backpack

Back to School

Here’s my new backpack (in real life it is more in focus). It was a gift from my mother-in-law and I got to pick it out myself. I absolutely needed a new backpack because I start school tomorrow (says the girl with more bags of all kinds than anyone could ever need, but whatevs).

One of the requirements I used to choose this pack was the availability of “open spaces” on which to sew the patches I’ve been collecting for years. I settled on the Quad Backpack from LL Bean. Only after I started sewing the patches did I realize this was a dorky sort of thing to do (says Gerald) but I am old enough now not to care about being dorky. Because I’m not that uncool, mostly.

Back to School

The most necessary tools for this project were my thimble, which is silver and does not fit on my large man fingers, and those good sharp needles. It is hard to 1) sew through thick backpack material and 2) maneuver such a cumbersome object as a backpack while 3) blanket stitching patches with thick glue backing meant to be ironed. I sewed on one or two patches each day, only poked myself badly once, and now she is completely dorkified.

Back to School

Confession. So, most of these patches I picked up at the places they depict. But, once I started sewing I realized I needed more patches to fill in more of the spaces and display things that are important to me (gosh that is SO dorky). So I went on ebay and cheated (says Gerald). The Buffalo patch was not purchased in Buffalo, even though I’m from there and take great pride in being a Buffalonian. It came from ebay. And the Bills and Giants patches? Also ebay.

Back to School

My favorite patch is the Blue Ridge Parkway one because it is the prettiest. It was also the hardest to sew, based on its location and thickness. But I love it.

Back to School

The Have a Nice Day patch is hidden under a flap, just in case I am not feeling friendly on a given day.

Back to School

Tomorrow is my first day at school, almost a year after I decided that this was something I wanted to do. Yeah, I went in the Spring for some of my general ed requirements, but tomorrow is the first time I’m taking the photography classes. I feel ready but nervous, not really knowing what to expect. It’s that freshman feeling all over again.

But at least in terms of carrying books and school supplies? I’ve got that covered.

Back to School

another bear

Two years ago, almost exactly, I posted about a bear vest that I knit as a baby present (for my first cousin twice removed, or whatever, I don’t even know if that’s right). To remind you, this is the one I knit two years ago. It says “paxtyn” but it’s hard to read because he’s narrow in the waist.

i knit for bears

Well, there was another baby this year, and another teddy bear came to live with me for a while and left with a personalized sweater vest. It took me a while to get started on this project but once I got it on the pins all went smoothly. There were no gauge issues this time, and therefore no steek was needed. It’s a simple vest, but cute, I think. My Aunt, who commissioned the vest for her great-grandbaby, says that it’s “displayed” with the other bear. No higher praise for a knitter, right?

This bear vest says “conley” and is knit in the same pattern and yarn so they’re matchy-matchy brothers. I never wrote the pattern down or anything, so when it came time to knit the second vest I referenced the pictures from the first vest. Check him out!

I knit for Bears II

I knit for Bears II

Cute, right? Part of the cuteness is definitely the bears, which I believe were handmade by my Aunt! These guys are family heirlooms and I’m honored to be a part of their story.

the suspender sweater

new sweater

What you need to know about the pattern:

The pattern, Suspender Sweater, is from Knit One Knit All (scroll down), the posthumous garter stitch frenzy book by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I started this sweater over a year ago. Maggie was smaller then, but there were just a few adjustments needed to make it work with her current size without starting from scratch.  The pattern is written as a regular pattern (with regular directions like, “cast on…sts”) but also has all the information necessary to adjust for any gauge and any size. I figured out my gauge using Nature Spun Sport on size US 4 and went from there.

I experienced a lot of trouble with various aspects of this project, none of which were anyone’s fault but my own, I assure you. First I had trouble picking up stitches. Then I misunderstood the meaning of the word “center”. Next I knit the first sleeve too narrow and didn’t admit this until the sleeve was almost fully knit. After that I knit the second sleeve too long, and really there is no excuse for that sort of thing when you have the first sleeve (complete with easy-to-count stripes!) to compare it to. Finally, I had to unsew one of the woven (garter stitch kitchener) side seams and re-do it because apparently the direction in which you do that trick matters.

But from the very beginning of this project I pictured the finished sweater and thank goodness because that is a lot of roadblocks to overcome. I knew this sweater was going to be The Cutest. And finally this morning I saw the results of all that knitting, unknitting, reknitting, ad nauseum. It’s exactly as cute as I hoped it would be.

What you need to know about the pictures:

Maggie likes the sweater much more than she likes modeling the sweater for pictures. I really wish you could have heard the monologue she performed during our 10 minute photo shoot. It was a lot of “Wouldn’t it be good if we went on the tire swing?” and “I’ll be right back, I need to get my bird!” and “Let’s go over here!” and “I’ll put on this bonnet!” until I was exasperated and had to remind her that I was in charge of the pictures and please do what I say!

Maggie did her own styling, including props.

I took a bunch of pictures and a lot of them are posted here. There are even more in the Suspender Sweater set on flickr.

First, a picture of the underarm; the sleeve (top) is a sewn seam and the side (bottom) is the woven garter stitch. Details. They matter.

new sweater

And now the model, my Maggie.

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

One last picture. When I was ripping out the first sleeve Maggie drew me a surprisingly accurate schematic in order to help me get it right the next time. I was sort of blown away.

Maggie's surprisingly accurate schematic of the sweater I knit her.

I got it right, Mag! Finally!