Oh, my stars and garters

Who didn’t see Gillian’s Scandinavian Fabric Stars tutorial and immediately order a short stack of fat quarters to make a quick 27 or so?

I know it wasn’t just me.

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These were really satisfying to make.

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Perfect for plopping down in front of the TV with BIG glass of wine and a delightfully terrible made-for-TV Christmas movie.

All they need is hangers. The ribbon is in a small bag possibly in a bigger bag tossed into an even larger bag (it’s bags all the way down, folks) with all the unwrapped Christmas gifts and I keep thinking I’ll dig it out when I get around to starting the wrapping, but I keep postponing that chore until “tomorrow” in favor of another Christmas movie and requisite boozy accompaniment.

Santas’ Workshop

I was in my 20’s when I started knitting. I plodded along through the early disappointments, of which there were many. I learned to chalk them up to the learning curve, retreating back to what dish towels after the especially painful setbacks. It’s been a while, now, since I was in my 20’s and I’ve knit a lot of things between then and now besides lots (and LOTS) of dishcloths. I’ve knit socks and sweaters and mittens and hats and scarves and toys, and even a willie warmer. I’ve knit cables and lace and stranded colorwork.

But I had never knit intarsia on such a large scale, or possibly ever, though I vaguely remember being frustrated by the twisting yarns and the idea of intarsia has always inspired a sense of dread that I can only attribute to one or more failed attempts that I buried deep into my subconscious. I definitely had some yarn bobbins at some point which indicated some interest or intention to learn the technique, but I cleaned them out because I was never going to use them anyways. Hobbies and clutter, am I right? I am overwhelmed by stuff but anticipating what may or not be useful or when is a crapshoot.

I saw this pattern on ravelry and decided I was not going to be intimidated any more. I wrapped my yarns on cardboard and it worked just fine. Just fine in this case means I had to untwist everything ever couple rows because it quickly became a rat’s nest, but that’s the nature of the beast. The knitting itself, I was happy to discover, was surprisingly easy, if fiddly.

There were a lot of ends to weave in:

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I left all those ends on the first one because I thought I’d have tension issues that would need fixed. I didn’t and got smart and wove them in as I went on the 2nd sweater.

A vital blocking:

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Blank Santa faces

And a fair amount of embroidery and finishing:

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Buttons and bobbles and chain stitch, oh my.

And some sewing up:

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I often lament that it’s gone out of style to knit sweaters in pieces.

Add a collar and viola!

IMG_9923I am completely chuffed with myself. These may not be to everyone’s taste, but I am thrilled with them (my kids, on the other hand, not so much! But I don’t hang my sense of knitterly worth on their opinions) and I feel so accomplished. I had built intarsia up to be my last knitting frontier and it turned out to be just… knitting.

Santa Baby

I don’t know how to introduce these projects. They reveal some part of my person and general cheeseball-ness that I try to keep under wraps.

I love kitschy Christmas. I’m too self-conscious and unorganized to go all out, and my decorating scheme probably looks more like a lack of effort than a preference. Christmas red in my house is a true red, not burgundy, green is, well, green, not lime or forest. I thought about buying a tasteful wreath this year, but why should I when I already have one made of multicolored Christmas balls? I prefer colored lights to white and tinsel to popcorn. Our stockings are handmade. They don’t match, nor do our ornaments and I always felt kind of bad for trees whose ornaments do. A coworker once told what was to her a funny anecdote about how how excited she was when she moved into her first house to have an all-matching Christmas tree and how her mother undermined her efforts by sending her a box of her childhood ornaments. I had always considered trees with matching decorations soulless and associated them with department stores. I’d had no idea it was something anybody would want in her own home.

Different strokes for different folks. Not everybody wants a kitschy mishmash, not everybody wants matchy-matchy, only a few would make her children matching kitschy Santa sweaters.

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Pattern: Santa Claus by Sue Stratford
Sizes: 7 & 5
Yarn: Valley Yarns in worsted superwash & non

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There are lots of reasons not to make your children matching Christmas sweaters, especially if you’re as bad at laundry as I am. I don’t know which is worse: wondering if they’ll even wear them or wondering how long before an ice cream or chocolate stain ruins them. Time will tell which fate will befall these sweaters. If I had to wager a guess I’d say the blue will never be worn and the pink will be stained before we leave the house. That’s OK. I don’t mind. Knitting is my love language.

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More on the making another day.

 

More of the same, but different

Friends, I have come up with a corollary to the Christmas pajamas: Thanksgiving pajamas!***

As you are by now well aware, the sleepover pajamas from Oliver & S are my go-to pajamas pattern. HOWEVER. This flannel fell into my virtual shopping cart a while back. It was super cute, on sale, and I figured pajamas are always something I’ll make eventually and therefore not real “stash”. I didn’t have a coordinating flannel for the sleepover pajama’s distinctive exposed facings, nor did I want to think too hard about turning them inward. It should be easy as pie, but pie is deceptively hard, and I hadn’t yet refamiliarized myself with the pattern and sometimes even minor changes can be a mind meld so the last time I was at Joann’s I picked up the first basic children’s pajama pattern I came to in a book. It has a collar, see, and is therefore TOTALLY DIFFERENT.

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Pattern: Burda Style 9747
Fabric: Supernova flannel by Dear Stella
Size: 7*

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The light was so yellow the day I took these.

I thought this was a good plan. I thought it would be easy. I underestimated and reaffirmed my extreme distaste for paper patterns.

Now, I can handle paper patterns in certain circumstances. Circumstances like when a PDF is not available (WHY Merchant & Mill, WHY?). Or like the time I went to pick up my mom’s sewing machine after repair and the shop was clearancing out their paper patterns and I bought, oh, 8 or 10 indie patterns at $3-5 a pop. Good stuff, too: Thread Theory, Colette, and Sewaholic. I hate tracing, but I’ll trace if it means I’m saving 75% off suggested retail prices.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that all paper patterns are not created equal. I was genuinely surprised by the quality of indie patterns. The paper is thick, the instructions are comprehensive, the packaging is interesting and unique to the brand. The pajamas pattern I bought, though, was a tissue paper pattern, the kind that’s impossible to fold back into the envelope whence it came. The kind that make me hate everything and wonder why I’m even bothering sewing because it’s so dumb and why do I do this to myself and what’s the point? The kind that comes accompanied by brief, incomplete, sometimes inaccurate instructions printed on huge pieces of paper that are always in the way. I still have no idea what I was supposed to do with the back of the collar.** I drafted a back facing to sew to the front facings and sandwich it all together, but no such pattern piece was provided and the pattern instructions were to sew the front facings to the shoulder seams, so??? Yay me for knowing enough to come up with a solution.

 

*My kiddo is only 5, but he’s a largish 5 and I made a size 7 based on his measurements. These pajamas are enormous. I can’t tell you how oversized they are because he has’t tried them on, yet. There will definitely be some cuff and sleeve rolling.

**A cursory google search to identify this pattern tells me that I am not dumb and that the collar is meant to be finished with bias tape which the instructions neglect to mention. OK then.

***Thanksgiving pajamas seemed like a good idea until my mother pulled out a dozen pairs of new pajamas to give us the day before. Why do I even bother?

 

Mingos

My grandmother made us pajamas for Christmas every year growing up. It was the only present we were allowed to open on Christmas Eve and my brother and I always wore them to bed that night. I kept thinking about those pajamas from Christmas Past as I made these.

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I’m not sure why, though. I’m not planning on saving these for Christmas, and not for the reasons you might think. First of all, my house is c-c-c-cold. Then there’s the fact that my kids cannot be counted on to like the things I make them or use them even if they do like them. I”m OK with that, generally, or I try to be, but I don’t want to deal with it on Christmas Eve. Now factor in the competition from my mother who will surely gift Christmas-themed Disney pajamas that my homemade flannels cannot compete with. But the real kicker, the real reason why I won’t to save these for Christmas is because my 91-year-old granny is still sewing and sends pajamas to her great-grandchildren. Every year I think she won’t and every year she does. It’s a tradition I want to maintain, but it’s not my turn, yet. Call me superstitious, but I’m not going to meddle with something that’s working. Just in case.

Pattern: Digital Sleepover Pajamas by Oliver + S
Size: 4T
Fabric: Flannel from Jo-Ann

You might remember this pattern from last year when I made it three times before I burnt out. This time around the sewing seemed not nearly as arduous and I wondered if the break had done me good or if it was making the same thing three times that was such a drag or what was going on that my present experience didn’t seem to match up with my remembered experience. I pulled out one of last year’s pairs to look at them and no wonder! French seams, flat felled seams, everything was done up right because 1) I’m me; and 2) I didn’t want that cheap flannel fraying on me and leaving me with nothing but pajamas pieces after a wash or two. This year I have my serger and the sewing went much faster. Whew!

Impressionable

If I had any perspective on my own life or personality I could have seen this one coming a mile away.

The pattern of behavior:

  1. Notice that pinafores are a thing
  2. Scoff at pinafores
  3. Declare that I will never make a pinafore
  4. Repeat steps 3 and 4 – until –
  5. I see an example so awesome I drop everything immediately to make one

My distaste for a thing makes it interesting to me and that interest turns at some point into appeal.

That’s such an unflattering introduction to this style and project that I hesitate to link to the specific maker who tipped the scales, but I will list the confluence of circumstances that led to this make because it takes more than hate-turned-to-love to make a thing. The stars must align. In order:

  1. I was absolutely taken with the strap details on the Pippi Pinafore.
  2. I already had some fabric that would work well enough sitting in my stash that was not earmarked for a more practical make.
  3. The Pippi Pinafore pattern happens to be drafted to different cup sizes. I was unwilling to take a lot of time fitting a trendy garment I was’t sure I would like or wear, but with this pattern I could live dangerously and not make a muslin.

So I gave it a go.

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Preying mantis hands

Pattern: Pippi PInafore by Jennifer Luaren Handmade
Fabric: Robert Kaufman linen
Size: 10
Mods: Lengthened the bust 1.25″

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Did you see that mod up there? Where I lengthened the bust 1.25 inches? That’s because when I was sewing the bib it was to teeny I thought, “Oh, hell no” and cut out a new longer one. Good call, me, I’m pretty sure that as drafted the bib would only have come to … I’ll let you figure it out. Long torso is long.

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Not bad! I’m pleased. Now that I have made one I worry that I will fall into a different, equally predictable, pattern of behavior:

  1. Worry that wearing this makes me look like I’m trying too hard to be more on-trend than I am
  2. Worry that only home sewists wear pinafores and anybody who is not a home sewist will think it’s strange
  3. Worry that wearing this makes me look like I’m trying too hard to appear younger than I am
  4. Not wear the thing

In spite of my worries I did wear it and nobody laughed or pointed or mistook me for a 12-year-old or told me the style is too young or I’m too old. So think I’ll try to establish a new pattern of behavior:

  1. Stop caring what other people think
  2. Dress myself in things I like to wear

Peas and Carrots

Every year Hallmark (it’s headquartered here, don’t ya know) hosts a craft-type fair that features Hallmark employees and their arts, crafts, music, side-hustles, what have you. It is awesome and there is a lot of talent on display, but it’s a closed community of participation so you expect to see familiar faces and familiar wares which was why I was surprised to come upon a yarn booth this year.

“You weren’t here last year,” I said, side-eyeing the proprietor suspiciously. She hadn’t been, she assured me. I gingerly approached the yarn. I played it cool. I like yarn, but I’m also a price-sensitive recovering stash addict. I didn’t let on that I’m a dedicated knitter. I did not divulge that stumbling across an unexpected yarn booth made my day. Uh-oh, no prices. I would have to ask. I hate asking. Having to talk to someone is sometimes too much work to bother. But the yarn was nice and I like to support indie dyers so I did ask even though I worried I was setting myself up for embarrassment if it was too expensive for me. It wasn’t and I let my guard down. I admitted I was a knitter. I confessed I liked her yarn very much. And then I broke an informal rule I’ve adopted and bought yarn from her even though I had no project in mind for it.

I must have been feeling guilty because I took one of the 3 skeins (I didn’t fall too far, see? And the other 2 skeins are a matching pair of buttery yellow I bought with a general idea of a baby sweater. Also I might be forgetting a skein or two, I have mush for brains) and immediately cast on mittens for MJ.

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Pattern: World’s Simplest Mittens by tincanknits
Size: Child’s
Yarn: Knots & Rows Simplicity, Water Lilies
Etsy shop here!

And then a hat.

And then another hat after I frogged the first because it was entirely too large and gobbling yarn at an alarming rate. Did I think to measure the gauge of the mittens I’d made and plan appropriately? No, I did not! Here I thought I was winning when I actually measured the kid’s head instead of just guessing at that, too. One measurement is pretty meaningless without t’other. Ripping is annoying, but worth it if you end up with a perfectly sized hat and enough left over for a bonus! pom.

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Pattern: Barley Light also by tincanknits
Size: Knit toddler size to achieve child
Mods: Knit the garter stitch panel in plain stockinette

We have a matching set for as long as all the parts don’t get separated (so approximately 1 wearing) with enough pink to appease my kiddo even if it’s not the tonal baby pink skein she wanted to buy for her own nebulous 3-year-old purposes.

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I used every scrap of my skein and it was oh so satisfying. Are there knitters, I wonder, who make a point of trying to use all of every skein? I bet there are and I can see why.