Thankful for Pie 2019 Edition

It feels a little silly to have a big round-up post riding on the heels of so many catch-up posts, so we’re going to do things a little differently this time.

Less talk, more reminders of the things that I loved this year, in no particular order.

Now, what did I love most?  Well, what’s always the closest to my heart at all times? Yep, you guessed right.

D1qme9UWwAAyVdr

It’s pie.

EKglC0UWoAAKHPt

And ice cream. Homemade is best, always.

D2dHc2CX4AA21qQ

But let’s not forget the whole world of treats available to us. Snoballs from Hansen’s…

ELSRK2vWwAARNgM

Fresh beignets and frozen coffee from Cafe du Monde with a walk in the park…

EEhWduaW4AEWivy

2019 roundup

Homemade birthday cakes…

D8gEX5PWsAAOOCL

And brownies!

EDFT7ZgXsAEGROt

And cookies!

D0GqFfdWkAAYm-e

And waffles!!

D9xZnisXsAUeVWy

And, most especially, super fancy birthday brunch with my very dear Internet friend Alon Shaya. Or at least at his restaurant when he probably wasn’t there.

It’s all so good.

But we made sure to appreciate our vegetable friends this year, as in previous years, through growing our garden and participating in Grow Dat’s amazing CSA program.

D5pXzOPW0AAtIDT

EL8Y8dFWoAAtTXK

EI9Hd2-XkAA2_dd

D0rH_-WWsAMwjIZ

DxPXsEJXgAAZ0ef

EL866nKXkAAjJcb

D6uqYT7WwAUID9v

D4Cgi7ZW0AEHVLc

And what to go with all those veggies and sweet treats?

Alcohol, apparently, if my camera roll is any indication.

D7Nhc2lXoAA5vMQ

EIQc8pfWoAA0ict

EJnjUSqWoAAziYZ

All the best things.

And what else did I love this year?

ELwSEA3WkAA_-bQ

Dan. I mean, just every day.

EJxIWnEXUAAobLi

Dwu_oF-UYAA6Wc0

D9spbFkWkAA_B6D

D8lUSX2X4AI49A_

There just no one else I’d rather live my life side-by-side with. Dan is the best.

And of course, our children.

D6n2PwAWsAIJ0oy

EKVZAs9XkAAhzx8

EGo1rJIX4AA2LGl

ELdu_rMWwAATKqh

EB8T8UYX4AAnHNf

EMm-GIdX0AE5BtW

Just the sweetest, fluffiest babies ever. Bowie and Trip bring us joy every day, unless they are actively destroying the house. Well, sometimes those things happen concurrently.

I’m thankful for quiet moments.

D4M934HW4AAUzxV

EMcKfLDXkAIY4Iq

Dx99H_EWkAAvGyU

D0GvBSYXQAAo1Bk

EHg5IPFWkAATIq9

DxZF7ggV4AEKoZn

D4Chh3aXsAAxEyG

Dv7lGO7VAAA0ymN

And little adventures.

D5LYud5W0AAMgwR

D4kDRYJWAAIZfKR

DzFVSHEU8AA5wGk

D8psZ8bX4AALZwt

D8psoXiWsAE6Y6X

And several booty-shaking opportunities.

EBV_8PxXUAE_LOz

20190824_222107

Seriously, Planet Booty and KP will make you dance so much you lose 10 pounds, every show.

But most of all, the thing I loved most this year, probably because it came in such few and far-between moments, was making things.

20190125_171828

Effervesce.

EHSZ8RRWkAAJuAX

20191203_153431

Tiny kimono.

D_T3El_XsAAElqT

ELiVsBKXUAExzcd

D3_JlFoW4AAuvA-

What? My DNP project totally counts. I birthed that thing from my womb.

20190702_094348

Mary Blanket Squared.

20191031_123650

Night Sky Saurey.

20191031_124227

Sandworm!

20190816_175649

Cardamom, and the Little Dragon Hat.

And this year, unlike most years, I got to experience the beauty of mending together things that were once broken.

20190125_163545

20190125_152702

I’m not going to go through the arduous process of counting my patient load this year or the amount of pages I wrote, which were considerable, because it only reminds me of the time I spent away from the things I really love the most. So please, as you look back on this year with me, take the time to remember the things that made you most happy, the things that made the year worth living.

And just remember that all of you reading this just made the list for me.

EHR4jiHWwAMEZMi

Happy new year, everyone. Let’s make it a good one.

Catch-Up Time, the Last: a Plethora of Kimono

Here it is, our last catch-up post for the fall and winter of 2019.

You remember my dear friends Jonathan and Rebecca? Of course you do. Just last year, I knit them some socks to keep them warm during their cold Bay Area nights.  This summer, I got the exciting news that they, too, were expecting a baby, although she wasn’t due until at least January.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve fully explained just how important these people are to me on here before. Jonathan is my oldest friend. I know that we all have people that we follow on Facebook and check in with occasionally from elementary school and high school, and of course we consider them friends, but Jonathan is the friend who has always been a major part of my life, despite multiple moves and life shifts by the both of us all across the country over the past 22 (is it 22?!) years.

I was sitting here trying to figure out how to sum up how we became friends and stayed close all of these years, but really, it’s not necessary. Just know that he has shaped who I am today and that I love him dearly. Rebecca makes him sublimely happy, and she accepted me and embraced me immediately when we first met, so she deserves the world.

So, as you can see, this baby coming into the world of two of my very favorite people was a big deal. So big that only one knitted item wasn’t going to be nearly enough to show just how happy I was for them.

20191203_153431

And so we have here, a plethora of kimono.

20191203_125754
When I told Dan about the baby, he said, “Oh, you need to make one of those baby sweaters that you made for Dani that time.” He was talking about when my friend Dani in Colorado was expecting for the first time, and I made her two little sweaters, based on the fantastic pattern One-Piece Baby Kimono by Cristina Shiffman, part of the seminal classic knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting. At the time when I made those sweaters (here and here, if you want to see how cute they were!), Mason-Dixon Knitting was still a relatively new blog/phenomenon. I was delighted to find out that they are still going strong, now selling their own beautiful yarns and pattern kits.

20191203_153521

However, sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than the classics.

In this case, I went with my own stockinette-based tweak of the pattern. When you modify the pattern so that you do it this way, you can get a whole sweater out of only one ball of Cascade 220 Superwash, my very favorite yarn for baby stuff, plus it just looks super chic and elegant this way, yes?

20191203_153532

Yes.

20191203_153546

After you knit one, which seriously only takes an afternoon if you’re motivated, you can’t help yourself and need to keep going.

20191203_153619

And going.

20191203_153656

And going.

20191203_153806

They are just too much cuteness. You can only really consider stopping after five.

20191203_125747

The colors I chose, in descending order here, are Cascade 220 Superwash in #1946 Silver Grey, #873 Extra Creme Cafe, #905 Celery, and #1949 Lavender, and Berroco Vintage in #5101 for the white.

20191203_153356

Dan picked out the ribbon colors, and I think he did a wonderful job. They are all 1/2″ satin ribbon from Offray, and there are so many colors out there, you’re bound to find a great match.

20191203_153446

Weaving and sewing in the ribbon is a particular bit of fiddly business that I enjoy. In the original pattern, they only recommend sewing in the ribbon in ties on the side.

20191203_153707

I can’t ever help myself, and I always have to go a little bit further. For mine, I wove the ribbon in and out of the eyelets, skipping two bars on top and one on the bottom. If you try to just weave it in-and-out of each hole, this width of ribbon starts to crumple and fold over in an unattractive way. By skipping holes on the top to create a larger “bump,” everything lays flat and lovely and shiny.

20191203_153600

See?

20191203_153458

After these were blocked and be-ribboned, they got sent off to San Rafael with all my love, just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I sent them early, because Jonathan and Rebecca’s birthday baby girl decided to come over a month early! She is perfect and beautiful, and I hope that she understands just how much she is loved, not just by her amazing parents, but by those of us across the country, sending our love and good wishes and warmth in the form of teeny, tiny handknit sweaters.

—–

So that just about wraps it up for this fall and winter. I am still exhausted, mostly in the brain area, but taking the time to sit and write these out has helped me to see how much I accomplished this year that wasn’t just assigned to me by professors.

In real life, I am a fairly prickly person. I am slow to friendship. I am exacting and organized and suspicious. Those people around me, the ones who love and care, deserve so much more love and appreciation than I am ever able to fully present with just words. So, I make things with my hands. I try to infuse the good thoughts and warm feelings that lurk deep within so that they can see them, finally, on the surface. And I hope that they understand.

Catch-Up Time: Mending

I am a staunch believer in the idea that knitted (and most handmade items, in fact) are meant to be used, not just observed from afar. I try to make it clear that I want people to wear their hats and socks and scarves and sweaters until they are hanging on by their last stitch.

However, since I have only been knitting for the past 20 years (only!), and I am typically a huge yarn snob that shells out for the good stuff, I have yet encounter a need for a repair.

(You can just feeeel the foreshadowing, right?)

20190125_151708

Cue the sad trombones.

Dan noticed two tiny holes in his beloved vest earlier this year, and after a few moments of heartbreak, I knew what I needed to do.

20190125_151306

These, for the untrained, are felting needles. They are the sharpest things you will ever meet, and they have teeny, tiny little barbs running up the edges of their star- and triangle-shaped stabby bits. These barbs catch onto the natural “shingles” of the wool hair follicles, and when you punch them up and down enough times, cause wool fibers to “felt” and bind together.

Now, usually people use these guys to make little felt sculptures or appliques, working with the unspun wool roving itself. However, since Dan’s vest was made out of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a yarn made with a distinct “woolen spun” texture that leaves the fibers loose rather than tightly plied, I figured that I could use these bad boys to fix up the holes and reattach the yarn ends, rather than having to stitch up a repair.

20190125_152056

It’s kind of hard to see because of all the texture going on, but dead center in the button band, you can see a purl stitch that’s been separated right at the middle of the purl bump. Due to Shelter’s texture, the hole didn’t really unravel at all, which is really just one of the billion reasons why you need to make something out of it already.

20190125_152443

I snipped off a tiny piece of yarn from the leftover bit of skein, maybe 0.5cm long, and laid it across the broken purl stitch.

20190125_152702

And then I carefully stabbed it about a thousand times.

20190125_153849

There were two broken stitches here, and now all you can see is moss stitch and button holes! I was pretty damn pleased with myself.

However…(bum bum buuuuummmm)…that wasn’t the end of the mending needed this year.

For some reason, this is also the year that decided that a whole bunch of our handknit socks were all going to break stitches in almost the exact same place.

20190125_161038

20190125_162655

20190125_163649

You might be thinking, Jinger, do you have a terrible moth infestation? Or, do you have a horde of tiny mice with scissors who hate you?

But, I’m thinking that these were all about human error. Where is each hole? Right near the top, where you grab the sides to hike up your socks, of course. Turns out that Dan and I are just monsters with sharp, pointy hands, who like to destroy the things we love most.

Felting needles were definitely not an option here, with multiple broken stitches, a little bit of unraveling, and varying fiber types. How to repair these wounds?

20190125_160747

I choose to believe that it’s a testament to my knitting skill that I hadn’t had to buy a darning egg before, but I think it’s more likely that I knit mostly for people who live in warm climates and only wear their knitted socks once or twice a year.

Anyway, time to get down to business to save our precious lizard, helix, and complement socks.  I had never done this before, but I looked at the instructions on the back for an abnormally long amount of time, plus several different tutorials online. And then I shoved them all back in a drawer and waited another week until I could stomach it.

20190125_162949

20190125_163224

Now, the technique I’m using here is the “grid” method of darning socks, helpfully explained in detail here by the Radical Homemaker. You spread the area that needs repair over the darning egg to flatten everything out and make sure that you can see the stitches clearly.

20190125_161512

Then you run your darning thread in vertical lines, catching each side of the hole with a little bit of allowance on each side so that they are firmly anchored in the stable areas.

20190125_162207

After that, you do the same thing running in horizontal lines, anchoring the stitches and weaving in-and-out of the grid lines exposed.

20190125_162530

When you’re done, you have a little patch that’s stable, frayed ends that are trapped in the grid and unable to unwind any further, and a pretty cool-looking scar to show the sock’s rightful battle wounds.

20190125_163545

20190125_164315

Really, if you have a penchant for variegated yarns and stripes, you really can’t see much of anything at all. The area is no longer quite as stretchy as the rest of the sock, but our scars act the same way, right?

20190125_165023

Even when they aren’t visible, they serve as a reminder for the things we’ve been through and the harm we’ve survived. They remind us of our weak points and the parts of ourselves that we’ve built up to be stronger.

And in this case, they remind us that the things that we make for ourselves and others are meant to be incorporated into our daily lives. Used so aggressively and lovingly that they fall apart and need mending. Trusting that what made them strong in the first place is what will help them to come back to life.

Catch-Up Time: Night Sky Saurey

For our next catch-up post, we have a real labor of love.

20191031_123650

Not that it was a difficult thing to make at all, but it was a project infused with love from the start.

You remember my lovely friend Kelli?

20180104_140901

Of course, you do! She is a glorious ray of sunshine in my life, and when she told me that she and her husband Taylor were having a baby, I immediately got to work finding the perfect baby blanket pattern for her. After finishing up a happy dance around the kitchen, of course.

20191031_122953

Kelli is a very stylish lady. She effortlessly surrounds herself with handpicked items that suit her perfectly, without ever looking too very. She taught herself calligraphy, and it is always a treat getting hand-addressed letters and cards from her in the mail. She loves the handmade and the one-of-a-kind, making her the ideal person to grace with a truly loving handknit project.

I’m pretty sure it was only a few days (maybe even the next day?) when I starting prying her for details about her perfect baby blanket. Cables? Stripes? Intarsia?

20191031_123418

Lace? Bingo. Introducing our Night Sky Saurey.

Kelli and Taylor weren’t going to find out the gender of the baby ahead of time, and she had already decided on a “night sky” theme for the nursery, so something lacy and reminiscent of the starry, inky night sky was just perfect.

20191031_123428

She picked out the pattern herself, from a curated selection from me, and specified that she wanted it in navy blue.

The pattern? Saurey from Berroco, made in Berroco Modern Cotton. The color Goddard was just the perfect shade, somewhere between navy and royal blue, to evoke those sleepy nighttime nursery vibes.

20191018_125816

Now, I am apparently not the only person who thought that it was just perfect, because it was on back-order from every single online store I could find, for at least 2 months. However, patience won the day, and I ended up with 3 skeins of this beautiful stuff with 2 months to spare to knit the thing.

20191031_123558

And let’s talk about this yarn for a second. Kelli specifically wanted cotton, something that would be able to be washed and beat up a little bit and not get too hot, because regardless of the season, we do live in Louisiana where the weather is trying to murder us at all times. Modern Cotton is a pima cotton and modal blend, meaning that it’s super soft and pliable, not hard and unforgiving like a lot of other cotton yarns, but still very resilient.

20191031_122943

It’s got great stitch definition, even when knit up a little bit loosely, like is required for this pattern. It’s also got a wee bit of a sheen, and when combined with the lace yarnovers and the tiny spaces between the stitches, it makes it look like it’s shimmering when it moves.

20191031_123720

I mean, could there have been a more perfect blanket for a night sky theme? Or a friend more deserving? I don’t think so.

Only two more installments of catch-up posts! More baby stuff, plus something I’ve never done before! Exciting!

Catch-Up Time: the Killer Sandworm Beastie Hat

Almost a year-and-a-half ago, my co-worker and friend Samantha gave me a little book full of knitting patterns for baby hats, mittens, and scarves. And every single pattern features an awesome monster.

20191216_163137

How cute is this?! So freaking cute. (Here’s a link to go get it!)

She was pregnant at the time, and eventually had her son that November. He was the recipient of the extremely awesome Star Illusion Blanket at the time, but with this new book in tow, I knew that I had to get it together and make him a monster of his very own for his first birthday.

20191031_123917

Introducing…the Killer Sandworm Beastie Hat!

20191031_124227

Now, you’re not going to find this guy in the book exactly, but you will find his inspiration, Serrated Shark Hat. However, I didn’t have enough gray yarn to do the entire body and fins, so I had to get creative.

I started matching up other yarn leftovers (and seriously, this book is amazing for using up all kinds of odds and ends), and found a bunch of black Brown Sheep Nature Spun leftover from my Hamilton hats. I’m pretty sure that the gray that I had was left over from Mischief Managed, but I can’t be totally sure, but it matched weight almost perfectly.

What to do? Stripes!

20191031_124041

I also wasn’t the hugest fan of the way that the teeth worked in the original pattern, so I went on YouTube and found a crochet sawtooth pattern that made some hilariously pointy teeth. (Here’s the link for that one!)

20191031_124056

With its goth stripes and bright green eyes, Dan and I couldn’t deny its uncanny resemblance to the stripey sandworms from Beetlejuice.

Quick note:  Snap-in doll’s eyes are great for this, but they have extremely pointy and scratchy ends that end up on the inside of the hat, rather than being hidden inside the stuffing like they would normally be. To combat this, I sewed some little felt patches to the inside of the hat, covering the posts. I didn’t get any pictures of this, but just make sure you’re keeping those baby heads safe.

I got some pictures from Samantha a few days ago of her son enjoying his hat, and they are just so precious I can’t stand it.

received_597586744117440

received_420469262174718

I mean…those crazy pointy toothed ear flaps just make me so insanely happy. I desperately need an adult-sized one right away.

20191031_124257

Stay tuned for more baby-related projects! It’s never-ending!

Catch-Up Time: Cardamom, the friendly dragon, and the Little Dragon Hat

I am very tired.

For the past eleventy-billion weeks, I have been heavily involved in my (hopefully) second-to-last semester of grad school, including performing my DNP project. And working. And writing a million papers. This may sound like complaining, but really, I think that I’ve earned the right just a little bit. It’ll all be worth it when I can make people call me Dr. Jinger, right?

Right.

Anyway, throughout all of it, I have still been working on a multitude of projects, mostly because my loved ones just will not stop having adorable babies and letting them grow up into adorable toddlers. It’s relentless. So, for the first of these “catch-up” style posts, I’ll be featuring two freaking adorable knitted items that I made for one of the super cute babies in question.

My wonderful friend Tobias and his girlfriend Alexis welcomed a baby boy in September, and because these are the dear friends with whom I lived out my D&D adventures for many years, I knew that I had to make them something that was both adorable and adventure-based.

20190816_175649

“Where thou go’est, weary traveler?”

20190816_175156

Presenting, Cardamom, the friendly dragon.

This sweet little guy was knitted up using the fabulous free pattern Tarragon the Gentle Dragon from Knit-A-Zoo, purveyor of all sorts of cute knitted animals. I loved the original name, but I definitely more of a sweet than savory person, so Cardamom it is.

This pattern really threw me for a loop while I was making it and putting it together, mostly because I just couldn’t get over how freaking cute all of the details were as they appeared. Like, there are little toe bumps on the dragon’s feet.

20190804_134857

Toe bumps!

20190802_192642

The shaping of the head alone gave it so much personality, even before the eyes and spikes got added.

And the spikes!

20190804_155213

Although I had no idea what to expect when I started knitting that little purple strip of spikes (seriously it took me a minute to understand exactly how they would work, but, just trust the pattern, it knows what it’s doing), they sewed in so perfectly and were, by far, my absolute favorite part of the project.

20190804_161507

But, wait! The wings!

20190816_175059

And his little tail!

20190816_175130

So good.

I didn’t really modify anything here, because everything was so perfect. The only thing I did was use my standard felt eyes, rather than the pre-made doll eyes suggested by the pattern, just because I want all of my handmade creatures to look a little bit sad for some reason.

20190816_175145

That face.

20190816_174935

Such a sweetheart.

Now, I had plenty of yarn left over, and I knew that just a little dragon toy wasn’t enough, especially for a future adventure-baby, so I figured that I had to make a little bit of adventuring gear to go along with it.

What better than a little dragon hat to match his new dragon friend?

20190819_131652

20190819_131635

Modeled here so excellently by R2D2 is the Little Dragon Hat, made from the pattern Little Dragon by Fox & Crow. Fox & Crow’s website is a smorgasbord of cuteness and style, albeit all in Dutch, but do go give it a look and feel all kinds of knit-based envy.

20190819_131726

The overwhelming delight of being able to match the hat to the stuffed animal? Almost too much.

20190731_162053

This one was so much fun, even during the little fiddly bits. I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I originally attached the wrong color and knit 2 spikes in green before I realized that something was wrong.

20190816_175415

And then, after I was finished with all the spikes, I had to go back and undo and replace the very first one again, just because it was one stitch off from laying flat with the other ones, and it was going to make me go insane if I didn’t fix it.

20190816_175459

It was definitely worth it to get it perfect. The hat is a little (lot) too big for the baby right now, but I know he’ll get plenty of use out of it later, when he’s venturing out to explore his new world.

20190816_175343

Don’t they make a charming pair?

I knit both of these with Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, but really any DK- or sport-weight yarn would work wonderfully, as long as it’s not too high on the acrylic/viscose/whatever-plastic content. I only say this because you need to do a fair bit of ironing for the dragon’s spikes and for getting your hat spikes perfect and pointy, so you don’t want something that’s going to melt or get weird and shiny. Rialto is a 100% merino with a very fine multi-ply structure, so you get really good stitch definition.

For these projects, I managed to make both out of 3 balls of Apple and 1 ball of Wisteria, but now that I think about it, I don’t even think that I touched the third ball of the green. August seems like forever ago, you guys. Stay tuned for more catch-up posts as I try to piece back together a year that felt like it took 3 years to pass.