a baby surprise

A very good friend of mine is currently pregnant with her first baby. While in my own country it is very common not only to learn the gender of the baby, but also tell everyone the chosen name months in advance of the birth, in my years of living among people from all corners of Europe I’ve learned that this is more the exception on our continent. Many many people decide not to find out what they’re expecting, keeping it as a final surprise for the birth, and my friend decided to do the same.

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And so, as I scoured my pattern library for ideas, I thought to myself, what better pattern to make for a surprise baby than the baby surprise jacket. This pattern is so legendary that it’s difficult to find a knitter who hasn’t at least heard of it, and for good reason. It features an ingenious construction which is extremely simple to execute, while at the same time feeling totally impossible to conceptualise. As long as you trust the pattern, you’ll be fine. More than fine. You’ll end up with a miracle of a sweater. I am so pleased with how mine turned out, and I’ll definitely be making more.

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Another pleasing element of this project was that it was made entirely from stash. At first I wasn’t quite convinced about my colour combination, but it was what I had so I decided to plug along. Now that it’s finished I’m totally in love with the colours and find them just perfect for either a boy or a girl.

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As my friend (who is also a knitter) was always admiring the knitted toys I made, I couldn’t resist using the opportunity to amp up the cuteness element and add an Elijah elephant in matching colours. He is quite possibly the cutest thing I’ve ever made, even if I say so myself! This was also the best written toy pattern I’ve knitted from thus far, extremely precise and with clever construction ideas.

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The sweater and the elephant travelled to London today to await patiently for their surprise baby to arrive. I’ll be waiting here in Brussels, and since patience isn’t my strongest suit, I might just whip up another knit or two to pass the time more easily… :)

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Mister Flamingo goes to ballet school

Knitting… It’s amazing how, after all these years, it still surprises and amazes me so often. Take this project.

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It was started almost four years ago, as an idea at the stich’n’bitch group I was attending at the time. We were meeting up in a cafe called ‘Flamingo’, someone had come across a free flamingo pattern on Ravelry, one thing led to another, and all of a sudden we had all cast on to knit flamingos in honour of our host location.

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Shortly afterwards, however, I stopped going to the group. It was nothing dramatic, other commitments came up, habits changed, you know, life happened, and it just didn’t fit any more. The half-baked flamingo sunk deep into my haberdashery drawer and was forgotten.

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Except here’s the thing, I’m one of those people who likes to Finish Things. Whether it’s a conversation or a book or a knitting project, it really really REALLY bugs me to leave something unfinished. So for all those years this little flamingo was nagging at my subconscious, the little loose end which just wouldn’t go away. So, finally, a few weeks ago, just to get it out of the way, I decided to finish him. I did not expect to like the process, or the finished product. To be honest, the work in progress looked kinda ugly. And I’m not particularly into flamingos. I just wanted to get it over with.

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And here we come to the surprise and amaze part. I finished the flamingo last week. I wound in the seemingly hundreds of ends. I awkwardly and asymmetrically attached the pieces to the body. I stung myself with a needle a bunch of times and cursed under my breath.

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And then I looked at the flamingo – and in a split second, I was utterly in love. All of a sudden, I found this little dude perfect and adorable and squishable and lovable. I wanted to show him to everyone I know. I wanted to take photos of him in every room of the house. I wanted to invent stories about him going to ballet school…

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The same little dude that I finished just to get it over with.

Such is the magic of knitting. Such is the magic of Making.

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Welcome, little friend.

p.s. Happy Women’s Day, everyone! :)

mousie goes for a walk and sends you season’s greetings

Remember way back when I knitted this toy mouse? I realised the other day that I never did get around to photographing him properly and showing him off! A lot has changed since I finished him – most notably I moved, and am now in a building which, at least for the moment, seems to be free of his flesh-and-blood relatives. I loved my old place, but so did, unfortunately, mice. Apparently the construction of the building was such that they could come and go as they pleased, and, as my last winter there was particularly cold, come they did. In the plural. There was a number of close encounters, and things got so bad that I eventually had to call in professionals. Luckily, that was just a few weeks before I was scheduled to move out anyway, so I could put the episode behind me fairly quickly (though I do still twitch at every unidentified sound). Now, a safe distance away in my new place, I am happy to display my knitted mousie once more.

And so last weekend I took him for a walk around the new neighbourhood…

He immediately checked out the best holes to hide in…

Tried to make some friends…

And complimented the neighbours’ Christmas decorations.

Happy holidays to everyone from Mousie and me!

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Ok, so I’m willing to admit that whatzitknitz may have had a point when she said do I sense a love of fiddly toys starting ; ) two in a row is all I am saying. Though I still maintain that it is due to the fact that after the Fiddliest Fiddling Octopus, nothing can match the level of fiddliness, and thus many other toys seem super easy to make now.

And by many other, I mean, three in a row.

Yes, there may be something to it after all…

(In case anyone is wondering, it’s Mousie.)

two and a half legs to go…

…and I have already made five and a half vows that I will never ever ever knit this again.

And don’t even start with that “But it’s sooo cuuuuuteeee’ stuff like everyone else. Let me just explain to you that this involves making 8 tiny little heel turns, with short rows and picking up wraps and everything. Knitted in the round on 8 stitches. And changing colours too.

And yes, it has occurred to me that a rainbow octopus would be super cool. But no way. No. Someone else can do it. Shush now.