Swim bag

Yeah, maybe soon I'll actually be on a better-than-not-even-once-a-month posting schedule. Theoretically yes, since work stuff has eased up a bit, and we've finished moving. . . But on the other hand it's about to be summer and really, who am I kidding?

But in the meantime, speaking of summer, it's gorgeous here today, and I am already thinking of the pool. The problem with going to the pool is that's getting ready for the pool is effing torture.


Unless you have a ready packed swim bag with all your crap in it, ready to go at a moment's notice.

a fully packed swim bag, complete with mulch stain from last year

Here's the thing: I am fundamentally lazy. So I'd much rather put 30 minutes of effort into something once a season to prevent the inevitable "goddamnit, where are the towels?!?!" that would happen EVERY DAY otherwise. 

This way, I never search for sunscreen--it's in the bag. Goggles--in the bag. Towels--in the bag. Snacks--in the bag. My rash guard and suit--in the bag.

What exactly do I pack? Well I'll tell you. And show you! Because who does not love a good "What's in your bag" piece?

fully unpacked. It all goes in the tote.

Back row: tote and towels.

Second row: wet bags, sunscreen on top; mesh duffel with piles of toys on top; big kid's swimsuit, rash guard, and hat.

Third row: my swim coverup, above goggles and sunglasses; my swimsuit and rash guard; diaper clutch with uno, soap case and brush on top, sitting above the prescription goggle case; little one's oldey timey bathing suit and swim dipe.

The bag:

Lands End's XL tote, with the embroidery so everyone knows exactly which bag is what. We have some L.L. Bean totes, which i like for the stiffness of the canvas, but I need the pockets and the attached key fob. (This was purchased before LE stuck their foot in it by retracting the Gloria Steinem interview after right wing nutjobs bitched about feminism. As such, I wrote them and told them that until they got a goddamned spine they'd lost all my business. Which was considerable. And now I'm without a go-to tote and swimwear place. Assholes. Also why I'm not linking to them.)


The biggest little has a specific pool-branded towel he likes, but the rest are Turkish foutas, or peshtemal. I am OBSESSED. They absorb a ton, dry out quickly, are cute, and I got them off of eBay (from this shop--the thick ones are the best) for way cheaper than the fancy places sell them. 

Wet bags:

Two of them. Because inevitably one will not get put back. And tell me why I never knew these were a thing until I had kids? Cause they are AWESOME. The Skip Hop one has a mesh outside pocket which is where I stash my swimsuit and rash guard.

Packing cube:

That's the black mesh bag. Holds the boys' swimsuits and rash guards.  Please to note the little one's oldey-timey one-piece striped job. Last season The Gap had a similar suit that I am kicking myself for not buying in all the sizes, so I hunted one down from Etsy this year (do you die? I die. That is some cute ass shit right there). I need to find him a toddler-sized straw boater, a handle bar mustache, and teach him some barber shop harmonies before fourth of July.

Packing cubes are the shit by the way. I got a bunch in multiple colors from ebags a few years ago. So now when we travel, the boys and I have our stuff color coded. Biggest little is red, littlest little is orange, I am green. It makes packing all those tiny little socks so much easier. JBB is on his own, cause he's a grown ass man and can pack his own stuff.  

Diaper clutch:

That's the crazy patterned zip bag (it's a Ju-Ju-Be wristlet; I have a couple because they are the perfect size and I cannot resist an obnoxious pattern), which is also waterproof so can function as a wet bag just in case. This one holds a tiny wet brush, a spare barrette for me, soap, and all the other little toiletries that we'll seem to collect randomly over the season.

Toy bag:

That's the blue mesh duffle, which is new this season. I straight up copied another parent at the pool who had all their water toys and dive sticks in a big mesh nylon bag. Genius. It fits in the main bag to go to the pool and can just hang out separately on the way back. 


Two pairs for the littles and a prescription pair for JBB (in that fancy stripey case) get tucked into one of the side pockets. I am neither blind nor a delicate dainty flower about opening my eyes underwater so I skip 'em.


Side pocket, alongside extra swim dipes. I have sunscreen in every car as well. Because, preparation! I should buy stock in Banana Boat, Coola, and Supergoop, because despite trying seriously every brand under the sun, those are the only ones that are easy to put on (no ghostly cast or impossible to rub in craziness), smell nice, last a while, and actually work. 


Kid ones go into that little drawstring bag. Mine are either on my head or in the car (I have no joke 6 pairs stashed in there. Again, preparation).  I've had good success with picking up kids sunglasses cheap at The Gap.  I have zero faith in either kid's ability to not break things or lose things, so I get multiple pairs when they have their massive sales.


Uno--a pool STAPLE--goes into a little pocket. Not shown but thrown on top will be a skip hop diaper clutch (also have spares on both cars, because, preparation) with wipes. I generally just throw my wallet and phone on top; my wallet is one of the cute ones from Mochithings hat will hold my phone as well. As I'm sure you can tell, I am a big proponent of the "little bags inside the big bag" method of organization and that site is the best source for all kinds of pouches and wee things. Keys get clipped to tote's attached fob. I usually throw a magazine or book along the side edge, and a water bottle and Cheez-its for the hangries. 

Swim bag, organized and packed, with the toy bag in front.

It is amazing how much crap I can pack in this bag. All that stuff, turns into this...

Swim bag, packed! All but the toy bag which gets thrown on top.

Oh, and this is just for me and the kiddos. Any other grown ups are on their own with their stuff because THEY ARE GROWN UPS and can handle their own shit. Except for the goggles. I got tired of the misplacing of the goggles. 

behind the advent calendar

So JBB's family has a felt advent calendar, and I'd been thinking off and on about making one for us.  I kept seeing Purl Soho's advent calendar pattern and kit with wool felt last year and was like, YES I will do this.  Then promptly forgot about it for a solid year.

Til this November.  When I saw the Purl Soho one again, and was like, hmm.  And forgot about it again until right before Thanksgiving, when I realized it was full on crazy to kick this project off a week from December 1st, and yet... I had a FULL WEEK, yo.  That was AGES of time.

But I didn't love some of the ornament choices (I don't like repeating shapes in different colors, feels like a cheat) and felt color choices (that pink, whoah) of the Purl Soho one and I really did not love the attachment of the ornaments via straight pin, and did some online/Pinterest research.  I loved the idea of a slightly retro-modern wool felt calendar with ornaments hanging off of buttons (pretty ones), and lo and behold had a shit ton of wool felt stashed away. I even got so far as to save some icon images on which to base some of the designs, and pulled together a list of 24 ornaments and several extras for just in case the original ideas prove to be too much of a pain in the ass.

And then I scrapped the idea entirely because hi, ONE WEEK. 

And then the next day I had to kill time before an appointment and realized JoAnn's was open early and oh look they have some cream wool felt on sale...and some lovely green wool felt on sale...and check out these buttons that would totally work sewn onto the tree ...and WHAT HI METALLIC PERLE COTTON I LOVE YOU AND WANT TO MARRY YOU EVEN THOUGH YOU TANGLE LIKE A SONOFABITCH AND CUT MY HANDS.

So yeah. This happened:

why yes, that is a giant tinker toy arm it's hanging off of, so good of you to notice.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, just 6 hours before we packed our stuff up to go to the in-laws for the holiday, I decided to cut out the pieces.  The cream wool felt is thick and fluffy, and not nearly as stable as I'd like, so I knew it needed to be doubled for the backing, with some interfacing between to stabilize it.  But I laid it out, drew the tree freehand on the green felt (which is much thinner but more stable), and cut out that sucker--scissors for the tree, rotary cutter (god bless that thing) for the background.  And then 24 2.5" squares.  Pencil didn't transfer well to the cream felt, so I wrote out sample numbers about the right size on a sheet of paper, and packed the red perle cotton, 24 squares, 1 embroidery needle, and the swan embroidery scissors and winged those suckers.

not pictured: the glass of wine.

not pictured: the glass of wine.

The embroidery was the easy part--done by the day after Thanksgiving.  The pain in the ass part was assembly, and I just didn't have the room. And so I carted it off to my mom's when we returned.  And thanks to her, and despite her being allergic to wool, we got that sucker sewed down (and reinforced with interfacing for the backing and a second thinner piece of felt for the squares) in an afternoon.  And by "we" I mean "my mom"--she did all the sewing, I did the placing. 

That night I cut out 24 itty bitty little ornaments from the wool felt and started sewing 6 of them. The next day--November 30th--I finished sewing the 6 itty bitty ornaments and crocheted 24 ornament hangers from yarn or crochet cotton held together with sparkly perle cotton.  And late that night I finished sewing all the damn buttons on.

The ornament hangers. Sparkle, Neely, sparkle! 

So as of this writing, I am 6 days ahead.  I just gotta be 1 day ahead and we're all good. 


secret sweaters

Not really secret secret, at least not now, because they are now in the hands of the recipients, but behold the last minute matching-but-not-matching-at-all fraternal sister sweaters...

So last week I realized that there were two little girls in my sphere who were sorely lacking in handknits.  And I had 4 skeins of Cascade 220 wool--a dark orangey pink and a lighter pink--that were just the right weight, yardage, and colors for two matching but not fully matching sweaters. Oh and I had under a week to make them because the little girls are not local, and I'd be seeing them around Thanksgiving. 

I'm awfully prone to this last minute OH SHIT LET ME MAKE SOMETHING gifting/crafting.  I very nearly decided last week to attempt to bust out a handmade felt advent calendar for the littlest little, but then after a few delirious hours of sketching 24 small Christmassy items, I finally gave up on it. 

But anyway. Because I am not crazy, I started with the baby version.  And because I am crazy, I decided to draft my own pattern.  So voila, the tiny sister of the duo, with a seven spoke yoke (in retrospect, a round yoke would have been better), and twisted 1x1 rib edging tipped in the contrasting color. 

please ignore the shadow of me taking the picture in the lower left corner. 

That was two nights work, if that.  God love baby sweaters in worsted weight yarn. And busting out the two sleeves at the same time on two circulars.   And so while that one sat on my heating vent drying after being washed, I started on her big sister.

This one is because I'm crazy.  I drafted my own pattern again, but this one was round yoke, colorwork (cribbed the chart for the yoke from the lovely Iðunn and tweaked the decreases a bit to suit the yoke depth)

And because it's colorwork, after the ribbing, I cast on a few stitches for a steek and worked in the round. For the non-knitters, steeking is where you knit the sweater in the round, then cut down the front and pick up bands afterwards.  All very easy to write.  A bit harder to man up for when you actually have scissors to fabric. 

pre cutting.  

I asked JBB to take a picture of me cutting, and instead he took a video. So now you can see me cutting the steek stitches from the inside of the sweater with the super sharp embroidery scissors while watching House Hunters on HGTV in my messy messy living room with super messy hair. 

I wound up tacking down the steek stitches/facing after picking up and working the buttonbands.  If it had been for a grown up, I probably would have just left them to felt into the body a bit, but since it's for a little kid, safer to tack that down.

tacked and just waiting on the buttons. 

All the numbers and other nerdy knitting details here, at Ravelry. 


Songs that my kids think are lullabies

AKA, songs I sing them at bedtime (mostly because I know all the words to them). Warning, some links are to youtube.

rock a bye baby--ok, this one is actually a lullaby. Creepy, yet still accepted by the rest of the world as a night-night song.

I've been working on the railroad--Trains. Always the trains.  Always. 

Dream a little dream--Arguably, yes, this one is a lullaby.  I still have a hard time remembering the modulations in the last (repeated) verse though, and the tiny stubborn audience wants to hear it THAT WAY EVERY TIME, GODDAMNIT, MAMA.

Rainbow connection--Sweet, then you listen to the lyrics.  Not quite as sweet as you think?  Still, it reminded me to watch Still Alive, the Paul Williams documentary which is on Netflix.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow--Another sweet yet surprisingly sad. I linked to the Iz version, but I wind up singing a very dramatic Judy Garland imitation. 

Yellow submarine--Slightly more rollicking that I'd prefer for a bedtime song, but I acquiesce to the demands of the tiny dictator.  Interestingly, this was for years the biggest little's absolute favorite song.  God help you if you skip the bridge. At least I no longer have to do the sound effects. 

Blackbird--Beatles version. Again, pretty but sad.  And featuring dismemberment and blinding of a bird!  Sweet dreams! (And yes I know it was inspired by the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s, and is meant to be inspiring.  It is, just also, sunken eyes.) 

Bye Bye Blackbird--Joe Cocker version. Sad song where no one loves you, Narrator. And a song that will never fail to remind me of Sleepless in Seattle. 

A Kiss At the End of the Rainbow--Let's all watch, this shall we? Ovbs, this is from the Christopher Guest movie A Mighty Wind!  Who doesn't love A Mighty Wind? Joyless people with no soul, that's who.  This is I adore this song, it's so lovely.  My favorite part is the bridge, where Catherine O'Hara sings solo. Sadly, neither kid took to Potato's in the Paddy Wagon.

Man, I could link to every damn song in that movie, I love it so.  

And now we come to what the littlest little calls "happy songs," which makes me think that he's a bit unclear on the meaning of "happy":

Leaving On a Jet Plane--Hey, I'm leaving, the taxi's waiting.  Sorry I cheated on you all those times, those girls meant nothing, I promise.  Maybe sometime soon I'll marry you and make you leave with me on the predawn flights! Oh hey, babe, who knew John Denver was such a jerky boyfriend? (I'm guessing his girlfriends, that's who.)

The Gambler--Learn to play cards then hang out on a train smokin' and drinkin', and die in the night! (but the video I linked to was when Kenny Rogers was on the Muppets!) Sweet dreams!  Reason I know all the words?  It was an unlikely party song at parties at Haverford in the 90s.  

Daydream Believer--It has the word sleepy in it, that counts, right? I love the Monkees, and also, NEIL DIAMOND!  Who doesn't love songs written and possibly also sung by Neil Diamond? People who are DEAD TO ME, that's who.  If I could have gotten either kid into it, I totally would be singing them Thank the Lord for the Night Time or Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show (that link with Johnny Cash!) in a sparkly shirt every night. 

You Are My Sunshine--I don't stop at the first verse, I sing all the stalker verses.  If you leave me to love another, you'll regret it all someday.  You've shattered all my dreams...  I'm coming for you.  You know, beloved heartwarming songs.  

Long Black Veil--Straight up murder ballad.  The Band's version was one of my paternal grandmother's favorite songs for my uncle to sing at family hymn sings (which, them's another set of stories). Oh my lord, there's a Springsteen version from the Seeger Sessions:  


Down in the Willow Garden--Another straight up murder ballad!  AKA the song Holly Hunter sings to the baby in Raising Arizona.  I linked to my favorite version, by Kristin Hersh (of Throwing Muses).  She has an album of all the murder ballads and creepy traditional songs her parents used to sing her as bedtime songs, called Murder, Misery and Then Goodnight, which is out of print but well worth finding. 

The Rose--Hey kid, know what's fun?  Stories of wildly talented blues rock singers who drink themselves to death!  WHOO!  That said, I love this song. First link was Bette.  This one is Amy Poehler and Jack Black.

It's September, ugh

How is it September anyway?  School's still not in session for us until the day after Labor Day, so there's one more week of freedom and chaos.  Soon to be replaced by an entirely different form of chaos, that is scheduling.

Biggest Little's King of the monsters, from his pottery camp this summer.  

Now, I don't think I'm an overscheduler, everyone must have 18 million zillion activities, but I realized this week that the biggest little has a ton of activities going on.  

On the sports side he is not big on the team sports, to say the least.  Which of course makes me want to get him into doing a team sport, because damnit, I had to do one.  Currently, he's doing taekwon do and tennis.  He's been doing taekwon do at a local school for a bit over a year and it's been awesome for him.  It's twice a week, though.  Each class is essentially a drop in so it is flexible, but it's something to account for.  Tennis is a once a week thing, and this session I think it'll be either Fridays or Sunday afternoons.  And then there's swim lessons, which I don't count as a sport but as a "required if you want to live" thing (also on Sunday).  He just took a try-it lesson for fencing, which I freaking LOVE the idea of.  He was the youngest in the studio by a number of a years, which to me isn't a bad thing.  

And then there's other stuff.  He did a two week pottery camp, and loved it, so I signed him up for an afterschool class for the fall.  Then he decided he wants to learn guitar, or drums, or guitar... the decision changes daily, or really, hourly.  The School of Rock near us offers a weekly class for kids his age group to try out a bunch of different things, so that's an option as well. 

And then once schools starts, there's an afterschool program through the PTA that offers classes, and I know he'll want to do one of those. 

All this adds up to a packed schedule.  So much for the "I won't overschedule my kid" thing.  Eh, he could still put off fencing or music til later. 

Thank god we didn't sign up for soccer, too. I have no idea how I'm going to keep track of this easily. Oh wait, sure I do: OFFICE SUPPLIES!  Yay!


His name is George. and he will love him and squeeze him and call him george.

I finally made the littlest little's bunny, using Kate Gilbert's Bunny pattern (rav link, thanks for the suggestion Judy!).

It's super cute. His name is George, as all bunnies are named George in this family.  The little one likes him, and screamed "BUN BUN BUN!!" when he saw him so all is good.

Partially knit, missing an ear and a third dimension.

However, I do have a few quibbles about the pattern.

The first quibble has nothing to do with how the pattern is written: I just like to do everything in the round, because I am lazy and hate seaming.  But since this pattern was written for knitting flat and seaming, I knit it flat and seamed it. I don't think I'd knit it flat again, because to me, there's very little reason to do so.  And I mean, I TOTALLY GET why it's written flat.  It's way way way easier to write a pattern for a stuffed animal flat or in pieces, because they're weird and fiddly and it's hard to explain in words and whatnot.  But other than the arms, which I think I might tweak with short rows or something of that ilk, the rest can be pretty easily translated to in the round.

finished, seamed, but unstuffed. like a plushie skin.

The second quibble I have is that I suspect I found an error in the stitch counts for the size I made (Papa Bun), once you get to the head and ears section.  It threw me off as I was knitting it, because I was out and about, working along, got to the ears, realized that something was off, and had to rip out an ear to fix it.  Annoying, but fine.  It was an easy tweak for me to adjust to, but something that would completely throw off a less experienced knitter. 

And of course, because I was out and about, my first thought was "shit, I missed a row or two".  But nope.  I double checked and I didn't.  Then after the kiddos went to bed, I sat down with pencil and paper and charted out the increases/decreases row by row and sure enough, there it was again. So at least I'm not completely crazy.

I did email the designer with my notes, and hopefully it's an easy adjustment on her end with some errata or something. 

I was going to make a second one, and still might (in the round, natch), or I might just go rogue and do a totally different pattern. Maybe Henry's Bunny (rav link)?


we have returned from vacation! Cape Cod is beautiful as always, and I wish yet again that we had more time up there, and that Massachusetts was magically an hour and a half from New Jersey instead of minimum five hours (when driving with only grown ups who can suck it up and not pee already . . . oh and blessed by the traffic gods) to seven or nine hours (when driving with small, awake, children who are not easily placated by the magical technology of DVD players in the car and just want to GO GO GO GO NOW NOW NOW  at the top of their tiny little lungs). And speaking of small squirmy children . . . 

The littlest little enjoyed his time at the Cape, and furthered his obsession with bunnies (and Paw Patrol. Ugh.). His attempts at hopping are hilarious, and really just turn out to be stomping, or stomping REALLY FAST. And he alternates between shooting "BUN!" and "JOR!" when he spys a rabbit, either in real life or as a picture. The JOR is short for George. You see, for whatever reason, my family has always called the many many bunnies hanging out by the house on the cape, "George". Don't ask, even we don't know. Sometimes he's looking for the mama bunny, so it's "BUN! Mama? BUN!" As one does. 

A few years ago we picked up a great close up photo of a George from a local Cape photographer, and hung it up in the house in the room where the kids sleep.  But now that we are back home, there's only the picture of a bunny on the littlest little's favorite cup and man is he bummed by that.  

And last night he requested a bunny of his very own, by trying to snuggle the cup and take it to bed. I asked him if he missed the Georges, and got a very enthusastic "YEAH."  I asked if he wanted to snuggle the bunny: "YEAH!"  I asked if he wanted me to make him a bunny of his very own to snuggle, and the kiddo practically bounced off my lap with a big "YEAH! BUN! YEAH!"

So bunny softie it shall be.  Keep in mind this kid already has a collection of about fifteen animals in his crib--most of them cast offs from the biggest little who really could care less about stuffed animals.  The little one though?  Carries his baby doll around snuggling her, and gathers up as many animals as he can hold like Navin Johnson with the thermos.  "All I need is baby Boo.  Baby Boo and this kitty.  Baby Boo and this kitty and this hedgehog.  And this Plex.  And this chair. . . " 

I've flipped through my knitting books, including the EXCELLENT Susan B. Anderson's Itty Bitty Toys (affiliate link), for bunny patterns.  I've made her Elefante (ravelry pattern link) for the biggest little a while back, to great success.  And she has a great pattern sense. 

I like her sock yarn bunny a lot, probably the larger version, but would probably make the arms a bit shorter. I also like Ysolda Teague's bunny--very cute face.  Bunnies are weird for softies, I feel like a bunch of them skew a bit too pointy and lean for my tastes--I think it's the shape of the snout.  I want something short, stubby, and cute--amigurumi-esque but also still recognizable as a bunny. But as I learned with Elefante and Grumpasaurus, placement of the eyes is crucial--too close and they look evil; too far apart or too big and they're too old school "cute."  The big cuddly bunny from Purl Soho is almost too stylized for me, but damn it's cute. This bunny in a blue dress (aka Miffy) is pretty cute, but I'd ditch the dress and go straight up nakey bunny.

And then we get into yarn choice and color.  Grey and white? Grey and pink? Brown?  My default yarn for this type of thing is a Cascade 220-esque (sturdy, worsted weight wool with good stitch definition and soft but pleasantly wooly), but maybe a furry/chenille type of thing would work well?  But would it drive me batshit?  (hint: YES IT WOULD)

Or do I go full on "creative" and avoid the realistic colors?  Stripeys? Tell me interwebs what to choose!




A blue hoodie for the biggest little

The biggest kiddo asked for a blue hoodie with a zipper and pockets as his next sweater, and so I obliged.  And of course finished just in time for the warm weather. Sigh. At least I made it big for him, cause that kid is due for a growth spurt any time now, and when it happens, he's going to be gigantic

Blocked, dried and ready for the zipper! Just in time for summer.

By the way, this picture is horrible in terms of color accuracy, even with me futzing with filters. The sleeve cap and last few pocket pictures are closer to reality. 

I'd picked up the yarn at Rhinebeck, Carolina Homespun Cormo wool, in Morgaine, a gorgeous bright cerulean blue.  The yarn was a bit fine, so I used it held double and it was a damn good thing I overbought based on my half assed guess of yardage, as I had literally TWO YARDS of yarn left after the final kitchnering of the hood.  Just made it.

That is all the yarn that is left from the entire thing. Two yards. A narrow miss of disaster!

After searching some through ravelry favorites, and general patterns, I settled on Doverfell, by Kristen Rengren, as published in Twist Collective.  I love the texture pattern and the design of the set in pockets, plus it was already written for a zip.

Of course, that didn't mean I wasn't going to tweak the shit out of the pattern. Because I am crazy and why follow patterns when you can rework them to suit your quirks? I mean, I almost always use a tubular cast on for anything with ribbing because it's firm but stretchy and looks fantastic.

Oh, look. Lint. And a long tail/Italian tubular cast on. 

But also, for example, the pockets.  As written, the pattern called for knitting the pocket lining separate from the body, and then working the body and pocket fronts in one, and then joining the two at the top edge of the pocket, sewing the three pocket seams later in finishing. 

I don't love seams in the body of knitting, as they never stretch the way the rest of the garment does. And they're a pain to do.  So instead, I knit the linings along with the body of the cardigan.

Before picking up pocket stitches. 

Then when I reached where the top of the pockets would join, I used double pointed needles to pick up the pocket front stitches along the top of the ribbing.  Then I picked up one stitch per row, vertically, on either side of the pocket edges (where the pocket "seams" would be).  I knit up the pocket front, in the texture pattern, knitting the first and last stitches of each row together with the picked up vertical "seam" stitches at each edge.  

The stitch markers on the verticals are to mark where the top of the pocket will be (and the start of the pocket shaping).

Pocket in progress.  Note the two layers. 

The harder part was figuring out the reworked decreases to do the shaping of the upper edge of the pockets.  I wound up just drawing it out, in a semi-shorthand, just so I could work out the numbers and the angle and lean of the decreases. 

Janky shorthand diagram, the original.

Janky shorthand diagram, the original.

 I moved the decreases in from the edge to give a cleaner line to the shaping, and I'd already decided to slip the first stitch of every row to give the nice chained edge (on both the pocket and the front edges)

Almost there.  Stay on target . . . stay on target . . . 

Then, I worked the pocket front stitches together with the body stitches, and the pockets were completely done.  

Finished pocket! Smooth sailing from here on out.  

I finished up the body of the sweater, shifting the armhole shaping in a few stitches as well to echo the shaping lines of the pockets and give a more full fashioned look. And instead of binding off stitches for the shoulders, which frankly, I never do, I used the German short row technique--which is AMAZING and INVISIBLE and I LOVE IT SO  MUCH.  That way I could also three-needle-bind-off the shoulder seams instead of seaming.

Once the body was complete, I reworked the sleeves from bottom-up in the round then sleeve cap worked flat and seamed in, to totally seamless top down sleeves with short row sleeve cap.

This is one of my favorite techniques, though I inevitably have to write out more diagrams to make sure I'm centering the cap right.  I first learned it, as many did, through Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top.  (Did you know that not only is Barbara Walker a knitting guru, from the top down and the stitch dictionaries, but she also wrote the Little House on the Prairie Cookbook and a number of books on feminism, mythology and anthropology? God I fucking love her.)

I put the held underarm stitches on the needles, markers on either side for clarity, and then picked up stitches about 1 stitch every other row (not quite the 3 st to 4 row ideal ratio but it worked fine to make the numbers work),  around the armhole.  I divided the total number of stitches into thirds, with the beginning of the round at the center of the underarm stitches.

Oh hey, if you look hard enough, you could probably recreate my to-do list that's written on the back of this image.

I put markers in, because ain't no way I could keep the count right in my head as I began.  Beginning at the center of the underarm stitches, I worked up the first third of the front vertical stitches, and over the second third of the top of the cap.  Then I stopped, turned the work (again using the german short row method instead of the standard wrap and turn), worked back over that top third, PLUS ONE STITCH.  Wrap and turn, work across the top third PLUS ONE STITCH.

No to dos behind this one! Just shittily framed.

 I kept continuing along, eating up one additional stitch from the verticals every time, until I'd worked all of the verticals up and was at the underarm stitches.  Then I worked around the whole armhole as usual, working the short rowed stitches as per the german method. Voila, sleeve cap done!

Look at that perfect sleep cap! No tell tale anything of short rows! Damn it feels good to be a gangster!

Then I worked the sleeve from the top down, decreases instead of increases, ribbing, and tubular bind off to match the tubular cast on I'd done. Sleeves, done!

The hood was mainly the same as written.  Though I did add a bit more shaping to the center back line of the hood--4 more paired increases after those called for in the pattern.  A bit before wrapping up the hood, I decreased those back down again.  Then instead of three-needle-bind off for the hood itself, I kitchnered that shit. 

Now, that's some grafting of seed stitch right there!

 After all that work I wanted a nice seamless look to the hood, even it meant fudging the hell out of grafted seed stitch (figured out in part thanks to the Tricksy Knitter's tutorial).  

Thankfully texture hides most sins.  And still, a damn sight better than a visible ridge.

Now, I'm just waiting for the two zippers I ordered from ZipperSource--one red, one blue. We'll see which one looks best.  I'm debating using ribbon to cover the back of the zipper.  I think it'll look more finished and add some stabilization, but it also might be more of a pain in the ass than it's worth.  We shall see.