More wool than sugar and spice

What a weekend. I charged through Thanksgiving, Myrie’s first birthday party, a quick sail, and tons of cooking and family and it was the very best kind of busy,  although I feel now like having a little lie down. Still, you come here for the wool, so let me tell you about the sweater.  Myrie, my little niece (I bet even though you don’t know her, you remember her blanket) celebrated her birthday this weekend. My relationship with Myrie is a different one than I have with my nephews. Both the boys (Hank and Lou) live close by, and we’ve been lucky to have a lot of them. Myrie lives farther away, and her mum and dad travel in different circles than we do, and their tiny family of three is perfectly, gorgeously tight. This means that while I’m absolutely thrilled that their lives are just the way that they like it, if I ran the world, that kid would be in my arms, my house and my time a lot more often than she is.

myriecake 2014-10-14

Me being a knitter, I have only one way to express this.  I can cover the child with wool like it was my arms, and try to make the things for her as special as I can, so that she knows I love her.  (Please note that I am not completely delusional. I know that a one-year old has no idea that someone really seriously busted a move on a sweater, and has no idea what vibe I’m transmitting.  She’d rather chew on the ribbon I put on the box the sweater came in- at this age, all I’m doing is pleasing her parents, and making things that maybe Myrie will look at someday when she’s much bigger, or a mother herself.)  You’d think not being as close to her as I’d like wouldn’t trigger special handknits, but oh, does it. All the time I would spend in the park, on walks, reading books… that time can all go into a sweater, and so I feel entirely mad for making something this intricate.

sweaterwhole2 2014-10-14

Myrie’s little sweater was Minni – knit out of Madeleine Tosh Sock in Antler (the cream) and Magnolia Leaf (not the cream).  The needles – in case you were wondering, were 2.25mm and 1.75mm – fiddly, I  know.   I trimmed it in green left over from a sweater last year, and I made the largest size because when you make something like this, it should fit for a while.

sweaterties 2014-10-14

It had lovely details.  The overall pattern was a ridge of garter, alternated with two rows of stockinette, but in important spots – like across the centre of the back, or at the top of the shoulder, that switched to garter, for extra stability.  I crocheted a little chain of the green along the border at the bottom, because the pattern said to, and because it was very pretty indeed.  There was no end of fussiness, but the best part was the little embroidered patch.  Since I finished early, I decided to give my idea a whirl.  The pattern came with a few little templates for the embroidery, and they were cute, but Chris, Robyn and Myrie have a sweet little dog, Olive, and I thought it would be extra cute if she was on the patch.

olivesketch 2014-10-14

I had my mother-in-law send me pictures of Olive, and I did a little sketch. When we all agreed that the little patch looked just like Olive, I held the sketch up to the window, and put a little square of linen over it so I could see through.  I transferred a few little markings to help me stay on track, and then I started embroidering the dog onto the patch.

olivepatchdone 2014-10-14

A few incredibly fiddly hours later, I had the patch done, and it was as cute as I had hoped. It personalized the sweater beautifully – it was nice work before, but a one-of-a-kind special thing after.

sweaterdown 2014-10-14

I think they loved it, and as silly as it seemed, the best part for me wasn’t the patch, it was the sweet little diaper flare over her wee bum as she crawled that really did it for me.

sweatercrawlbetter 2014-10-14

fromabove 2014-10-14

sweateron2 2014-10-14

I am totally and completely thrilled with this sweater. If a knitted thing has to stand in for you, then this, this is the sort of sweater that I’d like to have do it for me.  So completely perfect in every way.  Myrie wore it for hours and seemed to think it comfy – unlike the hat I gave her, which she ripped off and threw on the floor. (I’m not bothered by that. I hate hats too, and I bet she likes it better at -20. I’ll show you the hat tomorrow.) The little miss stayed awake long enough to be doted on by all of her adoring fans, then corked off for a wee nap in the garden, sleeping in her buggy in the cool fall air, wearing her sweater, and tucked under her blanket.

buggy 2014-10-14

It was lovely to see them being used, and I liked how it felt to me. Even if I’m not around – I’m around her.  It’s just my wool instead of me. If you’re a knitter, it’s the next best thing.


132 thoughts on “More wool than sugar and spice

  1. Such a lovely sweater for a lovely young lady. She will wear this for a long time and hopefully pass it on to future generations. It’s a true work of heart!

  2. There is just something about seeing babies in wee knits that really does tug at ones heartstrings. I love that all the recipients model their new knitted lovelies beautifully. Blessed with timeless treasures for the future of their family. There is no better gift that I know of. Another deadline met. Pat yourself on the back and have a cup of coffee.

  3. You are a madwoman, and the sweater, about which I was more than dubious, especially when the end was in sight and embroidery was mentioned, is a joy. What reward-knitting will you cast on?

  4. Deliciousness! Fall festival–birthday party for the wee one! Well done on the “woolie hug” for the darling girl. You must be so thrilled to be able to review the family celebration photos as well as the “modeled” sweater shots. It is marvelous that your family gets together to spend time on the important mile stones as they come up. I think, may hap, that your new camera has already paid for itself. Now may you be blessed with some days of ordinary things.

  5. I actually shed a tear when I saw that beautiful sweater on that beautiful baby. I think I just felt a “time to have another one” pang. Thank you for sharing.

  6. An “I’m hugging you” sweater doesn’t have to be hand-knitted – though if it is, of course, that’s extra special. My freshman year of college, I was homesick, and my mom (who did not knit) sent me a sweater that she said I should wear when I felt low – because when I was wearing it, she was hugging me! It doesn’t really fit anymore, but I will never, never, never part with it.

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    • Well, considering that the i-cord is attached to the sweater, she’d have to swallow the whole thing.

      Alternative comment: isn’t it safer than the deadly (or so I’m told) button?

        • I don’t get it– why are we talking about the dangers of i-cord ties? I-cord ties are perfectly safe for babies. Now, zippers– zippers can trap their tiny fingers as they struggle with pulling them up and down and everyone knows how dangerous that can be. Right?

  8. Your drawing skills are incredible. (All of my drawn animals look the same -a series of boxes for head and body- so only the accessories, like antlers or udders give them away.) I have to agree, the bum shot is the best!

  9. Ooooooo……Olive!! Such the sweet face and sweetness on the sweater! I hope the wee niece’s parents truly understand how many hours and air miles in addition to how much love went into this treasure.
    Your photography is stunning.
    I hope the wee princess demands her time with Auntie Steph n Uncle Joe as soon as she finds her voice.
    The greater gift for any parent is to know there are family and friends that love your children as fiercely as you do.
    A weekend filled with thanksgiving and blessings.

  10. What is it about babies that brings out the inner knitter/crocheter? Well done Stephanie, all the fiddly bits were worth it! Your niece and sweater are too adorable. A wooly hug indeed.

  11. Oh, I remember the drama of meeting the generous Martha at the border! Was it really a whole year ago?
    Lovely sweater and beautiful pictures. “Diaper flare” !!
    I crocheted a blanket for my niece when she was born and was so happy, years later, to see it still being toted around. My sister had long forgotten where it came from but I knew and it made me smile…

  12. I wish you were my auntie. Or sister. Or mom. I would love to be the recipient of a gift like that. You are truly amazing and your generosity astounds me. I hope to grow into a knitter like you someday and be able to lavish such beautiful works on my own dear people.

  13. Beautiful words.
    It doesnt matter that you dont see her all the time now. It probably wont be like that forever. She is family, and always will be. The sweater is beauiful.

  14. Oh, that little knitted bum! Knitter Bliss captured in one perfect moment and photo. Made my day. One day that wee girl will understand how much love has been showered on that supercute wee bum! Happy Birthday to Myrie!

  15. How absolutely wonderful! Such a beautiful piece, and the embroidery (and sketch) of Olive is just perfection. What a truly wonderful way to wrap her in your woollen substitute arms.

  16. oh dear. this sentence “her mum and dad travel in different circles than we do, and their tiny family of three is perfectly, gorgeously tight.” is soooo not cool. WOW.

    • Huh. I don’t know any other way to express that I love and respect their choices, and am glad they’re happy. Is it a grammar error? Or an objection to the way they run their family, or the way that I love it?

    • I actually loved that sentence.
      It expresses so well how I feel about my own sisters and their families – they run in very different circles than we do (and one runs a 3 day drive away), and if we weren’t family I doubt we’d ever cross paths, but I love them for who they are even if I only see them once in a while.

      • Both of my sisters run in different circles than we do–half a continent away. Gives each of us a change in our lives when we get together. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  17. wow that sweater is absolutely perfect in every way! You are inspiring me in knitting for my 14-mth-old granddaughter. And your photographs are wonderful. I especially love the one with the birthday cake. Did you plan that?

  18. The sweater, and the story, are absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing pieces of your life with us! It makes my days a little bit more beautiful, too.

  19. This. I came here first, many years ago because I was a new knitter, and you were funny and a knitter, and I loved to read what you wrote. I keep coming here, all of these years later, because of posts like this. You, Steph, are the best kind of people. I have nieces that I don’t see nearly enough, for similar kinds of reasons, and I get this from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for the inspiration to keep on knitting… love in wool to surround them. Awesome. <3

  20. The sweater is lovely, and she looks very comfortable in it. It gives the baby lots of room to do what babies need to do, which is move around a lot. As for your tweet, how long does it take me to make a pair of ladies medium socks? About 10 days, I think, if I focus only on the socks and don’t get distracted by anything. I’m flying to Nanaimo tomorrow for 10 days and I have a sock project started, in my carry-on bag. Let’s see how much is done by the time I fly back. Maybe I’m a faster knitter than I think I am. I just need to be put in a cage to get it done. By the way, I’m taking plastic dpns and a plastic darning needle. The last time I flew, the woman behind me in the security area had a bag stuffed with craft material, and they confiscated her darning needles, metal dpns and scissors. They took all her tools. I hope she had a good book to read.

  21. I hope that sweater will remain a cherished heirloom for generations. It is just lovely. Just. Lovely. The blanket, well, that too.

  22. I’m old, and I had a hysterectomy before the turn of the century. Even so, this post made my petrified ovaries squeeze out a wee ovum.

  23. Gorgeous! If she is anything like my daughter, at four she will still be wearing the sweater, even though by then it is somewhat short-sleeved and barely comes to her waist, because you made it for her.

  24. Just. Completely. Utterly. Stunning…. In a most wonderful, little-girl way. Perfect and priceless.
    And the fact that you share these things with your fans, well, “Thanks!” This is a sweet note of happiness and joy to end my-day-that-otherwise-should-be-forgotten.

  25. Myrie and her sweater are gorgeous, but Olive is too. Doesn’t she deserve something (a sweater or jacket, perhaps a small blanket, maybe even just her favorite type of rawhide chew?)?

  26. Love, love, love the sweater! First time to see your baby blanket it is GORGEOUS! Your are the best aunt! She will use them now and cherish them when she gets them out for her babies! Enjoy your post Thanksgiving nap, you deserve it!

  27. I don’t know which is better–your knitting or you writing. Thanks for being such an inspiration. Now I totally miss my nieces and nephews.

  28. There’s nothing better than the Harlot taking a victory lap!

    Great sweater, great baby, lovely occasion all around. Myrie is lucky!

  29. the sweater is stunning – so tailored, but sort of wood sprite-ish. Beautiful work. The thought of of a brisk nap in the garden swaddled in loving wool is dreamy 🙂

  30. The patch of Olive just sent a perfect gift over the moon.
    I can see the love in every stitch.
    (We had to lay our sweet pupdog Gus to rest this week. So the patch moved me to tears, again)

  31. Absolutely the best justification for handknitting I’ve ever seen.

    Though I have to ask – what is the range in age of you and your sisters? (Just the range, no identifiable data.) My mother was 39 and 42 when my younger sister and I were born, and I was right around that upper number when we adopted our daughter. I was at one of my first cousin’s weddings when I was in first grade.

  32. A gorgeous baby in an adorable sweater – the best of all possible worlds. The embroidered patch really put it over the top, it’s perfect.

  33. Minni turned out superbly! Myrie looks adorable in it…I too love the photo of the flair over her diapered backside! I also adore your take on knitwear: Even if I’m not around – I’m around her. What a wonderful thought!

  34. That is seriously the cutest baby sweater I have ever seen. Alas, after reading about your journey knitting it I don’t think I’ll be casting it on my needles any time soon. It would take me until my first great grandchild, rather than the first grandchild I now have, to finish it.

  35. I’ve been around on this blog for a long, looooong time. I must say that sweater is one of the most fabulous things I’ve ever seen you post here. It’s perfect, just like Myrie.

  36. Your little sweater, and its embroidery, is absolutely adorable, a paean to knitterly love. Myrie will, in later years, have tangible evidence (I am sure this is the first of many, many!) of your affection. Your immortalisation of Olive is wonderful. I am running out of superlatives here.

    This splendid knitting/embroidering effort is the sort of thing that makes me wonder about the sanity/intelligence/heart of knitted gift recipients who say, “oh. um. Thanks, I guess” and toss the yarny effort into a far distant cupboard or drawer.

  37. Well, you’ve finally done it! After reading your blog since close to the beginning I’ve been tempted over & over to comment but this “It was lovely to see them being used, and I liked how it felt to me. Even if I’m not around – I’m around her. It’s just my wool instead of me. If you’re a knitter, it’s the next best thing.” did it for me.

    My only (first?) grandchild is almost 6 months and lives a 5 hour flight away. She’s been wrapped in “grandma love” since the day she was born. When my daughter sends photos of her in her hat, sweater and blanket, I feel exactly like I’m hugging her with love. Every stitch I knit is a bit of me loving her. I totally get how you feel!

  38. Lovely, just lovely. So very glad to see a few photos of Myrie wearing her new sweater, and who would not love Madlintosh! You are certainly starting her out right! Love seeing the blankie again too. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  39. I made my godson a christening set (blanket, hat, booties, mittens). When his little boy was born, he called his mother and said to get out his christening set, because HIS son was going to wear it as well. My godson Facebooked me a picture of the little guy, wrapped in the blanket I had made 25 years earlier. What a thrill it was!

  40. That first picture, with the silouette of daddy and baby is so beautiful, it seems like it ought to be a painting.
    I love that little sweater!

  41. The cardi is beautiful! Though I am still more in love with the blanket you made for her – will the pattern be for sale on ravelry any time? I would love to knit such a blanket!

  42. Beautiful. Thanks for the inspiration. I have a new grand neice and I’m inspired to knit for her since we live thousands of miles apart.

  43. Oh my goodness Stephanie, the sweater is just beautiful, a true heirloom. The dog patch is absolutely adorable, who knew you could embroider too. Girl you have TALENT. Congratulations on a truly stunning piece, it looks spectacular on Myrie.

  44. I seldom comment, I think they get lost in all that you get, but this time I must comment. That sweater is absolutely adorable. It’s baby sophisticated and so much more. You chose beautiful colors and the added green was magnificent, just the right touch. And the pocket, oh my! Pure genius!!! The picture of Myrie’s bum is stinkin’ cute. You nailed it!!

  45. The sweater looks darling on her! This has me itching to knit the same thing for my only granddaughter who just turned 1. And the patch — the patch was just the perfect touch. Lovely all the way around!

  46. Oh my, I can so relate to how you feel about knitting for a baby far away! We live in North Carolina, and my step sister and her baby (well, her husband too!) live out in Montana. I’ve knit more for that child than just about anyone!! It is like sending her my love. Now, if the little, simple cardigan I’m working on for her now would just behave . . . !!

  47. Steph,
    It’s stuff like this that keep our needles going and our hearts open. We need this to create, to love and to give love. It’s what makes a knitter…or anyone who engages the world with handmade..anything.


  48. I found your blog sometime last spring I think it was. I have followed along as you worked on this sweater. I love your blog. You crack me up at times. I am happy that you got the sweater finished. It. looks. spectacular! Congrats! I just wanted to comment and tell you how truly beautiful this post was. You did such a wonderful job describing why we knitters spend hours selecting yarn, pattern and then knitting said item up. You are a gifted knitter, writer, and photographer. I always look forward to reading your posts in my Reader feed.

  49. My first thought was “Stephanie’s ‘improved’ the pattern again, good for her!” when I saw the close up of the baby’s arm with the dark cuff. But no, it’s just a sleeve rollup, like most children’s sweaters need. But it came out darker and coordinated, not just a reverse of the colors on the front even though it’s garter stitch. How unexpectedly lovely. Usually when you roll up the cuffs they look awful and that’s all you can see on an otherwise gorgeous knit. Not this one, though. Just the BEST.

  50. All that work and fussiness certainly did pay off – so incredibly adorable and THAT PATCH. That patch is the cutest thing ever and what a brilliant idea for personalization!

  51. Love that sweater and the patch is a work of art as well. What a great idea to really personalize the gift. Good job as usual.

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