Trifecta

Three stockings, three toys, three jack o-lanterns, three, three, three!

IMG_8082.JPG

Bear completes the group. I think he (she? I got to thinking too hard about these toys’ genders after my last post when I realized I was naming them all mister and decided to leave gender assignments out of it going forward) is my favorite and I think it’s because Bear is colorful though it does make me wonder if Bear has a circus past and the politics of that.

IMG_8078

These toys are adorable and a great introduction to embroidery.

IMG_8083
Please excuse the dirty plant container and mums that need deadheaded. We are not a very pinterest-y household.

I can hardly gloat about having some Christmas items done so early. It was more a function of really wanting to make these than any sense of order or preparation or planning. Sometimes a whim will work in your favor.

IMG_8092
Kiddo was artistic director of the pumpkin carving. This 7-eyed one is my favorite. Squirrel pictured is not responsible for the nibbling. Damn squirrels.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

Mr. Fox’s Friend

Two down of three!

IMG_8073

This is the squirrel from the Kiriki Press‘ doll embroidery kit series, aka “Mr. Squirrel” to keep with the theme.

This embroidery bug has taken my quite by surprise. I suddenly want to embroider something for everyone for Christmas. I ordered this amazing Sea Captain embroidery kit for brother-in-law and his girlfriend. I was sorely tempted to get the Sea Captain’s Wife, too, but the expense of all these kits was starting to add up even for usually-spendthrift-when-it-comes-to-her-hobbies me. So tempting, though…

IMG_8076
Waiting on one more. Will Mr. Squirrel share his acorn? Will Mr. Fox eat the lot? How will Mr. Bear’s personality change the group dynamic?

Comfort Object

I’ve always carried a comfort objects with me. Back in my analog days I used to bring a book everywhere I went. Now instead of a book or my kindle I carry sock knitting everywhere I go. And thank goodness, too, because when I ran myself down to the Minute Clinic last night (no influenza for me, just a non-specific something viral. Yay?) I was able to get most of the way done with this pair’s 2nd sock.

IMG_8062.JPG

Pattern: Sock Recipe: A Good, Plain Sock by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Size: Womens 8.50-ish
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Kushka, Llama Rush, purchased at Darn Yarn Needles and Thread in Harmony, PA

I like to knit with whatever garish. colorway catches my eye. They often don’t result in socks that I particularly like, but that’s OK. I stick them in my Box O’Finished Socks. Somebody will claim them someday.

I toted this project around in project bag I made last Christmas using Indigobird’s Reversible Knot Bag tutorial. I’d bought a stack of fat quarters in fanciful holiday fabric (love fanciful holiday fabric!) and kept sewing until the stack was gone. After making the first couple I added about an inch of depth to the pattern to more comfortably carry a ball of sock yarn. They don’t actually work that well for on-the-go, toss-in-your-purse-and-run knitting. My knitting keeps falling out, but I’ve been too lazy and/or forgetful to transfer back to the bag I made using this reversible draw string bag tutorial that travels better.

IMG_8041.JPG
Project bags and needle keepers still on hand after divesting myself of some last Christmas.

It’s not such a big deal that my knitting falls out continually because I used the scraps from those project bags to make a bunch of coordinating Double-Pointed Needle Keepers using this tutorial. I had to add an inch or so to the width of the case to accommodate the length of my cheapo Susan Bates dpns I use. I unabashedly ❤ my Susan Bateses. I have personal sock rules habits: they should be knit on dpns unless knitted in a complicated pattern divisible by two in which case two circulars should be used; they should be knit from the top down; they should be knit one at a time. All of these “rules” are debatable and a matter of personal preference, but it’s the habits I’ve fallen into that make whatever sock I have in progress my comfort object.

(Dis)Economies of Scale

In my mind it makes sense that if I’m going to make a thing once it stands to reason that I ought to make it multiple times. I use this faulty logic to rationalize the cost of the pattern and the fabric and the notions as if the more I make a garment the cheaper its cost. I casually disregard the fact that two of these are incremental costs and the remaining is a sunk cost. There is no actual “saving” of money or achievable economies of scale for the single sewist.

The kids were with me on my last shopping expedition to Jo-Ann’s where there was an abundance of cute printed flannel. My more-is-better mentality combined with the children’s influence and I bought enough fabric to make each of them 2 pairs of PJs. That’s 4 pair total and it seemed like no big deal until I was doing the actual sewing.

Dude, there is a lot of sewing in these PJs. I love that, I find it wholly satisfying, I delight in the details, but it is also much slower going than I had anticipated. Granted, it would go faster if I hadn’t understitched the back neck to the facing instead of the shirt and spent an hour or more on the unexpectedly difficult task of picking stitches out of multiple layers of flannel, but still.

IMG_8054

Pattern: Oliver + S’s Sleepover Pajamas
Size: 3T
Fabric: Flannel something from Jo-Ann

I started with a size 3T in View B with the gathered ruffle details for MJ in the hopes that these might might useful both this year and next. Only time will tell, but after cleaning clothes out of the bins in the basement last weekend I was glad I cut out the larger size because we have approximately 53,000 pairs of 2T pajamas that I had forgotten about.

More of the same to come if I don’t abandon the PJ Project of Fall 2017. Chuffy is super excited about the emoji fabric he picked out, so that should keep me going for at least one other pair.

Old Growth

We were on a beach vacation in Delaware when I bought a sweater’s quantity of Shepherd’s Wool Worsted form Stonehedge Fiber Mill from A Little Bit Sheepish, an amazing multi-floor yarn store – I wish I could live there, or at least shop there regularly – in a quintessentially picturesque town. I bought a whole sweater’s worth in Chocolate Milk (that one got turned into a Peabody). The woman checking me out asked if I had ever used it before and assured me that it was fabulous. She was 100% correct. It. Does. Not. ITCH. At all. That yarn felt so good against my skin I bought some more and made myself a Daelyn Pullover.

I spontaneously picked up the three partial balls leftover from the Daelyn, decided it was surely enough for a toddler-sized sweater, and cast on Old Growth.

I knit sleeve #1. Lots of yarn!

I knit sleeve #2. Two is always a good number of sleeves. Doubt starts to creep in.

I started on the body. Hmm, only 1 partial ball left and still several inches of the body to go + yoke + button bands. Better suck it up and order another skein. So much for stash-busting. It doesn’t help that a sweater’s worth of Rosy Green Wool’s Big Merino Hug fell into my virtual shopping cart when I placed my order. I was saving money on shipping, naturally!

Against expectation that last partial ball was enough to get to the end of the sweater body with a whole single yard to spare. I broke into the new skein – shout out to good dye consistency between lots – for the button bands. So I guess I can make a matching hat? Yay? I sort of resent when trying to use up yarn creates more knitting.

IMG_8040

Pattern: Old Growth by Tin Can Knits
Size: 2T
Yarn: Stonehedge Fiber Mill, Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, Antique Rose

Sewing with Knits in 3 Parts

I always say that I learn by making mistakes. I also always say that if I don’t do a thing 3 times I’m not doing it right. Usually I’m referring to spreadsheets or accounting software, but here is the story of my first attempts to sew with knits in 3 parts.

Act 1: a horror story.

This pile of regret was supposed to be a wearable muslin of Moneta by Colette Patterns. The less said the better. Fit issues, fabric issues. I gave up when trying to gather the skirt. That didn’t work at all. No problem with the pattern or the instructions, I simply had no idea what I was doing and sometimes when you bite off more than you can chew you end up choking.

IMG_7989
I stuffed it in a drawer to forget about it.

I was never going to sew with knits again. At least for a long while.

Act 2: a twist ending!

I was inspired to revisit my disappointment while binge-listening to Love to Sew (so, so good!) and by Kelli Ward’s interview in particular. Better to start smaller, I decided, on a body that will be easier to fit, and this time no trying to gather knit fabric with clear elastic. I lowered the bar and my expectations. I harbored hope that this time would be different.

It wasn’t going well. I didn’t do a good job cutting which set me up for trouble piecing the pants together. I ordered knit fabric and realized when I was sewing that it would make a great t-shirt. How would that work for pants?! Badly, I thought. How do you finish a seam in knit fabric if you don’t have a serger? Do you just… not? Is the zig zag enough? How do you “press open” a seam that’s a zig zag stitch on fabric that curls? I grew more certain that these were another failure and chalked this project up as a sacrifice to the learning process. I stopped caring and plowed ahead sure that this would be a tear-jerker.

Imagine when after all that indecision and self-doubt I held up a pair of what appear by all accounts to be actual, not entirely terrible, wearable pants:

IMG_5482
Shoes are bigger than the feet therein
Pattern: True Bias Mini Hudson Pant
Size: 2T
Fabric: Robert Kaufman House Designer, Dana Cotton Modal Knit, Dana Cotton Modal Knit in Wisteria

I frowned at them wide-eyed and thought, “HOW DID THAT EVEN HAPPEN?!?” and “Wow, knits really are forgiving!” I mean, they’re a mess and you’ll never get to the inside of these, but pants! 

Act 3: a coming of age story.

After the shock wore off (the surprise still hasn’t) I thought I would try my luck again with the same pattern but heavier knit fabric that I purchased during a stressful trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics to pick up all those bibs and bobs online fabric retailers so frequently don’t offer. I skipped the cording, again, because I ran out of patience while shopping.

This story doesn’t have a pat ending. It’s a mixed bag. First off, these are some ugly pants. I don’t know exactly what I was thinking. This happens to me a lot at Jo-Ann. The stress of shopping there results in some strange choices. Also, I overcompensated in terms of fabric-weight. I thought these pants would be cozy, but they’re bulky. Although the sewing went a lot more smoothly I made some dumb mistakes learned some valuable lessons, like to match stripes to the outside of the pocket at the side seam (not the inside), and to double check that the cuff seam is on the inside leg seam (not the outside) and to make sure cuff patterns go in the same direction as the rest of the pant.

But look beyond the garish fabric! I made more pants! In half the time! And they didn’t scare or intimidate me at all. There’s far to go, but I’m on my way and eyeing that Moneta pattern, again. It would be so so so perfect for fall…