Tuesday, January 31, 2006


The Wrap That Baby in a Community of Love Blanket is done and delivered and Before the Baby's Birth!! We are grateful that the baby is late rather than early, however. Can you see the tired eyes and hands in this photo or are you blinded by the beauty of the blanket???

Made of Baby Ull, the blanket is soft and cuddly. However, to make the blanket stronger and to give it a longer life, I backed the blanket (after blocking) with light weight soft polar fleece. I've done this before and learned that you need to block the blanket first, spread out the polar fleece on the floor and then try to center the blanket on top of the polar fleece. Step 2 is to tie to tack the corners of the squares to the polar fleece. Step 3 is to pin the edges of the blanket to the fleece. Then, step 4 is to flip the blanket over, trim the polar fleece, fold under the edges and hand stitch the fleece to the edge of the blanket with tiny stitches.

Beware the over eager knitter who tries to assemble this in a different order!! I have unstitched the tiny edge stitches three times in a queen size knit blanket/backing combo and have only barely lived to tell the gruesome story.

Here are photos of the blanket in more close up, for those who want to see the stitches used in the squares. You can see that I used a crocheted shell lace edging. I applied the edging after blocking and before applying the fleece backing. I stitched the folded fleece edge to the bottom edge of the shell lace.

And, here I am with Diana Rose Diamond, my 14 year old's favorite doll from her childhood. Diana is a great model for baby clothes, including the hat and booties made to match the blanket.

Since the real babe has not yet showed its cuteness to the world, I don't have a photo of the real thing. However, the mother is thrilled beyond words with the blanket, the love and the dedication that went into the project. She is impressed with the variety of stitches, patterns and creativity that went into the project. I taught her to knit 18 months ago and for Christmas 2005 she knit her husband a pair of socks, teaching herself to do so from Sally Mellville's book!!!

Everytime I organize a group project blanket, I begin the event with great anticipation and excitement. Then, about 80% of the way through I hit a wall. It's hard enough to assemble pieces knit from one's own hands. We all know that pieces are identical only in theory! Each piece, knit with the same number of stitches, same number of rows, same gauge, same yarn seems to take on a character and shape of its own!! Pieces knit by many individual hands take on the characters of each knitter. There always seem to be some squares that refuse to be square: they are rectangles that snub their noses at the required dimensions. Only with great ingenuity, slight of hand and frantic crocheting around the edges is it possible to piece the thing together in something that will resemble a large rectangle rather than a multi-sided polygon.

Blabbering and muttering at this point in the assembly process I promise NEVER to take on this type of project again! I force my daughter to promise that she will prevent me, by force if necessary, from ever again even suggesting that I will take on such a project!

Next, after assembling all the pieces in an artistic order, I mutter to myself that edgings are out of date, that I should let the item stand alone! Who am I kidding?? Edgings, lace or fringe, hold the piece together, provide stability, show off the inside with pride. And, so, I apply a frame.

Then, I look at the creation and it is dazzlingly beautiful! More beautiful than the sum of the parts. More beautiful than anyone imagined. The love, perseverence and pride of all the assembled knitters and crocheters shine through. And the recipient tears up, feeling the love of each person in each square. She will think about each person whenever she picks up the blanket from a different section. She will always know that Alice made her first center-out lace on this square, and that Diana dedicated herself to every stitch of that purple square, and that Joan's heart square is a symbol of love, and that Gerda's more than 80 years of knitting experience assembled and joined the squares, and so on.

And I can't wait to start the next group project!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Beginning of Semester Blues

Well, the academic semester is one week old and already I am longing for the freedom of summer. I just can't motivate myself to get serious about studying. I am student teaching, at my late age, in the library of a very large high school (2200 students), taking Spanish 204 with lots of young undergrads and taking multicultural children's literature via a web course. This all cuts into my knitting and coffee time, of course. I'd much rather knitting, as my license plate holder on my car says!

I tried to load a photo of the cute baby hat a WTBCLB member made for the blanket-baby. Unfortunately, the loading didn't work here in the SLIS computer lab. Will have to try from at home. This also depressed me since I wanted to share how cute the hat is.

As for the blanket, all the squares were sewn together by the lovely elderly Danish woman and I will pick it up tonight. I am wavering between knitting on a lace edging and knitting on a simple stockinette edging that folds on itself. Hmmmm, which is faster??? I saw the mother to be at church on Sunday and while happy, she looks ready for the hospital!!

For those of you who live on the academic calendar, I hope your semester beginning is more motivated than mine!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Knitting v. Student Teaching and Final Squares

The second semester has begun and I am doing student teaching at a large high scho0l (2200 students), in the library. For my certification as a school librarian, I must spend a total of 210 hours in two school libraries. I chose to spend 140 hours at a high school and 70 hours at an elementary school. Today was basically introduction to the school and the library. The REAL librarian is very nice, but doesn't knit. At least she likes books and word games!! The library assistant can't remember how to cast on or off--and she wants to learn. In addition, there are three knitting clubs for students!!! Guess where I will be during the Wednesday lunch hour--knitting with the students!

The final squares for the WTBCLB (Wrap This Baby in a Community of Love Blanket) have been submitted and Gerda, a lovely elderly Danish woman, is assembling the masterpiece. Photos upon completion.

Carolyn W. made this lovely semi-Bohus style square.

And this gingham effect one as well.

Barb T, a new knitter, Tackled this blue and yellow textured square, with help from Amy G.

And Linda Joy K. made this striped textured square.

Lots and lots of talent, learning and love have been knit into this blanket. Sounds like a baby's life, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

On your mark, get set, WAIT!!

I am waiting for the Heilo yarn I ordered for my husband's sweater. Why is it that before I start a big project I feel that I have to clean house, my knitting house that is? I can't just gleefully abandon old projects, to let them molder in some corner? I'm stuck in a project completion mode, trying to "bring to a close" little projects in various knitting bags scattered throughout the house. Of course, I ignore my brother's Alice Starmore aran sweater, where I need to think about how to shape the arms to match the "on the fly" shaping that I optimistically gave to the armholes a year ago. That project is buried deep in my bottom drawer. No, I am concentrating on the little projects that are easy to finish. Like these socks, out of yarn that I bought in Norway in 2001, using my favorite pattern from Socks, socks, socks.

And then there are these Komi mittens, the ones where I cut off the cuff last week. I finally sewed in all the ends.
But, just when I thought I had made progress on knitting equilibrium, I won this lucious 100% merino bulky yarn at knitters' guild last night. Oh, its siren song is calling me to make something out of it, quick, before that big order of Heilo comes in. But, I have more projects to finish.....

And, more progress on the WTBCLB--Square #12 has come in. Geke used a stitch pattern from a Dutch knitting book. And, she gave it to me on the same day that the same pattern, I think, was on my 365 stitch pattern calendar!! January 8.

WTBCLB #13 is from Diana, a beginning knitter, in garter stitch. the color is the lovely light lavender, but both my camera and the monitor have distorted the color. Sorry!

WTBCLB #13 is from Alice, who tried knitting from the center outwards for the first time!

And, Amy used two strands and a diagonal open knit to make the square. WTBCLB #14.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

WTBCLB #6-11

More squares have been completed for the Wrap That Baby in a Community of Love Blanket. I met five people at church this morning and they eagerly gave me their squares, wanting (of course) to see the others already handed in! I also met Gerda, the elderly Danish woman who will crochet around all the squares in white, then sew them together, then apply a lace edging. Oh, I can't wait to see it completed!! I love making these group projects. Everyone is so eager and excited and the finished product is worth more than the sum of the parts!!

Here are the squares. Unfortunately, the color of my camera and then the color of the monitors distort the true colors of the Baby Ull.

Barb A. crocheted her square in lavender and yellow.
Deb Ross knit hers in light green.
Amy G. used two strands, one of blue and one of yellow, to make this tree of life.
Julie M. used all four colors in this slip stitch pattern.

Joan S. knit a reverse stitch heart into the center of her green square.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Presents!! and WTBCLB #5

The fifth square for the Wrap That Baby in a Community of Love Blanket has been finished--mine! I used all four colors and the photo has a close up of the stitch. Same stitch for the entire square.

I had a little left over yarn and decided to make booties to match the blanket! The bootie is being modeled by my daughter's favorite doll.

Also, surprise! Just in time for Three Kings' Day, yesterday a wonderful package came in the mail, from Spain. Betty kindly sent me some European notebooks for my daughter, who fell in love with the small checked note paper while in Spain last year. Alas, this type of notebook is not sold in the US, as far as we could find. Betty generously sent five notebooks and some smaller ones, along with glorious Katia yarn (made in spain and sent directly to me from Spain!!), and a delicious turron--a thick chocolate bar mixed with nuts sold at Christmas time in Spain. Look at that gorgeous brightly colored yarn! I can't wait to put it on needles. the package weighed a ton, full of greatly appreciated items.mmThank you! Gracias! Merci!

Betty is a great and generous friend who has lots of energy and talent. Check our her blog at www.sincontrol.blogspot.com. For the anglophones reading this, "sin control" means out of control, or without control! It does not mean that she controls sin!!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


The fourth square for the Wrap That Baby in a Community of Love Blanket has come in! Sixteen more to go! This lavender lace square was designed and knit by Adria.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

WTBCLB #3 and Meddling with Mittens

Ann G. has completed the third square for the Wrap This Baby in a Community of Love Blanket. Her square is uses all four colors, with a very simple but elegant design of her own creation.

The project is still fun, even though I ripped the beginnings of my square four times today, trying to get the correct gauge for 10". Oh, I know, I did a swatch but somehow I didn't believe that my calculations were correct! Sigh....

I've also been working on mittens from Charlene Schurch's book of ethnic designs from Russia. The book has been published twice, under different titles. I now own both, by mistake! I purchased Knitting Marvelous Mittens a few years ago, attracted by the mitten on the cover. I recently purchased a copy under another title, again attracted by the mitten on the cover, but not recognizing the title. Figuring I didn't have the book, I bought it again!!!

At any rate, my stash had some worsted weight wool and even though all the book's patterns call for fingering or sport weight yarn, I decided to substitute the worsted weight, using the same size needles. Result: marvelously thick mittens.

But, I had a problem. I tried another amendment to the pattern. After the corrugated ribbing, I decided to try 2 x 2 ribbing in one color, thinking that this would snug up the cuff even more. WRONG!!! Why I didn't rip it out immediately, I don't know. I must have been counting on that ever elusive knitting fairy to fix the problem. Well, I got carried away with the mitten and had finished it before coming to grips with the bulky ribbing that 'bagged" terribly at the wrist. So, I tried a drastic measure--I cut off the cuffs, picked up stitches, and worked from the mitten to the end of the cuff. I must have been inspired by the documentary I was watching about the Medici family and the various throat slittings to maintain family power!!

And, it worked!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Rain, rain, go away!

It is raining like crazy here in the upper midwest; and also in Pasadena, CA. I'm watching the Rose Bowl Parade where rain is pouring down on the floats and paraders! Makes one think of plastic rain coats rather than cozy knitted mittens, scarves and hats!!

In the days when snow was falling, I began these Paradoxical Mittens, by Lucy Neatby, for my step-daughter in the Pacific Northwest, where it's been raining cats and dogs this week! But, the mittens are gorgeous, in my humble opinion. Great fun to make. The pattern is great--the diamonds in the pattern extend from the front to the back and WITHOUT JOGS!!!! Perfect pattern for those who are frustrated with color patterns that jog at the new round.

My parents and my sister and her son were with us for the holidays. My youngest is now 14 and my nephew is 9.Nine is a wonderful age in boys! Their job is play, play, play, make weird noises, play, play, eat, eat, play, play. But, unfortunately, not young enough to be a true believer in Santa, but old enough to know that believing is more fun!

We did the family traditions--making cut out cookies

and decorating them

and putting together a jigsaw puzzle--with great enthusiasm since we did not do them last year in Spain.

When I saw this puzzle in a LYS, I had to get it.

My father dutifully worked on the puzzle despite the knitting theme. He even tackled the most difficult yarn sections! Go, Dad!!

My elder daughter loved her mittens, despite the dire predictions of my youngest!

The Dale of Norway sweater for my husband was eagerly received. We have so far spent two hours trying to select the perfect color combinations. He has a grey beard and he is afraid that a lot of white in the color pattern will make him look too washed out. Therefore, we are going for a non-traditional look of color on color for the predominant scheme. The pattern is the 2000 anniversary version, with 6 colors. I'll post the colors when he makes a final decision.

Our biggest "present" was to ourselves: a commitment to spend a month in Spain/Barcelona in the summer of 2006!!! We will begin the planning next week, when my husband returns from the Pacific Northwest!!