Thursday, October 28, 2010

House Unity Blanket

Hello, folks!  In preparation for Part I of the Deathly Hallows movie(s), I decided to make a house unity blanket!  If you don't know, that just means that instead of choosing one Hogwarts school house, you use all four main colors.  This is a fairly quick knit on large needles, and can easily be completed in a weekend.  I used 15mm needles and two strands of worsted weight yarn held together.  (As per usual, I used Red Heart Super Saver yarn)  For colors, I used "Black" as my main color, "Bright Yellow" for Hufflepuff, "Paddy Green" for Slytherin, "Ranch Red" for Gryffindor, and "Blue" for Ravenclaw.  This is a very simple pattern.  Finished piece measures approximately 4'x4'

The basic blanket is worked as follows:
Use wither a super bulky yarn, or two strands of worsted weight held together.
With black, cast on 3 sts.
Row 1: K1, YO, Knit to end of row.
Repeat Row 1 84 times. (87 sts)  (This is 4 rows past the second red stripe)
Row 2: K2tog, YO, Knit to last 2 sts, K2tog
Repeat Row 3 until 3 sts remain, bind off

At the same time, work the following color pattern:
8 rows black
2 rows yellow
8 rows black
2 rows green
8 rows black
2 rows blue
8 rows black
2 rows red

If you'd rather have a pattern matching the Prisoner of Azkaban style scarves, work the following color pattern:
10 rows MC
2 rows CC
2 rows MC
2 rows CC

For Gryffindor, use Ranch Red and Gold,
For Slytherin, use Paddy Green and Light Gray,
For Ravenclaw, use Blue and Light Gray or Warm Brown,
For Hufflepuff, use Bright Yellow and Black.

Make 4 tassels, one in each color (or all MC for single-house blankets) and attach to the corners.

I make tassels by wrapping the double-stranded yarn around a DVD case about 25 times, tying across one end, and cutting the other end, then tying around the whole bundle about 1.5" from the tied end.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scaring myself.

I've been reading blogs.  Blogs that scare me.  Blogs about severely disabled children and blogs about grieving lost children.  Why do I scare myself like this? 

I think it's because I like to be prepared.  I have always found myself imagining the worst possible outcomes of any situation, preparing for that outcome, and being pleasantly surprised when things turned out better than I had expected.  The downside, of course, is all the additional stress I put on myself.  But I really don't know any other way to handle my fears - this is how I've always done things.

How would I react if something terrible happened to Ganon?  I don't know, but at least now I know that it wouldn't be the end of everything.  Somehow, these brave parents have coped, and that means I could, too.  That's what lets me sleep at night - the knowledge that no matter how bad things get, I will always find some way to pull through.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Doctor Who Scarf

I'm making a Doctor Who scarf as a holiday gift this year, based on the pattern here.  Using the guideline for the number of rows in each color... I went off on my own.  As I am allergic to wool (a terrible fate for a knitter/crocheter, it's true!) I had to find acrylic alternative yarns.  I thought I would share them with you today.  All of the yarns I am using are Red Heart Super Saver colors. 
Red:  cherry red
Brown:  warm brown
Beige:  buff or linen (from what I have seen, these colors are very close in person, the linen being slightly more grey)
Grey:  grey heather
Purple:  dark orchid
Green:  cafe (a slightly greenish brown. It was the closest match I could find - the original is a bit greener.)
Yellow:  gold

I used the photos of the actual scarf (also available on the previously linked site) and matched the colors as closely as I could.

Since this yarn is all worsted weight (as opposed to sport), I also moved up to a (US) size 8 knitting needle from the recommended size 5.  I get about 4 stitches to an inch with this yarn on this needle.  The original scarf is a mix of 11" and 9" widths, so I split the difference and cast on 40 stitches.  This scarf is still in the works, so I don't have a final length measurement or yarn amounts yet, but it will be spectacularly long, I'm sure. 

I'm also considering making one 6" wide for myself, with 2/3 long stripes, as well.  Thoughts?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Public Decency

A while ago, I went on a road trip with my family to the Mall of America.  Out of convenience, I did not bring any bottles, frozen milk, or even my breast pump.  I would be with my son, and could nurse him myself - I didn't need the extra bulk or worry of forgetting something.  I did put my Triforce nursing cover in the diaper bag, however, since I didn't know the ins and outs of Minnesota law regarding breastfeeding.  Using the cover, I nursed him in the mall several times throughout the weekend.  He's a terribly patient child, crying his distinctive 'hungry cry' while in the stroller, then quieting when I picked him up and staying quiet until I could find a place to sit and get him in position. 

If you don't know, there is a Nickelodeon theme park in the middle of the mall.  I did use the nursing cover, but it was still quite obvious what I was doing, and to be honest, it doesn't hide much.  When I nursed Ganon in the theme park area, the only looks I got were from curious children.  It seemed that my fellow parents just understood.  But when I was nursing him in the clothing wing of the mall, the dirty looks abounded.  Only one look was from someone who had a child with them, the rest were from lone women or groups of women. 

Shortly before we were leaving the mall, I was quite warm from all the walking, and Ganon kept pulling the nursing cover aside (he was overly warm as well).  With a shrug, I pulled it off entirely and put it back in the diaper bag.  I was on a bench in the hallway, and my mother had a comically shocked look on her face when she walked out of the store and saw me there, nursing uncovered!  I very nearly laughed out loud - but it would have startled the baby.

Now, if you think about it, a baby nursing doesn't show much breast.  My shirt covers the top part of my breast, my bra covers the bottom and outer side, and the nipple is in the baby's mouth.  His head covers even more, but you could conceivably look around it from certain angles.  The only thing even possibly visible is my cleavage, which my mother, once upon a time, encouraged me to show more of.  (Ooh, dangling participle!  There will be more of these.)

What people don't seem to think about is that breastfeeding is what breasts were made for!  Breasts are not 'dirty' or 'indecent'.  All mammals have them, and their sole purpose is to nourish the young.  While large breasts do attract mates, that is hardwired because of the reproductive implication that a large-breasted woman would be better able to feed offspring.  (Not true, just as it's not true that a wide-hipped woman is better at bearing children, but it still causes a physical pleasure response.)  So whip out those ta-tas and feed your tots! :D

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Power Star!

Ganon loves star shapes.  They might be his favorite, perhaps tied with circles.  He just gets such a kick out of 'em!  Being a geek myself, I know that stars imbue the consumer with the power of invincibility... and have small black eyes just above the center.  That's just the way things are.  So of course, I wanted to make a star toy that Ganon could play with from an early age.  I searched online, but I just couldn't find a pattern I was happy with (all of them had far too many seams to sew and ends to weave in!)  So I made my own.  This is the Seamless Stuffed Super Star pattern - there are no seams at all, and  only 5 ends to weave in (and I just pulled them inside the stuffie instead of any real weaving.  I'll warn you now, though, this pattern isn't very refined - I have a hard time explaining some of the stitches and rounds in any other way, and forego round numbering entirely.  Feedback and suggestions on how to improve this pattern are always welcome!

The final piece measures approximately 6" across with worsted weight yarn and a US size "F" crochet hook.
magic loop 10 stitches.
Side 1:
SC twice in each ST - 20 sts
SC, *SC twice in next ST, SC 3, repeat from * 4 times - 25 sts
*SC 4, SC twice in next ST, repeat from * around - 30 sts
*SC 5, SC twice in next ST, repeat from * around - 35 sts
leave 5yd tail, break yarn

Make another, but don't break off the yarn.
First point:
*SC 7 (last sc should be in the space between the two SC in a single stitch)
CH 3
SC in the space between two SC in one ST on side 1, SC across the side to next two SC in one ST.
CH 3
SC in the space between two SC on side 2 to join.
SC 4, dec, SC 3, dec, SC 4, dec, SC 3, dec
SC 17, PM

DEC, SC 3, DEC, SC 2, DEC, SC 3, DEC, SC 2, MM
SC 14, MM
SC 10, MM
DEC, DEC, DEC, break off yarn leaving 6” tail
thread tail through front loop of all sts, tie off, thread tail back inside point, remove needle.
Repeat from * with 5yd tail on side 1 to form second point

SC 8 across one side (from one 2SC space to another), CH 3 (if no STs present, otherwise SC 3 through remaining loop), SC 8 across other side, CH 3 (if no STs present, otherwise SC 3 through remaining loop)
SC to join, be sure not to twist
SC 5, dec, SC 3 through back loop, dec, SC 4, dec, SC 3 through back loop, dec
SC 17, PM
DEC, SC 3, DEC, SC 2, DEC, SC 3, DEC, SC 2, MM
SC 14, MM
SC 10, MM
DEC, DEC, DEC, break off yarn leaving 6” tail
thread tail through front loop of all sts, tie off, thread tail back inside point, remove needle.

Make 4 points (total), stuff
after round 8 (RM) of final point, stuff that point extra firm
after final point is tied off, massage point until stuffing fills it evenly
Using black yarn, embroider oval shaped eyes to one side, the tops of the eyes should be even with the straight edge connecting the upper left and upper right points, and the bottoms of the eyes should be level with the center of the star.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Pardon me if I repeat myself, I expect it will happen often.  For the most part, I can't stand to re-read what I have already posted, and as the same feelings and thoughts pop up, I will repeatedly post about the same things.

When Ganon was born, he wasn't breathing.  It took a bit, but then he took some very shallow breaths and gave the weakest, most feeble cries I have ever heard.  They broke my heart they were so pathetic.  It took almost ten minutes before he gave a real cry and they called his time of birth.  He was still blue, but I told myself he wasn't any more purple than the newborns I had seen in informational videos.  I couldn't hold him.  He had to be rushed to the nursery - the hospital here doesn't have a NICU.  My family was waiting in the glass room between surgery/ICU and the nursery, three generations pacing and waiting for news.  They watched the nurses literally run past with a tiny blue baby and they follow as fast as they can.  They hovered around the nursery door and watched them start inserting tubes and attaching wires.  As the pediatrician stepped out, my mother asked "Will he be okay?".

"I don't know."

I know I did everything right.  I never smoked.  I rarely had caffeine.  During my pregnancy, I cut out preservatives, lunch meats, high fructose corn syrup, and junk food.  I took my vitamins.  I had a total of 19 cans of soda during my entire pregnancy - the only caffeine I had.  I ate healthy, I rested, I played Mozart through headphones around my belly.  I still wonder if there is something else I could have done.  Should I have slept on my right side instead of my left?  Should I have exercised more?  Less?  What did I do to cause this?

I know this guilt is misplaced, that there is nothing I could have done better and if I hadn't done everything I did, he likely wouldn't have made it at all.  "It would have been a tragedy." as the OB put it. 

He still has coughing fits sometimes while he's eating.  Every time, my heart drops and my mind races.  Will he start breathing again?  Will the coughs turn to silence?  Is he getting enough air?  Do I have enough space to start CPR if he stops breathing?  Will the guilt ever subside?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've been enjoying writing amigurumi patterns lately.  Without further ado, here's the first pattern that I've successfully written:


small amounts of the following colors of Red Heart Super Saver yarn:
dark orchid (MC)
buff (SC)
country blue (CC)
Caron Super Soft off-white
metallic gold crochet or embroidery thread
size F crochet hook
small amount of poly-fill
yarn needle

NOTE: This pattern is worked in a spiral; do not join rounds

Abbreviations used:
sc – single crochet st - stitch
dec – decrease inc - increase

Body (make one):
Round 1: using SC, magic loop 8 stitches
Round 2: sc twice in each st (16 sts)
Round 3: *sc, sc twice in next st, repeat from * to end of round (24)
Round 4: *sc, sc, sc twice in next st, repeat from * to end of round (32)
Rounds 5-12: sc around
Round 13: *sc 6, dec, repeat from * to end of round (28)
Round 14: using MC, sc around
Round 15: sc through back loop only to end of round
Round 16: sc around
Round 17: *dec, sc 5, repeat from * to end of round (24)
Round 18, 19: sc around
Round 20: *sc 4, dec, repeat from * to end of round (20)
Round 21: sc around
Round 22: *dec, sc 3, repeat from * to end of round (16)
Tip: Stuffing before the last decrease round make it easier to stuff!
Round 23: dec around (8)

Robe Bottom:
Round 1: using MC, sc in front loops of Round 15 of body (28)
Round 2: *sc 6, inc, repeat from * to end of round (32)
Rounds 3, 4: sc around
Round 5: *sc 7, inc, repeat from * to end of round (36)
Rounds 6, 7: sc around
Round 8: *sc 8, inc, repeat from * to end of round (40)
Tie off.

Arms (make two):
Round 1: using SC, magic loop 6 stitches
Round 2: sc twice in each st (12)
Rounds 3-5: sc around
Round 6: *dec, sc 4, repeat from * (10)
Round 7: using MC, sc around
Round 8: sc through back loops only to end of round
Round 9: dec, sc 3, dec, sc 3 (8)
Rounds 10, 11: sc around
Round 12: dec, sc 2, dec, sc 2 (6)
Round 13: sc around, tie off

Round 1: using MC, sc around front loops of Round 8 of arm (10)
Round 2: sc, *inc, sc 2, repeat from * to end of round (13)
Round 3: sc around
Round 4: sc, inc, sc 3, inc, sc 3, inc, sc 2 (16)
Round 5: sc around, tie off

Round 1: using SC, magic loop 6 sts
Round 2: sc twice in ea st (12)
Round 3: *sc, inc, repeat from * to end of round (18)
Round 4: *sc, sc, inc, repeat from * to end of round (24)
Round 5: *sc, sc, sc, inc, repeat from * to end of round (30)
Rounds 6-11: sc around
Round 12: *sc, sc, sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round (24)
Round 13: *sc, sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round (18)
Round 14: *sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round (12)
Round 15: dec around (16)
Tie off
Thread yarn tail through all stitches and tie off, draw tail inside head and trim.

Pick up 25 sts in a circle around top of head
Sc around twice
Working through back loops only, *sc, sc, sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round
Working both loops, *sc, sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round
Working both loops, *sc, dec, repeat from * to end of round
dec around last round, tie off
Thread yarn tail through all stitches and tie off, draw tail inside hat and trim.

Flatten top edge of arms and attach to each side of the body
Stitch head to top of body, forming neck
Using CC, sl st or embroider a decorative edge around base of hat, tie a small tassel to center of hat, trim to 1-1/4” in length. Tie around waist, leaving uneven ends. In loose ends, tie a knot approximately 3/4” from trimmed ends and fray.  Embroider eyes.
Using Off-White yarn, attach approximately 70 8” strands (folded in half) to the head to form moustache and beard, and a double line along hair line and hat brim.  Once attached, use a blunt needle to unravel each strand of yarn.  Trim hair and beard evenly, and moustache to approximately 1/2”  Embroider eyebrows.  Embroider a small stitch in each eye as a catch-light.
Using gold thread, tie beard approximately halfway down.  Embroider half-moon glasses under eyes.

Also available as a pdf HERE.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Baby's first meal

Over the past few weeks, Ganon has been sitting up more and started showing interest in what everyone else is eating.  Today, he grabbed the bag of chips my mom was snacking on.  Remembering that Ganon's nutritionist had noted these milestones as signs he was ready to start on baby cereal, I ran to the store to pick up a variety.  Oats, barley, rice, and brown rice were the available options for the "supported sitter" stage - since Ganon is still wobbly when he sits completely on his own.  Brown rice is the most flavorful of the four (in my opinion, at least) so I figured that if he liked that, he'll like the rest just fine.  I've also been eating brown rice myself, and Ganon has likely tasted some of that in my breastmilk.  So brown rice was first on the list to try.

A little while before his next feeding, I defrosted some frozen breastmilk and mixed up the cereal using the "Baby's First Meal" instructions.  It seemed a bit... liquidy, so I sprinkled in a tiny bit of extra cereal flakes.  It was still almost completely liquid, but I trusted the judgement of the manufacturer.  I set Ganon up in his Bumbo (a supportive seat, kind of like a short, soft bucket with leg holes - ours has a tray in front, as well) and fastened on a fresh bib.  Ganon stared, drooling, as I put the bowl on the tray and scooped a bit with a soft spoon.  He smiled as I moved it toward his face, and I slipped the spoon into his open mouth.  His eyes went wide and he swallowed, his tongue moving this way and that.  His smile stretched from ear to ear and he leaned forward, opeing and closing his mouth, looking for more.  I scooped as fast as I could, though I'm sure more ended up on his bib than in his mouth.  In the end, he began to cry, moving his head as if to try and find my breast, and we stopped so he could have a 'proper' meal.

All in all, quite a success.  I'm glad he liked it, and with no signs of allergies, we'll be able to move on to another flavor.  So exciting!