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The Year of the Missing Christmas Sweater

Andrea Sanchez

Ever since D was born in 2012, which also coincided with the year I started designing, I have designed a special sweater for him to wear to our holiday events. When N came along last year, he got a special sweater too.

But this year something happened. Really it has been happening since right before Christmas last year. This thing sucked all the creative energy I had. In reality, it was about all I could do to prioritize the things I had to and actually get THOSE done. I still had to go to work, I still had to feed my family. It was about all I could manage. Which is why I have completed ONE knitted (baby) item this year. You heard me right people. ONE. I've been meaning to tell you all about this for some time now, but didn't really know what to say and to be honest, I still don't really. 

The first week of December 2016 I flew out to California (where I'm originally from and where my parents still live). My mom was having some health issues and they were doing a surgery stint her bile duct and biopsy a mass that was causing the blockage. Through this surgery we found out that my mom had stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I'm not sure if you know much about pancreatic cancer but the odds are pretty dismal.

My mother's older brother has died from this type of cancer in 2007 so we knew what we were up against. She immediately started very aggressive chemotherapy and we hoped and prayed for the best. After 6 months of chemo, at the end of May, my mom was able to undergo a resection of the tumor. It had shrunk enough that the surgeons felt they could safely remove it. Her surgery was successful and her surgeon very positive. I flew out there with both my kids in June/July to spend some extended time with her and my family (throughout the previous 6 months I had been flying out for long weekends once a month, alone or with just one kiddo to help out as much as I  could). 

We were so thrilled with how she was getting her energy back and getting stronger. Her doctors were recommending another few months on an easier chemotherapy to be sure they were treating all the cancer. At a follow up appointment right after we flew back home, we found out that even thought he surgery had seemed successful, in the 7 weeks since the surgery, the cancer had reappeared on her pancreas and had actually spread to her lymph nodes and liver. Now stage 4. 

Since August, I was back to traveling out west monthly. I started wondering if she would be around to see the New Year, or the birth of my third son (oh, yea, baby #3 by the way, is coming in February). My last visit at Thanksgiving was very discouraging. My mom slept most of the time, her personality had changed a lot, and it was as though I was spending time with someone else's mother. It was heartbreaking. I was planning on coming back over the Christmas holiday but was terribly aware of the fact that I might need to come out sooner. 

Sure enough, after a hospital stay for a blood infection (her 3rd in less than two months) she was released and sent home on December 7th. Her birthday was the following day and when I called she wasn't really aware of why I was calling. She actually hung up on me after just a minute. That's the last time I spoke with her. 

The next day my dad suggested I come out as soon as possible as things weren't looking good. I booked my flight for midday Tuesday. N and I took off on our trip (it generally takes us 7-8 hours to fly to or from California) and arrived about 9pm Tuesday night. I had a terrible feeling the entire trip (and honestly had had this feeling since the week before). When we found my brother waiting for us I asked the inevitable, "I didn't make it, did I?" No. My mother died at 3:10pm pacific time while I was in flight, preparing to take off from my layover stop. My dad, brother, and husband had decided to keep the information from me until I arrived, which was probably best, especially considering I had the baby with me. 

My beautiful mother, 1976

My beautiful mother, 1976

So my holiday this year has been spent helping plan funeral arrangements, and wondering how to go on when your best friend is gone. I'm not looking for answers, because I don't think there really are any. I was lucky enough to be loved and raised by someone who saw parenting as the hardest and most valuable job there is. Who put all her time, love, and effort into making sure I had everything I ever needed. Who made me a strong, self-assured, confident woman. Who reminded me to always show my kids more love than discipline. 

 I've picked my needles back up and cast on for N's Christmas Sweater (we'll call it a New Year's Sweater this year) and am finding some comfort in being able to keep my hands busy. I am working hard at reminding myself to be grateful for the things I have, like my health, and my own children who have reminded me to still find joy in the season. 

3 Tips for Needle Felting with Young Kids

Andrea Sanchez

That's right, I said it. This is an article on needle felting with young kids. You know, the kind that like to use needles to poke furniture, clothes, other people, themselves? Those kids. But it's possible! With a lot of supervision and patience it can even be a pretty fun time. 

Here's what you need:

needle felting with kids
  • Needle felting kit - basically any one that gives you the needle and the foam block. 
  • Wool felt cutouts - I grabbed these precut ones in the target dollar bin but you can also just cut them out of felt
  • Wool roving - if you don't have any, you can also use wool yarn 
  • Mini cookie cutters

#1 Stress the ouch factor

Because my kid is who he is, we talked a bit about how ouch this could end up. I showed him the needle and how sharp it was and reminded (and reminded) just how painful it could be, and that this was a "with mommy only" activity. 

#2 Cookie cutters are your friend

Use the cookie cutters to act as a guide to keep the roving in place and also to keep little fingers safe. I bought a set of minis on sale at the craft store. Bonus is, we can use them for pies when we aren't needle felting!

#3 Model! Model! Model!

It's going to take some time for little fingers to get used to this. They way we practiced was by me doing it slowly for D to watch, then hand over hand, then on his own. He was really excited about it, but also unsure which in this case I was way ok with since he kept letting me have longer turns. 


So to those of you out there unsure about your child's capabilities let me tell you, my son is 4, has decent fine motor skills, and the attention span of a fly. Sometimes a dog. Sometimes a dog distracted by a fly. But he was in to doing it enough that we completed two hearts. One with felted heart and one with a bear. We will be doing some stitching with them later this week. And guess what? He didn't poke himself or anything else! Win! I'll be back later this week with more info on the tiny Valentine's Day project we did. Stay tuned!

Do you have any other tips for trying out needle felting with young kiddos? Let us know in the comments below!

1K KAL: January Update and February Prizes

Andrea Sanchez

I don't know about you, but January has flown by for me. I've been knitting kind of loosey goosey with no real plans in sight. Sometimes you need that! Here are my January totals for the 1K KAL:

Hats: 31

Dollars: $0

So I'm a long way off in my goal of $1000 or 1000 hats but we all have to start somewhere. Remember, you can enter to win the month's prize by knitting a baby hat OR donating ($5 = 1 entry). As always, I am so appreciative to have you on this journey with me!

IK KAL Andrea Sanchez

January Winner:

Since we have no monetary donations for the month, that just leaves one winner, Kristy! You've won a skein of Knit Collage Pixie in your choice of color. I love this yarn! So schlubby and sparkly! 

February Prize:

This month I have a real treat for you: a project bag sewn by my friend Woollybags in custom Knittn' Little fabric.

woolly bags for knittin' little

These bags have the large print chick on the outside, and logo/chick fabric inside. Complete with a pop of color from the robin's egg blue ribbon this can hold about two cakes of yarn along with a small project. I used one of Woollybags' project bags back when I was knitting the boy's Wrigley pullover from my book. We have two bags to giveaway; one for a baby hat donation and one for a monetary donation (FYI, $5 is a steal for a project bag!). 

woolly bags for knittin' little

Running Update 

So my first race this year is at the end of April and with that means half-marathon training is set to start next week. So I spent much of January increasing my average weekly mileage so I didn't head into February cold. Would you believe that last Sunday, on an early morning run to breakfast I tripped and fell and pulled something in my leg. I ran on it 4 more times in the following week and now, after seeing the doctor, I'll be riding the bike at the gym for the next week or two. Hopefully after two week's I'll be back on my training plan. Either way, I'm getting too old to take a spill on uneven sidewalk!

1K KAL knittin' little


Thank you again for joining me on this run to raise money and hats for children in need. You can find all the information you need with info on prizes and a link to my donation site under the 1K KAL tab. If you're interested in donation a prize, please let me know! I appreciate all your support ❤️

Yarn Review: Stacatto Organic by Sweet Paprika

Andrea Sanchez

Today we have guest blogger Elizabeth from Sweet Paprika Designs here to share more info on her glorious yarn Stacatto Organic. This amazing organic yarn was used in her Fall/Winter 2016 collection design, Autumn Hike Hoodie. Elizabeth has graciously offered 15% off your Stacatto Organic orders through February 5th. Use code KNITTINLITTLE15 at checkout to get your discount. 

When I first had the inspiration for the Autumn Hike Hoodie design, I knew right away that I wanted to knit it in our Staccato Organic yarn

Staccato is a non-superwash merino worsted and has been one of our standard yarns for many years, but I hadn’t used it for any new designs in a long time. The reason was that our original base yarn was discontinued by the supplier a couple of years ago. As soon as we found out, we bought up as much of the base yarn as we could to keep us going while we searched for a replacement. What we did not expect was for the search to take us a year!

We tried many, many yarns looking for an alternate yarn that would be similar enough to replace our much-loved Staccato. Some of the problems we ran into were yarns that were closer to a DK rather than the heavier worsted we wanted, yarns that were over twisted, and yarns that didn’t take the dye in the same way. We even tried a couple of BFL yarns that were nice but just didn’t have the same feel as the merino that we were looking for. 

When we finally got samples of our current base yarn, it checked all the boxes and we were thrilled that it’s also a GOTS certified organic yarn. This is very much in line with our personal values and as a business we’re moving towards using more local yarns, sustainable yarns, and organic yarns as much as possible. 

I’m so thankful we held out for the perfect replacement and I’m looking forward to using Staccato Organic for many more future designs!


Thank you again Elizabeth for sharing this amazing yarn with us! Be sure to check out this month's Made by Mama post to read all about her journey and to enter to win a copy of her Zippity Raglan pullover. Remember, use code KNITTINLITTLE15 for 15% off Stacatto Organic through February 5th! Happy knitting!