Knitting: A Stocking for W’s (second) Christmas

I had great intentions. They just got started a little late. So when I completed the fair isle part of this stocking at around 9pm on Christmas Eve, I finally conceded that this was not going to be a stocking for W’s first Christmas. His second Christmas would have to do.

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This project was inspired by the rediscovery of my own childhood Christmas stocking, looking a little worse for wear, at the bottom of a box full of tinsel and baubles. I recalled the joy of finding it stuffed with goodies on Christmas morning. My parents, rather cleverly, managed to elicit the delight of many many presents by individually wrapping parts of my present and stuffing them in my stocking – for example one year my stocking was stuffed with many little parcels, each a single brick of Duplo.

Keen for W to share in the delights of a stuffed stocking on Christmas morning, I decided to knit him one. I was after a classic style without too much busyness and something that was his, all his.

photo 3I modified this pattern to incorporate his initial. My first ever self-written fair isle pattern. Given I’m pretty new to fair isle, my execution isn’t awesome and there’s a bit of puckering around the edges. It was only as I reached the snowflake that I thought I’d better investigate techniques for carrying yarn across the back for large spans in fair isle knitting and I found the answer here. As a result my snowflake ain’t too bad. Not awesome, but not terrible.

My big mistakes of this knit were (a) using stocking stitch for the cuff – hello cuff curl – and (b) not increasing the stocking length sufficiently. As I knit this project using 8ply (DK) yarn and 3.75mm and 4.0mm needles, the sock ended up quite big but I didn’t increase the stocking length to compensate so the whole thing is a bit out of proportion.

So, either W will love his imperfect stocking and as he grows older see the imperfections as part of what makes it his, all his. Or my Virgo self will fold and do a different, better, perfect stocking in time for W’s second Christmas.

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Pattern: Nordic Star Stocking

Source: Millamia

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Scraps from my stash – Sublime Cashmerino Silk DK in Christmas colours

Needle: Straight needles, 3.75mm for cuff and 4.0mm for stocking and sock. Accidentally switched to my larger needle prematurely which makes the cuff not quite big enough to fold down over the stocking nicely.

Pearls: Given my fair isle skills are a little of the dire side, I used a life line technique prior to starting the snowflake. Came in very handy once I realised my massive long floats at the back needed fixing. You can find instructions on life lines here.

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Baby Stuff: Review – – Foamy Wipes Wash by Bubblebubs

After a recommendation from a fellow cloth mumma, I decided to try a simpler approach to reusable wipes. My buckets of water system was going to become complicated and potentially dangerous once W started walking, so I’ve moved to a safer and simpler system. Dry wipes and a bottle of Foamy Wipes Wash.

Product: Unscented Foamy Wipes Wash concentrate and 200mL Foamy Bottle

Brand: Bubblebubs

Bought: Online via Bubblebubs website

Paid: Bottle $3.95, concentrate $16.95. Total $29.85 (incl. taxes and shipping).

Contents: One 200mL foamy bottle and one 100mL bottle of Foamy Wipes concentrate. You need to purchase a bottle of distilled water separately. This is available in the laundry aisle at the supermarket near ironing type stuff.

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The Foamy Bottle produces a mousse type blob of foamy stuff.

How I Use It: This is pretty simple stuff. 20mL of concentrate into the bottle (I use a tablespoon (15mL) and teaspoon (5mL) to measure this out) then fill the bottle with distilled or demineralised water. When you press the pump on top of the bottle a foamy substance comes out. I use about 2 pumps per wipe and I don’t try to get the solution absorbed into the wipe or anything before using it on W’s bottom. The dirty wipe then goes straight into the nappy bin ready for the laundry. I use the Foamy Wipes Wash with my bamboo wipes from the Apikali Swipes pack, plus some polycotton thin face washers I bought from Baby Bunting. These are available in value packs at most baby stores and also department stores, like Kmart. This are less absorbent than the thicker bamboo ones and therefore stay wetter and wipier. I know ‘wipier’ is not a word, but you get my drift.

If you’re into smelly things (in a nice way), the Foamy Wipes Wash comes in lots of different fragrances. I opted for unfragranced as we’re using a scented CJs BUTTer stick and I didn’t want to overdo it smell wise.

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Cheap polycotton wipes seem to work better than thick absorbent ones.

Problems: Nothing specific to mention here, but having recently started W on solids we’re finding that dryer stickier poos (mmmm…. nice) are much harder to wipe away with this system and I must confess we have been resorting to disposable wipes.

Pros: Economical and ecological. Works well for newborn/breastfed babies and for a gentle clean up of an unsoiled bottom.

Cons: Not very good at creating a wet wipe for sticky, dry pooey bits. Ewwww.

Overall rating: For newborn/breastfed, I loved this. Now we’re onto solids, I’m suspecting it may not cut it just due to the lack of wetness on the wipe.

Pearls: A less absorbent wipe is actually better with this system.

Knitting: A Silly Hat for the Silly Season

Having spent the last 12 months as a research fellow and then on unpaid maternity leave, my knitting projects have taken a slightly frugal turn and are, for the most part, directed at using up my current (rather excessive) yarn stash rather than buying new yarn. This has led to some fairly unsuccessful knits (e.g. 3/4 of a stripy sock aborted as I can’t for the life of me work out how to get the stripes to match up around the heel… of course rather insanely trying to knit from a pattern not written for stripes), but this little number is a winner.

Albeit rather silly and completely useless beyond the next week or two.

Pattern: Not Only Christmas Hat by Anna Rauf

Source: Ravelry

Price: Free!!

Yarn: Sublime Cashmerino Silk DK (scraps from stash)

Needles: 3.5mm and 4mm 41cm circulars; 4mm double pointed needles for when the circulars get too big.

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Having a son with an abnormally large head (yes, yes, it’s off the charts in his little Blue Book), I diligently measured his head prior to starting this knit (46cm! Lordy!) in the XS size (41 – 46cm). Despite that, a short way in, I checked the knit by trying to squeeze it on to him and the result was fairly instantaneous crying. Bad mum. So, I unravelled and ended up knitting the M size instead (48 – 54cm) and it fits without crying… just. So, I’d suggest measuring your intended hat wearer and going up a size (or two).

I also didn’t knit the tail of the hat as long as the pattern called for. My tail is about 11cm long, partly due to my stash running short and partly to avoid the tail being sucked and chewed on my the wearer. My pompom could probably not withstand the attack of slobber that would eventuate if W could see or reach it!

Pompoms are something I am no expert in and I find it hard to get them tied tight enough. The result is a pompom that is prone to shedding if pulled. Not ideal. This might also be because of the silk in the yarn making it a little extra slippery. If anyone has good pompom technique tips, please post in comments! I’m all ears!