Saturday, January 30, 2016

Baby Jack's Pinwheel Blanket

I just finished up this super cute blanket for my nephew coming this spring! This darling pinwheel blanket is a super basic pattern, but I love love love how customizable it is. It really is one of my favorite patterns. It's miles and miles of straight stockinette stitch, which some people find boring, but personally I find it relaxing. It's great to pick up my project and just knit away without much brainpower. And it's the perfect TV marathon project. (BTW, my Amazon video series for this one was Vikings. Highly recommend!)

For baby Jack's blanket, I strayed from traditional baby colors and went with a much more modern color scheme. And I love the way it turned out. It's black, medium gray, and a pretty Robin's Egg blue. The yarn for this project is Caron Simply Soft. While I can be a bit of a yarn snob (cashmere, anyone?), I love Simply Soft for baby blankets. It's got nice drape, super soft, and the color options are pretty much endless. And machine wash and dry - a must for any baby project.

This blanket goes along with Elijah the Elephant project I completed just a couple weeks ago. One baby set down, one to go! Next up, and orange and white set for my niece/nephew coming this summer.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Goodbye Blanket

I’m going to share something with you. Something that only a few people nearest and dearest to me heart know about me. In this last 6 years, I have lost six babies. The first time was my very first pregnancy, which ended in an ectopic pregnancy and a painful surgery. That was followed by five more miscarriages. The last two have been back to back. I had a miscarriage in August, found out I was expecting again in October, and then lost that baby in December. With each loss, my heart was ripped out. But this last one, this one came with more pain than I imagined any one person could handle.

You see, I knew about this pregnancy for nearly two months. Deep in my heart, I knew this one would be alright, and I began planning. I rearranged the bedrooms to make room for a nursery, and, in my head, had fully decorated that nursery. I started gathering the baby gear that was in storage or loaned out to friends. My husband and I had picked out a list of names. We had made it to the end of the first trimester, I had my first OB appointment, and I got to hear and see my sweet baby’s heartbeat. We had announcement photos taken, and I shared it on Facebook (because, you know, it’s not official until it’s on Facebook.) I had finally let go of the panic-inducing fear that only a woman who has experienced multiple losses knows, and I let myself be excited.

And then, with just two words – fetal demise – my entire world came crumbling down. I was in denial. The doctor was wrong. She had to be wrong. Maybe they did the ultrasound wrong. And then I was heartbroken. How can this be happening again? I couldn’t do anything except curl into a ball and cry until I couldn’t breathe. I felt my heart break into a million pieces.
But above every other emotion, I was angry. I was so so angry. I was downright pissed off. I was angry at the OB who dismissed my concerns just a few days before the ER trip. I was angry at my body, for being so broken and for betraying me over and over again. I was angry at God, who is supposed to represent love, but who had taken yet another baby from me. I was angry at the world for having the audacity to keep spinning and creating beautiful babies, while my arms were so painfully empty. The anger was so heavy in my heart that I could barely breathe. I wanted to scream and yell. I wanted to hit and kick things. I wanted to throw things. I wanted to hurt something as badly as I was hurting inside. But of course, I could do none of that. 

And so I knit. I picked up the rainbow blanket that I had begun for my rainbow baby, and I knit. I knit until my hands cramped. I knit until I had to stop because I couldn’t see through my tears, and then I knit some more. During the day, I could put on a mask and pretend I was okay. But at night, when everything was quiet and the pain and anger overtook me, I would pick up my blanket and knit until the wee hours of the morning. I did this for weeks, and eventually, very very slowly, things got just a little better. With every stitch that I completed, I could breathe just a bit deeper. Each row brought with it a few less tears. Each color change eased my pain just a little bit. Until finally, as I bound off the final stitches of this blanket, I also shed the last of my tears. I took a full, deep, breathe – the first I’d been able to since that terrible night – and I knew it was time to say goodbye.

The hardest part of pregnancy loss is that there are no goodbyes. There’s no flowers, no funeral, no closure. You unceremoniously leave the hospital or doctor’s office and head home with a giant hole in your heart where your baby should be. For me, this blanket gave me something to say goodbye to. It gave me something concrete to hold in my hands. It gave me the way to acknowledge that yes, my babies did exists, and each one was wanted and loved so very deeply. It gave me time to grieve and come to terms with such a monumental loss. It gave me the closure I so desperately needed. This blanket will never wrap a baby in its soft, warm, goodness – but it will always hold the six pieces of my heart that can never be put back together.

Truth be told, I have no idea where my little family is headed next. I don’t know if I’m ready to say enough is enough.  But I also don’t know if my body or my heart can handle any more loss. But I know that right now, I am at peace with myself. And I can move forward knowing that whatever comes, I am strong enough to survive it.  

So why am I sharing this deeply personal story? Because there is a stigma that surrounds pregnancy loss, and it's time to break that silence. So many women suffer this terrible loss and struggle with overwhelming self-shame. But it's important to know that we are not alone. One in four women suffer pregnancy loss. One in four. That is not a small number. And each one of us deals with the grief differently. It's okay to talk about it, or not talk about it. It's okay to cry or scream or stay in bed for 2 weeks. And it's okay to get right back to life. If you, too, have suffered from such a terrible loss, please know that my heart breaks for you. And that you are not alone. Through the heart is a wonderful source for parents who have suffered a loss, and for friends and family struggling to help their loved one grieve.

I want to take just a moment to say thank you to the amazing people who helped me get through yet another loss, especially my mom, my best friend, and my husband. Without all of you, I don’t know how I would have survived. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for being my rock, for giving me strength when I had none left, and for being there every moment that I needed you.

For those who aren't aware of the significance of the Rainbow: A rainbow baby is a baby that is born after a pregnancy or infant loss. It is a symbol of hope - a rainbow always follows a storm. And we appreciate that rainbow more for having endured the storm.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Elijah the Elephant

I just finished up this little guy for my nephew coming in the spring. All I can say is this little elephant was a labor of love. He's so squishy and cute, but -if we're being honest - he got thrown across the room with a string of curse words more than once.
It wasn't a difficult pattern to follow at all. It was straight forward, and the designer included some great photos to help. I think it was a combination of yarn choice and knitting at such as tight gauge.
I decided to dig in my stash for the yarn, and came out with TLC cotton plus. The cotton yarn had zero give, and I had to yank like crazy to avoid ladders. My hands were so achy after a few hours on this guy.
And the increases and decreases caused me such as headache due to the stitches being so tight. This is worsted weight yarn, and while the pattern called for size 2 needles, I had to go up to size 3.

I'll admit, he really isn't the picture of perfection I has dreamed about. His little ears are a bit wonky, and I stuffed his body way too much. But, he's done now. And I love him, and I hope baby Jack will love him just as much as I do.
If I were to re-do this little guy, I would make his arms and legs longers, and probably skip the short rows in his ears. Oh, and I would absolutely never ever ever use cotton for amigurumi again!

Here's the link to my Ravelry project page, with all the yarn, needle, and pattern info! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Squish Mail!

My squish mail from knit picks came in! And what a haul it is! This time around includes lots of sock yarn - 5 balls of Stroll solid, 1 hank of Stroll handpainted, 1 hank of Hawthorne handpainted, and 2 balls of Felici. These are all destined for my 12 months of socks challenge. There's 3 balls of Capretta, as gorgeous blend of Merino and Cashmere, destined to be a shawl. And 14 hanks of Alpaca Cloud laceweight. Yes, 14. And I have no idea what they're going to be yet. I just couldn't resist their yummy softness and the to-die-for colors of their samplers.
Yes, I'm weak when it comes to yarn sales. But, I ordered this on December 31st, sooooo it doesn't really count against my  2016 yarn diet, right? Right???

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

May the warmth be with you...

So, my five year old has been on a Star Wars kick lately (just like the rest of the world.) Christmas this year was all things Star Wars - action figures, lightsabers, Jedi jammies, the whole shebang! We splurged and bought him all six of the movies, and he's been watching them constantly. I really thought they were going to be a bit too complicated for him to grasp. It's a pretty twisty plot, and even I had to watch them a few times to really "get it". It has taken him a few times of re-watching the films to really understand the plot, but it's fun to watch his little wheels turn as we try to explain what's going on to him.
Anyway! We were watching Revenge of the Sith and he turned to me and said "mommy, Anakin turned to the dark side because he was cold, and didn't have anyone to make him warm scarfs and hats." I'm sure this was brought on by the recent cold weather we've had, as he's been sporting his handmade scarf and hat this year. So, I told him I'd whip up something for his Jedi. He had a great time setting up the figures with me, and now his action figures are all set for the winter weather.

If you're getting any of this cold winter weather, well, - May the warmth be with you.

For my knitterly friends - these teeny tiny scarves were soooo basic. It's just some Loops and Threads woollike yarn (lace weight) that I had leftover. I knit a 3-stitch I-cord on size 1 needles, and knit until the length looked about right. Then I "killed" the acrylic with the iron so they would lay flat. All three scarves together took about 10 minutes.