That Time I Made Not-Socks

For someone who doesn’t really consider herself a sock knitter, I realize I’ve posted a lot about socks lately. Yes, it’s true that I knit six pairs of handspun socks basically in a row, and then I began my plans and swatching for my Crackerjack Socks. But I did interrupt my sock-knitting to make a special wee baby gift.

I was packing for my trip to Nicaragua and wanted some good plane knitting. There was a wee babe in Nicaragua I wanted to give a little gift to, so my need for travel knitting and my desire for baby gift knitting converged. I found a pattern I hadn’t knit before – a Bunny Blanket Buddy – and cast on in the Detroit airport, by the time we’d landed in Managua, I was all done, except the stuffing and the embroidery.

I saved the pattern to my iPad but when I got to the part for making the head, I was a bit confused. Since I was in the air at that point, and had no access to WiFi, I forged ahead with the sense that I wasn’t making it right but with no way to look up any comments anyone else had made about the pattern. Turns out, the pattern is poorly written. If you know what you’re supposed to do, you can make sense of it, but since I was basically flying blind, I just made stuff up as I went along. The head is supposed to be double-knitting (which, surprisingly, I’ve never actually done before), but nowhere in the pattern does it actually say that.

The upshot is, I made the head HUGE, about twice as big as it was supposed to be. And then I had to knit a
back to it so that there was something to stuff. And then I needed to seam it. Basically nothing about the head was as per pattern. Even so, I think it turned out pretty cute:

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Big-headed Bunny Buddy Blanket

I made this with Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool Worsted (are you surprised?), leftover from my Crackerjack Scarf.

I have a dark secret about embroidery. It is the number one reason I sew or knit so few stuffies – I get hung up on embroidering the faces! In fact, in my craft closet right now there are two adorable big-footed bunnies I sewed for my boys for Easter presents when they were four years old (i.e., six years ago), that have languished there for lack of a face. It’s a problem. But this time, I got right to it. We landed in Managua on Friday night, I stuffed and sewed up the head as soon as we got there, and on Saturday morning, I embroidered the face.
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The baby did not seem judgmental of my embroidery skills, nor unhappy at the size of the bunny’s head, so I think it all worked out fine.

Now that I know what the pattern means to say, as opposed to what it actually says, I will definitely be making this again!

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Knitted :: for my run/walk buddy (Mochimochi Martian)

A year ago this past weekend, I ran my first official half-marathon and had my most beautiful race experience ever, at the Martian Marathon in Dearborn, Michigan. Two days later, the Boston Marathon Bombing happened; that night, my then-eight-year-old asked if he could go for a run with me. I blogged about that experience here.

I had high hopes of continuing my runs with him, as well as of preparing for a full marathon. But a few days later, I realized I was injured, and my recovery took longer than expected. In the year since all of that, I’ve stopped and started running a few times, setting and revising goals all along. I won’t bore you with the details, but the upshot is that by mid-February this year, (after already giving up the goal of a full marathon in late fall), I realized I needed to quit trying to prepare to run the same half-marathon again this spring. In fact, I’ve taken a break from running pretty much entirely for now, and have devoted myself to something else in the interim, which I’ll share about when the time is right.

It’s funny how sometimes in order to receive some new gift in your life you have to let go of something else first. Within a few days of releasing the goal of my next half-marathon, and of giving up running entirely (for now), my son asked me if I would help him train for the kids’ marathon at the same event. The idea is that, over a period of several weeks, kids log miles with the goal of completing 25 miles before race day. Then on race day, all the kids run 1.2 miles together. The focus is on completing the distance not on being fast (the race isn’t timed at all). The kids who do it, receive the same medal that the adult marathon runners do.

Little Buddha didn’t care whether we ran or walked for our training; in fact, he preferred to mostly walk. So in mid-February, when it was still bitterly cold and snowy, we began our walks together. I rarely get time with just one child, but Tiny Dancer had no interest in joining us, so it was just the two of us for all those miles. Most of the time, he did all the talking, while I got to listen. A few times, he asked really important questions, or shared pretty deep thoughts.  Sometimes he would slip his hand into mine while we walked. Little Buddha was focused on winning that medal, but I felt like I got my reward every time we walked – time with him.

When race day was almost here, I decided to make him something special, in celebration of his achievement. Since the race is martian-themed, I went with a tiny alien from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give:

mini-martian

mini-martian

THE CUTE, y’all. I could hardly stand it. I didn’t have fingering weight yarn in the right shade, so I went with Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool DK in lime along with some light bright blue for the antennae (I think it’s called “lakeshore”) and some navy for the eyes. Because I used a heavier yarn than the pattern calls for, he’s a little bigger than the book shows. But he’s still pretty little:

little alien in my hand

little alien in my hand

Little Buddha carried him along for the race packet pick-up:

a martian for luck

a martian for luck

And brought him to the start line:

martian invasion

martian invasion

And actually ran while holding him. In fact, the alien’s a little felted now, from the sweat and the friction. And the love!

Though we mostly walked for our 25 miles of training, we ran a good bit of the 1.2 miles on Saturday. It was a perfect day for it, and doing stop-start slowish running with a kid didn’t seem to aggravate my injury too much. We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand.

marathon medal!

marathon medal!

Of course he had the handknit alien in the other hand.

If you are a runner, you know how great it feels to cross the finish line. If you are the parent of a runner, you know how wonderful it is to see them cross the finish line. If you are a knitter, you know how amazing it feels to see someone cherish something you’ve made for them. So yeah, I was pretty much feeling all the feels on Saturday.

with all his bling

with all his bling

And now I basically want to knit all the teeny-tiny mochimochi toys for my kids and everyone else.

raveled

Knit Penguins, Not Penguin Sweaters

It’s hard to deny the cuteness of penguins in handknit sweaters, which explains the social media traction of those articles asking knitters to make sweaters for penguins affected by oil spills. Of course, the actual need for those itty-bitty sweaters has been debunked – most of the sweaters either end up unused or on stuffed penguins, the sales of which do tend to benefit wildlife charities. Still, I’d rather donate directly to charity and save my crafting time for other pursuits.

Like knitting wee penguins!

Teeny-tiny mochimochi penguin

Teeny-tiny mochimochi penguin

A couple of years ago, I bought the book Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi: More Than 40 Itty-Bitty Minis to Knit, Wear, and Give, with the idea of knitting some holiday-themed itty-bitty toys to donate to our school’s holiday bake and craft sale. I never made anything, though, because I never seemed to have the right yarn available.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I hopped into a new craft store on my side of town. They sell a little yarn, a little fiber, and a few other things – including little Mochimochi kits. I couldn’t resist the wee penguin kit, which came with the pattern and enough yarn to make three penguins.

a handful of teeny penguins

a handful of teeny penguins

This was a super-gratifying quick-knit palate-cleanser type project after finishing Little Buddha’s sweater last week. I am usually bad about finishing stuffies – I tend to stall out at the finishing (the stuffing, or the seaming, or the embroidering). But these are so tiny and fast that it was almost impossible to stall out.

wee penguins in a row

wee penguins in a row

They didn’t turn out perfect, not by a long shot, but they are so little and so whimsical that it doesn’t really matter to me.

I see a lot more tiny mochimochi in my future.