Pomander

Published on Wednesday January 16th, 2013

My dear friend Mia produced a lovely baby at the end of December. This was a second baby, and it’s my personal feeling that little siblings born into a life of hand-me-downs deserve something special on the knitterly front—something created just for them. And I was feeling creative, so I thought I’d cook up a spanking new cardigan for this wee person. I wanted to nod to the season without going Full Reindeer Jumper, so I began to think about festive garlands of greenery, spiced cider, and the fragrant pomanders we used to make by spiking oranges with cloves. I swatched a sort of coin motif filled with seed stitch, imagined it swagged around the yoke, and a Pomander cardigan was quickly and pleasurably born. The chart is giving me fits and rendering me totally daft—making charts with changing stitch counts always does that to me—but as soon as I’ve wrestled it into submission the pattern will be ready for testing.

I used Oceanwind Knits BFL Fingering, remnants from my Pas de Valse. I love this yarn. It is much more softly spun than almost kinky BFL fingering weight you’ve probably seen indie dyers offering as sock yarn. (I love that stuff, too, as it happens, but think Oceanwind’s base makes a nicer sweater if you don’t need it to wear like iron.) Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ BFL Sport would be a good alternative, although it’s a bit heavier and you might need to knit a size down on a larger needle. I think Pomander would be glorious in The Fibre Company’s Canopy, too… I might take the chance to finally try knitting that stuff after years of fondling it in yarn shops. A more tightly spun sock yarn would yield a different look—less halo, more pop to the yoke motif—that could be very pleasing, too.

Mia didn’t know what flavor of baby she’d be having, so I tried for Generally Cute rather than Gendered Cute. As it happens, wee Margaret is a girl, but I think her sweater looks pretty great on my own strapping lad, too. (You’ll notice I went with girl-wise buttons, but honestly I think gendered button placement is silly for anyone these days, especially babies. I’m told the left vs. right conventions originate with gentlemen buttoning themselves vs. ladies being buttoned by maids. But no six-month-old gentleman is going to be buttoning himself, and it’s only easier to fasten someone else’s buttons when they’re placed on the right side of the cardigan if the buttoner is right handed, anyway. I say put the buttons wherever you like.)

Jolyon can’t sit reliably without a spotter yet, so I tried to get his sister to prop him up for some clear shots of the front. Here’s the best photograph that approach yielded:

To be fair, she only has ten pounds’ advantage. And he’s kind of a flailing handful when he’s excited. The cardigan is a bit snug on my big boy, you’ll notice. But this is the 3-6-month size he’s wearing, his 6-month birthday was on the winter solstice, and he’s a large specimen, so don’t judge the fit by these pictures. I was kind of amazed it fit as well as it did… three cheers for stretchy knitting!

We four say welcome, Baby Margaret! You landed a fine family and a knitting mama (I happen to know there’s a super cute pair of owl mittens waiting for you in a couple of years)… and that’s a fair start in this world.

Temperate

Published on Wednesday January 9th, 2013

The new year opened with a sparkling clear day, which I like to think is a good omen. I have some dreams for this year, although I’m still raking them out of the clouds and seeing what kind of a pile I might be jumping into. More on that to come. 2012 was a year of hard swimming for our family—with a favorable current, happily, but it’s been breathless effort at times, especially for my husband as he steers his start-up through a rapid expansion. I’ll be the first to say it’s a good problem to have, and I’m terribly proud of the way he has handled the incredible demands of his work without giving up family time, but I truly hope 2013 will be a year to settle and breathe just a little bit more.

January 2 brought us a rare snow flurry, and this time I was quick enough to bundle the bairns out of doors before the tiny flakes had vanished entirely. We tried to catch them on our tongues. (You’ll have to take my word for it that there actually were snowflakes, as the photographic evidence would suggest otherwise.)

One of my hopes for this winter is to get up to the mountain at least once so Ada can taste the joys of snowballs and -men and -angels. (Also I suspect I’d be missing out on a rite of parenting passage if I didn’t have to whip a toddler back out of her cold-weather gear in time for a dash to the potty.) It’s one of my only regrets about our temperate, sea-level home, that there isn’t a real winter. My New England blood makes me pine for ice skating and skiing and snow shoeing. (I’ve never even been snow shoeing, but I’m convinced I’d love it.) On this day, it was excitement enough to scamper about our bare yard with tongues—two human, one canine—lolling. Baby Jolly, hastily swaddled in several layers of wool, took it all in and didn’t judge.

(Pikku-Pete cap still fits! Mama will be so sad when it doesn’t.)


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