Why I’m Making a Blanket in the Summer

I suppose the statement “my cat is crazy” will elicit eye rolls the world over. Whose cat isn’t crazy, after all? And who among us hasn’t known at least one crazy cat in their lifetime? One time, years ago, my cat was making me particularly crazy, so I wrote as much on my Facebook wall. A beloved former professor wrote back, “You could just as easily have said ‘I have a cat,'” which is pretty hard to argue with.

But I’m here to talk about a blanket, which, I promise you, is related to my cat’s crazy behaviour. My cat, Manolo, is a peculiar mix of affection and antisocial behaviour. On the one hand, she loves to be touched. Loves it! This has been especially obvious since I started working outside the home. Now that I’m not around all the time to give her loving throughout the day, she’s very persistent when I get home. She even follows me to the bathroom, often pushing the door open if I haven’t closed it all the way and pacing in fast, short circles before eventually flopping on the ground and showing her belly expectantly. This is how she invites me to touch her. But the moment I’ve decided that I want a cuddle with her without her making the first move, she’s gone. She’s sussed out the best hiding spots in the apartment, away from prying eyes and the reach of unwanted handsy people like me, and she’ll run fast and hide deeply when she decides that cuddles are not her idea and, therefore, I can’t have any.

In addition to hiding places, Manolo, I’ve observed, has designated certain spots in the apartment as single use spaces. My favorite of these is how she uses the living room windowsill. The righthand side of the sill, where the window opens, is a favorite lounge spot, and I can see why: the breeze that sometimes comes through must feel great on her skin, and it’s the place that gets the most sunlight in the whole apartment. If I were a cat, I’d probably spend most of my time there, too. The lefthand side of the windowsill, though, is clearly her toilette. It’s now the only place in the apartment where I ever see her clean herself in the weird, flexible way that cats do, and when she wanders over to that side of the sill, I know it’s bath time.

My least favorite of her cat behaviours is the way she has claimed the couch blanket has her own territory. I know that lots of cats are immediately interested in whatever their people are interested in, and Manolo is no stranger to plopping down on books, papers, computers and knitting the moment I leave them out for even a second. But the blanket is by far the worst of it. Because, unlike papers or metal computer casings or even knitting, which I usually snatch away as soon as I see her near the yarn, that brown polar fleece blanket seems to retain smells like a box of baking soda in the fridge. And, based on the smell, it appears that Manolo has decided her favorite use for the blanket is as a dampener for her farts. So, because there are few things more unpleasant than draping oneself in cat farts, I have decided to make us a blanket this summer.

The pattern is Martine Ellis’ Knitted Patchwork Recipe, a foolproof project that makes for perfect summer knitting. Each 2-by-2 inch square requires around 2-3 grams of sock yarn (less than the size of a walnut) and takes about 20 or so minutes to knit, which makes it ideal knitting for the commute to and from work or on days when I’m dead tired but still need to do something with my hands. It’s also a great way to use up odds and ends left over from sock knitting, which I seem to have in abundance. I haven’t made many decisions regarding how big I want this blanket to be, but I think it’s a good idea to aim for at least 2 squares a day, which will give me somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 squares by the end of August. I’ve also decided to sew the squares together at the end rather than knitting them together now. I realize that I may come to regret this decision later, but I just don’t know how I want to arrange the colours yet.

As for preventing cat farts on the new blanket, I’m going to have to get creative. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Thankfully, the sock yarn is machine washable.

Lil’ Sprout

It’s hard to believe that my niece, Khloe, will soon be a year old. It doesn’t seem that long ago when her moms were anxiously awaiting her arrival, though it did seem like the pregnancy took forever to get though (speaking as someone who’s never been pregnant, natch). However long the pregnancy was in actuality, when Khloe arrived, time seemed to speed up. Every day she changed in one way or another. I remember seeing lots of pictures of a bewildered and unsmiling little thing in the early weeks. She was only able to wear the little socks I made for a few short days, and then, suddenly, they were too small. As she got bigger, she became more alert, and soon she started to smile. When my sister figured out best ways to coax a smile out of her daughter, she inundated us with videos of the process. I used this intel to my own advantage when I met her for the first time this past Christmas, when she was about 5 months old and beginning to show her personality a bit more. Soon, she was laughing, dancing to music, crawling so fast and, now, standing up with the assistance of people and furniture. It won’t be long before she’s walking, and then, look out!

I love my niece, and I especially love making things for her. But here’s a little detail that I’m ashamed to share: I have a terrible track record of making things for Khloe that are way, way too small for her. This happens for two reasons: 1) We live half a country apart, so I don’t actually get to observe her physical growth on a regular basis; and 2) I have basically zero experience with babies and no idea of their dimensions. For Christmas, for example, I made her an Abate pullover with a neck hole that was too small (why are babies heads so huge? WHY?) and sleeves that were too long. As with the socks, she was really only able to wear her sweater for that one day, but not without making her cry as I attempted to stretch that too-small neck over her large baby head.

So, for her first birthday, I resolved to do it right and make her something she would be able to wear for longer than a day or two.

 

 

This here is my Sproutlette Dress, and I believe it to be an excellent choice for the gun shy baby knitter I’ve become of late. The pattern comes in 3 sizes and can be easily customized using simple math to make modifications to the pattern or by switching to a heavier yarn and larger needles. In this case, I opted to make the largest size, 12-24 months, and to use the suggested fingering weight yarn so that she can wear it on or around her July birthday without it being too hot for her. The short sleeves of the dress mean that I don’t need to worry that they’ll be too long for her little arms, either.

 

 

My favorite fit detail is the large keyhole and button closure in the back, which effectively solves the problem of accommodating her large baby head. With any luck, this closure (and, by the way, isn’t that button cute?) will mean that she can continue to wear the dress well beyond her first birthday. The keyhole will, I hope, keep her comfortable in the warm weather.

 

 

I’m also extremely pleased with how the leaf pattern and scalloped edging turned out. Many other versions of the dress have blocked the edging aggressively to better show off the lacy scalloping, but I actually prefer the ruffled look, so I left it alone.

Now, I don’t want to get too cocky, but I fee pretty confident that I’ve done good here. Not only does this dress fix a lot of the fit issues I’ve had with Khloe’s knits in the past, it seems possible that she might be able to wear this right up to her second birthday. Most of all, I hope she loves it, and one day, when she’s older still, I hope that she’ll look back at this dress and know just how much I love her.

Specs:

Pattern: Sproutlette Dress by Tanis Lavallee

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn in Peapod

Modifications: Wet blocked flat without pinning the edging