Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Yarn Along: gifts!

I have so much to show you!  Let's start with the knitting.  I have been working on Sebastian's stocking, which is nearly finished.  I'm on the toe.  Thank goodness we're on the old calendar and celebrate Christmas on January 7th, amiright?
I also whipped up matching headbands for Lucy and my niece.  They were so much fun to make! 
I used some languishing hand-dyed handspun and some crazy chain-plied handspun, plus some fun matryoshka fleece to line them.  Be careful with this pattern--it is addictive.  The sage green handspun is almost gone and I am inexplicably still trying to eek out another headband.  I know in my heart there isn't enough, but can't seem to stop myself...
I also have been sewing up a storm.  It all started with some adorable polka-dotted flannel pajamas I saw on a tv show.  I found similar ones for nearly a hundred dollars, but couldn't seem to pull the trigger.  Nothing is ever long enough for me off the rack, and I'm tired of spending money on things that aren't quite right.  A quick trip to Joann's, where fabric was 60% off, and a $2 pattern later, I am the proud owner of four pairs of pajama pants--covered with bikes, scissors, polka dots, and matryoshka dolls, respectively.
I made Juliana and Alex a changing pad and matching pouch for their baby shower.  We get so much use out of the ones I made before Lucy was born.  The pattern is from Simple Sewing for Baby.

Speaking of which, poor Sebastian is in dire need of more bibs, so I made three different styles out of cute flannel I found at a local quilt shop.  Now that I know which pattern fits him best, I intend to bang out zillions of them. 

I also made these cute pacifier clips yesterday.  They'll go in Sebastian's stocking as soon as I finish it...

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sebastian's Birth Story

I awoke to my first real contraction at 4 AM.  I worked through it, then rested until the next one came, as I lay quietly next to Pete and Lucy.  They woke up at about 7, and when I told Pete it had begun, he got excited.

He explained that he had hoped it would happen that day, September 13th.  So far, all of our significant events have had a little pattern to them.  Our anniversary is on February 20th, Lucy was born on April 20th, and my birthday is June 20th.  Pete is all alone on July 13th and thought it would be nice if our son was also born on the 13th.  Once he pointed that out, I burst out laughing and said, "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED."  Lucy chimed in, "Mama happy?" I said, "Yes, Lucy, Mama's very happy."  She replied, "My happy too.  Papa, ah luff oo."  It took me a moment to realize she had just said, "I love you" for the first time.  It was a sweet way to start our day, and I was practically buzzing with contentment.

Throughout the day, my contractions steadily grew stronger and more regular as long as I stayed upright and active.  The moment I slowed down, so did they.  I was able to eat and take a nap without much trouble, and otherwise puttered around and got things accomplished.  Alex and Juliana helped so much by keeping Lucy occupied.

Pete and I were able to really connect.  I relied on him so much more this time around, after reading still more accounts of natural labor in Ina May's Spiritual Midwifery.  Last time I focused only on my pain and myself, but this time I was able to really see him and engage with him throughout the whole experience, and it definitely helped.  In the afternoon, we walked to the library together in spite of the rain, and that's when I felt things move forward.  And yet as soon as we got home and I sat down, they ground to a halt.  So I went back to work, tidying up and getting everything ready.  I made up my mind to hold off until Lucy went to bed so that I could leave knowing she was settled for the night.

As Pete put Lucy to bed, things heated up and I knew we had to get going.  Once we were in the car, I suddenly became emotional about leaving Lucy's babyhood behind.  I knew that nothing would ever be the same again and it frightened and saddened me.  I suggested that we take a walk once we got to Cooperstown, so I would have a chance to calm down.  I'd only had two contractions during the 30 minute drive to the hospital, so I thought we had the time.

And yet--as soon as I got out of the car, the most intense contraction hit me and I had to grab onto Pete. We had to go right up, even though I was still feeling a little raw emotionally.  The short walk to the entrance of the hospital was punctuated with contractions, and I stopped to lean on the benches along the way.

We made it up to the birthing center at about 10 PM and they hooked me up to the monitors.  Sitting on the bed was uncomfortable--I preferred being able to stand and lean on something through the contractions.  We explained that we wanted as few interventions as possible.  I remember telling the doctor to just catch the baby.  The doctor insisted on giving me an internal exam during a contraction, which was pure torture and did not endear him to me.  He told me I was at 7 cm, but I didn't hear him through the pain.  Once he was gone, I began to get impatient and felt even more annoyed about the monitors, so we called a nurse and she detached me.

We went into the bathroom and shut the door so we could be alone again.  I immediately began to feel better and more in control of the experience.  They have these splendid showers with two shower heads in the birthing center.  Pete got on his swim suit and helped me get situated in there.  I was able to lean on the shower seat while he ran the water over my back.  It was so relaxing that I began to yawn uncontrollably, and the contractions came on top of each other.  As strange as it sounds, it felt good.  I was completely at ease.  But we knew it was time to call the nurse and transition back to the main room.  They got me back on the bed, where--of all things--I had to sign some paperwork between contractions.  The doctor broke my water and before I knew it, it was time to push.

I wasn't comfortable on the bed and wanted desperately to stand, but it was out of the question.  They adjusted the bed so it was more like an armchair, which didn't really help.  I had nothing to brace myself against.  The nurse and Pete held my legs, but I couldn't push my feet against anything, or use my arms to pull myself up and curl around the baby.  I was so frustrated.  My legs were shaking uncontrollably.  The doctor kept counting and making Pete count, which infuriated me.  For some reason, between contractions, I kept cupping my vulva, perhaps to provide a little counter-pressure.  Inexplicably, the doctor offered to numb it for me.  I curtly told him no, and was astounded that he would offer it after I had made myself clear--and was so close.

I remember glancing at the clock.  It was a little after 11--and if I wanted him to be born on September 13th, I would have to hurry.  I remember yelling, "Get him out of me!" over and over.  The nurse said, "You have to push him out," which made me switch to chanting, "Get out of me!"  I asked for a mirror, but once they held it up, I was completely horrified at the sight of the baby crowning and averted my eyes.  The baby's cord was around his neck, so the doctor had to clip it quickly.  Then he was out entirely, with a gush of blood and a flood of meconium.  I saw my stomach collapse, and suddenly missed having him inside--because I had forgotten to savor it.  He was whisked away and I was convinced he couldn't breathe or had swallowed the meconium.  I insisted the nurses tell me what was the matter with him.  They told me he was fine--but I wouldn't believe them.  "Just tell me--I can take it!" I remember saying.
Finally (after only a minute or two) they brought him back and he really was perfect.  His little eyes and mouth turned up a bit, making him look so perpetually content.  He had this fine black hair, little fuzzy ears and back, chubby arms, scrawny legs, long fingers, a perfectly shaped head, a little upturned nose.  He latched on almost immediately, putting to rest all of my fears about more nursing trouble.  We didn't call him anything right away--in fact, I was a little afraid to try out any names at first.
The doctor gave me a couple of stitches and was on his way.  I was able to shower and get dressed.  Anna arrived bearing provisions--after working for 12 hours and driving for 4.  We wolfed down the food she brought us and settled into our new room.
The next morning, before Pete left, we decided to settle on a name once and for all. For the first time, we called him Sebastian to see if it fit. Though I loved the name throughout my pregnancy, I was nervous somehow of how it would be perceived by others. It was the only name we both liked but that didn't seem like a good enough reason. We read over the life of St. Sebastian.  Then it occurred to Pete that our baby, who had been born on the eve of the Church new year, would have a nameday on secular New Year's Eve. I found it so charming that I instantly felt comfortable with the name. And I think he really does look like a Sebastian, as much as any baby could.
Pete returned that afternoon with Lucy.  Their meeting was everything I had hoped for.  I was so proud of Lucy's gentle interest in her brother.
I was so grateful to our friend Katia and her family, who visited and took these lovely pictures for us.  And I was incredibly thankful that Juliana, Alex, and Anna were there to take such good care of Lucy.  When it was time to leave, she was happy to go with her aunties, which was a tremendous relief for me.
It has been such a joy getting to know Sebastian.  Having him made me realize fully that my heart can hold a truly staggering amount of love.  I was almost convinced there couldn't possibly be room for more.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yarn Along: Swapping Swatches

It occurred to me that I never shared what happened while I was knitting one of the sleeves of this sweater with you.

I was happily knitting away, when suddenly one of my children required my attention.  Let's be honest--I probably had to pry Lucy off the chandelier or something. Sebastian still stays where I put him, bless him.  

So I cast aside my knitting, and it landed on the couch.  (You know where this is going...) After completing the rescue mission, I collapsed back into the cushions, only to have one of my double pointed needles, a size 9 (!!!) blunt-tipped  (bamboo, mind you, bamboo!) Addi bite me.  I screamed, of course, which terrified Lucy, who started sobbing uncontrollably. So I took a moment to comfort her before dashing off to the nearest mirror to inspect the massive puncture wound. It was still impressive when Pete got home.

Now that you know what I've been through, can you blame me for taking a tiny break from the sweater to quickly knit up a long-overdue hat?  The plan was to make Habitat, but instead I churned out a Turn a Square with a longer brim.  It is almost done now, namely because Emily and I traded knitting yesterday.  She churned through the stockinette and I repaired a misplaced buttonhole, sewed on charming antler buttons, wove in the ends, and finished up the second sleeve of her Tama.  I really wish we could live nearer to each other so we could trade misbehaving knitting or children on a whim regularly.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Yarn Along: Cording Disaster

I've been completely monotonous, er, monogamous to my owls sweater and Outlander. There was a minor disaster this week, when the Knit Picks cable broke on me. I was at a lecture and hadn't brought along my tool kit, so I had to wait until I got home to swap it out. The handspun is toothy though, so the stitches just hung out waiting to be rescued. I scooped them all up onto an excessively long circular needle and tried it on.  It needs about four more inches before I can join the sleeves.
I've been doing a little sewing on the side with this delightful fabric.  It's such a perfect combination--you'd never guess I had to snatch it up with my teeth while nursing Sebastian and wrangling Lucy in the store. I got just enough to make gifts, but as I work on them I've been plotting a delux project bag and matching zippered pouch or two for myself.  I've been trying to use up every single scrap of it to put off the inevitable trip back for more.  We'll see what I can squeak out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Yarn Along: new treasures

I am still listening to Outlander and knitting away on my owls cardigan. I have finished the second sleeve and the body is well on its way. 

And since none of that is news, I wanted to share some exciting additions to my stash.  Pete recently had a long layover in Iceland and found these treasures for me there.
Six skeins of Unspun Icelandic, three skeins of L├ętt-Lopi, and some lovely antler buttons that compliment the Unspun Icelandic perfectly.  I love him so much!

I've been plotting a sweater that will do them justice.  Souvenir sweaters are my new obsession.  I mull over all of the possibilities endlessly.  All the places we are planning to visit, yarn that epitomizes a given location, designers that use their surroundings as inspiration, and sources for local buttons.  And if all else fails, there is so much to inspire me in my own backyard.  There will be lots of NY state sweaters in my future, I hope, complete with local buttons.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Yarn Along: Stashdiving

When packing for this trip, I went a little crazy.  I just finished a big project, so I had to quickly figure out what to make next.  I wound up bringing yarn and matching buttons for three hypothetical sweaters--one for myself and two for Lucy.  More knitting than I would ever need, but it was so reassuring to have options.
The buttons were the real inspiration.  I purchased them at a craft fair almost exactly a year ago and rediscovered them while Lucy was sorting buttons for me.  It seemed like such a shame to leave them languishing, so I hunted through my stash for complementary yarn.
I've been sitting on another treasure.  A sweater's worth of handpun that Marty, who runs the local spinner's guild, gave to me.  She hand-processed it. spun it, and then knitted it into a cabled sweater for her son, who promptly moved to Arizona.  So after several years went by, he returned it to her.  She frogged the sweater, skeined up the yarn, washed it, and swatched with it, only to discover that knitting with it aggravated her arthritis.  I have been giving a lot of thought to what it ultimately should become.  I finally settled on owls, by Kate Davies.  It will be very similar to the first sweater I ever knit, but I'm planning to steek it into a cardigan this time. My handspun owls is well on its way, with the ribbing for the body completed and an entire sleeve finished already.  With all the traveling we have planned in the coming month, I hope to keep the momentum up.  I've also been listening to Outlander, which is great for those long drives.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I wanted to do a quick Rhinebeck recap as well.  Because Sebastian is so little, I wasn't sure if I would make it this year.  But as it turned out, taking a tiny baby there is a breeze--especially when you can leave your toddler at home and bring a sister!  Juliana wore Sebastian the entire time and I was free to wander and find a few treasures.

I vowed not to buy more sock yarn--but couldn't resist stopping by the Socks that Rock booth.  I found some fabulous polwarth roving from Blue Moon Fiber Arts there.  The colorway is so linked to Rhinebeck and this time of year in my mind.

I also picked up a couple of KNIT and SPIN bumperstickers.  Now to convince Pete that they belong on our car…

Cirilia Rose's new book is really exciting.  I can't wait to read her comprehensive essays.
And I grabbed a couple of bobbins for my ladybug.  I can't wait to try 3- and 4-plies!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yarn Along: victory lap

I finished both Sebastian's baptismal gown and Emily's Quest this week.  Lucy and I blocked it yesterday. She is a master at the salad spinner stage of the process.  Now to wait for it to dry and sew on the buttons.
In the flush of victory that followed binding off, I decided to use the leftover yarn to make a matching hat.  I'm using Thorpe, Kirsten Kapur's free pattern, as inspiration. It calls for bulky yarn and is meant for adults, but I think my worsted weight yarn will yield an infant-sized hat with the same numbers.  If not, it is knit top-down, so I can easily make adjustments.

I attempted I knit this pattern years ago but gave up after struggling with the cast on. It's very fiddly to cast on 4 stitches on DPNs and join them to knit in the round. It feels really good to have conquered this technique, especially now, as I am sleep-deprived and not feeling especially capable in general.  I watched a video that really helped, but I just had to buckle down and try a few times in the end. It isn't perfect, but I am looking forward to using this technique again when my deadline isn't so tight.

Speaking of which, I am struggling to come up with a concrete plan for what to read and knit next.  I have a giant squishy skein of Miss Babs and some matching ceramic buttons that are clamoring to be made into a cardigan for Lucy.  Any pattern ideas?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yarn Along: Knitting Wrathfully

This week I finished both Lucy's Rhinebeck sweater and Emily Climbs.  There was a fabulous passage in it about Aunt Elizabeth knitting wrathfully--while Emily wishes she had her knitting too because, "It was nasty to sit there, unoccupied, and wonder what was coming."  Haven't we all been there--in both their shoes--at some point or other?

I've gone back to working on Sebastian's baptismal gown. It's nearly to his feet now.  And I'm already halfway through the final book in the Emily of New Moon series--Emily's Quest. Has anyone seen the miniseries based on the books?  Is it worth tracking down?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Yarn Along: Knit 2 Together

I'm still enjoying Emily Climbs and knitting away on Sebastian's baptismal gown and Lucy's Rhinebeck sweater.  Unbelievably, they are not only knit from the same pattern but also from the same set of numbers.  These two projects are great examples of the versatility of this particular pattern.  It is a blank canvas that really lets your yarn and button choices shine.
I had so much knitting time this weekend.  We drove down to visit my family in New Jersey, by which I mean Pete drove and I knit for over four hours.  Heaven!  
We arrived in New Jersey, where there were so many loving arms waiting for us--ready to hold Sebastian and play with Lucy and cook and hug endlessly.  So I knit still more--sometimes next to my mother, who was casting on her second Shale Baby Blanket.  
Her first one, in lovely soft grey, is snuggled around Sebastian in this photo.  Her current work in progress, in golden yellow, is for his cousin who is due in January.  Incidentally, Juliana also caved to peer pressure and cast on for a simple hat while we were there--in spite of her aversion to knitting in general.  I may have gloated just a little.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yarn Along: Progress!

I'm reading Emily Climbs, even though Dean is making me suuuuper uncomfy as he bides his time waiting for fourteen year old Emily to come of age.  As my dear friend who recommended the books to me pointed out, L.M. Montgomery understands human nature so well!  His manipulative and overbearing behavior is common even today.  Put in that light, I think I can get past those passages that bother me and just see how true to life that character is.  I do love how Emily becomes indignant whenever he gets possessive of her.
I have made so much progress on Sebastian's baptismal gown.  I finished both sleeves and knit down to his belly.  I couldn't resist trying it on him a couple of days ago.
Speaking of which, here he is in the sweater I made for him to wear home from the hospital.  I couldn't resist pairing it with plaid and posting it for the Outlander KAL on Instagram.  He will probably kilt me when he grows up, but it will be worth it…

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Yarn Along

This week I got a surprising amount of knitting done.

One rainy evening when our internet was out, I snatched up this handspun and impulsively cast on a sweater for Lucy.  I only had that one needle, that yarn, and one set of numbers from the pattern within arm's reach, so the odds were pretty dismal that it would work out. And yet!  When I measured Lucy the next day, it was spot on. We watched The Grand Budapest Hotel as I knitted and it all seemed to line up perfectly. I had to lay it aside in the last couple of days, but can't wait to get back to it.

Yarn arrived for Sebastian's baptismal gown.  I've just divided for the sleeves, so I'm hoping it isn't crazy to spend my 40 days frantically knitting a wool sack gown.  One consolation is that it can easily be a simple sweater if I lose steam and only knit halfway.

I'm on the last few pages of Emily of New Moon, and plan to start Emily Climbs straightaway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yarn Along: Casting On

Just began reading Emily of New Moon, knitting a simple roll-brimmed hat out of sock yarn, and, best of all, getting to know Sebastian. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Yarn Along: tying up loose ends

 As my due date fast approaches, I've been trying to simplify things, including my piles of books and projects in progress. 
I polished off this baby hatSpiritual Midwifery, and The Importance of Being Earnest in the past couple of days.  Now I want to make a slightly smaller and thinner version of the hat, as this seems more 0-3 months than newborn to me. I am determined that the first hat my kid wears should be wool and not one of those stretchy hospital-grade striped hats.