Blanket Progress and Baby Knitting Plans

I didn’t really do any knitting in January or February because I was struck down with morning sickness. But when I picked up my needles again in March, I started working on a series of baby projects for my sister’s first baby who will be here very soon. (So excited!) I just wrapped up the last of those projects recently, although I can’t share them until I actually send them to their new home in MN. But finishing them meant I could get a start on some knitting for my own baby, and I decided to start with a Pinwheel Blanket.

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I made a Pinwheel Blanket for Jude and found knitting the pattern extremely satisfying. I’ve been really inspired by the Pinwheel Blankets that Cassy from Knit the Hell Out has made using some TFA Palettes from Tanis Fiber Arts, so I decided to make my own and ordered the Turquoise Pop palette. The plan is to simply knit through each color in turn until I run out of yarn completely. Very complex stuff. Lol.

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This photo is a bit outdated now since I’ve just added the fifth color, which means that I’ve passed the half way point. My rough estimate is that the blanket is currently around 31″ in diameter. The blanket I made for Jude ended up being around 36″ once it was blocked, and I was really hoping to get something slightly bigger this time, so I’m pleased that it seems like I’m on track to accomplish that goal. My only concern is that a 40″ circular needle is the biggest I’ve got and I’ve already got 500+ stitches on the needle, which is more than 100″ in circumference. I’m really hoping I can scrunch all of my stitches up enough to fit the full blanket on my current needle–I really don’t want to have to order something larger. I guess I’m playing needle chicken instead of yarn chicken this time?

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Beyond the blanket, I don’t have a ton of baby knitting plans. I knit Jude several baby sweaters and baby #2 is due just a couple of weeks after Jude’s birthday, which means that everything should fit in just the right season. But I will knit a newborn hat from some of my sock yarn leftovers, and I’m planning to finally knit up this kit I bought from Barrett Wool Co. for Susan B. Anderson’s Little Giraffe pattern. I bought this when Jude was a baby thinking I’d make it for him, but I clearly never got around to it. I knit Jude a little stuffed monkey that he now sleeps with every night, so this seems like an appropriate friend for our new little one.

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Originally,  I thought I’d stop at those three projects, but then I pulled this skein of Socks That Rock out my stash and felt like I needed to turn it into a little pair of Rocky Joggers. I bought this yarn so long ago I have no idea what the color way name is and I seem to have lost the ball band, but it’s mostly a royal blue broken up with stretches of light gray and rainbow speckles. I think a pair of Rocky Joggers in this yarn could be really cute. I think there is also an equal chance that they will just look bizarre, but I’m going to risk it anyway because I am very eager to see this color way knit up but I have zero desire to knit socks.

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And while I was rifling through my stash, I also discovered that I have just enough of this color of Malabrigo Arroyo (leftover from a sweater that I made Jude almost a year and a half ago and never blogged even though it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever made) to knit a baby-size Beloved bonnet. So I’ll be knitting that too purely because I’ve been wanting to try the pattern forever.

I felt like I had to really push myself to make progress on the gifts for my sister. But I’m finally feeling energized by knitting again. I think a big part of it is that I’m on a break between classes and only need to work for a couple of hours a day during Jude’s naps right now. Just having more time and energy makes a huge difference. But it’s also nice to just be able to have something concrete in my hands while I’m watching Jude play during the day–it keeps me focused on the good things coming up and (mostly) helps me push away all the anxieties fighting for space in my head, at least for a bit.

Reviving the blog . . . again

I can’t remember the last time I made a post, but I appreciate that this little blogging space is available for me whenever I’m ready to write again. I got very burned out with blogging when I was struggling to find time and light and space to take photos of me wearing the things I’ve made. And I think it didn’t help that I felt like every post needed to be about a new finished project. Stepping away from the blog for a bit has helped me re-envision what I can use my blog for and how I can make blogging work for my life now. So I’m hoping that I can post more regularly about whatever I have in progress and that I can get over my fear of inconveniencing Aidan and just ask him to take pictures of me when I’ve finished a garment.

Although, I am not actually sewing or knitting any garments for myself at the moment. This is mostly because I am 21 weeks pregnant with our second child, and I have no desire to make new maternity garments. But it’s also because the idea of making clothes feels very pointless to me right now given that I have no where to go. I don’t even feel motivated to sew clothes for Jude. In general, the stress of the pandemic and all the news, and the difficulty of working from home while taking care of a  2.5 year old has sort of shifted and tilted my interests. I was reading a ton, but I haven’t read anything since they announced that our classes would be moving online for the rest of the semester. Jude and I have been baking together at least a couple of times a week. I don’t care that much about tv, but I’ve been enjoying playing Animal Crossing. I only want to knit with bright colors. And I’ve been spending my sewing time working on a quilt.

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We did a lot of camping last summer and realized that we needed a picnic/beach quilt that we could take with us on our trips. Early this year, I saw a quilt that Anna Graham made with fabrics from her new Driftless collection and I absolutely loved it. And then she shared a post on Instagram about a shop selling kits for the same quilt and I bought it right away. The quilt pattern is the Geese in Flight pattern by Jeni Baker, which uses a really interesting (and probably easier) no-waste method for creating the flying geese blocks.

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The pattern is rated as “beginner friendly,” which I think is accurate, but that does not mean that it hasn’t been challenging. I have made precisely one quilt prior to this–a crib-sized quilt for Jude that simply involved sewing pre-cut jelly roll strips together. It was basically the tote bag of the quilting world. So I’ve never had to cut blocks before or had to do any serious piecing, and this pattern requires both. When it comes to garment sewing, I am pro-shears all the way. So I had to buy myself my first rotary cutter, which came with it’s own learning curve (although I’ve only given myself two minor cuts, so that’s something). Cutting squares from 15 fat quarters and the background fabric took me at least two and a half weeks–largely because I have had to work every weekend since classes went online, which means my only sewing time has been brief nightly sessions after Jude goes to bed.

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I thought that once I had the blocks cut out, piecing would go much faster, but that was a patently stupid assumption. I thought I was using a 1/4″ foot, but it was not, and I ended up having to rip out my first set of blocks and re-sew them, which took forever. So frustrating! But they have been salvaged, and the subsequent sets of blocks have been much more successful. Each fat quarter ends up yielding 4 of the larger triangle blocks and 4 of the multi-triangle blocks. I have been really taking my time and trying to be precise after my first big screw up, so while I’ve gotten into a rhythm and things are starting to move a bit faster, the piecing is still going very slowly. At this point, I have four and half sets of blocks (out of fifteen total) done.

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Since I don’t have a bunch of other projects that are calling my name, this slow pace doesn’t bother me, and I’m actually finding it kind of soothing to keep working through the same set of steps over and over. It’s also nice to be able to see my piecing getting a little bit more precise with each set of blocks. My plan is to keep chipping away at this through the rest of the month. I’m hoping I can piece the whole top together in that time, but we’ll see what happens.

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Where ever I’m at when June begins, this project will go on hold so I can start yet another quilt–this time, a baby quilt (using the Clava Quilt pattern) for baby #2. I want to make sure that it will get done before he gets here.

 

Summer in Review

Since we’re approaching the Fall Equinox and since it’s been a long time since I updated my blog, I thought it might be a nice idea to do a quick review of all the things I made over the summer. I’ve been a bit overloaded with work since the beginning of the year, and that continued straight through the summer unfortunately. So I don’t feel like I got as much accomplished in the craft room, both because I was limited on time and feeling pretty burned out and uninspired. The fall semester is still loaded up with more work than I’d like and I don’t feel like I’ve been able to get the kind of break I really need yet this year. But towards the end of summer, I finally realized that I wasn’t managing my stress level well and have been making efforts to walk myself back from the point of burn out. And the result is that I am feeling more inspired, getting more knitting and sewing done, and probably just being generally more pleasant to be around. Lol.

Sewing

I started my summer sewing with a few projects for Jude—a beach robe, a cute banana print camp shirt, and a pair of shorts to go with the shirt. I even managed to blog all of those projects! Jude went through a growth spurt around his second birthday in August, so the banana shirt doesn’t fit anymore, but he got quite a few wears out of it before it was too small. The shorts are still in rotation, which is good since our daily temperatures are still regularly in the 80-90 degree range. And the beach robe has been super handy throughout the summer and should still fit next summer as well.

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I also managed to make a few things for myself, starting with a few pairs of pajama pants for myself. I’ve been wanting to find a tried-and-trued pj pant pattern for myself that fit fairly easily without needing a ton of adjustments. The patterns I’ve tried in the past have been those unisex patterns that the Big 4 pattern companies release regularly, but they never work well for my body. But then patterns that get rave reviews and have the kind of fit and details that I like (I’m thinking of the Closet Case Patterns Carolyn PJs here) often don’t come in my size. So I decided to try the Loungewear PJ Pant pattern from Style Arc and it’s a total winner. It’s fits great—no alterations needed at all for me. It has a single back pocket, which is perfect because I get annoyed by the bulk of inseam pockets but still want someplace to stash my phone. I didn’t take any pictures of the two pairs that I made, but I used a linen-cotton blend for the first and a cotton voile for the second. I ditched the pattern instructions for waistband for the second pair and made a classic waistband casing he second pair are basically my dream pair of summer pajama pants. I highly recommend this pattern, and I’m planning to use it to make myself a flannel pj set in the fall so I’ll make sure to get photos next time!

Chambray Kalle Shirt

I also made myself a Kalle shirt using some chambray I’ve had in my stash for a long time and finished it just in time to wear it for the first day of fall classes. This project felt like such a victory. I have felt so intimated by the idea of fitting and sewing a shirt like this, and my attempt at sewing the Willamette last summer didn’t work out so well. But I love this shirt, and I can’t wait to make another version or two next summer. I’m planning to get some better pictures of this so that I can write up a full post with all of my project details.

Knitting

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I’ve been in a massive knitting funk this year—I just haven’t had any inspiration or motivation at all and a lot of the things that I made in the first part of the year just didn’t turn out to my standards. But starting in July or August, I got motivated to pick my needles back up again. I finished a pair of socks using the Rye Light pattern from TinCan Knits. I know I bought this yarn in December from my LYS, but I didn’t record it on Ravelry and then promptly lost the ball band so I have no idea what it is. I also finished all of the knitting on the Chicane Sweater by Cookie A using a soft black yarn that has been in my stash for a long time. I still need to block it and sew in the zipper, but I’ll write up a full post about that project once it’s completely done. And finally, I knit up the Little Dino pattern from Susan B. Anderson. I’m not planning to create a separate post for that project, but I got the pattern and yarn as part of a kit from Barrett Wool Co and it was a delightful knitting experience. I have such a weakness for her toy kits—the temptation to buy every one she releases is intense!

Other Things

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Jude turned 2 this August, so of course I made him another birthday cake. He is absolutely fascinated by garbage and recycling—he loves to throw things away, to sort recycling, take the trash to the curb, watch the garbage collectors dump it in the trucks, pretend to be a garbage collector, find the trash and recycling containers at every place we visit, etc. So obviously his cake had to be trash-themed. Unfortunately, the confetti cake recipe I tried did not work out at all (it end up with a texture more like a cookie than a cake) so I ended up using a Funfetti box mix, which was perfectly delicious and Jude was very excited about his cake.

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I also finally finished up a cross-stitch project that I started before Jude was even born. My left wrist is prone to bouts of pain from certain repetitive activities. Regular knitting doesn’t bother it, but it shows up if I crochet or cross-stitch or do two-fisted colorwork knitting. So I don’t usually have a lot of motivation to do needlework but I decided to pick this up and risk the pain because I finally got moved into a private office on my campus and I wanted to be able to hang this on my office wall. Totally worth it! The pattern is from Satsuma Street.

So that’s the full review of my summer making. I’ve got a long list of fall projects I’d like to make, and I’ve even managed to cross a few items off the list already. I’m planning to start posting here more regularly—I just need to tackle the problem of getting photos. I was setting up a tripod and using a camera remote previously but it’s just too time-consuming and cumbersome to work anymore. I think I either need to rope Aidan into taking pictures for me or get a remote and tripod that will work with the camera on my phone so I can easily take pictures in my office where the lighting is better. We’ll see what happens!

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!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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