last weekend…and this weekend

What a week, what a week.  I don’t even know where to begin…

I think I’ll recap last week, daily, as I blog through this coming week.  So now (Sunday night) I’ll tell you about last weekend, then tomorrow I’ll tell you about last Monday, etc.

Ok then…

Last weekend I finished the elephant!  All the knitting was done Friday night, and I started the seaming.  The front/back was joined together, and I had the underbelly about halfway in place when I went to bed.  Saturday I was home with the boys and while they napped in the afternoon I finished the underbelly and stuffing the legs, and that night, while Yannick went out, I finished sewing in the feet, attaching the ears and working in some eyes.

After all my talk of knitting her in the round, she was done flat, and I was fine with that.  The seaming went really well, fast and easy.  And I don’t mind the finished look.

C’mon- how could you be upset at this face??

Pattern:  Flo the Elephant (vintage pattern rewritten in Knitty.com by Franklin Habit) (Ravelry link)

Size:  as written (see photo with Superman figurine for scale, below)

Yarn:  Red Heart Misty (blue/purple heather) and Pingouin Safiro (purple solid) held double-stranded throughout

Needles:  3.75mm

Note on needle size- because I used two worsted/chunky yarns held together, I could have easily gone up in needle size.  My final fabric was dense and squishy, but even if you pulled the garter stitch you couldn’t see through it.  I think I could have gone up maybe even a few needle sizes and still had a fabric that was dense enough to hide the stuffing, but would have given me a bigger overall toy.  I was a little disappointed in the final size and would have preferred it to be bigger.  (Nothing to do with the pattern- it’s just that I’d deliberately chosen to double-strand the thick yarns in order to get a bigger toy than normal.  I was hoping for something as large as, if not larger than, the baby it is for).

Whata tush!

Dates:  February 16 – March 5 2011

Modifications:  None.  I omitted the decorative stitching and did knotted eyes for safety (and subtlety).  Now that I know where everything is in the pattern, next time I would end before the tail sts and sew on a braided tail instead.  I find the pattern tail too stubby (and too low) for my tastes.  I had also planned on putting a rattle inside, but forgot until after all the ends had been woven in.

As usual you can find my finished (and unfinished!) projects in my “projects” page by clicking the tab up at the top of every page on my blog, and I also have this project in my Ravelry notebook here .

Flo is approximately 2 vintage, original 80’s-ish, squeeze-legs-and-pump-arms Supermen tall.

Last Sunday after swimming lessons we went to my parents’ house for chocolate chip pancakes, then while the kids napped in the afternoon I finalized the last bit of studying I’d wanted to get done before the surgery.  I know from both surgeries last year that I’m going to be out of it for a few days, possibly a week, taking pain medications and sleeping a lot.  I didn’t want to have to worry about studying during that, so I blocked off the first week post-op as a “no study” week.  Still, the only way that would work would be if I finished up what I had to do beforehand.

When the kids got up we went back to my parents’ for dinner.  It was a lot of running back and forth, but everyone had fun, and by 7:30pm everyone was home and the kids were in bed.  My nerves were starting to kick in.  I had been told to be at the hospital for 10:30am and to register at Emergency.  I had to fast from midnight, take a shower before bed, get into fresh, clean sheets, and then take another shower in the morning before heading out.

I wouldn’t be allowed to lift my kids, or anything, really, over 10 lbs for at least 8 weeks.  I wouldn’t be able to drive for at least 3 weeks, possibly up to 6 depending on what the doctor and insurance company say.  I would also have to be extra careful this time, because I was careful last time and ended up with a new hernia 3 weeks after the last hernia surgery.

I knew I would be home alone for a bit, at least during the days.  I knew that after the first week I would be more alert and not sleeping as much, and after my studying was done, if I were still able to sit without discomfort, I would want to knit.  BUT I wouldn’t be able to lift my yarn buckets to get anything for new projects.  So I decided to prepare a bag with the yarn/needles/notions/etc I’d need for the projects I’d want to work on while I was home.

Do you have any idea how hard it was to PICK those projects?  Knit Picks is getting some new yarn colors for me to pick from, so that yarn won’t be on its way to me for a bit, so I can’t work on that.  I have the pillows I need to complete the pillow covers for my sister-in-law…but that is of my own design and I remember only too well the messes I got into while “knitting under the (pain killer) influence” last summer.  I went through my Ravelry queue and found 2 tank tops I wanted to make, to be ready in time for this Summer…but I didn’t have enough of the right weight yarn for either one.

In the end I decided to take this time to NOT start something new, and instead to finish up stuff still lying around.  I don’t have photos handy, but in the project bag are 1) Henri’s Spiderman Blankie (I can hear Maaike cheering already), 2) my Featherweight Cardigan and 3) my Honeymoon Shawl.

Henri’s blanket was started sometime in his first year (2009), and is being made in 100% cotton (to be safe for his eczema).  It’s lovely but huge and takes a while to knit each row.  I’m probably about 60% done…though I’ll know for sure when I take it out of the bag again.  You already know about the Featherweight cardi, and the honeymoon shawl is the Shoalwater Shawl that I started while actually on my honeymoon.  In 2006.

To get everything ready I put all the project bags together.  I wound a skein of each of the red and blue yarns used for the Spidey blanket so I’d have extra with me, and I finished picking up the stitches for the Featherweight cardigan’s band so it would be ready to “pick up and knit” any time I had the chance.

Then, as directed, I changed our bedsheets and took a shower.  And somehow, ‘cus the butterflies were starting to kick in, I slept.

THIS weekend was nowhere near as exciting.  Yesterday the boys and I played, and I tried to nap while they did.  Today we had their last swimming lesson until the next session and then did brunch & supper with my family again.  Lots of tickling, lots of playing, and lots of brotherly love.  I did a few rows of the Featherweight cardi’s band while watching Supernatural with Yannick earlier, but that’s about the total of knitting done this weekend ‘cus I just don’t have the energy.

One last shot of Flo, to show the underbelly and foot pads.  For those of you who like that sort of thing.


almost an elephant

I tried, but couldn’t quite cut it.  Between all the studying I had to do to stay on track before taking next week off, and getting sick over the weekend and wanting to go to bed early each night, I came close but couldn’t finish on time.

This is where I left off last night.  I’d wanted to completely finish by Thursday night, and by 10 pm I had both halves of the body, the underbelly, both ears and 3 of the 4 foot pads.  I usually get into bed around 11pm or so, and I’d planned on staying up until I finished.  But Yannick came home from bowling at 10 and I mentioned something to him in passing about Ravelry, and he always gets confused when I talk about Ravelry, mixing it up with Knit Picks, and never knowing what I’m talking about.  Since the laptop was nearby, and on, I decided to just show him the two sites, and then he was looking at my listed patterns, and next thing I knew it was 11pm.  I couldn’t bear the thought of staying up until 12-1am just to finish the elephant, especially when I realized that I would be giving the gift to the bride’s family to give to her, since she’s on mat leave.  I wouldn’t be able to see her reaction whether it was while I was at work or home on leave.  I still want to finish it this weekend, but I don’t need the pressure of getting it done by a certain date.

Jakob has been having a “thing” for Sam lately.  He always wants to go get him and carry him around the house.  Right before I took this picture he’d actually carried Sam into the kitchen upside-down, the poor cat’s head was dragging on the floor, and Jakob had him clutched around the hips.  By the time I got my camera open Sam had gotten loose, so he grabbed him again so I could get a shot.

Oh- funny story with Jakob: for a week now he’s been telling Yannick about a naked daddy with a broken arm that he saw at school.  We had no clue what he was talking about- I know he calls all men “daddies”, but a naked man?  With a broken arm?  At school?  What??  I finally remembered to ask Jakob’s teacher Stacey yesterday, and after a lot of thought she remembered they have an Usborne book about going to the doctor, and in it there’s a little boy with a broken arm, and his daddy tries to help him put on a shirt.  Bingo! I thought, that must be it!

When I dropped the kids off today, Stacey called me into Jakob’s class to show me the doctor book.  I flipped through it, and sure enough there was a photo of a little boy with no shirt on, wearing a sling to indicate a broken arm.  Just to be sure, I called Jakob over to show him.

“Is this the naked boy with the broken arm?”

He shook his head, to indicate no.

“Sorry, is this the naked daddy with the broken arm?”

Again, no.

“Is the naked daddy in a book?”


“This book?”


I asked him to show me the book, and he started towards the stairs to a different classroom, one on the main floor where all the kids still there after 5pm go.

“It’s in the ghost book, in the purple classroom,” Jakob said.

I got permission to bring him to the other class, then asked those teachers if we could come in.  “Jakob says you have a book with a naked daddy with a broken arm, and he can show me,” I said.  They let me in right away- they wanted to see this “naked man” too!

Jakob went right to the book shelf, touched a book and said “this one”.  He handed it to me- it was a large, thin, hardcover French book, all about ghosts and assorted Hallowe’en monsters.  I asked him to point out the page and he opened it right to a back page.


And, sure enough, he was right.  There, in the ghost book in the purple classroom, was what Jakob would call a naked daddy with a broken arm.  Wanna see?

Since we have a Jakob photo above, here’s a Henri one to even things out.  On Monday I’d kept him home for the day, and after getting back from the doctor (he was fine, just wanted to make sure the cough he had didn’t go back into his lungs, from two weeks ago) we spent the rest of the morning doing crafts.  There was come coloring, a little water painting, and then we had fun smashing Playdough.

The bib was to protect his Habs jersey from getting dirty, and the personalized chef’s hat (a souvenir from a cooking birthday party) was worn for fun.  Henri LOVES wearing stuff, whether it is the chef’s hat, a “love bug” paper crown with antenna he made at school for Valentine’s day, the stethoscope from a doctor’s costume, or even the small, yellow plastic glasses from Mr. Potato Head.

Well, now it’s Friday night.  It’s 9:30 and my studying for the night is done.  I’m going to sit down with Yannick, the elephant, a 1 lb bag of stuffing, and an episode or two of Hawaii-5-0.


half an elephant is better than no elephant at all…unless you’re the elephant

It’s getting close to crunch time.  I’ve got 1 week left to get the elephant done if I want it given away before I go off of work, and I don’t know how likely it is that I’ll be finished in time.

Jakob slept at my parents’ place last night, so this morning I snuck in some study time while Henri was still strapped into his booster at the table.  He’d finished eating but was on an art kick, so between helping/admiring/cleaning as he colored with crayons, painted with water, then smushed around various colors of Playdough, I sat next to him a the table with my school books and tried to get today’s studying done.

I DID manage to get tonight’s work finished by the end of the afternoon nap time.  I would have preferred to have been finished earlier to get in some knitting time during the nap too, but at least once the kids were in bed for the night I knew I didn’t have anything else to do but sit back, put my legs up and watch some TV with the elephant on my lap.

I’ve finished the first half of the elephant, and have started side 2.  I included the Addi bag for scale, since Maaike had asked how big it’s turning out.  I would have preferred it a little larger, and I think I could have done it easily by using larger needles, as my fabric is quite dense and even if I stretch it I can’t see light through it.  Still, I’m NOT restarting, and it will make a nice, solid toy.  As of this writing I’m about 10 ridges away from splitting for the head and body, and the rest of it is done on shorter rows so hopefully will be done by tomorrow night…or at the latest Monday afternoon.  That will leave me OH…wait.  Hmm.  Technically that would leave me until next Monday to knit the underbelly and ears, seam and stuff.  Possibly doable.  The problem is that I don’t work on Saturdays ‘cus I’m home with the kids, and the store is closed on Sunday.  Which means that if I want to be able to give the gift to the baby’s family, I have to have it ready for Friday.  And since I can’t work on it AT work, it needs to be complete by Thursday night before I go to bed.  I really wish I hadn’t JUST figured this out as I was typing.

Now I’m not sure if this will be possible.  I’ll have to really try to squeeze in each night’s studying while still at work, to leave me the nights free to knit.

I’ve realized that I often mention the study schedule, but I wonder if you all think I’m just talking about a vague outline, or something.  NOPE!  Last year we were just studying each section as it became available, and only looking at each page as it came.  Some nights we’d work harder than others, but there was nothing formal about how we tackled it.  If we didn’t feel like it one night, we’d just put it off, and stay up later the next night.  Then one session we got totally blindsided.  We knew we had about 10 different sections in that session, and each had a decent amount of textbook sections, or notes to read, or whatever.  Then right towards the end, when we’d nearly reached the deadline for our test on that section, we get hit with having to read 2 chapters from our textbook.  Not bits here and there from the chapter, as had been the usual so far.  No- we had to read the ENTIRE 20+ page chapters, of detailed lens/wave theory/algebraic formulas/etc.  I don’t know how we pulled it off, but ever since I have made us a monthly schedule.

I actually go through the section BEFORE it is due, and break it down by pages so we can see exactly what we have coming up.  I break that up into manageable chunks for each night (with Thursdays off, of course) and as long as we do at least what is required for that particular day, we are on track.  (Actually, ahead for this year, since I have us doing everything early, as I’ve mentioned).  I know it looks like there’s only 5-10 pages-worth of studying each night…but those 5-10 pages require about 2-3 hours to process into cohesive notes and some actual comprehension.  Especially when those pages are comprised of stuff like this:

Just for fun, this is just a quick example of the kind of stuff we’re covering.  Now can you see why stuff like converting the pattern to the round is easy for me?  It’s a relief, compared to the obnoxious calculations we’re doing in school!!


what do you have if you have an elephant with a trunk, half of a leg, and no ears or tail?



I have had VERY little knitting time lately, but I deliberately don’t schedule studying for Thursday nights because Yannick has bowling, and I figure- if HE doesn’t have to study… LOL

So last night, as soon as the boys were down for the count, I sat down with a few episodes of Face Off (the special effects makeup reality show competition) and knit.  I managed to do the last 2 ridges before the split for the head/body, complete the trunk, do 13 more rows on the body, and just under 1/2 of the first leg.

What’s cool about the pattern is that instead of just being a flat elephant shape, the decreases actually cause the panel to curve, so when stuffed, it comes by its round shape organically.  I like that.

I got word from KP today that they received my pattern, and it will be going live sometime next week.  WOO HOO!  You can be sure I’ll be posting it here as soon as I get the word.

In the meantime, here’s a little tease…any guesses?


i’m stubborn all right

When I’m determined something will work a certain way, I have this overwhelming need to get it done.  I looked at the elephant pattern and I KNEW it could be knit in the round, it would just take some understanding of the construction.

I made my excel sheet, changed half of every round to be purl directions, and changed each round so that the purl directions were on the opposite half each time (ie: one row is knit half in knit, then half in purl, and the following row is knit half purl, then half knit.  That way each side gets garter ridges and remain each knit from the outside-in).

Confident that I had overcome the foolish mistakes I’d talked about last post, I sat down and got to work.  I even put in 2 stitch markers; an orange one (for stop) to show me the end of the round, signify the tail end of the elephant, and be a location for the increases, and a green one (for go) to show me the face end of the elephant and remind me to just keep on working past the marker so I’d have nice, unbroken garter ridges.  It worked perfectly.

It worked so well that I got into a rhythm of knitting while watching tv, only occasionally stopping to glance at the chart just to see if the next round had the increases twice or five times.  I got about 6 ridges past what you see above when I stopped, and stared at my knitting in disbelief.

I’d done it again.

I’d gotten so caught up in my own cleverness that I’d forgotten the most basic rule, the fundamental core of following a written pattern: READ the pattern.

I couldn’t figure out why the front of the elephant was curving so nicely but the back was flaring so much.  Well DUH- any glance at the INSTRUCTIONS would show the answer to that.  The increases weren’t ALL on the tail end.  The rows with 5 incs/row had them at the tail end- but all the rows with 1 or 2 incs per row had them at the head, so the body would grow towards the head too!

Is this what they mean when they say someone was hoisted upon their own petard?  It feels apropos.


After realizing what I’d done, I caved.  I symbolically speared a Kleenex with my knitting needle and waved a white flag.  Enough.  I give.

I will knit the damn thing flat, and seam it, smiling the whole time.

So I started again.*

Since I was already starting over I gave the whole thing a critical eye and thought I`d like it to be bigger.  I could kind of estimate the final dimensions based on what I`d already knit, and I really wanted the elephant to be larger, more like the size of the baby, instead of a small toy.  So this time I cast on with the yarn held doubled.  I had 2 full balls of the Red Heart Misty left over after knitting Esther`s Slippers and I thought it would be enough…

I got about 5 ridges past this point when I started to worry about not having enough yarn.  I only had the 2 balls, and it was from many years ago, so it`s not like I could get more.  Plus I was still knitting the elephant on 3.75mm needles so I`d get a dense (read: stuffing-proof) fabric, and we all know how much garter stitch likes to eat yarn.  After going to all this trouble I`d really hate to have both sides of the body done and run out of yarn halfway through the underbody, or whatever, so I had no choice but to start over, AGAIN.

This time I`m pairing the Misty with some Pingouin Safira (that Robyn gave me at guild a few months ago, thanks Robyn!).  The colors work well together, and I think the overall heather-y mix of purples is still boyish, but soft enough for a baby.  The fabric I`m getting is dense and squishy, but even if I stretch it I can`t quite see through it, so I know it will hold up to a good stuffing.  And yes, Maaike, since I`m knitting it flat, it will regain the structural integrity of the seams to help it keep its shape.  😛

I`m hoping to have the elephant done before my surgery (not next Monday, but the one after) because I will be off work and unable to drive for a bit afterward and I would like to give it to the new mom myself.  Plus it would be nice to have one less obligation over my head while I`m home, especially since if this one is anything like last time, the first week will pass in a haze of pain meds and sleep, only this time I still have school work to do.  I`ve got about 2-3 hours of studying to do each night to stay on track, but I think in 2 weeks I can still manage to knit a garter stitch elephant.  I may not get much sleep…but hey- I`ll have plenty of time to sleep soon, right?

*I DO still insist that it CAN be knit flat, and if it comes out cute enough to make another one, I will probably attempt it.  Probably.  But either way, I KNOW it can be done.  Really.  It can.  Uh huh.


almost, but not quite there

I was going to be all proud of myself.  I was going to post about how I’d been so clever.  Can you guess where this is going?

This photo shows the progress I’d made last night on Flo the Elephant.  I was actually a little cocky, thinking to myself how smart I’d been to concoct a way to work the pattern in the round.  See, the pattern has you knit two elephant sides that look like flat elephant shapes, then you seam them together from the tail up over the back and over the head to the trunk.  You then seam the trunk, and sew in an underbelly, and do the legs.

I wasn’t crazy about the look of the seam down the face and was sure there was a way I could work it to avoid it.  My first thought was to work the two pieces flat, but joined down the center of the face.  So if you count the left side of the elephant as Side A, and the right side as Side B, I would knit each row for Side A as written, then knit the same row for Side B, all as one long row.  Before I cast on, though, I realized that if I did the whole thing in the round, I could avoid having to seam down the back and bum too.  Sure, it would mean purling every 2nd row (since it’s a garter stitch elephant), but I knit stockinette stitch all the time, and don’t mind purling.  Perfect!

After I knit the first round I realized I’d have one more thing to modify- not only was I working every 2nd row as a purl row (plus whatever decreases or increases that row called for), but I would also need to work that row backwards.  The original row was supposed to be knit from the other end after having turned at the end of the previous row…so I would have to work the directions from the other side since I was never turning the work.

The pattern starts with 10 sts so I cast on 20 sts, divided them onto both halves of a long circ for working magic loop, and got to work.  It was late, but I managed to get through 8-10 rounds before bed.  As you can see from the photo above, it worked perfectly.

In fact, the only thing still bugging me was that, had I thought to cast on using a backwards loop or figure 8 cast-on, I could even avoid having to seam the top of the elephant’s back.  I was tempted to start over but managed to talk myself out of it by convincing myself that had I done the seamless cast-on it would probably be loose and let the stuffing show through, so I was better off.  Right?

So there I was, confident I’d figured something cool out.  I would knit this elephant in the round, and it would work for the trunk and the legs too, and I’d only have to seam the bottom, and it would be fast and perfect.

And then I went into Ravelry to add it as a new project.  I started to write in the project notes so other people could do it too…and that’s when I realized my big goof-up.

The body is knit flat, twice, then seamed.  I converted it to be seamless by knitting both sides at the same time.  But I didn’t think.

Let’s say the pattern is:

Row 1: [k1, kfb] twice, k to end – 12 sts

Row 2: [k1, kfb] five times, k to end – 17 sts

and so on.  (Note: this is a free pattern, and I’m only sharing these two rows for the sake of this example).

In my sample, shown above, I purled every alt row starting with the first row.  So for what I worked, I did:

Row 1: [p1, pfb] twice, p to end – 12 sts I did this on both sides of the needle, so my row had 24 sts.

Row 2: k7, [kfb, p1] five times – 17 sts This row is knit as per the pattern, on both sides of the needle, but BACKWARDS- all the increases are supposed to be on the bum end of the elephant, so since my row never turns, I have to work across the row to the far end to work the increases.

Have you yet figured out what I did wrong?

I’ll show you this way.

For me to work this in the round, starting from the tail end, I would have to work the first half of the row as per the pattern, but the other half of the same row BACKWARDS.

So row 1 instead of being

Row 1:NDL 1: [k1, kfb] twice, k to end NDL 2: [k1, kfb] twice, k to end

I have to do this:

Row 1: NDL 1: [k1, kfb] twice, k to end NDL 2: k7, [kfb, k1] twice

See the difference?  My original plan, that I’d actually knit last night, had me working both sides of the elephant the same, so the finished 3D toy would have the increases on both sides.  NOT what was intended.  Reworking it the proper way would mean that the increases would always be at the bum end of the elephant.

But wait!  There’s more!

Not only do I have to work the second half of every row from back to front, I also have to work every 2nd row completely backwards (‘cus it’s supposed to have been worked on the wrong side row, but in the round I have no wrong sides).  On top of THAT, I have to remember to work every alt row as a purl row.

Is your head spinning yet?


I put together an excel file so I can keep track, and it will work this time.

I *think*.


permission to cast on granted

It’s done!  The KP pattern is finished, has been edited and is now flying its way off to Washington!

It feels good to get something crossed off my to-do list that isn’t school related.  Though, now that I have a little breathing room on my plate (nice mixed metaphor, huh?) I will be casting on tonight for a new project!

I recently found out that an acquaintance of ours had a baby boy.  It’s the sister of the husband in the couple I knit the sari silk pillows for, and when I asked the husband if there were any special colors or animals with meaning in the Indian tradition, he told me that elephants were very popular and a sign of good luck.  So I will be knitting a stuffed elephant for this new baby.

I did some Ravelry window shopping yesterday and was torn between the elephant in World of Knitted Toys (which I have) and Flo, the vintage pattern reissued by Franklin Habit in a recent Knitty.  I’d settled originally on the first pattern because the trunk is upturned, which I’d always thought was good luck.  But today the husband told me that all the elephants they have around, or that he’d seen in relation to Indian culture, have the trunks pointed downwards.  So Flo it is!

I’m going to modify the pattern by using a thicker yarn to get a larger toy, and will also be knitting it in the round.  It’s garter stitch, so I will be sacrificing the ease of knitting every row…but I will gain time with not needing to seam up the entire toy.  It will work…at least it does in my head. 🙂

Here’s the Featherweight cardi to date.  The lower border is done and bound off, and I just need to do the body border, then the sleeves.  It’s been languishing ‘cus I will need to pay attention to properly pick up the hundreds of sts around the entire neckline, but once I get that done it will return to being an easy, pick-up-and-knit project.