Thursday, October 14, 2010

The other weekend we went to a local park to meet up with our photographer Keren Fenton who always does a fabulous job taking pictures of our family. Yesterday my CD of pictures arrived in the mail. I was a little nervous to take a look at the results from our session, because Jillian was quite the pill. In fact, this picture highlights her attitude for the better part of the hour:

Please note I'm wearing my "grin and bear it" expression.

I love that Keren included that photo for me. She my know of my love for pictures of my eldest daughter crying.

However her talent never ceases to amaze me, and she captured some downright beautiful shots. I love the girls bright hand knit sweaters and big blue eyes in combination with the warm fall colors. And even if Jillian can't be caught with a smile on her face, her sister wins photogenic baby of the year.

And yes, I knit the sweaters myself! I made them last winter/spring. I posted about Jillian's here but never wrote about Hayden's sweater. They are the Helena pattern from Knitty and they were such fun to knit up. I used Duets yarn, dyed by my friend Angi. I made one for each girl with hopes that they would fit in the fall, and luckily it worked out! I was worried that Hayden's would be too big, but then she turned out to be a big girl! You can find them here and here on Ravelry.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dream Catcher Blanket

This is also posted over at The Terrible Knitters of Kent, which is a new knitting blog started by gals in my knitting group.

When my sister told me that she had gotten a positive pregnancy test my first thought was "Woohoo, I'm gonna be an aunt!!!" My second thought was "What am I going to knit?"

Once she found out the baby was a girl, I set out to find the perfect project for sweet Lily. I was determined to be realistic about the amount of time I had available for a project...I did have two girls under two to attend to. But then I saw the Dream Catcher blanket pattern by Susan Anderson on Ravelry and my ideals of simple were tossed aside for time consuming yet adorable.

Well if I couldn't achieve realistic, I figured that I could at least make the project affordable. So I ordered some Knit Picks Swish (worsted superwash merino wool) in darker jeweled tones. When the box arrived, I opened it full of anticipation...but then disappointment consumed me. The colors were darker and more muted than I expected. Too make matters worse, I had just seen a picture of the Pottery Barn Brooke bedding Jaime had chosen. Comparing such beautiful spring colors to the dreary tones in the box just depressed me. I decided right then to screw affordable; so I loaded Hayden up in the car and headed to the local yarn shop.

At the yarn store I found exactly the yarn called for in the pattern, Spud and Chloe Sweater (superwash wool/cotton blend) and fell in love. Seeking to match Jaime's bedding choice, I picked the watermelon, splash, grass, pollen and firefly colorways...two skeins as the one skein called for in the pattern seemed completely inadequate (which turned out to be correct as about 1.5 skeins of each color was required).

Infatuated with my yarn selection, I headed home where I discovered that my choices exactly matched what was called for in the pattern. Hmmmm...that isn't exactly creative. So I decided to spice my pattern up by coming up with an arrangement that incorporated all seven different squares in all of the different colors rather than just making each pattern in one color. Plus I decide to stretch myself with a crochet border. Oh yeah. I really know how to live life on the edge.

I found that the one advantage of the project is that squares are portable. I worked on them during a couple road trips we had for weddings. I worked on them during a break in the middle of a motorcycle trip. I even managed to get a little done in my vanpool as the van tends to be emptier during the summer time (other riders don't want my elbows in their sides). Don't get me wrong...25 squares do seem to take forever. And I wasn't very happy when, four squares in, I lost my outline of how all these squares were supposed to come together and had to figure it out again from scratch. I also wasn't too thrilled to have to re-do my first blackberry square (the most difficult but prettiest pattern) when I realized that casting on the 32 stitches called for made it too big because of all the increases involved (28 worked for me). But somehow by the end of August, I managed to achieve this:


After washing and blocking, the fun part began: seaming. Oh God, I thought it was never going to end. Each night after girls were in bed I'd sit down at the dining room table and stitched squares together. It was tedious and not at all conducive to any sort of fun activity like T.V. watching due to how the table and television are positioned.

The only thing I could find to break up the monotony was contemplating all of the border possibilities. I had bought this book of crocheted borders, and although it looks like something straight from 1985 it is really quite good and very comprehensive. Each border includes a schematic sketch, which I found incredibly helpful as I am primarily a knitter. Crochet stitches aren't complicated, but I find interpreting the patterns to be completely frustrating.

And finally the blanket was stitched together. And a weekend later the border was done. And by the day before the baby shower it was done blocking. Ahhh...sweet success.

Probably the best part of all was the smile on my sister's face when she opened her present. I can't wait for Lily to arrive (soon, I hope!) and try her new blanket out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

*Sigh*...She's Two

My Jillian turned two yesterday. I'm admittedly a little sad but excited all at once. It seemed like just yesterday she was this:

And now she is this:

It is hard to get a picture of her face these days as she is always on the move. Running and jumping. Saying no. Giving hugs and kisses. Greeting me in the evenings with "Hi Mama!" Biting her tongue when she concentrates like I do. Entertaining her little sister. Saying "Tank you". Putting her socks in her shoes after she takes them off. Stripping all her clothes off and jumping on the trampoline outside. Drinking out of a cup without a lid. Not eating your own food but then insisting on having a "bite" of whatever daddy or I eat. Insisting on filling Cujo's bowl with food whether he needs it or not. Reading books. Watching Elmo. Cuddling.

Life is such an adventure with you Jillian. I am privileged to be called your mom for the past two years.