She Knits: Branches Socks

I finally finished these socks that I started right before Sprout was born.

Started — March 18
Completed — October 1

Pattern Info
Melisandre by Purrlescent

This was a great pattern. I knit a combination of two sizes and think the socks fit me perfectly. I enjoyed knitting the pattern rib design which was easy to memorize. I think this pattern would be great for a new sock knitter because the ribbing along the top of the sock would help with any fit issues.

I also like the slip-stitch heel, which is similar to the eye of partridge heel I’ve raved about on other posts. It is nicely cushioned and flexible without being too thick.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Palette
100% wool
1.64 skeins = 378.8 yards used

I’ve used this yarn before. I still like it. :) I’d use it again.

You all know by now I am no photographer…

She Mothers: Breastfeeding Confessions

tiny toe pictures are easiest to take when baby is eating!

tiny toe pictures are easiest to take when baby is eating!

I am pro-breastfeeding. I’ve nursed Sprout since day one and would not change that decision if I had to make it ten times again. If asked, I would encourage an expectant mother to breastfeed or a nursing mother to keep working at it, even when she wants to give up.

I am not pushy about breastfeeding, though, in that I support the right of every mother to decide how to feed her child. I do not consider myself a breastfeeding “advocate,” nor would I claim to be passionate about it.

As we approach the 6-month milestone, I’ve reflected on the difficulties we had in the first few months of our breastfeeding relationship. Things have improved drastically, and I want to share my experiences with the hope of encouraging some other expectant or new mother to continue nursing, to be determined about it, even if it is difficult. Though I know there are rewards I’ve yet to reap, I think I am over the biggest hurdles now. And trust me, the grass is way, way greener over here!

The Dreaded Nipple Shield

I hope to write more in detail about my experience with the nipple shield in a post of its own, but let me just say this: if you have not needed a nipple shield, count yourself blessed. If you are an expectant mother, don’t let the following frighten you (you may not need a nipple shield). And if you are currently using a nipple shield and wondering when (or if!) it will end, then take heart! your baby will most likely be able to nurse without the shield by 12 weeks.

I know, that sounds like eternity when you are dealing with tablespoons of milk leaving huge spots on your pants on the one day you decide to try nursing in public and a baby who is not coordinated enough to latch on his own, but is coordinated enough to knock the shield off just as you are bringing him in to latch. Yes, it is frustrating. Yes, I know what you are going through. We used a nipple shield for the first 8 weeks and, as I’d read would happen, Sprout was suddenly able to latch without it. (No, I didn’t believe the stories either, but really! it did happen just like that!) It was a miraculous, heavenly gift, for sure. I did cry, and I did text/call everyone who knew I was struggling with the shield so I could brag on little Sprout. It took an additional week to wean her completely from it, but we’ve been shield-free ever since. Trust me, momma, it will happen!

Clogged Milk Ducts

Why yes, it is as painful as it sounds! I experienced this twice in Sprout’s first month of life. Both times, I believe the clogs became infected because I had flu-like symptoms and a fever. I was able to resolve the issue by nursing baby on the affected side almost exclusively, getting lots of rest, increasing my water intake, and waiting it out. {Some cases of infection may require antibiotics, but I was able to heal without them, thankfully.}

The best advice I have for avoiding this issue is to nurse often, relieve engorgement if you have that problem, and be careful about tight-fitting clothes. After the second bout with clogged ducts, I realized that sleeping in my loose-ish, non-underwire nursing bra was the culprit.

Yikes! I’ve Sprung a Leak!

My last two “confessions” are going to sound so mild compared to clogged ducts, but leaking was very frustrating for me. Since I could no longer wear a nursing bra to bed (see #2!), I frequently woke to puddles of milk and was washing the sheets all. the. time.

Add to that all the times I sprayed poor Sprout (or myself!) in the eye, and this problem just about made me want to switch to bottle-feeding! If you are struggling with it, please know you are not alone. Also know that your breasts will figure out how much milk baby actually needs and will likely calm down after a few months.

Growth Spurts and Cluster Feeding

When I was pregnant and reading all about breastfeeding, I frequently came across posts about having a baby attached to you 24/7 in the first few weeks. And while I wouldn’t go that far, Sprout did like to “cluster feed” in the evenings for the first couple of months. Right around the time I would need to cook supper, Sprout wanted to eat. And when I was halfway done, she’d want to eat again. And when I had my plate ready (finally, yum!), she wanted to eat again. And we’d start the movie and, you guessed it, Sprout was hungry. She would often nurse every hour for about 4 hours in the evening. So tiring!

One way I was able to at least cook supper was to pump every morning and keep a bottle in the refrigerator for her. Nate would give her the bottle if she was needing to eat while I was cooking. It was often not enough to fill her up, but she was then able to wait another 30 minutes for me to finish cooking. And some days, Nate just wrapped up cooking supper for me so I could sit down and feed the wailing child!

She outgrew the newborn cluster feeding behavior after a couple of months, and we had a blissful four weeks during which she nursed every 3-4 hours during the day and was sleeping through the night. Score! And then she hit the four-month growth spurt and wanted to nurse all the time again, even during the night. Sigh. Thankfully, that only lasted a couple of weeks, so we are back to very regular nursing… until the next growth spurt, anyway.

I hope I have not discouraged any new or expectant mothers out there. You CAN (most likely) breastfeed. It is difficult, but it is so worth it! It is a unique relationship with your baby that no one else can replicate. My intention with this post is for you to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, greener pastures on the other side, and blissful nursing yet to come if you can stick with it a while longer!

I don’t mean to offend any formula or bottle-feeding mothers out there! All moms have special relationships with their babies; there is no one else like momma. But the closeness that breastfeeding encourages should not be devalued in the effort to not offend.

Did you know?

I have a separate website where I share designs for knitting, crochet, and even sewing. You can find it by clicking here.

Although I do improvise projects, I do not often share patterns for many reasons. One, I don’t often keep notes on my knitting, I just make it work as I go. Also, writing a pattern complete with images and then uploading that pattern in various places and types of file downloads is hard work! And finally, I rarely work the same design twice. Published patterns really ought to be test knit/crocheted for errors.

With all that said, I’ve published a new design: the Country Bumpkin Christmas Stocking. I offered to knit stockings for one of Nate’s sisters-in-law a few years ago. Her home is filled with antiques and a southern country style, and I couldn’t find any suitable patterns online for stockings that would go with her decor. So I designed one myself! As I needed to knit four of them, I had to keep notes while working the first and the other three served as test knits. After all that work of perfecting the design, I decided to put in a little more effort to publish a nice pattern in case anyone else was hunting for a simplistic Christmas stocking to knit.

Country Bumpkin Christmas Stockings

Country Bumpkin Christmas Stockings

The pattern is available on my designs website, and there is a page in the Ravelry database for it as well (you do not need to be a member to view the pattern entry there). On the online version at my other website, there are also two file download options: one plain text version with no images (and a separate download for just the text charts) and a PDF version with all the bells and whistles.

Whew! This pattern has been in the making for a few weeks, and I must say, I have a new respect for designers who do this for a living. It seemed every time I got things looking just right, I would find some necessary information missing in the pattern. I would have to fix it, then re-upload the pattern to the various websites and note the changes made, etc. It was really tedious! I did it, though, with the hope that someone, somewhere would benefit from it. :)