Little Smart Summer Shirt and Kid Shorts

Last summer, I had hoped to sew Jude an outfit for his first birthday party. I had the fabric already and was in the process of picking out patterns when I realized that my time was limited and making him an outfit was just not a priority (especially when a package showed up from my mom with a perfectly-cute monkey-themed outfit he could wear instead).

Kid Shorts and Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

The camp shirt patterns in the summer kids issue of Ottobre reminded me of my previous plans, and now I’ve finally made the little banana outfit I originally envisioned. As is typical with the Ottobre kids issues (at least with the boys’ patterns), they have a version of a basic camp shirt to fit their whole kids range—one in their infants/toddler sizes, one in smaller kids sizes, and one in larger kids sizes. I really love it when they do this with a basic, workhorse style. It’s nice to know that once Jude grows out of a pattern I’ve used, there is likely a larger version available in the same style. And I think they do a nice job of adjusting the details for the larger sizes so they have a touch more sophistication to appeal to older kids’ tastes. In short, I have endless love for Ottobre. This is nothing new.

Smart Little Summer Shirt (Ottobre 03/2019 #8)

Anyway. Jude is still at the top end of their infants range, so this is the Little Smart Summer Shirt (#8) from Ottobre 03/2019. I cut a size 86 based on my vague memory of his height at his 18 month well-child visit in February. In other words, I probably should have actually measured him again but was too lazy. Luckily, it fits him pretty perfectly right now, but it will definitely be a one-season-only garment.  I think he’ll be ready for a size 92 in the fall, which seems to open up a whole new slew of pattern possibilities from Ottobre, so I’m very excited about that.

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The instructions for this pattern were not the greatest. I mean, I still think Ottobre instructions are miles ahead of, say, Burda or Style Arc. But even with a close read, this pattern required some improvising and I felt like some of the instructions came out of order so it’s worth reading them all through very closely before you begin. The pattern wants you to hem the outer edge of the facing, which I was not interested in doing. I ended up just cutting away the seam allowance I’d added to the piece (per the instructions) and serging the edge to keep it clean. The pattern also calls for horizontal buttonholes and only 4 buttons, which didn’t seem like enough to me. I made vertical buttonholes and ending up using 6 buttons.

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He is definitely telling me about the trash cans in this picture. Jude is quite passionate about trash and recycling right now.

The fabric for the shirt is a Cotton + Steel cotton lawn print from a couple of years ago. I had 2 yards of this fabric in my stash and used way less than that for this shirt, so Jude might get a duplicate shirt next summer. It was really easy to work with and is incredibly soft.

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The shorts are made from some gray Kaufman Brussels linen blend fabric I’ve had in my stash for several years. I used the Kid Shorts pattern from Made Everyday–I cut a 2T and made the view with the lined pockets (using the banana print fabric for the fabric lining) and the fully elasticated waist. I think I’m done with this pattern for the time being. While it’s a perfectly fine pattern, I’m not in love with the fit and, more importantly, really hate that there aren’t instructions with the pattern. You have to track down the tutorial posts the pattern designer published on her blog, which also means having to click around to different posts to reference the instructions for different pattern views. Obviously, constructing a basic pair of shorts isn’t difficult but that’s all the more reason I don’t want to have to do that kind of work to remind myself of the pattern’s hem allowance or whether or not the pocket seams have a different seam allowance than the rest of the shorts. The next time I make Jude a pair of shorts, I think I’m just going to try the Sunny Day Shorts pattern from Oliver & S.

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Still, this outfit turned out really cute. Jude wore this when we took his granddad and his aunt Sarah to the zoo on a very hot and sunny day. This outfit kept him cool and he looked very sweet in it. He already has plenty of clothes to get him through this season, but I’m going to have to make him more shirts like this next summer!

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Jude’s Beach Robe

Like the Montessori-Style Apron I recently posted about, this was another quick and easy project that was meant to be fun and bright to keep me excited about sewing after a long lull. This is the Beach Robe pattern from MADE Everyday. I’ve made this pattern three times before—I made two shortly after I started sewing for our godson and our oldest nephew, and then made a third a few years later when our twin nephews grew into the robe I’d made for their brother and needed a second so neither of them had to go naked.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

The pattern is meant to be a beach/swimming cover up, and I appreciate the wisdom of this approach even more now that I’ve tried in vain to convince a cold and shivering toddler to hold still long enough to get dried off and warmed up by a towel. Like the others I’ve made before, I used two of the thinnest bath towels I could get from Target, some basic packaged bias tape, and some quilting cotton from JoAnn’s for the hood lining. I made the 18 month – 3T size, which I’m hoping will fit Jude well for the next couple of summers, and I made the option with the half-ties and short sleeves.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

As I think I’ve said before when I’ve made this pattern, this pattern is very easy except for the bias binding, which is pretty tricky to manage around the robe ties. I’m happy to say that I got a really nice result with the robe ties this time, with no tucks or puckers around the curve of the ties. However, it’s taken me four rounds with the pattern and five years of sewing to get to that point. The pattern also recommends sewing the bias binding in a single step by just sandwiching the robe fabric between the binding and sewing it down, and I think this is a completely bananas recommendation and a recipe for infinite frustration. I have always sewn it in two steps like I would for any other project.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

I sewed the sleeves in flat, attached the sleeve binding after I’d sewed up the side seams, and finished all of the seams with my serger. I sewed the first two robes I made from this pattern before I owned a serger, and I have to say that this is a project where the serger really does produce a better finishing result. Serging the seams together is easiest, most efficient, and cleanest way to contain all of the towel fluff and to control the bulk of the seams.

Made Everyday Beach Robe

Unfortunately, the weather has been pretty terrible since I finished this, so Jude hasn’t actually had a chance to use it as a swimming cover up yet. But he did try it on for me after I finished it and danced around the living room in it, so I’d say it’s a win. 🙂

 

A Montessori-Style Apron for Jude

The first part of this year seemed to yield a high number of sewing and knitting frustrations for me. Projects weren’t turning out well, my motivation to sew or knit was pretty low, I didn’t have any project ideas that were inspiring me. This seems to happen to me every so often—I fall into a kind of funk where creative activity seems to grind to a halt, and it’s hard to get started up again. These lulls tend to happen when things are out of balance for me, which was definitely the case throughout the first part of the year when I was overloaded with work.

Farm Print Montessori-Style Apron

In those moments where making things just stops feeling fun, I really like to find a super easy, super quick project to make. Basically, I start looking for a really easy win—and bonus points if it can be made with a bright quilting cotton print. Around my spring break, Jude had started to get really excited about helping me cook and bake, so I decided to make him a little kitchen apron. This definitely met the criteria for easy and quick. I think I was able to sew this up in just one or two of my usual 20-minute evening sewing sessions. There was no fitting, no fiddly sewing techniques required, and the fabric is full of silly cartoon farm animals.

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I used the free Montessori-style apron pattern available from Sew Liberated. I was drawn to the Montessori-style apron because the Velcro strap and elasticated neck make it easy to get on and off a wiggly toddler. Jude doesn’t have the motor skills to put this on by himself yet, but he can easily take it off when he doesn’t want to wear it anymore. The fabric is from JoAnn’s. While I was getting the fabric cut, the woman at the cutting counter was completely charmed and took a few minutes to look over the fabric and take in all the cute animal scenes. It really is the print that keeps giving, although the woman cutting my fabric was a bit concerned that it looked like the pigs were being fed molten lava. Lol.

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The apron comes in a single size that it meant to fit children from ages 3-6. Jude was 18 months old when I made this, and I was a bit worried that the apron size would overwhelm him a bit so I printed the pattern out at 95% and then adjusted the lengths of the neck and back straps by cutting them at 95% of the recommended length. (See, kids—you really will use those math skills in your adult life.) The size is perfect for him right and will still be able to grow with him for a good bit.

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I honestly wasn’t sure how Jude would feel about wearing an apron. I don’t wear an apron while I cook, so I wouldn’t have the appeal of “looking like mama” on my side if he didn’t want to put it on. But it turns out that he loves it. If I ask him if he wants to get his stool out and help me cook, the first thing he does is grab his apron. And sometimes, he’ll ask to put it on and he’ll just wear it around the house while he plays. He is basically an agent of chaos in the kitchen (as any kid under 2 is, I’m sure), so it’s not like his apron is enough to keep him from getting messy. But it definitely helps cut down on the number of outfit changes required, and he looks so cute while he’s wearing it that it makes it even more fun to have him in the kitchen with me.

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A quick and easy project like this wasn’t enough to magically get me deep into sewing again, but it was a nice way to remember the fun of sewing and offered a moment of relief in the face of my other sewing frustrations. And I’ll take that any day.

Post-Blogging Break Updates

Hello! I decided to take January off from blogging—just because I thought it would be nice to have a little break. I meant to start up again at the beginning of February, but I’ve been sick, busy with work, tired from being up at night with a sick baby (I mean, toddler) etc., etc., etc. All the usual stuff.

I also decided to take a break from Instagram about half way through January and, unlike blogging, I’m not interested in going back. Instagram had started to feel a lot like Facebook before I quit that. It felt like I was investing a lot of time and energy into something that didn’t really feel like it was adding any value to my life. It had started to feel less like something I genuinely enjoyed and more like something that I couldn’t opt out of, which is ultimately what made me feel like it was time to get out.

It was weird to listen to the recent episode of Love to Sew, “Sewcializing 2.0” that was basically all about Instagram—it had the effect of underlining for me all the reasons that Instagram doesn’t resonate with me anymore. So I’m just going to continue to focus on my blog as my way of participating in some small way in online knitting and sewing circles. Even though I’ve taken breaks from blogging and have often questioned why I keep up with it, I continue to enjoy writing about and reflecting on what I’ve made. I enjoy having an easily searchable record of my projects, and I enjoy making this record available for other makers who might benefit from it.

Anyway. I’ve still been sewing consistently during my blog break and managed to finish a second weighted blanket, although I failed to take any pictures of it. Lol. This blanket was for my 8-year-old godson, so significantly bigger than my first toddler-sized blanket, but it really didn’t take much longer to make. I followed the same procedure for the first blanket (which I now realize I archived on Instagram, so maybe I should reproduce it in a separate blog post), but invested in a 6×18” clear gridded quilting ruler this time, which was totally worth the $20.

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No finished photos, no in-progress photos, but at least I thought to take a picture of the fabric I used for the top of the blanket? (It’s a Minecraft print from JoAnn’s and I used a coordinating Kona solid for the back and binding.)

I’ve also finished sewing a few garments that I’ll blog about shortly, but I haven’t been doing much knitting at all. I’ve been in a major knitting slump since mid-December that has largely related to a failed project. I finished my Carbeth cardigan and found that I just didn’t like it at all and that I had no idea what to do with it, which was really disappointing. But it also felt like yet another sweater failure in a long line of sweater projects that just haven’t worked out for me at all.

So instead of knitting, I’ve been been spending a lot of time trying to determine what makes a sweater work for me—and those key factors have been surprisingly difficult to identify. I think I have a good idea of what I want and need from a sweater, and plan to write a post about those ideas and another post about my Carbeth cardigan (which is still in limbo because I’m still not sure what I want to do about it). In the meantime, I’ve ordered some new yarn to get me back to my knitting needles, although I’m keeping things safe by working on a baby sweater that will be a gift for someone else.

I think those are all of my craft-relevant updates since the last time I posted. I’ll have some finished project posts up soon and will be trying to find some time to get modeled photos of some of the garments I’ve finished recently so I can get caught up blogging all of the things I’ve been making. Yay for blogging!

#SewingTop5 2018: Reflections and Goals

I’m back with my second post for #SewingTop5 2018. (You can find the post recapping my highlights, hits, and misses here). Today, I’m sharing my reflections on 2018 and setting some goals for the coming year.

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Reflections

#1: As I said in my previous post, one of the big highlights of this year was getting back into sewing after eight months away from the sewing room while I was taking care of a new baby. It was exciting enough just to find time to sew again, but even more exciting is the fact that I managed to carve out a regular, daily sewing habit for myself. It took some time to figure out the best approach, but I finally realized that by just setting aside 20 minutes for myself after Jude went to bed, I was able to make consistent progress on my sewing projects and enjoy some quiet, alone time at the end of the day. I’ve wanted to establish a regular sewing practice for myself since I started sewing, and I’m so glad that I finally hit upon a sewing ritual that has made that goal a reality.

#2: I wasn’t sewing during the first part of the year, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about sewing (especially when I was stuck in the lactation room at work several times a day). While I daydreamed about what I wanted to sew and plotted how I would get back into the sewing room, I realized that I needed to rethink my sewing goals. I originally took up sewing specifically because I wanted to be able to make as much of my clothing as possible and avoid shopping, which I loathe. It was an exciting but daunting goal that, in retrospect, kept me from experimenting in ways that would have beneficial to my sewing. That original goal kept me focusing on simple, basic projects that were more likely to lead to wearable garments. And I still learned a lot and, indeed, ended up with a lot of wearable items. But I think it kept me from trying garments I really wanted to wear that would require more fitting or more technical skill. And I think it also sometimes discouraged me from sewing, just because the goal itself seemed so out of reach given the amount of sewing time I have and my skill level. So I’ve reoriented my goals, and I’m trying to really focus on sewing the kinds of things that seem interesting to sew and like the kinds of garments I really wish were in my closet. And I’m trying to hone my shopping skills to take care of the stuff I don’t really want to make.

#3: As part of rethinking my sewing goals, I also started thinking more seriously about what kinds of clothes I want to wear. I feel so overwhelmed by clothes shopping that I’ve typically just gone for whatever is easiest to buy, and that’s historically left me with a boring closet of solid basics that don’t fit either my body or my personality very well. In May, I read The Curated Closet—I loved it, and it’s helped me work out a clearer sense of my ideal style, which is helping me choose projects and making it easier to shop for the things I don’t have the time or the desire to make. You can even see the pin board I created while I was reading the book here.

#4: Between establishing a regular sewing practice and getting a clearer sense of the kinds of projects I want to make, I’ve finally struck a more pleasing (to me) balance with my stash. I would generally prefer to buy fabric for a project as I’m about to make it—this is what I already do for my knitting projects, which is why I have a very minimal yarn stash. But the combination of not sewing regularly and not having a firm sense of what I’d like to sew/wear, I’ve spent the last several years engaging in aspirational fabric buying. I’d buy fabric with a project in mind, but I’d either not get around to sewing it while the desire to make the project was fresh or I’d realize that the project really wasn’t something I wanted to make. Right now, I’m making most of my short-term sewing plans based on what is already in my stash and buying fabric for new projects only as I need it. I’ve also gotten rid of lots of fabric that I just don’t have any desire to use and now I have a stash that feels manageable and isn’t stressing me out.

#5: I found that I really love sewing kids clothes. I spent almost the entire fall sewing things for Jude, and while I wish I had struck a bit more of a balance with sewing for myself, it was really satisfying to make some quick projects that have gotten a lot of wear. It just affirms my change in sewing goals—better to sew what makes me happy than to feel like I have to make everything I wear. And I know that there is likely a hard limit on how long Jude will willingly wear mama-made clothes, so I’m going to keep taking advantage of the opportunity while I can.

Goals for 2019

  1. Knit myself at least one sweater that I love. I have a post or two coming up about this, but I’ve been struggling to figure out what kinds of sweater patterns work best for me. My last few attempts at sweater knitting have been flops, so I’ll be happy if I can add just one pullover that I love to my closet.
  2. Sew a button up shirt, finally. This is one of those garments that I would happily make part of my daily uniform, but that I’ve been too hesitant to sew for fear of getting it wrong. Time to tackle the button up shirt. Luckily, I’ve already got plenty of suitable fabric to work with.
  3. Sew myself another pair of jeans. I loved the process of making my Ginger Jeans and the toddler jeans I made for Jude only reignited the desire to sew some more jeans. I want to keep working on the fit of the Ginger pattern, but I’d also like to try the Morgan Jeans.
  4. Sew a couple of shirts for summer that I feel good wearing. In my Me-Made May reflection this year, I realized that I need to make more of a concerted effort to figure out a summer wardrobe that will work for me. So I’d like to start by making a couple of non-tshirt tops for myself that feel both summery and more representative of my style.
  5. Sew something for Aidan. After having fun sewing some garments for Jude, I’d like to try making a garment or two for Aidan. I have two issues of Ottobre Family, which contain many men’s patterns. And there are actually a couple of garments that Aidan has trouble finding in stores, so it would be great if I could help him fill those wardrobe gaps.

As always though, I’m just looking forward to more making in the new year. I’m proud of everything I accomplished in 2018 and excited to tackle some new things in 2019!

 

 

 

#SewingTop5 for 2018: Highlights, Hits, and Misses

I always like participating in the #SewingTop5 Series hosted by Gillian at Crafting A Rainbow. It’s a fun way to reflect on the year, and I feel like I have a lot to celebrate and reflect on from 2018. 2018 has felt like a very long year, and I’m also kind of shocked to find myself at the end of it.

Top 5 Highlights

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  1. In January, I went back to work full-time after having Jude, which means that he also started daycare. The constant flood of kid germs aside, it has been a great experience. We love his teachers, he seems to love being at school, and I feel like parenting has given me a sharpened focus in my work life so I actually feel like I’ve gotten more efficient at work despite the fact that I’ve got more going on.
  2. At the end of April, my brother got married, and I got to officiate the ceremony. But Jude, of course, stole the show by being incredibly cute. Lol.
  3. In May, after I got my spring grades turned in, I actually started sewing again–basically for the first time in eight months since Jude was born! And I’ve actually maintained a regular sewing practice for the first time since I started sewing. I’m actually shocked by how much I managed to get sewn this year. (I actually started reading for pleasure again at about the same time and am likewise shocked by how many books I managed to read.)
  4. Jude turned one in August! We had a party for him with all of our family in Wisconsin, and I had a blast making his first birthday cake. It is so fun to watch his little personality develop. He is silly and sweet and sensitive, and I love watching him learn more and more everyday. (He also got tubes shortly after his birthday, which finally took care of the monthly ear infections we were experiencing–such a relief!)
  5. And finally, in October, I decided to make Jude a Halloween costume. It didn’t feel right to put this project on my “Hits” list since it only got worn a couple of times, but making it was definitely a highlight of my year. I didn’t think I’d enjoy costume sewing as much as I did, and it turned out so freaking cute I can hardly stand it.

Top 5 Hits (listed in the order that I finished them)

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  1. Black striped Muse Jenna Cardigan. I wasn’t sure I’d wear this much when I finished it over the summer, but I’ve been wearing it all the time.
  2. Pinstripe jersey Stevie Top. Aidan complements this shirt every time I wear it.
  3. High-waisted Avery leggings. So comfortable!
  4. Jude’s Mukava Jeans from Ottobre 01/2018
  5. My Picking Daisies shawl–easily my favorite knitting project from this year.

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Top 5 Misses

  1. My Willamette Shirt. I didn’t like the fabric I used, but also think I would have preferred a smaller size.
  2. My mid-waist Avery leggings, which basically look like my high waisted pair, but roll down my hips when I move around.
  3. My Carbeth Cardigan. I haven’t blogged about or taken pictures of the finished cardigan yet, but this knitting project turned out to be a bust. It fits, and it’s a great pattern. But it’s not my style, and I know I’ll never wear it.
  4. (and 5) Both views of the Santa Fe top that I tried. This swingy shape just doesn’t work for me–it doesn’t look good, and I don’t like the way it feels either. I haven’t really worn these, even as pajamas.

I at least feel like I learned something valuable from each of my “misses,” and I’m looking forward to putting those lessons to use in 2019. But more on that in my next post when I’ll talk about my Top 5 Reflections and Goals!

Lullaby Line Sleep Sack

Jude refuses to sleep with a blanket—he has a blanket that he cuddles with/sleeps on top of, but he does not like to be covered up. This hasn’t actually been a problem. We keep our house warm enough that he stays perfectly cozy in his pajamas while sleeping on top of a blanket. But I realized around the beginning of November that we might need to have something warmer on hand for him when we went to Wisconsin for Christmas. My dad keeps his house cooler than we do and the room that we stay in at his house is in the basement.

Peekaboo Patterns Lullaby Line Sleep Sack

Last winter, Jude had a problem sleeping in fleece pajamas. While they kept him really toasty while we were staying in colder houses, they also seemed to give him an eczema flare up. So I didn’t just want to go out and get him heavier pajamas for traveling. I vaguely remembered having seen a sleep sack pattern that included larger sizes with foot holes so that mobile kids can still easily move around while wearing the sleep sack. I was able to track it down—it was the Peekaboo Patterns Lullaby Line Sleep Sack, which includes sizes from preemie to a kids 5/6. Jude has never had a problem with fleece sleep sacks in the past since the looser cut and wearing cotton pajamas underneath allows his skin to breathe a bit, so I decided to give the pattern a try.

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The fabric is a plush polyester knit I bought from Joann’s. It is super soft and very similar to the blanket that he sleeps on top of already. The fabric shed like crazy (which I expected) and was fairly shifty while sewing (which I did not expect), but it still worked out well for the pattern. For the binding, I used some navy Kaufman Laguna jersey already in my stash. I sewed up the 12-24 months size based on Jude’s current height and it fits him nicely, with plenty of room for him to grow a bit while it’s still cold this year.

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Peekaboo Patterns is the same company that made the pajama pattern that I made for Jude last month, and I felt similarly lukewarm about this sleep sack pattern. The pattern is fine but really just isn’t as slick and professional as I’m used to at this point. (And, to be fair, the pattern price reflects that—it costs about half of what I usually pay for an indie pattern these days.) I didn’t like the instructions for inserting the zipper–it seemed like a weird attempt at a shortcut that I’ve never seen in another pattern and seemed incompatible with my fluffy, shifty fabric. The recommended binding method is also not my favorite since it involves trimming excess fabric. So I basically just set the instructions aside and sewed it up in a way that made sense to me.

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The only significant change I made to the pattern was to widen the foot cuffs by ~.75”. I read a couple of reviews online that said that the cuffs seemed a bit too narrow, and when I compared them to the cuffs that I had just put on Jude’s pajama bottoms, I saw that they were basically the same dimensions. I also narrowed the neck binding a bit since it seemed overly wide (also an issue noted by other online reviewers).

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I wasn’t able to get any pictures of Jude standing up in the sleep sack. Once again, toddlers make for uncooperative blog models. But he was very happy to show me how easily he could crawl around in it as he collected small toys to throw over the baby gate and down the stairs. So at least I know his movement won’t be restricted as he performs the complex acrobatic routine that is toddler sleep.

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Jude’s Christmas Stocking

I actually finished this project quite a while ago—I’m pretty sure I at least had all of the knitting done before Thanksgiving last year.

This is, obviously, Jude’s Christmas stocking. It’s made using the Modern Classics stocking pattern by Nina Issacson. I got this pattern and the yarn as a kit from KnitPicks several years ago, just a few months after I had started my PhD program. The kit contained enough yarn for three stockings. I made mine and Aidan’s right after buying the kit and then patiently held onto the extra yarn until Jude was here.

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In the intervening years, I’ve actually made seven other versions of this pattern. Two for my in-laws and five for Aidan’s sister’s family. I reached max burnout on this pattern approximately three stockings ago, but felt like I was locked in and had to keep making them.

At this point, I feel complicated about these stockings. The complicated feelings have nothing to do with the pattern itself, which is perfectly fine. I love the way our family stockings look hanging all together. Aidan also really loves them.

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But I still vividly remember knitting the first two stockings for Aidan and I when I was deep in the middle of a crushing bout of depression and struggling to stay afloat during my first semester of PhD coursework. I knit these stockings pretty quickly, but only because I couldn’t get myself off the couch to do anything else. It was knitting as a form of numbing, and I still feel it a bit when I look at them.

The progressive burnout of knitting this pattern ten times only adds to the uninspired feelings. But now the big kicker is that I ever wanted to knit another stocking to match our family stockings for any future family member, the yarn that came with the original kit (Knitpicks Telemark) has been completely discontinued. It’s also not widely stashed on Ravelry, so finding some to buy from another knitter seems unlikely. So the best I would be able to do to try to match it is find a similar color in a similar base. And I have a feeling that even the closest match would result in a fourth stocking that is just off enough to drive me crazy.

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But that’s not a situation that is immediately before me, so it’s not something I’m actually worried about. For now, we’re enjoying another Christmas season with our matching stockings hanging in the hallway.

Alex & Anna Winter PJs

Back in the beginning of October, I decided I would take a month to sew up a few things for Jude. He had just received a bunch of new clothes for his birthday, but only had a couple of pairs of pajamas in his current size so I pulled some fabrics from my stash and cut out five pairs of pjs.

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I ended up putting the pajamas aside for a while when we realized that Jude didn’t have quite enough pants to get him through the week. And then we got some hand-me-downs from my office mate that made the need for new pajamas less urgent so I got deep into Halloween sewing. But after a bit of a detour, I’m happy to say that all the pajamas are done and frequent rotation.

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This is the Alex and Anna Winter PJs from Peek-a-boo Patterns, which I’ve used in the past to make pajamas for my nephews and my godson. I cut the 2T for Jude, which fits well with a bit of room to grow. The red dog print, the cat print, and the bug print fabric are all cotton interlock from Cloud 9 Fabrics. The ninjas are a Kaufman Laguna jersey print leftover from my nephews’ pajamas, and the airplanes are a cotton-Spandex blend from Riley Blake. All of the cuffs and neckbands are cut from Kaufman Laguna solids.

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I’m pretty happy with the finished pajamas. The fabrics are all soft and more substantial than the jersey used to make most store-bought pajamas. And store-bought pajamas are cut so slim that it is a struggle to get Jude’s arms sleeves, while these are much easier to get on. But I’m definitely less in love with this pattern than I was when I used it a couple of years ago.

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The pattern doesn’t have the grainline marked on any of the pieces (which is especially a problem for the pattern piece for the pants since it isn’t cut on the fold) and it also doesn’t have any notches to help with construction. It’s not as though it’s impossible to get the pattern cut out and put together without these things, but having them there would definitely make the construction that much easier.

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But the thing I found really off-putting this time was the shape of the sleeve cap. I feel like I have enough familiarity with knit patterns that the shape looks off to me, but I don’t have enough knowledge to articulate exactly what seems wrong with it. What I do know is that it’s much harder to set in evenly than I think it should be—I actually found it impossible to sew the sleeves in with my serger and had to use my regular machine. The sleeve cap shape also results in a bit of a weird bump at the armscye—it’s the kind of thing that wouldn’t be noticeable to anyone else, but I notice it and it bugs me.

The next time I make Jude some pajamas, I think I might pair the pants from this pattern with the Flashback Skinny Tee from Made by Rae and see if that works out better. Still, I’m happy to have these done, happy to have used up a good bit of stash fabric, and happy to see Jude in his mama-made pajamas.

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Picking Daisies Shawl

This Picking Daisies Shawl from Melanie Berg was my summer knitting project. I cast on in May shortly after turning in my grades for the spring semester. In the past, I would have churned my way through several projects over the summer, but my desire to knit this summer was quieter and more intermittent. So I just concentrated my limited energy on working slowly and steadily, and I finally bound off the day before the Autumn Equinox.

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The yarn came as a kit from Craftsy, which I bought myself for my birthday because I enjoyed knitting and wearing my Drachenfels Shawl so much.  The kit came with four skeins of Cloudborn Fibers Merino, which is a fingering weight merino single from Craftsy’s in house yarn line. I basically wanted to reproduce the shawl as it appeared in one of the sample photos on Craftsy, so I picked the colors that seemed closest—Charcoal Heather, Light Gray Heather, and Magenta.

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The gray striped section of the shawl is very easy knitting that is perfect for picking up and putting down. The clustered stitch pattern used to knit up the magenta yarn was obviously more complex than the simple garter and slip stitch patterns used elsewhere in the shawl. But it wasn’t terribly tricky to complete and it was really satisfying to watch it come together. Plus, after so much garter stitch in gray yarn, the more complicated cluster stitches were a welcome relief. The most tedious thing about this pattern was dealing with all of the ends that needed weaving in. I’m glad I had the foresight to stop a few times in the process of knitting this and weave in the ends I had produced at that point—it made finishing the shawl a little less painful.

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When I bound off the shawl, the clustered stitch sections were pretty bunched up and, in their relaxed state, were probably a good three inches narrower than the surrounding garter sections. It was clear that it needed aggressive blocking to get a good finish, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered some blocking wires. Getting the shawl laid out with the blocking wires took a long time and felt pretty tedious, but the result is totally worth it. I was able to completely open up the cluster stitch pattern and even out all the sides of the shawl. And now that it’s been blocked, it feels soft and drapey and lovely to wear.

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2018 has unexpectedly turned out to be the year of the knitting tool for me. Since January, I’ve bought a swift, ball winder, scale, sock blockers in my size and Aidan’s, wool wash, blocking mats, new birch DPNs for knitting sleeves, new stainless steel 16” circular needles for hat knitting, locking stitch markers, and blocking wires. I think I finally had an epiphany this year and realized that investing in good sewing tools had made for a much better sewing experience, and that it was kind of ridiculous that I was still knitting like I was a broke college student/beginner knitter. Obviously, none of these things is necessary (I’ve managed to get through more than a decade of knitting with cheap or improvised tools), but they definitely make for a nicer experience. Maybe at some point I’ll actually upgrade from the Fiskars safety scissors I keep in my notions pouch!

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