super simple seed stitch baby blanket

When new babies come, it’s a good excuse to knit a project that is useful and hopefully will become something that the small child will find comforting and love for a long time. A simple baby blanket is a relaxing knit that you can do while you watch suspenseful TV shows and don’t have to pay attention to the pattern. It gives you a good excuse to binge-watch on cold winter weekends because you are doing something productive with your hands while your eyes are glued to the screen.

I wanted to make a blanket for my niece’s first baby. She knew she was carrying a baby boy. There are a lot of girls in our family on every single side, so this was pretty big news.  In a family that’s been swimming in warrior princesses for generations, I wanted to acknowledge the maleness of the child in the color of the yarn. Yes – I was getting blue yarn. But it could not be baby blue. I would not like to be knitting baby blue for as long as I would need to make the blanket. A small hat would be all I could handle of that color.

Baby D. in his blue-green blanket

Baby D. in his blue-green blanket

I went to my local yarn store Downtown Yarns and went straight to the shelves of Malabrigo yarn. If all of the sudden, the universe told me that I could not knit with anything but Malabrigo yarns, I would be okay with it, that’s how much I love the feel and colors of Malabrigo. The shop’s owner Rita showed me a new line appropriately called Rios (rivers in Spanish). The colors give the illusion of ripples in a waterway or a watercolor painting. I picked the colorway Aguas. It is a blue green, like the colors of an ocean tidal pool or the edge of a clear pond. A very unbaby-like blue that’s perfect for a baby. The yarn is springy and soft and felt luscious running through my fingers as I knit. It is 100% superwash merino, so it is warm and machine washable as baby blankets should be.

Malabrigo Rios in Aguas seed stitch

Malabrigo Rios in Aguas seed stitch

Because a seed stitch is simply alternating a knit and a purl stitch all along a row, it is a good pattern for a beginner project that produces a nubbly texture that is both warm and visually interesting and also helps you to master the knit and purl stitches.

For a 36 inch by 36 inch blanket, I used 6 skeins of Malabrigo Rios in Aguas. I used 1 skein of a beautiful purplish blue colorway called Zarzamora for the crochet edging that blended beautifully with the color of the body of the blanket.

Here is the pattern:

6 skeins of Malabrigo Rios (or other Worsted weight yarn giving you a gauge of 5 stitches per inch)
1 skein for the crochet edging
Size 7 – 24” length circular needles
Size 8 crochet hook for the edging

Cast on 165 stitches. (for a seed stitch, you must always cast on an uneven number of stitches)

Row 1: knit one, purl one – all the way to the end of the row
Row 2: purl one, knit one – all the way to the end of the row

That’s it; you keep knitting those two rows till you get to however long you want the blanket to be.

I finished off the edges in a simple single crochet stitch.

malabrigoRios-babyblanket1

single crochet stitch edge in Zarzamora

single crochet stitch edge in Zarzamora

early spring knitting

Early spring in the mountains of the northeast usually means there is still a layer of snow on the ground. The melting snow is soft and slushy. The sunlight is bright and golden, robust enough to bring forth new life. Not like the brittle, fragile light of high winter – fleeting and gone so early in the day. The air is cool but not cold. It is a good time for wearing just a shawl. A shawl that you can wrap around to leave your hands free for work by tying it at your back.

Oona in her Tess of the d'Urbervilles Shawl

Oona in her Tess of the d’Urbervilles Shawl

The corners are long enough so that you can wrap the shawl around your waist and tie it in the back - leaving your hands free.

The corners are long enough so that you can wrap the shawl around your waist and tie it in the back – leaving your hands free.

Oona likes wraps and old-fashioned things and so I made this springtime shawl for her. Knit & crochet designer Kay Meadors very generously makes her Tess of the d’Urbervilles Shawl pattern available for a free download on Ravelry (if you knit and you aren’t already a member of Ravelry, do it, you’ll love it). I used a machine wash & dry pure wool yarn – Cascade 220 Superwash. The color is Spring Night. It was a fun and easy shawl to make.

Early spring also means newly shorn sheep and new lambs. These twins are one day old here.

Early spring also means newly shorn sheep and new lambs. These twins are one day old here.

The photos were taken with the Hipstamatic app using their new Mabel lens and Dixie film.

a pom-pom garland for maria victoria

I got the fever to make xmas crafts right after Thanksgiving as usual. As there is now an empty nest and no little hands to engage in the work, it had to be something that did not require an assembly line or extensive cleanup and could be done after work as part of my relax mode. This ruled out projects involving glitter and clay. Since I like the feel of wool in my hands, I settled on pom-poms.  You can make pom-poms very easily using cut-out circles of cardboard, which was what I was planning to do. However, when I walked into Downtown Yarns, my local yarn store in the City of Alphabet (otherwise known as Loisaida), they showed me the Lamborghini of pom-pom makers made by Clover. “Ok”, I said, “I’ll take that too” and I was in the 21st century of pom-pom making. It was a relaxing and satisfying project that I engaged in mindlessly, twirling the soft yarn, as I was riveted to the TV watching the last episodes of “24” on Netflix.

Clover pom-pom maker

Clover pom-pom maker

rsz_cloverpompommaker2

rsz_cloverpompommaker3

Since I’m an xmas ornament hoarder, and have plenty of decorations, I decided to make this as a gift. My dear friend Maria Victoria has a lovely house in the country where she spends the holidays that she needs to fill up. Some red and green pom-poms strung around will look nice there.

the view from Maria Victoria's deck

the view from Maria Victoria’s deck

I used Lamb's Pride yarn, inexpensive. 2 skeins yielded about 50 pom-poms

I used Lamb’s Pride yarn. 2 skeins yielded about 50 pom-poms

knits for winter bike riding

I started commuting by bike only last spring. With the MTA monthly pass going up to over $100, and lots of new bike lanes to make it safer to ride in a crowded city, the decision was made. I walked over to Recycle-A-Bicycle on Loisaida Avenue and bought myself a beautiful recycled purple Schwinn for the price of two monthly passes.

Now I dread when it’s raining and I have to ride the crowded and lumbering crosstown bus to work. I’ve been riding all winter and have knit some accessories to keep me warm.

Taking the advice of For the Love of Bikes blogger Vanessa Marie Robinson in this post, I made myself a big enough cowl to cover my face in the wind and a wool headband to use under my vented helmet.

Here is the extremely simple pattern for the extra long cowl:

2 skeins of Malabrigo Merino Worsted
Cast on 72 stitches on US 9 – 5.5mm 16 inch circular needles
Join the stitches and knit 4 rows then purl 4 rows until you use up the 2 skeins. That’s it.

O is the model. The cowl is Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Frank Ochre

I adapted the very popular Calorimetry pattern at Knitty.com for a narrower headband. I used Noro Kureyon (which I encourage you to buy at your local yarn store). You can make two headbands from one skein.

Noro Kureyon yarn. Sheep stitch markers and rosewood needles from Lantern Moon

Calorimetry headbands in Noro Kureyon yarn with seashell buttons

Here is how I adapted the pattern for the Calorimetry headband:

Instead of casting on 120 stitches, I cast on 80
On Row 5, instead of repeating that row 15 times, I repeated it 8 times.
On Row 7, I just repeated that row till there were no more stitches left outside the markers.

Calorimetry headband fits perfectly under a vented helmet and covers your ears

knitted wool cowls for little dogs

We have tiny dogs. When the children’s clamor for a dog became too loud to ignore and the guinea pigs as cuddly mammals no longer cut it, I had one criteria – the dog had to have miniscule poop. I was not willing to pick up big poop with my hands in public on the streets of New York City. In came the Toy Fox Terriers. They are small and they are smart, but they are shivery. They are cold even in the apartment. My daughter had the idea to knit cowls for them and came up with the easy pattern below. The dogs wear their cowls all winter in the apartment, they lounge and they sleep in them on bitter nights. They wear them instead of coats on balmy days in autumn and early spring.

We use Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Worsted yarn. It is 85% wool and 15% mohair – very good quality. It comes in tons of colors and is very inexpensive for natural fiber. This pattern is sized for very small dogs (ours are 6 and 7 pounds), so you should adjust the number of cast on stitches as needed. The fit is snug enough so that it doesn’t come off easily but loose enough that they are comfortable hanging out with their cowls on.

Cast on 26 st. on number 9 needles.

P2 K2 for 7 rows
Row 8 – decrease 1 st at beginning of row and 1 st at end of row
Row 9 – P2 K2 through row
Row 10 – increase 1st at beginning of row and 1 st at end of row
Knit 3 more rows in P2 K2
cast off and stich together into a round cowl, sew in all loose ends.

Lolo

Lolo in lounging mode

Millie – out on a fashionable stroll in Tompkins Square Park