A Forest for the Trees

I continue to struggle to get any workable photos at all. Light! I need light! Light is hard to come by in December when you report to work at 8 am and the sun has set by the time you get home. There were a few occasions when I thought I’d wait for the weekend to take photos, but those weekends were so busy and overcast that it didn’t improve my results.  Given my time constraints I’m settling for light and leaving composition to the side.

A captivating image of our baseboards

Composition is difficult because the morning light is by the windows and door at the back of our house and further complicated by the fact that we’re not a tidy family. A photo of stuffed trees on the latch hook rug I made years ago isn’t great, but hey: at least you can’t see dishes, toys, books, laundry, or any of the other detritus I don’t see until I whip out the camera (and get frustrated) or have company (and get embarrassed).

IMG_8297Pattern: McCall’s M5778 Holiday Decorations
Size: Smaller
Fabric: Novelty holiday prints from Jo-Ann

I made the smaller of the stuffed tree patterns. Note that “smaller” does not mean “small” – these stand 11.5 inches high. The larger tree stands 17.5 inches high and would take up a lot of real estate on a table.

I picked up the fabric when I was at Jo-Ann’a for interfacing. I saw the Santa flamingo fabric right away, but didn’t see anything that coordinated. I poked around a bit, hemmed and hawed, deliberated making stuffed trees at all, finally found the blue snowflake fabric, and rushed back to where the flamingo fabric was, sort-of invading a fellow shopper’s personal space in the process.

“Did you want Santa flamingo fabric?” I asked, in explanation, as I grabbed the bolt. She laughed at me. No, she didn’t want Santa flamingo fabric.

I’m sending these along with some socks I fished out of my box-o-sox. Yay!



Christmas Sweason

I finished my holiday sweater in time for Kristkindl Markt at church!


Pattern: Julgran by Andi Satterlund
Size: It’s complicated (details below)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire

I love the color. I sent screenshot of – no joke, I counted – 19 different shades of green Cascade 220 to Hubs and he helped me whittle down my choices. Why haven’t I knit more dark green sweaters, I wondered. Because I spent many a year looking for the perfect pea green is why, neglecting entirely these wonderful not pea green shades.

I don’t know whether the motif gets lost or if people are not accustomed to looking at my chest, but it was only the knitters who immediately spotted and delighted in the tree. Otherwise my sweater-centered conversations felt something like:

Me, gesticulating excitedly at chest area: Look!
Hapless victim, gazing inquisitively at bosom: ???
Hapless victim, visibly confused, clearly thinking: Um, there’s nothing worth looking at???
Hapless victim, relieved: Oh! How neat!

The technicalities:

  • I put this sweater on pause for a bit while I pondered the sleeve situation. Turns out the problem wasn’t my short-row-wrapping, but that purling across the sleeve cap to where the short rows started made it so that the front and back of the sleeve didn’t match because I was purling across one but not the other. I dropped the yarn after picking up the sleeve cap stitches, slipped stitches to where the short rows start, and picked up the yarn there and it worked a bit better.
  • That half-a-purl-row probably would have been invisible if I had knit the sleeves in stockinette stitch as recommended by the pattern. Knits hide better than purls.
  • My row gauge was larger (longer?) than recommended. Great! I needed to add length, anyways. How convenient.
  • I forgot about how that would impact the sleeve depth.
  • Which, in retrospect was a big part of why the sleeve cap was too roomy.
  • I ended up with a sweater in size medium circumference (yay!), large length (yay!), and extra large sleeve depth (boo).
  • I knit a size small sleeve to compensate. Didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it helped, and let’s not let perfection be the enemy of the good enough.
  • Since I had knit the sleeves in reverse stockinette to match the sweater body I thought the funnel collar would be off. I knit 10 rows of 1×1 rib instead.
  • I used tubular cast off everywhere. Joy!

More pics to come after a good wash and block.

Totes for Tots

It started with my kids arguing over use of the free Puzzle Puzz tote bag. Maybe I should make them each a tote bag, I thought, as if more of a thing ever forestalled sibling rivalry and children everywhere demonstrated gratitude for mom-made garments and accessories with enthusiastic and frequent use. I googled, I found tutorial I liked, and without stopping to think too deeply about it I went looking for fabric. Then the most rare and lucky break: the most brilliant fabric that I just love, love love leapt at me. All of these were such easy decisions requiring so little deliberation that they seemed to materialize out of nowhere, a happy effortless accident.

Pattern: 3-Fabric 10-Step Tote by the Inspired Wren
Fabric: Diving Board collection by Alison Glass for Andover, purchased from fabricworm.com

I purchased a half yard of each fabric, 2.5 yards total. I could have done without one of the contrasting colors in terms of material requirements – I have lots of the green left over having only used it for handles on the blue. I had to piece each piece together to maintain pattern direction.

Perhaps I should have given greater consideration to the placement of the Lilliput scene when cutting my fabric. OK, I definitely should have given greater consideration to the placement of the Lilliput scene, especially on the pink one where the clouds are rolling by right smack in the middle of the tote. But I didn’t and I can’t tell you why, but I’m not letting it bother me. These totes just make me too damn happy.

Stuff It

I decided – I wish I could remember the sequence of events that led to this decision, but when your decisions about what to make and when are best characterized by the word “whim” their roots are hard to trace – that I should make my husband’s cousins a pair of these throwback stuffed Christmas trees in whimsical (there’s that word again!) fabric. Didn’t you have these in your house growing up? Didn’t everyone? I thought so and consequently have had this conversation several times with my husband:

Me, confused: Really? You didn’t have these growing up?

Husband: No.

Me, incredulous: Like, really? You don’t remember them?

Husband: NO.

We certainly had at least one and I remember them at other people’s houses, too. I’m sure our was made by some well-wisher or other and my mom grudgingly held onto cherished it for years until she could finally chuck the thing with no guilt it fell apart from all the loving.


I have a fondness for homely objects of yesteryear. Making them in silly fabric elevates them from nostalgic to absurd. Unfortunately the seemingly never-ending bag of poly-fil I’ve had longer than I can remember did finally meet its match on this project and finishing will have to wait until another bag can be acquired.

I bet Hubs’ family had at least 3 of these and he just never noticed.

The Sea Captain

I finished a thing!


This is the Sea Captain kit from Cozy Blue Handmade. I didn’t notice that random stray piece of a thread on the Captain’s cap until now. It’s driving me nuts. Look, you can really see it well in this photo:


I used:

  • Stem stitch for the, smoke, and pipe stem
  • Split stitch for eyebrows, beard, and moustache
  • Satin stitch for eye and pipe bowl
  • Fern stitch for knit cap
  • French knots for sweater bobbles
  • Straight or back stitch for everything else
I was surprised to learn that you finish embroidery like this using a hot glue gun. Good thing I have two!

I love him, but he already has a wife.

Geranium Dress

Like everyone else in the sewing universe who loves sewing small dresses, I discovered the Geranium Dress, bought the Geranium Dress pattern, made it up, and delighted in it. Possibly unlike everyone else, I didn’t stop there. I made more Geranium dresses than I had possible use for. I made them in every size with every neckline and every sleeve. I made them in geometric, bird, floral, dinosaur, cupcake, and sausage (that one was for my restaurateur cousin) fabrics. I made them for friends, I made them for friends of friends. I looked for every opportunity to give the things away and when I ran out of outlets I stowed them in a drawer from whence I drew this quite wrinkled version to finally pass along:

Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae, View A
Size: 2T
Fabric: Bird-covered cotton from Jo-Ann


It’s on its way to a little girl named Lark. Funny, that.

A shirt, in pieces

I had already started a post describing the shirt I’m making Hubs for Christmas. In that post I told you all about the other shirts I had made him already. I described the particular problems and set-backs I had encountered. I did this because I was sure that it would be smooth sailing thereon and I would have a finished shirt to show for my efforts by now. Instead the mistakes keep piling on so numerous that they cannot be contained in a single post. So far I have:

  1. Re-made the button placket so the plaids match. This was me being a perfectionist. This shirt was going to be a pinnacle of crafts-person-ship, after all, gotta match that plaid.
  2. Re-made a pocket because it puckered where the fold was sewn down as I pulled basting stitches. This sounds like me being a perfectionist, but by the time I was done fussing with the thing it was no longer square in addition to having a pucker. I was a cool customer, redoing a pocket was no big thing.
  3. Topstitched the inside yoke instead of the outer yoke. Frustration mounts.
  4. Sewn both the shirt fronts inside out. I did not realize this until after I finished the yoke, making for twice the ripping. Frustration turned into anger at carelessness.
  5. Re-sewn one of the shirt fronts not only inside out but with the arm and neck sides reversed when I “fixing” mistake #4. By then it was enough to be funny.
  6. Re-attached part of the collar stand. This being the trickiest part of a men’s button down I anticipated having to fix a pucker or two. No big deal and I was glad there was only one pucker though it would be nice if the fix took the first time and I hadn’t had to fix my fixes.

I have had to re-do or fix every single thing I’ve done –  sometimes twice! – and folks, I haven’t even gotten to the cuffs, yet.

I think this shirt will be short-sleeved.