Weighted Blanket

I finished making a weighted blanket for my nephew at the beginning of June and then immediately started dreading the process of blogging it. So ridiculous. I think I just got completely bogged down by the idea of having to describe the whole process, step-by-step—especially since it was kind of an involved process. And then, I remembered that I don’t actually have to do that if I don’t want to. What a novel idea!

img_5437

Here’s what I have the energy to offer in terms of describing what I did:

img_5433

I was frankly worried that the process of making this blanket would just feel tedious and unending, but I actually really enjoyed working on this project. I think there were a couple of factors that made this a fairly fun project to work on. First, I’d never made a blanket like this before and didn’t have a specific pattern that I was working with, so planning the project and piecing together tips and tricks to get this made was a refreshing challenge. (I think I really enjoyed working on the baby quilt I made for Jude for the same reason.) Second, I was wise enough to tell my sister-in-law that I wouldn’t be able to work on this project at all until summer when my classes were all finished, so I was able to wait to start making the blanket until I was able to really delve into the project and enjoy the longer sewing sessions. And third, I was making a blanket for a very small child—my nephew is only thirty pounds right now and the finished blanket ended up being about five pounds. A bigger blanket definitely would have been more of a pain.

img_5421

 

Weighted blankets (which can have therapeutic benefits for people with anxiety, insomnia, sensory processing disorders, ADD/ADHD, and Autism) are getting more and more popular, but they are pretty expensive. The sticker shock is a lot to take in, especially if you are already in the position of paying for other therapies and treatments. And it’s all the more shocking if you are thinking of it as “just a blanket.” But it’s really not just a blanket. Filing the blanket is time intensive, and the materials required definitely cost more than your average throw. And the guidelines for how heavy the blanket should be can mean that you need something that is custom made.

img_5406

 

But the feeling of the blanket once it’s completely filled and finished is really unique—it has a heavy drape that puts just a light, even pressure all over your body that is really calming. I found myself kind of wishing I had an adult-sized blanket, but I definitely do not have the patience or desire to make one for myself. My nephew loves the blanket. And I love him, so I will happily make him another when he outgrows this one.

img_54291

 

Right after I finished the blanket, my 16-year-old sister came to stay with us for a week. I took her to Joann’s, bought her some fabric, printed off some PDF patterns for her, and she spent nearly the whole week working away in my sewing room. Nearly every day, I’d give her the option of going out somewhere or spending more time sewing, and she always chose sewing. I gave her very light guidance—she primarily worked through the instructions on her own, made mistakes, found ways to fix them herself, and learned a lot in the process. In the end, she made a Plantain tee, two Halifax hoodies, and a few pairs of underwear. I’m so proud of her!

Advertisements

Better Late Than Never: MMMay18 Reflections

I know most people are probably well over Me Made May (how is it already July!?), but I never got around to summing up my thoughts and experience this year. We seem to have packed all of our summer excitement in the first part of the season so I’ve either been busy or just haven’t felt like blogging for the past several weeks.

Anyway, my pledge for this year was to wear one handmade garment at least five days a week and to spend at 20 minutes a day sewing. The second part of the pledge was, in my mind, the crux of the challenge I gave myself. Since I had Jude, I’ve really struggled to find time for sewing so I really wanted to prioritize carving out little spaces of time when I could get back to my machine and work on some projects for myself.

img_5741

I kept track of both parts of my pledge on paper. Wearing a handmade garment five times a week wasn’t a problem, and I managed more than five days most weeks, although my wardrobe is so small right now that I was doing laundry frequently. I also managed to squeeze in sewing time nearly every day—I think I only missed five days, and four of those were days were days when we had visitors. During that sewing time, I managed to complete two projects that I’m looking forward to blogging soon: a striped Jenna cardi that I cut out more than a year ago and a black voile Willamette shirt.

img_4966

Striped Muse Jenna Cardi

img_5253

Hey June Willamette

Aside from two finished garments, here is what I took away from my challenge this year:

  1. I really do like my handmade clothes best of all. I’m still firmly an advanced beginner sewist, I am not a master of fit, I make a lot of boring basics, and I am not the kind of person to invest in really high quality fabric. And yet—the things I’ve made myself seem to fit better, feel more comfortable, and make me feel better about myself than the stuff I purchase from stores. This was a worthwhile reminder for me because while I tend to keep a pretty spare closet, I am especially low on clothes right now. Having a baby didn’t just change my body size and shape—it has also changed which styles I find most practical, comfortable, and desirable. With so little in the closet, it’s tempting to go out and buy a bunch of new stuff, but Me Made May served as encouragement to invest my energy in making time to slowly make new stuff rather than going shopping. (And it assured me that I can get by with what I have.)
  2. Time spent on alterations is worth it. One afternoon I spent my sewing time hemming a pair of too-long jeans I’ve had since February. And after having worn them only rarely, I’ve now been wearing them nearly every day. Alterations are pretty tedious, but especially when my sewing time is so limited, it’s worth using my sewing skills to improve what I already have.
  3. I can get a significant amount done in small bursts of sewing. I think we all intellectually know that this is the case, but it’s hard to commit to the practice of working on things in small bursts until you actually see what you can get done. I kept track of what I accomplished each day in my sewing time, and it was just really nice to see everything I was able to get done in those little stretches of time laid out in front of me. It also helped me better visualize my sewing projects in very small, discrete steps.
  4. But getting in a good stretch of sewing helps. I only finished two sewing projects this month because I did manage to squeeze in a couple of longer sewing stretches of at least an hour. At the same time that it was helpful to see how much I could get done in short stretches, it also felt kind of frustrating at other moments—like I was just plodding along on a project that felt like it would never be finished. I think, at least for me, the only way to make sewing in short bursts successful is to balance it with occasional longer sessions so I can make a good bit of progress that renews and refreshes my interest in the project.
  5. I need to invest in my warm weather wardrobe. I spent so many years as a student and most of my life in northern states with fairly mild summers that I never really made an effort to make or buy summer clothes that I enjoyed. I did as much as I could to get by on the same clothes I wore the rest of the year, which usually just meant wearing jeans and t-shirts. But now I live somewhere with hot, humid summers that stretch at minimum from May through September and while I have some time off, I’m still teaching and going to meetings for a good deal of the summer. I need clothes that are more suited to the climate while also helping me look just a little more put together. A big part of the problem is that when I look at warm-weather clothes, I have a really hard time finding something that feels like me. It’s not entirely surprising—I mean, if my personality were a season, it would be deep winter. But it’s time for me to figure out a way to dress for the heat in a way that will allow me the ability to both step outside of the AC for more than 5 minutes and still feel like myself.

Unrelated, look at this child! It’s already time to start working on making him an outfit for his birthday!

img_5709

Solitude, Screwed Up

Oh, knitting. So full of “adventures.”

In December, I came up with a plan to make an easy, quick-to-knit cardigan that I’d wear all the time. I decided to knit The Solitude Jacket from KnitScene using some Valley Yarns Northampton in Charcoal. Based on my measurements, I was going to start with the cast-on numbers for the largest size and then just work a few extra decrease rows to get to the numbers for the second-to-last size at the waist. I was hoping an easy pattern and easy fit would be a nice way to get back into sweater knitting after a long break. Alas…

solitude-jacket_medium

Solitude Jacket Pattern Photo from Interweave

A Stupid Pattern

Sadly, this pattern is kind of a tech-editing nightmare. The pattern has a schematic, but it’s basically useless because, as far as I can tell, the stitch numbers for the body of the sweater don’t actually match the schematic measurements. Some of the stitch numbers would produce a sweater an inch larger than the schematic, some would produce a sweater .25” smaller. There was no consistent relationship between the stitch numbers for the body and the schematic measurements. It’s also impossible to tell based on the schematic how to account for the width of the button band in the overall measurements of the cardigan.

IMG_4108.jpg

But even more egregious was the fact that the numbers for the largest size (the size I was going to start with for the body of my sweater) are completely off and would produce a sweater that would be several inches too big. So already this pattern was not turning out to be an easy knit—I had to frog it after knitting a few inches and then recalculate all of the numbers for the body of the sweater, trying to figure out how to get the bust measurement I needed while still winding up with the right stitch count for the yoke. I looked to see if there were any errata online (especially related to the largest size) and there is, but it only pertains to the instructions for the collar. I know magazine patterns can get a bad rep because they are so poorly edited, but this is the first really rough magazine pattern I’ve come across.

A Stupid Mistake

Doing that math should have netted me a sweater that fit well. But I tried the sweater on once I finished knitting the yoke, and it’s at least a size too small. The real pisser is that I should have known. When I knit my swatch, my gauge was more like 4.5-4.25 stitches per inch rather than the 4 stitches per inch called for in the pattern. And, despite knowing damn well that it doesn’t work this way, I basically manipulated my swatch enough to convince myself that everything would eventually block out to size. The completed body of my sweater begs to differ. I even thought several times while I was knitting the sleeves that they seemed too small, but I just kept plowing through them. It’s just so stupid, I can’t help but laugh at myself.

IMG_4112.jpg

Now what?

I’m not going to just knit the collar on this and hope for the best. (Although I briefly considered it.) I could block the body just to see if and how much it relaxes with a nice soak, but I really don’t think a soak is going to give me the fit I want. I could also rip the whole body out and reknit it to an appropriate gauge but I’m already salty with this pattern and my commitment to this sweater is being seriously tested. The other option is to rip it all out and use the yarn for something else. Maybe combine it with a light gray or cream to make a Sundottir or a Fern & Feather? Or try to find another basic cardigan pattern?

I have no idea. I’m just putting this baby in time out until I decide what I want to do. In the meantime, I promise to swatch more responsibly.

Make and Move On

It is teacher appreciation week, and they’re doing a bunch of different things for the teachers at Jude’s school but I also decided that it would be nice to make some Petal Pouches for the three teachers that work in his classroom on a daily basis. I’ve made this pattern before—it’s from Noodlehead and comes with really clear instructions, which makes it a breeze to put together.

IMG_4881.jpg

I wanted to go with something neutral, so I used a gray linen-rayon blend fabric I had in my stash and then picked up some more colorful quilting cotton prints from Joann’s to use as the lining. I liked the metal zip and leather cord combo on the pattern photos, so I aimed to replicate the look. The only metal zippers I could find were shorter than I needed, so these are all made with the pattern piece for the large size printed at 90%.

IMG_4879.jpg

I’m not particularly thrilled with these pouches. I had a very specific vision for them when I set out to make them and the final product just doesn’t live up to it. I mean, there’s nothing really wrong with them. I wish I had thought to order different zippers online when I still had the time to wait for shipping so that I didn’t have to use a jeans zipper. My sewing could be a bit neater. But there’s nothing here that could reasonably be classified as a problem or as a reason to toss the project in the trash.

IMG_4896.jpg

The project just didn’t cohere in the clean, perfect way that I had hoped. And that was enough for me to come very close to trashing the whole thing yesterday and coming up with a plan B. It’s irrational, I know. But it is also real. Perfectionism, as all of us who deal with it already know damn well, is not a cutesy way to talk about having high standards—it’s constantly staving off, and sometimes giving into, a need for things to be *just right* that is so intense it stops you from wanting to try at all.

IMG_4897.jpg

It is only rarely that I completely trash a project because it’s just not working out and I can’t find a way to either salvage it or live with the problems. Most of the time, my intense need to get things right manifests as a drive to learn as much as I can and to be careful with making. Even then, I get lots of projects like this where I just feel lukewarm about the end result. But I know if I cling to that feeling of dissatisfaction, everything falls apart. If I let myself dwell or act on the feeling that not quite right is not good enough, then I will never make anything and my creative drive—which is a huge part of who I am—will go unfed and I will just have a gnawing emptiness. I know that because it has happened before. And the only way out is to start making things again, giving myself permission to make them as imperfectly as they want to be.

IMG_4918.jpg

The permission to make things imperfectly isn’t comfortable or fun—it’s not like I suddenly find myself taking joy in a project that isn’t turning out the way I had hoped. It just means that I try to stay in the practice of walking away and disengaging when I start to hear the critical voice wondering why I bother at all.

IMG_4925.jpg

It just seems so easy to build up pressure around the process of making things. I want to make the perfect gift. I want to make clothes that are unique and practical and durable and beautifully finished. I need to define my personal style. I don’t want things to go to waste. I want to make things that I will get worn or used all the time. I want to make things that look professional. It is all trying to grasp at and hold onto something firm, and it’s all building in more ways to fail, more unrealistic expectations. I’m trying to hold things more lightly—to make a thing, let it be what it is, and move on.

IMG_4930.jpg

So I pushed past the strong urge to trash the project and I finished sewing the pouches. I shrugged at the feeling that they were a disappointment and took some quick pictures. I put them in a Target bag and dropped them off at Jude’s school without letting myself think too much about it. I’m still not happy with them, but I don’t feel mortified by the failure to manifest my original vision. It’s just a thing I made. And the more I keep pushing through and just making the next thing, the easier it is to avoid getting bogged down when things just refuse to cohere.

It doesn’t matter that much anyway. When we got to school, Jude immediately leaned out of my arms towards his teacher and gave her a big snuggle. She had been off for a few days and he had missed her. Apparently, he already had his teacher appreciation gift locked down. So sweet!

IMG_4940.jpg

 

 

In Progress: Carbeth Cardigan

When Kate Davies released the Carbeth pattern, I immediately added it to my favorites on Ravelry. I was completely sucked in to the boxy shape and the exaggerated raglan lines. I seriously considered scrapping all my other sweater plans to cast on the Carbeth pattern, but held back because I wasn’t sure how I felt about the neckline and wasn’t sure how I would deal with the body of the sweater–I knew I would want to lengthen it, but I wasn’t sure by how much or how much, if any, shaping I might want to add. While I was mulling all of these details over, Davies released the Carbeth Cardigan and all my hang-ups were resolved. I felt more confident about a completely boxy cardigan and I loved the doubled collar on the cardigan pattern. And so the Carbeth Cardigan officially jumped the queue.

Carbeth Cardigan Pattern Photo

Carbeth Cardigan Pattern Photo from Kate Davies

The pattern is knit holding a DK-weight yarn double to get a bulky-weight gauge. My original plan was to use Cascade Eco+, but I struggled with color choices. I saw a lovely Carbeth knit in Charcoal Eco+ and settled on using the same color, but something kept me from actually committing to the yarn. The idea of knitting the pattern in gray yarn seemed practical/wearable but left me feeling a bit flat, and I realized that what I really wanted  was a Carbeth Cardigan in olive green. The only problem was that I couldn’t find the right shade of olive in any bulky weight yarn.

IMG_4151.jpg

Cascade 220 Sport in Olive Heather

So I gave up the idea of an olive cardigan and instead started scanning through projects made with Eco+ on Ravelry to see if I could find a color that felt more inspiring than gray. In the process, I actually came across a few projects made up in an olive heather that seems like it’s been discontinued from the Eco+ line. The same color way is, however, still available in Cascade 220 Sport. I decided I would hold two strands of 220 Sport together and immediately purchased all 15 skeins of olive heather Webs had in stock.

IMG_4154.jpg

Since I’m holding the yarn double, I’m winding two skeins together into a single cake.

The pattern calls for at least 4” of ease at the bust. My current bust measurement is 44,” so my initial plan was to make the 49” size. I knit up a swatch over spring break and did a quick gauge check before washing the swatch and things seemed on track, so I cast on. Obviously, this was stupid. I knit nearly 4” into the body before I finally got around to blocking my swatch, which was when I discovered that my gauge was off and the body of my sweater was only knitting up to be about 45”. So I ripped it out, did some math, realized I could cast on for the next size up (53”) to get the same basic dimensions for the 49” size, and cast on all over again. I like the fabric I’m getting even though my gauge is off, so I’d rather cast on for the next size up than re-swatch with a larger needle.

IMG_4679.jpg

My swatch, post-blocking

I’m planning to lengthen the body, although I’m not sure by how much. It’s going to depend on how much yarn I have. I was confident I would have enough yarn to add 7 or 8 inches to the body of the sweater when I first cast on, but I’m going to need more yarn now that I’m knitting a larger size, so we’ll see what I end up with. I think I may also need to lengthen the sleeves by an inch or two, but I’ll make that decision once I start knitting them and am able to try them on.

IMG_4674.jpg

Before ripping it all out.

Mason-Dixon Knitting hosted a Knit-Along for the Carbeth pullover in February called Bang Out a Carbeth where everyone was trying to finish the sweater in three weeks. I’m still seeing people use the #bangoutacarbeth hashtag since this cropped, bulky-weight sweater is ostensibly a super=quick knit. Except, I seem to be knitting at a snail’s pace and am still only a couple of inches into the body. So I won’t be banging out this Carbeth Cardigan in a few of weeks but maybe I’ll manage to get it done in a few months? We’ll see.

IMG_4690.jpg

And after. It will get finished eventually, right?

Emmen for Aidan

I knit this hat up on kind of a whim. Aidan hasn’t asked for a new hat and already has a few good hats to choose from. I wasn’t even itching to use up a skein of yarn I already had in my stash. I was just so taken with the Emmen pattern that I bought it right after it was published and ordered some yarn to knit it up.

img_3558_medium2

Aidan really likes green but the only green hat I’ve made for him is a bit tight. I looked at a lot of different worsted weight yarns, but couldn’t find a solid green that was quite what I wanted so I ended up going with Malabrigo Rios in Aguas. I know that the offset rib in the pattern would have shown up better in a solid, but I’m happy with the way that the ribbing works with the tonal changes in the yarn.

Emmen Hat in Malabrigo Rios in Aguas

I don’t knit hats very often—partly because I don’t like to wear hats and partly because I get a bit frustrated trying to get the fit right. This hat, like many of the hats I make, seems like it’s just a touch too long? Incidentally, it would probably be easier to figure out my ideal hat length if, you know, I knit more hats.

Emmen Hat

But I also realized recently that I avoid hats and other projects with a similar circumference because I hate my 16” circular needles. All of the small-circumference circular needles I have were cheaply acquired when I was a broke student and are thus made from bamboo (ugh) or plastic (triple ugh). I just can’t deal with the dull points and the drag on the yarn. Luckily, it finally occurred to me that I now have the means to buy new needles that I won’t hate working with. So now I have a nice pair of US 7 nickel-plated 16″ circulars and suddenly the idea of making a hat seems a lot less repulsive. Maybe I’ll finally figure out that hat length issue after all?

My Me-Made-May Pledge for 2018

Oh, Me-Made-May.

I participated two years ago and managed to wear at least one item I’d made myself every day. The challenge ultimately encouraged me to stretch my skills a bit and incorporate some more interesting things into my wardrobe. I skipped last year because I was pregnant with Jude and so my priority when I was getting dressed was just wearing whatever fit. When the call for pledges came around this year, I just kind of assumed I’d skip it again.

Between changing sizes since I started sewing and weeding out things that were worn out or that I simply disliked, I’m down to a handful of items I’ve sewn in my closet. I’ve got a few tees, a cardigan, a few hoodies, a couple of pairs of leggings, and a pair of jeans. (Also, all of my underwear is sewn by me, but I don’t really count that since I wear it every day.) Of course, I’ve got some hand-knit garments as well, but even in our eternal winter, it’s getting too warm for those things to be wearable.

So I didn’t feel like I really had enough clothes to participate this year and just kind of wrote off the possibility. But then I was seeing other people lamenting that they wanted to participate in Me-Made-May but that they didn’t have enough to wear something they’d sewn every day, and I just wanted to say: “It doesn’t have to be every day! Set your own challenge! Do whatever makes sense for where you’re at!”

And after longer than makes sense, I finally realized this advice applied to my own situation.

2523mmmay18logolarge

Anyway. So here’s my Me-Made-May pledge for 2018:

I endeavor to wear at least one handmade or altered article of clothing five days a week for the duration of May 2018. Further, since I would like to prioritize getting back into the practice of sewing clothing for myself, I will dedicate at least 20 minutes every day to working on sewing or altering garments for myself.

My hope, clearly, is not just to wear the handmade clothes I already have, but to start to get more handmade stuff into my closet. I’m not looking to binge sew (is that a thing?) just to see how many finished projects I can pump out in a month. I don’t have any goals or even concrete plans in terms of what I might make. I’d just like to get back into the habit of sewing for myself again and will be happy with whatever progress I make towards finishing some new garments that I will love wearing.

I am not planning on doing any kind of daily documentation on Instagram—especially because they would be the most boring outfit shots ever—although I will probably write down what I wear just to make sure I’m hitting my goal of 5 items a week. But I am planning to do a mid-month check in and an end of month wrap-up here on the blog.

I feel like one of the fun things about Me-Made-May is that it’s impossible to predict what, exactly, you’ll end up taking away from the experience. Will learn something interesting about myself? Will I get some kind of insight into my style? Will I unearth handmade items I forgot about? Will I be incredibly comfortable since most of my handmade clothes are loungewear? We’ll find out soon!

Blogging: Do I Still Care About This Thing?

It’s been several months since I last blogged. This isn’t one of those posts where I intend to apologize for disappearing for a while. I don’t have the kind of blog readership that I think warrants that kind of post, and I knew well before Jude was born that the blog was one of the things that would end up on the back burner when my free time was radically condensed by the demands of an infant.

I’ve had other long blogging breaks before and there’s always a point during the break where I wonder whether it’s worth keeping a blog at all. It takes a fair bit of effort and can seem a little silly and self-serving in the abstract. Obviously, in the past I’ve gotten over this moment of doubt and just started posting again. This time, I found myself spending more time thinking about why I blog, whether or not I’m happy with how I’ve been approaching my blog over the last couple of years, and what I might want to do with my blog if I decide to keep going with it. (All those late night nursing sessions leave you with a lot of quiet time to think. Better to spend my time thinking about fairly light things like blogging and knitting and sewing than, say, indulge all my anxieties around mass shootings.)

IMG_4108.jpg

Brief updates in pictures: I knit a sweater and it’s a major fail. More details to come.

I think the challenge in blogging for me at this moment is fairly obvious: writing posts and taking blog photos just takes time and I’m short on time. But the bigger question I’ve been mulling over in terms of deciding whether or not to continue blogging is whether blogging still feels relevant. Is it relevant to me and my craft life? Is it relevant to potential readers?

I feel like I’ve been seeing a trend of craft bloggers asking: are blogs still a thing people care about or have we all just rerouted our attention to Instagram? And the typical answer seems to be that people still really like the depth of information that they get with a blog post versus the more limited snapshot you get on Instagram. But a lot of what I seem to read on blogs, and nearly all that I’ve written on my blog over the past few years, seems to have a pretty limited focus on just sharing finished projects. I like seeing what other people have made and I like sharing the things that I have made, and it’s nice to get and give reviews of patterns. But I find myself wanting more, both as a reader and a writer.

IMG_3118.jpg

I got an Amish-style swift, and I totally love it.

I’ve started watching a lot of knitting podcasts* over the past few months. I reached maximum tv burnout while spending a lot of time on the couch nursing and ended up turning to YouTube as an alternative. There is a good bit of time spent sharing finished projects on knitting podcasts (and a lot of sharing “things I bought,” which I feel kind of complicated about) but there’s also a lot more talk about process. People share the things that they are working on and talk about how things are going, in addition to more informal moments of sharing feelings and reflections about their knitting or how they choose projects or decide when to trash a project or talk about why they still like or never wear something they made a long time ago. I think it’s those conversational, reflective bits—people talking in a fuller way about their crafting lives and all their crafty thoughts—that really have me hooked on podcasts.

IMG_3096.jpg

I wore my Drachenfels Shawl constantly this winter (and am still wearing it thanks to this year’s “spring” weather).

I actually started wondering if I should trade text for video, but doing so involves a whole set of new logistical concerns (set up, time, editing, etc.) that I don’t have the mental bandwidth for. Plus, I have zero desire to actually be on camera in that way. There are also limits to the podcasting format—there’s a lot of great information being shared, but it’s harder to search or pinpoint the little tips, tricks, and ideas that come up and you have to actually have the time in your life to sit down and watch an (on average) hour long video to get the information in the first place. I have that time in my life because I’m stuck pumping at work three times a day, but I can imagine it being much harder to keep up with when this particular phase of my life is over. I like Instagram stories, but this is also why I don’t get much out of stories where people are talking about their craft struggles or reflecting on their projects—not only are they time-sensitive, but a lot of the time I’m not in a position to have the audio turned up on my phone.

IMG_4187.jpg

Swatch for a future sweater. More details to come.

I still have a desire to blog because I like having a searchable record of the things that I’ve made. I basically use my blog posts on my finished projects as a notebook for recording all of the adjustments and tricks I used to make the thing, and I reference those posts all the time when I make a pattern again or attempt a similar project. I’m also drawn to blogging because I enjoy writing but I feel a lot of pressure around the writing I have to do in my professional life—the blog is a no-pressure space where I can basically write for fun. But the other big reason that I like blogging is because it’s a space to reflect on my knitting and sewing, and reflection is a key component of learning and improving. Reflecting on what I’ve done and how well it worked is a useful exercise for me, but I also hope that sharing those reflections might occasionally prove useful to other people.

All of this is to say that after many months of trying to figure out what I want to do with my blog, I’ve landed on trying a slower approach of focusing less on just sharing finished projects and working more to share the larger process around making things—sharing my crafty thoughts, the decisions I’m mulling over, my plans, the stumbling blocks I come across, the new techniques I’m trying, my reflections on things as they progress and not just once they’re finished. The added benefit of this approach is that it will give me more opportunities to blog at a moment in my life when I’m not in a position to crank out finished projects at a regular pace.

IMG_2138.jpg

A modeled shot of my Mireille Pullover. Maybe I should just start taking all my blog photos in the mirrors at Kohls?

I know this isn’t a new approach to blogging—the knitting and sewing blogs I most enjoy are ones that, I’ve realized, do exactly this kind of thing. I also know that no one really cares what I decide to do or not do with my blog. But I’ve been finding other people’s reflections on blogging helpful as I think through this, so I thought I’d share mine as well.

The post-baby fog has cleared and my semester is wrapping up, so I’m excited to knit something other than socks, get back into sewing, and write about all of it.

 

*Aidan is an avid podcast listener and this phrase (“watching a podcast”) drives him crazy. Lol. To be clear, these knitting podcasts are videos where knitters talk about and show the stuff they’ve been working on, so it’s an idiosyncratic use of the term “podcast,” but what is language if not plastic and occasionally irritating?

Divided Baskets

I’m finally getting around to blogging one of my last pre-Jude projects: two Divided Baskets (pattern by Noodlehead). I made two of these baskets—one for Jude’s room and one to keep on the first floor in our living room. We use both baskets to hold diapers, burp cloths, and things like diaper rash cream. I love these baskets. They are cute and practical and were pretty fun to sew.

Noodlehead Divided Baskets

The one for his room is made using the same space-themed fabric I used when I made some simple valences for the windows. All of the other fabrics are just quilting cottons that I picked up from Joann’s. I used some white cotton webbing for the basket handles. The pattern has an option where you add some accent fabric to the handles, but I didn’t feel like bothering.

IMG_0650

The baskets are really easy to put together. You’re really just sewing a bunch of straight lines and the instructions are clear and thorough. I was also surprised by how quickly the sewing went. For some reason, I was thinking that constructing the baskets would be a fairly involved process, but it’s not at all.

IMG_0677

Hands down, the most tedious part of making these baskets (and I won’t lie—it is definitely tedious) is cutting out and applying all of the interfacing. Obviously, I made this worse for myself by making two at once so I had to deal with twice the interfacing. But I also followed the recommendation to use two kinds of interfacing, both the heavy craft interfacing and the fusible fleece, to get a more structured basket. The process of applying all that interfacing felt endless, but it was totally worth it. The baskets are structured enough to hold all of the things we need without collapsing, and we’ve been using them every day for nearly four months without any issues.

IMG_0678

These seem like a really popular handmade baby shower gift, and I can see why. But I’m also thinking about making one of these baskets for my sewing room to organize pattern pieces and notions for the projects I have on the go. There are so many potential uses for these baskets, I’m glad I bought this pattern—I’ll definitely be sewing it again.

Cosmic Baby Blanket

One of the last knits I finished before Jude was born was a second blanket. I was so bored with the process of knitting his first blanket, that I swore I wouldn’t knit another blanket until I had another baby. But that thought didn’t last long and I ended up buying 3 skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo and knitting up a quick pinwheel blanket when I was about seven months pregnant.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This is made up in the Prussia Blue colorway, which is a really lovely tonal navy. I alternated skeins throughout the blanket to avoid visible changes between skeins. The pattern starts from the center and moves outward, and I used the magic loop method for the first several rounds until I was ready to transfer the blanket to a 24″ circular needle. I increased until I had about 61 stitches in each wedge. Then I improvised a border based on a few different projects I saw on Ravelry. For the border, I worked four rows in garter stitch, one row of k2tog and YO to the end, and then another four rows in garter.

img_0627_medium2

The finished blanket is about 40″ in diameter, which has been a really useful size. It’s hard to get a sense of how big the final blanket is going to be, so I went back to junior high math and used the formulas for figuring the diameter and circumference of a circle to determine how many times I would increase. There are 10 wedges in the pattern, so you multiple your stitch count by ten and then divide that by your stitch gauge (number of stitches per inch) to get a sense of the circumference of the blanket. You can then divide this number by pi (3.14) to estimate the diameter. That process will give you an estimate of how big your blanket it as you work on it. To get a sense of how many times you will need to increase to get to the diameter you want, you just do the reverse–multiply your desired diameter by pi and then multiply again by your stitch gauge and that will tell you roughly the overall number of stitches you will need to increase to. To make your life easier, just divide that number by 10 to determine how many stitches should be in each wedge.

Pinwheel Baby Blanket

This blanket has been a family favorite. We took it to the hospital when Jude was born, we use it frequently to keep him cozy in his carseat, and it is the perfect weight for snuggles on the couch. This pattern, combined with a nice yarn, made for such soothing and enjoyable knitting that I have completely revised my stance on knitting baby blankets and can’t wait to make another one.