Blue Sky Alpacas Royal Babies Kit

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed  when I pinned an adorable Blue Sky Alpacas kit featuring adorable baby animals of Africa! I loved the Lisette Lion (normally all the lions you see are male and have manes- she is a proper little lady lion!), and first saw it on the Blue Sky Alpacas website. At the time, they weren’t yet launched but they have since been rolled out to several knitting stores and are also now available online here, here, here, and here.   I was fortunate enough to receive a kit. And holy smokes, it’s got to be the most impressively designed kit I’ve seen so far:

Blue Sky Alpacas Lisette Kit | knittedbliss.com

Blue Sky Alpacas Lisette Kit | knittedbliss.com

Blue Sky Alpacas Lisette Kit | knittedbliss.com

There’s a lot to be said for having  toy pattern packaged up as a kit, since whenever I knit toys, they are the things that most require additional materials that you might not have on hand- stuffing, safety eyes, etc. I love knitting toys so at this stage I have a range of safety eyes and stuffing kicking around, but if you don’t normally knit toys, this is a very thorough kit. And the instructions are pretty impressive, too- there directions for both knitting it flat and in the round.

Blue Sky Alpacas Lisette Kit | knittedbliss.com

I’m crazy in love with the royal alpaca yarn, though. I’m actually a little disappointed I’m knitting a toy with such glorious softness, when really I want to knit myself a full bodysuit from this yarn and then finally be warm all throughout winter. But then I wouldn’t get to play with it in the summer, like I am now. So I suppose knitting an adorable little lion with it is also pretty damn wonderful.

I bet you are wondering what these little critters will look like, all knitted up. The full Royal Petites Menagerie is here:

Blue Sky Alpacas Lisette Kit | knittedbliss.com

Top row, from left to right: Marcel the monkey, Emilie the elephant, and Lisette the lion.

Bottom row, from left to right: Georgitte the giraffe, Rene the Rhino, and Hector the hippo.

I’m almost done making my little lion, soon she’ll be all stuffed and ready for her photo shoot! I’m super excited, and so is Lila- she’s taken a real interest in my yarn and knitting lately, and I think she only needs to be a little bit older before I can teach her to knit and then enslave her into my knitting world have a little knitting buddy! I think next year when she turns 4 she might be ready. Has anyone had any success teaching a 4-year-old to knit?

Review- Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design

Quince & Co Review- Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design | knittedbliss.com

Quince & Co‘s latest offering in Top Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Design by Elizabeth Doherty is both a mini collection and resource for thoroughly understanding and knitting top down set in sleeves, a construction technique that is featured in all 6 of the patterns. In the information section, there are several diagrams and illustrations to help provide additional clarification for those of us who are visual learners, along with clear information on sleeve cap mechanics, fitting the cap to the body, cap depth and sleeve fit, and step-by-step instructions for how to work a top down set in sleeve. These resources will come in handy if this is your first time knitting a top down set in sleeve, or if you are thinking of designing knits with top down set in sleeves.  Considering how fantastic a good set in sleeve looks, I’m hard-pressed to think of anyone that wouldn’t find this appealing- unless you aren’t a big fan of knitting sweaters!

This is also quite a beginner-friendly collection.  There are lots of great little extras that help explain techniques and include links to videos, if you prefer seeing the technique executed in motion (which I always need!). If a knitter has some experience with other patterns but hasn’t knit a sweater yet, this collection would be a great way to ease into sweater knitting.

All 6 designs have very simple silhouettes  and small, thoughtful details. But there is clearly a lot of encouragement for knitters to customize these for themselves. And you know how much  I support knitters customizing their patterns! Here are my top 3 faves from the collection:

Quince & Co Review- Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design | knittedbliss.com

Sans Serif

Sans serif is a simple worsted weight stockinette cardigan with hidden pockets that are knit in fingering weight (to reduce bulk). It’s companion cardigan is  Serif, and they share many of the same elements, you could easily switch in and out a few details from either to customize it.

You Should Totally Knit This If:  You love a classic goes-with-everything cardigan, knits with pockets (hooray!) and you actually button up your cardigans when you wear them.

You Should Definitely Not Knit This If: the idea of a knit that is pretty much entirely ribbing and stockinette fills you with dread, no matter how nicely the sleeves fit.

Quince & Co Review- Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design | knittedbliss.com

Meris

Meris is one of the more curve-forgiving knits in this collection, with a great A-line shape and lovely geometric lace details (lace has both written and charted directions). Hems and neckline are i-cord.

You Should Totally Knit This If:  You love A-line knits and lace. This would pretty much be exactly what you are looking for.

You Should Definitely Not Knit This If: The idea of a cardigan that only buttons across the bust would drive you crazy, or if you prefer to wear your cardi’s open- the wrong side of lace just doesn’t look as good as the right side. Also, if you are allergic to i-cord edgings or bind offs.

Quince & Co Review- Top Down: Reimagining Set In Sleeve Design | knittedbliss.com

Copperplate

The most modern of the collection, featuring gentle waist shaping and a traveling rib front band that is  knitted separately. Provisional cast ons are used, and the neckband is seamed on. The traveling rib fronts are both charted and have written instructions. More adventurous knitters could swap out the traveling rib design for cables, lace, or anything you want!

You Should Totally Knit This If: You love a wear-with-everything cardigan that you can throw on at a moment’s notice, and you don’t mind some seaming.

You Should Definitely Not Knit This If: drapey, worn-open cardigans aren’t your thing or if you hate seaming and i-cord edgings.

Those are my 3 picks from the mini collection, but it’s worth checking them all out! If you have questions about the others, let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments.

Modification Monday: Hufflepuff 4 Life

Modification Monday: Hufflepuff for Life | knittedbliss.com

Original Pattern: Honey Badger Don’t Care

Knitter Extraordinaire: Maiya (Ravelry ID)

Mods: Changed out the corrugated ribbing for k1 p1 ribbing, and changed the full mitts into fingerless.  Project page can be found here.

What Makes This Awesome: This knit was done for a book-themed swap project, and the swap partner chose Harry Potter and declared her love for Hufflepuff, one of the school houses in Harry Potter which happens to be represented by a badger.  Maiya found this great original honey badger pattern and modified to fit into for her swap partner’s love of all things Hufflepuff. This is such a clever interpretation of the original pattern, and Maiya’s choice to do the knit 1, purl 1 ribbing helps the stranded design pop even more in Hufflepuff’s ‘house colours’.  This has got to be right up there with one of the most thoughtful swap knits ever! Usually when I knit a gift for someone, it’s often an off-the-rack pattern, but this level of thoughtfulness has me thinking of new ways to make something personalized to a receiver’s passions…

Modification Monday: Hufflepuff for Life | knittedbliss.com

Pin Ups and Link Love: My Favourite Things This Week

You know the saying,’ it’s funny because it’s true’? I have been killing myself laughing over these spoof foodie magazine covers. See one here, and the other here.

I’m loving this list of 25 Habits that will make you smarter (thanks Loulou  for the recommendation!)

Rebecca Campbell’s Instant Guidance page is addictive. If you are feeling unsure or could use a bit of advice,  hit the button. It’s pretty wonderful.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Flourless Cookie Bars | knittedbliss.com

I’m pretty excited to make these flourless chocolate chip oat bars this weekend- they look so good! I might try reducing the sugar when I make them, though- that seems like a lot for something that still has you adding chocolate chips and reese’s pieces.  The Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Pizzadillas | knittedbliss.com

Pizzadillas! Half pizza, half quesadilla, all the ways easy and totally customizable. Weekday dinner coming together in a cheesy flash, right there. Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Easy Sew Shorts| knittedbliss.com

I don’t normally sew, but these super easy boxer shorts have even me contemplating whipping out my old sewing machine and giving them a go. In the summertime, I love sleeping in cotton short, and these look like they would be perfect. Pinterest link is here, and the original post with the free pattern and instructions is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: paper flower garland DIY| knittedbliss.com

This paper flower garland is so pretty, I wouldn’t even wait for  party to make it- I bet it would look lovely just about anywhere. Pinterest link is here, and the original post with the full instructions is here.

Pin Ups and Link Love: Watermelon Cocktail | knittedbliss.com

Do you guys love watermelon as much as I do? It’s one of my favourite flavours of summer! This is a recipe for a great frozen cocktail, but there’s not a heck of a lot of booze in it- it would be easy to omit the liqueur and still have a mighty tasty beverage.  Pinterest link is here, and the original post is here.

We have no plans this weekend, so I’m looking forward to relaxing, and getting some photos of new WIPs and new FOs- because I manage dto crank out a couple of FOs while on vacation recently. Anyone else have big plans for relaxing this weekend?

Life Lately: San Francisco, and a Very Low Parenting Moment

The day before we flew out, I had the 4th eye appointment for Lila to get her eyes tested. I keep trying to get her eyes tested because she needs glasses (she squints at things when they are a few feet away), but she would never cooperate with the testing- won’t look at the images or charts, won’t look through lenses, won’t look in the phoropter, would immediately begin having a tantrum if the optometrist came anywhere near her with tools.  But this new optometrist was amazing- even thought Lila had a fit and we had to go back out into the waiting room (and have a couple time outs in the hallway, as she was screaming down the place), the optometrist had us wait until the other patients were finished, then turned off the lights in the waiting room, then used her own cell phone to pull up a video of Bubble Guppies and gave us some small, separated lenses to try with her and see what worked, and we actually got somewhere- the optometrist figured that her prescription was  in the ballpark of +3.50 (for those of you who wear glasses, you will understand what I mean when I said that this kid really needed glasses). It may have taken a couple of hours, but by the end I was brandishing an actual prescription for Lila.

Not wanting to lose momentum, we went to Walmart optical (thinking this would be a cheap place to get kid glasses that were a ‘close-enough’ approximation of her prescription). Lila said she wanted purple glasses, so I figured this would not be anywhere near the hysterics we had at the optometrist. But I was so very, very wrong. She was happy enough to play with the various purple glasses, but the optician said that she needed to take an additional measurement, which would involve holding a ruler up to her eyes and measuring the distance between the outer corner of one eye and the inner corner of the other. I winced.

Me: “Are you sure you need the measurement? She’s really not cooperative when it comes to the eye testing stuff.”

Her: “We definitely need to have it, we can’t fill her prescription without it.”

But Lila would not let the optician anywhere near her face with the small plastic ruler. She shrieked “NOOO!” and started getting really worked up with yelling and crying, and we took her off to the side and talked to her about how we were going to get ice cream afterwards if she let the nice lady hold the ruler near her nose, and look at this super fun soccer ball we brought with us! Then she’d calm down enough so we could go back over to the optician, and then the whole thing would happen all over again. Then the optician gave us the ruler, thinking we would have an easier time, but by then Lila knew how badly we needed to hold the ruler near her face, which in toddler logic meant it was a life-or-death situation that she prevent us from getting this ruler anywhere near her. After much wailing and trying to corral her, Guy and I agreed that one of us would have to hold her down and the other would take the measurement.  Now I don’t normally think this is a great way to go about things, but Lila’s stubborn streak extends far beyond just a few hours or even one day, now that she knew we needed to do the ruler thing, she would never let it happen. Not today, and not tomorrow, and not a week from now.  I’ve been trying to get her eyes tested since she was 6 months old, I know how deep her resistance to eye tests runs.

So we held her down while she screamed like a banshee and I tried to hold her head still while she fought and struggled and we tried to get an accurate reading on that stupid ruler. Finally, we got it, and Guy went off with the ruler to talk to the optician, and Lila stopped crying 5 seconds later and went back to playing with a soccer ball as if nothing had happened. But I felt awful. There is no version of this story where I feel fine with using physical force to hold my child down, even if it was for her own good. Like maybe if I were a better parent, I’d magically know what to say to get her to cooperate. We  had spent weeks with a great pop-up book getting her used to the idea, and telling her over and over again how great glasses were…. but in the last three hours every moment had felt like a struggle trying to do the right thing. I could feel tears welling up and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t cry. I’m sitting on the floor of a Walmart optical center, I can’t cry here.’

And there it was- the final thing I could not bear. It was only noon and the day had already reduced me to sitting on the floor of a Walmart optical physically holding my screaming toddler down to hold a ruler in front of her face AND do it for the packed Saturday audience of all the Walmart checkout counters –seriously, are there any Walmarts where the optical center isn’t right by the checkouts?–AND apparently being pregnant means crazy hormones and stuff so I was possibly not starting from the greatest position of strength…. I cried. Big, shoulder-shaking sobs. Sitting right there on the floor of a Walmart. Hiding behind the optical counter, but still sitting on the floor of a Walmart, crying.

Oh, and I didn’t have any tissues in my purse. The closest thing I had was a pair of clean toddler socks. I, a grown woman, had to wipe my face with toddler socks. Because I was crying so hard. On the FLOOR OF A WALMART.

I probably don’t need to mention that when we left our darling daughter with my parents the next morning, I didn’t feel a drop of parental guilt  as we headed out to the airport to take a 4-day vacation. I had never needed a vacation so badly in my life.

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

Guy and I had a wonderful time in San Francisco! It was our first time getting away just the two of us since Lila was born, and I was amazed at how easy it felt to be just the two of us for a little bit. There was a moment when we were sipping tea in the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park  (seriously one of the biggest and most amazing outdoor space I’ve ever been in) and someone else’s toddler was kicking off loudly while an exhausted-looking parent had to drag them back from the edge of a koi pond, and Guy and just smiled at each other. Someone’s toddler was screaming and it wasn’t ours!

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

I also got to meet some fabulous knitters at Atelier Yarns, including Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting / Botanical Knits fame. I absolutely love meeting other knitters, so it was super fun to relax and chat in a cozy yarn shop and get that face to face (and yarn to yarn!) time in.

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

Renee (Confessions of a Yarn Addict) knitted the forthcoming baby Bliss a wonderful little green hat, and Alana knitted some super sweet moccasins. I love how both can work for either a girl or a boy! I will take some modeled shots in December when the wee babe will be out in the world and ready to get cozy in some wooly goodness. Oh, and I did buy some yarn! More on that to follow soon.

Also, I spent a lot of time in some bakeries, notable Tartine and Mr. Holmes Bakehouse:

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

We also got to do something that has been on my bucket list for a long time- we took a hot air balloon ride! Those of you who follow me on Instagram no doubt saw some of those photos. It was over Napa Valley, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Apparently a lot of people are scared of heights, but if you are not, then I highly recommend- it was so peaceful, so beautiful. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

One of the things I most wanted see was a bit of a wash- the sea lions at pier 39. I love seeing animals in the wild (as opposed to zoos). Normally it’s supposed to look like the picture on the left (promotional photo) but when we went, it looked like the picture on the right (my photo).

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

Apparently all the sea lions go somewhere else when it’s calving season, so since they were off having babies, there were just a few dude sea lions that would pop up now and then. Hardly the pier-ful of sea lions I was hoping for. Four days flew by in a blur,  there are a million more photos I could share, but I’m sure we’ve all got stuff to do today.  I’m just grateful for the time to reconnect with Guy and recharge our batteries.

San Francisco | knittedbliss.com

When we got back from San Francisco, there was a voicemail from Walmart optical, letting me know the glasses were ready for pick up and I should schedule an appointment with the optician so that we can have them properly fitted to Lila’s head. When I called back, I said I’d be picking up the glasses alone and we would do the fitting another day. She insisted that the fitting was crucial, to which I replied, “I don’t know if you were working last Saturday, but my daughter is really not cooperating on this whole glasses thing. I’d prefer to just pick them up.”

Silence. Then she said,”I was working last Saturday, I remember you. Absolutely, you can pick them up anytime.”