Archive for June, 2010


Please Bear With Me.

I am trying to get a final template going for this blog, and I’m having issues. I want it to be knitting and ME related, and there are lots of lovely options out there (like the one I’m currently using), but all the templates come with their little issues. I’m working with a friend to try to get the permanent template personalized and off the ground, and I know it’s going to be a little frustrating until we get there, but I know I will. I just have to give it a bit of time.

In the meantime, take the edge of confusion off by looking at some lovely yarn. http://www.eatsleepknit.com has some lovely selections that is tempting me as we speak.

Something else that might take the edge off is looking at the latest ultrasound pictures of Peanut – hot off the press today! 19 weeks into the pregnancy, and it’s almost half over! Craziness!

baby3

baby5

Just before the ultrasound the baby was kicking up a storm, and sure enough, baby kicked his/her feet on camera for me. It was thrilling to see that! And to see the heart beating. You could actually SEE the chambers of the heart, the motions it was making. It was truly unbelievable, and remarkable. Something I will NEVER forget.

Well, again, apologies for all the trouble this stupid blog template is taking, but I want to make sure I get it right. I’m tired of it not looking like ME, and once it’s all done, it won’t be changing again!

Flying

Off the needles, that is!

Three projects, all in a quick succession, have flown off the needles. First off were the Button Up Your Cup cup warmers.

buttoncup

A pair of them for my favorite tea-drinking mugs. I love their shape and size (and color), but I hate how quickly they lose their heat. Yes, I know, a lot of it is lost out the top, but I definitely found a prolonged period of drinkable temperature tea after snuggling these cups into the covers. To prove just how much I loved the pattern, I even broke out my meager crochet skills to make the button loops and to join the two sides. Impressive, no? I especially love the dragonfly buttons that they go around too. Another thing that makes me smile bright and early in the morning.

Then, Morgan’s Frilly Sun Hat designed by Debbie Bliss saw completion.

sunhat2

It’s knit with Knit Picks Shine Sport in Green Apple, the same yarn I used to make the Froggie Hat out of. 3.75mm needles, and a heavily modified pattern later…

sunhat

So, this pattern was intended to be knit flat in three stages; the hat, the brim, and the lace edging. However, me, being me, decided that since I hate sewing seams, why not knit it in the round, like a hat should be? That is what I did. When I picked up the stitches for the brim, I substituted the increase instructions written for the purl rows with knit rows, and it worked out just fine. Instead of a lace edging though (which would let in light, the opposite of a sun hat’s function I think) I chose to knit a couple more rows to extend the brim and make a picot edging. It kept it girly and cute, and allowed it to frill a bunch on the edges. I did end up having to sew the edging down, I did try to knit a cast off while picking up stitches from the inside, but it got too stiff, and just stuck out straight. I chose to bind off loosely and sew it down instead so I could control the movement, and I’m glad I did.

The final item that has come off my needles is my pride and joy – my On Cloud Nine socks that I just published!

cloudnine2

This is a pay pattern – $3.00 USD, and available either through Ravelry (find my designs by searching my username, wcknitwit) or through emailing me. Once I receive your PayPal payment, I will email you the link with the PDF file in it. If you go to Ravelry, you can pay for the pattern and get instant access to the link, or download it right to your computer! My email is dragonfly85@live.ca

cloudnine3

I have another design of mine on the needles, currently being tested. This time, it’s a bright and sunny design, sure to spark a smile and put you in a summery mood. That’s the only hint you get though! You won’t get anything else from me until it’s finished!

If someone is interested in being a test knitter for this project, email me. You will need 50g of fingering weight yarn, and be able to get stitch gauge of 8 stitches to the inch (2mm needles work for me).

Now, it’s time for family game night. It’s been a LONG day. We did the big pre-baby cleanup today, and not only cleaned out our storage room, but rearranged and organized it. Then, on top of that, we tore Morgan’s room apart and cleaned it from top to bottom as well. We threw out old and outgrown clothes (into bags for donation, don’t worry!), rearranged it to make more room for playing, and purchased a new low shelf for various toys and puzzles and dress up shoes. It’s spic and span, and practically sparkles! She even let me change her comforter from Dora to a summery yellow with daisies and green and blue plaid. It looks cheery and warm now! (and the amount of pink and purple doesn’t hurt my brain anymore either). I need a cup of tea, a bit of knitting time, and to let my stomach settle.

I love the satisfying feeling of a day that was truly full.

Beginner Advice

Typically, I reserve this blog for talking about my life, topics about yoga and health, and of course, my knitting, but for some reason, I feel compelled to write about knitting for beginners. I have a few people in my life that either want to learn to knit, or have just learned, and I know how overwhelming it can be to look at projects (especially in Ravelry), you think to yourself “I will never be able to do that” and you feel like giving up.

The pressure for first projects to be things like scarves and “no-project” projects can make people turn up their noses too. I mean really, do we want to scare off new knitters with miles and miles of the knit stitch? We experienced knitters complain about project boredom all the time, and yet we sick it on first-timers? Something in that does not seem right to me.

balls-yarn-HTOURS1005-de

I have been of the opinion for a very long time that there are two very important things to do when teaching people to knit for the first time. The first, is that you don’t cast on for them, teach them a cast-on method that will actually help them in learning how to do the knit stitch. It’s called Knitting On and if you click on the link, scroll down to the cast on method that says “Knitting On” and you will be able to bring up a Continental and English video of this cast on. Before the new knitter even begins to knit, they have essentially learned how to knit, they just haven’t slipped the stitch off at the end, they’ve carried it on top of the stitch they just knit.

The second tip that I give new knitters is not to knit a scarf or a “non-project” as their first project or even practice piece. Knit a dishcloth. Think about it; the yarn is cheap, there are countless patterns to choose from for free online, they can be as simple as garter stitch or stockinette stitch, or as complex as roped and braided cables and intricate lace. AND, at the end, they have a functional, useful project that they can use, show off, give away, etc. They are easy to care for (throw them in the washer and dryer), and if they look like crap, who cares? You will be scrubbing your greasy pots with them.

Once your beginner knitter has mastered dishcloths (and consequently the knit and purl stitch), it’s time to learn how to knit in the round. And what better way than with a hat that’s only stitches are cast on, knit, purl, and k2tog?

hatmorgan

If your knitter is doing very well and learning quickly, perhaps you will teach them the Long-Tail Cast On method so the brim will be nice and stretchy. You can teach them Magic Loop, or find a circular needle the right circumference to knit in a continuous circle, and you could teach them how to use DPN’s. A simple hat is a great learning experience, and at the end, again, a functional, useful project.

From there, I finally recommend the scarf. Get them comfortable with a smaller needle and yarn maybe, and teach them various decreases and increases, and practice working a simple lace pattern. If your knitter is comfortable, bright, and not afraid of a challenge, this may be the perfect time to introduce them to a simple chart.

When your knitter has finally graduated past working flat or semi-flat knitted projects, they may be eager to jump into the sweater category. Now, I caution new knitters on jumping into a sweater for themselves right away. They are large, time consuming, and the cost of doing one will scare many into making the mistake I did – using Red Heart cheap acrylic yarn, and consequently, not being able to wear it unless it was snowing outside. And the pattern I chose was SO simple, that the fit was ugly, and I didn’t even wear it in sub-zero temperatures. No, instead, I recommend a baby sweater. A new knitter can get accustomed to a few different styles of sweaters, such as top-down, pull overs in pieces, cardigans in pieces, and a variety of finishing techniques, as well as seaming, before they attempt something for themselves. And if they give you the “no babies to knit for” excuse, remind them that there are charities that take hand-knit sweaters happily. Right now, it’s experience they are going for, and if donated to a good cause, new knitters can feel a sense of giving back too.

forestcanopy3

From there, the possibilities are endless. Socks, lace, small shawls, and a myriad of other patterns await them. As I was knitting, I tried with every new pattern to learn a new technique, be it lace knitting on socks, or cables, or other things that were new to me. Now, I’ve got something like 70 patterns in Ravelry, and that doesn’t count all the patterns I’ve ever done. Many have never been added in, simply because I no longer have them in my possession, or photographs of them, and some because they were for people that I don’t care to name, and so I do not keep a record of them. My Ravelry projects list also does not keep a record of all the dishcloths I’ve done, which are many. My total list is probably will over a hundred now, and still growing.

One last piece of advice, is that if you are learning to knit, do your best to obtain these two books for your collection right away.

The Knitter’s Companion by Vicki Square – This book has a wealth of information, everything from various cast-ons, to a ruler and gauge measuring devise, as well as needle gauge on a card in the back. It’s spiral bound for easy laying out and reading, and there are a lot of helpful pictures.

The Knitting Answer Book – is amazing. It’s along the same lines as The Knitter’s Companion, but it’s smaller, more compact, and it’s written in plainer language than TKC, and I find a lot of the instructions easier to understand. This book, instead of just showing you various techniques, as the TKC does, it seeks to actually answer questions. If you find yourself facing a mistake in your knitting, especially on the go, I recommend this book more for problem-solving. Also, if space is an issue, it fits better into a purse or knitting bag.

Well, there you have it. Pick up those needles, cast something on, and get going! Be it as scarf, shawl, dishcloth, or leg-warmer, don’t stop knitting. Every project gives you something new to learn, and something new to experience. Don’t worry, you’ll be doing delicate, gossamer lace shawls soon. It just takes climbing the right steps to get there.

makingprecious

So, since my post yesterday morning, I have contracted a serious case of Startitis. Maybe it was the attraction of the completion of a project, maybe it was the high I got from seeing so many people favorite and queue my Simple Fingerless Gloves pattern on Ravelry. Maybe it was the knitting blogs I read, and all the new patterns I saw. I really don’t know, but to be safe, I’m going to blame it on the fiber fumes wafting from my stash baskets.

So, not only do I have two Christmas presents on the needles, but I also wanted to make my step-daughter a hat out of the leftover Shine Sport in Green Apple that made my Froggie Hat. I cast on for a beret, and when the endless rows of stockinette revealed that whoever wrote the pattern must have a child with an unusually sized head (it was too big on me), I ripped it out and searched again, this time my search came up with gold. I found a Debbie Bliss Sun Hat that will look darling on her, especially when paired with her bright pink rain coat.

But that wasn’t enough. I also wanted to make a hat for Morgan’s maternal aunt, who has been having a hard time recovering from gastric bypass surgery. A mistake in the surgery has resulted in a hole at the top of her stomach, and because of this, she has to limit her caloric and total intake of food at one time, to avoid having gastric juices splash into her abdominal cavity. She should be going for repair surgery soon, but in the meantime, her hair is falling out, she’s lost all of the target weight, plus about an additional 12 pounds, and she is embarrassed by how thin her hair is. I dug out the yarn I used for Sunflower Tam, and cast on Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. While listening to Pea in a Podcast, all about pregnancy and the first few months of motherhood, I finished it.

unoriginalhat

And then, this morning, I checked Ravelry again, to find that 85 people had favorited my glove pattern, and that it was in 22 people’s queues. I was on cloud nine! And that’s when it hit me.. I’ve never seen socks with a cloud design. There’s been other nature patterns inspired by water, leaves, flowers, all sorts of things…but what about clouds? I grabbed my graph paper and pencil, and started sketching out pattern shapes, playing with stitch counts, and finally came up with a pattern I liked. I checked out Ravelry for similar patterns, and found none. And then, I did something I hadn’t done in ages, checked the Sock Knitters Anonymous page. One of the challenges for June is to design your own socks!

So naturally, I wound my skein of Rancho Solid in a beautiful gray-blue, cast on the number of stitches I needed, and took a picture for the challenge.

cloudnine

This skein, by the way, was a nightmare to wind. It was a tangled mess, and it took an hour to wind it, start to finish, to the ball you see there. When I finally began I ran into another problem, the number of rows in my repeat made the pattern look flattened out, not how it had looked on the graph paper. And I didn’t like knitting a k2tog into the edge with a YO from the last row in it, so I solved the problem by simply throwing a knit row in between each graphed row, and voila! It turned out perfectly!

I had to rip back to the ribbing of course, to start over, but I am not discouraged. I love this pattern now, and I am eager to continue on with it. Only one thing remains to be done once this test sock has been completed, getting a test-knitter to knit one as well. Is anyone interested? You will of course get a free copy of the pattern to test-knit from. I am not looking for someone who wants to be compensated for their time, I am a beginning designer, and on a budget no less, with a baby on the way and all. Simply someone who loves to knit socks, and wouldn’t mind knitting the pattern, telling me about any mistakes they find, and giving criticisms for instructions to be better written. If you are interested, please send me an email @ dragonfly85@live.ca, or send me a message on Ravelry, and you can find me as wcknitwit.

Well, I should probably get moving on one of these projects! This is very unlike me to have so many on the go right now, but hopefully once I’ve finished something, the fumes will have worn off.

I finally did it!

I finally published my two free patterns, Laura’s Socks and my Simple Fingerless gloves on Ravelry, along with my only pay pattern, Neil’s Socks with Clocks!

You may recall Laura’s Socks, from the Great Christmas Knitting of 2009:

laurassocks2

And you can get the pattern here: https://acrobat.com/#d=Ek94gO434zf1DZsq0KFTfg

My Simple Fingerless Gloves are also a free pattern!

gloves

And the pattern for those is here: https://acrobat.com/#d=aVJU5zziJkf-GF9Fnhwa-Q

You can also download them from Ravelry, just visit my profile page, and click on my designs link. My Ravelry name again is wcknitwit.

Neil’s Socks with Clocks are also available for download on Ravelry, or you can send me an email and I’ll get you my PayPal information for the transaction. My email address is dragonfly85@live.ca. This being my first pay-design, I decided to keep the cost low, so the pattern is only $3.00 (USD)!.

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And of course, in true my-self style, I managed to publish these patterns before noon, but only because I did some serious housework neglection.

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And some assistance from my friends Caffeine, Warm Gracefully Shawl, and Snackfoods.

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Here’s to waiting for the last possible moment to get the real work done!

People, only three days (and not all of them full knitting days either), and I had a finished shawl.

leavesflowers

Leaf and Flower Shawl designed by Linda Choo, knit with Enchanted Knoll Farm superwash sock yarn in “Sandy Beach” (I love when yarn colors have names), on a 4 mm needle. Started the afternoon of the 14th, finished the evening of the 17th, and blocked the morning of the 18th, and was dry by that night, but I couldn’t pick it up from my Mom’s house until today after work. Isn’t it lovely?

leavesflowers2

Turns out the lifeline wasn’t necessary. I had 29 grams of yarn to spare by the time I finished it, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get a full 12 row repeat and the 14 row repeat for the border out of it, it was just too big by that point. It blocked out nice and big too, with lots of room, this yarn is really stretchy. I’m fascinated by it still, tantalized, and totally in love.

And like a good girl, as soon as it was on the blocking boards drying, Mom and I pulled apart Snowdrop Shawl, and I think I’ll start working on it again, trusting the Yarn Harlot’s infinite wisdom when it comes to needle sizing this time. You’d think that after working with lace weight yarn before, that I would trust the numbers, but no. I had to question her. Serves me right, I suppose! I also cast on a pair of socks for my significant other, Neil. He is getting Gentleman’s Lozenge Socks by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks, made out of my favorite sock yarn in the world, Rancho Solid. I love the texture, the colors, the way it knits up, how easy they are to care for, how good they feel on, everything. And who doesn’t love the price?

I’ve also started a second Christmas knitting project, but since this lovely person checks my blog, there will be no more talk of it (except to tell you I’m finished) until after Christmas when they’ve opened it. I know I am going to have a hard time keeping the secret to myself, but it will be worth it when this person sees the project, and reads the note I’m going to write about it, and why I chose it, and what it reminds me of. If I’m lucky, I’ll get tears.

Well, I could talk on and on about this mystery knitting project, but I’m going to be a good girl (again!) and go read my book (a knitting mystery by Maggie Sefton, how appropriate!) and drink tea. Night!

Yesterday, I showed you Possibility. The potential that freshly-wound yarn has before it ever gets cast on, the numerous options available for it’s final form, the wonder of it in the first state. Today, I show you Productivity. The result applied when one diligently works on Possibility, and practically nothing else.

productivity

Four repeats of the leaf chart, one full repeat of the transition chart, and I think I can squeeze in more more repeat of the flower chart before doing the border. But I’ve stopped there until I can put in something very, very important. A life line.

The first time I did a shawl out of fingering weight yarn, it was the Shoal Water Shawl, out of Fleece Artist, and I literally finished casting off with scarcely and inch and a half worth of yarn left. I could only weave it under three stitches before it had to be literally sewn into place with needle and thread. Remember Shoal Water?

shoalwater

Remember the terrible last minute repair?

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Well, it’s not happening again this time, no siree. If I get partway through the border chart and I know I’m going to come up short, all I have to do is rip back to that good out lifeline and start the border chart fresh from there. I have learned my lesson, and to channel the Yarn Harlot a little bit here, I am not about to get cocky in front of the knitting gods, only to have them laughing in my face tomorrow evening as I come up three feet short of yarn 3/4 of the way through my cast off.

AND, while I’m at it, I’m starting my Christmas knitting early! Once Leaves and Flowers is done, I’m starting on the Super Secret Projects for the family. Some will be shown here, because I know they never check my blog (like Dad), but some, will have to be kept secret until the day after Christmas when I get a chance to post not only here, but on Ravelry, what I have been up to. I have a secret place I write down all the stats I need for Ravelry (like day started, finished, name, yarn and needle size used, etc) so that no one will accidentally find the information of the project before they see the project. See? Learning again! With me 17 weeks pregnant, and having a baby in November (hopefully it doesn’t drag into December! Keep your fingers crossed!), there is no way I will have time to do any knitting in the last 30 days, so I’m starting early. And hey, if all my Christmas knitting is done by the end of the summer, all the more time for me to work on something for myself.

Like Snowdrop Shawl. I really need to get around to ripping that back and starting it again….

Possibility

Now that my yoga socks are done:

yogasocks

Made out of Cherry Tree Hill Superwash Semi-Solid sock yarn, there is a world of possibility opening up to me. Socks? Nah, don’t feel like more socks. Lace-weight shawl? Not quite ready for something that fine. Sweater? Too much work with the pieces, the sewing, etc. More baby things? NO. Well, what about a fingering weight shawl? Perfect!

possibility

Meet Enchanted Knoll Farm’s Superwash sock yarn in “Sandy Beach” and the Leaf and Flower shawl. 4mm needles, and a nice quick gratification project that will satisfy my lace-bug without the work and stitch number required with lace weight yarn.

And, with my yoga socks done, my vigor has been renewed to return to my yoga matt. I have already picked up my prenatal yoga again, with a lot of assistance with the exercise ball, but I’m getting bored of that. I will be digging out some of my DVD’s and modifying what I need to modify while I enjoy a bigger variety of poses. My experience with yoga is enough that I’ve learned to listen incredibly well to my body, and I’ve studied the body well enough to know what poses to avoid, and which ones to modify, and how. I don’t suggest those with no experience with yoga to modify regular yoga practice to try to suit them when they are pregnant – either pick up a prenatal yoga DVD, or take a class to make sure you aren’t doing anything that can injure you.

I’m hoping the afternoon passes quickly; I am making chicken curry for dinner tonight, and I can’t WAIT to taste it. It’s been three years since I made Indian food last, a chicken Vindaloo that went over very well. Do you think I can pull it off again? Here’s hoping!

What’s your Dosha?

So, after getting over the flu bug, cold bug, whatever it was bug, I was feeling okay, but not as great as I had before. My digestion was off, I was tired more easily, and even though I felt good my energy was tanking quickly. I knew that there had to be something I could do to set things right, but what? That was when I was listening to a podcast all about a topic I have been interested in on and off for about a year now, Ayurveda.

Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga, and is a health care system based on the assumption that we are all different, so instead of trying to treat specific symptoms, you treat the person, and the reasons behind why they get the symptoms. These body types are called Doshas, and it’s simple to figure out which one you are. There are dozens of online tests, and mine is Vata, with a touch of Kapha. Vatas are high energy people, but this energy does not translate to their digestive tract. They often suffer from constipation (hello!), and sluggish systems. They also tend to get cold quickly (that’s me) and suffer from dry, itchy skin (again, me). As I started to delve further into Ayurveda study last night, I had a bunch of what I’ve come to know as “Ayurve-DUH” moments. When a two-by-four hits you over the head because you naturally do something to balance your system out, but you never know why, or you suddenly connect that when you eat raw vegetables and salads your stomach cramps and you bloat up like a balloon. Hello! That kind of food is not right for my type!

A lot of the information makes sense, some of it is totally new to me, a new concept, and a new way of doing things, but for every new concept, I am introduced to ideas that I’ve been putting into practice for years now, simply because it made me feel better. For instance, Vatas are mostly “wind” type people – light, flightly, and constantly moving – so when it’s windy out, Vatas should cover up vulnerable heat-losing areas of the body to avoid going out of balance. Well, I *hate* going out in the wind, I hate open car windows blowing air in my face, and I avoid it at all costs. I wrap up in scarves, hats, and windbreakers when I see the gusts, and I keep my car windows closed, even if I’m sweating profusely.

The diet is where I am concentrating most of my focus right now, since I’m pregnant. I’m taking the “cooked food” rule to heart, because I really do find I do better with hot food. I am also cutting out things that naturally make me constipated, like red meat, unless in small quantities, and I’m increasing my intake of warm herbal teas, like lemon and ginger with honey, which stimulates digestion and immune response, and doesn’t shock your system like iced drinks can.

I really encourage you to learn at least what your Dosha is, and how a few simple changes can really make a big difference in your life. Some great resources are:

http://www.heymonicab.com

http:///www.joyfulbelly.com

Both are free (the first is an informative blog, complete with Dosha quiz and breakdown), and the second is a free website where you also can figure out your Dosha, but also find recipes tailored just for you and your personal health conditions. Both will teach you a lot, and there’s a lot of resource links from the two sites that you can also check out.

Right now, I’m balancing my Vata with a microwave-baked apple with cinnamon (cooked, warm, and cinnamon is a digestive-stimulating spice), and a cup of lemon ginger tea with honey, also great for digestion. So…what’s your Dosha, and what are some simple steps you can take to balance it?

Rocky Road

16 weeks of pregnancy so far, and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised with how well I have been doing. I have been feeling very good, relatively few symptoms throughout my first trimester, and I continue to be symptom-free for the most part. With the exception of fatigue in the first three months, I have been nausea-free, and blissfully thankful for it.

Until last week that is. At 15 weeks pregnant, I started to feel not so good, and I wasn’t sure if it was heartburn, morning sickness, or something else. By the Friday, I was in the emergency room for the second time that week, and hooked up to an IV with fluids and Gravol, and I knew that something wasn’t right. After spending virtually the entire weekend on doctor-ordered bed rest, I was more than happy to return to my normal-feeling self on Tuesday. I was eating again, sleeping well, and instead of wobbling like a Weeble-Wobble toy when I stood up, I was walking fine about the house and had my balance again. Wednesday it was declared it was likely a fast-hitting flu bug that bit me, and that I was back to perfect health again, though lighter in the pocket book for the very expensive, pregnancy-approved anti-nauseaunt medication I was forced to purchase.

And I’m happy to report that ever since I began feeling better, I have kept my little fingers busy by knitting items for the little one. The two projects I was looking forward to the most have been finished, and I couldn’t be happier.

froggiehat

The Froggie Hat was completed today, and I adore it. It makes me smile, it makes me giggle, and I think a second pair of those booties I loved so much are in order to go with it.

vintagehoodie

And the Vintage Hoodie. I loved making this. It was a pleasant experience the entire time, from reading the old-timey directions (which under explained some things by far, and over explained others to a degree that was mind boggling, like instead of saying YO or Yarn Over or Forward, it was bring yarn to the front of the needle in a counter-clockwise direction, and hold at front for next stitch. Okay, seriously?), and trying to interpret the pattern (but I couldn’t, I just had to go with it), to the minimal sewing (the top of the hood and two under-sleeves, that’s it!), and the picot-edging. It was charming, it was darling, and I can’t wait to find just the perfect piece of ribbon to string through the ribbing on the neck to tie it up with.

Now, you might ask yourself, what does she have in mind for the next project? Another hat? More booties? What about these baby socks she keeps talking about, that are knit out of Fixations and won’t come off their feet? Well, they will just have to wait. I am quite frankly, getting sick and tired of baby knits, and I am going to focus on finishing up a pair of yoga socks for myself, before perhaps moving onto a complicated lace shawl or scarf. And maybe a nice little girly beret for Morgan. We’ll see. I shall enjoy a bit of selfish knitting for a time though, because lord knows, once that baby comes, there won’t be much time for it!