Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas Knitting 2007 Further Revealed!

Back again, with the second of this year's two Christmas presents. Can you believe it? Months without a stitch of actual knitting in this so-called knitting blog and then BLAM! KAPOW! you get two finished objects in two days.

It's sort of like when you go through a long dry spell in the romance department, and no matter where you hang out–dance clubs, yarn stores, online chat rooms, church socials, estate sales, Home Depot–nobody notices you; and then you meet one nice person you like, and suddenly you can't even walk to the fridge without twenty guys trying to pinch your bottom.

Yeah, it's sort of like that.

What was I talking about?

Christmas presents. Yes. This is what I made for my Exceptional Niece Abigail® for her first extra-uterine Christmas: the Sheep in the Meadow Baby Jacket.

Sheep Front

Guess how I came up with the name. Go ahead, guess. Here's a hint.

Sheep Left Front

Sheep Sweater

I'm rambling. Let's make this nice and neat.

Project: Sheep in the Meadow Baby Jacket

Yarns: Cascade Sierra (yellow, green, and white) and Berocco Pure Merino (lavender)

Needle: US size 5 or 7 or something plus a couple of dpns in a size or two smaller

Process: I was lying down one night in June reading The Elements of Typographic Style when a ghostly figure (it was either the Angel Gabriel or Jacob Marley–I forget which) appeared at the foot of the bed and said, "Go thou, pick up thy needles and make a sweater with a little sheep on it."

No, wait. I just remembered. It was Ziggy Marley.

Anyhow, I picked up the notebook I keep next to the bed for jotting down cartoon ideas and the names of people I'd like to have shot, and I wrote "sheep sweater little" and went back to reading about the origins of the serif and forgot the whole thing.

Wait, no. I think was wrong again. It wasn't Ziggy Marley, it was just Ziggy.

What was I talking about?

Right. So four months later I was in Sacramento for the 1000 Knitters shoot with the Camellia City Stockinettes. At Babetta's Yarn and Gifts the whole scene came back in a flash. In about fifteen minuntes I selected and purchased all the yarn.

When I got home, I put the yarn into the stash cupboard and forgot about it again for another month or so.

Then I dimly recall some hurried winding, and swatching, and sketching. I had in mind a very blocky, geometric shape along the lines of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Bog Jacket. I wanted an open front with simple I-cord ties because those features had earned the Tulip Jacket rave reviews and almost daily use until Abigail finally outgrew it.

With the intended recipient 900 miles away and sprouting like a weed, I had to make educated guesses about proportions and sizing. I used the helpful project measurements in Knitting for Baby to determine arm length and such for a kid aged nine to twelve months.

Then some frantic knitting at home, in the taxi to the airport, at the airport, on the plane, and in Maine in the office in the barn. I finished it on Christmas Eve.

Sheep Back

It's a good thing I can't get pregnant or the baby would be seven years old before I got around to delivering it.

Fun Stuff: Such complexity as exists in this otherwise simple piece is centered on the breast pocket, and even that's pretty simple.

Sheep PocketThe jacket was an excuse/opportunity to try out an Elizabeth Zimmermann afterthought pocket for the first time.

Afterthought pockets are just what the name suggests. You knit the garment, and afterwards you decide that you want a pocket here, or pockets here and here (or even here–it's up to you). You snip with your scissors at the center of the row where you want the pocket to be, and that's how it begins.

For full details, you can check out the Knitting Glossary DVD from Schoolhouse Press or from Elizabeth's book Knitting Around. I used both. And let me tell you: if you want to feel like a rock star knitter, stick an afterthought pocket into something. It gives you the same sort of high that comes from lace blocking, steek cutting or turning a sock heel.

On the whole, I'm pleased. There are some small details I'd change next time (such as deeper sleeves). But you know what? It fit. And if you ask me, it ain't 'alf cute.

And it's much more appropriate than Auntie Dolores's gift.

I'll tell you later.


DutchJan said...

VERY SWEET knitting from a VERY SWEET Unlce.

The Other Kristen said... and Stephanie both post about EZ's afterthought techniques (you, a pocket; Steph, a heel, though she does laud the pocket as she's warming up to the heel story) within 24 hours of one another. That's eerie.

The wee sheepie jacket is LOVELY. I wish my own niece weren't growing so darn fast; makes is really unlikely that I'll manage more than one or two such adorable projects for her.

annie said...

You've done it again...bravo!

Gretchen said...

How exactly did you make the knitted sheep? Envious minds will want to know.

Michelle said...

The cardigan is lovely!

Speaking of serifs - have you seen the documentary "Helvetica"? I never knew a font could be so fraught with drama and intrigue. The film is out on DVD now.

Kathy said...

De-lurking to say SO SO cute!! Makes me wish that my almost teen daughter was still young enough to wear something so sweet.
You are a wonderful uncle :o)

ambermoggie said...

wonderful Franklin , Abigail will look fabulous in this:) I had a vision of dolores in one:)))
amber in england

Jenny said...

Hmm....yesterday's blog a little S & M. Today 20 men pinching your bottom on the way to the fridge. Can't wait until tomorrow. Either you need to get out more...or less....I'm really not sure.

Paul said...

This little jacket is just terrific! Perfect colors and I love the little sheep in the pocket!

Now, what about those guys trying to pinch your bottom???

Kris said...

So beautiful.

I not only love the sheep but I love how you made him a bit fluffy. The whole sweater is adorable and I'm sure Abigail and her mommy are thrilled with it.

David said...

And what's wrong with "baby's first cocktail shaker?" Dolores DID have it engraved.

Anonymous said...

OMG! The sheep in the pocket is soooo cute...I want one..a sheep, a pocket, a baby to knit for...You are a wicked enable :) In a fit of illogical knitting lust, I've requested a copy of "Knitting for Baby" from my local library...Must. Make. Something. Tiny. Incredibly Cute. Still swooning, not anonymous, Bev in Tn

Jeanne said...

Wow, what an adorable sweater! If the pattern ever becomes available, I have two small niecelets under the age of three that would wear it well (and I'd actually knit it for them). Your niece is one lucky ducky.

no-blog-rachel said...

Though the thought of it was hysterical I knew it couldn't be Ziggy Marley talking to you - 'go thou' just doesn't seem to be a phrase he'd use. On the other hand I don't actually know the man so who's to say?

That is one cute little sweater! Are you going to let on how you knit the Afterthought Sheep at any point?

anne marie in philly said...

did it stop snowing yet?

you were correct yesterday - this sweet baby sweater would so NOT have fit in with the s&m lace post.

waiting for pix of ENA wearing said sweater...(taps foot)

I would pinch your butt in a heartbeat, but you would so NOT be interested in me... (sigh)

I am ready for dolores' take on the holiday trip!

Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donnac1968 said...

Awww, how cute!

rams said...

As to never-rains-but-it-pours syndrome, Wendy Cope covered it:

"Bloody men are like bloody busses.
You wait for about a year,
then as soon as one approaches your stop,
two or three others appear."

Marcy said...

I just recently started reading your blog, and I have to say, you are quite funny. Especially this post.

Liz said...

I'd love a sheep pocket sweater however I would have to seriously reconsider the placement of the sheep to avoid three-D accentuation.

Oh, and I have the same list. Minus the cartoon ideas.

Anonymous said...

Franklin - it's very very CUTE! The afterthought pocket guarantees that the sheep will be in the right place!

catsmum said...

cute but not cutesy - an important distinction - luuurrrvvvve it.

Jena the yarn harpy said...

Very cute! I've bookmarked this entry so that I can make it someday for the next deserving baby that comes along... hell, maybe my own when that eventually happens. :)

Now I'm dying to know what Dolores gave her...

Julie said...

What an absolutely adorable sheepie jacket!

Lynette said...

how completely and utterly adorable!!!

. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Intarsia or double-knitting?

MonicaPDX said...

Awwww...I can just see little Abigail trying mightily to pull off the sheep... [g] She must look so cute in that, looking forward to the pix which I do presume you got. Right? (We're such a demanding bunch.)

If not David's idea of a cocktail shaker, my guess re Dolores' present is one of those hats that delivers beer through a straw. I can hear The D protesting that it's much easier for a baby to to get liquids into their mouth via straw, considering their coordination skills--and pointing out that you don't have to put beer in it. A Cosmo is always an option.

LaurieM said...

The face on that sheep just reeks of personality.

Sock Knitter said...

You should be pleased! It's as adorable as ENA® herself!

And don't tell me, Auntie Dolores gave her a bottle of Bourbon, right? Bad Dolores, BAD!

Rooie said...

That is plumb adorable! Abigail is one lucky sweetie.

But really...that can't be a sheep in the pocket. I mean, where are the rhinestone cat's eye glasses? Where's the feather boa? The thong?

Oh wait! You mean a normal sheep!

scribblearts said...

Aaaaugh, Franklin, how could you let a "Zimmerman" creep in there? (Very nice sweater, by the way.)

katerina said...

'alf cute?! it's 'holey-cute! I love it :) I only wish I could get a sweater done with such ease and beauty!
the sheep is wonderful - any tips on how to embellish something as wonderful?

riin said...

Franklin, I think you get funnier all the time (though I might actually enjoy The Elements of Typographic Style...). Very cute sweater!

Toby Wollin said...

The sweater - lovely..but the addition of the sheep in the appropriate spot - raises the entire garment to another level entirely. Bravo(I hope you are writing all of these patterns down someplace so that AFTER this book, you have another one already written). As for Dolores' "inappropriate" gift, I picture her providing not "baby's first cocktail shaker" but "baby's first set of pasties"...and the answer to your kitchen problem is to keep the chain on the door, eh? Does not do to have strangers wandering about...

amy said...

How many people are on your shooting list? Just curious.

Goes without saying, the sweater is adorable. But, no modeled shots?

Helen said...

It's adorable.
But then you knew that, didn't you.
I'll be it's even MORE adorable "installed". So, do we get to see the adorable baby girl wearing her adorable Sheep in the Meadow sweater? huh? do we?
(and I second Gretchen -- I want to knit that sheep too!)

Roxie said...

You and your subconscious have a very close and fluid relationship, don't you? You let it out to play a lot more than other people do.

How nice to hear that your butt is getting properly saluted. Why haven't we seen you on an AWWednesday?

What did Dolores give the wee girl? I'm trying to think, and the mind boggles. I don't think she would give away booze, or at least, not without an ulterior motive. Maybe a little black book with a few good men already written in.

Barbara-Kay said...

'Tis a pity you're so shy about improvising! VBG! It's a lovely knit!
Clearly you will always be her much-beloved uncle.

Delores gift? Do tell... you can't just mention it and go away!

chezhalvorson said...

The sweater is unbelievably cute. But I really want to know what Auntie Delores got her. A carton of Pal Mals and a fith of Scotch? Happy New Year Franklin!

FiberQat said...

Thanks to your first four paragraphs I have now recruited another reader to your lovely blog. He and his partner are asking me to teach them how to knit. Thank you for helping me enable two more in our bid for covering the world in one big globe cozy. I hope it's as wonderful as your sweater for your ENA(r).

craftycat said...

Oh that is just so cute. That little darling will be so proud wearing it.

I also wanted to tell you, you are such a bad influence. After reading your lace gift to your Mom, I ran to my bookshelves, got down on my knees and started looking through the line of IK mags. I had all the '04s and started cackling like a mad women. I opened the Fall issue and I really lost it as there was the shawl. Yeah hubby was ready to call the men in the white suits LOL.


Mandella said...

OK, so you put Dolores on a cardigan. What's that supposed to do to poor Abigail?

annaliza said...

That sweater is just damn cute.

CynicalKnitter said...

Exceptional sweater for an exceptional niece.

The_Add_Knitter said...

How fabulous to have an uncle that not only knits for you but also has your back in the branding/trade mark department!

Debbie said...

This is just wonderful! Your niece is very lucky to have such a wonderful uncle!

nancye said...

Put some glasses on that little sheep and you'll have "dolores in the meadow" baby jacket.

Lucky E.N.Abigail.

ponyknit said...

I love the colors! I love the sheep in the pocket!

Lisa said...

Is that a little bit of blue fuzz I see on that sheep, from where you had to pick out the duplicate-stitched cat's eye glasses that *someone* added while you were not looking?

Seanna Lea said...

Very cute little sweater!

CarolineF said...

OK it sort of snapped my head around to read, of the Tulip cardigan, "... until she outgrew it." Wasn't that infant just BORN??? Yikes.

karen! said...

I love, love, love this sweater!

Eldronius said...

What do you mean it ain't 'alf cute?

This plus your snowman hat is enough cute make the mustard run out of my dog.

That is a very nice design, and it should elicite many thousands of "Ahhhhh's" during it's lifetime.

Yvonne said...

Oh Franklin. I can't believe that over the holidays I missed seeing an entire sweater that you made! I couldn't figure out what the pocket lambie post was all about so scrolled back. My goodness, you've yet again outdone yourself. And yes, afterthought pockets are brilliant!

Wool Free and Lovin' Knit said...

I want this pattern -- please publish -- it is too cute!

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