Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Preemie Bonnets

Members of The Preemie Project bereavement committee recently met with representatives of the hospital we donate to in Iowa to find out how we can better meet their needs. They were told that bonnets are preferable over stocking caps for the smallest size bereavement sets because it makes it easier to dress the baby, so I decided to find a pattern and give it a try.

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Pattern: Bonnet to Match Knit Burial Gown
Yarn: Bernat Softee Baby Sport D.K.
Needles: US 3 throughout
Size: 1-3 lbs

The size needles I used are a little small for this yarn, but I wanted the bonnet to be tiny. I normally prefer to use size 5 with this yarn.

After it was knitted, I found it difficult to know what size baby this bonnet would fit. It's easy to measure the circumference of a stocking cap and compare it to the measurements guideline, but a bonnet is different. I began to look around the house to find something to test it on. I discovered that a vanity light bulb measures 10 inches in circumference which is the size listed for a 1-3 pound baby. It fit nicely on the light bulb, so I'm hoping it will work as well on a baby.

I like this bonnet, but I began to think of ways to change it up. The design is a simple T-shape. The bottom of the T is folded to meet the top of the T and then sewn together (refer to the illustration on the pattern). It's easy to plug in different stitch patterns to each section to achieve a different look. The possibilities are unlimited.

I knitted up two more bonnets using sport weight Red Heart Soft Baby and size US 3 needles. This is a lighter weight yarn and it worked much better with size 3 needles. The resulting bonnet is slightly smaller, but will still work for 1-3 pounds.

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The yellow one turned out to be my favorite, though the detail didn't photograph well. It is stockinette stitch with rows of garter stitch for the front and 1x1 rib for the back.

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The lavender one is garter rib stitch on the front and 1x1 rib on the back. I like the ribbing in the back because I think it draws the bonnet in nicely, but any stitch would work.

Next, I experimented with reducing the number of cast on stitches to make a smaller size bonnet for a baby weighing less than one pound. I think this is the size the bonnets were requested for in the first place. You can see the difference in size in the picture below.

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The stitch pattern for the tiny one is garter stitch for the front and my favorite 1x1 rib in the back.

I think I'll be making lots of bonnets in the future. The versatility of the pattern makes it fun to knit. For those of you who want to try it out, here is the formula I used based on the original pattern.

Yarn: Sport Weight Baby Yarn
Needles: US 3
Size: less than 1 lb (1-3 lbs)

*CO 31 (41) sts.
Work stitch pattern of your choice for 1.5 (2) inches.
Bind off 9 (12) sts. at the beginning of the next two rows.
Work remaining sts. in stitch pattern of your choice until it aligns with the front.
Bind off and sew together.
(I omitted the single crochet around the edge of the hat.)
Weave ribbon along the bottom edge of bonnet to use for tying under the chin.

* You may need to adjust the number of stitches cast on to work with the stitch pattern you select.

Monday, March 26, 2007


007 Snap a Dozen Days

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Field of Bluebonnets
Brenham Christian Academy
Brenham, Texas

March is a beautiful month in Texas. Wildflowers begin to bloom near the end of the month and will peak in mid-April. The most famous wildflower in Texas is it's state flower, the bluebonnet. The only place in the world where it grows naturally is in Texas. Wildflowers of all types can be found growing along the side of the roads, but a showy field of bluebonnets will take your breath away.

Each March I look forward to the return of the Purple Martins. We have a martin house in our backyard. Once martins nest at your location, they will return each year. Our martins have been nesting here for three or four years. Their song is so unique and very pleasing. I love to wake to it each morning.

March is also madness, as in March Madness Basketball. Each year our son-in-law sets up an online family tournament. We all have our special method of making our picks. Some of the serious competitors in the family actually follow college basketball through the season and make their selections from first hand knowledge. My method is to do last minute "research", which this year means I copied some ESPN sports broadcaster's final four picks and guessed at the rest or flipped a coin when I couldn't decide. I was doing really well until this weekend. Currently I'm in fourth place, but still have a shot (even though it's a long shot) at the title. My pick for the winning team is Georgetown and they're still in it.

March is the start of spring--my favorite time of year.

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Texas Bluebonnet
Old Baylor Park
Independence, Texas

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wee Knitting

I have a couple of projects on the needles right now: a hand towel from Mason Dixon and a pair of socks that only seem to get attention when I travel. Neither one of these projects was anything I wanted to work on yesterday. I was in the mood to knit for the babies. So out came the pink and blue yarn, my binder of patterns and my favorite needles. Some things just never get old. I love to knit tiny hats.

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Pattern: So-Soft Preemie Hat
Yarn: Dreambaby D.K.
Needles: US 5 DPNS
Number of Stitches Cast On: 42
Size: To fit a baby up to 3 pounds

This is the first time I've used this pattern, but it won't be the last. If you check, you'll see I've already added it to my favorites list. The design is simple, but elegant. Perfectly sweet for a wee one.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Today Wool Windings celebrates two years of blogging and the first day of spring with photos of roses from my backyard.

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Yellow Lady Banks'

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Old Blush

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New Dawn

Thank you for two years of encouragement and friendship. This blog wouldn't be the same without you.

A friend is like a flower,
a rose to be exact,
Or maybe like a brand new gate
that never comes unlatched.
A friend is like an owl,
both beautiful and wise.
Or perhaps a friend is like a ghost,
whose spirit never dies.
A friend is like a heart that goes
strong until the end.
Where would we be in this world
if we didn't have a friend.


Monday, March 19, 2007

From Start to Finish

Buy a spinning wheel, some wool roving and a how-to video.

Watch video and marvel at how easy it looks.

Treadle and draft, treadle and draft, treadle and draft...and then realize this is going to take some practice.

Slow down, be patient and spin up some very crude looking yarn.

Take pictures of this yarn and post it on your blog.

Be encouraged by everyone that comments and begin to look at your first handspun in a different light.

Find the perfect project and knit your first yarn into something useful.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!

Start all over again.

Handspun Pillow

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I had so much fun knitting this pillow! Not only did I get to use my first yarn, I also got to use the Brittany Black Walnut needles (US 10 1/2) that John gave me. It's the little things that make me happy. The pattern that inspired this project is Garter-stitch Pillow from Sarah Dallas Knitting.

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The rustic nature of my homespun adds texture to the knitted fabric. The finished look is a little like a child's crayon drawing--beautiful in it's imperfection.

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On my version, the back is worked in one color in stockinette stitch. A few strands of merino singles are run through the ribbing to add contrast and interest.

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Time to spin up some more yarn. I have lots of pillows around the house that could use a face lift.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Different Kind of Memorial

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It isn't easy to know what to say to someone who has lost a child. No one wants to bring up sad feelings, but remaining silent is often worse than saying something. Mama Bear has a helpful post about this very subject.

Recently on the Lucy Ladybug Knit-Along, a request was made by a member wanting to help her friend deal with the loss of her baby. Her friend has a fear that as time goes by, no one will remember her precious daughter, Marlowe. Her plan is to donate 200 baby items in Marlowe's name and then present a photo scrapbook of all the items to her friend as a tribute to Marlowe. Anyone can help. Just make a baby item, donate it in Marlowe's name to the charity of your choice, then email a picture of your item to the address here.

This bunting is going to The Preemie Project in memory of Marlowe.

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Pattern: Inspired by Burial Bunting With Hat
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft
Needles: US 6
Size: 1-3 lbs

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Weekend Visit

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Last weekend we went to Oklahoma to visit Matt and attend Spring Sing. At the last minute, Robyn was able to join us. I didn't expect to see both of my kids on this trip, so I was a very happy mom!

While Matt was working the Spring Sing shows on Saturday, we took Robyn to the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum.

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This memorial is a tribute to the victims, survivors and rescuers of the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building. It is a moving experience, overwhelming at times, but beautifully done. It is important to remember the tragedy of that day. It is all summed up in the mission statement:

We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity.

The Gates of Time
To enter the memorial you must walk through one of two gates. These gates frame the moment of destruction--9:02. The East Gate bears the time 9:01 which represents the innocence of the city before the attack. The West Gate bears the time 9:03, the moment everything was changed forever.

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Field of Empty Chairs
168 people lost their lives in this tragedy. Each victim is represented by an empty chair. The chairs are placed in nine rows, representing the nine floors of the building. Each chair bears the name of a victim and is placed according to the floor on which those killed worked or were visiting. The small sized chairs remind us of the children that died.

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The Survivor Tree
This 90 year-old American Elm tree sustained much damage from the the bombing. It was charred and broken then. Over the years it has been nurtured and cared for and it's scars are not a noticeable now. It is a symbol of human resilience.

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Photography is not allowed inside the museum. It is better if you don't know what to expect when you visit anyway. It is an interactive experience and you will be changed when you leave. Bring Kleenex.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cotton Cardigan

Finished! I always forget how long it takes to sew up a sweater. It took me 10-12 hours over several days. Some people dread seaming, but I actually enjoy this part of the process. I love to see the pieces come together. Anticipation builds with each stitch until finally it's done and ready to wear.

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I had been warned that this yarn has a tendency to stretch out when it is washed, but it held it's shape and did not change at all after a soak in a warm bath.

The garter rib detail adds just the right amount of interest to the front panels, arms and collar.

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Pattern: Cotton Cardigan
Book: Sarah Dallas Knitting
Yarn: Cestari, 3 ply D.K., 75% Cotton, 25% Wool (just over 4 skeins)
Color: Raspberry
Needles: US 2 and 5 (went down a size to get gauge)
Size: Small
Pattern Corrections: As noted here.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Suitcase Full of Fiber

If you are ever in the Salt Lake City area, you really need to stop by Three Wishes Fiber Arts in West Jordan. It's one of the best yarn/fiber stores I've been to (and I've been to many). It caters to knitters, spinners and weavers. Something for everyone.

I met Margene there on Monday and she helped me select some beautiful rovings for spinning. She encouraged me to get a variety of fiber types. My fiber stash is growing by leaps and bounds.

Snake River Fiberworks
Blue Faced Leicester
Autumn Leaves
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This roving was dyed by Kate Robertson of Idaho Falls, Idaho. The colors are bright and vibrant just like the reds and oranges of the fall leaves in New England. I know several bloggers that spin this wool for socks. It's usually referred to as BFL and until now I never knew that meant Blue Faced Leicester. I'm such a newbie!

Wasatch Watercolours
Fine Range Wools

Fish Lake

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This roving is dyed locally by Judy Ede Jackson of West Jordan. It ranges from light blue-green to deep indigo. The wool is soft--a little like Merino. When I saw the name of the color, I couldn't pass it up, being that my husband is such a fishing fanatic.

Wasatch Watercolours

Corrie X

Wild Child
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The colors in this one are burgundy, violet and browns. It's all over the place and should be fun. I can't imagine how it will look when spun. What looks wild now may become very subtle. I'm assuming that Corrie X means it's from a Corriedale Cross. If that's not right, let me know.

Alta Mist Alpacas

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Janet Otterness is responsible for this beauty. Her farm is in Herriman, Utah. I see from her website that visits to the farm can be arranged by appointment. I would love to do that on one of our trips. This fiber is going into the "save" portion of my stash. Before I spin it, I want to be more experienced, so that I can do it justice.

All of these fibers weigh about 4 ounces. I think that's a good amount to practice with and enough for a small project.

I learned from Margene about a fiber of the month club she joined called Spunky Fiber Club. For $15 (includes shipping) you receive a different fiber in a different colorway each month. The fibers will vary from wool to alpaca and silk and some blends. Most amounts will be 4 ounces. It depends on the type of fiber though. I'm really interested in this. What do you think, John?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Meet Me in Utah

I was very close to finishing my sweater before our trip this week to Utah, but it was not to be. I left it partially seamed and waiting for my return. The button band is attached, the pockets are sewn down and one sleeve cap has been eased into place. A couple more hours of work and it will be ready. It's going together nicely and looks like it should fit. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

We flew to Salt Lake City late Sunday afternoon. The view of the mountains from the air was spectacular! I wish I had taken pictures. The sun was shining and the air was clear and fresh. Today it was a little bit on the cloudy side, but warmer than yesterday.

I stopped by Black Sheep Wool Co. this morning to see what was new and ended up buying some Trekking sock yarn in shades of purple. Then later this afternoon, I met Margene at Three Wishes. There's a nice write up about the shop here.

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It was a short, but wonderful visit. She helped me spend some money on roving (pictures later) and we spent our time talking about "the process" of spinning and knitting. I picked up several spinning tips that I'm anxious to test out. Margene is a great encourager (or is it enabler?) when it comes fiber arts. I've learned so much from her and I'm happy to call her my friend.

I was supposed to pick John up from work at 5:00. I was there in time, but his meeting ran about thirty minutes over. This seriously cut into his trout fishing time as it was almost dark by the time we got to Snake Creek in the Heber Valley. He got in a few casts and I got a few pictures before it was totally dark.

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We fly back to Texas tomorrow. I'll miss the mountains.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Early Days of Knitting

Sunshine and warm weather are good for the soul. After a very dreary winter, we are getting our first taste of spring. It feels wonderful! The heater is off, the air conditioner is not needed and the windows are wide open. I've accomplished much this week including good progress on the cotton cardigan. I still have hopes of finishing it by the end of the week. The second sleeve is almost done, leaving the button band and the collar left to be knitted and after that, the seaming.

While working on this sweater, I've been thinking about my early days of knitting. I learned to knit about four years ago. It was my goal from the beginning to knit sweaters. I started with scarves, hats and lots of dishcloths until I thought I had developed enough skill to attempt what I felt was the ultimate knitted garment--a sweater. It was probably almost a year before I gave it a try. I'm cautious like that.

My first sweater was made from Lion Brand Homespun. I didn't want to spend much money on the yarn, because I wasn't sure it would even turn out to be wearable. I deliberately chose a simple pattern. I think it was called Back-to-Basics Sweater.

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I received many compliments on this sweater, but told only a few people that I had made it myself. I don't think they could tell and that boosted my confidence as a knitter. Acrylic yarn is not usually that comfortable to wear, but this yarn is very soft and I didn't mind it.

My next attempt at a sweater a few months later was from a pattern published in one of the Knit It magazines. It was called My First Cardigan. It came with detailed instructions and good pictures. Knitting a button band seemed challenging to me, but the instructions were so detailed, I felt I would be able to do it. Back then, just reading a pattern could be confusing and it was scary to think about what would happen if I made a mistake, because I had no idea how to fix them. Often it would mean ripping everything out and starting over. I used the yarn recommended which was Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky.

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I was very proud of how this boxy cardigan turned out. Somehow I made it through the button band without one mistake. Since those early days, I've learned that nearly all mistakes in knitting are fixable, so I don't worry about that anymore.

I was really lucky that both of these sweaters fit me, because I didn't knit a gauge swatch for either. I just used the recommended yarn and needles and somehow it worked. I was still so new to knitting that I didn't completely understand how to count my stitches, so a swatch would have been of no value anyway.

With each project a new skill was learned and eventually all things began to make sense. So here I am, four years later, knitting with more confidence and understanding, but still enjoying each stitch like it was my first.