Category: Uncategorized

New plan!

I’m not terribly good at this “Look at this thing I made– with pictures!” kind of blogging, but I am ok at coming up with ideas and writing them down for others to read. So I’m going to focus on that instead of the documenting things I make, since frankly it puts a lot of mental pressure on me and my family and then doesn’t get done.

As I write this, it’s probably the last warm day of the year. The windows are open and even though the air feels chilly, the sun is warm and the cat has arranged herself on the sill in such a way that the sun picks up every caramel colored sploch in her multi-colored coat. The gardeners are hard at work with some noisy tool outside so all I hear is the buzz of engines and the occasional bus passing by.

I’ve been thinking about charity and how people make such a big deal about it. Normally when an item reaches the end of its useful life for my family, we donate it to the Salvation Army or Good Will without much fanfare or thought the way that most people do. This year, one of my friends told me that she was collecting things for Syrian refugees and if I had winter clothes, please get them to her by a certain time. So, I got together the winter things my husband and I no longer wanted and the clothes that T outgrew and gave them to her instead of those other charities.

She took a picture of the haul and posted it on facebook with a shout out to me and my family. I don’t know why, but this really embarrassed me. It’s not that I don’t want to be seen as a charitable person, I do, but it felt disingenuous. I didn’t give all these things that I wasn’t using to get recognition, I just wanted to keep some people warm and get this stuff out of the house. Being cold is bad, being cold when you’ve never really felt cold before is the worst. I can’t imagine growing up somewhere warm, having to leave my home with only what I can carry and then ending up somewhere cold. That is the stuff that nightmares are made of!

I look at the excess that I’ve accumulated and I feel ashamed of myself for buying things I don’t really need and yarn and fabric with little or no plan for its use. I’m going to challenge myself for the next year to make one thing for charity every month from my stash. I’m going to take the next two months to finish projects I’ve already begun and I’ll be keeping you abreast of developments here.

Outfit Along 2015– Finished Outfit!!!

For the past few years Andi Satterlund and Lauren of Lladybird have been hosting the Outfit Along. The rules are simple: in two months you must create a knitted garment and a sewn garment that you feel constitute an outfit. I decided to participate because, duh, I have a stash of fabric waiting to be sewn and yarn waiting to be knitted and this would spur me to act on that. So without further ado, I give you the finished outfit:

Cardigan and Dress

The cardigan is Vianne by Andi Satterlund and was the featured knitting patter for this -Along. I usually only follow rules if it suits me and this time it did. I like the way the cropped cardigan emphasizes my waist and works with a variety of dress shapes. I also love the lace, it reminds me of an Art Deco fountain.

Cardigan and Dress

For the dress, I opted not to go for the featured sewing pattern. Instead I sewed up the Adelaide Dress from Seamwork Magazine. One thing I love about sewing is that it’s challenges are completely different from all the other crafts I do. If you’d told me when I was in school, how math dependent all my hobbies would be as a grown-up I’d’ve thought you were crazy. Sewing for myself is one part intuition, one part algebra, and one part geometry. I started at the shoulders with a size 20, grading out to a 22 at the bust and a 24/26 at the waist and the I added an additional inch – inch and a half at the hip and continued that line down parallel to the pattern’s line. I ended up with a dress that preserves the design lines while skimming over my pronounced belly and wide hips.

Seamwork Adelaide

Since making this dress, I’ve been noticing women in blue and white striped dresses everywhere. When we were out in Manhattan for our anniversary, we were seated across the subway from a woman in a fit and flare silhouette of the same fabric I was wearing and I counted 3 others as we went around town. I spotted a whole lot of other women wearing either shift dresses or shirt dresses too. It made me feel really great to be on-trend. This isn’t counting all the women I’ve spotted around DC wearing similar things. DC tends to march to it’s own preppy drummer though.

Cardigan and Dress

What’s everyone wearing where you live?

Florida

I took T down to Florida to escape the cold and visit my parents. I had a bit of a brain vacation and computer detox. I’m coming back feeling much more inspired and ready to create. I’ve got chickens on the brain. Sounds crazy, right? Well, turns out that the Florida State Fair was running while we were down, so on Valentine’s Hubby took us to the fair. For anyone who’s never been to a state fair, it’s a carnival with the added benefit of showcasing civic pride. Farmers can show their animals and get them judged like a dog show, then the animals are exhibited in halls and tents for the public to look at. (Crafters, cooks, bakers, and gardeners can also submit their work to be judged and it is also exhibited before being returned, more on that later.) It turns out that chickens, like dogs, have breeds, types, coloration, size, and even feather texture. There’s a huge variety and they range from beautiful roosters that look like they walked off a Provencal plate to “silky” birds that look like balls of fluff with feet and a beak.

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The ones that really caught my eyes are the mille fleur varieties. You can’t really tell here, but in person they’re almost metallic gold with random white and black feathers that looked lacquered.

There are so many color and pattern variations I came out of the Poultry and Bunny Barn totally inspired! And I’m leaving out the turkeys, geese, ducks, and guinea fowl.

We also checked out the Blue Ribbon Building where the handicrafts were being exhibited. I was not impressed with the displays they put together. When you’re trying to submit your work to be judged, there’s a long lists of categories such as “Knitted/Crocheted Blanket— Juniors (age 11-17)” and qualifications. Whoever decided to create the displays this year made displays that looked more like a shop window with the wares artfully displayed behind glass with no mention of what category it was or how it was evaluated. They were all tagged with the name of the craftsman and the town of origin and the ribbon winners had ribbons, but no further explanation or why these items were grouped together. It was hard to figure out why this quilt was the blue ribbon, and this one was an honorable mention. The one place that they did well with the display was for the needlework section. All the framed needlepoint canvases, cross stitch pictures, and embroideries were hung together so you were able to see the level of workmanship and compare the pieces. I left that building feeling kind of let down. On the one hand it’s really nice to see a bountiful display of handiwork, but it’s also upsetting to see it displayed in a way that you can’t really see them or get a feel for the level of work. I think I’m going to submit some pieces to the Maryland State Fair. Most of the knitted items on display seemed really doable to me. Plus as handicrafters it’s really important to submit! Many states are eliminating categories due to lack of submissions. It’s easy to think that what you’ve made isn’t blue ribbon worthy, but you get really good feedback from participating in events. How will you know what to improve without someone evaluating your work?

I also did some shopping with my mom wherein I discovered my pressing wish for a chambray shirt-dress. I dragged every denim-ish dress I could find into a fitting room with me and discovered that none of them fit worth a damn and were made from mystery fiber. Luckily, I have a nice striped chambray I picked up at Fabric Mart’s Black Friday sale and that McCall’s pattern everyone has been making lately. I’ll make adjustments once I get over this head cold and have energy again.

slump

I’m not feeling very inspired lately. I go through these cycles of creativity where I’ll spend a few months or so hyper productive and then a few months not getting much done. When I look at how much I created this Summer, Fall, and Winter I’m blown away. I sewed two Sorbettos, a Moneta, a Butterick 5982, 3 dresses for T, 4 night gowns for T, knit my first sweater, knit my first top, began the purple monster, knit T a coat, knit 4 pairs of mittens, 4 hats, 2 pairs of booties, a baby sweater, a cowl, and a lace shawl. I also sewed a tea cozy for my step mother-in-law and made hot sauce to give to people for the winter holidays. I’ve got a bunch of things on the needle, a challah cover in the hoop, and some ideas for new garments brewing, but I’m not very excited about any of it. I’ve got a case of the blahs. In the mean-time I’ll be over here playing the Sims. There’s drama a-foot!

First sewing finish in 2015

My good friend is expecting a baby boy due in March so to honor her and her little one, I made her a bunch of goodies! Since her shower was today, I can now safely share her gift with you.

A jacket:

Reversible Zippy Hoodie

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I was originally going to buy her something cute from her registry, but I spotted these foxes while I was shopping for flannel for T and it called out her name! The jacket is the Reversible Zippy Hoodie from Kitschy Coo Patterns. I’m moderately pleased with the outcome. The pattern is relatively straight-forward, but it’s a little finicky especially in the smaller sizes. Most of my dissatisfaction comes from the fact that somewhere in the shuffle of switching between feet, I misplaced my edge-stitching foot so the top-stitching looks pretty crappy after I lost it. The pattern works for knits or wovens, but both versions require ribbing. Since I was working with a pretty heavy twill for the outer shell it meant switching needles a few times. When I installed the zipper, I should have switched from a jersey needle to a blue-jean needle at the seam, but instead I sewed the whole thing with the denim needle. This was a mistake since it split the ribbing. I mended it and gifted it. I’m not sure I’ll be making this as a woven jacket again anytime soon. As an extra-special touch I hand embroidered their last initials in a monogram style in stem-stitch. This way, if they have another baby someday, that kid can use it too.

A blanket:

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It’s nothing special just a 40″ x 40″  almost square, but I mitered the corners which I feel is a nice touch. It should be good for swaddling, dragging around, burping, and tummy time. I used the second part of this tutorial to do the corners.

And a little crinkle toy:

Crinkle Tag Toy

I had a rather large scrap of the fox fabric left after I cut the square for the blanket, so I decided to make a crinkle tag toy. Babies really like things that rustle and crinkle and rubbing different textures, so I think he’d like it. Heck, T was pretty wild to get at it and she’s well out of the gumming and drooling phase. If y’all are interested I can put together a tutorial on how to make one of these. They’re super easy and a big hit at baby showers.

I have a problem with color-work mittens.

I’m obsessed. First I made myself some.

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Project here, on Ravelry.

Then they weren’t enough and we were in the midst of a cold-snap, so I cast on to some darling ones for T.

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The bunny mittens are a free charted pattern put out by a Norwegian blogger. Unlike my mittens, these are relatively tight and don’t have a thumb gusset at all. Consequently, they allow for greater freedom of movement and stay on more than T’s other mittens. I think mine are more like Swedish mittens, since they’re looser, have a thumb gusset and the pattern was put out by Drops. My mittens are huge, like oven mitt huge, as in they’re big even on my husband. I think I might need to stalk some Scandinavian knitting blogs and discover other traditional mitten shapes.

T’s mittens are the envy of the playground. The last time I took her to play in the park, a little girl was so taken with them, she chased T around trying to grab one. Luckily, there’s nothing T loves more than a good game of chase and I connected the mittens by a crochet chain, so no harm, no foul.

Strict accountability

In my first post I wrote out my New Year’s resolutions which included “finish or frog all current works in progress” as well as “blog.” So to keep my word, I present you with my WIPs and unfinished objects (UFOs).

sock yarn crescent shawl

I started knitting this on the way up to visit my in-laws for Christmas. I started winding the ball on the New Jersey Turnpike. When I was about half-way though winding, T started demanding the bathroom. So, I tucked the ball in my pocket and with the skein round my neck, I escorted her in through the pouring rain into the most crowded rest stop looking like a lunatic. Someday, it’ll be a crescent shawl. The yarn is Knit Picks Hawthorne in Sauvie Island.

painted wyatt hat

This is going to be a Wyatt hat made of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Hand Paints in Mint Julep.

double crochet wash cloth

I’ve been trying to like crochet, thus the double crochet washcloth. I’ve been attempting to get my stitches more even. Part of me is leaning towards “frog” on this, but I can finish it anytime I want to. Want, keyword.

soon to be frogged philosopher's walk socks

Philosopher’s Walk Socks. I started these back in the spring and just lost steam after turning the heel. I think I’m gonna frog them and then make some plain striped socks with them.

almost two fair isle mittens

I’ll probably finish these mittens by the end of the week. I just put the thumb on hold this morning which means I’ve only got a little bit more to go. The pattern is by Drops, but I decided to sub the louse stitch for the vertical lines on the palm and thumb. I’m trying to mimic a self striping yarn with two shade of orange, yellow, and green with the brown as a background color.

more than two thirds of a sweater

The purple sweater from the first post, Beatnik by Norah Gaughan from Knitty Deep Fall 2010. The yarn is Bartlett Fisherman’s Yarn in Lupine. It’s super rustic and kind of hard on my hands, but it softens up really nicely after blocking and washing. I love the way it shows off the cables and moss stitch.

soon to be frogged top-down cardigan

This was going to be a top-down cardigan, but I’m not really digging the pattern anymore. So I’m frogging it to make a different cardigan.

arrow head lace shawl

This is my Arrowhead lace shawl. I put it on hold after I got a head injury and completely mucked it up for about a pattern repeat. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but I just keep getting distracted by other projects.

My baby girl loves my arms

Body Positivity is a battle. What helps me is to try and see my body through my daughter’s eyes. To her, I am the most beautiful, most wonderful person in the world. So she can’t understand that Mama doesn’t like her belly or arms. Worse, if she did understand, would she extrapolate that she is less than perfect too?

She loves my upper arms. The ones that fashion and the world at large would have me hide. They’re soft and flabby unlike my (relatively slim) forearms. Whenever I am wearing short sleeves or a sleeveless top, T creeps up silently to sit beside me and nuzzle my arms. She used to get quite rough with them which left me really sensitized, but she’s learned to be gentle with me and it’s really sweet. Her love of them makes me appreciate them more. They’re soft and comfortable, but also strong enough to hold her and carry her.

What has your body enabled you to do?

There’s this awful pressure on women to look a certain way and it’s especially hard on mothers. We’re supposed to give birth, keep a baby alive, and not just go back to our pre-baby body, but maybe even to something closer to that “ideal” body. I carried my weight in my belly and butt before T came and while she was gestating she ate my butt. Now, if I measure my hips under my belly, I’m proportionate, but once I measure over my belly it’s 5-6 inches bigger. I get really hard on myself about this. She’s two and a half and I’m still a size up from where I was pre-pregnancy and even if I were to go down to where I was I wouldn’t want to wear those old clothes anyway.

This year I want to try to make pants and fitted skirts. I’m tired of hiding under a full skirt or wearing ill-fitting RTW pants. I had this epiphany, that just like I choose my dress pattern size by my above bust measurement, I should choose my skirt or pants size from my waist. Now I just need to find the correct alteration…

Hello World!

My name is Sara, and I make stuff. I decided to start this blog to document the things I make more or less successfully. I started embroidering in 2006 and then quilting in 2011. Then I decided to relearn knitting after I had my daughter in 2012 so I’d have something to do during the day to promote a sense of progress. I started sewing garments for myself this summer after much dithering. I still find it quicker and easier to make things for my daughter– there’s no grading, minimal fitting, and smaller yardages to manage, though much less appreciated.

I am happily married to a very skinny, very nerdy man and I am very lucky. Our daughter T is a whirling dervish and gives all her love to the cat, who loves no one. I get to stay at home with her and attempt to parent in between Daniel Tiger episodes. I’m plus sized, body-positive, liberal, feminist, and nerdy.

My New Year’s Resolutions-

Blog.

Make 1 bed sized quilt. This will probably be for T’s big girl bed since she’s turning 3 in July.

Finish the %^&$# purple sweater

Finish or frog current works in progress

Crochet enough to decide whether or not I like it for real. Right now I hate it but I think I hate it for not coming to me as easily as knitting does, like how I hated the piano for not being singing.

Make more garments for myself.

Look in the stash before I go shopping for new fabric or yarn.

Invest in tools.

Be less wasteful. Specifically cut down on household food waste.