Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Gracias

"He who is drowned is not bothered by the rain." ("Wise saying from the Orient," according to my Good Earth tea bag)

We've been "drowning" a bit here with news and media coverage of the mess that is Vietnam adoption right now. What's being reported is nothing new to those of us who follow this closely, but it is official now that Vietnam will close to adoptions by Americans by September 1. Our agency still expects us to complete our adoption by then, although there are no guarantees. To do that, we would have to receive our referral in the next month, which they also say is on track. We'll believe it when it happens. For all the gory details, see my adoption blog.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to catch up on various blog-related things, including some very belated thanks yous for generous gifts from blog friends over the past weeks. On the topic of babies, Mo over at Lime Gardenias sent me some old copies of Martha Stewart Baby, which I've heard so much about and hope to be able to put to use with an actual baby someday. She also sent some pretty notecards. A proper thank you will be in the mail to her soon.

Then, I was a winner in Rebecca's "Bag of Goodness" give-away in honor of her first wedding anniversary. She filled a white tiara bag with lots of lovely gifts, including some decorated matchbooks (from the wedding, I bet) and this pretty metal rose ornament, which I already have plans for re-gifting to a bigger rose lover than I.

The box full of treats also included a Stitch 'n' Bitch journal, a vintage Easter card, some cute new cards, a Japanese bookmark, Martha Stewart postcards, the most adorable paper clips (Did you make those, Rebecca?) and a vintage paperback.

Still more: eight skeins of pretty grey yarn (wish I'd had that when I started my brother-in-law's scarf), two packages of vintage red rickrack, a handmade sleeping mask, vintage hankie and recipe-printed cloth napkin. Thank you so much, Rebecca. A little thank-you gift, including a matching pillowcase for her first quilting attempt, is in the mail to her.

Finally, there is one way overdue thank you, and that's to Jennifer at The Felt Mouse, who sent me a New Year's gift of a cute string of lights saying "Happy 2008." I'm knitting her one of these (think of it as a mouse, not a rat) and getting it off in the mail soon.

Finally, Marianne over at Applehead sent me a copy of her first illustrated self-published mini-book, called. I love her artwork and this book is so cute. She just had a baby, so a little hand-knit gift has gone off to her.

Now, back to knitting baby gifts for people I know. Next up: My friend and former co-worker Kevin, whose wife is due soon with their fourth. After that, I think I'm actually caught up--until the next person announces their pregnancy. And once I'm done with my final class of the semester tomorrow night (and grades and graduation), I can start thinking about knitting for my own son, who I hope to be learning about soon.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Beaded felt bowl

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; suddently you are doing the impossible." (St. Francis of Assisi)

Thanks to Beth, who told me that SWS felts up nicely, I finally had success with the felted bowl. I finished knitting it, ran it through my own front-loader once and let it dry draped over a big pottery bowl we have. Then today I hand-sewed on bunches of clear, sparkly beads. Very cute.

My sister-in-law Trish likes it! It was "Siblings Weekend" here in Chicago, with Ed's sister flying in from Philadelphia and his brother, Tom, driving in from Lexington, Kentucky. We hung out, took a nice long walk around the city and lakefront, had Thai lunch at Penny's Noodles, then dinner at Ethiopian Diamond. Plus lots of just hanging out, chatting and laughing. (And Trish admired my thrifted apron, vintage linen and vintage coat collections.)
Here are the three Butlers: Edmund, Tom and Trish. What a wonderful family I've married into.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Oops

"Life is change; growth is optional." (Karen Kaiser Clark)

First rule of felting: Don't use superwash wool yarn; it doesn't felt. I was so excited to knit this felted bowl (pattern here) for my sister-in-law Trish, whose birthday was this week and who's due to arrive in Chicago for a visit tomorrow. So I knit it up last weekend, took it to my sister's during the week, used her top-loading machine to wash it, then forgot it and left it in the washer. So I dashed from work back to her house to discover that it hadn't felted. Once home, I read the label more closely, and while not labeled "superwash," it does say that it is washable. So there is my unfelted bowl, which I promptly tossed.

So I stopped at Michael's on the way home for some nice light blue 100% wool and they don't have one. The Michael's in Aurora has a very limited yarn selection. I should have gone to Hobby Lobby. But the Patons SWS (soy & wool) yarn was the perfect blue, so I bought two skeins and started re-knitting. The only thing is I'm not sure this yarn felts either. But I do see some felted patterns with this yarn on the Patons site, so hopefully it will. Then I'm going to decorate it with clear sparkly beads. I'm hoping it will match Trish's beautiful living room in her "Trinity" Philadelphia house.

If it's works, I should have FO pix by Sunday night.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring has sprung!

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming." (Pablo Neruda)

I know my mother-in-law (Hi, Marge!) is bored with all these knitting photos, but at least these relate to someone she knows! This baby blanket is for Baby Isabel, the surprise third child of our friends Jenny and Jon, who moved last year to Stanford. We miss them so much, but hope that their new baby (due the end of May) will feel warm and loved in this snuggly blanket. It's made out of Lion's Watercolor yarn (now discontinued) in pink and purple. I love the color shadings in this yarn, plus it was on clearance (good, since it took 13 skeins) and is washable.

I also made her a little hat and booties. Aren't they the cutest? I just used some stash cotton yarn in a purple/green/blue colorway and happened to have the perfect green buttons to match (from a thrifted, now felted, cardigan). Pattern for Saartje's booties here. This is my new fave booties pattern, for girls anyway.

Movies to knit by: I finished these over the weekend while watching The Black Book, about the end of World War II in the Netherlands. This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. I high recommend it, even though it has some violent parts. I also watched a TCM on-demand movie last night, Only Angels Have Wings, with my fave Cary Grant. I was knitting a special birthday gift for Trish, my sister-in-law who is visiting us this weekend. We're so excited that she's visiting, plus it's giving us an excuse to do some major spring cleaning.

Speaking of spring, see those flowers in the box behind the hat and booties? We probably jumped the gun, planting flowers in April in Chicago, but we wanted a little color on our deck for Trish's visit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Trading post

"Every person is a special kind of artist and every activity is a special art." (M. C. Richards in Centering)

A month ago a woman emailed me asking if I would be willing to trade some of my handmade felt from recycled sweaters for something she makes. I wrote back and said, "Of course!" but the only problem was picking from among her many cool handmade items. Katesy specializes in "sassy stuff made from feisty recycled materials and vintage findings," which would make us two peas in a pod! I finally selected this adorable cup cozy I would like to try making these) and this awesome Sunrise in the City apron (There's another one in her shop). I also have a credit with her for a pair of these adorable baby shoes. Her work is really beautiful, and many of her designs require colorful wool felt. I would definitely swap with her again!

Speaking of aprons, I joined a simple apron swap sponsored by Sarah. I was matched with Jen of Rosey Little Things blog. I've been reading her blog and really enjoying her thrifting treasures. I look forward to swapping aprons with her and getting to know her better. Check out her blog if you want to see some amazing thrifty loot!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Handknit baby socks

"God enters the human heart by its own ways: He enters the wise through wisdom. He enters the simple through simplicity." (Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love)

Wow. Sorry to be gone so long. I had two big projects due last week: taxes and a freelance article for this magazine. On top of grading my first set of papers, which weren't as bad as I thought they might be! I've still been knitting--all baby gifts, all the time--but just haven't had a spare moment to post what I've knit.

First up, some baby socks and a little hat for my friend Bridget in Dallas, who is expecting little Liam to join the world any day now. I used this leftover Paton's Katrina yarn in a soft green, which I like for its stretch. The sock pattern is by Diana Soucy from the Spring '97 Knitter's Magazine. Thanks for the pattern, Mom. It's nice to knit a sock so quickly!

In fact, I liked knitting these little socks so much that I knit a second pair for Sam in some leftover blue Patons Katrina (I'm sure the company retired that name after the hurricane). I used a size 3 needle here, so I think they will be too small, since Sam is likely to be closer to a year when we get him. If he can't wear them, at least I'll have a boy baby gift on hand.

Here's the difference in size from using a size 3 needle (blue) to a size 5 (green). Baby socks are a great way to use up leftover yarn. I could see myself knitting up a bunch for my kids (in all that spare time I'll have once I'm a working mother!)

Gratuitous cute baby photo: This is Gabrielle, daughter of our friends Dan and Lin, who we visited for a quick dinner tonight. Isn't she adorable? She's 10 weeks old now. Right after Dan posed her with this knit rat I made for her (because she is 1/2 Vietnamese and was born in the Year of the Rat), she started crying! I hope I haven't created a fear of rodents!

So next week I am going to play catch up on the old Spiritual Knitter blog: I have a bunch of cool things I've received in the mail that I want to share, some swaps, plus more baby knitting and a belated second blog anniversary give-away! Check back next week.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Basic baby sweater

"Be true to your work, your word and your friend." (Thoreau)

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted since Easter! Sorry. The new job has kept me busy, and I've been scrambling with some knitting projects, with no time to post about knitting. Just in time, I finished my basic baby sweater in a new yarn: Lion's Cotton-Ease, which many have raved about. I really liked knitting with it, and I know the new parents (Kaycee and Eric, pictured below at their shower last weekend) will appreciate that it is washable. However, it was a bit bulkier than my gauge called for, so I just "winged" it and added length. I think it turned out OK, though the sleeves look a little short (and skinny) to me and my seaming at the armpit is less than perfect. Oh well. (Also, it still needs buttons.)

Kaycee and Erik (part of my second family) are expecting at the end of May and just bought a new house in Oak Park. I drove all the way to Michigan for her shower, even though she only lives a few miles from me. But it was worth to see other Misiewiczs, including baby Conrad (left).

My handknit sweater was nothing compared to the entire knitted layette made by Eric's mom. She used yellow yarn from the stash of Kaycee's grandmother, who died this year. We all got teary-eyed when she opened that gift. It was almost like Grandma Dee had knit it herself. Another cool thing Eric's mom did was to wrap up a big box of Eric's baby clothes, including the outfit he came home from the hospital in and his baptism outfit. Some of the retro 70s clothes would still be worn, if they have a boy!

Now, on to the approximately 10 other baby gifts I need to knit before summer. Any suggestions? I've got baby socks on the needles right now.