Knitting as Solace

I want to clarify a couple of things from my last post (Reeling). First, the fact that I support Black Lives Matter does not mean that I am anti-law enforcement. Police officers do a difficult and necessary job, and I am grateful for all they accomplish.

In a hospital setting, mistakes are a Big Deal. They happen, of course, as they do to all humans everywhere. When they happen, they can have a serious impact on peoples’ health and even lives. In recent years, health care safety experts have started recognizing that there are different ways to respond to mistakes. When a near miss happens, or an adverse event, we look at the issue from all angles. We identify contributing factors and seek to find new standards and practices to prevent the same thing from happening again. One of the most important parts of this process is understanding the culture surrounding the event, and then determining how that culture must adapt in response. Implementing culture change in any setting isn’t easy, and hospitals are no exception. However, it is the single most effective way to keep patients safe. As a result, members of the health care team are all expected to embrace and promote practice changes, and to be transparent about times when things do not go right. It’s life or death.

I believe that most police officers are probably very good people. I believe that most people in general are, as well. It’s just that I know how strongly working culture impacts how people act, and it seems like our law enforcement culture is becoming more and more militarized and violent. We need a serious culture change. Again, it’s life or death. It’s imperative that law enforcement agencies truly examine the circumstances present when things go horribly wrong, identify contributing factors, and implement culture and practice changes so that these tragedies don’t keep happening. There is no other way that things will change. Until then, no one is safe.

As always, my best source of solace is in knitting. Over the past couple of days, I’ve done a lot of work sewing together a sweater for a friend from my LYS. It’s been comforting to take pieces of something and join them together, making everything line up just so. It brings a sense of order to my thoughts and feelings and helps me cope just a little bit better. My socks are off the needles and ready for a wash and a block, and I’m gearing up for the next couple of projects.

Counter to the intense sadness of yesterday, I had an experience which also brought me joy. The mom who ordered the knight’s set from me came to pick it up. She brought her adorable son and tried the hat on him. It fit perfectly and looked downright awesome. She stuck around for a few minutes and we chatted. She mentioned several of her friends might be interested in ordering things from me, too, and asked if she could pass on my information. Of course, I said that was fine. I did warn her that if I did a similar set again, I would charge significantly more as it ended up being a much larger project than I’d anticipated*. She completely understood, and thought her friends would still be interested. We then had a nice conversation about making things to sell (she does a bit, too), and how to value your time and work without being unreasonable. I got to hold her son (who’s turning 1 soon) for a bit and then she went on her way. She seemed really happy with the set and even hugged me before she left. This is all to say that I think the exchange went really well–she seemed to love the product, we connected a bit about making and selling, and we were both happy with how things turned out.

Just after the client had left, my wife looked at me and asked me why I was crying. I didn’t realize until that moment that I was! But, sure enough, I had teared up a bit. I just get so happy when someone really, really likes something I’ve made. It made all the tedious sword-making and pattern-altering worth it to see how excited she was. It brought me a sense of warmth and joy that I desperately needed. To add to that, she sent me a text later saying she wanted to make us a set of “fairy jars” as an added thank you! They are mason-type jars with silhouette cutouts on them as well as colored paper. When you put a tea light inside (the battery kind), you can see the silhouette and can use the jar as a nightlight or a pretty decoration.

She sent me some pics of her son wearing all the pieces. He doesn’t stay still for long, but you can see enough to tell that he looks super cute! Shared with permission:

I don’t think he could get any cuter! Little Sir J is definitely ready for a party! The diaper cover turned out almost like shorts, but I don’t think that’s a problem. If anything, I think it’s even cuter that way. His mom already had some ideas for a Christmas get up, and I can’t wait to get started! That is one knitworthy family.

If you have been similarly effected by current events in the US, I hope that you are able to find some peace and comfort somewhere, whether that’s through knitting, crafting, self-care, listening or talking. One stitch at a time, right?

*I wasn’t angling for more money, here. I stood by my original asking price. I just didn’t want there to be any unpleasant surprises for anyone!


FO Spotlight: Baby Broadsword, Helmet & Diaper Cover

Since I made these three items as a set, I figured it would make sense to post about them all at once. I put the finishing touches on the sword last night at my fiber arts group. so it’s all finally ready to be revealed! This set was commissioned by a contact on FaceBook. It’s intended to be used for a child’s first birthday party, for props and photos. I had a hard time finding just the right patterns for everything, so I ended up modifying one and just making another up on my own.

The first piece is the Knight’s Helmet Hat. I used the Sir Knight Helmet pattern by Martina Gardiner ($5). The client wanted the blade part to come up and over the crown more than in the pattern, so I modified it. Otherwise, I made it as written for the toddler size.


The visor has sort of an odd construction, but I think it will work out all right. It does tend to pull in pretty strongly due to the color changes. If I made it again, I would work that part much more loosely. I found the coolest buttons to use for it, though:


I tried to get some modeled shots on this one year old cutie, but she wasn’t having much of it! Here’s the best I was able to get:

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The visor is designed to be worn either up, as shown, or across the mouth like a real helmet. Since your average toddler isn’t likely to tolerate the latter for very long, I’m glad it’s versatile! The fit in the picture isn’t great as her head is a bit smaller than the recipient’s is. Hopefully it will fit him just right!

The second piece I made was a matching diaper cover. I used the Cheeky Soaker pattern by Megan Christensen. I made size medium based on the recipient’s waist measurement but made a couple of modifications. Since this won’t be used as a soaker, it’ll probably be worn over less bulky disposable diapers. So, I made the waistband a bit shorter and erred on the shorter side when making the rise. The pattern provides a number of different options for waistband styles. I chose to do k2p2 rib and use an I cord drawstring. I added some short rows in the butt (more details are on my project page, linked above).


I made the I cord just long enough to tie and to knot each end.

One thing I really like about this (free) pattern is the ribbing on the sides and the crotch. It looks pretty cool that way and I think it will help it fit well. Here’s a shot of the side so you can see what I mean:


This view also shows the effect of the short rows on the butt.

I used my standard stretchy cast on (Tillybuddy’s) and bind off (JSSBO) for these.

And now, the pièce de résistance: the sword. When I searched ravelry, I did actually find a few sword patterns, ranging from free to about $6. However, none of them really had the look I had in mind. After looking through hundreds of project photos, I began to get an idea for what I wanted. I knew I wanted the center of the blade to have definition and that the edges should be distinct. I started playing around with some different options and finally decided I would come up with my own pattern.

Let me just pause here to say that I’ve never designed something from scratch. I’ve modified existing patterns, sometimes heavily, but I’ve always had a starting point and an overall concept to guide me. This was something completely different. I had a lot of respect for designers before, but now it’s been firmly cemented in place!

So, I got an idea for how to start. I cast on, worked some, thought of a better way, ripped it out and started over…several times. I kinda lost count. I gradually refined my approach until I couldn’t think of any more improvements. At each transition, I repeated the same process: work some, realize I’d made a mistake/could do something better, rip it out, start that section again. I wish I had outtake videos of this process. If I did, I could show you the scene where I finally figured out how to finish the blade. I got it all done, then realized that my awesome technique had served to sew the opening together! Since that clearly wouldn’t work (I used cardboard and popsicle, I mean craft, sticks to give it shape), I had to rip it back and come up with another way. Eventually, I figured the whole thing out, got it knitted up, stuffed with cardboard cutouts and a bit of polyfill, and sewn together. The last touch was a bit of embroidery around the join between the blade and the hilt as there was some gapping there. Here’s the finished product:

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I decided to name it “Baby Broadsword” since the blade is on the wider side. Here’s a closer view of the embroidery:

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And some fuzz

And a shot of the whole set:

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For all three pieces, I used a basic aran weight acrylic. It wasn’t my favorite yarn to work with, but I just couldn’t see using wool for a July birthday set. I used two colors of Big Twist Yarns Value Solids (medium grey and black) and it worked pretty well. I used US5, 6 and 7s. If I made another set like this, I would choose a yarn with a tighter twist. Despite the name, I found this yarn to be too splitty for the job.

I am just about as thrilled as I could be with how the whole set turned out. I can’t wait to see pictures of it on the birthday boy! If I ever get my Etsy shop opened, I plan on including things like these. I’m also planning on writing up the sword pattern and offering it for sale on ravelry. That wasn’t my thought going in, but I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I’m proud of the method I came up with, and I think it’s worth publishing. We’ll see if I can live up to my own high pattern standards!

Happy knitting!



Well, maybe a couple of things. I’m allllllmost done my big blue rectangle** and I’m 24 rows of lace away from binding off my Miller’s Daughter.

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God, I love this shawl.

I’ve decided to use this last day of May to start swatching for a toddler hat and diaper cover combo. His mom wanted a knight’s helmet hat, so I found a cute on on ravelry: Sir Knight Helmet by Martina Gardner.


Image copyright MAGKnits. Via ravelry.

I haven’t decided on a diaper cover pattern yet, but I think something basic will work.

While you’re waiting for me to block, finish and swatch and bring you more news of my knitting exploits, here are a few more patterns that have recently caught my eye. First up is Om Shawl by Andrea Mowry. It’s a super cool looking, versatile shawl and the worsted weight version of Yoga Shawl. Both are giant and can be worn as a poncho, wrap, huge scarf/cowl, or just used as a blanket. I like the way Om Shawl uses color and I like that the geometric motif is interesting but not overpowering. Both patterns are 25% off until June 5.


Image copyright Andrea Mowry. Via ravelry.

Next up is Halle by megi burci. This one’s much smaller and isn’t my usual style, but it caught my eye anyway. There’s something about the way the color pooling and the wavy lace border interact that I think is compelling.


Image copyright Vivian Aubrey. Via ravelry.

Lastly, I thought this was a cute little set: Udakua. A thing for summer by Anne B Hanssen. It’s a dress and pants set with cute stripes. I imagine the pattern would be pretty versatile, so you could make the pants into soakers, make the dress a shirt, etc. Also, it’s free until June 5!


Image copyright Anne B Hanssen Design AB. Via ravelry.


Image copyright Anne B Hanssen Design AB. Via ravelry.

That’s all the knitting news I have for today. Happy knitting!


*Nothing to see here.

**It’s official. I’m renaming my ravelry project as soon as I’m done this post.

Honeymoon’s Over

For the past couple of days, I’ve had the luxury of lots of knitting time. As I’ve been stressed out about a variety of things (read: job), I took Paula’s sage advice and worked on things that made me happy. I made some serious progress on my Miller’s Daughter:

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I might have mentioned this before, but I am completely smitten with these colors and how they work together. I wasn’t sure initially about including the lighter blue (Cherry Tree Hill Superlace Ragg), but now? I’m completely sold. One ply of it is grey, which adds interesting texture to the mix. Occasionally, the color edges toward green, which mirrors the Edison Bulb well. As for the darker blue shade (The Fibre Company Road to China Lace), what’s not to love about an alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere blend? Well? Bueller? Yeah, that’s right–nothing. That just leaves the Edison Bulb (madelinetosh tosh lace), and for that, you either love it or you hate it. As for me, you guessed it! I love it.

I love how the texture of lace weight yarn worked on US4 needles is light and airy while still being delightfully squooshy. The shawl is just begging me to scrunch it up around my neck and wear the bejeesus out of it. I can’t wait.

If you are working a Miller’s Daughter, or any other Melanie Berg shawl, you might consider joining her 2nd Annual Any Shawl KAL. There’s still plenty of time left to finish one up by June 12, and there are several really lovely prizes to be had. Check out the thread on ravelry here.

Other projects I worked on this week include one that I will discuss tomorrow and another test knit for Taiga Hilliard. This one is called Twinberry and it’s a raglan tunic-style pullover. It can have either short or long sleeves and the length is adjustable (well, this is knitting…everything’s adjustable). There’s not a ton of it to see yet, but I’ve got a start on it:


I’m using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece for this as I’ve found it’s a good yarn for kids clothes. It has good stitch definition, great colors, and should wear well. My only quibble with it is that it’s not machine washable or dryable, although I’ve a mind to give it a try sometime and see how it goes. It’s 80% cotton and 20% merino, so it shouldn’t felt. I suspect the worst that could happen is it might shrink some and the color might run. I’ve actually used the same yarn on three other kids test knits already! I got several more skeins of it from my giant freecycle yarn score, so I’ve got lots to work with.

I’m glad I had some time to work on these projects, as tomorrow I’m heading into crunch time. I have two commission jobs to work on, and I’m officially getting started on them tomorrow. The first is a knight’s helmet hat with matching diaper cover (and knitted sword!) for a one year old’s birthday party. I’m planning on using this Sir Knight Helmet pattern by Martina Gardner:


Photo copyright MAGKnits. Obtained from ravelry.

I will also be making this Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas:


Photo copyright Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. Obtained from ravelry.

I got the yarn for this, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, yesterday and I’m getting the pattern tomorrow. Both projects should be reasonably fun and go quickly, but it will be nice to get back to knitting for me and mine afterward.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a juicy post full of socks and socky plans. Until then, happy knitting!