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Free Preemie Hats, Upcoming Patterns, and Portraits. Oh My!

Hello, lovely people!

My brain is so full right now, of ideas and deadlines, that I barely know what to say when I do have time to write.  Let me begin in the middle.

Christmas is coming (yay!), and that means we have five little people to buy gifts for (yikes!).  They are all super excited, especially since it snowed at our house overnight and they woke up to a wintery wonderland this morning.  I made the mistake of taking my two oldest ones Christmas shopping for their siblings at Chapters last week, and their wish lists instantly grew by about two feet that day.  Pokemon is the big thing in our house right now.  I am secretly horrified, but trying to look interested in all their cards with the weird names and diverse “powers.”

I’ve been knitting up a storm, trying to make samples, figure out new patterns, knit gifts, and fulfill special orders.  (I’ve recently taken up knitting for non-knitters who want hats.  They can be voracious.  Owl hats are a big hit, and I hope to write up a pattern for them soon, if I can ever find the time.)

Owl hat with plaid collageb

I’m also an artist of sorts.  I say “of sorts” because I’ve barely had a chance to draw or paint since my first baby was born nine years ago.  Now that my youngest is three, I’ve realized that maybe I can get back into painting again!  But first, I’m sticking with the simpler art of drawing.  Pencils don’t dry out when you have to leave them to make lunch.  I’ve decided to sell pencil portraits for the next little while.  It’s an experiment of sorts, trying to figure out just how much creativity I can fit into my life before the dirty dishes really do begin to overtake the kitchen counters.

(This is a drawing I made of my husband and our firstborn as a Christmas present to said husband years ago.  It’s actually a compilation of two photos, since neither of them had the proper expressions in one photo, of course.  Husbands and children never do.)

Pencil drawing of father and son.

I also received a surprise in the mail today.  I had sent my sample hats to Knit Picks before they listed my Merrick hat pattern in the IDP section, and today I received them back!  Eva immediately put the blue one on, and aha! — a revelation — it looks adorable on a three year old.  It turns into a cute little elf-like hat.  (She’s wearing the child size.)

Merrick child size

Merrick, child size

I’m in the end stages of getting Merrick‘s close cousin, Merry, ready for publication.  It’s an extended version, shall we say, with cozy earflaps and (optional) hilarious pom poms.  Adding the earflaps forced me to make entirely new charts, so I’m putting Merry out as its own pattern since it took just as much work as Merrick did.  I think, however, that I’ll offer it at a discount to those who want to buy both patterns.

I roped my neighbour and friend into being my model last weekend.  😀  She’s such a good sport.  Here’s a sneak peak:


Last, but not least:  Sunday was World Prematurity Awareness Day, and in honour of the four out of my five kids who were preemies, I’m once again offering all my preemie hat patterns for free.  The coupon code is only good for a limited time (until Friday, November 22nd at midnight), so grab them quickly on Ravelry with the coupon code preemieday.  Whether you know a preemie or not, sending preemie hats to your local NICU is such a nice way to encourage the families in your community.  Having a child born too early can be quite nerve wracking and traumatizing.  Many parents suffer from some form of PTSD afterwards.  The more support those parents have, the better.

My personal favourite of my preemie patterns is the Tulip Preemie Hat. It’s so much fun to knit it up with some self-striping yarn, and it’s so tiny that you can complete one in a couple hours (or less).

Tulip Preemie Hat





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When I was a kid, I remember reading a short story called “Impunity Jane.” I don’t know why I always returned to that story; maybe it was because I was a typical girl who loved dolls, and Impunity Jane just happened to be a doll. But really, I think it was the word impunity that had me so fascinated. I just couldn’t infer its meaning from the story’s content. It was a word mystery, and I was hooked.

The mystery remained unsolved, and, eventually, forgotten, until my high school English class. There, in my vocabulary book, was the word impunity! And the definition? Freedom from punishment. The perfect word, waiting to be used in the perfect situation. I love those types of words.

As I was typing up the description for this hat pattern, I realized that the thing I like so much about it is its use of variegated and tonal yarns. I have a love/hate relationship with those yarns, which you may have read about here. They always look so pretty in the balls, and so horribly blotchy in stockinette. Unless.

Unless you can come up with some interesting stitch pattern. Then, they shine. Then, you can knit them up with impunity.

For example, in my new pattern, which I named… Impunity. Shocking, I know.

As you can see, these hats have vertical ribbing to break up the colour changes. And the shaping continues right up to the top of the hat. Lots of springy, stretchy rings and visual interest. This hat looks great knit in any colour, for anyone. I’ve been making them for the gezillions of babies being born to all my friends this summer, and I plan to make one for myself, too. And possibly for my husband. If he’s good. After all, what’s the use in being a knitter if you don’t have an over abundance of hats?

The pattern contains sizing for Preemies, Babies, Toddlers, and Children/Adults. Because of the larger-than-normal needle size and the vertical ribs, these hats are stretchy and will fit between sizes. If in doubt, knit a size up. For instance, Preemie is definitely too little for a newborn of average size, but the Baby size will fit a newborn for quite a while. The size shown in the pictures is Toddler, and it fits the pretty little 20-month-old (if I do say so myself) as well as her 5-year-old brothers. But if you’re knitting for an 8 year old or older, I’d go with a Child/Adult size. Clear as mud?

You’ll need a 50g ball of fingering-weight yarn and size 3 US (2.75mm) needles for working in the round. I used two circular needles, but dpn’s or magic loop would work, as well. The yarn I used, that’s shown here, is one of my new favourites: Shibui Sock. Oh, the springiness! Oh, the colours! My hands are happy when I knit with it. The colour shown here is called Roppongi, and it’s a pink/orange mix. Bliss!

[box type=”download”]download now for free![/box]

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Stars in His Squishy Owl Eyes (And tips on stuffing your Owl)

I rather love my little Squish Owls. They’re small and fun to make, and, of course, extremely squishable.

I recently knit up this little guy using some cotton yarn from Knit Picks (a combo of “Comfy” and “Shine Worsted,” I think, since I have both in a bunch of colours), and I think he’s very handsome. He’s made to match a baby boy’s room, but the baby boy is taking his time arriving! The little rascal’s due date was yesterday, but as of last night, he seemed to be in no hurry to arrive.

Here are a couple more pics of this owl, followed by some tips on stuffing your own Squish Owl.

How to stuff your Squish Owl:
Think “cylinder.” I know it’s tempting to make them really round and fat, and if you really want to, you can. But I like mine to look tall.

First, I shove bits of stuffing right down to the bottom to make a flat base for him to “stand” on.  His bottom has lots of room in it from all those increases we knit in, so be sure to shove lots of stuffing around in that circular base to fluff him up and give him some support.

I add it in loose, peach-sized amounts at first, building the owl from the bottom, then putting smooth pieces around the outsides, then adding bulk into the middle.  I want to control the shape of the owl.  If one part looks too fat, I remove a little. If it looks too skinny or empty, I add a bit more. But I do that in small increments so as not make him all lumpy.  I also avoid bunching the stuffing up before I put it in, since making it more dense beforehand also makes it more lumpy and takes away my control.  If I keep the stuffing loose, I can control the density after it has been added, therefore avoiding weird lumps.

The goal is to make him nice and cylindrical. Actually, I try to add a little more padding at his sides so he’s more of an oval cylinder.  You want his stitches to look nice and taut, but not overstretched. Keep tweaking the shaping of the stuffing until you are satisfied. You can always shove your fingers in there to rearrange things, or even take stuffing out if it’s misbehaving. His shape isn’t determined until you graft those last stitches together, so be picky.

After the body is the shape I want, I stuff the ear tufts.  I shove a small, loose piece right up into the tips first, poking it with my finger and gradually adding more until the tip is nice and pointy.  Then, I usually have to add a little more stuffing under the tufts and above the body stuffing, just to make sure the tufts will stay puffy.  I poke it around with my finger until the body-to-tuft transition is nice and smooth, adding extra stuffing or taking it away as needed.  Then I fill in the middle of the owl’s head, underneath the spot where I’ll be grafting.

The trickiest part, I think, is that last bit of stuffing before you graft. I’m always inclined to put in too little stuffing at the top because I feel like the stitches are pulled too tight. But if I don’t have enough stuffing, the top of his head will be too empty after grafting (because the grafting basically adds one more row of stitches). So don’t be afraid to add a little extra underneath the grafting spot.

Do you have any tips for us on stuffing your Squish Owl? If so, I’d love to hear them!

And now, I’ll end with just one more photo.  Happy stuffing!

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Squish Owls

Barn owls? Screech owls? No… Squish Owls!

On a whim one day, I decided to knit my daughter an owl. Because you see, every day when she wakes up from her nap, she points at the colourful decals of owls on her bedroom wall and yells, “Oww! Oww!” repeatedly. I say, if something is good enough to be yelled about, it is high time to convert it to knitting.

I started with this one:

And I enjoyed knitting it so much that I started dreaming about making more, but with little “sweaters” around their bellies. My sister, ever the source of good ideas, suggested not just a sweater, but an argyle vest. I like to keep things simple, and argyle is not in my “simple” mental category. (Maybe in my “Oh Gosh! I’ll have to try that someday just because it’s there, but I’m not sure I really want to” category.) So, here is The Fake Argyle Sweater Vest Owl:

I’m also a sucker for Fair Isle. What could be more Fair Isle (and more simple) than X’s and O’s?

And since I was knitting for my little girl, I felt the need to try out some hearts. ♥♥♥

My next urge was to knit a Charlie-Brown-esque Owlie with a zig zag stripe, but it was at that point that I realized I was running out of colours. Blurg. The good news is that I included the chart for a zig zag in the pattern, so you can fulfil my longing for me. And I have hope that someday soon, I’ll be able to replenish my basket o’ colours. (I desperately need to after knitting up all those colourful hats for my kiddos.)

I have visions of these little Squish Owls becoming not just squeezy toys, but possibly a mobile of some sort. I can just picture it now: little owls pinned to the ceiling, flying on their stout little wings and enjoying the breeze of naptime dreams.

It will certainly keep them from becoming mauled to death.

The pattern for the Squish Owls includes
~ pictures! Lots of pictures! Instructional pictures!
~ the techniques I used to sew & attach the Owlies’ parts
~ a glossary. Exciting, I know.
~ four charts: Tiny Hearts, Tiny Diamonds (AKA The Fake Argyle Sweater), X’s and O’s, and Zig Zag. I used Tricksy Knitter’s chart-making tool to create them.
Click here for tips on stuffing your Owls.

Did I mention these little Owls are only 4.5 inches tall? And that they can fly? (Kids’ fire power not included.)

This pattern costs $5 CAD.

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Hand-Painted Preemie Hat

I love buying hand-painted yarn, but then I’m inevitably disappointed when I knit it up. The gorgeous, vibrant colours suddenly pool or stripe in weird ways that make the ugliest little hats. But when I use a textural stitch, like seed stitch, suddenly the yarn regains its charm and the hat becomes delightful!

You can see how the stitches break up the lines of colour and give it an almost tweedy effect.

Top view

I’ve worked out the top decreases in the seed stitch pattern to keep the effect going right up to the top. I’ve tried decreasing in seed stitch a couple different ways over the years, but this pattern uses my favourite. I hope you like it, too.

The pattern for these little hats includes sizes from micropreemie up to a full-term newborn. You’ll need size 2 US needles for working in the round. I prefer using two circs, but any technique will do.

You can grab the free download here:
download now

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UnBaby Blanket

When I saw the blanket my sister was making, I knew I had to have one. The diagonal stripes, the vibrant colours, the texture — they all conspired to hijack my knitting plans, and I happily let them.

Her simple design has been a hit, and not just with me. I am excited to present the recipe here so you, too, can make your own one-of-a-kind, easy-yet-interesting-to-knit unbaby blanket. I call it “unbaby” because there is no way these colours would ever end up in the baby yarn section, and there is a distinct possibility that you, like me, will want one in your own size, too.

One of the blanket’s best features, besides its bold stripes, is that it is reversible but not identical on both sides. Don’t ask me which side I prefer because I have been trying to decide that very thing since I began knitting it, and I still can’t make up my mind. Is it the clean lines and bumpy softness of the “right” side, or the varied textures and visual extras on the “wrong” side? You know what? Forget right and wrong — I think I should just name them something else that implies how great each side is. How about Ruby and Clementine? (I’ll never be able to use those names for children, anyway, so they might as well go to a good home.)

Here are some things you need to know about the pattern:

You’ll need at least four balls of 5 oz/140g medium worsted weight yarn. (I say “at least” in case you want an adult-sized one. In that case, get two in each colour… at least.) We used Red Heart Soft Touch for ours (which I know is a variation on my usual Knit Picks preference, but it was available, washable, and pretty darn soft to boot). Steph chose the dark brown, navy blue, aqua blue, and bright green as her colours, and I loved them and copied her. If that’s not to your taste, I’d simply recommend two dark colours and two vibrant colours in your mix.

Needle size was 9 US for me and 8 US for Steph, and they both worked well. The point is to have a nice, relaxed stitch for a soft fabric.

The pattern is written for beginners and includes tips on some techniques which you may or may not have already come across. I want your blanket to be beautiful, so I told you everything I did to make mine great.

And now, without further ado, here is the link where you can grab it for FREE:

download now

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Knotty Baby Hat

This little cutie is available as a Ravelry download for $3 CAD.   Update:  It is now available as a Knit Picks IDP pattern download for only $1.99!  (But you can still get it through the Ravelry link, too.)

It is knit up using a provisional cast on, a hem turn, and stocking stitch.  There is nice, simple  shaping to form the knot appendages, and a little grafting right at the end for finishing.

Yarn:  fingering weight sock yarn, about 120 yards of it.

Needles:  US size 1 (2.25) circulars or dpn’s.  (It’s knit in the round.  I use two circs for the smaller circumference.)

I had a hat similar to this one for my oldest son, but it was made out of cotton fabric.  I’ve since given the hat away, and wanted something similar for my new baby girl this fall, so I came up with this design.  There’s just something so adorable about a baby hat with ear-like things on the top.  I can’t wait to see how it’ll look on her.  (Expect photos to be posted once she’s born!)