck opening and the space this leaves, it is not baby-head friendly.

I was going to edge the neckline I had created with either some applied i-Cord or a few rows of picked-up rib or garter, and then brace it with a little button-able tab, in keeping with the sailor style. I think this would have worked out, but I had other problems with the pattern, too.

I can see that all of the other projects on Ravelry have used the original intarsia chart for the sweater (the pattern comes with two: one for a sailing boat and the other for the whale, above), and I think if I hadn’t so much have wanted to use the whale chart I would have fared better, as then it might actually have worked, but as it was the chart just did not fit on the sweater.

I have been in touch with the designer who has twice said that it is my gauge (specifically row gauge) that is the issue, but it’s not. I am on gauge and actually it is the maths in the pattern.

The pattern gives a row gauge of 24 rows per 4″/10cm (so six rows per inch). The pattern gives to knit 5 rows of garter stitch (which is about ½”) then you are to knit 1″ of stockinette for the newborn size (so, keep track here: 1½” so far). The whale motif is 39 rows high, which at 6 rows per inch works out to 6½”, added to the initial 1½” gives 8 inches total by the time that the last row of the whale intarsia is knit. However, the pattern gives instruction to start the bind-off for armhole shaping for the newborn size after 6″ from the cast-on edge: 2 inches before, (using the pattern’s gauge), the chart would be finished. If using the sailing boat chart this would likely not present a problem, as the tapering triangle formed by the sails would bring the motif in at the sides enough to avoid the decreases formed by the armhole shaping. However, the motif of the whale runs right up to the top-left corner of the chart, and the newborn sweater makes use of the entire width of the chart up to the seaming line, so you’s have to sacrifice half of the whale’s tail.

I did contact the designer with the issues in the chart, but was told that it was my gauge at fault. I did email back with the maths of the pattern in the given gauge of the pattern, but was told it was my gauge and that many people had issues with achieving the gauge (I did not), so kind of gave up and decided to just improvise around the armholes as best as I could. But, by now, I was kind of fed up of the whole project. I like adapting and modifying things to suit a particular idea or preference of mine, but having to do so to be able to allow a sweater to go over an infant head or actually fit the chart in the given space was just fixing problems rather than putting a stamp of preference on.

When I ran through the gauge maths again the sleeves seemed to be a bit out of proportion. It really wouldn’t have been a big job to have just re-jigged the maths on the sleeves, but I was kind of fed up of the whole thing by this point, and then I didn’t like the way the collar was worked and sat on the shoulder at the neck edge, and then felt disheartened and put it aside until finding it today.
I could edge the sleeves and neckline and salvage at least a little sleeveless sweater from this project, but I don’t know if I have either the heart nor energy to give it any more of my time. It was the project that I’d hoped would bring me through the health problems that had plagued me through much of the pregnancy, but in reality I didn’t start the next project until a long time after casting this aside. Maybe if I find where I have put the cream yarn I was using for the motif and details I will edge the sleeve and neckline to see how it looks, or maybe I will just chuck it back where it was and concentrate on new knits.