What to knit when you’ve lost your mind

baby wearing purl soho toque

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve come to a decidedly unfeminist conclusion:
Pregnancy makes you stupid.

Once your body starts the all-important, all-consuming, beautifully miraculous task of cooking up a human being, it figures you’ll have no more use for that brain of yours.

My math skills went early. By the end of the first trimester I had to pull out a calculator to subtract 2 from 39.5. I figured I could probably do it, but I just didn’t trust myself with that pesky little .5 at the end.

Next, went my words. Through the second and third trimesters I found myself searching for common nouns, pointing at objects to fill in the blanks in my sentence, mixing up family members’ names and sounding more and more like my mother.

My brain hit peak dumbness after baby boy arrived. Shrouded in the thick fog of sleep deprivation, I could barely manage my email password. My linguistic output was limited to parroted oohs, aahs, gurgles and heehees. It had been many weeks since I’d attempted to knit anything: the very notion of having to read and interpret a knitting pattern felt like advanced calculus.

But at about four weeks postpartum my fingers started jonesing for some wool. Any knitter deprived of knitting for long enough can relate to that yarny itch. I had started this sweater a while back and figured the miles of stockinette stitch would be a reasonable choice for a sleepy half-wit. Boy was I wrong.

It had felt so good to be knitting again. Like that first bike ride in spring after a winter of lumbering around in clunky boots: I was flying! Row after row, speeding past! A blur of fingers! A knitting ninja!

Except, when it came time to join the pieces at the underarm, something was off. I spread the knitting out flat, I spun it around, I turned it inside out, I folded it one way then the other. Yes, after having grown and birthed a baby I had experienced some remarkable anatomical transformations, but none that warranted replacing a neck hole with an armscye! None that would have me fitting into the strange moebius strip of fabric I had produced.

Somewhere along the way I had attached one part of the sweater to another part that had no business being anywhere near the first part. It was less sweater and more “art piece”.

There was no saving it. I was done for. Mind = gone.

But at least the consolation prize is pretty good. And cute to boot.

baby wearing purl soho toque

  • Pattern: Purl Soho Garter Ear Flap Hat
  • Size: Baby
  • Yarn: Leftover Cascade 220
  • Needles: 4mm & 4.5mm
  • Notes: A cute, and most importantly, super simple pattern. Clever short row ear flaps. Barely any need to reference the pattern once you’ve read it through once: safe to knit when you’ve lost your brain. I worried the tassel was a bit silly at first, but now I think it makes it adorably gladiator-like. Works up slightly larger than I expected: room to grow.


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Snowy Owl – Caped Crusader

Cape Full

Cape Back

Finally: Snow.

No more brown, drizzly, anemic winter. This is Montreal. And girls who sew moderately impractical wool capes are meant to frolic in clean, white, gentle snow.

We – of the double-pants clan- know that 100% Italian wool (0r 120%, if the salesman is to be believed) is best served at about -3°C with calm winds and cloudy skies. The bigger and stickier the snowflakes, the better.

Cape Lining

  • Pattern: Vogue 8776, view B
  • Fabric: Medium weight 100 % wool; green bemberg lining
  • Notions: Big snaps (instead of buttons); purchased bias tape
  • Size: M
  • Notes: Finished in 2015 sometime? Given the finishing techniques I used (handsewing a bunch, hiding seams with bias tape) and the material I chose, I would not rate this a “very easy” pattern. More of a “get frustrated and put it away for 7 – 8 months” pattern. But I highly recommend nonetheless, especially when sewn in expensive natural fibres. This may be the nicest thing I have ever sewn.

Cape Back DetailWinter Sledding Scene

Cape FrolicCape Front Detail

Also pictured:

Yellow shawl scarf

  • Pattern: Basic triangle shawl pattern with alternating stockinette and garter as stripes
  • Yarn: Handspun Polwarth, dyed with marigolds collected over one summer from my garden. Slight variations in colouring on lower half from iron bath after dyeing.

Workhorse Hat

  • Pattern: Who even remembers?
  • Yarn: Leftover Cascade Ecological Wool
  • Notes: Maybe not the cutest hat, but damn if it ain’t cozy.