Socks and Chevrons and Bunnies

I haven’t been posting much, but I have been knitting like a crazy person as of late. Ever since my summer semester ended, I threw myself into a self-imposed “Summer of Socks,” the details of which I am not at liberty to disclose due to the fact that it is super-secret.

I can give you a few little cheeky detail shots, though, if that tickles your fancy.

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Oooooooh. Aaaaaaah.

Moving on.

Before the “Summer of Socks” began, I worked on a project near and dear to my heart, a baby blanket for my friend and co-worker Mary, who is about to have her first baby.

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I’m a firm believer in the fact that baby blankets need to be easy to care for, yet also classic and clean-looking, so what better yarn than Blue Sky Cotton? It’s super soft and lofty, yet strong and washable. It has wonderful stitch definition despite its softness, perfect for the pattern that we chose.

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Mary told me that she already had some antique and vintage furniture for the baby’s nursery, so I wanted her to be able to have something that could fit in along with the antiques and yet still be sort of on-trend. When I told her about the Chevron Baby Blanket by Espace Tricot, she was totally on-board. And it already recommended Blue Sky Cotton for the yarn! What kismet.

Mary picked the colors Ash, Bone, and Aloe, and I got to work, right after I was done being stunned at how beautiful they all looked together.

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The only change I made to the original pattern was leaving the inside portion of the blanket striped with only two colors, and leaving just one stripe of accent color on the end.

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If you’d like to do this yourself, you need to buy 1 skein of your accent color, and 2 skeins each of your inner stripes. I also carried the colors up the sides, twisting the alternate colors at each right side row rather than breaking the yarn, because I thought that all those woven-in ends would break up the clean look of the whole thing.

After I was done, I still had quite a bit of the Aloe color left over, plus a need to keep making things for the new baby. So, I went looking for a vintage-y stuffed animal pattern.

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The overall winner was the Knitted Bunny pattern by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, a fun little origami-inspired piece of fiddliness that was right up my alley.

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First, you knit a plain stockinette square. Then, alchemy-like, you use a little polyfil stuffing and some strategically placed rows of stitches to fold it up into an adorable bunny. You also take the time to knit some tiny ears, which might be the cutest part of the whole thing.

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I did make a tiny change, though, to enhance cuteness. In the original pattern, they tell you just to use a crochet hook to pull out some stuffing for a tail. Although this might be cute, it probably also isn’t ideal for an animal for child, so I went ahead and made a big fluffy pom-pom tail that is easily removable/remade if it gets pulled apart by a curious baby.

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It’s so freaking cute I can barely stand it. I was watching a documentary about the trial of Whitey Bulger while I was making it, which tempers that a bit, I guess.

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Simple and classic. And chevron-y and pastel-y enough to be somehow completely in style. I am beyond proud of how it all came out.

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And I think she liked it. Seriously, it could not go to a more deserving person. We both started nursing at our hospital at the same time, went through orientation together, and I can honestly say that she is one of my favorite people. Mary is a little bit of sunshine in my day, and I was happy to give her something lovely that she will hopefully be able to love for a long time.

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She’s good people. Now with a good bunny. And a good blanket. It’s the least I could do.

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A Very Tiny Post about a Very Tiny Sweater (with a very long name) – the Super Simple Buddy Balls Bear Sweater

Remember that last post when I talked about making a little bitty sweater for a funny stuffed bear? Well, I decided to write out a really quick pattern for it, just in case anyone else is struggling to make a sweater for the very cool, but strangely proportioned, Buddy Balls bear plushies.

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Maybe you’d like to get one of your own? There you go.

Here’s the pattern in an easily printable PDF for your toy-knitting enjoyment.

This tiny sweater was made with the lovely, yet sadly discontinued, Naturally Merino Fine 10 ply, but any slightly-lighter-weight worsted wool or wool-blend will do. Now, go make some tiny sweater for bears with giant heads. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Squirrel Updates? Well…

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First things first. A boy, and a girl, and a squirrel went on a road trip from New Orleans to Austin.

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The squirrel, we’ll affectionately call him Jeff (because that is his name), was a little confused.

He didn’t know that he was being transported over to his new future owner, the amazingly funny Mr. Eddie Izzard.

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“Who’s this guy?”…he seemed to say. He was about to find out.

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My brother and his fiancée gave us a wonderful experience to celebrate my birthday this year: tickets to see Eddie Izzard’s new show, Force Majeure. Jeff was packed up into a lavender tote bag and carted off to the show, where he got a fantastic seat.

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The squirrel’s perspective might leave a little too much to the imagination. Here:

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Just imagine a fabulous man in a fancy suit, complete with top hat and umbrella standing right in front of that and being incredibly funny. That’s what it was like. (We are good little rule-abiding audience members, and we didn’t do any illegal picture-taking or recording during the show, so this is as good as it gets.) Make sure you add in the fact that I was smiling so hard that my face hurt. And clapping. And giggling like a lunatic. And really appreciating how many times the name Jeff got dropped.

Now, we need to back up just a little bit. Upon arriving at the venue, I made sure to find a responsible- and kind-looking usher-type security person so that I could ask them the best way to make sure that Jeff the Squirrel got to Eddie Izzard. All of the ladies I spoke to were extremely kind as I got sent higher and higher up the ladder of responsibility. My final conversation took place with a lovely woman who told us that he would be conducting a Q&A session in the lobby about 15 minutes after the show, and that she figured that the best time to see if I could get it to him would be then. We thanked her profusely and then walked into the theatre to enjoy the show.

And enjoy it we did. The man does not disappoint. He even threw out a bunch of callbacks to older bits, particularly lots of references to the Death Star Canteen (click it up for Lego interpretation hilarity), much to my happiness. He is, quite possibly, the only man in the world who can make a whole theatre full of people laugh while talking about human sacrifice. And for that, I adore him.

After the show ended, the audience began to travel to the lobby and condensed around the stairs, much to my chagrin because I am a very short person. Everyone was extremely eager to get photos and videos of the Q&A session, probably because documentation was not allowed during the actual show.

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I was a little bit closer than this (Dan stayed off to the side in order to avoid the crush), but when you are not much taller than five feet, it’s very hard to make yourself noticed, even if you have a squirrel.

I had done my best on the days preceding the show to alert Mr. Izzard to the fact that I would be bringing him a handmade gift to the Austin show, but I didn’t receive any response, not really to my surprise.

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I am aware that most famous people with social media, especially extremely busy touring comedians who are also training for a marathon and preparing for a political career (Seriously. He is amazing.) probably do not do much of this for themselves. Either that, or they might not think that I am all that amusing, but I’d rather not think about that too much. All the same, I was hoping that he got the message and that it might have been slightly memorable enough to get through.

Unfortunately, it did not. I attempted to hold up Jeff in his lavender tote bag at every opportunity for question-asking, but was not really noticed, as far as I could tell. After the session was over, he was out of there fairly quickly, and I found my way over to the same super nice security-lady that I had spoken to before. However, this time, she handed Jeff the Squirrel off to a rather unsmiling man with an official-looking security headset. Even though he assured me that he would definitely pass him along, I got the feeling that there was yet another man in Austin who was not terribly amused by me or my handknit-animal shenanigans.

So Jeff went off into the ether, and I, ridiculously, had not enclosed any information with him as to my name or the name of my blog.

I know. I am terrible at self-promotion, apparently. I did send out another message into the Internet and directly to Eddie Izzard about Jeff’s fate, but I have not yet received any sort of response.

Cue the sad trombone.

That’s not to say that the whole trip ended up on such a blah note. Dan and I had a really great time, mostly stuffing all of Austin’s various food offerings into our faces, if my iPhone photos are any indication.

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Mexican food.

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Italian food. (I am such a sucker for anything with a completely obvious label, especially if it’s edible.)

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Argentinian food.

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Ice cream food. (I just typed ‘ice cream good’ on accident. This is the truth. Amy’s double chocolate chip with Reese’s peanut butter cups. I didn’t want to leave this place.)

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And some of the most delicious sushi ever set in front of me.

Plus, I made rice pudding for my brother and his fiancée…

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And assisted in harvesting some okra, which are now sitting in my fridge, waiting for me to pickle them. I am so excited.

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Can we talk for a second about how beautiful okra flowers are? I had no idea. I want to fill my whole backyard with this stuff.

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I also received another amazing present, my very first manicure and deluxe pedicure experience, from my brother’s fiancée. I had only ever gotten a manicure once before, during my freshman year in college, and the lady doing it pretty much spent the entire time yelling at me about the state of my cuticles, so we’re just going to say that it doesn’t count. I had such a wonderful time being pampered, because it is certainly not something that I would ever have thought to do for myself. Anyone else in the healthcare field knows how much nursing can tear up your hands, and I felt (and still do even later!) super special and suddenly very ladylike. I took the opportunity to show it off and admire the teal against my newest pair of socks (details to come later).

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So? The final verdict? I can only hope that Jeff made it to his final destination safe and sound with Eddie Izzard. If not, I hope he ended up with someone who thought he was cute and will take care of him and that he didn’t get thrown in the trash. I’m going to try my best to not let the uncertainty get to me, because it was such a lovely trip and a wonderful present to receive.

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I will definitely not let any of this experience change my mind about knitting tiny animals for people who mean a great deal to me, especially if they are famous people. I am aware that it is a strange thing to do, but I feel that there are way weirder things to be known for on the Internet. I can only hope that they get to their owners eventually.

Maybe next time.

Mr. Izzard, I Made You a Squirrel (or…Jeff the Squirrel)

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I love Eddie Izzard. I’m not sure when I saw or heard him perform for the first time, but it was love at first sight/listen. He is the funniest man alive. Everytime I hear someone say that they did something absolutely insane (or when I catch people sleeping in the big squishy chairs at the bookstore), I hear his “like you do” in my head in that wonderful lilt. I also hear his voice whenever I say the word “jam.” I offer “cake or death” at every opportunity. I like my coffee covered in beeeeees. I have declared that the mouse is under the table, the cat is on the chair, and the monkey is on the branch.

Those who aren’t in the know don’t realize that this stuff is hilarious. Story of my life.

Dan gets it, though. He even got me a birthday cake covered in beeeeees.

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See?

My brother also knows about my deep-seated love, and he surprised us with tickets to go and see him in Austin this weekend as my birthday present this year. I may have danced a little when he told me. More than a little. I then concocted a plan that seems extremely similar to a plan that I had last year around the same time: I would knit Eddie Izzard a squirrel and present it to him in some way at his show, just for him to have for no reason. Like you do.

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This little guy is named Jeff (obviously) after Jeff, the god of biscuits, Jeff Vader, Jeff Jeffty Jeff, and all of the other strange Jeffs that find their way into Mr. Izzard’s wonderful stories. (Oh my god, I just saw that they sell an “I’m Jeff Vader” t-shirt on his website. Waaaaaant.)

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He has been interrupted during his frantic acorn eating with distressing thoughts as to whether or not he left the gas on.

Fabulous.

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Twins, yes?

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The pattern for Jeff the Squirrel came from the adorably titled Knit One Squirrel Two by Rabbit Hole Knits, purveyor of all sorts of knitted cuteness. His acorn came from the Spiffy Little Acorn pattern by Revati Poole, also so tiny and adorable. (Ravelry links all, by the by.)

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I think that knitting and sewing on those teeny tiny little ears was my absolute favorite part.

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Making his slightly worried facial expression runs a close, close second.

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And that huge fluffy tail was a great deal of fun as well, even with the ridiculous amount of tiny knots and unwinding of yarn strands involved. The tutorial for this is located here. I had some trouble finding it at first on the main site, so I figured that anyone else who wanted to join in the fun shouldn’t have to waste time searching for it, too. All you need for it is a pipe cleaner and a good movie to watch while you make knots.

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Whenever I see this picture, all I can hear is, “That squirrel is looking at me,” in my best Brian Fellows voice.

This little guy was just a joy to work on, and I was more than a little sad to finish him up. However, I know that he’ll bring joy (or at the very least, delighted confusion) to an all-around fantastic person, which more than makes up for it.

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The only trouble is…how do you manage to give a squirrel to Eddie Izzard? With my David-Sedaris-owl-giving, there was a book signing involved, which made the whole hand-off of the adorable knitted item a lot easier. This is a whole different type of event, a stand-up show in a big theatre…I have no idea how to present him with his squirrel. Ideas have been tossed around like waiting out at the backstage door after the show, speaking to security guards and having them pass it along, passing it hand-over-hand (crowdsurfing the squirrel!) until it reaches the stage…All equally weird and seemingly likely to fail. I’m thinking that I might just send him a tweet linking to this post? I have no idea. I would like to just come off with as little of a hint of stalkerishness as possible.

All I want is for an awesome person to have a handmade gift. And how could you say no to this face?

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You’re right. You can’t.