Back in September I contributed an offer to knit a child’s sweater to the school auction. The winner was the president of the parent-teacher association, a lovely woman who does a great deal for the school, and she’s a knitter herself, so I pulled out all the stops. I was in the mood for colorwork and thought of Jared Flood’s Atlas design, but it’s written for fingering weight. The small nephew who’s getting the sweater lives in the frozen midwest, so we decided something heftier would be appropriate. I opted for Védís Jónsdóttir’s Kambur pullover as a good substitute. I’d just make it a cardigan by adding a steek. I can’t remember why I decided I’d also flip it upside down and work the yoke first… I must really have been jonesing for the colorwork. Anyway, it’s a Kambur Inversion and I finished it at the turn of the year. Our Jolly modeled it for me.

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In case you can’t tell, my boy quite likes modeling and he’s a bit of a clown. I should have just shot video; these are stills from a spontaneous boogie as he worked it for the camera in the parking lot outside his sister’s ballet class. I had to make him take the zipper out of his mouth first. I don’t know what it is with little kids and zippers, but they love them. Definitely the way to go if you can stand the extra work required to install them and finish them prettily. And boy did I finish this sweater prettily. Tubular bind-offs everywhere, including on the collar, which I picked up from a provisional cast-on. Natty applied i-cord edges to cover the zipper. And admire, if you will, this ribbon facing that conceals all the hand-sewing on the zipper itself:




(If you follow me on Instagram (@whistlinggirlknits), you’ve already seen that last shot, but I can’t help reposting it here. I just love the attitude.) Was it a little psycho to go to this painstaking level in the finishing of a garment for a toddler I’m never going to meet? You can say it. I know the answer. But as soon as I saw this ribbon at Bolt, matching the colors and motifs of the sweater so delightfully, I was helpless. And there’s such internal satisfaction to be had in knocking it out of the park even if no one’s watching. (Not that I’m quite so zen as that. I carried it around for a week and made all my local knitting friends coo over it. Plus I get to boast to all twelve of you reading here.)

The yarn is Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted. I simplified the yoke motif to use only three colors because Twisted didn’t have a fourth shade on hand that I loved with the red and grays. I could happily make another Kambur in an alternate colorway… honey ochre with robin’s egg blue and coral pink and navy, perhaps? In Quince & Co. Lark, which I somehow still haven’t tried? Maybe just a pullover, though. I’m not sure my zipper mojo is back at full potency quite yet.

A winter’s walk




Dark comes early. No one wished to rush the children through opening gifts when they preferred to head immediately for the art table and draw with the “water pencils” or add those twelve new sections of track to the train set, but that meant the beautiful day was closing up shop by the time we got out in it. The littlest asked to go on the walk with the farm animals, so down to the valley we went. Usually there are some sheep on offer, complete with guard llama, but this time we saw only a handful of wary cows munching hay in the twilight. At least there was the still, cool peace of a mild December, with a sunset sky and a wooden bridge over the swampy section of the path.



Once again I regretted not having brought the real camera, as the phone just can’t capture the depth of the winter palette in this landscape — the burgundy and deep greens of the blackberry vines, the cardinal flash of Oregon grape, the cheer of the rosehips and snowberries suspended like ornaments in the hedgerows, the plump rose-lit clouds billowing up behind the disheveled firs.



“I take a picture?” my boy demanded after I made a few more lackluster attempts to catch the golden light above an old barn. Here’s his work:



Mostly he nestled against my back, against the old down coat my mother used to wear when I was little, cementing his two and a half years’ wisdom about the world: Millions of trees makes a wood. The lightness is all done and the clouds is going down. Dere tiny moon swimming frough the sky. Then he broke into “This Little Light of Mine.” And that’s a pretty good way to close out a year, carrying our little lights through the gloaming. And this is a welcome sight at the end of any walk:


Wishing you all a snug harbor among those who “love you to peace,” as my four-year-old wrote on a card to her grandparents this afternoon. And see you soon. I have some new knitting to show off at last!






The last two weeks have been drywall weeks. If you’ve ever lived through drywall construction or, heaven forfend, had to hang-mud-sand the stuff yourself, you know that this is one of the messy parts. Insulation was messy, too, and smelly, but didn’t last for two weeks. When I thought about the children having to vacate their room for five days, when I thought about the last remaining floor space in our pretend kitchen being entirely covered by their mattresses, I knew we could do it if we had to. But there was a more attractive option: head somewhere inviting, somewhere with doting grandparents and beautiful scenery and no sheetrock dust. So I packed up the kids and the dog and we went, leaving poor Mr. G to fend for himself since he couldn’t take the time off work. It was a good decision.

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Family walks are still something of a challenge, and I foolishly left the baby carrier at home. So in between piggybacks from me and his willing Granny, Jolyon studied bryology and learned to eat sheep sorrel and avoid the rabbit turds. Sometimes we opted to stay home while the others exercised the dogs, because Granddad’s mighty fine swing set needed attention.

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And we stayed indoors sometimes, too, playing the kids’ favorite board game. My grandfather devised it and painted the board when my mother was a child. It’s called “Hit the Hay,” or “Hippa Hay,” as it’s rendered by the under-fives. I’m no longer sure of the rules, having played so many simplified versions, but it’s always a good time.

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We came home to a handsome new ceiling in the kids’ room and a lot of plastic and dust and more dust everywhere else. I’m chipping away at the clean-up, wiping down one surface or another any time I glimpse the sponge lying idle. Flooring starts this week. It’s exciting to arrive home and view the progress every evening. I’m still enjoying this a lot. But oh, was it nice to have a shower and a kitchen sink for a few days! Thanks, Mum and Dad. It’s so good to be able to go home.