Ziggzaggarat Cowl + Stripped Swoosh

A white shawl with blue, light blue, green and purple stripes on a set of cable needles. The project yarn is in a bag with green chevron above the work in progress and there is a cup of tea.

A couple daycare pick-ups ago, I was asked how I find time to have hobbies while being a mom. This is a hard question to answer because I know the person who asked the question had no intention of making me feel guilty about taking the time to do things such as knit or sew, but it sure made me feel a little guilty for taking the time!

The thing is, a lot of who I am is also wrapped up in being a knitter/sewist. When asked to make statements about who I am, I’m often quick to identify as a knitter or sewist. This is an important distinction from someone who knits or someone who sews because so much of my life is spent thinking about doing the activity in addition to doing the activity.

A lot of my joy is found in making things for others. In fact, my favorite person to make for at the moment is our daughter! I’ve made her so many little sweaters and leggings over the last few months – she’s always so excited to receive them and doesn’t have a lot of preferences *yet*.

A blue gradient chevron cowl folded in half lengthwise laying on a wooden table next to porthos.

This isn’t to say that someone who knits or someone who sews shouldn’t be allowed to have time while being a parent to do these things, it’s just to say that for me it’s become one of the priorities that I need to juggle. It’s important to me that our daughter grows up seeing me be myself and that being a mom didn’t lead to me losing who I am. I hope to continue to learn and grow. I hope that I inspire her to try new things and explore new hobbies.

There are, however, a few things that help me find the time. For starters, in my mind, 5 minutes is better than no minutes. If all I can do is work a few rows of a sweater or sew one seam of a garment, that’s ok! After a while, those 5 minutes add up. I’ve also found not having that mentality means I never get any crafting done.

Another trick I’ve developed is to prep the craft in bulk. For example, if I’m going to wind yarn I’m going to wind all the yarn for a project + the next one (or two). If I’m going to cut fabric for a project, it’s worth taking the time to cut a couple more and set them aside.

The final thing that’s been working for me is to enjoy simple projects. It’s easier for me to work on projects such as the Striped Swoosh Shawlette or Zig-Zaggerate because the pattern is easy to pick up and put down.

This isn’t to judge any parents out there, especially ones who are making different choices. Nor is it to justify the choices that my family and I are making. I think the big thing is that it’s important to recognize that every family and their needs are different. I’m a better mom because I take the time to do things I love and our daughter deserves the best mom I can be. It probably helps that she gets something out of it from time to time.

New baby sweater trend? An argument for 3/4 length sleeves

An off white baby sweater with 3/4 length sleeves laying on a blue rug. The baby sweater's yoke has thick single stripes of brown, purple, green, light blue and blue and there is a wooden alligator toy next to it.

As many of you know, it’s not hard to accumulate a lot of yarn scraps of different amounts from different projects. In the interest of knitting down as much of my stash as possible over the last few months, I’ve started getting creative in terms of how those scraps are used up.

For starters, letting go of whatever weight the yarn is. It’s so easy to hold the yarn double upon itself or with another skein (or several) to manipulate the weight so that different patterns can be worked. I think this is the whole point of Stephen West’s Penguono and know it’s the point of projects such as Tincanknits Marley. I’m a huge fan of the marled look, so this technique is a lot of fun because it allows me to play with color.

If I’m honest, playing around with color seems to be the main motivator for working through my scraps. For this reason, I opted to do a couple different style yokes for two recent baby sweaters. The first uses up a mini skein pack to create thick stripes and the second is a color block yoke from the leftover messenger henley yarn.

A yellow baby sweater with 3/4 length sleeves and a tonal blue yoke laying on a blue carpet. Beneath the sweater is a paddington book and sneaker slip ons with a monster face on them.

The biggest thing I’ve played around with recently, however, has been sleeve length (Note: All of these sweaters use Flax by Tincanknits. I made my nephew a short sleeve baby sweater and cranked out two 3/4 length sleeve baby sweaters for a couple friends who are expecting. The short sleeve sweater wasn’t anything new, however, the 3/4 length was.

While a part of me thinks 3/4 length sleeves on a baby may be silly, the other part of me thinks its genius. Hear me out, our kiddo still fits in her newborn sweater at a year. It does, however, look silly because the sweater now looks purposefully cropped and the sleeves look like they’re the wrong length. By making them 3/4 length from the beginning, they are now poised to grow purposefully cropped. AKA the newborn sweater how has the power to get more wear out of it because knit fabric stretches and the sleeves won’t look funny! I’ve asked my friends to report back, but I feel as though I’ve hacked the system!

A short sleeve dark and light green striped baby sweater laying on a blue rug. Numbered wooden shapes are laid around the sweater.

Staring at crochet projects

I’m convinced, that one of the reasons I haven’t taken to crochet in the same way that I’ve taken to knitting is that I’m unable to do it without looking. In fact, no matter how simple the project, I’m also convinced that I’ll never be able to. This isn’t to discount the hours I spent practicing knitting without looking at my stitches, it’s to point out that knit stitches live on a live needle. Whether or not you’re looking at them, feeling the stitch is part of the process as you move them around your needles. Since you don’t have live stitches in the same way while crocheting, it’s hard to imagine a time when I won’t need to look at my stitches in order to properly create the single, double, or triple crochet.

This is a critical thing to note because, as I, unfortunately, learned, looking at crochet while in the car is one of the fastest ways for me to get car sick. Second only to looking in the back seat. Crocheting is also a difficult activity to partake in while watching anything you need to pay attention to the visuals of. At the moment, crocheting is the equivalent of attempting to work colorwork or cables. You need to be aware of what you’re doing in order to do it, but you can also read your stitches enough to know what you’re supposed to be done.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy crocheting. Nor is it to say that I won’t continue to attempt to improve my crochet skills. It’s just to say that I don’t see myself retiring my knitting needles in the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few crochet patterns I’ve been thinking about this year.

  • Afternoon Tea Sweater by Emilia Johansson: I’m not sure why, but peplum sweaters are really speaking to me at the moment. I’ve spent a little too much time looking at patterns (knit, crochet, and sewing) featuring this design element and at some point, it has to happen.. right?
  • Waterlilies Bonnet by Nomad Stitches: Our kiddo is slowly outgrowing the bonnet phase (or is she?), but I still find myself with a lot of baby heads to cover. Barley by tincanknits is my current go-to pattern and it would be nice to try something new.
  • Cande Kids Pullover by Nomad Stitches: I’m actually in love with the adult version too, which begs the question.. who gets the pullover? Do I have the stamina to crochet two?
  • Prism Block Stitch Blanket by Jess Coppom: I love the subtle use of a gradient in this one and feel like it’d be a good crochet and chill projects.

I also have grand plans of crocheting toys (think kitchen items), but can’t bring myself to start collecting various colors so I can use a yard or two at a time.

No idea if or when I’ll give the above a try, just enjoying the inspiration of a different craft for a little while.

Beyond single and double crochet dishcloths

A medium pot sitting in a lavender and charcoal colored crochet bin. The colors form a horizontal diamond stripe pattern . Next to the pot is a milk jug filled with water and porthos cuttings bring propagated.

Like many other fiber artists, I’m not satisfied with only one craft. If only to understand them, I have in my soul a desire to learn about and try everything from spinning to sewing my woven fabric. True, some of these plans are more romantic than practical, but there’s still something beautiful about having the desire to learn and dream. Something inspiring about trying new things and having the willingness to fail spectacularly.

As many of my friends already know, I’ve been sitting on my grandmother’s crochet hooks (and her sewing notions, but that’s not what today’s post is about) since she passed in 2007. There is no uniformity to this collection, it’s clear she ran out to the store and grabbed hooks as she needed them for various projects. I also don’t have any memory of her using these hooks, nor any crochet items I fondly curled up with as a child. Despite this, I have been seriously flirting with crochet since I took a class at Gather Here in 2016. A date I’m only aware of because I have a Ravelry project page for the dishcloth I made in class.

Many many years have passed between my grandmother’s death, this initial crochet class, and today, yet here I am, stubbornly holding on to the crochet hooks in case the day comes that I want to start crocheting. At first, my reason for not sticking with it was speed and being in grad school (I was learning enough and didn’t have the bandwidth to learn a new craft on top of it). Then the reason was I wanted to learn other things (weaving). Finally, I found a few crochet designers on Instagram and they’ve been slowly convincing me that I need to crochet often enough to be able to make the things that inspire me as they pop up.

The first step in this process was to take on something that wasn’t a square. It was a lot of fun to work the Grist Shawl as part of Gather Here’s crochet along. The next class I signed up for was the Willoughby Nesting Bins, this allowed me to practice crocheting in the round as well as crocheting so that stitches stacked on top of each other. I used Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky instead of the pattern’s recommended linen yarn and then felted the bin. In hindsight, I should have made it just a bit bigger so that it wouldn’t be misshapen by the pot I put in it, but overall I love the colors and the way it turned out. I don’t think I would have liked it as much if I had used the linen yarn, which is naturally a pleasant surprise when making substitutions. TBD on whether or not I reach for this pattern again, perhaps a small version for bits and bobs?

Marjoram Hat crochet in light pink and turquoise. Granny squares are connected to make up the band of the hat and the brim and cap are made utilizing double crochet stitches.

My crochet adventures ground to a halt after taking crochet 2 at Webs, not because of the class but because I have a few knit sweaters queued up and waiting to be made. Crochet 2 taught me that I can read crochet stitches and forced me to sit down and master the granny square. Now that I know how easy they are, it’s hard not to want to make all the granny squares.

The first project we took on in Crochet 2 was the Marjoram Hat and Mitts, I actually think this could have been my style if I liked the colors I ended up with more. Since I purchased my cascade 220 online and in person, I misjudged my colors and had to swap things around a little bit. These were lovingly donated and will keep someone warm.

The next project we worked on was the Simple Seed Stitch Pillow. It was nice to learn that I can do seed stitch without much trouble, but no matter how you swing it this one isn’t my style. It did make me add a linen stitch sweater to my favorites though.

I love learning fiber arts because it gives me a safe space to feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. Though knitting will always be my main craft (crocheting in the car makes me carsick), it’s nice to finally be flexing my crochet muscle a little and to be using my grandmother’s old hooks. Time will tell how much use they get, but there are a least a few blankets in my future.

Record Sleep Sack

If you haven’t been following along with me, I love knitting for my husband. I cannot stress enough how much fun he is to gift handknits to and how often he ends up stealing the handknits from my own closet. With this in mind, it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch that I would try sewing for him. After all, how hard can it be to sew a button-down top? I picked up a few yards of quilting cotton with a record pattern on it from Notion and Simplicity 8753 and got to tracing the pattern pieces.

Am I the only person who finds Simplicity patterns hard to follow? Do they get easier as you become a better sewist? This is the second pattern I’ve made with them (hippo bunting being the first) and it should have been the easier pattern between the two. Either way, a few hours into the project I called it and reached for the Lua Sleep Sack I had previously traced out and recut the pieces.

In some ways, this twist of fate was a lot of fun. For example, I stitched together the front pieces from S8753 and kept the pocket. I also cut up a hand-me-down swaddle that I was never going to use as a swaddle. In other ways, I really wish I hadn’t rage quit on the original pattern. I think if I had been more willing to take my time and followed a set of youtube videos I stumbled upon I might have been fine.

Lua sleep sack made out of quilting cotton with a record print on it.