Army of Caterpillars

cat_stackThis is my DK weight version of Miranda Harp’s Army of Caterpillars. Harp blogs at toughbirdknits.  Her original is a stacking set of 5 caterpillars in worsted weight. My stack of three in DK weight are shrimpy by comparison. They are knit in three shades of Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine Color 120 left over from other projects. I think what mine lack in size they make up in attitude.

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They look like the kind of caterpillar whose coloring advertises “eat me at your peril.”

It’s the bobble feet that help these guys stack.

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Isaac likes them. His dad, my son, opened the package I sent and wondered why I was knitting tuberculosis bacilli. Ugh, he’s right. (Click if you don’t get queasy looking at such stuff.)

Comfy Hoodie

comfy_hoodieThis is Doreen Marquart’s “Comfy Hoodie” from her book Grammy’s Favorite Knits for Baby. That title is a hint about who, in my family circle, has been wearing this hoodie during chilly spring weather. Isaac likes it! There’s a pouch for stashing little toys. It’s oversized, with room to grow. A definitely successful knit.

It’s possibly the yarn that makes this bottom-up Cottage Creations Wallaby clone really stand out. Marquart’s pattern is designed for DK weight (instead of the Wallaby worsted weight). And it’s sized for 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, which includes smaller sizes than the Wallaby.

I knit my hoodie in Merino Extrafine Color 120 by Schachenmayr original, in the Amsterdam Mix colorway. It’s a superwash, self-striping, 8-ply wool. The yarn has a wonderful bounce to it and knits up very evenly.

I knit my 24 month size at 6.5 stitches per inch rather than the 6 stitches per inch the pattern calls for. The fabric felt better to me at that gauge and Isaac didn’t need the 24 month size yet. I used 733 yards rather than the 455 yards that the pattern calls for. Hmm. It shouldn’t have needed that much more yardage. A few other Ravelers have commented on running out of yarn. Good thing I had an extra ball on hand. There was enough left over to knit that…that thing sitting on the hoodie’s shoulder. More on my Army of Caterpillars in the next post.

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Merlin visit

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We noticed this guy when he swooped down to the seed-feeder and then chased after a chickadee. We definitely root for the little chickadees and, in fact, think they should be our state bird since they don’t bug out in the winter like the Robins do. The chickadee escaped unharmed.

The Merlin sat on this branch in a nearby white pine, focused on our feeder pole. All activity ceased at the feeders. No chickadees. No nuthatches. No finches, even though the feeders had been Grand Central Station before the Merlin arrived. The Merlin sat on the branch for about 10 minutes. Around then, a Blue Jay started pestering him. The jay flew very close to the Merlin, landing on either side of him on the same branch. The jay seemed to hit the Merlin at least once. Apparently, with his “cover” blown, the Merlin decided to go find better hunting grounds.

We initially misidentified this Merlin as a Sharp-shinned Hawk. The two birds are similarly sized, and do look somewhat alike. But, apparently, the Merlin’s mustache stripe is a give-away. Sharpies are not mustachioed. And they have a longer tail and a less elongated body. Merlins are small birds of prey–ranging only between 9.5 and 11.5 in length.

According to the Cornell ornithology website, Merlins have two modes: scanning areas patiently from a tree, and flying at top speed in pursuit of small birds. We were fortunate to see both modes. Merlins are known to hunt in pairs at times. One Merlin will flush a flock of waxwings and the other comes in for the kill, taking advantage of the confusion.

When nesting, Merlins are squatters. They use an abandoned nest from a crow, raven, hawk or magpie.

She Shells Sweater

Sally sells seashells by the seashore.
The shells Sally sells are surely from the sea.

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Well, actually, Sally doesn’t sell these Sea Shells, Deborah Newton does. It’s her pattern for “Sea Shells Cotton Striped Pullover,” included in “Heirloom Baby Knits.” The book cover says “24 classic designs refreshed for today’s tots.” This one’s been refreshed to recommend Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton. I happened to have some in my stash, so that’s what I used.

Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton has no alpaca in it. It’s a 2-ply twist, 100% certified organic cotton. Even for the wee babes, I’m not rabid about organic fibers, but this yarn is very nice to work with. And my purchase had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that, when a local yarn shop closed, I picked up 4 skeins at half off the typical $14/skein price.

This particular yarn is not the best choice for a new babe because the yarn requires hand washing. But since my yet-to-be-born grand daughter is never going to spit up, I’m sure hand washing will not be an issue. Hmm. Maybe I should gift this one accompanied by a few return envelopes addressed to me so I can relieve baby’s parents of the washing chore.

I knit the smallest size: six months. It took just under 2.5 skeins (370 yards).

You are probably thinking my stripes in this Cotton Striped Pullover are a tad subtle? I only bought “dandelion” at the sale. So the 3-color stripes that line up with each “fan” change made way for a uni-color version.

This is a pretty hefty weight sweater for a teeny one, even in cotton. But I’m still quite pleased with it. Coming or going, you’ll like this one, since the back and the front are exactly the same. And if a grand daughter spits up on the front, you can twirl the sweater around and she can spit up on the back before you need to hand wash it.

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Wonderful Wallaby

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Cottage Creations’ “Wonderful Wallaby” was described as an “adventure in seamless knitting” when seamless knitting really was a bit of an “adventure.” Most sweaters were still being knit in separate sections and then seamed together. For sure there were others doing seamless knitting, but Carol A. Anderson’s Wallaby was a milestone.

The booklet is chatty, pure Anderson, with sweet illustrations throughout. But the directions are totally clear and totally correct. The booklet includes directions for sizes 2 toddler to adult super-sized. It’s available in many local yarn shops, on-line, and direct (but not downloadable) from Cottage Creations.

Wonderfull Wallaby was copyrighted in 1984 and the booklet has been reprinted 23 times. It’s Anderson’s most popular pattern.

My Wallaby is knit in Plymouth Encore. Just over two skeins, 410 yards, was enough to knit a size two, complete with the garter stitch version of the hood and a full pouch.

And what’s most important? It’s very comfy and my grandson likes to wear it.

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