Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Little Dabbling for Down the Road

A Little Dabbling for Down the Road

The Pink Stripe is Finished
Someday, I’ll know who the recipient will be - someday down the road. But today it is being saved in Grandma’s Someday Box.

Do you see the sleeves? Don’t they look like little scarves with a bit of ribbing? If you can knit a washcloth or a scarf, in light of the circumstances, you can knit a sweater. Really.

Knit the back and front panels like little scarves decreasing for the neck. Seam the shoulders and attach the sleeves. Fold and seam some more. I referred to Nici McNally’s instructions for finishing. For the first time my seams appear seamless.

Edging the sweater is the tricky part. Nici McNally shares a tip on her DVD for picking up stitches. By following this tip my ribbed edging now lays smoothly.

The finished sweater, with its tiny Beatrix Potter character buttons, rests on a pieced quilt top (above).

The Story of a Toddler Quilt
I’ve since added fabric yo-yos to the quilt top.  They are the same yo-yos pictured in November’s post. I had first cut out hearts to appliqué onto each square but changed my mind. I remembered my lonely pile of yo-yos. “I wonder how well the colors will match,” I thought.

Digging them out of the closet and counting them, I raised my eyebrows in surprise. Not only were the colors in harmony, the pile had the exact number of yo-yos; one per square, no more no less. 

Five years previously I made those yo-yos. I was dabbling for the fun of it (and in my initial yo-yo craze) unconcerned where they’d end up. This year the yo-yos met their destiny. You might be surprised at what a little dabbling will amount to down the road

Because the quilt was only tufted and because they yo-yos were pre-crafted, the project was accomplished in a month of Sundays. That’s all. I tied extra strands of cotton crochet thread to each tuft, to make a sort of decorative fringe that will go fuzzy when washed.

Approximately How Far - Down the Road?
It is good to have an idea of how much time a project will require, especially if it is for an upcoming gift. But when a new interest to dabble occupies you, the amount of time required to complete a project should be secondary.

Some days I dabble. More often I plan. Even when I’ve planned carefully I might have a false start. Have you ever had one? When it comes to knitting I humor myself by calling a false start: “an elaborate gauge.” The blue stripe came to a halt two years ago when I realized, after nearly finishing the back piece, that baby William was already too big for it.

Young children grow fast. I’ve been keeping the stitches “on hold” on a piece of contrasting yarn because I borrowed the needles for the pink stripe. I’ll need to pick up the blue stripe soon because another little boy will be joining us not too far down the road.

A Minute for Cute
I’ve been told that the expected “little boy” is motionless in the womb all night but wakes each morning (and starts kicking) as soon as he hears his big brother’s talkative ramble. Three-year-old William stretched out his arms toward his mother’s stomach, cupped his little hands palms up and said, “You can come out now.”
“He’ll come when he’s ready,” his mother told him.

 A Patient Teacher
Letters in my mailbox reveal: all that is separating my readers from learning to knit is an hour of leisure and a good teacher. I found the teacher. All you need to do is find the leisure. After sitting through a number of instructional knitting DVDs I chose one put together by Nici McNally. 

(My green toddler socks, knit with self-striping yarn, are meant to dress up the photograph – taken on our attic steps.) 

Mrs. McNally is not a hired actress. She genuinely loves to knit and enjoys sharing her skill. She demonstrates each step in clear, colorful close-up photography. The DVD is not preoccupied with the razzmatazz of distracting entertainment. With Mrs. McNally you can take your time to peacefully focus on your knitting. Pause the DVD at her suggestion. “Press play when you are ready,” she says as she guides you pleasantly all along the way.  

Happy Dabbling,
Karen Andreola


  1. Those projects are so lovely.

    I've been teaching my daughter to knit, but it's a little bit of a struggle. You see, I'm right-handed and she's left-handed. We're getting there slowly, though. :)

  2. This post makes me smile! It is so sweet when little ones look forward to the coming of a new sibling. How exciting to have a brother.

    Your sweater is lovely. Thank you for the book suggestion.

    Susan B.

  3. What beautiful items..and such inspiration to be gleaned! I have been reading your "Companion.." book and am so excited to dive into Charlotte's principles more deeply by the upcoming year.

    I was thrilled to see you have a personal blog to be enjoyed. Such a small world to find that you live in aunt lives in Kirkwood, which is about 2 hours from me. Perhaps someday I could have the pleasure of being acquainted with you in person :) You have been such a blessing in the journey. Thank you!

  4. Dear Karen,
    What an adorable sweater! My grandmother taught me basic knitting when I was a young girl. I loved sitting at her side as she had all the time in the world it seemed to help me. She has been gone many, many years and I have longed for another knitting mentor. Through your blog I have been greatly encouraged to take time out for "mother culture". I look forward to viewing the knitting DVD as I need to expand my skills. I tell my husband frequently that I need to knit a sweater. I have been apprehensive to go beyond my comfort zone but feel that I should give it a try. It is similiar to homeschooling. I was afraid when I started 17 years ago but now it is just part of who I am. Maybe knitting sweaters will be part of me one day too. You are a blessing to me.


  5. Your projects are beautiful!

    My friend, Sally, taught me the basics of knitting. So far I haven't gotten past dishcloths, although I did just start my first scarf two days ago.

    I think the DVD will be of great help to me as I work on improving my skills.

  6. Oops! Thought it was a book with a DVD. Now I understand that it's an instructional DVD only. I'm looking forward to her next DVD.


  7. Dear Ladies,
    Thank you for sharing your the ways that knitting has entered your lives.

    Nici McNally demonstrates both English and Continental styles of knitting. Continental is the choice of some of my left handed friends.

    It is fun to know that some of my readers live in driving distance.

    Writing recommendations for books is something I've been doing for a two decades. Therefore, I understand your tiny slip, Susan, since DVDs are infrequently mentioned in comparison.

    Dreaming up a new post,
    Karen A.

  8. Hi Karen, Thank you for posting about "The Complete Beginner's guide to Knitting" dvd. I watched the demo at CBD and it looks like I could follow it easily. I have wanted to learn how to knit but have been unable to find a book that I could follow and this DVD seems to be perfect. Thank you

  9. Dear Karen,
    I've been doing a bit more knitting. I think I may have told you I was invited to a knitting night on Tuesdays by a couple of my chemo nurses. It's been nice to have a new focus while I'm recovering from the radiation burns.
    I'm working on a new pattern. It is the CC Beanie copycat. There's a tutorial on YouTube that explains how to make the provisional cast-on for this specific project.

    I'm having fun learning a new skill.

    Be blessed,

  10. That last comment about the knitting was from me, Laura Lane. I used my daughter's account by mistake.
    Tee hee. Technology!

    Laura Lane